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Title: Ancient Art and Ritual
Author: Harrison, Jane Ellen, 1850-1928
Language: English
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_Ancient Art and Ritual_


_Geoffrey Cumberlege_

_First published in 1913, and reprinted in 1918 (revised), 1919, 1927,
1935 and 1948_



It may be well at the outset to say clearly what is the aim of the
present volume. The title is _Ancient Art and Ritual_, but the reader
will find in it no general summary or even outline of the facts of
either ancient art or ancient ritual. These facts are easily accessible
in handbooks. The point of my title and the real gist of my argument lie
perhaps in the word "_and_"--that is, in the intimate connection which I
have tried to show exists between ritual and art. This connection has, I
believe, an important bearing on questions vital to-day, as, for
example, the question of the place of art in our modern civilization,
its relation to and its difference from religion and morality; in a
word, on the whole enquiry as to what the nature of art is and how it
can help or hinder spiritual life.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have taken Greek drama as a typical instance, because in it we have
the clear historical case of a great art, which arose out of a very
primitive and almost world-wide ritual. The rise of the Indian drama, or
the mediæval and from it the modern stage, would have told us the same
tale and served the like purpose. But Greece is nearer to us to-day than
either India or the Middle Ages.

       *       *       *       *       *

Greece and the Greek drama remind me that I should like to offer my
thanks to Professor Gilbert Murray, for help and criticism which has far
outrun the limits of editorial duty.


_Newnham College,
Cambridge, June 1913._

       *       *       *       *       *


The original text has been reprinted without change except for the
correction of misprints. A few additions (enclosed in square brackets)
have been made to the Bibliography.



CHAP.                                            PAGE

  I ART AND RITUAL                                 9



    IN GREECE                                     75

    _DROMENON_ AND THE DRAMA                     119

    AND THE APOLLO BELVEDERE                     170

VII RITUAL, ART AND LIFE                         204

    BIBLIOGRAPHY                                 253

    INDEX                                        255




The title of this book may strike the reader as strange and even
dissonant. What have art and ritual to do together? The ritualist is, to
the modern mind, a man concerned perhaps unduly with fixed forms and
ceremonies, with carrying out the rigidly prescribed ordinances of a
church or sect. The artist, on the other hand, we think of as free in
thought and untrammelled by convention in practice; his tendency is
towards licence. Art and ritual, it is quite true, have diverged to-day;
but the title of this book is chosen advisedly. Its object is to show
that these two divergent developments have a common root, and that
neither can be understood without the other. It is at the outset one
and the same impulse that sends a man to church and to the theatre.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such a statement may sound to-day paradoxical, even irreverent. But to
the Greek of the sixth, fifth, and even fourth century B.C., it would
have been a simple truism. We shall see this best by following an
Athenian to his theatre, on the day of the great Spring Festival of

Passing through the entrance-gate to the theatre on the south side of
the Acropolis, our Athenian citizen will find himself at once on holy
ground. He is within a _temenos_ or precinct, a place "cut off" from the
common land and dedicated to a god. He will pass to the left (Fig. 2, p.
144) two temples standing near to each other, one of earlier, the other
of later date, for a temple, once built, was so sacred that it would
only be reluctantly destroyed. As he enters the actual theatre he will
pay nothing for his seat; his attendance is an act of worship, and from
the social point of view obligatory; the entrance fee is therefore paid
for him by the State.

The theatre is open to all Athenian citizens, but the ordinary man will
not venture to seat himself in the front row. In the front row, and
that only, the seats have backs, and the central seat of this row is an
armchair; the whole of the front row is permanently reserved, not for
individual rich men who can afford to hire "boxes," but for certain
State officials, and these officials are all priests. On each seat the
name of the owner is inscribed; the central seat is "of the priest of
Dionysos Eleuthereus," the god of the precinct. Near him is the seat "of
the priest of Apollo the Laurel-Bearer," and again "of the priest of
Asklepios," and "of the priest of Olympian Zeus," and so on round the
whole front semicircle. It is as though at His Majesty's the front row
of stalls was occupied by the whole bench of bishops, with the
Archbishop of Canterbury enthroned in the central stall.

The theatre at Athens is not open night by night, nor even day by day.
Dramatic performances take place only at certain high festivals of
Dionysos in winter and spring. It is, again, as though the modern
theatre was open only at the festivals of the Epiphany and of Easter.
Our modern, at least our Protestant, custom is in direct contrast. We
tend on great religious festivals rather to close than to open our
theatres. Another point of contrast is in the time allotted to the
performance. We give to the theatre our after-dinner hours, when work is
done, or at best a couple of hours in the afternoon. The theatre is for
us a recreation. The Greek theatre opened at sunrise, and the whole day
was consecrated to high and strenuous religious attention. During the
five or six days of the great _Dionysia_, the whole city was in a state
of unwonted sanctity, under a _taboo_. To distrain a debtor was illegal;
any personal assault, however trifling, was sacrilege.

Most impressive and convincing of all is the ceremony that took place on
the eve of the performance. By torchlight, accompanied by a great
procession, the image of the god Dionysos himself was brought to the
theatre and placed in the orchestra. Moreover, he came not only in human
but in animal form. Chosen young men of the Athenians in the flower of
their youth--_epheboi_--escorted to the precinct a splendid bull. It was
expressly ordained that the bull should be "worthy of the god"; he was,
in fact, as we shall presently see, the primitive incarnation of the
god. It is, again, as though in our modern theatre there stood,
"sanctifying all things to our use and us to His service," the human
figure of the Saviour, and beside him the Paschal Lamb.

       *       *       *       *       *

But now we come to a strange thing. A god presides over the theatre, to
go to the theatre is an act of worship to the god Dionysos, and yet,
when the play begins, three times out of four of Dionysos we hear
nothing. We see, it may be, Agamemnon returning from Troy, Clytemnestra
waiting to slay him, the vengeance of Orestes, the love of Phædra for
Hippolytos, the hate of Medea and the slaying of her children: stories
beautiful, tragic, morally instructive it may be, but scarcely, we feel,
religious. The orthodox Greeks themselves sometimes complained that in
the plays enacted before them there was "nothing to do with Dionysos."

If drama be at the outset divine, with its roots in ritual, why does it
issue in an art profoundly solemn, tragic, yet purely human? The actors
wear ritual vestments like those of the celebrants at the Eleusinian
mysteries. Why, then, do we find them, not executing a religious
service or even a drama of gods and goddesses, but rather impersonating
mere Homeric heroes and heroines? Greek drama, which seemed at first to
give us our clue, to show us a real link between ritual and art, breaks
down, betrays us, it would seem, just at the crucial moment, and leaves
us with our problem on our hands.

Had we only Greek ritual and art we might well despair. The Greeks are a
people of such swift constructive imagination that they almost always
obscure any problem of origins. So fair and magical are their
cloud-capp'd towers that they distract our minds from the task of
digging for foundations. There is scarcely a problem in the origins of
Greek mythology and religion that has been solved within the domain of
Greek thinking only. Ritual with them was, in the case of drama, so
swiftly and completely transmuted into art that, had we had Greek
material only to hand, we might never have marked the transition.
Happily, however, we are not confined within the Greek paradise. Wider
fields are open to us; our subject is not only Greek, but ancient art
and ritual. We can turn at once to the Egyptians, a people
slower-witted than the Greeks, and watch their sluggish but more
instructive operations. To one who is studying the development of the
human mind the average or even stupid child is often more illuminating
than the abnormally brilliant. Greece is often too near to us, too
advanced, too modern, to be for comparative purposes instructive.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of all Egyptian, perhaps of all ancient deities, no god has lived so
long or had so wide and deep an influence as Osiris. He stands as the
prototype of the great class of resurrection-gods who die that they may
live again. His sufferings, his death, and his resurrection were enacted
year by year in a great mystery-play at Abydos. In that mystery-play was
set forth, first, what the Greeks call his _agon_, his contest with his
enemy Set; then his _pathos_, his suffering, or downfall and defeat, his
wounding, his death, and his burial; finally, his resurrection and
"recognition," his _anagnorisis_ either as himself or as his only
begotten son Horus. Now the meaning of this thrice-told tale we shall
consider later: for the moment we are concerned only with the fact that
it is set forth both in art and ritual.

At the festival of Osiris small images of the god were made of sand and
vegetable earth, his cheek bones were painted green and his face yellow.
The images were cast in a mould of pure gold, representing the god as a
mummy. After sunset on the 24th day of the month Choiak, the effigy of
Osiris was laid in a grave and the image of the previous year was
removed. The intent of all this was made transparently clear by other
rites. At the beginning of the festival there was a ceremony of
ploughing and sowing. One end of the field was sown with barley, the
other with spelt; another part with flax. While this was going on the
chief priest recited the ritual of the "sowing of the fields." Into the
"garden" of the god, which seems to have been a large pot, were put sand
and barley, then fresh living water from the inundation of the Nile was
poured out of a golden vase over the "garden" and the barley was allowed
to grow up. It was the symbol of the resurrection of the god after his
burial, "for the growth of the garden is the growth of the divine

The death and resurrection of the gods, and _pari passu_ of the life and
fruits of the earth, was thus set forth in ritual, but--and this is our
immediate point--it was also set forth in definite, unmistakable art. In
the great temple of Isis at Philæ there is a chamber dedicated to
Osiris. Here is represented the dead Osiris. Out of his body spring ears
of corn, and a priest waters the growing stalk from a pitcher. The
inscription to the picture reads: _This is the form of him whom one may
not name, Osiris of the mysteries, who springs from the returning
waters._ It is but another presentation of the ritual of the month
Choiak, in which effigies of the god made of earth and corn were buried.
When these effigies were taken up it would be found that the corn had
sprouted actually from the body of the god, and this sprouting of the
grain would, as Dr. Frazer says, be "hailed as an omen, or rather as the
cause of the growth of the crops."[1]

Even more vividly is the resurrection set forth in the bas-reliefs that
accompany the great Osiris inscription at Denderah. Here the god is
represented at first as a mummy swathed and lying flat on his bier. Bit
by bit he is seen raising himself up in a series of gymnastically
impossible positions, till at last he rises from a bowl--perhaps his
"garden"--all but erect, between the outspread wings of Isis, while
before him a male figure holds the _crux ansata_, the "cross with a
handle," the Egyptian symbol of life. In ritual, the thing desired,
_i.e._ the resurrection, is acted, in art it is represented.

No one will refuse to these bas-reliefs the title of art. In Egypt,
then, we have clearly an instance--only one out of many--where art and
ritual go hand in hand. Countless bas-reliefs that decorate Egyptian
tombs and temples are but ritual practices translated into stone. This,
as we shall later see, is an important step in our argument. Ancient art
and ritual are not only closely connected, not only do they mutually
explain and illustrate each other, but, as we shall presently find, they
actually arise out of a common human impulse.

       *       *       *       *       *

The god who died and rose again is not of course confined to Egypt; he
is world-wide. When Ezekiel (viii. 14) "came to the gate of the Lord's
house which was toward the north" he beheld there the "women weeping for
Tammuz." This "abomination" the house of Judah had brought with them
from Babylon. Tammuz is _Dumuzi_, "the true son," or more fully,
_Dumuzi-absu_, "true son of the waters." He too, like Osiris, is a god
of the life that springs from inundation and that dies down in the heat
of the summer. In Milton's procession of false gods,

          "Thammuz came next behind,
    Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured
    The Syrian damsels to lament his fate
    In amorous ditties all a summer's day."

Tammuz in Babylon was the young love of Ishtar. Each year he died and
passed below the earth to the place of dust and death, "the land from
which there is no returning, the house of darkness, where dust lies on
door and bolt." And the goddess went after him, and while she was below,
life ceased in the earth, no flower blossomed and no child of animal or
man was born.

We know Tammuz, "the true son," best by one of his titles, Adonis, the
Lord or King. The Rites of Adonis were celebrated at midsummer. That is
certain and memorable; for, just as the Athenian fleet was setting sail
on its ill-omened voyage to Syracuse, the streets of Athens were
thronged with funeral processions, everywhere was seen the image of the
dead god, and the air was full of the lamentations of weeping women.
Thucydides does not so much as mention the coincidence, but Plutarch[2]
tells us those who took account of omens were full of concern for the
fate of their countrymen. To start an expedition on the day of the
funeral rites of Adonis, the Canaanitish "Lord," was no luckier than to
set sail on a Friday, the death-day of the "Lord" of Christendom.

The rites of Tammuz and of Adonis, celebrated in the summer, were rites
of death rather than of resurrection. The emphasis is on the fading and
dying down of vegetation rather than on its upspringing. The reason of
this is simple and will soon become manifest. For the moment we have
only to note that while in Egypt the rites of Osiris are represented as
much by art as by ritual, in Babylon and Palestine in the feasts of
Tammuz and Adonis it is ritual rather than art that obtains.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now to pass to another enquiry. We have seen that art and
ritual, not only in Greece but in Egypt and Palestine, are closely
linked. So closely, indeed, are they linked that we even begin to
suspect they may have a common origin. We have now to ask, what is it
that links art and ritual so closely together, what have they in common?
Do they start from the same impulse, and if so why do they, as they
develop, fall so widely asunder?

It will clear the air if we consider for a moment what we mean by art,
and also in somewhat greater detail what we mean by ritual.

       *       *       *       *       *

Art, Plato[3] tells us in a famous passage of the _Republic_, is
imitation; the artist imitates natural objects, which are themselves in
his philosophy but copies of higher realities. All the artist can do is
to make a copy of a copy, to hold up a mirror to Nature in which, as he
turns it whither he will, "are reflected sun and heavens and earth and
man," anything and everything. Never did a statement so false, so
wrong-headed, contain so much suggestion of truth--truth which, by the
help of analysing ritual, we may perhaps be able to disentangle. But
first its falsehood must be grasped, and this is the more important as
Plato's misconception in modified form lives on to-day. A painter not
long ago thus defined his own art: "The art of painting is the art of
imitating solid objects upon a flat surface by means of pigments." A
sorry life-work! Few people to-day, perhaps, regard art as the close and
realistic copy of Nature; photography has at least scotched, if not
slain, that error; but many people still regard art as a sort of
improvement on or an "idealization" of Nature. It is the part of the
artist, they think, to take suggestions and materials from Nature, and
from these to build up, as it were, a revised version. It is, perhaps,
only by studying those rudimentary forms of art that are closely akin to
ritual that we come to see how utterly wrong-headed is this conception.

Take the representations of Osiris that we have just described--the
mummy rising bit by bit from his bier. Can any one maintain that art is
here a copy or imitation of reality? However "realistic" the painting,
it represents a thing imagined not actual. There never was any such
person as Osiris, and if there had been, he would certainly never, once
mummified, have risen from his tomb. There is no question of fact, and
the copy of fact, in the matter. Moreover, had there been, why should
anyone desire to make a copy of natural fact? The whole "imitation"
theory, to which, and to the element of truth it contains, we shall
later have occasion to return, errs, in fact, through supplying no
adequate motive for a widespread human energy. It is probably this lack
of motive that has led other theorizers to adopt the view that art is
idealization. Man with pardonable optimism desires, it is thought, to
improve on Nature.

       *       *       *       *       *

Modern science, confronted with a problem like that of the rise of art,
no longer casts about to conjecture how art _might_ have arisen, she
examines how it actually _did_ arise. Abundant material has now been
collected from among savage peoples of an art so primitive that we
hesitate to call it art at all, and it is in these inchoate efforts
that we are able to track the secret motive springs that move the artist
now as then.

Among the Huichol Indians,[4] if the people fear a drought from the
extreme heat of the sun, they take a clay disk, and on one side of it
they paint the "face" of Father Sun, a circular space surrounded by rays
of red and blue and yellow which are called his "arrows," for the
Huichol sun, like Phœbus Apollo, has arrows for rays. On the reverse
side they will paint the progress of the sun through the four quarters
of the sky. The journey is symbolized by a large cross-like figure with
a central circle for midday. Round the edge are beehive-shaped mounds;
these represent the hills of earth. The red and yellow dots that
surround the hills are cornfields. The crosses on the hills are signs of
wealth and money. On some of the disks birds and scorpions are painted,
and on one are curving lines which mean rain. These disks are deposited
on the altar of the god-house and left, and then all is well. The
intention might be to us obscure, but a Huichol Indian would read it
thus: "Father Sun with his broad shield (or 'face') and his arrows rises
in the east, bringing money and wealth to the Huichols. His heat and the
light from his rays make the corn to grow, but he is asked not to
interfere with the clouds that are gathering on the hills."

Now is this art or ritual? It is both and neither. _We_ distinguish
between a form of prayer and a work of art and count them in no danger
of confusion; but the Huichol goes back to that earlier thing, a
_presentation_. He utters, expresses his thought about the sun and his
emotion about the sun and his relation to the sun, and if "prayer is the
soul's sincere desire" he has painted a prayer. It is not a little
curious that the same notion comes out in the old Greek word for
"prayer," _euchè_. The Greek, when he wanted help in trouble from the
"Saviours," the Dioscuri, carved a picture of them, and, if he was a
sailor, added a ship. Underneath he inscribed the word _euchè_. It was
not to begin with a "vow" paid, it was a presentation of his strong
inner desire, it was a sculptured prayer.

Ritual then involves _imitation_; but does not arise out of it. It
desires to recreate an emotion, not to reproduce an object. A rite is,
indeed, we shall later see (p. 42), a sort of stereotyped action, not
really practical, but yet not wholly cut loose from practice, a
reminiscence or an anticipation of actual practical doing; it is fitly,
though not quite correctly, called by the Greeks a _dromenon_, "a thing

At the bottom of art, as its motive power and its mainspring, lies, not
the wish to copy Nature or even improve on her--the Huichol Indian does
not vainly expend his energies on an effort so fruitless--but rather an
impulse shared by art with ritual, the desire, that is, to utter, to
give out a strongly felt emotion or desire by representing, by making or
doing or enriching the object or act desired. The common source of the
art and ritual of Osiris is the intense, world-wide desire that the life
of Nature which seemed dead should live again. This common _emotional_
factor it is that makes art and ritual in their beginnings well-nigh
indistinguishable. Both, to begin with, copy an act, but not at first
for the sake of the copy. Only when the emotion dies down and is
forgotten does the copy become an end in itself, a mere mimicry.

It is this downward path, this sinking of making to mimicry, that makes
us now-a-days think of ritual as a dull and formal thing. Because a rite
has ceased to be believed in, it does not in the least follow that it
will cease to be _done_. We have to reckon with all the huge forces of
habit. The motor nerves, once set in one direction, given the slightest
impulse tend always to repeat the same reaction. We mimic not only
others but ourselves mechanically, even after all emotion proper to the
act is dead; and then because mimicry has a certain ingenious charm, it
becomes an end in itself for ritual, even for art.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not easy, as we saw, to classify the Huichol prayer-disks. As
prayers they are ritual, as surfaces decorated they are specimens of
primitive art. In the next chapter we shall have to consider a kind of
ceremony very instructive for our point, but again not very easy to
classify--the pantomimic dances which are, almost all over the world, so
striking a feature in savage social and religious life. Are they to be
classed as ritual or art?

These pantomime dances lie, indeed, at the very heart and root of our
whole subject, and it is of the first importance that before going
further in our analysis of art and ritual, we should have some
familiarity with their general character and gist, the more so as they
are a class of ceremonies now practically extinct. We shall find in
these dances the meeting-point between art and ritual, or rather we
shall find in them the rude, inchoate material out of which both ritual
and art, at least in one of its forms, developed. Moreover, we shall
find in pantomimic dancing a ritual bridge, as it were, between actual
life and those representations of life which we call art.

In our next chapter, therefore, we shall study the ritual dance in
general, and try to understand its psychological origin; in the
following chapter (III) we shall take a particular dance of special
importance, the Spring Dance as practised among various primitive
peoples. We shall then be prepared to approach the study of the Spring
Dance among the Greeks, which developed into their drama, and thereby
to, we hope, throw light on the relation between ritual and art.


[1] _Adonis, Attis, Osiris_,^2 p. 324.

[2] _Vit. Nik._, 13.

[3] _Rep._ X, 596-9.

[4] C.H. Lumholtz, _Symbolism of the Huichol Indians_, in _Mem. of the
Am. Mus. of Nat. Hist._, Vol. III, "Anthropology." (1900.)



In books and hymns of bygone days, which dealt with the religion of "the
heathen in his blindness," he was pictured as a being of strange
perversity, apt to bow down to "gods of wood and stone." The question
_why_ he acted thus foolishly was never raised. It was just his
"blindness"; the light of the gospel had not yet reached him. Now-a-days
the savage has become material not only for conversion and hymn-writing
but for scientific observation. We want to understand his psychology,
_i.e._ how he behaves, not merely for his sake, that we may abruptly
and despotically convert or reform him, but for our own sakes; partly,
of course, for sheer love of knowing, but also,--since we realize that
our own behaviour is based on instincts kindred to his,--in order that,
by understanding his behaviour, we may understand, and it may be better,
our own.

Anthropologists who study the primitive peoples of to-day find that the
worship of false gods, bowing "down to wood and stone," bulks larger in
the mind of the hymn-writer than in the mind of the savage. We look for
temples to heathen idols; we find dancing-places and ritual dances. The
savage is a man of action. Instead of asking a god to do what he wants
done, he does it or tries to do it himself; instead of prayers he utters
spells. In a word, he practises magic, and above all he is strenuously
and frequently engaged in dancing magical dances. When a savage wants
sun or wind or rain, he does not go to church and prostrate himself
before a false god; he summons his tribe and dances a sun dance or a
wind dance or a rain dance. When he would hunt and catch a bear, he does
not pray to his god for strength to outwit and outmatch the bear, he
rehearses his hunt in a bear dance.

Here, again, we have some modern prejudice and misunderstanding to
overcome. Dancing is to us a light form of recreation practised by the
quite young from sheer _joie de vivre_, and essentially inappropriate to
the mature. But among the Tarahumares of Mexico the word _nolávoa_
means both "to work" and "to dance." An old man will reproach a young
man saying, "Why do you not go and work?" (_nolávoa_). He means "Why do
you not dance instead of looking on?" It is strange to us to learn that
among savages, as a man passes from childhood to youth, from youth to
mature manhood, so the number of his "dances" increase, and the number
of these "dances" is the measure _pari passu_ of his social importance.
Finally, in extreme old age he falls out, he ceases to exist, _because
he cannot dance_; his dance, and with it his social status, passes to
another and a younger.

       *       *       *       *       *

Magical dancing still goes on in Europe to-day. In Swabia and among the
Transylvanian Saxons it is a common custom, says Dr. Frazer,[5] for a
man who has some hemp to leap high in the field in the belief that this
will make the hemp grow tall. In many parts of Germany and Austria the
peasant thinks he can make the flax grow tall by dancing or leaping high
or by jumping backwards from a table; the higher the leap the taller
will be the flax that year. There is happily little possible doubt as
to the practical reason of this mimic dancing. When Macedonian farmers
have done digging their fields they throw their spades up into the air
and, catching them again, exclaim, "May the crop grow as high as the
spade has gone." In some parts of Eastern Russia the girls dance one by
one in a large hoop at midnight on Shrove Tuesday. The hoop is decked
with leaves, flowers and ribbons, and attached to it are a small bell
and some flax. While dancing within the hoop each girl has to wave her
arms vigorously and cry, "Flax, grow," or words to that effect. When she
has done she leaps out of the hoop or is lifted out of it by her

Is this art? We shall unhesitatingly answer "No." Is it ritual? With
some hesitation we shall probably again answer "No." It is, we think,
not a rite, but merely a superstitious practice of ignorant men and
women. But take another instance. Among the Omaha Indians of North
America, when the corn is withering for want of rain, the members of the
sacred Buffalo Society fill a large vessel with water and dance four
times round it. One of them drinks some of the water and spirts it into
the air, making a fine spray in imitation of mist or drizzling rain.
Then he upsets the vessel, spilling the water on the ground; whereupon
the dancers fall down and drink up the water, getting mud all over their
faces. This saves the corn. Now probably any dispassionate person would
describe such a ceremonial as "an interesting instance of primitive
_ritual_." The sole difference between the two types is that, in the one
the practice is carried on privately, or at least unofficially, in the
other it is done publicly by a collective authorized body, officially
for the public good.

The distinction is one of high importance, but for the moment what
concerns us is, to see the common factor in the two sets of acts, what
is indeed their source and mainspring. In the case of the girl dancing
in the hoop and leaping out of it there is no doubt. The words she says,
"Flax, grow," prove the point. She _does_ what she _wants done_. Her
intense desire finds utterance in an act. She obeys the simplest
possible impulse. Let anyone watch an exciting game of tennis, or better
still perhaps a game of billiards, he will find himself _doing_ in
sheer sympathy the thing he wants done, reaching out a tense arm where
the billiard cue should go, raising an unoccupied leg to help the
suspended ball over the net. Sympathetic magic is, modern psychology
teaches us, in the main and at the outset, not the outcome of
intellectual illusion, not even the exercise of a "mimetic instinct,"
but simply, in its ultimate analysis, an utterance, a discharge of
emotion and longing.

But though the utterance of emotion is the prime and moving, it is not
the sole, factor. We may utter emotion in a prolonged howl, we may even
utter it in a collective prolonged howl, yet we should scarcely call
this ritual, still less art. It is true that a prolonged _collective_
howl will probably, because it is collective, develop a rhythm, a
regular recurrence, and hence probably issue in a kind of ritual music;
but for the further stage of development into art another step is
necessary. We must not only _utter_ emotion, we must _represent_ it,
that is, we must in some way reproduce or imitate or express the thought
which is causing us emotion. Art is not imitation, but art and also
ritual frequently and legitimately _contain an element of imitation_.
Plato was so far right. What exactly is imitated we shall see when we
come to discuss the precise difference between art and ritual.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Greek word for a _rite_ as already noted is _dromenon_, "a thing
done"--and the word is full of instruction. The Greek had realized that
to perform a rite you must _do_ something, that is, you must not only
feel something but express it in action, or, to put it psychologically,
you must not only receive an impulse, you must react to it. The word for
rite, _dromenon_, "thing done," arose, of course, not from any
psychological analysis, but from the simple fact that rites among the
primitive Greeks were _things done_, mimetic dances and the like. It is
a fact of cardinal importance that their word for theatrical
representation, _drama_, is own cousin to their word for rite,
_dromenon_; _drama_ also means "thing done." Greek linguistic instinct
pointed plainly to the fact that art and ritual are near relations. To
this fact of crucial importance for our argument we shall return later.
But from the outset it should be borne in mind that in these two Greek
words, _dromenon_ and _drama_, in their exact meaning, their relation
and their distinction, we have the keynote and clue to our whole

       *       *       *       *       *

For the moment we have to note that the Greek word for rite, _dromenon_,
"thing done," is not strictly adequate. It omits a factor of prime
importance; it includes too much and not enough. All "things done" are
not rites. You may shrink back from a blow; that is the expression of an
emotion, that is a reaction to a stimulus, but that is not a rite. You
may digest your dinner; that is a thing done, and a thing of high
importance, but it is not a rite.

One element in the rite we have already observed, and that is, that it
be done collectively, by a number of persons feeling the same emotion. A
meal digested alone is certainly no rite; a meal eaten in common, under
the influence of a common emotion, may, and often does, _tend_ to become
a rite.

Collectivity and emotional tension, two elements that tend to turn the
simple reaction into a rite, are--specially among primitive
peoples--closely associated, indeed scarcely separable. The individual
among savages has but a thin and meagre personality; high emotional
tension is to him only caused and maintained by a thing felt socially;
it is what the tribe feels that is sacred, that is matter for ritual. He
may make by himself excited movements, he may leap for joy, for fear;
but unless these movements are made by the tribe together they will not
become rhythmical; they will probably lack intensity, and certainly
permanence. Intensity, then, and collectivity go together, and both are
necessary for ritual, but both may be present without constituting art;
we have not yet touched the dividing line between art and ritual. When
and how does the _dromenon_, the _rite done_, pass over into the

The genius of the Greek language _felt_, before it consciously _knew_,
the difference. This feeling ahead for distinctions is characteristic of
all languages, as has been well shown by Mr. Pearsall Smith[6] in
another manual of our series. It is an instinctive process arising
independently of reason, though afterwards justified by it. What, then,
is the distinction between art and ritual which the genius of the Greek
language felt after, when it used the two words _dromenon_ and _drama_
for two different sorts of "things done"? To answer our question we must
turn for a brief moment to psychology, the science of human behaviour.

       *       *       *       *       *

We are accustomed for practical convenience to divide up our human
nature into partitions--intellect, will, the emotions, the
passions--with further subdivisions, _e.g._ of the intellect into
reason, imagination, and the like. These partitions we are apt to
arrange into a sort of order of merit or as it is called a hierarchy,
with Reason as head and crown, and under her sway the emotions and
passions. The result of establishing this hierarchy is that the
impulsive side of our nature comes off badly, the passions and even the
emotions lying under a certain ban. This popular psychology is really a
convenient and perhaps indispensable mythology. Reason, the emotions,
and the will have no more separate existences than Jupiter, Juno, and

A more fruitful way of looking at our human constitution is to see it,
not as a bundle of separate faculties, but as a sort of continuous
cycle of activities. What really happens is, putting it very roughly,
something of this sort. To each one of us the world is, or seems to be,
eternally divided into two halves. On the one side is ourself, on the
other all the rest of things. All our action, our behaviour, our life,
is a relation between these two halves, and that behaviour seems to have
three, not divisions, but stages. The outside world, the other half, the
object if we like so to call it, acts upon us, gets at us through our
senses. We hear or see or taste or feel something; to put it roughly, we
perceive something, and as we perceive it, so, instantly, we feel about
it, towards it, we have emotion. And, instantly again, that emotion
becomes a motive-power, we _re_-act towards the object that got at us,
we want to alter it or our relation to it. If we did not perceive we
should not feel, if we did not feel we should not act. When we talk--as
we almost must talk--of Reason, the Emotions, or the Passions and the
Will leading to action, we think of the three stages or aspects of our
behaviour as separable and even perhaps hostile; we want, perhaps, to
purge the intellect from all infection of the emotions. But in reality,
though at a given moment one or the other element, knowing, feeling, or
acting, may be dominant in our consciousness, the rest are always

When we think of the three elements or stages, knowing, feeling,
striving, as all being necessary factors in any complete bit of human
behaviour, we no longer try to arrange them in a hierarchy with knowing
or reason at the head. Knowing--that is, receiving and recognizing a
stimulus from without--would seem to come first; we must be acted on
before we can _re_-act; but priority confers no supremacy. We can look
at it another way. Perceiving is the first rung on the ladder that leads
to action, feeling is the second, action is the topmost rung, the
primary goal, as it were, of all the climbing. For the purpose of our
discussion this is perhaps the simplest way of looking at human

       *       *       *       *       *

Movement, then, action, is, as it were, the goal and the end of thought.
Perception finds its natural outlet and completion in doing. But here
comes in a curious consideration important for our purpose. In animals,
in so far as they act by "instinct," as we say, perception, knowing, is
usually followed immediately and inevitably by doing, by such doing as
is calculated to conserve the animal and his species; but in some of the
higher animals, and especially in man, where the nervous system is more
complex, perception is not instantly transformed into action; there is
an interval for choice between several possible actions. Perception is
pent up and becomes, helped by emotion, conscious _representation_. Now
it is, psychologists tell us, just in this interval, this space between
perception and reaction, this momentary halt, that all our mental life,
our images, our ideas, our consciousness, and assuredly our religion and
our art, is built up. If the cycle of knowing, feeling, acting, were
instantly fulfilled, that is, if we were a mass of well-contrived
instincts, we should hardly have _dromena_, and we should certainly
never pass from _dromena_ to _drama_. Art and religion, though perhaps
not wholly ritual, spring from the incomplete cycle, from unsatisfied
desire, from perception and emotion that have somehow not found
immediate outlet in practical action. When we come later to establish
the dividing line between art and ritual we shall find this fact to be

We have next to watch how out of _representation repeated_ there grows
up a kind of _abstraction_ which helps the transition from ritual to
art. When the men of a tribe return from a hunt, a journey, a battle, or
any event that has caused them keen and pleasant emotion, they will
often re-act their doings round the camp-fire at night to an attentive
audience of women and young boys. The cause of this world-wide custom is
no doubt in great part the desire to repeat a pleasant experience; the
battle or the hunt will not be re-enacted unless it has been successful.
Together with this must be reckoned a motive seldom absent from human
endeavour, the desire for self-exhibition, self-enhancement. But in this
re-enactment, we see at once, lies the germ of history and of
commemorative ceremonial, and also, oddly enough, an impulse emotional
in itself begets a process we think of as characteristically and
exclusively intellectual, the process of abstraction. The savage begins
with the particular battle that actually _did_ happen; but, it is easy
to see that if he re-enacts it again and again the _particular_ battle
or hunt will be forgotten, the representation cuts itself loose from
the particular action from which it arose, and becomes generalized, as
it were abstracted. Like children he plays not at a funeral, but at
"funerals," not at a battle, but at battles; and so arises the
war-dance, or the death-dance, or the hunt-dance. This will serve to
show how inextricably the elements of knowing and feeling are

So, too, with the element of action. If we consider the occasions when a
savage dances, it will soon appear that it is not only after a battle or
a hunt that he dances in order to commemorate it, but before. Once the
commemorative dance has got abstracted or generalized it becomes
material for the magical dance, the dance pre-done. A tribe about to go
to war will work itself up by a war dance; about to start out hunting
they will catch their game in pantomime. Here clearly the main emphasis
is on the practical, the active, doing-element in the cycle. The dance
is, as it were, a sort of precipitated desire, a discharge of pent-up
emotion into action.

In both these kinds of dances, the dance that commemorates by
_re_-presenting and the dance that anticipates by _pre_-presenting,
Plato would have seen the element of imitation, what the Greeks called
_mimesis_, which we saw he believed to be the very source and essence of
all art. In a sense he would have been right. The commemorative dance
does especially _re_-present; it reproduces the past hunt or battle; but
if we analyse a little more closely we see it is not for the sake of
copying the actual battle itself, but for the _emotion felt about the
battle_. This they desire to re-live. The emotional element is seen
still more clearly in the dance _fore_-done for magical purposes.
Success in war or in the hunt is keenly, intensely desired. The hunt or
the battle cannot take place at the moment, so the cycle cannot complete
itself. The desire cannot find utterance in the actual act; it grows and
accumulates by inhibition, till at last the exasperated nerves and
muscles can bear it no longer; it breaks out into mimetic anticipatory
action. But, and this is the important point, the action is mimetic, not
of what you see done by another; but of what you desire to do yourself.
The habit of this _mimesis_ of the thing desired, is set up, and ritual
begins. Ritual, then, does imitate, but for an emotional, not an
altogether practical, end.

Plato never saw a savage war-dance or a hunt-dance or a rain-dance, and
it is not likely that, if he had seen one, he would have allowed it to
be art at all. But he must often have seen a class of performances very
similar, to which unquestionably he would give the name of art. He must
have seen plays like those of Aristophanes, with the chorus dressed up
as Birds or Clouds or Frogs or Wasps, and he might undoubtedly have
claimed such plays as evidence of the rightness of his definition. Here
were men _imitating_ birds and beasts, dressed in their skins and
feathers, mimicking their gestures. For his own days his judgment would
have been unquestionably right; but again, if we look at the beginning
of things, we find an origin and an impulse much deeper, vaguer, and
more emotional.

The beast dances found widespread over the savage world took their rise
when men really believed, what St. Francis tried to preach: that beasts
and birds and fishes were his "little brothers." Or rather, perhaps,
more strictly, he felt them to be his great brothers and his fathers,
for the attitude of the Australian towards the kangaroo, the North
American towards the grizzly bear, is one of affection tempered by deep
religious awe. The beast dances look back to that early phase of
civilization which survives in crystallized form in what we call
_totemism_. "Totem" means tribe, but the tribe was of animals as well as
men. In the Kangaroo tribe there were real leaping kangaroos as well as
men-kangaroos. The men-kangaroos when they danced and leapt did it, not
to _imitate_ kangaroos--you cannot imitate yourself--but just for
natural joy of heart because they _were_ kangaroos; they belonged to the
Kangaroo tribe, they bore the tribal marks and delighted to assert their
tribal unity. What they felt was not _mimesis_ but "participation,"
unity, and community. Later, when man begins to distinguish between
himself and his strange fellow-tribesmen, to realize that he is _not_ a
kangaroo like other kangaroos, he will try to revive his old faith, his
old sense of participation and oneness, by conscious imitation. Thus
though imitation is not the object of these dances, it grows up in and
through them. It is the same with art. The origin of art is not
_mimesis_, but _mimesis_ springs up out of art, out of emotional
expression, and constantly and closely neighbours it. Art and ritual
are at the outset alike in this, that they do not seek to copy a fact,
but to reproduce, to re-enact an emotion.

       *       *       *       *       *

We shall see this more clearly if we examine for a moment this Greek
word _mimesis_. We translate mīmēsis by "imitation," and we do very
wrongly. The word _mimesis_ means the action or doing of a person called
a _mime_. Now a _mime_ was simply a person who dressed up and acted in a
pantomime or primitive drama. He was roughly what we should call an
_actor_, and it is significant that in the word _actor_ we stress not
imitating but acting, doing, just what the Greek stressed in his words
_dromenon_ and _drama_. The actor dresses up, puts on a mask, wears the
skin of a beast or the feathers of a bird, not, as we have seen, to copy
something or some one who is not himself, but to emphasize, enlarge,
enhance, his own personality; he masquerades, he does not mimic.

The celebrants in the very primitive ritual of the Mountain-Mother in
Thrace were, we know, called _mimes_. In the fragment of his lost play,
Æschylus, after describing the din made by the "mountain gear" of the
Mother, the maddening hum of the _bombykes_, a sort of spinning-top,
the clash of the brazen cymbals and the twang of the strings, thus goes

     "And bull-voices roar thereto from somewhere out of the unseen,
     fearful _mimes_, and from a drum an image, as it were, of thunder
     underground is borne on the air heavy with dread."

Here we have undoubtedly some sort of "bull-roaring," thunder-and
wind-making ceremony, like those that go on in Australia to-day. The
_mimes_ are not mimicking thunder out of curiosity, they are making it
and enacting and uttering it for magical purposes. When a sailor wants a
wind he makes it, or, as he later says, he whistles _for_ it; when a
savage or a Greek wants thunder to bring rain he makes it, becomes it.
But it is easy to see that as the belief in magic declines, what was
once intense desire, issuing in the making of or the being of a thing,
becomes mere copying of it; the mime, the maker, sinks to be in our
modern sense the mimic; as faith declines, folly and futility set in;
the earnest, zealous _act_ sinks into a frivolous mimicry, a sort of


[5] These instances are all taken from _The Golden Bough,^3 The Magic
Art_, I, 139 _ff._

[6] "The English Language," _Home University Library_, p. 28.



We have seen in the last chapter that whatever interests primitive man,
whatever makes him feel strongly, he tends to re-enact. Any one of his
manifold occupations, hunting, fighting, later ploughing and sowing,
provided it be of sufficient interest and importance, is material for a
_dromenon_ or rite. We have also seen that, weak as he is in
individuality, it is not his private and personal emotions that tend to
become ritual, but those that are public, felt and expressed officially,
that is, by the whole tribe or community. It is further obvious that
such dances, when they develop into actual rites, tend to be performed
at fixed times. We have now to consider when and why. The element of
fixity and regular repetition in rites cannot be too strongly
emphasized. It is a factor of paramount importance, essential to the
development from ritual to art, from _dromenon_ to drama.

The two great interests of primitive man are food and children. As Dr.
Frazer has well said, if man the individual is to live he must have
food; if his race is to persist he must have children. "To live and to
cause to live, to eat food and to beget children, these were the primary
wants of man in the past, and they will be the primary wants of men in
the future so long as the world lasts." Other things may be added to
enrich and beautify human life, but, unless these wants are first
satisfied, humanity itself must cease to exist. These two things,
therefore, food and children, were what men chiefly sought to procure by
the performance of magical rites for the regulation of the seasons. They
are the very foundation-stones of that ritual from which art, if we are
right, took its rise. From this need for food sprang seasonal, periodic
festivals. The fact that festivals are seasonal, constantly recurrent,
solidifies, makes permanent, and as already explained (p. 42), in a
sense intellectualizes and abstracts the emotion that prompts them.

The seasons are indeed only of value to primitive man because they are
related, as he swiftly and necessarily finds out, to his food supply.
He has, it would seem, little sensitiveness to the æsthetic impulse of
the beauty of a spring morning, to the pathos of autumn. What he
realizes first and foremost is, that at certain times the animals, and
still more the plants, which form his food, appear, at certain others
they disappear. It is these times that become the central points, the
focuses of his interest, and the dates of his religious festivals. These
dates will vary, of course, in different countries and in different
climates. It is, therefore, idle to attempt a study of the ritual of a
people without knowing the facts of their climate and surroundings. In
Egypt the food supply will depend on the rise and fall of the Nile, and
on this rise and fall will depend the ritual and calendar of Osiris. And
yet treatises on Egyptian religion are still to be found which begin by
recounting the rites and mythology of Osiris, as though these were
primary, and then end with a corollary to the effect that these rites
and this calendar were "associated" with the worship of Osiris, or, even
worse still, "instituted by" the religion of Osiris. The Nile regulates
the food supply of Egypt, the monsoon that of certain South Pacific
islands; the calendar of Egypt depends on the Nile, of the South
Pacific islands on the monsoon.

       *       *       *       *       *

In his recent _Introduction to Mathematics_[7] Dr. Whitehead has pointed
out how the "whole life of Nature is dominated by the existence of
periodic events." The rotation of the earth produces successive days;
the path of the earth round the sun leads to the yearly recurrence of
the seasons; the phases of the moon are recurrent, and though artificial
light has made these phases pass almost unnoticed to-day, in climates
where the skies are clear, human life was largely influenced by
moonlight. Even our own bodily life, with its recurrent heart-beats and
breathings, is essentially periodic.[8] The presupposition of
periodicity is indeed fundamental to our very conception of life, and
but for periodicity the very means of measuring time as a quantity would
be absent.

Periodicity is fundamental to certain departments of mathematics, that
is evident; it is perhaps less evident that periodicity is a factor that
has gone to the making of ritual, and hence, as we shall see, of art.
And yet this is manifestly the case. All primitive calendars are ritual
calendars, successions of feast-days, a patchwork of days of different
quality and character recurring; pattern at least is based on
periodicity. But there is another and perhaps more important way in
which periodicity affects and in a sense causes ritual. We have seen
already that out of the space between an impulse and a reaction there
arises an idea or "presentation." A "presentation" is, indeed, it would
seem, in its final analysis, only a delayed, intensified desire--a
desire of which the active satisfaction is blocked, and which runs over
into a "presentation." An image conceived "presented," what we call an
_idea_ is, as it were, an act prefigured.

Ritual acts, then, which depend on the periodicity of the seasons are
acts necessarily delayed. The thing delayed, expected, waited for, is
more and more a source of value, more and more apt to precipitate into
what we call an idea, which is in reality but the projected shadow of an
unaccomplished action. More beautiful it may be, but comparatively
bloodless, yet capable in its turn of acting as an initial motor impulse
in the cycle of activity. It will later (p. 70) be seen that these
periodic festivals are the stuff of which those faded, unaccomplished
actions and desires which we call gods--Attis, Osiris, Dionysos--are

       *       *       *       *       *

To primitive man, as we have seen, beast and bird and plant and himself
were not sharply divided, and the periodicity of the seasons was for
all. It will depend on man's social and geographical conditions whether
he notices periodicity most in plants or animals. If he is nomadic he
will note the recurrent births of other animals and of human children,
and will connect them with the lunar year. But it is at once evident
that, at least in Mediterranean lands, and probably everywhere, it is
the periodicity of plants and vegetation generally which depends on
moisture, that is most striking. Plants die down in the heat of summer,
trees shed their leaves in autumn, all Nature sleeps or dies in winter,
and awakes in spring.

Sometimes it is the dying down that attracts most attention. This is
very clear in the rites of Adonis, which are, though he rises again,
essentially rites of lamentation. The details of the ritual show this
clearly, and specially as already seen in the cult of Osiris. For the
"gardens" of Adonis the women took baskets or pots filled with earth,
and in them, as children sow cress now-a-days, they planted wheat,
fennel, lettuce, and various kinds of flowers, which they watered and
tended for eight days. In hot countries the seeds sprang up rapidly, but
as the plants had no roots they withered quickly away. At the end of the
eight days they were carried out with the images of the dead Adonis and
thrown with them into the sea or into springs. The "gardens" of Adonis
became the type of transient loveliness and swift decay.

       *       *       *       *       *

"What waste would it be," says Plutarch,[9] "what inconceivable waste,
for God to create man, had he not an immortal soul. He would be like the
women who make little gardens, not less pleasant than the gardens of
Adonis in earthen pots and pans; so would our souls blossom and flourish
but for a day in a soft and tender body of flesh without any firm and
solid root of life, and then be blasted and put out in a moment."

Celebrated at midsummer as they were, and as the "gardens" were thrown
into water, it is probable that the rites of Adonis may have been, at
least in part, a rain-charm. In the long summer droughts of Palestine
and Babylonia the longing for rain must often have been intense enough
to provoke expression, and we remember (p. 19) that the Sumerian Tammuz
was originally _Dumuzi-absu_, "True Son of the Waters." Water is the
first need for vegetation. Gardens of Adonis are still in use in the
Madras Presidency.[10] At the marriage of a Brahman "seeds of five or
nine sorts are mixed and sown in earthen pots which are made specially
for the purpose, and are filled with earth. Bride and bridegroom water
the seeds both morning and evening for four days; and on the fifth day
the seedlings are thrown, like the real gardens of Adonis, into a tank
or river."

Seasonal festivals with one and the same intent--the promotion of
fertility in plants, animals and man--may occur at almost any time of
the year. At midsummer, as we have seen, we may have rain-charms; in
autumn we shall have harvest festivals; in late autumn and early winter
among pastoral peoples we shall have festivals, like that of Martinmas,
for the blessing and purification of flocks and herds when they come in
from their summer pasture. In midwinter there will be a Christmas
festival to promote and protect the sun's heat at the winter solstice.
But in Southern Europe, to which we mainly owe our drama and our art,
the festival most widely celebrated, and that of which we know most, is
the Spring Festival, and to that we must turn. The spring is to the
Greek of to-day the "ánoixis," "the Opening," and it was in spring and
with rites of spring that both Greek and Roman originally began their
year. It was this spring festival that gave to the Greek their god
Dionysos and in part his drama.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Cambridge on May Day two or three puzzled and weary little boys and
girls are still to be sometimes seen dragging round a perambulator with
a doll on it bedecked with ribbons and a flower or two. That is all that
is left in most parts of England of the Queen of the May and
Jack-in-the-Green, though here and there a maypole survives and is
resuscitated by enthusiasts about folk-dances. But in the days of "Good
Queen Bess" merry England, it would seem, was lustier. The Puritan
Stubbs, in his _Anatomie of Abuses_,[11] thus describes the festival:

     "They have twentie or fortie yoke of oxen, every oxe havyng a
     sweete nosegaie of flowers tyed on the tippe of his hornes, and
     these oxen draw home this Maiepoole (this stinckying idoll rather),
     which is covered all over with flowers and hearbes, bound round
     aboute with stringes from the top to the bottome, and sometyme
     painted with variable colours, with two or three hundred men,
     women, and children, following it with great devotion. And thus
     beyng reared up, with handkerchiefes and flagges streaming on the
     toppe, they strewe the ground about, binde greene boughs about it,
     set up summer haules, bowers, and arbours hard by it. And then fall
     they to banquet and feast, to leap and daunce aboute it, as the
     heathen people did at the dedication of their idolles, whereof this
     is a perfect patterne or rather the thyng itself."

The stern old Puritan was right, the maypole was the perfect pattern of
a heathen "idoll, or rather the thyng itself." He would have
exterminated it root and branch, but other and perhaps wiser divines
took the maypole into the service of the Christian Church, and still[12]
on May Day in Saffron Walden the spring song is heard with its Christian

    "A branch of May we have brought you,
      And at your door it stands;
    It is a sprout that is well budded out,
      The work of our Lord's hands."

The maypole was of course at first no pole cut down and dried. The gist
of it was that it should be a "sprout, well budded out." The object of
carrying in the May was to bring the very spirit of life and greenery
into the village. When this was forgotten, idleness or economy would
prompt the villagers to use the same tree or branch year after year. In
the villages of Upper Bavaria Dr. Frazer[13] tells us the maypole is
renewed once every three, four, or five years. It is a fir-tree fetched
from the forest, and amid all the wreaths, flags, and inscriptions with
which it is bedecked, an essential part is the bunch of dark green
foliage left at the top, "as a memento that in it we have to do, not
with a dead pole, but with a living tree from the greenwood."

At the ritual of May Day not only was the fresh green bough or tree
carried into the village, but with it came a girl or a boy, the Queen or
King of the May. Sometimes the tree itself, as in Russia, is dressed up
in woman's clothes; more often a real man or maid, covered with flowers
and greenery, walks with the tree or carries the bough. Thus in
Thuringia,[14] as soon as the trees begin to be green in spring, the
children assemble on a Sunday and go out into the woods, where they
choose one of their playmates to be Little Leaf Man. They break branches
from the trees and twine them about the child, till only his shoes are
left peeping out. Two of the other children lead him for fear he should
stumble. They take him singing and dancing from house to house, asking
for gifts of food, such as eggs, cream, sausages, cakes. Finally, they
sprinkle the Leaf Man with water and feast on the food. Such a Leaf Man
is our English Jack-in-the-Green, a chimney-sweeper who, as late as
1892, was seen by Dr. Rouse walking about at Cheltenham encased in a
wooden framework covered with greenery.

The bringing in of the new leafage in the form of a tree or flowers is
one, and perhaps the simplest, form of spring festival. It takes little
notice of death and winter, uttering and emphasizing only the desire for
the joy in life and spring. But in other and severer climates the
emotion is fiercer and more complex; it takes the form of a struggle or
contest, what the Greeks called an _agon_. Thus on May Day in the Isle
of Man a Queen of the May was chosen, and with her twenty maids of
honour, together with a troop of young men for escort. But there was not
only a Queen of the May, but a Queen of Winter, a man dressed as a
woman, loaded with warm clothes and wearing a woollen hood and fur
tippet. Winter, too, had attendants like the Queen of the May. The two
troops met and fought; and whichever Queen was taken prisoner had to pay
the expenses of the feast.

In the Isle of Man the real gist of the ceremony is quite forgotten, it
has become a mere play. But among the Esquimaux[15] there is still
carried on a similar rite, and its magical intent is clearly understood.
In autumn, when the storms begin and the long and dismal Arctic winter
is at hand, the central Esquimaux divide themselves into two parties
called the Ptarmigans and the Ducks. The ptarmigans are the people born
in winter, the ducks those born in summer. They stretch out a long rope
of sealskin. The ducks take hold of one end, the ptarmigans of the
other, then comes a tug-of-war. If the ducks win there will be fine
weather through the winter; if the ptarmigans, bad. This autumn festival
might, of course, with equal magical intent be performed in the spring,
but probably autumn is chosen because, with the dread of the Arctic ice
and snow upon them, the fear of winter is stronger than the hope of

       *       *       *       *       *

The intense emotion towards the weather, which breaks out into these
magical _agones_, or "contests," is not very easy to realize. The
weather to us now-a-days for the most part damps a day's pleasuring or
raises the price of fruit and vegetables. But our main supplies come to
us from other lands and other weathers, and we find it hard to think
ourselves back into the state when a bad harvest meant starvation. The
intensely practical attitude of man towards the seasons, the way that
many of these magical dramatic ceremonies rose straight out of the
emotion towards the food-supply, would perhaps never have been fully
realized but for the study of the food-producing ceremonies of the
Central Australians.

The Central Australian spring is not the shift from winter to summer,
from cold to heat, but from a long, arid, and barren season to a season
short and often irregular in recurrence of torrential rain and sudden
fertility. The dry steppes of Central Australia are the scene of a
marvellous transformation. In the dry season all is hot and desolate,
the ground has only patches of wiry scrub, with an occasional parched
acacia tree, all is stones and sand; there is no sign of animal life
save for the thousand ant-hills. Then suddenly the rainy season sets in.
Torrents fill the rivers, and the sandy plain is a sheet of water.
Almost as suddenly the rain ceases, the streams dry up, sucked in by the
thirsty ground, and as though literally by magic a luxuriant vegetation
bursts forth, the desert blossoms as a rose. Insects, lizards, frogs,
birds, chirp, frisk and chatter. No plant or animal can live unless it
live quickly. The struggle for existence is keen and short.

It seems as though the change came and life was born by magic, and the
primitive Australian takes care that magic should not be wanting, and
magic of the most instructive kind. As soon as the season of fertility
approaches he begins his rites with the avowed object of making and
multiplying the plants, and chiefly the animals, by which he lives; he
paints the figure of the emu on the sand with vermilion drawn from his
own blood; he puts on emu feathers and gazes about him vacantly in
stupid fashion like an emu bird; he makes a structure of boughs like the
chrysalis of a Witchetty grub--his favourite food, and drags his body
through it in pantomime, gliding and shuffling to promote its birth.
Here, difficult and intricate though the ceremonies are, and uncertain
in meaning as many of the details must probably always remain, the main
emotional gist is clear. It is not that the Australian wonders at and
admires the miracle of his spring, the bursting of the flowers and the
singing of birds; it is not that his heart goes out in gratitude to an
All-Father who is the Giver of all good things; it is that, obedient to
the push of life within him, his impulse is towards food. He must eat
that he and his tribe may grow and multiply. It is this, his will to
live, that he _utters and represents_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The savage utters his will to live, his intense desire for food; but it
should be noted, it is desire and will and longing, not certainty and
satisfaction that he utters. In this respect it is interesting to note
that his rites and ceremonies, when periodic, are of fairly long
periods. Winter and summer are not the only natural periodic cycles;
there is the cycle of day and night, and yet among primitive peoples but
little ritual centres round day and night. The reason is simple. The
cycle of day and night is so short, it recurs so frequently, that man
naturally counted upon it and had no cause to be anxious. The emotional
tension necessary to ritual was absent. A few peoples, _e.g._ the
Egyptians, have practised daily incantations to bring back the sun.
Probably they had at first felt a real tension of anxiety, and
then--being a people hidebound by custom--had gone on from mere
conservatism. Where the sun returns at a longer interval, and is even,
as among the Esquimaux, hidden for the long space of six months, ritual
inevitably arises. They play at cat's-cradle to catch the ball of the
sun lest it should sink and be lost for ever.

Round the moon, whose cycle is long, but not too long, ritual very early
centred, but probably only when its supposed influence on vegetation was
first surmised. The moon, as it were, practises magic herself; she waxes
and wanes, and with her, man thinks, all the vegetable kingdom waxes and
wanes too, all but the lawless onion. The moon, Plutarch[16] tells us,
is fertile in its light and contains moisture, it is kindly to the young
of animals and to the new shoots of plants. Even Bacon[17] held that
observations of the moon with a view to planting and sowing and the
grafting of trees were "not altogether frivolous." It cannot too often
be remembered that primitive man has but little, if any, interest in sun
and moon and heavenly bodies for their inherent beauty or wonder; he
cares for them, he holds them sacred, he performs rites in relation to
them mainly when he notes that they bring the seasons, and he cares for
the seasons mainly because they bring him food. A season is to him as a
_Hora_ was at first to the Greeks, _the fruits of a season_, what our
farmers would call "a good _year_."

       *       *       *       *       *

The sun, then, had no ritual till it was seen that he led in the
seasons; but long before that was known, it was seen that the seasons
were annual, that they went round in a _ring_; and because that annual
ring was long in revolving, great was man's hope and fear in the winter,
great his relief and joy in the spring. It was literally a matter of
death and life, and it was as death and life that he sometimes
represented it, as we have seen in the figures of Adonis and Osiris.

Adonis and Osiris have their modern parallels, who leave us in no doubt
as to the meaning of their figures. Thus on the 1st of March in
Thüringen a ceremony is performed called "Driving out the Death." The
young people make up a figure of straw, dress it in old clothes, carry
it out and throw it into the river. Then they come back, tell the good
news to the village, and are given eggs and food as a reward. In Bohemia
the children carry out a straw puppet and burn it. While they are
burning it they sing--

    "Now carry we Death out of the village,
    The new Summer into the village,
    Welcome, dear Summer,
    Green little corn."

In other parts of Bohemia the song varies; it is not Summer that comes
back but Life.

    "We have carried away Death,
    And brought back Life."

In both these cases it is interesting to note that though Death is
dramatically carried out, the coming back of Life is only announced, not

Often, and it would seem quite naturally, the puppet representing Death
or Winter is reviled and roughly handled, or pelted with stones, and
treated in some way as a sort of scapegoat. But in not a few cases, and
these are of special interest, it seems to be the seat of a sort of
magical potency which can be and is transferred to the figure of Summer
or Life, thus causing, as it were, a sort of Resurrection. In Lusatia
the women only carry out the Death. They are dressed in black themselves
as mourners, but the puppet of straw which they dress up as the Death
wears a white shirt. They carry it to the village boundary, followed by
boys throwing stones, and there tear it to pieces. Then they cut down a
tree and dress it in the white shirt of the Death and carry it home

So at the Feast of the Ascension in Transylvania. After morning service
the girls of the village dress up the Death; they tie a threshed-out
sheaf of corn into a rough copy of a head and body, and stick a
broomstick through the body for arms. Then they dress the figure up in
the ordinary holiday clothes of a peasant girl--a red hood, silver
brooches, and ribbons galore. They put the Death at an open window that
all the people when they go to vespers may see it. Vespers over, two
girls take the Death by the arms and walk in front; the rest follow.
They sing an ordinary church hymn. Having wound through the village they
go to another house, shut out the boys, strip the Death of its clothes,
and throw the straw body out of the window to the boys, who fling it
into a river. Then one of the girls is dressed in the Death's discarded
clothes, and the procession again winds through the village. The same
hymn is sung. Thus it is clear that the girl is a sort of resuscitated
Death. This resurrection aspect, this passing of the old into the new,
will be seen to be of great ritual importance when we come to Dionysos
and the Dithyramb.

These ceremonies of Death and Life are more complex than the simple
carrying in of green boughs or even the dancing round maypoles. When we
have these figures, these "impersonations," we are getting away from the
merely emotional dance, from the domain of simple psychological motor
discharge to something that is very like rude art, at all events to
personification. On this question of personification, in which so much
of art and religion has its roots, it is all-important to be clear.

       *       *       *       *       *

In discussions on such primitive rites as "Carrying out the Death,"
"Bringing in Summer," we are often told that the puppet of the girl is
carried round, buried, burnt; brought back, because it "personifies the
Spirit of Vegetation," or it "embodies the Spirit of Summer." The
Spirit of Vegetation is "incarnate in the puppet." We are led, by this
way of speaking, to suppose that the savage or the villager first forms
an idea or conception of a Spirit of Vegetation and then later
"embodies" it. We naturally wonder that he should perform a mental act
so high and difficult as abstraction.

A very little consideration shows that he performs at first no
abstraction at all; abstraction is foreign to his mental habit. He
begins with a vague excited dance to relieve his emotion. That dance
has, probably almost from the first, a leader; the dancers choose an
actual _person_, and he is the root and ground of _personification_.
There is nothing mysterious about the process; the leader does not
"embody" a previously conceived idea, rather he begets it. From his
personality springs the personification. The abstract idea arises from
the only thing it possibly can arise from, the concrete fact. Without
_per_ception there is no _con_ception. We noted in speaking of dances
(p. 43) how the dance got generalized; how from many commemorations of
actual hunts and battles there arose the hunt dance and the war dance.
So, from many actual living personal May Queens and Deaths, from many
actual men and women decked with leaves, or trees dressed up as men and
women, arises _the_ Tree Spirit, _the_ Vegetation Spirit, _the_ Death.

At the back, then, of the fact of personification lies the fact that the
emotion is felt collectively, the rite is performed by a band or chorus
who dance together _with a common leader_. Round that leader the emotion
centres. When there is an act of Carrying-out or Bringing-in he either
is himself the puppet or he carries it. Emotion is of the whole band;
drama--doing--tends to focus on the leader. This leader, this focus, is
then remembered, thought of, imaged; from being _per_ceived year by
year, he is finally _con_ceived; but his basis is always in actual fact
of which he is but the reflection.

Had there been no periodic festivals, personification might long have
halted. But it is easy to see that a recurrent _per_ception helps to
form a permanent abstract _con_ception. The different actual recurrent
May Kings and "Deaths," _because they recur_, get a sort of permanent
life of their own and become beings apart. In this way a conception, a
kind of _daimon_, or spirit, is fashioned, who dies and lives again in a
perpetual cycle. The periodic festival begets a kind of not immortal,
but perennial, god.

Yet the faculty of conception is but dim and feeble in the mind even of
the peasant to-day; his function is to perceive the actual fact year by
year, and to feel about it. Perhaps a simple instance best makes this
clear. The Greek Church does not gladly suffer images in the round,
though she delights in picture-images, _eikons_. But at her great spring
festival of Easter she makes, in the remote villages, concession to a
strong, perhaps imperative, popular need; she allows an image, an actual
idol, of the dead Christ to be laid in the tomb that it may rise again.
A traveller in Eubœa[18] during Holy Week had been struck by the genuine
grief shown at the Good Friday services. On Easter Eve there was the
same general gloom and despondency, and he asked an old woman why it
was. She answered: "Of course I am anxious; for if Christ does not rise
to-morrow, we shall have no corn this year."

The old woman's state of mind is fairly clear. Her emotion is the old
emotion, not sorrow for the Christ the Son of Mary, but fear, imminent
fear for the failure of food. The Christ again is not the historical
Christ of Judæa, still less the incarnation of the Godhead proceeding
from the Father; he is the actual figure fashioned by his village chorus
and laid by the priests, the leaders of that chorus, in the local

       *       *       *       *       *

So far, then, we have seen that the vague emotional dance tends to
become a periodic rite, performed at regular intervals. The periodic
rite may occur at any date of importance to the food-supply of the
community, in summer, in winter, at the coming of the annual rains, or
the regular rising of a river. Among Mediterranean peoples, both in
ancient days and at the present time, the Spring Festival arrests
attention. Having learnt the general characteristics of this Spring
Festival, we have now to turn to one particular case, the Spring
Festival of the Greeks. This is all-important to us because, as will be
seen, from the ritual of this and kindred festivals arose, we believe, a
great form of Art, the Greek drama.


[7] Chapter XII: "Periodicity in Nature."

[8] _Ibid._

[9] _De Ser. Num._ 17.

[10] Frazer, _Adonis, Attis, and Osiris_,^3 p. 200.

[11] Quoted by Dr. Frazer, _The Golden Bough_,^2 p. 203.

[12] E.K. Chambers, _The Mediæval Stage_, I, p. 169.

[13] _The Golden Bough_,^2 p. 205.

[14] _The Golden Bough_,^2 p. 213.

[15] Resumed from Dr. Frazer, _Golden Bough_,^2 II, p. 104.

[16] _De Is. et Os._, p. 367.

[17] _De Aug. Scient._, III, 4.

[18] J.C. Lawson, _Modern Greek Folk-lore and Ancient Religion_, p. 573.



The tragedies of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were performed at
Athens at a festival known as the Great Dionysia. This took place early
in April, so that the time itself makes us suspect that its ceremonies
were connected with the spring. But we have more certain evidence.
Aristotle, in his treatise on the Art of Poetry, raises the question of
the origin of the drama. He was not specially interested in primitive
ritual; beast dances and spring mummeries might even have seemed to him
mere savagery, the lowest form of "imitation;" but he divined that a
structure so complex as Greek tragedy must have arisen out of a simpler
form; he saw, or felt, in fact, that art had in some way risen out of
ritual, and he has left us a memorable statement.

In describing the "Carrying-out of Summer" we saw that the element of
real _drama_, real impersonation, began with the leaders of the band,
with the Queen of the May, and with the "Death" or the "Winter." Great
is our delight when we find that for Greek drama Aristotle[19] divined a
like beginning. He says:

     "Tragedy--as also Comedy--was at first mere improvisation--the one
     (tragedy) _originated with the leaders of the Dithyramb_."

The further question faces us: What was the Dithyramb? We shall find to
our joy that this obscure-sounding Dithyramb, though before Aristotle's
time it had taken literary form, was in origin a festival closely akin
to those we have just been discussing. The Dithyramb was, to begin with,
a spring ritual; and when Aristotle tells us tragedy arose out of the
Dithyramb, he gives us, though perhaps half unconsciously, a clear
instance of a splendid art that arose from the simplest of rites; he
plants our theory of the connection of art with ritual firmly with its
feet on historical ground.

       *       *       *       *       *

When we use the word "dithyrambic" we certainly do not ordinarily think
of spring. We say a style is "dithyrambic" when it is unmeasured, too
ornate, impassioned, flowery. The Greeks themselves had forgotten that
the word _Dithyramb_ meant a leaping, inspired dance. But they had not
forgotten on what occasion that dance was danced. Pindar wrote a
Dithyramb for the Dionysiac festival at Athens, and his song is full of
springtime and flowers. He bids all the gods come to Athens to dance

     "Look upon the dance, Olympians; send us the grace of Victory, ye
     gods who come to the heart of our city, where many feet are
     treading and incense steams: in sacred Athens come to the holy
     centre-stone. Take your portion of garlands pansy-twined, libations
     poured from the culling of spring....

     "Come hither to the god with ivy bound. Bromios we mortals name
     Him, and Him of the mighty Voice.... The clear signs of his
     Fulfilment are not hidden, whensoever the chamber of the
     purple-robed Hours is opened, and nectarous flowers lead in the
     fragrant spring. Then, then, are flung over the immortal Earth,
     lovely petals of pansies, and roses are amid our hair; and voices
     of song are loud among the pipes, the dancing-floors are loud with
     the calling of crowned Semele."

Bromios, "He of the loud cry," is a title of Dionysos. Semele is his
mother, the Earth; we keep her name in Nova _Zembla_, "New Earth." The
song might have been sung at a "Carrying-in of Summer." The Horæ, the
Seasons, a chorus of maidens, lead in the figure of Spring, the Queen of
the May, and they call to Mother Earth to wake, to rise up from the
earth, flower-crowned.

You may _bring back_ the life of the Spring in the form of a tree or a
maiden, or you may summon her to rise from the sleeping Earth. In Greek
mythology we are most familiar with the Rising-up form. Persephone, the
daughter of Demeter, is carried below the Earth, and rises up again year
by year. On Greek vase-paintings[20] the scene occurs again and again. A
mound of earth is represented, sometimes surmounted by a tree; out of
the mound a woman's figure rises; and all about the mound are figures of
dancing dæmons waiting to welcome her.

All this is not mere late poetry and art. It is the primitive art and
poetry that come straight out of ritual, out of actual "things done,"
_dromena_. In the village of Megara, near Athens, the very place where
to-day on Easter Tuesday the hills are covered with throngs of dancing
men, and specially women, Pausanias[21] saw near the City Hearth a rock
called "_Anaklethra_, 'Place of Calling-up,' because, if any one will
believe it, when she was wandering in search of her daughter, Demeter
called her up there"; and he adds: "The women to this day perform rites
analogous to the story told."

These rites of "Calling up" must have been spring rites, in which, in
some pantomimic dance, the uprising of the Earth Spirit was enacted.

Another festival of Uprising is perhaps more primitive and instructive,
because it is near akin to the "Carrying out of Winter," and also
because it shows clearly the close connection of these rites with the
food-supply. Plutarch[22] tells us of a festival held every nine years
at Delphi. It was called from the name of the puppet used _Charila_, a
word which originally meant Spring-Maiden, and is connected with the
Russian word _yaro_, "Spring," and is also akin to the Greek _Charis_,
"grace," in the sense of increase, "Give us all _grace_." The rites of
_Charila_, the Gracious One, the Spring-Maiden, were as follows:

     "The king presided and made a distribution in public of grain and
     pulse to all, both citizens and strangers. And the child-image of
     _Charila_ is brought in. When they had all received their share,
     the king struck the image with his sandal, the leader of the
     Thyiades lifted the image and took it away to a precipitous place,
     and there tied a rope round the neck of the image and buried it."

Mr. Calderon has shown that very similar rites go on to-day in Bulgaria
in honour of _Yarilo_, the Spring God.

The image is beaten, insulted, let down into some cleft or cave. It is
clearly a "Carrying out the Death," though we do not know the exact date
at which it was celebrated. It had its sequel in another festival at
Delphi called _Herois_, or the "Heroine." Plutarch[23] says it was too
mystical and secret to describe, but he lets us know the main gist.

     "Most of the ceremonies of the _Herois_ have a mystical reason
     which is known to the Thyiades, but from the rites that are done in
     public, one may conjecture it to be a 'Bringing up of Semele.'"

Some one or something, a real woman, or more likely the buried puppet
_Charila_, the Spring-Maiden, was brought up from the ground to enact
and magically induce the coming of Spring.

       *       *       *       *       *

These ceremonies of beating, driving out, burying, have all, with the
Greeks, as with the savage and the modern peasant, but one real object:
to get rid of the season that is bad for food, to bring in and revive
the new supply. This comes out very clearly in a ceremony that went on
down to Plutarch's time, and he tells us[24] it was "ancestral." It was
called "the Driving out of Ox-hunger." By Ox-hunger was meant any great
ravenous hunger, and the very intensity and monstrosity of the word
takes us back to days when famine was a grim reality. When Plutarch was
_archon_ he had, as chief official, to perform the ceremony at the
Prytaneion, or Common Hearth. A slave was taken, beaten with rods of a
magical plant, and driven out of doors to the words: "Out with
Ox-hunger! In with Wealth and Health!" Here we see the actual sensation,
or emotion, of ravenous hunger gets a name, and thereby a personality,
though a less completely abstracted one than Death or Summer. We do not
know that the ceremony of Driving out Ox-hunger was performed in the
spring, it is only instanced here because, more plainly even than the
Charila, when the king distributes pulse and peas, it shows the relation
of ancient mimic ritual to food-supply.

If we keep clearly in mind the _object_ rather than the exact _date_ of
the Spring Song we shall avoid many difficulties. A Dithyramb was sung
at Delphi through the winter months, which at first seems odd. But we
must remember that among agricultural peoples the performance of magical
ceremonies to promote fertility and the food supply may begin at any
moment after the earth is ploughed and the seed sown. The sowing of the
seed is its death and burial; "that which thou sowest is not quickened
except it die." When the death and burial are once accomplished the hope
of resurrection and new birth begins, and with the hope the magical
ceremonies that may help to fulfil that hope. The Sun is new-born in
midwinter, at the solstice, and our "New" year follows, yet it is in the
spring that, to this day, we keep our great resurrection festival.

       *       *       *       *       *

We return to our argument, holding steadily in our minds this
connection. The Dithyramb is a Spring Song at a Spring Festival, and the
importance of the Spring Festival is that it magically promotes the

       *       *       *       *       *

Do we know any more about the Dithyramb? Happily yes, and the next point
is as curious as significant.

Pindar, in one of his Odes, asks a strange question:

    "Whence did appear the Graces of Dionysos,
    With the Bull-driving Dithyramb?"

Scholars have broken their own heads and one another's to find a meaning
and an answer to the odd query. It is only quite lately that they have
come at all to see that the Dithyramb was a Spring Song, a primitive
rite. Formerly it was considered to be a rather elaborate form of lyric
poetry invented comparatively late. But, even allowing it is the Spring
Song, are we much further? Why should the Dithyramb be bull-driving? How
can driving a Bull help the spring to come? And, above all, what are the
"slender-ankled" Graces doing, helping to drive the great unwieldy Bull?

The difficulty about the Graces, or Charites, as the Greeks called them,
is soon settled. They are the Seasons, or "Hours," and the chief Season,
or Hour, was Spring herself. They are called Charites, or Graces,
because they are, in the words of the Collect, the "Givers of all
grace," that is, of all increase physical and spiritual. But why do they
want to come driving in a Bull? It is easy to see why the Givers of all
grace lead the Dithyramb, the Spring Song; their coming, with their
"fruits in due season" is the very gist of the Dithyramb; but why is the
Dithyramb "bull-driving"? Is this a mere "poetical" epithet? If it is,
it is not particularly poetical.

But Pindar is not, we now know, merely being "poetical," which amounts,
according to some scholars, to meaning anything or nothing. He is
describing, alluding to, an actual rite or _dromenon_ in which a Bull is
summoned and driven to come in spring. About that we must be clear.
Plutarch, the first anthropologist, wrote a little treatise called
_Greek Questions_, in which he tells us all the strange out-of-the-way
rites and customs he saw in Greece, and then asks himself what they
meant. In his 36th _Question_ he asks: "Why do the women of Elis summon
Dionysos in their hymns to be present with them with his bull-foot?" And
then, by a piece of luck that almost makes one's heart stand still, he
gives us the very words of the little ritual hymn the women sang, our
earliest "Bull-driving" Spring Song:

    "In Spring-time,[25] O Dionysos,
      To thy holy temple come;
    To Elis with thy Graces,
      Rushing with thy bull-foot, come,
          Noble Bull, Noble Bull."

It is a strange primitive picture--the holy women standing in springtime
in front of the temple, summoning the Bull; and the Bull, garlanded and
filleted, rushing towards them, driven by the Graces, probably three
real women, three Queens of the May, wreathed and flower-bedecked. But
what does it mean?

Plutarch tries to answer his own question, and half, in a dim, confused
fashion, succeeds. "Is it," he suggests, "that some entitle the god as
'Born of a Bull' and as a 'Bull' himself? ... or is it that many hold
the god is the beginner of sowing and ploughing?" We have seen how a
kind of _daimon_, or spirit, of Winter or Summer arose from an actual
tree or maid or man disguised year by year as a tree. Did the god
Dionysos take his rise in like fashion from the driving and summoning
year by year of some holy Bull?

First, we must notice that it was not only at Elis that a holy Bull
appears at the Spring Festival. Plutarch asks another instructive
_Question_:[26] "Who among the Delphians is the Sanctifier?" And we find
to our amazement that the sanctifier is a Bull. A Bull who not only is
holy himself, but is so holy that he has power to make others holy, he
is the Sanctifier; and, most important for us, he sanctifies by his
death in the month Bysios, the month that fell, Plutarch tells us, "at
the beginning of spring, the time of the blossoming of many plants."

We do not hear that the "Sanctifier" at Delphi was "driven," but in all
probability he was led from house to house, that every one might partake
in the sanctity that simply exuded from him. At Magnesia,[27] a city of
Asia Minor, we have more particulars. There, at the annual fair year by
year the stewards of the city bought a Bull, "the finest that could be
got," and at the new moon of the month at the beginning of seedtime they
dedicated it, for the city's welfare. The Bull's sanctified life began
with the opening of the agricultural year, whether with the spring or
the autumn ploughing we do not know. The dedication of the Bull was a
high solemnity. He was led in procession, at the head of which went the
chief priest and priestess of the city. With them went a herald and the
sacrificer, and two bands of youths and maidens. So holy was the Bull
that nothing unlucky might come near him; the youths and maidens must
have both their parents alive, they must not have been under the
_taboo_, the infection, of death. The herald pronounced aloud a prayer
for "the safety of the city and the land, and the citizens, and the
women and children, for peace and wealth, and for the bringing forth of
grain and of all the other fruits, and of cattle." All this longing for
fertility, for food and children, focuses round the holy Bull, whose
holiness is his strength and fruitfulness.

The Bull thus solemnly set apart, charged as it were with the luck of
the whole people, is fed at the public cost. The official charged with
his keep has to drive him into the market-place, and "it is good for
those corn-merchants who give the Bull grain as a gift," good for them
because they are feeding, nurturing, the luck of the State, which is
their own luck. So through autumn and winter the Bull lives on, but
early in April the end comes. Again a great procession is led forth, the
senate and the priests walk in it, and with them come representatives of
each class of the State--children and young boys, and youths just come
to manhood, _epheboi_, as the Greeks called them. The Bull is
sacrificed, and why? Why must a thing so holy die? Why not live out the
term of his life? He dies because he _is_ so holy, that he may give his
holiness, his strength, his life, just at the moment it is holiest, to
his people.

     "When they shall have sacrificed the Bull, let them divide it up
     among those who took part in the procession."

The mandate is clear. The procession included representatives of the
whole State. The holy flesh is not offered to a god, it is eaten--to
every man his portion--by each and every citizen, that he may get his
share of the strength of the Bull, of the luck of the State.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now at Magnesia, after the holy civic communion, the meal shared, we
hear no more. Next year a fresh Bull will be chosen, and the cycle begin
again. But at Athens at the annual "Ox-murder," the _Bouphonia_, as it
was called, the scene did not so close. The ox was slain with all
solemnity, and all those present partook of the flesh, and then--the
hide was stuffed with straw and sewed up, and next the stuffed animal
was set on its feet and yoked to a plough as though it were ploughing.
The Death is followed by a Resurrection. Now this is all-important. We
are so accustomed to think of sacrifice as the death, the giving up, the
renouncing of something. But _sacrifice_ does not mean "death" at all.
It means making holy, sanctifying; and holiness was to primitive man
just special strength and life. What they wanted from the Bull was just
that special life and strength which all the year long they had put into
him, and nourished and fostered. That life was in his blood. They could
not eat that flesh nor drink that blood unless they killed him. So he
must die. But it was not to give him up to the gods that they killed
him, not to "sacrifice" him in our sense, but to have him, keep him, eat
him, live _by_ him and through him, by his grace.

And so this killing of the sacred beast was always a terrible thing, a
thing they fain would have shirked. They fled away after the deed, not
looking backwards; they publicly tried and condemned the axe that struck
the blow. But their best hope, their strongest desire, was that he had
not, could not, really have died. So this intense desire uttered itself
in the _dromenon_ of his resurrection. If he did not rise again, how
could they plough and sow again next year? He must live again, he
should, he _did_.

The Athenians were a little ashamed of their "Ox-murder," with its
grotesque pantomime of the stuffed, resurrected beast. Just so some of
us now-a-days are getting a little shy of deliberately cursing our
neighbours on Ash Wednesday. They probably did not feel very keenly
about their food-supply, they thought their daily dinner was secure.
Anyhow the emotion that had issued in the pantomime was dead, though
from sheer habit the pantomime went on. Probably some of the less
educated among them thought there "might be something in it," and anyhow
it was "as well to be on the safe side." The queer ceremony had got
associated with the worship of Olympian Zeus, and with him you must
reckon. Then perhaps your brother-in-law was the Ox-striker, and anyhow
it was desirable that the women should go; some of the well-born girls
had to act as water-carriers.

The Ox-murder was obsolete at Athens, but the spirit of the rite is
alive to-day among the Ainos in the remote island of Saghalien. Among
the Ainos the Bear is what psychologists rather oddly call the main
"food focus," the chief "value centre." And well he may be. Bear's flesh
is the Ainos' staple food; they eat it both fresh and salted; bearskins
are their principal clothing; part of their taxes are paid in bear's
fat. The Aino men spend the autumn, winter and spring in hunting the
Bear. Yet we are told the Ainos "worship the Bear"; they apply to it the
name _Kamui_, which has been translated god; but it is a word applied to
all strangers, and so only means what catches attention, and hence is
formidable. In the religion of the Ainos "the Bear plays a chief part,"
says one writer. The Bear "receives idolatrous veneration," says
another. They "worship it after their fashion," says a third. Have we
another case of "the heathen in his blindness"? Only here he "bows down"
not to "gods of wood and stone," but to a live thing, uncouth, shambling
but gracious--a Bear.

Instead of theorizing as to what the Aino thinks and imagines, let us
observe his _doings_, his _dromena_, his rites; and most of all his
great spring and autumn rite, the _dromenon_ of the Bear. We shall find
that, detail for detail, it strangely resembles the Greek _dromenon_ of
the Bull.

As winter draws to a close among the Ainos, a young Bear is trapped and
brought into the village. At first an Aino woman suckles him at her
breast, then later he is fed on his favourite food, fish--his tastes are
semi-polar. When he is at his full strength, that is, when he threatens
to break the cage in which he lives, the feast is held. This is usually
in September, or October, that is when the season of bear-hunting

Before the feast begins the Ainos apologize profusely, saying that they
have been good to the Bear, they can feed him no longer, they must kill
him. Then the man who gives the Bear-feast invites his relations and
friends, and if the community be small nearly the whole village attends.
On the occasion described by Dr. Scheube about thirty Ainos were
present, men, women, and children, all dressed in their best clothes.
The woman of the house who had suckled the Bear sat by herself, sad and
silent, only now and then she burst into helpless tears. The ceremony
began with libations made to the fire-god and to the house-god set up in
a corner of the house. Next the master and some of the guests left the
hut and offered libations in front of the Bear's cage. A few drops were
presented to him in a saucer, which he promptly upset. Then the women
and girls danced round the cage, rising and hopping on their toes, and
as they danced they clapped their hands and chanted a monotonous chant.
The mother and some of the old women cried as they danced and stretched
out their arms to the Bear, calling him loving names. The young women
who had nursed no Bears laughed, after the manner of the young. The Bear
began to get upset, and rushed round his cage, howling lamentably.

Next came a ceremony of special significance which is never omitted at
the sacrifice of a Bear. Libations were offered to the _inabos_, sacred
wands which stand outside the Aino hut. These wands are about two feet
high and are whittled at the top into spiral shavings. _Five new wands
with bamboo leaves attached to them_ are set up for the festival; the
leaves according to the Ainos mean _that the Bear may come to life
again_. These wands are specially interesting. The chief focus of
attention is of course the Bear, because his flesh is for the Aino his
staple food. But vegetation is not quite forgotten. The animal life of
the Bear and the vegetable life of the bamboo-leaves are thought of

Then comes the actual sacrifice. The Bear is led out of his cage, a rope
is thrown round his neck, and he is perambulated round the neighbourhood
of the hut. We do not hear that among the Ainos he goes in procession
round the village, but among the Gilyaks, not far away in Eastern
Siberia, the Bear is led about the villages, and it is held to be
specially important that he should be dragged down to the river, for
this will ensure the village a plentiful supply of fish. He is then,
among the Gilyaks, taken to each hut in the village, and fish, brandy,
and other delicacies are offered to him. Some of the people prostrate
themselves in front of him and his coming into a house brings a
blessing, and if he snuffs at the food, that brings a blessing too.

To return to the Aino Bear. While he is being led about the hut the men,
headed by a chief, shoot at the Bear with arrows tipped with buttons.
But the object of the shooting is not to kill, only apparently to
irritate him. He is killed at last without shedding of his sacred blood,
and we hope without much pain. He is taken in front of the sacred wands,
a stick placed in his mouth, and nine men press his neck against a beam;
he dies without a sound. Meantime the women and girls, who stand behind
the men, dance, lament, and beat the men who are killing their Bear. The
body of the dead Bear is then laid on a mat before the sacred wands. A
sword and quiver, taken from the wands, are hung about the Bear. If it
is a She-Bear it is also bedecked with a necklace and rings. Food and
drink, millet broth and millet cakes are offered to it. It is decked as
an Aino, it is fed as an Aino. It is clear that the Bear is in some
sense a human Bear, an Aino. The men sit down on mats in front of the
Bear and offer libations, and themselves drink deep.

Now that the death is fairly over the mourning ends, and all is feasting
and merriment. Even the old women lament no more. Cakes of millet are
scrambled for. The bear is skinned and disembowelled, the trunk is
severed from the head, to which the skin is left hanging. The blood,
which might not be shed before, is now carefully collected in cups and
eagerly drunk by the men, for the blood is the life. The liver is cut up
and eaten raw. The flesh and the rest of the vitals are kept for the day
next but one, when it is divided among all persons present at the feast.
It is what the Greeks call a _dais_, a meal divided or distributed.
While the Bear is being dismembered the girls dance, in front of the
sacred wands, and the old women again lament. The Bear's brain is
extracted from his head and eaten, and the skull, severed from the skin,
is hung on a pole near the sacred wands. Thus it would seem the life and
strength of the bear is brought near to the living growth of the leaves.
The stick with which the Bear was gagged is also hung on the pole, and
with it the sword and quiver he had worn after his death. The whole
congregation, men and women, dance about this strange maypole, and a
great drinking bout, in which all men and women alike join, ends the

The rite varies as to detail in different places. Among the Gilyaks the
Bear is dressed after death in full Gilyak costume and seated on a
bench of honour. In one part the bones and skull are carried out by the
oldest people to a place in the forest not far from the village. There
all the bones except the skull are buried. After that a young tree is
felled a few inches above the ground, its stump is cleft, and the skull
wedged into the cleft. When the grass grows over the spot the skull
disappears and there is an end of the Bear. Sometimes the Bear's flesh
is eaten in special vessels prepared for this festival and only used at
it. These vessels, which include bowls, platters, spoons, are
elaborately carved with figures of bears and other devices.

Through all varieties in detail the main intent is the same, and it is
identical with that of the rite of the holy Bull in Greece and the
maypole of our forefathers. Great is the sanctity of the Bear or the
Bull or the Tree; the Bear for a hunting people; the Bull for nomads,
later for agriculturists; the Tree for a forest folk. On the Bear and
the Bull and the Tree are focussed the desire of the whole people. Bear
and Bull and Tree are sacred, that is, set apart, because full of a
special life and strength intensely desired. They are led and carried
about from house to house that their sanctity may touch all, and avail
for all; the animal dies that he may be eaten; the Tree is torn to
pieces that all may have a fragment; and, above all, Bear and Bull and
Tree die only that they may live again.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have seen (p. 71) that, out of the puppet or the May Queen, actually
_per_ceived year after year there arose a remembrance, a mental image,
an imagined Tree Spirit, or "Summer," or Death, a thing never actually
seen but _con_ceived. Just so with the Bull. Year by year in the various
villages of Greece was seen an actual holy Bull, and bit by bit from the
remembrance of these various holy Bulls, who only died to live again
each year, there arose the image of a Bull-Spirit, or Bull-Daimon, and
finally, if we like to call him so, a Bull-God. The growth of this idea,
this _con_ception, must have been much helped by the fact that in some
places the dancers attendant on the holy Bull dressed up as bulls and
cows. The women worshippers of Dionysos, we are told, wore bulls' horns
in imitation of the god, for they represented him in pictures as having
a bull's head. _We_ know that a man does not turn into a bull, or a
bull into a man, the line of demarcation is clearly drawn; but the
rustic has no such conviction even to-day. That crone, his aged aunt,
may any day come in at the window in the shape of a black cat; why
should she not? It is not, then, that a god 'takes upon him the form of
a bull,' or is 'incarnate in a bull,' but that the real Bull and the
worshipper dressed as a bull are seen and remembered and give rise to an
imagined Bull-God; but, it should be observed, only among gifted,
imaginative, that is, image-making, peoples. The Ainos have their actual
holy Bear, as the Greeks had their holy Bull; but with them out of the
succession of holy Bears there arises, alas! no Bear-God.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have dwelt long on the Bull-driving Dithyramb, because it was not
obvious on the face of it how driving a bull could help the coming of
spring. We understand now why, on the day before the tragedies were
performed at Athens, the young men (_epheboi_) brought in not only the
human figure of the god, but also a Bull "worthy" of the God. We
understand, too, why in addition to the tragedies performed at the
great festival, Dithyrambs were also sung--"Bull-driving Dithyrambs."

       *       *       *       *       *

We come next to a third aspect of the Dithyramb, and one perhaps the
most important of all for the understanding of art, and especially the
drama. _The Dithyramb was the Song and Dance of the New Birth._

Plato is discussing various sorts of odes or songs. "Some," he says,
"are prayers to the gods--these are called _hymns_; others of an
opposite sort might best be called _dirges_; another sort are _pæans_,
and another--the birth of Dionysos, I suppose--is called _Dithyramb_."
Plato is not much interested in Dithyrambs. To him they are just a
particular kind of choral song; it is doubtful if he even knew that they
were Spring Songs; but this he did know, though he throws out the
information carelessly--the Dithyramb had for its proper subject the
birth or coming to be, the _genesis_ of Dionysos.

The common usage of Greek poetry bears out Plato's statement. When a
poet is going to describe the birth of Dionysos he calls the god by the
title _Dithyrambos_. Thus an inscribed hymn found at Delphi[28] opens

    "Come, O Dithyrambos, Bacchos, come.
    Bromios, come, and coming with thee bring
    Holy hours of thine own holy spring.
    All the stars danced for joy. Mirth
    Of mortals hailed thee, Bacchos, at thy birth."

The Dithyramb is the song of the birth, and the birth of Dionysos is in
the spring, the time of the maypole, the time of the holy Bull.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now we come to a curious thing. We have seen how a spirit, a dæmon,
and perhaps ultimately a god, develops out of an actual rite. Dionysos
the Tree-God, the Spirit of Vegetation, is but a maypole once
_per_ceived, then remembered and _con_ceived. Dionysos, the Bull-God, is
but the actual holy Bull himself, or rather the succession of annual
holy Bulls once perceived, then remembered, generalized, conceived. But
the god conceived will surely always be made in the image, the mental
image, of the fact perceived. If, then, we have a song and dance of the
_birth_ of Dionysos, shall we not, as in the Christian religion, have a
child-god, a holy babe, a Saviour in the manger; at first in original
form as a calf, then as a human child? Now it is quite true that in
Greek religion there is a babe Dionysos called _Liknites_, "Him of the
Cradle."[29] The rite of waking up, or bringing to light, the child
Liknites was performed each year at Delphi by the holy women.

But it is equally clear and certain that _the_ Dionysos of Greek worship
and of the drama was not a babe in the cradle. He was a goodly youth in
the first bloom of manhood, with the down upon his cheek, the time when,
Homer says, "youth is most gracious." This is the Dionysos that we know
in statuary, the fair, dreamy youth sunk in reverie; this is the
Dionysos whom Pentheus despised and insulted because of his young beauty
like a woman's. But how could such a Dionysos arise out of a rite of
birth? He could not, and he did not. The Dithyramb is also the song of
the second or new birth, the Dithyrambos is the twice-born.

This the Greeks themselves knew. By a false etymology they explained the
word _Dithyrambos_ as meaning "He of the double door," their word
_thyra_ being the same as our _door_. They were quite mistaken;
_Dithyrambos_, modern philology tells us, is the Divine Leaper, Dancer,
and Lifegiver. But their false etymology is important to us, because it
shows that they believed the Dithyrambos was the twice-born. Dionysos
was born, they fabled, once of his mother, like all men, once of his
father's thigh, like no man.

But if the Dithyrambos, the young Dionysos, like the Bull-God, the
Tree-God, arises from a _dromenon_, a rite, what is the rite of second
birth from which it arises?

       *       *       *       *       *

We look in vain among our village customs. If ever rite of second birth
existed, it is dead and buried. We turn to anthropology for help, and
find this, the rite of the second birth, widespread, universal, over
half the savage world.

With the savage, to be twice born is the rule, not the exception. By his
first birth he comes into the world, by his second he is born into his
tribe. At his first birth he belongs to his mother and the women-folk;
at his second he becomes a full-fledged man and passes into the society
of the warriors of his tribe. This second birth is a little difficult
for us to realize. A boy with us passes very gradually from childhood to
manhood, there is no definite moment when he suddenly emerges as a man.
Little by little as his education advances he is admitted to the social
privileges of the circle in which he is born. He goes to school, enters
a workshop or a university, and finally adopts a trade or a profession.
In the case of girls, in whose upbringing primitive savagery is apt to
linger, there is still, in certain social strata a ceremony known as
Coming Out. A girl's dress is suddenly lengthened, her hair is put up,
she is allowed to wear jewels, she kisses her sovereign's hand, a dance
is given in her honour; abruptly, from her seclusion in the cocoon state
of the schoolroom, she emerges full-blown into society. But the custom,
with its half-realized savagery, is already dying, and with boys it does
not obtain at all. Both sexes share, of course, the religious rite of

To avoid harsh distinctions, to bridge over abrupt transitions, is
always a mark of advancing civilization; but the savage, in his
ignorance and fear, lamentably over-stresses distinctions and
transitions. The long process of education, of passing from child to
man, is with him condensed into a few days, weeks, or sometimes months
of tremendous educational emphasis--of what is called "initiation,"
"going in," that is, entering the tribe. The ceremonies vary, but the
gist is always substantially the same. The boy is to put away childish
things, and become a grown and competent tribesman. Above all he is to
cease to be a woman-thing and become a man. His initiation prepares him
for his two chief functions as a tribesman--to be a warrior, to be a
father. That to the savage is the main if not the whole Duty of Man.

This "initiation" is of tremendous importance, and we should expect,
what in fact we find, that all this emotion that centres about it issues
in _dromena_, "rites done." These rites are very various, but they all
point one moral, that the former things are passed away and that the
new-born man has entered on a new life.

Simplest perhaps of all, and most instructive, is the rite practised by
the Kikuyu of British East Africa,[30] who require that every boy, just
before circumcision, must be born again. "The mother stands up with the
boy crouching at her feet; she pretends to go through all the labour
pains, and the boy on being reborn cries like a babe and is washed."

More often the new birth is simulated, or imagined, as a death and a
resurrection, either of the boys themselves or of some one else in their
presence. Thus at initiation among some tribes of South-east
Australia,[31] when the boys are assembled an old man dressed in stringy
bark fibre lies down in a grave. He is covered up lightly with sticks
and earth, and the grave is smoothed over. The buried man holds in his
hand a small bush which seems to be growing from the ground, and other
bushes are stuck in the ground round about. The novices are then brought
to the edge of the grave and a song is sung. Gradually, as the song goes
on, the bush held by the buried man begins to quiver. It moves more and
more and bit by bit the man himself starts up from the grave.

The Fijians have a drastic and repulsive way of simulating death. The
boys are shown a row of seemingly dead men, their bodies covered with
blood and entrails, which are really those of a dead pig. The first
gives a sudden yell. Up start the men, and then run to the river to
cleanse themselves.

Here the death is vicarious. Another goes through the simulated death
that the initiated boy may have new life. But often the mimicry is
practised on the boys themselves. Thus in West Ceram[32] boys at puberty
are admitted to the Kakian association. The boys are taken blindfold,
followed by their relations, to an oblong wooden shed under the darkest
trees in the depths of the forest. When all are assembled the high
priest calls aloud on the devils, and immediately a hideous uproar is
heard from the shed. It is really made by men in the shed with bamboo
trumpets, but the women and children think it is the devils. Then the
priest enters the shed with the boys, one at a time. A dull thud of
chopping is heard, a fearful cry rings out, and a sword dripping with
blood is thrust out through the roof. This is the token that the boy's
head has been cut off, and that the devil has taken him away to the
other world, whence he will return born again. In a day or two the men
who act as sponsors to the boys return daubed with mud, and in a
half-fainting state like messengers from another world. They bring the
good news that the devil has restored the boys to life. The boys
themselves appear, but when they return they totter as they walk; they
go into the house backwards. If food is given them they upset the plate.
They sit dumb and only make signs. The sponsors have to teach them the
simplest daily acts as though they were new-born children. At the end of
twenty to thirty days, during which their mothers and sisters may not
comb their hair, the high priest takes them to a lonely place in the
forest and cuts off a lock of hair from the crown of each of their
heads. At the close of these rites the boys are men and may marry.

Sometimes the new birth is not simulated but merely suggested. A new
name is given, a new language taught, a new dress worn, new dances are
danced. Almost always it is accompanied by moral teaching. Thus in the
Kakian ceremony already described the boys have to sit in a row
cross-legged, without moving a muscle, with their hands stretched out.
The chief takes a trumpet, and placing the mouth of it on the hand of
each lad, he speaks through it in strange tones, imitating the voice of
spirits. He warns the boys on pain of death to observe the rules of the
society, and never to reveal what they have seen in the Kakian house.
The priests also instruct the boys on their duty to their blood
relations, and teach them the secrets of the tribe.

Sometimes it is not clear whether the new birth is merely suggested or
represented in pantomime. Thus among the Binbinga of North Australia it
is generally believed that at initiation a monstrous being called
Katajalina, like the Kronos of the Greeks, swallows the boys and brings
them up again initiated; but whether there is or is not a _dromenon_ or
rite of swallowing we are not told.

In totemistic societies, and in the animal secret societies that seem to
grow out of them, the novice is born again as the sacred animal. Thus
among the Carrier Indians[33] when a man wants to become a _Lulem_, or
Bear, however cold the season, he tears off his clothes, puts on a
bearskin and dashes into the woods, where he will stay for three or four
days. Every night his fellow-villagers will go out in search parties to
find him. They cry out _Yi! Kelulem_ ("Come on, Bear") and he answers
with angry growls. Usually they fail to find him, but he comes back at
last himself. He is met and conducted to the ceremonial lodge, and
there, in company with the rest of the Bears, dances solemnly his first
appearance. Disappearance and reappearance is as common a rite in
initiation as simulated killing and resurrection, and has the same
object. Both are rites of transition, of passing from one state to
another. It has often been remarked, by students of ancient Greek and
other ceremonies, that the rites of birth, marriage, and death, which
seem to us so different, are to primitive man oddly similar. This is
explained if we see that in intent they _are_ all the same, all a
passing from one social state to another. There are but two factors in
every rite, the putting off of the old, the putting on of the new; you
carry out Winter or Death, you bring in Summer or Life. Between them is
a midway state when you are neither here nor there, you are secluded,
under a _taboo_.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the Greeks and to many primitive peoples the rites of birth,
marriage, and death were for the most part family rites needing little
or no social emphasis. But _the_ rite which concerned the whole tribe,
the essence of which was entrance into the tribe, was the rite of
initiation at puberty. This all-important fact is oddly and
significantly enshrined in the Greek language. The general Greek word
for rite was _tělětē_. It was applied to all mysteries, and sometimes to
marriages and funerals. But it has nothing to do with death. It comes
from a root meaning "to grow up." The word _tělětē_ means _rite of
growing up_, becoming complete. It meant at first maturity, then rite of
maturity, then by a natural extension any rite of initiation that was
mysterious. The rites of puberty were in their essence mysterious,
because they consisted in initiation into the sanctities of the tribe,
the things which society sanctioned and protected, excluding the
uninitiated, whether they were young boys, women, or members of other
tribes. Then, by contagion, the mystery notion spread to other rites.

       *       *       *       *       *

We understand now who and what was the god who arose out of the rite,
the _dromenon_ of tribal initiation, the rite of the new, the second
birth. He was Dionysos. His name, according to recent philology, tells
us--Dio_nysos_, "Divine Young Man."

When once we see that out of the emotion of the rite and the facts of
the rite arises that remembrance and shadow of the rite, that _image_
which is the god, we realize instantly that the god of the spring rite
_must_ be a young god, and in primitive societies, where young women are
but of secondary account, he will necessarily be a young _man_. Where
emotion centres round tribal initiation he will be a young man just
initiated, what the Greeks called a _kouros_, or _ephebos_, a youth of
quite different social status from a mere _pais_ or boy. Such a youth
survives in our King of the May and Jack-in-the-Green. Old men and women
are for death and winter, the young for life and spring, and most of
all the young man or bear or bull or tree just come to maturity.

And because life is one at the Spring Festival, the young man carries a
blossoming branch bound with wool of the young sheep. At Athens in
spring and autumn alike "they carry out the _Eiresione_, a branch of
olive wound about with wool ... and laden with all sorts of firstfruits,
_that scarcity may cease_, and they sing over it:

    "Eiresione brings
    Figs and fat cakes,
    And a pot of honey and oil to mix,
    And a wine-cup strong and deep,
    That she may drink and sleep."

The Eiresione had another name that told its own tale. It was called
_Korythalia_,[34] "Branch of blooming youth." The young men, says a
Greek orator, are "the Spring of the people."

       *       *       *       *       *

The excavations of Crete have given to us an ancient inscribed hymn, a
Dithyramb, we may safely call it, that is at once a spring-song and a
young man-song. The god here invoked is what the Greeks call a
_kouros_, a young man. It is sung and danced by young warriors:

     "Ho! Kouros, most Great, I give thee hail, Lord of all that is wet
     and gleaming; thou art come at the head of thy Daimones. To Diktè
     for the Year, Oh, march and rejoice in the dance and song."

The leader of the band of _kouroi_, of young men, the real actual
leader, has become by remembrance and abstraction, as we noted, a
daimon, or spirit, at the head of a band of spirits, and he brings in
the new year at spring. The real leader, the "first kouros" as the
Greeks called him, is there in the body, but from the succession of
leaders year by year they have imaged a spirit leader greatest of all.
He is "lord of all that is wet and gleaming," for the May bough, we
remember, is drenched with dew and water that it may burgeon and
blossom. Then they chant the tale of how of old a child was taken away
from its mother, taken by armed men to be initiated, armed men dancing
their tribal dance. The stone is unhappily broken here, but enough
remains to make the meaning clear.

And because this boy grew up and was initiated into manhood:

     "The Horæ (Seasons) began to be fruitful year by year and Dikè to
     possess mankind, and all wild living things were held about by
     wealth-loving Peace."

We know the Seasons, the fruit and food bringers, but Dikè is strange.
We translate the word "Justice," but Dikè means, not Justice as between
man and man, but the order of the world, the _way_ of life. It is
through this way, this order, that the seasons go round. As long as the
seasons observe this order there is fruitfulness and peace. If once that
order were overstepped then would be disorder, strife, confusion,
barrenness. And next comes a mandate, strange to our modern ears:

     "To us also leap for full jars, and leap for fleecy flocks, and
     leap for fields of fruit and for hives to bring increase."

And yet not strange if we remember the Macedonian farmer (p. 32), who
throws his spade into the air that the wheat may be tall, or the Russian
peasant girls who leap high in the air crying, "Flax, grow." The
leaping of the youths of the Cretan hymn is just the utterance of their
tense desire. They have grown up, and with them all live things must
grow. By their magic year by year the fruits of the earth come to their
annual new birth. And that there be no mistake they end:

     "Leap for our cities, and leap for our sea-borne ships, _and for
     our young citizens_, and for goodly Themis."

They are now young citizens of a fencèd city instead of young tribesmen
of the bush, but their magic is the same, and the strength that holds
them together is the bond of social custom, social structure, "goodly
Themis." No man liveth to himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Crete is not Athens, but at Athens in the theatre of Dionysos, if the
priest of Dionysos, seated at the great Spring Festival in his beautiful
carved central seat, looked across the orchestra, he would see facing
him a stone frieze on which was sculptured the Cretan ritual, the armed
dancing youths and the child to be year by year reborn.

We have seen what the Dithyramb, from which sprang the Drama, was. A
Spring song, a song of Bull-driving, a song and dance of Second Birth;
but all this seems, perhaps, not to bring us nearer to Greek drama,
rather to put us farther away. What have the Spring and the Bull and the
Birth Rite to do with the stately tragedies we know--with Agamemnon and
Iphigenia and Orestes and Hippolytos? That is the question before us,
and the answer will lead us to the very heart of our subject. So far we
have seen that ritual arose from the presentation and emphasis of
emotion--emotion felt mainly about food. We have further seen that
ritual develops out of and by means of periodic festivals. One of the
chief periodic festivals at Athens was the Spring Festival of the
Dithyramb. Out of this Dithyramb arose, Aristotle says, tragedy--that
is, out of Ritual arose Art. How and Why? That is the question before


[19] _Poetics_, IV, 12.

[20] See my _Themis_, p. 419. (1912.)

[21] I, 43. 2.

[22] _Quaest. Græc._ XII.

[23] _Op. cit._

[24] _Quæst. Symp._, 693 f.

[25] The words "in Spring-time" depend on an emendation to me
convincing. See my _Themis_, p. 205, note 1.

[26] IX.

[27] See my _Themis_, p. 151.

[28] See my _Prolegomena_, p. 439.

[29] _Prolegomena_, p. 402.

[30] Frazer, _Totemism and Exogamy_, Vol. I, p. 228.

[31] _The Golden Bough_,^2 III, 424.

[32] _The Golden Bough_,^2 III, 442.

[33] _The Golden Bough_,^2 III, p. 438.

[34] See my _Themis_, p. 503.



Probably most people when they go to a Greek play for the first time
think it a strange performance. According, perhaps, more to their
temperament than to their training, they are either very much excited or
very much bored. In many minds there will be left a feeling that,
whether they have enjoyed the play or not, they are puzzled: there are
odd effects, conventions, suggestions.

For example, the main deed of the Tragedy, the slaying of hero or
heroine, is not done on the stage. That disappoints some modern minds
unconsciously avid of realism to the point of horror. Instead of a fine
thrilling murder or suicide before his very eyes, the spectator is put
off with an account of the murder done off the stage. This account is
regularly given, and usually at considerable length, in a "messenger's
speech." The messenger's speech is a regular item in a Greek play, and
though actually it gives scope not only for fine elocution, but for real
dramatic effect, in theory we feel it undramatic, and a modern actor has
sometimes much ado to make it acceptable. The spectator is told that all
these, to him, odd conventions are due to Greek restraint, moderation,
good taste, and yet for all their supposed restraint and reserve, he
finds when he reads his Homer that Greek heroes frequently burst into
floods of tears when a self-respecting Englishman would have suffered in

Then again, specially if the play be by Euripides, it ends not with a
"curtain," not with a great decisive moment, but with the appearance of
a god who says a few lines of either exhortation or consolation or
reconciliation, which, after the strain and stress of the action itself,
strikes some people as rather stilted and formal, or as rather flat and
somehow unsatisfying. Worse still, there are in many of the scenes long
dialogues, in which the actors wrangle with each other, and in which the
action does not advance so quickly as we wish. Or again, instead of
beginning with the action, and having our curiosity excited bit by bit
about the plot, at the outset some one comes in and tells us the whole
thing in the prologue. Prologues we feel, are out of date, and the
Greeks ought to have known better. Or again, of course we admit that
tragedy must be tragic, and we are prepared for a decent amount of
lamentation, but when an antiphonal lament goes on for pages, we weary
and wish that the chorus would stop lamenting and _do_ something.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the back of our modern discontent there is lurking always this queer
anomaly of the chorus. We have in our modern theatre no chorus, and
when, in the opera, something of the nature of a chorus appears in the
ballet, it is a chorus that really dances to amuse and excite us in the
intervals of operatic action; it is not a chorus of doddering and
pottering old men, moralizing on an action in which they are too feeble
to join. Of course if we are classical scholars we do not cavil at the
choral songs; the extreme difficulty of scanning and construing them
alone commands a traditional respect; but if we are merely modern
spectators, we may be respectful, we may even feel strangely excited,
but we are certainly puzzled. The reason of our bewilderment is simple
enough. These prologues and messengers' speeches and ever-present
choruses that trouble us are ritual forms still surviving at a time when
the _drama_ has fully developed out of the _dromenon_. We cannot here
examine all these ritual forms in detail;[35] one, however, the chorus,
strangest and most beautiful of all, it is essential we should

Suppose that these choral songs have been put into English that in any
way represents the beauty of the Greek; then certainly there will be
some among the spectators who get a thrill from the chorus quite unknown
to any modern stage effect, a feeling of emotion heightened yet
restrained, a sense of entering into higher places, filled with a larger
and a purer air--a sense of beauty born clean out of conflict and

A suspicion dawns upon the spectator that, great though the tragedies in
themselves are, they owe their peculiar, their incommunicable beauty
largely to this element of the chorus which seemed at first so strange.

Now by examining this chorus and understanding its function--nay, more,
by considering the actual _orchestra_, the space on which the chorus
danced, and the relation of that space to the rest of the theatre, to
the stage and the place where the spectators sat--we shall get light at
last on our main central problem: How did art arise out of ritual, and
what is the relation of both to that actual life from which both art and
ritual sprang?

       *       *       *       *       *

The dramas of Æschylus certainly, and perhaps also those of Sophocles
and Euripides, were played not upon the stage, and not in the _theatre_,
but, strange though it sounds to us, in the _orchestra_. The _theatre_
to the Greeks was simply "the place of seeing," the place where the
spectators sat; what they called the skēnē or _scene_, was the tent or
hut in which the actors dressed. But the kernel and centre of the whole
was the _orchestra_, the circular _dancing-place_ of the chorus; and, as
the orchestra was the kernel and centre of the theatre, so the chorus,
the band of dancing and singing men--this chorus that seems to us so odd
and even superfluous--was the centre and kernel and starting-point of
the drama. The chorus danced and sang that Dithyramb we know so well,
and from the leaders of that Dithyramb we remember tragedy arose, and
the chorus were at first, as an ancient writer tells us, just men and
boys, tillers of the earth, who danced when they rested from sowing and

Now it is in the relation between the _orchestra_ or dancing-place of
the chorus, and the _theatre_ or place of the spectators, a relation
that shifted as time went on, that we see mirrored the whole development
from ritual to art--from _dromenon_ to drama.

       *       *       *       *       *

The orchestra on which the Dithyramb was danced was just a circular
dancing-place beaten flat for the convenience of the dancers, and
sometimes edged by a stone basement to mark the circle. This circular
orchestra is very well seen in the theatre of Epidaurus, of which a
sketch is given in Fig. 1. The orchestra here is surrounded by a
splendid _theatron_, or spectator place, with seats rising tier above
tier. If we want to realize the primitive Greek orchestra or
dancing-place, we must think these stone seats away. Threshing-floors
are used in Greece to-day as convenient dancing-places. The dance
tends to be circular because it is round some sacred thing, at first a
maypole, or the reaped corn, later the figure of a god or his altar. On
this dancing-place the whole body of worshippers would gather, just as
now-a-days the whole community will assemble on a village green. There
is no division at first between actors and spectators; all are actors,
all are doing the thing done, dancing the dance danced. Thus at
initiation ceremonies the whole tribe assembles, the only spectators are
the uninitiated, the women and children. No one at this early stage
thinks of building a _theatre_, a spectator place. It is in the common
act, the common or collective emotion, that ritual starts. This must
never be forgotten.

[Illustration: Fig. 1. Theatre of Epidaurus Showing Circular Orchestra.]

The most convenient spot for a mere dancing-place is some flat place.
But any one who travels through Greece will notice instantly that all
the Greek theatres that remain at Athens, at Epidaurus, at Delos,
Syracuse, and elsewhere, are built against the side of hills. None of
these are very early; the earliest ancient orchestra we have is at
Athens. It is a simple stone ring, but it is built against the steep
south side of the Acropolis. The oldest festival of Dionysos was, as
will presently be seen, held in quite another spot, in the _agora_, or
market-place. The reason for moving the dance was that the wooden seats
that used to be set up on a sort of "grand stand" in the market-place
fell down, and it was seen how safely and comfortably the spectators
could be seated on the side of a steep hill.

The spectators are a new and different element, the dance is not only
danced, but it is watched from a distance, it is a spectacle; whereas in
old days all or nearly all were worshippers acting, now many, indeed
most, are spectators, watching, feeling, thinking, not doing. It is in
this new attitude of the spectator that we touch on the difference
between ritual and art; the _dromenon_, the thing actually done by
yourself has become a _drama_, a thing also done, but abstracted from
your doing. Let us look for a moment at the psychology of the spectator,
at his behaviour.

       *       *       *       *       *

Artists, it is often said, and usually felt, are so unpractical. They
are always late for dinner, they forget to post their letters and to
return the books or even money that is lent them. Art is to most
people's minds a sort of luxury, not a necessity. In but recently bygone
days music, drawing, and dancing were no part of a training for ordinary
life, they were taught at school as "accomplishments," paid for as
"extras." Poets on their side equally used to contrast art and life, as
though they were things essentially distinct.

    "Art is long, and Time is fleeting."

Now commonplaces such as these, being unconscious utterances of the
collective mind, usually contain much truth, and are well worth
weighing. Art, we shall show later, is profoundly connected with life;
it is nowise superfluous. But, for all that, art, both its creation and
its enjoyment, is unpractical. Thanks be to God, life is not limited to
the practical.

When we say art is unpractical, we mean that art is _cut loose from
immediate action_. Take a simple instance. A man--or perhaps still
better a child--sees a plate of cherries. Through his senses comes the
stimulus of the smell of the cherries, and their bright colour urging
him, luring him to eat. He eats and is satisfied; the cycle of normal
behaviour is complete; he is a man or a child of action, but he is no
artist, and no art-lover. Another man looks at the same plate of
cherries. His sight and his smell lure him and urge him to eat. He does
_not_ eat; the cycle is not completed, and, because he does not eat, the
sight of those cherries, though perhaps not the smell, is altered,
purified from desire, and in some way intensified, enlarged. If he is
just a man of taste, he will take what we call an "æsthetic" pleasure in
those cherries. If he is an actual artist, he will paint not the
cherries, but his vision of them, his purified emotion towards them. He
has, so to speak, come out from the chorus of actors, of cherry-eaters,
and become a spectator.

I borrow, by his kind permission, a beautiful instance of what he well
calls "Psychical Distance" from the writings of a psychologist.[36]

"Imagine a fog at sea: for most people it is an experience of acute
unpleasantness. Apart from the physical annoyance and remoter forms of
discomfort, such as delays, it is apt to produce feelings of peculiar
anxiety, fears of invisible dangers, strains of watching and listening
for distant and unlocalized signals. The listless movements of the ship
and her warning calls soon tell upon the nerves of the passengers; and
that special, expectant tacit anxiety and nervousness, always associated
with this experience, make a fog the dreaded terror of the sea (all the
more terrifying because of its very silence and gentleness) for the
expert seafarer no less than the ignorant landsman.

"Nevertheless, a fog at sea can be a source of intense relish and
enjoyment. Abstract from the experience of the sea-fog, for the moment,
its danger and practical unpleasantness; ... direct the attention to the
features 'objectively' constituting the phenomena--the veil surrounding
you with an opaqueness as of transparent milk, blurring the outlines of
things and distorting their shapes into weird grotesqueness; observe the
carrying power of the air, producing the impression as if you could
touch some far-off siren by merely putting out your hand and letting it
lose itself behind that white wall; note the curious creamy smoothness
of the water, hypercritically denying as it were, any suggestion of
danger; and, above all, the strange solitude and remoteness from the
world, as it can be found only on the highest mountain tops; and the
experience may acquire, in its uncanny mingling of repose and terror, a
flavour of such concentrated poignancy and delight as to contrast
sharply with the blind and distempered anxiety of its other aspects.
This contrast, often emerging with startling suddenness, is like the
momentary switching on of some new current, or the passing ray of a
brighter light, illuminating the outlook upon perhaps the most ordinary
and familiar objects--an impression which we experience sometimes in
instants of direst extremity, when our practical interest snaps like a
wire from sheer over-tension, and we watch the consummation of some
impending catastrophe with the marvelling unconcern of a mere

       *       *       *       *       *

It has often been noted that two, and two only, of our senses are the
channels of art and give us artistic material. These two senses are
sight and hearing. Touch and its special modifications, taste and smell,
do not go to the making of art. Decadent French novelists, such as
Huysmann, make their heroes revel in perfume-symphonies, but we feel
that the sentiment described is morbid and unreal, and we feel rightly.
Some people speak of a cook as an "artist," and a pudding as a "perfect
poem," but a healthy instinct rebels. Art, whether sculpture, painting,
drama, music, is of sight or hearing. The reason is simple. Sight and
hearing are the distant senses; sight is, as some one has well said,
"touch at a distance." Sight and hearing are of things already detached
and somewhat remote; they are the fitting channels for art which is cut
loose from immediate action and reaction. Taste and touch are too
intimate, too immediately vital. In Russian, as Tolstoi has pointed out
(and indeed in other languages the same is observable), the word for
beauty (_krasota_) means, to begin with, only that which pleases the
sight. Even hearing is excluded. And though latterly people have begun
to speak of an "ugly deed" or of "beautiful music," it is not good
Russian. The simple Russian does not make Plato's divine muddle between
the good and the beautiful. If a man gives his coat to another, the
Russian peasant, knowing no foreign language, will not say the man has
acted "beautifully."

To see a thing, to feel a thing, as a work of art, we must, then, become
for the time unpractical, must be loosed from the fear and the flurry of
actual living, must become spectators. Why is this? Why can we not live
and look at once? The _fact_ that we cannot is clear. If we watch a
friend drowning we do not note the exquisite curve made by his body as
he falls into the water, nor the play of the sunlight on the ripples as
he disappears below the surface; we should be inhuman, æsthetic fiends
if we did. And again, why? It would do our friend no harm that we should
enjoy the curves and the sunlight, provided we also threw him a rope.
But the simple fact is that we _cannot_ look at the curves and the
sunlight because our whole being is centred on acting, on saving him; we
cannot even, at the moment, fully feel our own terror and impending
loss. So again if we want to see and to feel the splendour and vigour of
a lion, or even to watch the cumbrous grace of a bear, we prefer that a
cage should intervene. The cage cuts off the need for motor actions; it
interposes the needful physical and moral distance, and we are free for
contemplation. Released from our own terrors, we see more and better,
and we feel differently. A man intent on action is like a horse in
blinkers, he goes straight forward, seeing only the road ahead.

Our brain is, indeed, it would seem, in part, an elaborate arrangement
for providing these blinkers. If we saw and realized the whole of
everything, we should want to do too many things. The brain allows us
not only to remember, but, which is quite as important, to forget and
neglect; it is an organ of oblivion. By neglecting most of the things we
see and hear, we can focus just on those which are important for action;
we can cease to be potential artists and become efficient practical
human beings; but it is only by limiting our view, by a great
renunciation as to the things we see and feel. The artist does just the
reverse. He renounces doing in order to practise seeing. He is by nature
what Professor Bergson calls "distrait," aloof, absent-minded, intent
only, or mainly, on contemplation. That is why the ordinary man often
thinks the artist a fool, or, if he does not go so far as that, is made
vaguely uncomfortable by him, never really understands him. The artist's
focus, all his system of values, is different, his world is a world of
images which are his realities.

       *       *       *       *       *

The distinction between art and ritual, which has so long haunted and
puzzled us, now comes out quite clearly, and also in part the relation
of each to actual life. Ritual, we saw, was a re-presentation or a
pre-presentation, a re-doing or pre-doing, a copy or imitation of life,
but,--and this is the important point,--always with a practical end. Art
is also a representation of life and the emotions of life, but cut loose
from immediate action. Action may be and often is represented, but it is
not that it may lead on to a practical further end. The end of art is in
itself. Its value is not mediate but _im_mediate. Thus ritual _makes, as
it were, a bridge between real life and art_, a bridge over which in
primitive times it would seem man must pass. In his actual life he hunts
and fishes and ploughs and sows, being utterly intent on the practical
end of gaining his food; in the _dromenon_ of the Spring Festival,
though his _acts_ are unpractical, being mere singing and dancing and
mimicry, his _intent_ is practical, to induce the return of his
food-supply. In the drama the representation may remain for a time the
same, but the intent is altered: man has come out from action, he is
separate from the dancers, and has become a spectator. The drama is an
end in itself.

       *       *       *       *       *

We know from tradition that in Athens ritual became art, a _dromenon_
became the drama, and we have seen that the shift is symbolized and
expressed by the addition of the _theatre_, or spectator-place, to the
orchestra, or dancing-place. We have also tried to analyse the meaning
of the shift. It remains to ask what was its cause. Ritual does not
always develop into art, though in all probability dramatic art has
always to go through the stage of ritual. The leap from real life to the
emotional contemplation of life cut loose from action would otherwise be
too wide. Nature abhors a leap, she prefers to crawl over the ritual
bridge. There seem at Athens to have been two main causes why the
_dromenon_ passed swiftly, inevitably, into the drama. They are, first,
the decay of religious faith; second, the influx from abroad of a new
culture and new dramatic material.

It may seem surprising to some that the decay of religious faith should
be an impulse to the birth of art. We are accustomed to talk rather
vaguely of art "as the handmaid of religion"; we think of art as
"inspired by" religion. But the decay of religious faith of which we now
speak is not the decay of faith in a god, or even the decay of some high
spiritual emotion; it is the decay of a belief in the efficacy of
certain magical rites, and especially of the Spring Rite. So long as
people believed that by excited dancing, by bringing in an image or
leading in a bull you could induce the coming of Spring, so long would
the _dromena_ of the Dithyramb be enacted with intense enthusiasm, and
with this enthusiasm would come an actual accession and invigoration of
vital force. But, once the faintest doubt crept in, once men began to be
guided by experience rather than custom, the enthusiasm would die down,
and the collective invigoration no longer be felt. Then some day there
will be a bad summer, things will go all wrong, and the chorus will
sadly ask: "Why should I dance my dance?" They will drift away or become
mere spectators of a rite established by custom. The rite itself will
die down, or it will live on only as the May Day rites of to-day, a
children's play, or at best a thing done vaguely "for luck."

The spirit of the rite, the belief in its efficacy, dies, but the rite
itself, the actual mould, persists, and it is this ancient ritual mould,
foreign to our own usage, that strikes us to-day, when a Greek play is
revived, as odd and perhaps chill. A _chorus_, a band of dancers there
must be, because the drama arose out of a ritual dance. An _agon_, or
contest, or wrangling, there will probably be, because Summer contends
with Winter, Life with Death, the New Year with the Old. A tragedy must
be tragic, must have its _pathos_, because the Winter, the Old Year,
must die. There must needs be a swift transition, a clash and change
from sorrow to joy, what the Greeks called a _peripeteia_, a
_quick-turn-round_, because, though you carry out Winter, you bring in
Summer. At the end we shall have an Appearance, an Epiphany of a god,
because the whole gist of the ancient ritual was to summon the spirit of
life. All these ritual forms haunt and shadow the play, whatever its
plot, like ancient traditional ghosts; they underlie and sway the
movement and the speeches like some compelling rhythm.

Now this ritual mould, this underlying rhythm, is a fine thing in
itself; and, moreover, it was once shaped and cast by a living spirit:
the intense immediate desire for food and life, and for the return of
the seasons which bring that food and life. But we have seen that, once
the faith in man's power magically to bring back these seasons waned,
once he began to doubt whether he could really carry out Winter and
bring in Summer, his emotion towards these rites would cool. Further, we
have seen that these rites repeated year by year ended, among an
imaginative people, in the mental creation of some sort of dæmon or god.
This dæmon, or god, was more and more held responsible on his own
account for the food-supply and the order of the Horæ, or Seasons; so we
get the notion that this dæmon or god himself led in the Seasons; Hermes
dances at the head of the Charites, or an Eiresione is carried to Helios
and the Horæ. The thought then arises that this man-like dæmon who rose
from a real King of the May, must himself be approached and dealt with
as a man, bargained with, sacrificed to. In a word, in place of
_dromena_, things done, we get gods worshipped; in place of sacraments,
holy bulls killed and eaten in common, we get sacrifices in the modern
sense, holy bulls offered to yet holier gods. The relation of these
figures of gods to art we shall consider when we come to sculpture.

So the _dromenon_, the thing done, wanes, the prayer, the praise, the
sacrifice waxes. Religion moves away from drama towards theology, but
the ritual mould of the _dromenon_ is left ready for a new content.

Again, there is another point. The magical _dromenon_, the Carrying out
of Winter, the Bringing in of Spring, is doomed to an inherent and
deadly monotony. It is only when its magical efficacy is intensely
believed that it can go on. The life-history of a holy bull is always
the same; its magical essence is that it should be the same. Even when
the life-dæmon is human his career is unchequered. He is born,
initiated, or born again; he is married, grows old, dies, is buried; and
the old, old story is told again next year. There are no fresh personal
incidents, peculiar to one particular dæmon. If the drama rose from the
Spring Song only, beautiful it might be, but with a beauty that was
monotonous, a beauty doomed to sterility.

We seem to have come to a sort of _impasse_, the spirit of the
_dromenon_ is dead or dying, the spectators will not stay long to watch
a doing doomed to monotony. The ancient moulds are there, the old
bottles, but where is the new wine? The pool is stagnant; what angel
will step down to trouble the waters?

       *       *       *       *       *

Fortunately we are not left to conjecture what _might_ have happened. In
the case of Greece we know, though not as clearly as we wish, what did
happen. We can see in part why, though the _dromena_ of Adonis and
Osiris, emotional as they were and intensely picturesque, remained mere
ritual; the _dromenon_ of Dionysos, his Dithyramb, blossomed into drama.

Let us look at the facts, and first at some structural facts in the
building of the theatre.

We have seen that the orchestra, with its dancing chorus, stands for
ritual, for the stage in which all were worshippers, all joined in a
rite of practical intent. We further saw that the _theatre_, the place
for the spectators, stood for art. In the orchestra all is life and
dancing; the marble _seats_ are the very symbol of rest, aloofness from
action, contemplation. The seats for the spectators grow and grow in
importance till at last they absorb, as it were, the whole spirit, and
give their name _theatre_ to the whole structure; action is swallowed up
in contemplation. But contemplation of what? At first, of course, of the
ritual dance, but not for long. That, we have seen, was doomed to a
deadly monotony. In a Greek theatre there was not only orchestra and a
spectator-place, there was also a _scene_ or _stage_.

The Greek word for stage is, as we said, _skenè_, our scene. The _scene_
was not a stage in our sense, _i.e._ a platform raised so that the
players might be better viewed. It was simply a tent, or rude hut, in
which the players, or rather dancers, could put on their ritual dresses.
The fact that the Greek theatre had, to begin with, no permanent stage
in our sense, shows very clearly how little it was regarded as a
spectacle. The ritual dance was a _dromenon_, a thing to be done, not a
thing to be looked at. The history of the Greek stage is one long story
of the encroachment of the stage on the orchestra. At first a rude
platform or table is set up, then scenery is added; the movable tent is
translated into a stone house or a temple front. This stands at first
outside the orchestra; then bit by bit the _scene_ encroaches till the
sacred circle of the dancing-place is cut clean across. As the drama and
the stage wax, the _dromenon_ and the orchestra wane.

This shift in the relation of dancing-place and stage is very clearly
seen in Fig. 2, a plan of the Dionysiac theatre at Athens (p. 144). The
old circular orchestra shows the dominance of ritual; the new curtailed
orchestra of Roman times and semicircular shape shows the dominance of
the spectacle.

[Illustration: Fig. 2. Dionysiac Theatre at Athens.]

Greek tragedy arose, Aristotle has told us, from the _leaders_ of the
Dithyramb, the leaders of the Spring Dance. The Spring Dance, the mime
of Summer and Winter, had, as we have seen, only one actor, one actor
with two parts--Death and Life. With only one play to be played, and
that a one-actor play, there was not much need for a stage. A _scene_,
that is a _tent_, was needed, as we saw, because all the dancers had to
put on their ritual gear, but scarcely a stage. From a rude platform
the prologue might be spoken, and on that platform the Epiphany or
Appearance of the New Year might take place; but the play played, the
life-history of the life-spirit, was all too familiar; there was no need
to look, the thing was to dance. You need a stage--not necessarily a
raised stage, but a place apart from the dancers--when you have new
material for your players, something you need to look at, to attend to.
In the sixth century B.C., at Athens, came _the_ great innovation.
Instead of the old plot, the life-history of the life-spirit, with its
deadly monotony, new plots were introduced, not of life-spirits but of
human individual heroes. In a word, Homer came to Athens, and out of
Homeric stories playwrights began to make their plots. This innovation
was the death of ritual monotony and the _dromenon_. It is not so much
the old that dies as the new that kills.

       *       *       *       *       *

Æschylus himself is reported to have said that his tragedies were
"slices from the great banquet of Homer." The metaphor is not a very
pleasing one, but it expresses a truth. By Homer, Æschylus meant not
only our _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, but the whole body of Epic or Heroic
poetry which centred round not only the Siege of Troy but the great
expedition of the _Seven Against Thebes_, and which, moreover, contained
the stories of the heroes before the siege began, and their adventures
after it was ended. It was from these heroic sagas for the most part,
though not wholly, that the _myths_ or plots of not only Æschylus but
also Sophocles and Euripides, and a host of other writers whose plays
are lost to us, are taken. The new wine that was poured into the old
bottles of the _dromena_ at the Spring Festival was the heroic saga. We
know as an historical fact, the name of the man who was mainly
responsible for this inpouring--the great democratic tyrant
Peisistratos. We must look for a moment at what Peisistratos found, and
then pass to what he did.

He found an ancient Spring _dromenon_, perhaps well-nigh effete. Without
destroying the old he contrived to introduce the new, to add to the old
plot of Summer and Winter the life-stories of heroes, and thereby arose
the drama.

Let us look first, then, at what Peisistratos found.

The April festival of Dionysos at which the great dramas were performed
was not the earliest festival of the god. Thucydides[37] expressly tells
us that on the 12th day of the month Anthesterion, that is in the quite
early spring, at the turn of our February and March, were celebrated
_the more ancient Dionysia_. It was a three-days' festival.[38] On the
first day, called "Cask-opening," the jars of new wine were broached.
Among the Bœotians the day was called not the day of Dionysos, but the
day of the Good or Wealthy Daimon. The next day was called the day of
the "Cups"--there was a contest or _agon_ of drinking. The last day was
called the "Pots," and it, too, had its "Pot-Contests." It is the
ceremonies of this day that we must notice a little in detail; for they
are very surprising. "Casks," "Cups," and "Pots," sound primitive
enough. "Casks" and "Cups" go well with the wine-god, but the "Pots"
call for explanation.

The second day of the "Cups," joyful though it sounds, was by the
Athenians counted unlucky, because on that day they believed "the ghosts
of the dead rose up." The sanctuaries were roped in, each householder
anointed his door with pitch, that the ghost who tried to enter might
catch and stick there. Further, to make assurance doubly sure, from
early dawn he chewed a bit of buckthorn, a plant of strong purgative
powers, so that, if a ghost should by evil chance go down his throat, it
should at least be promptly expelled.

For two, perhaps three, days of constant anxiety and ceaseless
precautions the ghosts fluttered about Athens. Men's hearts were full of
nameless dread, and, as we shall see, hope. At the close of the third
day the ghosts, or, as the Greeks called them, _Keres_, were bidden to
go. Some one, we do not know whom, it may be each father of a household,
pronounced the words: "Out of the door, ye Keres; it is no longer
Anthesteria," and, obedient, the Keres were gone.

But before they went there was a supper for these souls. All the
citizens cooked a _panspermia_ or "Pot-of-all-Seeds," but of this
Pot-of-all-Seeds no citizen tasted. It was made over to the spirits of
the under-world and Hermes their daimon, Hermes "Psychopompos,"
Conductor, Leader of the dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have seen how a forest people, dependent on fruit trees and berries
for their food, will carry a maypole and imagine a tree-spirit. But a
people of agriculturists will feel and do and think quite otherwise;
they will look, not to the forest but to the earth for their returning
life and food; they will sow seeds and wait for their sprouting, as in
the gardens of Adonis. Adonis seems to have passed through the two
stages of Tree-Spirit and Seed-Spirit; his effigy was sometimes a tree
cut down, sometimes his planted "Gardens." Now seeds are many,
innumerable, and they are planted in the earth, and a people who bury
their dead know, or rather feel, that the earth is dead man's land. So,
when they prepare a pot of seeds on their All Souls' Day, it is not
really or merely as a "supper for the souls," though it may be that
kindly notion enters. The ghosts have other work to do than to eat their
supper and go. They take that supper "of all seeds," that _panspermia_,
with them down to the world below, that they may tend it and foster it
and bring it back in autumn as a pot of _all fruits_, a _pankarpia_.

     "Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die."

The dead, then, as well as the living--this is for us the important
point--had their share in the _dromena_ of the "more ancient Dionysia."
These agricultural spring _dromena_ were celebrated just outside the
ancient city gates, in the _agora_, or place of assembly, on a circular
dancing-place, near to a very primitive sanctuary of Dionysos which was
opened only once in the year, at the Feast of Cups. Just outside the
gates was celebrated yet another festival of Dionysos equally primitive,
called the "Dionysia in the Fields." It had the form though not the date
of our May Day festival. Plutarch[39] thus laments over the "good old
times": "In ancient days," he says, "our fathers used to keep the feast
of Dionysos in homely, jovial fashion. There was a procession, a jar of
wine and a _branch_; then some one dragged in a goat, another followed
bringing a wicker basket of figs, and, to crown all, the phallos." It
was just a festival of the fruits of the whole earth: wine and the
basket of figs and the branch for vegetation, the goat for animal life,
the phallos for man. No thought here of the dead, it is all for the
living and his food.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such sanctities even a great tyrant might not tamper with. But if you
may not upset the old you may without irreverence add the new.
Peisistratos probably cared little for, and believed less in, magical
ceremonies for the renewal of fruits, incantations of the dead. We can
scarcely picture him chewing buckthorn on the day of the "Cups," or
anointing his front door with pitch to keep out the ghosts. Very wisely
he left the Anthesteria and the kindred festival "in the fields" where
and as they were. But for his own purposes he wanted to do honour to
Dionysos, and also above all things to enlarge and improve the rites
done in the god's honour, so, leaving the old sanctuary to its fate, he
built a new temple on the south side of the Acropolis where the present
theatre now stands, and consecrated to the god a new and more splendid

He did not build the present theatre, we must always remember that. The
rows of stone seats, the chief priest's splendid marble chair, were not
erected till two centuries later. What Peisistratos did was to build a
small stone temple (see Fig. 2), and a great round orchestra of stone
close beside it. Small fragments of the circular foundation can still be
seen. The spectators sat on the hill-side or on wooden seats; there was
as yet no permanent _theātron_ or spectator-place, still less a stone
stage; the _dromena_ were done on the dancing-place. But for
spectator-place they had the south slope of the Acropolis. What kind of
wooden stage they had unhappily we cannot tell. It may be that only a
portion of the orchestra was marked off.

       *       *       *       *       *

Why did Peisistratos, if he cared little for magic and ancestral ghosts,
take such trouble to foster and amplify the worship of this
maypole-spirit, Dionysos? Why did he add to the Anthesteria, the
festival of the family ghosts and the peasant festival "in the fields,"
a new and splendid festival, a little later in the spring, the _Great
Dionysia_, or _Dionysia of the City_? One reason among others was
this--Peisistratos was a "tyrant."

Now a Greek "tyrant" was not in our sense "tyrannical." He took his own
way, it is true, but that way was to help and serve the common people.
The tyrant was usually raised to his position by the people, and he
stood for democracy, for trade and industry, as against an idle
aristocracy. It was but a rudimentary democracy, a democratic tyranny,
the power vested in one man, but it stood for the rights of the many as
against the few. Moreover, Dionysos was always of the people, of the
"working classes," just as the King and Queen of the May are now. The
upper classes worshipped then, as now, not the Spirit of Spring but
_their own ancestors_. But--and this was what Peisistratos with great
insight saw--Dionysos must be transplanted from the fields to the city.
The country is always conservative, the natural stronghold of a landed
aristocracy, with fixed traditions; the city with its closer contacts
and consequent swifter changes, and, above all, with its acquired, not
inherited, wealth, tends towards democracy. Peisistratos left the
Dionysia "in the fields," but he added the Great Dionysia "in the city."

Peisistratos was not the only tyrant who concerned himself with the
_dromena_ of Dionysos. Herodotos[40] tells the story of another tyrant,
a story which is like a window opening suddenly on a dark room. At
Sicyon, a town near Corinth, there was in the _agora_ a _heroon_, a
hero-tomb, of an Argive hero, Adrastos.

"The Sicyonians," says Herodotos, "paid other honours to Adrastos, and,
moreover, they celebrated his death and disasters with tragic choruses,
not honouring Dionysos but Adrastos." We think of "tragic" choruses as
belonging exclusively to the theatre and Dionysos; so did Herodotus, but
clearly here they belonged to a local hero. His adventures and his death
were commemorated by choral dances and songs. Now when Cleisthenes
became tyrant of Sicyon he felt that the cult of the local hero was a
danger. What did he do? Very adroitly he brought in from Thebes another
hero as rival to Adrastos. He then split up the worship of Adrastos;
part of his worship, and especially his sacrifices, he gave to the new
Theban hero, but the tragic choruses he gave to the common people's god,
to Dionysos. Adrastos, the objectionable hero, was left to dwindle and
die. No local hero can live on without his cult.

The act of Cleisthenes seems to us a very drastic proceeding. But
perhaps it was not really so revolutionary as it seems. The local hero
was not so very unlike a local _dæmon_, a Spring or Winter spirit. We
have seen in the Anthesteria how the paternal ghosts are expected to
look after the seeds in spring. The more important the ghost the more
incumbent is this duty upon him. _Noblesse oblige_. On the river
Olynthiakos[41] in Northern Greece stood the tomb of the hero Olynthos,
who gave the river its name. In the spring months of Anthesterion and
Elaphebolion the river rises and an immense shoal of fish pass from the
lake of Bolbe to the river of Olynthiakos, and the inhabitants round
about can lay in a store of salt fish for all their needs. "And it is a
wonderful fact that they never pass by the monument of Olynthus. They
say that formerly the people used to perform the accustomed rites to
the dead in the month Elaphebolion, but now they do them in
Anthesterion, _and that on this account the fish come up in those months
only_ in which they are wont to do honour to the dead." The river is the
chief source of the food-supply, so to send fish, not seeds and flowers,
is the dead hero's business.

Peisistratos was not so daring as Cleisthenes. We do not hear that he
disturbed or diminished any local cult. He did not attempt to move the
Anthesteria with its ghost cult; he only added a new festival, and
trusted to its recent splendour gradually to efface the old. And at this
new festival he celebrated the deeds of other heroes, not local but of
greater splendour and of wider fame. If he did not bring Homer to
Athens, he at least gave Homer official recognition. Now to bring Homer
to Athens was like opening the eyes of the blind.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cicero, in speaking of the influence of Peisistratos on literature,
says: "He is said to have arranged in their present order the works of
Homer, which were previously in confusion." He arranged them not for
what we should call "publication," but for public recitation, and
another tradition adds that he or his son fixed the order of their
recitation at the great festival of "All Athens," the Panathenaia.
Homer, of course, was known before in Athens in a scrappy way; now he
was publicly, officially promulgated. It is probable, though not
certain, that the "Homer" which Peisistratos prescribed for recitation
at the Panathenaia was just our _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, and that the rest
of the heroic cycle, all the remaining "slices" from the heroic banquet,
remained as material for dithyrambs and dramas. The "tyranny" of
Peisistratos and his son lasted from 560 to 501 B.C.; tradition said
that the first dramatic contest was held in the new theatre built by
Peisistratos in 535 B.C., when Thespis won the prize. Æschylus was born
in 525 B.C.; his first play, with a plot from the heroic saga, the
_Seven Against Thebes_, was produced in 467 B.C. It all came very
swiftly, the shift from the dithyramb as Spring Song to the heroic drama
was accomplished in something much under a century. Its effect on the
whole of Greek life and religion--nay, on the whole of subsequent
literature and thought--was incalculable. Let us try to see why.

       *       *       *       *       *

Homer was the outcome, the expression, of an "heroic" age. When we use
the word "heroic" we think vaguely of something brave, brilliant,
splendid, something exciting and invigorating. A hero is to us a man of
clear, vivid personality, valiant, generous, perhaps hot-tempered, a
good friend and a good hater. The word "hero" calls up such figures as
Achilles, Patroklos, Hector, figures of passion and adventure. Now such
figures, with their special virtues, and perhaps their proper vices, are
not confined to Homer. They occur in any and every heroic age. We are
beginning now to see that heroic poetry, heroic characters, do not arise
from any peculiarity of race or even of geographical surroundings, but,
given certain social conditions, they may, and do, appear anywhere and
at any time. The world has seen several heroic ages, though it is,
perhaps, doubtful if it will ever see another. What, then, are the
conditions that produce an heroic age? and why was this influx of heroic
poetry, coming just when it did, of such immense influence on, and
importance to, the development of Greek dramatic art? Why had it power
to change the old, stiff, ritual dithyramb into the new and living
drama? Why, above all things, did the democratic tyrant Peisistratos so
eagerly welcome it to Athens?

In the old ritual dance the individual was nothing, the choral band, the
group, everything, and in this it did but reflect primitive tribal life.
Now in the heroic _saga_ the individual is everything, the mass of the
people, the tribe, or the group, are but a shadowy background which
throws up the brilliant, clear-cut personality into a more vivid light.
The epic poet is all taken up with what he called _klea andron_,
"glorious deeds of men," of individual heroes; and what these heroes
themselves ardently long and pray for is just this glory, this personal
distinction, this deathless fame for their great deeds. When the armies
meet it is the leaders who fight in single combat. These glorious heroes
are for the most part kings, but not kings in the old sense, not
hereditary kings bound to the soil and responsible for its fertility.
Rather they are leaders in war and adventure; the homage paid them is a
personal devotion for personal character; the leader must win his
followers by bravery, he must keep them by personal generosity.
Moreover, heroic wars are oftenest not tribal feuds consequent on tribal
raids, more often they arise from personal grievances, personal
jealousies; the siege of Troy is undertaken not because the Trojans have
raided the cattle of the Achæans, but because a single Trojan, Paris,
has carried off Helen, a single Achæan's wife.

Another noticeable point is that in heroic poems scarcely any one is
safely and quietly at home. The heroes are fighting in far-off lands or
voyaging by sea; hence we hear little of tribal and even of family ties.
The real centre is not the hearth, but the leader's tent or ship. Local
ties that bind to particular spots of earth are cut, local differences
fall into abeyance, a sort of cosmopolitanism, a forecast of
pan-Hellenism, begins to arise. And a curious point--all this is
reflected in the gods. We hear scarcely anything of local cults, nothing
at all of local magical maypoles and Carryings-out of Winter and
Bringings-in of Summer, nothing whatever of "Suppers" for the souls, or
even of worship paid to particular local heroes. A man's ghost when he
dies does not abide in its grave ready to rise at springtime and help
the seeds to sprout; it goes to a remote and shadowy region, a common,
pan-Hellenic Hades. And so with the gods themselves; they are cut clean
from earth and from the local bits of earth out of which they grew--the
sacred trees and holy stones and rivers and still holier beasts. There
is not a holy Bull to be found in all Olympus, only figures of men,
bright and vivid and intensely personal, like so many glorified,
transfigured Homeric heroes.

In a word, the heroic spirit, as seen in heroic poetry, is the outcome
of a society cut loose from its roots, of a time of migrations, of the
shifting of populations.[42] But more is needed, and just this something
more the age that gave birth to Homer had. We know now that before the
northern people whom we call Greeks, and who called themselves Hellenes,
came down into Greece, there had grown up in the basin of the Ægean a
civilization splendid, wealthy, rich in art and already ancient, the
civilization that has come to light at Troy, Mycenæ, Tiryns, and most of
all in Crete. The adventurers from North and South came upon a land
rich in spoils, where a chieftain with a band of hardy followers might
sack a city and dower himself and his men with sudden wealth. Such
conditions, such a contact of new and old, of settled splendour beset by
unbridled adventure, go to the making of a heroic age, its virtues and
its vices, its obvious beauty and its hidden ugliness. In settled,
social conditions, as has been well remarked, "most of the heroes would
sooner or later have found themselves in prison."

A heroic age, happily for society, cannot last long; it has about it
while it does last a sheen of passing and pathetic splendour, such as
that which lights up the figure of Achilles, but it is bound to fade and
pass. A heroic _society_ is almost a contradiction in terms. Heroism is
for individuals. If a society is to go on at all it must strike its
roots deep in some soil, native or alien. The bands of adventurers must
disband and go home, or settle anew on the land they have conquered.
They must beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into
pruning-hooks. Their gallant, glorious leader must become a sober,
home-keeping, law-giving and law-abiding king; his followers must abate
their individuality and make it subserve a common social purpose.

Athens, in her sheltered peninsula, lay somewhat outside the tide of
migrations and heroic exploits. Her population and that of all Attica
remained comparatively unchanged; her kings are kings of the stationary,
law-abiding, state-reforming type; Cecrops, Erechtheus, Theseus, are not
splendid, flashing, all-conquering figures like Achilles and Agamemnon.
Athens might, it would seem, but for the coming of Homer, have lain
stagnant in a backwater of conservatism, content to go on chanting her
traditional Spring Songs year by year. It is a wonderful thing that this
city of Athens, beloved of the gods, should have been saved from the
storm and stress, sheltered from what might have broken, even shattered
her, spared the actual horrors of a heroic _age_, yet given heroic
_poetry_, given the clear wine-cup poured when the ferment was over. She
drank of it deep and was glad and rose up like a giant refreshed.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have seen that to make up a heroic age there must be two factors, the
new and the old; the young, vigorous, warlike people must seize on,
appropriate, in part assimilate, an old and wealthy civilization. It
almost seems as if we might go a step farther, and say that for every
great movement in art or literature we must have the same conditions, a
contact of new and old, of a new spirit seizing or appropriated by an
old established order. Anyhow for Athens the historical fact stands
certain. The amazing development of the fifth-century drama is just
this, the old vessel of the ritual Dithyramb filled to the full with the
new wine of the heroic _saga_; and it would seem that it was by the hand
of Peisistratos, the great democratic tyrant, that the new wine was

       *       *       *       *       *

Such were roughly the outside conditions under which the drama of art
grew out of the _dromena_ of ritual. The racial secret of the individual
genius of Æschylus and the forgotten men who preceded him we cannot hope
to touch. We can only try to see the conditions in which they worked and
mark the splendid new material that lay to their hands. Above all things
we can see that this material, these Homeric _saga_, were just fitted
to give the needed impulse to art. The Homeric _saga_ had for an
Athenian poet just that remoteness from immediate action which, as we
have seen, is the essence of art as contrasted with ritual.

Tradition says that the Athenians fined the dramatic poet Phrynichus for
choosing as the plot of one of his tragedies the Taking of Miletus.
Probably the fine was inflicted for political party reasons, and had
nothing whatever to do with the question of whether the subject was
"artistic" or not. But the story may stand, and indeed was later
understood to be, a sort of allegory as to the attitude of art towards
life. To understand and still more to contemplate life you must come out
from the choral dance of life and stand apart. In the case of one's own
sorrows, be they national or personal, this is all but impossible. We
can ritualize our sorrows, but not turn them into tragedies. We cannot
stand back far enough to see the picture; we want to be doing, or at
least lamenting. In the case of the sorrows of others this standing back
is all too easy. We not only bear their pain with easy stoicism, but we
picture it dispassionately at a safe distance; we feel _about_ rather
than _with_ it. The trouble is that we do not feel enough. Such was the
attitude of the Athenian towards the doings and sufferings of Homeric
heroes. They stood towards them as spectators. These heroes had not the
intimate sanctity of home-grown things, but they had sufficient
traditional sanctity to make them acceptable as the material of drama.

Adequately sacred though they were, they were yet free and flexible. It
is impiety to alter the myth of your local hero, it is impossible to
recast the myth of your local dæmon--that is fixed forever--his
conflict, his _agon_, his death, his _pathos_, his Resurrection and its
heralding, his Epiphany. But the stories of Agamemnon and Achilles,
though at home these heroes were local _daimones_, have already been
variously told in their wanderings from place to place, and you can
mould them more or less to your will. Moreover, these figures are
already personal and individual, not representative puppets, mere
functionaries like the May Queen and Winter; they have life-histories of
their own, never quite to be repeated. It is in this blend of the
individual and the general, the personal and the universal, that one
element at least of all really great art will be found to lie; and just
here at Athens we get a glimpse of the moment of fusion; we see a
definite historical reason why and how the universal in _dromena_ came
to include the particular in drama. We see, moreover, how in place of
the old monotonous plots, intimately connected with actual practical
needs, we get material cut off from immediate reactions, seen as it were
at the right distance, remote yet not too remote. We see, in a word, how
a ritual enacted year by year became a work of art that was a
"possession for ever."

       *       *       *       *       *

Possibly in the mind of the reader there may have been for some time a
growing discomfort, an inarticulate protest. All this about _dromena_
and drama and dithyrambs, bears and bulls, May Queens and Tree-Spirits,
even about Homeric heroes, is all very well, curious and perhaps even in
a way interesting, but it is not at all what he expected, still less
what he wants. When he bought a book with the odd incongruous title,
_Ancient Art and Ritual_, he was prepared to put up with some remarks on
the artistic side of ritual, but he did expect to be told something
about what the ordinary man calls art, that is, statues and pictures.
Greek drama is no doubt a form of ancient art, but acting is not to the
reader's mind the chief of arts. Nay, more, he has heard doubts raised
lately--and he shares them--as to whether acting and dancing, about
which so much has been said, are properly speaking arts at all. Now
about painting and sculpture there is no doubt. Let us come to business.

To a business so beautiful and pleasant as Greek sculpture we shall
gladly come, but a word must first be said to explain the reason of our
long delay. The main contention of the present book is that ritual and
art have, in emotion towards life, a common root, and further, that
primitive art develops normally, at least in the case of the drama,
straight out of ritual. The nature of that primitive ritual from which
the drama arose is not very familiar to English readers. It has been
necessary to stress its characteristics. Almost everywhere, all over the
world, it is found that primitive ritual consists, not in prayer and
praise and sacrifice, but in mimetic dancing. But it is in Greece, and
perhaps Greece only, in the religion of Dionysos, that we can actually
trace, if dimly, the transition steps that led from dance to drama, from
ritual to art. It was, therefore, of the first importance to realize the
nature of the dithyramb from which the drama rose, and so far as might
be to mark the cause and circumstances of the transition.

Leaving the drama, we come in the next chapter to Sculpture; and here,
too, we shall see how closely art was shadowed by that ritual out of
which she sprang.


[35] See Bibliography at end for Professor Murray's examination.

[36] Mr. Edward Bullough, _The British Journal of Psychology_ (1912), p.

[37] II, 15.

[38] See my _Themis_, p. 289, and _Prolegomena_, p. 35.

[39] _De Cupid. div._ 8.

[40] V, 66.

[41] _Athen._, VIII, ii, 334 f. See my _Prolegomena_, p. 54.

[42] Thanks to Mr. H.M. Chadwick's _Heroic Age_ (1912).



In passing from the drama to Sculpture we make a great leap. We pass
from the living thing, the dance or the play acted by real people, the
thing _done_, whether as ritual or art, whether _dromenon_ or _drama_,
to the thing _made_, cast in outside material rigid form, a thing that
can be looked at again and again, but the making of which can never
actually be re-lived whether by artist or spectator.

Moreover, we come to a clear threefold distinction and division hitherto
neglected. We must at last sharply differentiate the artist, the work of
art, and the spectator. The artist may, and usually indeed does, become
the spectator of his own work, but the spectator is not the artist. The
work of art is, once executed, forever distinct both from artist and
spectator. In the primitive choral dance all three--artist, work of art,
spectator--were fused, or rather not yet differentiated. Handbooks on
art are apt to begin with the discussion of rude decorative patterns,
and after leading up through sculpture and painting, something vague is
said at the end about the primitiveness of the ritual dance. But
historically and also genetically or logically the dance in its
inchoateness, its undifferentiatedness, comes first. It has in it a
larger element of emotion, and less of presentation. It is this
inchoateness, this undifferentiatedness, that, apart from historical
fact, makes us feel sure that logically the dance is primitive.

       *       *       *       *       *

To illustrate the meaning of Greek sculpture and show its close affinity
with ritual, we shall take two instances, perhaps the best-known of
those that survive, one of them in relief, the other in the round, the
Panathenaic frieze of the Parthenon at Athens and the Apollo Belvedere,
and we shall take them in chronological order. As the actual frieze and
the statue cannot be before us, we shall discuss no technical questions
of style or treatment, but simply ask how they came to be, what human
need do they express. The Parthenon frieze is in the British Museum, the
Apollo Belvedere is in the Vatican at Rome, but is readily accessible
in casts or photographs. The outlines given in Figs. 5 and 6 can of
course only serve to recall subject-matter and design.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Panathenaic frieze once decorated the _cella_ or innermost shrine of
the Parthenon, the temple of the Maiden Goddess Athena. It twined like a
ribbon round the brow of the building and thence it was torn by Lord
Elgin and brought home to the British Museum as a national trophy, for
the price of a few hundred pounds of coffee and yards of scarlet cloth.
To realize its meaning we must always think it back into its place.
Inside the _cella_, or shrine, dwelt the goddess herself, her great
image in gold and ivory; outside the shrine was sculptured her worship
by the whole of her people. For the frieze is nothing but a great ritual
procession translated into stone, the Panathenaic procession, or
procession of _all_ the Athenians, of all Athens, in honour of the
goddess who was but the city incarnate, Athena.

    "A wonder enthroned on the hills and the sea,
    A maiden crowned with a fourfold glory,
    That none from the pride of her head may rend;
    Violet and olive leaf, purple and hoary,
    Song-wreath and story the fairest of fame,
    Flowers that the winter can blast not nor bend,
    A light upon earth as the sun's own flame,
    A name as his name--
    Athens, a praise without end."

SWINBURNE: _Erechtheus_, 141.

Sculptural Art, at least in this instance, comes out of ritual, has
ritual as its subject, _is_ embodied ritual. The reader perhaps at this
point may suspect that he is being juggled with, that, out of the
thousands of Greek reliefs that remain to us, just this one instance has
been selected to bolster up the writer's art and ritual theory. He has
only to walk through any museum to be convinced at once that the author
is playing quite fair. Practically the whole of the reliefs that remain
to us from the archaic period, and a very large proportion of those at
later date, when they do not represent heroic mythology, are ritual
reliefs, "votive" reliefs as we call them; that is, prayers or praises
translated into stone.

[Illustration: Fig. 3. Panathenaic Procession.]

Of the choral dance we have heard much, of the procession but little,
yet its ritual importance was great. In religion to-day the dance is
dead save for the dance of the choristers before the altar at Seville.
But the procession lives on, has even taken to itself new life. It is a
means of bringing masses of people together, of ordering them and
co-ordinating them. It is a means for the magical spread of supposed
good influence, of "grace." Witness the "Beating of the Bounds" and the
frequent processions of the Blessed Sacrament in Roman Catholic lands.
The Queen of the May and the Jack-in-the-Green still go from house to
house. Now-a-days it is to collect pence; once it was to diffuse "grace"
and increase. We remember the procession of the holy Bull at Magnesia
and the holy Bear at Saghalien (pp. 92-100).

[Illustration: Fig. 4. Panathenaic Procession.]

What, then, was the object of the Panathenaic procession? It was first,
as its name indicates, a procession that brought all Athens together.
Its object was social and political, to express the unity of Athens.
Ritual in primitive times is always social, collective.

The arrangement of the procession is shown in Figs. 3 and 4 (pp. 174,
175). In Fig. 3 we see the procession as it were in real life, just as
it is about to enter the temple and the presence of the Twelve Gods.
These gods are shaded black because in reality invisible. Fig. 4 is a
diagram showing the position of the various parts of the procession in
the sculptural frieze. At the west end of the temple the procession
begins to form: the youths of Athens are mounting their horses. It
divides, as it needs must, into two halves, one sculptured on the north,
one on the south side of the _cella_. After the throng of the cavalry
getting denser and denser we come to the chariots, next the sacrificial
animals, sheep and restive cows, then the instruments of sacrifice,
flutes and lyres and baskets and trays for offerings; men who carry
blossoming olive-boughs; maidens with water-vessels and drinking-cups.
The whole tumult of the gathering is marshalled and at last met and, as
it were, held in check, by a band of magistrates who face the procession
just as it enters the presence of the twelve seated gods, at the east
end. The whole body politic of the gods has come down to feast with the
whole body politic of Athens and her allies, of whom these gods are but
the projection and reflection. The gods are there together because man
is collectively assembled.

The great procession culminates in a sacrifice and a communal feast, a
sacramental feast like that on the flesh of the holy Bull at Magnesia.
The Panathenaia was a high festival including rites and ceremonies of
diverse dates, an armed dance of immemorial antiquity that may have
dated from the days when Athens was subject to Crete, and a recitation
ordered by Peisistratos of the poems of Homer.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some theorists have seen in art only an extension of the "play
instinct," just a liberation of superfluous vitality and energies, as it
were a rehearsing for life. This is not our view, but into all art, in
so far as it is a cutting off of motor reactions, there certainly enters
an element of recreation. It is interesting to note that to the Greek
mind religion was specially connected with the notion rather of a
festival than a fast. Thucydides[43] is assuredly by nature no reveller,
yet religion is to him mainly a "rest from toil." He makes Perikles say:
"Moreover, we have provided for our spirit by many opportunities of
recreation, by the celebration of games and sacrifices throughout the
year." To the anonymous writer known as the "Old Oligarch" the main gist
of religion appears to be a decorous social enjoyment. In easy
aristocratic fashion he rejoices that religious ceremonials exist to
provide for the less well-to-do citizens suitable amusements that they
would otherwise lack. "As to sacrifices and sanctuaries and festivals
and precincts, the People, knowing that it is impossible for each man
individually to sacrifice and feast and have sacrifices and an ample and
beautiful city, has discovered by what means he may enjoy these

       *       *       *       *       *

In the procession of the Panathenaia all Athens was gathered together,
but--and this is important--for a special purpose, more primitive than
any great political or social union. Happily this purpose is clear; it
is depicted in the central slab of the east end of the frieze (Fig. 5).
A priest is there represented receiving from the hands of a boy a great
_peplos_ or robe. It is the sacred robe of Athena woven for her and
embroidered by young Athenian maidens and offered to her every five
years. The great gold and ivory statue in the Parthenon itself had no
need of a robe; she would scarcely have known what to do with one; her
raiment was already of wrought gold, she carried helmet and spear and
shield. But there was an ancient image of Athena, an old Madonna of the
people, fashioned before Athena became a warrior maiden. This image was
rudely hewn in wood, it was dressed and decked doll-fashion like a May
Queen, and to her the great _peplos_ was dedicated. The _peplos_ was
hoisted as a sail on the Panathenaic ship, and this ship Athena had
borrowed from Dionysos himself, who went every spring in procession in a
ship-car on wheels to open the season for sailing. To a seafaring people
like the Athenians the opening of the sailing season was all-important,
and naturally began not at midsummer but in spring.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.]

The sacred _peplos_, or robe, takes us back to the old days when the
spirit of the year and the "luck" of the people was bound up with a rude
image. The life of the year died out each year and had to be renewed. To
make a new image was expensive and inconvenient, so, with primitive
economy it was decided that the life and luck of the image should be
renewed by re-dressing it, by offering to it each year a new robe. We
remember (p. 60) how in Thuringia the new puppet wore the shirt of the
old and thereby new life was passed from one to the other. But behind
the old image we can get to a stage still earlier, when there was at the
Panathenaia no image at all, only a yearly maypole; a bough hung with
ribbons and cakes and fruits and the like. A bough was cut from the
sacred olive tree of Athens, called the _Moria_ or Fate Tree. It was
bound about with fillets and hung with fruit and nuts and, in the
festival of the Panathenaia, they carried it up to the Acropolis to give
to Athena _Polias_, "Her-of-the-City," and as they went they sang the
old Eiresione song (p. 114). _Polias_ is but the city, the _Polis_

This _Moria_, or Fate Tree, was the very life of Athens; the life of the
olive which fed her and lighted her was the very life of the city. When
the Persian host sacked the Acropolis they burnt the holy olive, and it
seemed that all was over. But next day it put forth a new shoot and the
people knew that the city's life still lived. Sophocles[44] sang of the
glory of the wondrous life tree of Athens:

    "The untended, the self-planted, self-defended from the foe,
    Sea-gray, children-nurturing olive tree that here delights to grow,
    None may take nor touch nor harm it, headstrong youth nor age grown bold.
    For the round of Morian Zeus has been its watcher from of old;
    He beholds it, and, Athene, thy own sea-gray eyes behold."

The holy tree carried in procession is, like the image of Athena, made
of olive-wood, just the incarnate life of Athens ever renewed.

The Panathenaia was not, like the Dithyramb, a spring festival. It took
place in July at the height of the summer heat, when need for rain was
the greatest. But the month Hecatombaion, in which it was celebrated,
was the first month of the Athenian year and the day of the festival was
the birthday of the goddess. When the goddess became a war-goddess, it
was fabled that she was born in Olympus, and that she sprang full grown
from her father's head in glittering armour. But she was really born on
earth, and the day of her birth was the birthday of every earthborn
goddess, the day of the beginning of the new year, with its returning
life. When men observe only the actual growth of new green life from the
ground, this birthday will be in spring; when they begin to know that
the seasons depend on the sun, or when the heat of the sun causes great
need of rain, it will be at midsummer, at the solstice, or in northern
regions where men fear to lose the sun in midwinter, as with us. The
frieze of the Parthenon is, then, but a primitive festival translated
into stone, a rite frozen to a monument.

       *       *       *       *       *

Passing over a long space of time we come to our next illustration, the
Apollo Belvedere (Fig. 6).

It might seem that here at last we have nothing primitive; here we have
art pure and simple, ideal art utterly cut loose from ritual, "art for
art's sake." Yet in this Apollo Belvedere, this product of late and
accomplished, even decadent art, we shall see most clearly the intimate
relation of art and ritual; we shall, as it were, walk actually across
that transition bridge of ritual which leads from actual life to art.

[Illustration: Fig. 6. The Apollo Belvedere.]

The date of this famous Apollo cannot be fixed, but it is clearly a copy
of a type belonging to the fourth century B.C. The poise of the figure
is singular and, till its intent is grasped, unsatisfactory. Apollo is
caught in swift motion but seems, as he stands delicately poised, to be
about to fly rather than to run. He stands tiptoe and in a moment will
have left the earth. The Greek sculptor's genius was all focussed, as we
shall presently see, on the human figure and on the mastery of its many
possibilities of movement and action. Greek statues can roughly be dated
by the way they stand. At first, in the archaic period, they stand
firmly planted with equal weight on either foot, the feet close
together. Then one foot is advanced, but the weight still equally
divided, an almost impossible position. Next, the weight is thrown on
the right foot; and the left knee is bent. This is of all positions the
loveliest for the human body. We allow it to women, forbid it to men
save to "æsthetes." If the back numbers of _Punch_ be examined for the
figure of "Postlethwaite" it will be seen that he always stands in this
characteristic relaxed pose.

When the sculptor has mastered the possible he bethinks him of the
impossible. He will render the human body flying. It may have been the
accident of a mythological subject that first suggested the motive.
Leochares, a famous artist of the fourth century B.C., made a group of
Zeus in the form of an eagle carrying off Ganymede. A replica of the
group is preserved in the Vatican, and should stand for comparison near
the Apollo. We have the same tiptoe poise, the figure just about to
leave the earth. Again, it is not a dance, but a flight. This poise is
suggestive to us because it marks an art cut loose, as far as may be,
from earth and its realities, even its rituals.

What is it that Apollo is doing? The question and suggested answers have
occupied many treatises. There is only one answer: We do not know. It
was at first thought that the Apollo had just drawn his bow and shot an
arrow. This suggestion was made to account for the pose; but that, as we
have seen, is sufficiently explained by the flight-motive. Another
possible solution is that Apollo brandishes in his uplifted hand the
ægis, or goatskin shield, of Zeus. Another suggestion is that he holds
as often a lustral, or laurel bough, that he is figured as Daphnephoros,

We do not know if the Belvedere Apollo carried a laurel, but we _do_
know that it was of the very essence of the god to be a Laurel-Bearer.
That, as we shall see in a moment, he, like Dionysos, arose in part out
of a rite, a rite of Laurel-Bearing--a _Daphnephoria_. We have not got
clear of ritual yet. When Pausanias,[45] the ancient traveller, whose
notebook is our chief source about these early festivals, came to Thebes
he saw a hill sacred to Apollo, and after describing the temple on the
hill he says:

     "The following custom is still, I know, observed at Thebes. A boy
     of distinguished family and himself well-looking and strong is made
     the priest of Apollo, _for the space of a year_. The title given
     him is Laurel-Bearer (Daphnephoros), for these boys wear wreaths
     made of laurel."

We know for certain now what these yearly priests are: they are the Kings
of the Year, the Spirits of the Year, May-Kings, Jacks-o'-the-Green.
The name given to the boy is enough to show he carried a laurel branch,
though Pausanias only mentions a wreath. Another ancient writer gives us
more details.[46] He says in describing the festival of the

     "They wreathe a pole of olive wood with laurel and various flowers.
     On the top is fitted a bronze globe from which they suspend
     smaller ones. Midway round the pole they place a lesser globe,
     binding it with purple fillets, but the end of the pole is decked
     with saffron. By the topmost globe they mean the sun, to which they
     actually compare Apollo. The globe beneath this is the moon; the
     smaller globes hung on are the stars and constellations, and the
     fillets are the course of the year, for they make them 365 in
     number. The Daphnephoria is headed by a boy, both whose parents are
     alive, and his nearest male relation carries the filleted pole. The
     Laurel-Bearer himself, who follows next, holds on to the laurel; he
     has his hair hanging loose, he wears a golden wreath, and he is
     dressed out in a splendid robe to his feet and he wears light
     shoes. There follows him a band of maidens holding out boughs
     before them, to enforce the supplication of the hymns."

This is the most elaborate maypole ceremony that we know of in ancient
times. The globes representing sun and moon show us that we have come to
a time when men know that the fruits of the earth in due season depended
on the heavenly bodies. The year with its 365 days is a Sun-Year. Once
this Sun-Year established and we find that the times of the solstices,
midwinter and midsummer became as, or even more, important than the
spring itself. The date of the _Daphnephoria_ is not known.

At Delphi itself, the centre of Apollo-worship, there was a festival
called the _Stepteria_, or festival "of those who make the wreathes," in
which "mystery" a Christian Bishop, St. Cyprian, tells us he was
initiated. In far-off Tempe--that wonderful valley that is still the
greenest spot in stony, barren Greece, and where the laurel trees still
cluster--there was an altar, and near it a laurel tree. The story went
that Apollo had made himself a crown from this very laurel, and _taking
in his hand a branch of this same laurel_, i.e. as Laurel-Bearer, had
come to Delphi and taken over the oracle.

"And to this day the people of Delphi send high-born boys in procession
there. And they, when they have reached Tempe and made a splendid
sacrifice return back, after wearing themselves wreaths from the very
laurel from which the god made himself a wreath."

We are inclined to think of the Greeks as a people apt to indulge in the
singular practice of wearing wreaths in public, a practice among us
confined to children on their birthdays and a few eccentric people on
their wedding days. We forget the intensely practical purport of the
custom. The ancient Greeks wore wreaths and carried boughs, not because
they were artistic or poetical, but because they were ritualists, that
they might bring back the spring and carry in the summer. The Greek
bridegroom to-day, as well as the Greek bride, wears a wreath, that his
marriage may be the beginning of new life, that his "wife may be as the
fruitful vine, and his children as the olive branches round about his
table." And our children to-day, though they do not know it, wear
wreaths on their birthdays because with each new year their life is

       *       *       *       *       *

Apollo then, was, like Dionysos, King of the May and--saving his
presence--Jack-in-the-Green. The god manifestly arose out of the rite. For
a moment let us see _how_ he arose. It will be remembered that in a
previous chapter (p. 70) we spoke of "personification." We think of the
god Apollo as an abstraction, an unreal thing, perhaps as a "false god."
The god Apollo does not, and never did, exist. He is an idea--a thing made
by the imagination. But primitive man does not deal with abstractions,
does not worship them. What happens is, as we saw (p. 71), something like
this: Year by year a boy is chosen to carry the laurel, to bring in the
May, and later year by year a puppet is made. It is a different boy each
year, carrying a different laurel branch. And yet in a sense it is the
same boy; he is always the Laurel-Bearer--"Daphnephoros," always the
"Luck" of the village or city. This Laurel-Bearer, the same yesterday,
to-day, and forever, is the stuff of which the god is made. The god arises
from the rite, he is gradually detached from the rite, and as soon as he
gets a life and being of his own, apart from the rite, he is a first stage
in art, a work of art existing in the mind, gradually detached from even
the faded action of ritual, and later to be the model of the actual work
of art, the copy in stone.

The stages, it would seem, are: actual life with its motor reactions,
the ritual copy of life with its faded reactions, the image of the god
projected by the rite, and, last, the copy of that image, the work of

       *       *       *       *       *

We see now why in the history of all ages and every place art is what is
called the "handmaid of religion." She is not really the "handmaid" at
all. She springs straight out of the rite, and her first outward leap is
the image of the god. Primitive art in Greece, in Egypt, in Assyria,[47]
represents either rites, processions, sacrifices, magical ceremonies,
embodied prayers; or else it represents the images of the gods who
spring from those rites. Track any god right home, and you will find him
lurking in a ritual sheath, from which he slowly emerges, first as a
_dæmon_, or spirit, of the year, then as a full-blown divinity.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Chapter II we saw how the _dromenon_ gave birth to the _drama_, how,
bit by bit, out of the chorus of dancers some dancers withdrew and
became spectators sitting apart, and on the other hand others of the
dancers drew apart on to the stage and presented to the spectators a
spectacle, a thing to be looked _at_, not joined _in_. And we saw how in
this spectacular mood, this being cut loose from immediate action, lay
the very essence of the artist and the art-lover. Now in the drama of
Thespis there was at first, we are told, but one actor; later Æschylus
added a second. It is clear who this actor, this _protagonist_ or "first
contender" was, the one actor with the double part, who was Death to be
carried out and Summer to be carried in. He was the Bough-Bearer, the
only possible actor in the one-part play of the renewal of life and the
return of the year.

       *       *       *       *       *

The May-King, the leader of the choral dance gave birth not only to the
first actor of the drama, but also, as we have just seen, to the god, be
he Dionysos or be he Apollo; and this figure of the god thus imagined
out of the year-spirit was perhaps more fertile for art than even the
protagonist of the drama. It may seem strange to us that a god should
rise up out of a dance or a procession, because dances and processions
are not an integral part of our national life, and do not call up any
very strong and instant emotion. The old instinct lingers, it is true,
and emerges at critical moments; when a king dies we form a great
procession to carry him to the grave, but we do not dance. We have court
balls, and these with their stately ordered ceremonials are perhaps the
last survival of the genuinely civic dance, but a court ball is not
given at a king's funeral nor in honour of a god.

But to the Greek the god and the dance were never quite sundered. It
almost seems as if in the minds of Greek poets and philosophers there
lingered some dim half-conscious remembrance that some of these gods at
least actually came out of the ritual dance. Thus, Plato,[48] in
treating of the importance of rhythm in education says: "The gods,
pitying the toilsome race of men, have appointed the sequence of
religious festivals to give them times of rest, and have given them the
Muses and Apollo, the Muse-Leader, as fellow-revellers."

"The young of all animals," he goes on to say, "cannot keep quiet,
either in body or voice. They must leap and skip and overflow with
gamesomeness and sheer joy, and they must utter all sorts of cries. But
whereas animals have no perception of order or disorder in their
motions, the gods who have been appointed to men as our fellow-dancers
have given to us a sense of pleasure in rhythm and harmony. And so they
move us and lead our bands, knitting us together with songs and in
dances, and these we call _choruses_." Nor was it only Apollo and
Dionysos who led the dance. Athena herself danced the Pyrrhic dance.
"Our virgin lady," says Plato, "delighting in the sports of the dance,
thought it not meet to dance with empty hands; she must be clothed in
full armour, and in this attire go through the dance. And youths and
maidens should in every respect imitate her example, honouring the
goddess, both with a view to the actual necessities of war and to the

Plato is unconsciously inverting the order of things, natural
happenings. Take the armed dance. There is, first, the "actual necessity
of war." Men go to war armed, to face actual dangers, and at their head
is a leader in full armour. That is real life. There is then the festal
re-enactment of war, when the fight is not actually fought, but there is
an imitation of war. That is the ritual stage, the _dromenon_. Here,
too, there is a leader. More and more this dance becomes a spectacle,
less and less an action. Then from the periodic _dromenon_, the ritual
enacted year by year, emerges an imagined permanent leader; a dæmon, or
god--a Dionysos, an Apollo, an Athena. Finally the account of what
actually happens is thrown into the past, into a remote distance, and we
have an "ætiological" myth--a story told to give a cause or reason. The
whole natural process is inverted.

And last, as already seen, the god, the first work of art, the thing
unseen, imagined out of the ritual of the dance, is cast back into the
visible world and fixed in space. Can we wonder that a classical
writer[49] should say "the statues of the craftsmen of old times are the
relics of ancient dancing." That is just what they are, rites caught and
fixed and frozen. "Drawing," says a modern critic,[50] "is at bottom,
like all the arts, a kind of gesture, a method of dancing on paper."
Sculpture, drawing, all the arts save music are imitative; so was the
dance from which they sprang. But imitation is not all, or even first.
"The dance may be mimetic; but the beauty and verve of the performance,
not closeness of the imitation impresses; and tame additions of truth
will encumber and not convince. The dance must control the pantomime."
Art, that is, gradually dominates mere ritual.

       *       *       *       *       *

We come to another point. The Greek gods as we know them in classical
sculpture are always imaged in human shape. This was not of course
always the case with other nations. We have seen how among savages the
totem, that is, the emblem of tribal unity, was usually an animal or a
plant. We have seen how the emotions of the Siberian tribe in Saghalien
focussed on a bear. The savage totem, the Saghalien Bear, is on the way
to be, but is not quite, a god; he is not personal enough. The
Egyptians, and in part the Assyrians, halted half-way and made their
gods into monstrous shapes, half-animal, half-man, which have their own
mystical grandeur. But since we are men ourselves, feeling human
emotion, if our gods are in great part projected emotions, the natural
form for them to take is human shape.

"Art imitates Nature," says Aristotle, in a phrase that has been much
misunderstood. It has been taken to mean that art is a copy or
reproduction of natural objects. But by "Nature" Aristotle never means
the outside world of created things, he means rather creative force,
what produces, not what has been produced. We might almost translate the
Greek phrase, "Art, like Nature, creates things," "Art acts like Nature
in producing things." These things are, first and foremost, human
things, human action. The drama, with which Aristotle is so much
concerned, invents human action like real, _natural_ action. Dancing
"imitates character, emotion, action." Art is to Aristotle almost wholly
bound by the limitations of _human_ nature.

This is, of course, characteristically a Greek limitation. "Man is the
measure of all things," said the old Greek sophist, but modern science
has taught us another lesson. Man may be in the foreground, but the
drama of man's life is acted out for us against a tremendous background
of natural happenings: a background that preceded man and will outlast
him; and this background profoundly affects our imagination, and hence
our art. We moderns are in love with the background. Our art is a
landscape art. The ancient landscape painter could not, or would not,
trust the background to tell its own tale: if he painted a mountain he
set up a mountain-god to make it real; if he outlined a coast he set
human coast-nymphs on its shore to make clear the meaning.

Contrast with this our modern landscape, from which bit by bit the nymph
has been wholly banished. It is the art of a stage, without actors, a
scene which is all background, all suggestion. It is an art given us by
sheer recoil from science, which has dwarfed actual human life almost to
imaginative extinction.

     "Landscape, then, offered to the modern imagination a scene empty
     of definite actors, superhuman or human, that yielded to reverie
     without challenge all that is in a moral without a creed, tension
     or ambush of the dark, threat of ominous gloom, the relenting and
     tender return or overwhelming outburst of light, the pageantry of
     clouds above a world turned quaker, the monstrous weeds of trees
     outside the town, the sea that is obstinately epic still."[51]

It was to this world of backgrounds that men fled, hunted by the sense
of their own insignificance.

"Minds the most strictly bound in their acts by civil life, in their
fancy by the shrivelled look of destiny under scientific speculation,
felt on solitary hill or shore those tides of the blood stir again that
are ruled by the sun and the moon and travelled as if to tryst where an
apparition might take form. Poets ordained themselves to this vigil,
haunters of a desert church, prompters of an elemental theatre,
listeners in solitary places for intimations from a spirit in hiding;
and painters followed the impulse of Wordsworth."

We can only see the strength and weakness of Greek sculpture, feel the
emotion of which it was the utterance, if we realize clearly this modern
spirit of the background. All great modern, and perhaps even ancient,
poets are touched by it. Drama itself, as Nietzsche showed, "hankers
after dissolution into mystery. Shakespeare would occasionally knock the
back out of the stage with a window opening on the 'cloud-capp'd
towers.'" But Maeterlinck is the best example, because his genius is
less. He is the embodiment, almost the caricature, of a tendency.

     "Maeterlinck sets us figures in the foreground only to launch us
     into that limbus. The supers jabbering on the scene are there,
     children of presentiment and fear, to make us aware of a third, the
     mysterious one, whose name is not on the bills. They come to warn
     us by the nervous check and hurry of their gossip of the approach
     of that background power. Omen after omen announces him, the talk
     starts and drops at his approach, a door shuts and the thrill of
     his passage is the play."[52]

It is, perhaps, the temperaments that are most allured and terrified by
this art of the bogey and the background that most feel the need of and
best appreciate the calm and level, rational dignity of Greek naturalism
and especially the naturalism of Greek sculpture.

For it is naturalism, not realism, not imitation. By all manner of
renunciations Greek sculpture is what it is. The material, itself
marble, is utterly unlike life, it is perfectly cold and still, it has
neither the texture nor the colouring of life. The story of Pygmalion
who fell in love with the statue he had himself sculptured is as false
as it is tasteless. Greek sculpture is the last form of art to incite
physical reaction. It is remote almost to the point of chill
abstraction. The statue in the round renounces not only human life
itself, but all the natural background and setting of life. The statues
of the Greek gods are Olympian in spirit as well as subject. They are
like the gods of Epicurus, cut loose alike from the affairs of men, and
even the ordered ways of Nature. So Lucretius[53] pictures them:

     "The divinity of the gods is revealed and their tranquil abodes,
     which neither winds do shake nor clouds drench with rains, nor snow
     congealed by sharp frost harms with hoary fall: an ever cloudless
     ether o'ercanopies them, and they laugh with light shed largely
     around. Nature, too, supplies all their wants, and nothing ever
     impairs their peace of mind."

Greek art moves on through a long course of technical accomplishment, of
ever-increasing mastery over materials and methods. But this course we
need not follow. For our argument the last word is said in the figures
of these Olympians translated into stone. Born of pressing human needs
and desires, images projected by active and even anxious ritual, they
pass into the upper air and dwell aloof, spectator-like and all but


[43] II, 38.

[44] _Oed. Col._ 694, trans. D.S. MacColl.

[45] IX, 10, 4.

[46] See my _Themis_, p. 438.

[47] It is now held by some and good authorities that the prehistoric
paintings of cave-dwelling man had also a ritual origin; that is, that
the representations of animals were intended to act magically, to
increase the "supply of the animal or help the hunter to catch him."
But, as this question is still pending, I prefer, tempting though they
are, not to use prehistoric paintings as material for my argument.

[48] _Laws_, 653.

[49] _Athen._ XIV, 26, p. 629.

[50] D.S. MacColl, "A Year of Post-Impressionism," _Nineteenth Century_,
p. 29. (1912.)

[51] D.S. MacColl, _Nineteenth Century Art_, p. 20. (1902.)

[52] D.S. MacColl, _op. cit._, p. 18.

[53] II, 18.



In the preceding chapters we have seen ritual emerge from the practical
doings of life. We have noted that in ritual we have the beginning of a
detachment from practical ends; we have watched the merely emotional
dance develop from an undifferentiated chorus into a spectacle performed
by actors and watched by spectators, a spectacle cut off, not only from
real life, but also from ritual issues; a spectacle, in a word, that has
become an end in itself. We have further seen that the choral dance is
an undifferentiated whole which later divides out into three clearly
articulate parts, the artist, the work of art, the spectator or art
lover. We are now in a position to ask what is the good of all this
antiquarian enquiry? Why is it, apart from the mere delight of
scientific enquiry, important to have seen that art arose from ritual?

The answer is simple--

The object of this book, as stated in the preface, is to try to throw
some light on the function of art, that is on what it has done, and
still does to-day, for life. Now in the case of a complex growth like
art, it is rarely if ever possible to understand its function--what it
does, how it works--unless we know something of how that growth began,
or, if its origin is hid, at least of the simpler forms of activity that
preceded it. For art, this earlier stage, this simpler form, which is
indeed itself as it were an embryo and rudimentary art, we found to

Ritual, then, has not been studied for its own sake, still less for its
connection with any particular dogma, though, as a subject of singular
gravity and beauty, ritual is well worth a lifetime's study. It has been
studied because ritual is, we believe, a frequent and perhaps universal
transition stage between actual life and that peculiar contemplation of
or emotion towards life which we call art. All our long examination of
beast-dances, May-day festivals and even of Greek drama has had just
this for its object--to make clear that art--save perhaps in a few
specially gifted natures--did not arise straight out of life, but out
of that collective emphasis of the needs and desires of life which we
have agreed to call ritual.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our formal argument is now over and ritual may drop out of the
discussion. But we would guard against a possible misunderstanding. We
would not be taken to imply that ritual is obsolete and must drop out of
life, giving place to the art it has engendered. It may well be that,
for certain temperaments, ritual is a perennial need. Natures specially
gifted can live lives that are emotionally vivid, even in the rare high
air of art or science; but many, perhaps most of us, breathe more freely
in the _medium_, literally the _midway_ space, of some collective
ritual. Moreover, for those of us who are not artists or original
thinkers the life of the imagination, and even of the emotions, has been
perhaps too long lived at second hand, received from the artist ready
made and felt. To-day, owing largely to the progress of science, and a
host of other causes social and economic, life grows daily fuller and
freer, and every manifestation of life is regarded with a new reverence.
With this fresh outpouring of the spirit, this fuller consciousness of
life, there comes a need for _first-hand_ emotion and expression, and
that expression is found for all classes in a revival of the ritual
dance. Some of the strenuous, exciting, self-expressive dances of to-day
are of the soil and some exotic, but, based as they mostly are on very
primitive ritual, they stand as singular evidence of this real recurrent
need. Art in these latter days goes back as it were on her own steps,
recrossing the ritual bridge back to life.

       *       *       *       *       *

It remains to ask what, in the light of this ritual origin, is the
function of art? How do we relate it to other forms of life, to science,
to religion, to morality, to philosophy? These are big-sounding
questions, and towards their solution only hints here and there can be
offered, stray thoughts that have grown up out of this study of ritual
origins and which, because they have helped the writer, are offered,
with no thought of dogmatism, to the reader.

       *       *       *       *       *

We English are not supposed to be an artistic people, yet art, in some
form or another, bulks large in the national life. We have theatres, a
National Gallery, we have art-schools, our tradesmen provide for us
"art-furniture," we even hear, absurdly enough, of "art-colours."
Moreover, all this is not a matter of mere antiquarian interest, we do
not simply go and admire the beauty of the past in museums; a movement
towards or about art is all alive and astir among us. We have new
developments of the theatre, problem plays, Reinhardt productions,
Gordon Craig scenery, Russian ballets. We have new schools of painting
treading on each other's heels with breathless rapidity: Impressionists,
Post-Impressionists, Futurists. Art--or at least the desire for, the
interest in, art--is assuredly not dead.

Moreover, and this is very important, we all feel about art a certain
obligation, such as some of us feel about religion. There is an "ought"
about it. Perhaps we do not really care much about pictures and poetry
and music, but we feel we "ought to." In the case of music it has
happily been at last recognized that if you have not an "ear" you cannot
care for it, but two generations ago, owing to the unfortunate cheapness
and popularity of keyed instruments, it was widely held that one half of
humanity, the feminine half, "ought" to play the piano. This "ought"
is, of course, like most social "oughts," a very complex product, but
its existence is well worth noting.

It is worth noting because it indicates a vague feeling that art has a
real value, that art is not a mere luxury, nor even a rarefied form of
pleasure. No one feels they _ought_ to take pleasure in beautiful scents
or in the touch of velvet; they either do or they don't. The first
point, then, that must be made clear is that art is of real value to
life in a perfectly clear biological sense; it invigorates, enhances,
promotes actual, spiritual, and through it physical life.

This from our historical account we should at the outset expect, because
we have seen art, by way of ritual, arose out of life. And yet the
statement is a sort of paradox, for we have seen also that art differs
from ritual just in this, that in art, whether of the spectator or the
creator, the "motor reactions," _i.e._ practical life, the life of
doing, is for the time checked. This is of the essence of the artist's
vision, that he sees things detached and therefore more vividly, more
completely, and in a different light. This is of the essence of the
artist's emotion, that it is purified from personal desire.

But, though the artist's vision and emotion alike are modified,
purified, they are not devitalized. Far from that, by detachment from
action they are focussed and intensified. Life is enhanced, only it is a
different kind of life, it is the life of the image-world, of the
_imag_ination; it is the spiritual and human life, as differentiated
from the life we share with animals. It is a life we all, as human
beings, possess in some, but very varying, degrees; and the natural man
will always view the spiritual man askance, because he is not
"practical." But the life of imagination, cut off from practical
reaction as it is, becomes in turn a motor-force causing new emotions,
and so pervading the general life, and thus ultimately becoming
"practical." No one function is completely cut off from another. The
main function of art is probably to intensify and purify emotion, but it
is substantially certain that, if we did not feel, we could not think
and should not act. Still it remains true that, in artistic
contemplation and in the realms of the artist's imagination not only are
practical motor-reactions cut off, but intelligence is suffused in, and
to some extent subordinated to, emotion.

       *       *       *       *       *

One function, then, of art is to feed and nurture the imagination and
the spirit, and thereby enhance and invigorate the whole of human life.
This is far removed from the view that the end of art is to give
pleasure. Art does usually cause pleasure, singular and intense, and to
that which causes such pleasure we give the name of Beauty. But to
produce and enjoy Beauty is not the function of art. Beauty--or rather,
the sensation of Beauty--is what the Greeks would call an _epigignomenon
ti telos_, words hard to translate, something between a by-product and a
supervening perfection, a thing like--as Aristotle[54] for once
beautifully says of pleasure--"the bloom of youth to a healthy young

That this is so we see most clearly in the simple fact that, when the
artist begins to aim direct at Beauty, he usually misses it. We all
know, perhaps by sad experience, that the man who seeks out pleasure for
herself fails to find her. Let him do his work well for that work's
sake, exercise his faculties, "energize" as Aristotle would say, and he
will find pleasure come out unawares to meet him with her shining face;
but let him look for her, think of her, even desire her, and she hides
her head. A man goes out hunting, thinks of nothing but following the
hounds and taking his fences, being in at the death: his day is
full--alas! of pleasure, though he has scarcely known it. Let him forget
the fox and the fences, think of pleasure, desire her, and he will be in
at pleasure's death.

So it is with the artist. Let him feel strongly, and see raptly--that
is, in complete detachment. Let him cast this, his rapt vision and his
intense emotion, into outside form, a statue or a painting; that form
will have about it a nameless thing, an unearthly aroma, which we call
beauty; this nameless presence will cause in the spectator a sensation
too rare to be called pleasure, and we shall call it a "sense of
beauty." But let the artist aim direct at Beauty, and she is gone, gone
before we hear the flutter of her wings.

       *       *       *       *       *

The sign manual, the banner, as it were, of artistic creation is for the
creative artist not pleasure, but something better called joy.
Pleasure, it has been well said, is no more than an instrument contrived
by Nature to obtain from the individual the preservation and the
propagation of life. True joy is not the lure of life, but the
consciousness of the triumph of creation. Wherever joy is, creation has
been.[55] It may be the joy of a mother in the physical creation of a
child; it may be the joy of the merchant adventurer in pushing out new
enterprise, or of the engineer in building a bridge, or of the artist in
a masterpiece accomplished; but it is always of the thing created.
Again, contrast joy with glory. Glory comes with success and is
exceedingly _pleasant_; it is not joyous. Some men say an artist's crown
is glory; his deepest satisfaction is in the applause of his fellows.
There is no greater mistake; we care for praise just in proportion as we
are not sure we have succeeded. To the real creative artist even praise
and glory are swallowed up in the supreme joy of creation. Only the
artist himself feels the real divine fire, but it flames over into the
work of art, and even the spectator warms his hands at the glow.

We can now, I think, understand the difference between the artist and
true lover of art on the one hand, and the mere æsthete on the other.
The æsthete does not produce, or, if he produces, his work is thin and
scanty. In this he differs from the artist; he does not feel so strongly
and see so clearly that he is forced to utterance. He has no joy, only
pleasure. He cannot even feel the reflection of this creative joy. In
fact, he does not so much feel as want to feel. He seeks for pleasure,
for sensual pleasure as his name says, not for the grosser kinds, but
for pleasure of that rarefied kind that we call a sense of beauty. The
æsthete, like the flirt, is cold. It is not even that his senses are
easily stirred, but he seeks the sensation of stirring, and most often
feigns it, not finds it. The æsthete is no more released from his own
desires than the practical man, and he is without the practical man's
healthy outlet in action. He sees life, not indeed in relation to
action, but to his own personal sensation. By this alone he is debarred
for ever from being an artist. As M. André Beaunier has well observed,
by the irony of things, when we see life in relation to ourselves we
cannot really represent it at all. The profligate thinks he knows women.
It is his irony, his curse that, because he sees them always in relation
to his own desires, his own pleasure, he never really knows them at all.

There is another important point. We have seen that art promotes a part
of life, the spiritual, image-making side. But this side, wonderful
though it is, is never the whole of actual life. There is always the
practical side. The artist is always also a man. Now the æsthete tries
to make his whole attitude artistic--that is, contemplative. He is
always looking and prying and savouring, _savourant_, as he would say,
when he ought to be living. The result is that there is nothing to
_savourer_. All art springs by way of ritual out of keen emotion towards
life, and even the power to appreciate art needs this emotional reality
in the spectator. The æsthete leads at best a parasite, artistic life,
dogged always by death and corruption.

       *       *       *       *       *

This brings us straight on to another question: What about Art and
Morality? Is Art immoral, or non-moral, or highly moral? Here again
public opinion is worth examining. Artists, we are told, are bad
husbands, and they do not pay their debts. Or if they become good
husbands and take to paying their debts, they take also to wallowing in
domesticity and produce bad art or none at all; they get tangled in the
machinery of practical reactions. Art, again, is apt to deal with risky
subjects. Where should we be if there were not a Censor of Plays? Many
of these instructive attitudes about artists as immoral or non-moral,
explain themselves instantly if we remember that the artist is _ipso
facto_ detached from practical life. In so far as he is an artist, for
each and every creative moment he is inevitably a bad husband, if being
a good husband means constant attention to your wife and her interests.
Spiritual creation _à deux_ is a happening so rare as to be negligible.

The remoteness of the artist, his essential inherent detachment from
motor-reaction, explains the perplexities of the normal censor. He,
being a "practical man," regards emotion and vision, feeling and ideas,
as leading to action. He does not see that art arises out of ritual and
that even ritual is one remove from practical life. In the censor's
world the spectacle of the nude leads straight to desire, so the dancer
must be draped; the problem-play leads straight to the Divorce Court,
therefore it must be censored. The normal censor apparently knows
nothing of that world where motor-reactions are cut off, that house made
without hands, whose doors are closed on desire, eternal in the heavens.
The censor is not for the moment a _persona grata_, but let us give him
his due. He acts according to his lights and these often quite
adequately represent the average darkness. A normal audience contains
many "practical" men whose standard is the same as that of the normal
censor. Art--that is vision detached from practical reactions--is to
them an unknown world full of moral risks from which the artist is _quâ_
artist immune.

So far we might perhaps say that art was non-moral. But the statement
would be misleading, since, as we have seen, art is in its very origin
social, and social means human and collective. Moral and social are, in
their final analysis, the same. That human, collective emotion, out of
which we have seen the choral dance arise, is in its essence moral; that
is, it unites. "Art," says Tolstoy, "has this characteristic, that it
unites people." In this conviction, as we shall later see, he
anticipates the modern movement of the Unanimists (p. 249).

But there is another, and perhaps simpler, way in which art is moral. As
already suggested, it purifies by cutting off the motor-reactions of
personal desire. An artist deeply in love with his friend's wife once
said: "If only I could paint her and get what I want from her, I could
bear it." His wish strikes a chill at first; it sounds egotistic; it has
the peculiar, instinctive, inevitable cruelty of the artist, seeing in
human nature material for his art. But it shows us the moral side of
art. The artist was a good and sensitive man; he saw the misery he had
brought and would bring to people he loved, and he saw, or rather felt,
a way of escape; he saw that through art, through vision, through
detachment, desire might be slain, and the man within him find peace. To
some natures this instinct after art is almost their sole morality. If
they find themselves intimately entangled in hate or jealousy or even
contempt, so that they are unable to see the object of their hate or
jealousy or contempt in a clear, quiet and lovely light, they are
restless, miserable, morally out of gear, and they are constrained to
fetter or slay personal desire and so find rest.

       *       *       *       *       *

This aloofness, this purgation of emotion from personal passion, art has
in common with philosophy. If the philosopher will seek after truth,
there must be, says Plotinus, a "turning away" of the spirit, a
detachment. He must aim at contemplation; action, he says, is "a
weakening of contemplation." Our word _theory_, which we use in
connection with reasoning and which comes from the same Greek root as
_theatre_, means really looking fixedly at, contemplation; it is very
near in meaning to our _imagination_. But the philosopher differs from
the artist in this: he aims not only at the contemplation of truth, but
at the ordering of truths, he seeks to make of the whole universe an
intelligible structure. Further, he is not driven by the gadfly of
creation, he is not forced to cast his images into visible or audible
shape. He is remoter from the push of life. Still, the philosopher,
like the artist, lives in a world of his own, with a spell of its own
near akin to beauty, and the secret of that spell is the same detachment
from the tyranny of practical life. The essence of art, says Santayana,
is "the steady contemplation of things in their order and worth." He
might have been defining philosophy.

       *       *       *       *       *

If art and philosophy are thus near akin, art and science are in their
beginning, though not in their final development, contrasted. Science,
it seems, begins with the desire for practical utility. Science, as
Professor Bergson has told us, has for its initial aim the making of
tools for life. Man tries to find out the laws of Nature, that is, how
natural things behave, in order primarily that he may get the better of
them, rule over them, shape them to his ends. That is why science is at
first so near akin to magic--the cry of both is:

    "I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do."

But, though the feet of science are thus firmly planted on the solid
ground of practical action, her head, too, sometimes touches the
highest heavens. The real man of science, like the philosopher, soon
comes to seek truth and knowledge for their own sake. In art, in
science, in philosophy, there come eventually the same detachment from
personal desire and practical reaction; and to artist, man of science,
and philosopher alike, through this detachment there comes at times the
same peace that passeth all understanding.

Attempts have been often made to claim for art the utility, the
tool-making property, that characterizes the beginnings of science.
Nothing is beautiful, it is sometimes said, that is not useful; the
beauty of a jug or a table depends, we are often told, on its perfect
adaptation to its use. There is here some confusion of thought and some
obvious, but possibly unconscious, special pleading. Much of art,
specially decorative art, arises out of utilities, but its aim and its
criterion is not utility. Art may be structural, commemorative, magical,
what-not, may grow up out of all manner of practical needs, but it is
not till it is cut loose from these practical needs that Art is herself
and comes to her own. This does not mean that the jugs or tables are to
be bad jugs or tables, still less does it mean that the jugs or tables
should be covered with senseless machine-made ornament; but the utility
of the jug or table is a good in itself independent of, though often
associated with, its merit as art.

No one has, I think, ever called Art "the handmaid of Science." There
is, indeed, no need to establish a hierarchy. Yet in a sense the
converse is true and Science is the handmaid of Art. Art is only
practicable as we have seen, when it is possible safely to cut off
motor-reactions. By the long discipline of ritual man accustomed himself
to slacken his hold on action, and be content with a shadowy counterfeit
practice. Then last, when through knowledge he was relieved from the
need of immediate reaction to imminent realities, he loosed hold for a
moment altogether, and was free to look, and art was born. He can never
quit his hold for long; but it would seem that, as science advances and
life gets easier and easier, safer and safer, he may loose his hold for
longer spaces. Man subdues the world about him first by force and then
by reason; and when the material world is mastered and lies at his beck,
he needs brute force no longer, and needs reason no more to make tools
for conquest. He is free to think for thought's sake, he may trust
intuition once again, and above all dare to lose himself in
contemplation, dare to be more and more an artist. Only here there lurks
an almost ironical danger. Emotion towards life is the primary stuff of
which art is made; there might be a shortage of this very emotional
stuff of which art herself is ultimately compacted.

Science, then, helps to make art possible by making life safer and
easier, it "makes straight in the desert a highway for our God." But
only rarely and with special limitations easily understood does it
provide actual material for art. Science deals with abstractions,
concepts, class names, made by the intellect for convenience, that we
may handle life on the side desirable to us. When we classify things,
give them class-names, we simply mean that we note for convenience that
certain actually existing objects have similar qualities, a fact it is
convenient for us to know and register. These class-names being
_abstract_--that is, bundles of qualities rent away from living actual
objects, do not easily stir emotion, and, therefore, do not easily
become material for art whose function it is to express and communicate
emotion. Particular qualities, like love, honour, faith, may and _do_
stir emotion; and certain bundles of qualities like, for example,
motherhood tend towards personification; but the normal class label like
horse, man, triangle does not easily become material for art; it remains
a practical utility for science.

The abstractions, the class-names of science are in this respect quite
different from those other abstractions or unrealities already
studied--the gods of primitive religion. The very term we use shows
this. _Abstractions_ are things, qualities, _dragged away_ consciously
by the intellect, from actual things objectively existing. The primitive
gods are personifications--_i.e._ collective emotions taking shape in
imagined form. Dionysos has no more actual, objective existence than the
abstract horse. But the god Dionysos was not made by the intellect for
practical convenience, he was begotten by emotion, and, therefore, he
re-begets it. He and all the other gods are, therefore, the proper
material for art; he is, indeed, one of the earliest forms of art. The
abstract horse, on the other hand, is the outcome of reflection. We
must honour him as of quite extraordinary use for the purposes of
practical life, but he leaves us cold and, by the artist, is best

       *       *       *       *       *

There remains the relation of Art to Religion.[56] By now, it may be
hoped, this relation is transparently clear. The whole object of the
present book has been to show how primitive art grew out of ritual, how
art is in fact but a later and more sublimated, more detached form of
ritual. We saw further that the primitive gods themselves were but
projections or, if we like it better, personifications of the rite. They
arose straight out of it.

Now we say advisedly "primitive gods," and this with no intention of
obscurantism. The god of later days, the unknown source of life, the
unresolved mystery of the world, is not begotten of a rite, is not,
essentially not, the occasion or object of art. With his relation to
art--which is indeed practically non-existent--we have nothing to do. Of
the other gods we may safely say that not only are they objects of art,
they are its prime material; in a word, primitive theology is an early
stage in the formation of art. Each primitive god, like the rite from
which he sprang, is a half-way house between practical life and art; he
comes into being from a half, but only half, inhibited desire.

       *       *       *       *       *

Is there, then, no difference, except in degree of detachment, between
religion and art? Both have the like emotional power; both carry with
them a sense of obligation, though the obligation of religion is the
stronger. But there is one infallible criterion between the two which is
all-important, and of wide-reaching consequences. Primitive religion
asserts that her imaginations have objective existence; art more happily
makes no such claim. The worshipper of Apollo believes, not only that he
has imagined the lovely figure of the god and cast a copy of its shape
in stone, but he also believes that in the outside world the god Apollo
exists as an object. Now this is certainly untrue; that is, it does not
correspond with fact. There is no such thing as the god Apollo, and
science makes a clean sweep of Apollo and Dionysos and all such
fictitious objectivities; they are _eidola_, idols, phantasms, not
objective realities. Apollo fades earlier than Dionysos because the
worshipper of Dionysos keeps hold of _the_ reality that he and his
church or group have projected the god. He knows that _prier, c'est
élaborer Dieu_; or, as he would put it, he is "one with" his god.
Religion has this in common with art, that it discredits the actual
practical world; but only because it creates a new world and insists on
its actuality and objectivity.

Why does the conception of a god impose obligation? Just because and in
so far as he claims to have objective existence. By giving to his god
from the outset objective existence the worshipper prevents his god from
taking his place in that high kingdom of spiritual realities which is
the imagination, and sets him down in that lower objective world which
always compels practical reaction. What might have been an ideal becomes
an idol. Straightway this objectified idol compels all sorts of ritual
reactions of prayer and praise and sacrifice. It is as though another
and a more exacting and commanding fellow-man were added to the
universe. But a moment's reflection will show that, when we pass from
the vague sense of power or _mana_ felt by the savage to the personal
god, to Dionysos or Apollo, though it may seem a set back it is a real
advance. It is the substitution of a human and tolerably humane power
for an incalculable whimsical and often cruel force. The idol is a step
towards, not a step from, the ideal. Ritual makes these idols, and it is
the business of science to shatter them and set the spirit free for
contemplation. Ritual must wane that art may wax.

But we must never forget that ritual is the bridge by which man passes,
the ladder by which he climbs from earth to heaven. The bridge must not
be broken till the transit is made. And the time is not yet. We must not
pull down the ladder till we are sure the last angel has climbed. Only
then, at last, we dare not leave it standing. Earth pulls hard, and it
may be that the angels who ascended might _de_scend and be for ever

       *       *       *       *       *

It may be well at the close of our enquiry to test the conclusions at
which we have arrived by comparing them with certain _endoxa_, as
Aristotle would call them, that is, opinions and theories actually
current at the present moment. We take these contemporary controversies,
not implying that they are necessarily of high moment in the history of
art, or that they are in any fundamental sense new discoveries; but
because they are at this moment current and vital, and consequently form
a good test for the adequacy of our doctrines. It will be satisfactory
if we find our view includes these current opinions, even if it to some
extent modifies them and, it may be hoped, sets them in a new light.

We have already considered the theory that holds art to be the creation
or pursuit or enjoyment of beauty. The other view falls readily into two

(1) The "imitation" theory, with its modification, the idealization
theory, which holds that art either copies Nature, or, out of natural
materials, improves on her.

(2) The "expression" theory, which holds that the aim of art is to
express the emotions and thoughts of the artist.

The "Imitation" theory is out of fashion now-a-days. Plato and Aristotle
held it; though Aristotle, as we have seen, did not mean by "imitating
Nature" quite what we mean to-day. The Imitation theory began to die
down with the rise of Romanticism, which stressed the personal,
individual emotion of the artist. Whistler dealt it a rude,
ill-considered blow by his effective, but really foolish and irrelevant,
remark that to attempt to create Art by imitating Nature was "like
trying to make music by sitting on the piano." But, as already noted,
the Imitation theory of art was really killed by the invention of
photography. It was impossible for the most insensate not to see that in
a work of art, of sculpture or painting, there was an element of value
not to be found in the exact transcript of a photograph. Henceforth the
Imitation theory lived on only in the weakened form of Idealization.

The reaction against the Imitation theory has naturally and inevitably
gone much too far. We have "thrown out the child with the bath-water."
All through the present book we have tried to show that art _arises
from_ ritual, and ritual is in its essence a faded action, an
imitation. Moreover, every work of art _is_ a copy of something, only
not a copy of anything having actual existence in the outside world.
Rather it is a copy of that inner and highly emotionalized vision of the
artist which it is granted to him to see and recreate when he is
released from certain practical reactions.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Impressionism that dominated the pictorial art of the later years of
the nineteenth century was largely a modified and very delicate
imitation. Breaking with conventions as to how things are _supposed to
be_--conventions mainly based not on seeing but on knowing or
imagining--the Impressionist insists on purging his vision from
knowledge, and representing things not as they are but as they really
_look_. He imitates Nature not as a whole, but as she presents herself
to his eyes. It was a most needful and valuable purgation, since
painting is the art proper of the eye. But, when the new effects of the
world as simply _seen_, the new material of light and shadow and tone,
had been to some extent--never completely--mastered, there was
inevitable reaction. Up sprang Post-Impressionists and Futurists. They
will not gladly be classed together, but both have this in common--they
are Expressionists, not Impressionists, not Imitators.

The Expressionists, no matter by what name they call themselves, have
one criterion. They believe that art is not the copying or idealizing of
Nature, or of any aspect of Nature, but the expression and communication
of the artist's emotion. We can see that, between them and the
Imitationists, the Impressionists form a delicate bridge. They, too,
focus their attention on the artist rather than the object, only it is
on the artist's particular _vision_, his impression, what he actually
sees, not on his emotion, what he feels.

Modern life is _not_ simple--cannot be simple--ought not to be; it is
not for nothing that we are heirs to the ages. Therefore the art that
utters and expresses our emotion towards modern life cannot be simple;
and, moreover, it must before all things embody not only that living
tangle which is felt by the Futurists as so real, but it must purge and
order it, by complexities of tone and rhythm hitherto unattempted. One
art, beyond all others, has blossomed into real, spontaneous,
unconscious life to-day, and that is Music; the other arts stand round
arrayed, half paralyzed, with drooping, empty hands. The nineteenth
century saw vast developments in an art that could express abstract,
unlocalized, unpersonified feelings more completely than painting or
poetry, the art of Music.

       *       *       *       *       *

As a modern critic[57] has well observed: "In tone and rhythm music has
a notation for every kind and degree of action and passion, presenting
abstract moulds of its excitement, fluctuation, suspense, crisis,
appeasement; and all this _anonymously_, without place, actors,
circumstances, named or described, without a word spoken. Poetry has to
supply definite thought, arguments driving at a conclusion, ideas
mortgaged to this or that creed or system; and to give force to these
can command only a few rhythms limited by the duration of a human breath
and the pitch of an octave. The little effects worked out in this small
compass music sweeps up and builds into vast fabrics of emotion with a
dissolute freedom undreamed of in any other art."

It may be that music provides for a century too stagnant and listless to
act out its own emotions, too reflective to be frankly sensuous, a
shadowy pageant of sense and emotion, that serves as a _katharsis_ or

Anyhow, "an art that came out of the old world two centuries ago, with a
few chants, love-songs, and dances; that a century ago was still tied to
the words of a mass or an opera; or threading little dance-movements
together in a 'suite,' became in the last century this extraordinary
debauch, in which the man who has never seen a battle, loved a woman, or
worshipped a god, may not only ideally, but through the response of his
nerves and pulses to immediate rhythmical attack, enjoy the ghosts of
struggle, rapture, and exaltation with a volume and intricacy, an
anguish, a triumph, an irresponsibility, unheard of. An amplified
pattern of action and emotion is given: each man may fit to it what
images he will."[58]

       *       *       *       *       *

If our contention throughout this book be correct the Expressionists are
in one matter abundantly right. Art, we have seen, again and again
rises by way of ritual out of emotion, out of life keenly and vividly
livid. The younger generation are always talking of life; they have a
sort of cult of life. Some of the more valorous spirits among them even
tend to disparage art that life may be the more exalted. "Stop painting
and sculping," they cry, "and go and see a football match." There you
have life! Life is, undoubtedly, essential to art because life is the
stuff of emotion, but some thinkers and artists have an oddly limited
notion of what life is. It must, it seems, in the first place, be
essentially physical. To sit and dream in your study is not to live. The
reason of this odd limitation is easy to see. We all think life is
especially the sort of life we are _not_ living ourselves. The
hard-worked University professor thinks that "Life" is to be found in a
French _café_; the polished London journalist looks for "Life" among the
naked Polynesians. The cult of savagery, and even of simplicity, in
every form, simply spells complex civilization and diminished physical

The Expressionist is, then, triumphantly right in the stress he lays on
emotion; but he is not right if he limits life to certain of its more
elementary manifestations; and still less is he right, to our minds, in
making life and art in any sense coextensive. Art, as we have seen,
sustains and invigorates life, but only does it by withdrawal from these
very same elementary forms of life, by inhibiting certain sensuous

       *       *       *       *       *

In another matter one section of Expressionists, the Futurists, are in
the main right. The emotion to be expressed is the emotion of to-day, or
still better to-morrow. The mimetic dance arose not only nor chiefly out
of reflection on the past; but out of either immediate joy or imminent
fear or insistent hope for the future. We are not prepared perhaps to go
all lengths, to "burn all museums" because of their contagious
corruption, though we might be prepared to "banish the nude for the
space of ten years." If there is to be any true living art, it must
arise, not from the contemplation of Greek statues, not from the revival
of folk-songs, not even from the re-enacting of Greek plays, but from a
keen emotion felt towards things and people living to-day, in modern
conditions, including, among other and deeper forms of life, the haste
and hurry of the modern street, the whirr of motor cars and aeroplanes.

There are artists alive to-day, strayed revellers, who wish themselves
back in the Middle Ages, who long for the time when each man would have
his house carved with a bit of lovely ornament, when every village
church had its Madonna and Child, when, in a word, art and life and
religion went hand in hand, not sharply sundered by castes and
professions. But we may not put back the clock, and, if by
differentiation we lose something, we gain much. The old choral dance on
the orchestral floor was an undifferentiated thing, it had a beauty of
its own; but by its differentiation, by the severance of artist and
actors and spectators, we have gained--the drama. We may not cast
reluctant eyes backwards; the world goes forward to new forms of life,
and the Churches of to-day must and should become the Museums of

       *       *       *       *       *

It is curious and instructive to note that Tolstoy's theory of Art,
though not his practice, is essentially Expressive and even approaches
the dogmas of the Futurist. Art is to him just the transmission of
personal emotion to others. It may be bad emotion or it may be good
emotion, emotion it must be. To take his simple and instructive
instance: a boy goes out into a wood and meets a wolf, he is frightened,
he comes back and tells the other villagers what he felt, how he went to
the wood feeling happy and light-hearted and the wolf came, and what the
wolf looked like, and how he began to be frightened. This is, according
to Tolstoy, art. Even if the boy never saw a wolf at all, if he had
really at another time been frightened, and if he was able to conjure up
fear in himself and communicate it to others--that also would be art.
The essential is, according to Tolstoy, that he should feel himself and
so represent his feeling that he communicates it to others.[59]
Art-schools, art-professionalism, art-criticism are all useless or worse
than useless, because they cannot teach a man to feel. Only life can do

All art is, according to Tolstoy, good _quâ_ art that succeeds in
transmitting emotion. But there is good emotion and bad emotion, and the
only right material for art is good emotion, and the only good emotion,
the only emotion worth expressing, is subsumed, according to Tolstoy, in
the religion of the day. This is how he explains the constant affinity
in nearly all ages of art and religion. Instead of regarding religion as
an early phase of art, he proceeds to define religious perception as the
highest social ideal of the moment, as that "understanding of the
meaning of life which represents the highest level to which men of that
society have attained, an understanding defining the highest good at
which that society aims." "Religious perception in a society," he
beautifully adds, "is like the direction of a flowing river. If the
river flows at all, it must have a direction." Thus, religion, to
Tolstoy, is not dogma, not petrifaction, it makes indeed dogma
impossible. The religious perception of to-day flows, Tolstoi says, in
the Christian channel towards the union of man in a common brotherhood.
It is the business of the modern artist to feel and transmit emotion
towards this unity of man.

Now it is not our purpose to examine whether Tolstoy's definition of
religion is adequate or indeed illuminating. What we wish to note is
that he grasps the truth that in art we must look and feel, and look and
feel forward, not backward, if we would live. Art somehow, like
language, is always feeling forward to newer, fuller, subtler emotions.
She seems indeed in a way to feel ahead even of science; a poet will
forecast dimly what a later discovery will confirm. Whether and how long
old channels, old forms will suffice for the new spirit can never be

       *       *       *       *       *

We end with a point of great importance, though the doctrine we would
emphasize may be to some a hard saying, even a stumbling-block. Art, as
Tolstoy divined, is social, not individual. Art is, as we have seen,
social in origin, it remains and must remain social in function. The
dance from which the drama rose was a choral dance, the dance of a band,
a group, a church, a community, what the Greeks called a _thiasos_. The
word means a _band_ and a _thing of devotion_; and reverence, devotion,
collective emotion, is social in its very being. That band was, to
begin with, as we saw, the whole collection of initiated tribesmen,
linked by a common name, rallying round a common symbol.

Even to-day, when individualism is rampant, art bears traces of its
collective, social origin. We feel about it, as noted before, a certain
"ought" which always spells social obligation. Moreover, whenever we
have a new movement in art, it issues from a group, usually from a small
professional coterie, but marked by strong social instincts, by a
missionary spirit, by intemperate zeal in propaganda, by a tendency,
always social, to crystallize conviction into dogma. We can scarcely,
unless we are as high-hearted as Tolstoy, hope now-a-days for an art
that shall be world-wide. The tribe is extinct, the family in its old
rigid form moribund, the social groups we now look to as centres of
emotion are the groups of industry, of professionalism and of sheer
mutual attraction. Small and strange though such groups may appear, they
are real social factors.

Now this social, collective element in art is too apt to be forgotten.
When an artist claims that expression is the aim of art he is too apt to
mean self-expression only--utterance of individual emotion. Utterance
of individual emotion is very closely neighboured by, is almost
identical with, self-enhancement. What should be a generous, and in part
altruistic, exaltation becomes mere _megalomania_. This egotism is, of
course, a danger inherent in all art. The suspension of motor-reactions
to the practical world isolates the artist, cuts him off from his
fellow-men, makes him in a sense an egotist. Art, said Zola, is "the
world seen through a temperament." But this suspension is, not that he
should turn inward to feed on his own vitals, but rather to free him for
contemplation. All great art releases from self.

       *       *       *       *       *

The young are often temporary artists: art, being based on life, calls
for a strong vitality. The young are also self-centred and seek
self-enhancement. This need of self-expression is a sort of artistic
impulse. The young are, partly from sheer immaturity, still more through
a foolish convention, shut out from real life; they are secluded, forced
to become in a sense artists, or, if they have not the power for that,
at least self-aggrandizers. They write lyric poems, they love
masquerading, they focus life on to themselves in a way which, later
on, life itself makes impossible. This pseudo-art, this
self-aggrandizement usually dies a natural death before the age of
thirty. If it live on, one remedy is, of course, the scientific
attitude; that attitude which is bent on considering and discovering the
relations of things among themselves, not their personal relation to us.
The study of science is a priceless discipline in self-abnegation, but
only in negation; it looses us from self, it does not link us to others.
The real and natural remedy for the egotism of youth is Life, not
necessarily the haunting of _cafés_, or even the watching of football
matches, but strenuous activity in the simplest human relations of daily
happenings. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."

       *       *       *       *       *

There is always apt to be some discord between the artist and the large
practical world in which he lives, but those ages are happiest in which
the discord is least. The nineteenth century, amid its splendid
achievements in science and industry, in government and learning, and
above all in humanity, illustrates this conflict in an interesting way.
To literature, an art which can explain itself, the great public world
lent on the whole a reverent and intelligent ear. Its great prose
writers were at peace with their audience and were inspired by great
public interests. Some of the greatest, for example Tolstoy, produced
their finest work on widely human subjects, and numbered their readers
and admirers probably by the million. Writers like Dickens, Thackeray,
Kingsley, Mill, and Carlyle, even poets like Tennyson and Browning, were
full of great public interests and causes, and, in different degrees and
at different stages of their lives, were thoroughly and immensely
popular. On the other hand, one can find, at the beginning of the
period, figures like Blake and Shelley, and all through it a number of
painters--the pre-Raphaelites, the Impressionists--walking like aliens
in a Philistine world. Even great figures like Burne-Jones and Whistler
were for the greater part of their lives unrecognized or mocked at.
Millais reached the attention of the world, but was thought by the
stricter fraternity to have in some sense or other sold his soul and
committed the great sin of considering the bourgeois. The bourgeois
should be despised not partially but completely. His life, his
interests, his code of ethics and conduct must all be matters of entire
indifference or amused contempt, to the true artist who intends to do
his own true work and call his soul his own.

At a certain moment, during the eighties and nineties, it looked as if
these doctrines were generally accepted, and the divorce between art and
the community had become permanent. But it seems as if this attitude,
which coincided with a period of reaction in political matters and a
recrudescence of a belief in force and on unreasoned authority, is
already passing away. There are not wanting signs that art, both in
painting and sculpture, and in poetry and novel-writing, is beginning
again to realize its social function, beginning to be impatient of mere
individual emotion, beginning to aim at something bigger, more bound up
with a feeling towards and for the common weal.

Take work like that of Mr. Galsworthy or Mr. Masefield or Mr. Arnold
Bennett. Without appraising its merits or demerits we cannot but note
that the social sense is always there, whether it be of a class or of a
whole community. In a play like _Justice_ the writer does not "express"
himself, he does not even merely show the pathos of a single human
being's destiny, he sets before us a much bigger thing--man tragically
caught and torn in the iron hands of a man-made machine, Society itself.
Incarnate Law is the protagonist, and, as it happens, the villain of the
piece. It is a fragment of _Les Misérables_ over again, in a severer and
more restrained technique. An art like this starts, no doubt, from
emotion towards personal happenings--there is nothing else from which it
can start; but, even as it sets sail for wider seas, it is loosed from
personal moorings.

Science has given us back something strangely like a World-Soul, and art
is beginning to feel she must utter our emotion towards it. Such art is
exposed to an inherent and imminent peril. Its very bigness and newness
tends to set up fresh and powerful reactions. Unless, in the process of
creation, these can be inhibited, the artist will be lost in the
reformer, and the play or the novel turn tract. This does not mean that
the artist, if he is strong enough, may not be reformer too, only not at
the moment of creation.

The art of Mr. Arnold Bennett gets its bigness, its collectivity, in
part--from extension over time. Far from seeking after beauty, he almost
goes out to embrace ugliness. He does not spare us even dullness, that
we may get a sense of the long, waste spaces of life, their dreary
reality. We are keenly interested in the loves of hero and heroine, but
all the time something much bigger is going on, generation after
generation rolls by in ceaseless panorama; it is the life not of Edwin
and Hilda, it is the life of the Five Towns. After a vision so big, to
come back to the ordinary individualistic love-story is like looking
through the wrong end of a telescope.

Art of high quality and calibre is seldom obscure. The great popular
writers of the nineteenth century--Dickens, Thackeray, Tennyson,
Tolstoy--wrote so that all could understand. A really big artist has
something important to say, something vast to show, something that moves
him and presses on him; and he will say it simply because he must get it
said. He will trick it out with no devices, most of all with no
obscurities. It has vexed and torn him enough while it was pushing its
way to be born. He has no peace till it is said, and said as clearly as
he may. He says it, not consciously for the sake of others, but for
himself, to ease him from the burden of big thought. Moreover, art,
whose business is to transmit emotion, should need no commentary. Art
comes out of _theoria_, contemplation, steady looking at, but never out
of _theory_. Theory can neither engender nor finally support it. An
exhibition of pictures with an explanatory catalogue, scientifically
interesting though it may be, stands, in a sense, self-condemned.

We must, however, remember that all art is not of the whole community.
There are small groups feeling their own small but still collective
emotion, fashioning their own language, obscure sometimes to all but
themselves. They are right so to fashion it, but, if they appeal to a
wider world, they must strive to speak in the vulgar tongue,
understanded of the people.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is, indeed, a hopeful sign of the times, a mark of the revival of
social as contrasted with merely individualistic instincts that a
younger generation of poets, at least in France, tend to form themselves
into small groups, held together not merely by eccentricities of
language or garb, but by some deep inner conviction strongly held in
common. Such a unity of spirit is seen in the works of the latter group
of thinkers and writers known as _Unanimists_. They tried and failed to
found a community. Their doctrine, if doctrine convictions so fluid can
be called, is strangely like the old group-religion of the common dance,
only more articulate. Of the Unanimist it might truly be said, "_il
buvait l'indistinction_." To him the harsh old Roman mandate _Divide et
impera_, "Divide men that you may rule them," spells death. His dream is
not of empire and personal property but of the realization of life,
common to all. To this school the great reality is the social group,
whatever form it take, family, village or town. Their only dogma is the
unity and immeasurable sanctity of life. In practice they are Christian,
yet wholly free from the asceticism of modern Christianity. Their
attitude in art is as remote as possible from, it is indeed the very
antithesis to, the æsthetic exclusiveness of the close of last century.
Like St. Peter, the Unanimists have seen a sheet let down and heard a
voice from heaven saying: "Call thou nothing common nor unclean."

Above all, the Unanimist remembers and realizes afresh the old truth
that "no man liveth unto himself." According to the Expressionist's
creed, as we have seen, the end of art is to utter and communicate
emotion. The fullest and finest emotions are those one human being feels
towards another. Every sympathy is an enrichment of life, every
antipathy a negation. It follows then, that, for the Unanimist, Love is
the fulfilling of his Law.

It is a beautiful and life-giving faith, felt and with a perfect
sincerity expressed towards all nature by the Indian poet Tagore, and
towards humanity especially by M. Vildrac in his _Book of Love_ ("Livre
d'Amour"). He tells us in his "Commentary" how to-day the poet, sitting
at home with pen and paper before him, feels that he is pent in, stifled
by himself. He had been about to re-tell the old, old story of himself,
to set himself once more on the stage of his poem--the same old dusty
self tricked out, costumed anew. Suddenly he knows the figure to be
tawdry and shameful. He is hot all over when he looks at it; he must out
into the air, into the street, out of the stuffy museum where so long
he has stirred the dead egotist ashes, out into the bigger life, the
life of his fellows; he must live, with them, by them, in them.

    "I am weary of deeds done inside myself,
    I am weary of voyages inside myself,
    And of heroism wrought by strokes of the pen,
    And of a beauty made up of formulæ.

    "I am ashamed of lying to my work,
    Of my work lying to my life,
    And of being able to content myself,
    By burning sweet spices,
    With the mouldering smell that is master here."

Again, in "The Conquerors," the poet dreams of the Victorious One who
has no army, the Knight who rides afoot, the Crusader without breviary
or scrip, the Pilgrim of Love who, by the shining in his eyes, draws all
men to him, and they in turn draw other men until, at last:

    "The time came in the land,
    The time of the Great Conquest,
    When the people with this desire
    Left the threshold of their door
    To go forth towards one another.

    "And the time came in the land
    When to fill all its story
    There was nothing but songs in unison,
    _One round danced about the houses_,
    One battle and one victory."

And so our tale ends where it began, with the Choral Dance.


[54] _Ethics_, X, 4.

[55] H. Bergson, _Life and Consciousness_, Huxley Lecture, May 29, 1911.

[56] Religion is here used as meaning the worship of some form of god,
as the practical counterpart of theology.

[57] Mr. D.S. MacColl.

[58] D.S. MacColl, _Nineteenth Century Art_, p. 21. (1902.)

[59] It is interesting to find, since the above was written, that the
Confession of Faith published in the catalogue of the Second
Post-Impressionist Exhibition (1912, p. 21) reproduces, consciously or
unconsciously, Tolstoy's view: _We have ceased to ask, "What does this
picture represent?" and ask instead, "What does it make us feel?"_


For Ancient and Primitive Ritual the best general book of reference is:

FRAZER, J.G. _The Golden Bough_, 3rd edition, 1911, from which most of
    the instances in the present manual are taken. Part IV of _The Golden
    Bough_, i.e. the section dealing with _Adonis, Attis, and Osiris_,
    should especially be consulted.

Also an earlier, epoch-making book:

ROBERTSON SMITH, W. _Lectures on the Religion of the Semites_, 1889 [3rd
    edition, 1927]. For certain fundamental ritual notions, _e.g._
    sacrifice, holiness, etc.

[For Egyptian and Babylonian ritual: _Myth and Ritual_, edited by
S.H. HOOKE, 1933.]

For the Greek Drama, as arising out of the ritual dance: Professor
GILBERT MURRAY'S _Excursus on the Ritual Forms preserved in Greek
Tragedy_ in J.E. HARRISON'S _Themis_, 1912, and pp. 327-40 in the same
book; and for the religion of Dionysos and the drama, J.E. HARRISON'S
_Prolegomena_, 1907, Chapters VIII and X. For the fusion of the ritual
dance and hero-worship, see W. LEAF, _Homer and History_, 1915, Chapter
VII. For a quite different view of drama as arising wholly from the
worship of the dead, see Professor W. RIDGEWAY, _The Origin of Tragedy_,
1910. An important discussion of the relation of _tragedy_ to the winter
festival of the _Lenaia_ appears in A.B. COOK'S _Zeus_, vol. i, sec. 6
(xxi) [1914].

[More recent works on Greek drama: A.W. PICKARD-CAMBRIDGE, _Dithyramb_,
_Tragedy and Comedy_, 1927; G. THOMSON, _Aeschylus and Athens_, 1941.]

For Primitive Art:

HIRN, Y. _The Origins of Art_, 1900. The main theory of the book the
    present writer believes to be inadequate, but it contains an
    excellent collection of facts relating to Art, Magic, Art and Work,
    Mimetic Dances, etc., and much valuable discussion of principles.

GROSSE, E. _The Beginnings of Art_, 1897, in the Chicago Anthropological
    Series. Valuable for its full illustrations of primitive art, as
    well as for text.

[BOAS, F., _Primitive Art_, 1927.]

For the Theory of Art:

TOLSTOY, L. _What is Art?_ Translated by Aylmer Maude, in the Scott

FRY, ROGER E. _An Essay in Æsthetics_, in the _New Quarterly_, April 1909,
    p. 174.

This is the best general statement of the function of Art known to me.
It should be read in connection with Mr. Bullough's article, quoted on
p. 129, which gives the psychological basis of a similar view of the
nature of art. My own theory was formulated independently, in relation
to the development of the Greek theatre, but I am very glad to find that
it is in substantial agreement with those of two such distinguished
authorities on æsthetics. For my later conclusions on art, see _Alpha
and Omega_, 1915, pp. 208-220.

[CAUDWELL, C., _Illusion and Reality_, 1937.]

For more advanced students:

DUSSAUZE, HENRI. _Les Règles esthétiques et les lois du sentiment_, 1911.

MÜLLER-FREIENFELS, R. _Psychologie der Kunst_, 1912.


Abstraction, 224

Adonis, rites of, 19, 20, 54-56
----, gardens of, 149
----, as tree spirit, 149

Æschylus, 47

Aesthete, not artist, 214-215

Agon, 15

Anagnorisis, or recognition, 15

Anthesteria, spring festival of, 147-149

Apollo Belvedere, 171

Aristotle on art, 198

Art and beauty, 213
---- and imitation, 230
---- and morality, 215
---- and nature, 198
---- and religion, 225
----, emotional factor in, 26
----, social elements in, 241-248

Ascension festival, 69

Bear, Aino festival, 92-99

Beast dances, 45, 46

Beauty and art, 211

Bergson on art, 134

Birth, rites of new, 104-113

Bouphonia, 91-92

Bull-driving in spring, 85
----, festival at Magnesia, 87

Cat's-cradle, as magical charm, 66

Censor, function of, 216

Charila, spring festival, 80

Chorus in Greek drama, 121-128

Dancing, a work, 30-31
----, magical, 31-35
----, commemorative, 44

Daphnephoros, 186

Death and winter, 67-72

Dikè as _way of life_, 116

Dionysis, 12, 150

Dionysis as Holy Child, 103
---- as tree god, 102
---- as young man, 113-115

Dithyramb, 75-89

Drama and Dromenon, 35-38

Easter, in Modern Greece, 73

Eiresione, 114

Epheboi, Athenian, 12

Euchè, meaning of, 25

Expressionists, 232

Futurists, 232

Ghosts as fertilizers, 149

Homer, influence on drama, 145-166

Horæ or seasons, 116

Idol and ideal, 227

Impressionism, 231

Imitation, 21-23
----, ceremonies in Australia, 64

Individualism, 241

Initiation ceremonies, 64, 106-113

Jack-in-the-Green, 60, 187, 190

Kangaroos, dance of, 46

Landscape, art of, 199-201

Maeterlinck, 200

May-day at Cambridge, 57

May, queen of the, 57-61
----, king of the, 193

Mime, meaning of, 47

Mimesis, 43-47

Music, function of, 233

New birth, 106-113

Olympian gods, 202

Orchestra, meaning of, 123-127

Osiris, rites of, 15-23, 51

Ox-hunger, 81

Panathenaia, 178

Panspermia, 148

Parthenon frieze, 176

Peisistratos, 146

Peplos of Athena, 180

Pericles on religion, 178

Personification and conception, 70-73

Plato on art, 21-23

Pleasure not joy, 213

Post-impressionists, 238

Prayer discs, 24

Presentation, meaning of, 53

Psychical distance, 129-134

Representation, 34-41

Resurrection, rites of, 100

Rites, periodicity of, 52

Ritual forms in drama, 188-189

Santayana on art, 220

Semelè, bringing up of, 81

Spring song at Saffron Walden, 59
---- at Athens, 77

Stage or scene, 142-145

Summer, bringing in of, 67-71

Tammuz, rites of, 18-20

Tělětē, _rite of growing up_, 112

Theatre, 10-13, 136

Themis, as ritual custom, 117

Theoria and theory, 248

Threshing-floor at dancing-place, 124

Tolstoy on art, 132, 238-241

Totemism and beast dances, 46, 47

Tragedy, ritual forms in, 119-122
----, origin of, 76

Tug of war, among Esquimaux, 62

Unanimism, 249-252

Vegetation spirit, 72

Winter, carrying out of, 68-72

Wool, sacred, 12

World-soul, 246

Wreaths, festival of, 189
----, at Greek weddings, 190

Zola on art, 242

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed in Great Britain by The Camelot Press Ltd., London and

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