Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/279

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The Scape-Goat in European Folklore. 265

being from the community or from human society, temporarily or permanently. If therefore the present list errs, it errs on the side of including too few and not too many peoples.

In the Old World scapegoats seem to have been known, not only among the Semites, but also in Greece and Rome. Dr. Frazer quotes many examples of them from East and South Asia ; and they were not unknown in mediaeval Europe. In Africa, on the other hand, they seem to be rare, on the west coast, unless indeed, we include customs of setting free animals or birds, which however may in many, if not all cases, with equal or greater probability be connected with totemism.

Turning to the New World, we have the well-known case of the sacrifice of the white dog among the Iroquois in connection with an annual expulsion of evils ; it is true this sacrifice is said to be of late origin ; but on this point further evidence seems to be necessary. In South America, we have a very interesting case of the scapegoat among the Piaroas of the Orinoco and perhaps the custom was more widely found ; but our information about the southern half of the New World is extra- ordinarily sparse ; and I do not presume to say whether similar customs are likely to be widely found or not.

Before I turn to the European facts with which I am specially concerned it will be well to take from another area an illustrative case, for in Europe the ceremonies are either ambiguous in their interpretation or subsist only in a truncated form. As my example I choose a South American ceremony, not only because it has been described with some fulness, but also because it presents features closely allied to some of the European customs to which I shall call your attention.

It is a well known European and African belief that a new house is tenanted by an evil spirit ; in some parts a cat or other animal is thrown into the new