Chapter I. The Mortality Of The Gods.
Chapter II. The Killing Of The Divine King.
§ 1. Preference for a Violent Death.
§ 2. Kings killed when their Strength fails.
§ 3. Kings killed at the End of a Fixed Term.
§ 4. Octennial Tenure of the Kingship.
§ 5. Funeral Games.
§ 6. The Slaughter of the Dragon.
§ 7. Triennial Tenure of the Kingship.
§ 8. Annual Tenure of the Kingship.
§ 9. Diurnal Tenure of the Kingship.
Chapter III. The Slaying Of The King In Legend.
Chapter IV. The Supply Of Kings.
Chapter V. Temporary Kings.
Chapter VI. Sacrifice Of The King’s Son.
Chapter VII. Succession To The Soul.
Chapter VIII. The Killing Of The Tree-Spirit.
§ 1. The Whitsuntide Mummers.
§ 2. Mock Human Sacrifices.
§ 3. Burying the Carnival.
§ 4. Carrying out Death.
§ 5. Sawing the Old Woman.
§ 6. Bringing in Summer.
§ 7. Battle of Summer and Winter.
§ 8. Death and Resurrection of Kostrubonko.
§ 9. Death and Revival of Vegetation.
§ 10. Analogous Rites in India.
§ 11. The Magic Spring.
Note A. Chinese Indifference To Death.
Note B. Swinging As A Magical Rite.
[Transcriber’s Note: The above cover image was produced by the submitter
at Distributed Proofreaders, and is being placed into the public domain.]
With this third part of _The Golden Bough_ we take up the question, Why
had the King of the Wood at Nemi regularly to perish by the hand of his
successor? In the first part of the work I gave some reasons for thinking
that the priest of Diana, who bore the title of King of the Wood beside
the still lake among the Alban Hills, personated the great god Jupiter or
his duplicate Dianus, the deity of the oak, the thunder, and the sky. On
this theory, accordingly, we are at once confronted with the wider and
deeper question, Why put a man-god or human representative of deity to a
violent death? Why extinguish the divine light in its earthly vessel
instead of husbanding it to its natural close? My general answer to that
question is contained in the present volume. If I am right, the motive for
slaying a man-god is a fear lest with the enfeeblement of his body in
sickness or old age his sacred spirit should suffer a corresponding decay,
which might imperil the general course of nature and with it the existence
of his worshippers, who believe the cosmic energies to be mysteriously
knit up with those of their human divinity. Hence, if there is any measure
of truth in this theory, the practice of putting divine men and
particularly divine kings to death, which seems to have been common at a
particular stage in the evolution of society and religion, was a crude but
pathetic attempt to disengage an immortal spirit from its mortal envelope,
to arrest the forces of decomposition in nature by retrenching with
ruthless hand the first ominous symptoms of decay. We may smile if we
please at the vanity of these and the like efforts to stay the inevitable
decline, to bring the relentless revolution of the great wheel to a stand,
to keep youth’s fleeting roses for ever fresh and fair; but perhaps in
spite of every disillusionment, when we contemplate the seemingly endless
vistas of knowledge which have been opened up even within our own
generation, many of us may cherish in our heart of hearts a fancy, if not
a hope, that some loophole of escape may after all be discovered from the
iron walls of the prison-house which threaten to close on and crush us;
that, groping about in the darkness, mankind may yet chance to lay hands
on “that golden key that opes the palace of eternity,” and so to pass from
this world of shadows and sorrow to a world of untroubled light and joy.
If this is a dream, it is surely a happy and innocent one, and to those
who would wake us from it we may murmur with Michael Angelo,
“_Però non mi destar, deh! parla basso._”