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The ancient Greeks were also familiar with the use of a human scapegoat. In Plutarch's native town of Chaeronea a ceremony of this kind was performed by the chief magistrate at the Town Hall, and by each householder at his own home. It was called the “expulsion of hunger.” A slave was beaten with rods of the agnus castus, and turned out of doors with the words, “Out with hunger, and in with wealth and health.”
costume went about collecting the sins of the people as a preliminary to transferring them to the scapegoat dogs. We have had many examples of armed men rushing about the streets and houses to drive out demons and evils of all kinds. The blows which were showered on Mamurius Veturius seem to have been administered by the Salii (Servius on Virgil, Aen. vii. 188; Minucius Felix, Octavius, 24. 3; Preller, Rom. Myth.3 i. 360, note 1; Roscher, Apollon und Mars, p. 49). The reason for beating the scapegoat will be explained presently. As priests of Mars, the god of agriculture, the Salii probably had also certain agricultural functions. They were named from the remarkable leaps which they made. Now we have seen (vol. i. p. 36 sq.) that dancing and leaping high are common sympathetic charms to make the crops grow high. Was it one of the functions of the Salii to dance and leap on the fields at the spring or autumn sowing, or at both? The dancing processions of the Salii took place in October as well as in March (Marquardt, Sacral. wesen, p. 436 sq.), and the Romans sowed both in spring and autumn (Columella, ii. 9. 6 sq.). In their song the Salii mentioned Saturnus or Saetur. nus, the god of sowing (Festus, p. 325, ed. Müller; Saeturnus is an emendation of Ritschl's; see Wordsworth, Fragments and Specimens of Early Latin, p. 405). The weapons borne by the Salii, while effective against demons in general, may have been especially directed against the demons who steal the seed-corn or the ripe grain. Compare the Khond and Hindoo Koosh
described above, p. 79 sq.
In Western Africa the field labours of tilling and sowing are sometimes accompanied by dances
of armed men the field. See Labat, Voyage du Chevalier des Marchais en Guinée, Isles voisines et à Cayenne, ii. p. 99 of the Paris ed., p. 80 of the Amsterdam ed. ; Olivier de Sanderval, De l'Atlantique au Niger par le Foulah-Djallon (Paris, 1883), p. 230. In Calicut (Southern India)
they plough the land with oxen as we do, and when they sow the rice in the field they have all the instruments of the city continually sounding and making merry. They also have ten or twelve men clothed like devils, and these unite in making great rejoicing with the players on the instruments, in order that the devil may make that rice very productive (Varthema, Travels (Hakluyt Soc. 1863), p. 166 59.). The resemblance of the Salii to the sword-dancers of Northern Europe has been pointed out by K. Müllen. hoff (“ Ueber den Schwerttanz,” in Festgaben für Gustav Homeyer, Berlin, 1871). In England the Morris Dancers who accompanied the procession of the plough through the streets on Plough Monday (the first Monday after Twelfth Day) sometimes wore swords (Brand, Popular Antiquities, i. 505, Bohn's ed.), and sometimes they “ wore small bunches of corn in their hats, from which the wheat was soon shaken out by the ungainly jumping which they called dancing. . . Bessy rattled his box and danced so high that he showed his worsted stockings and corduroy breeches” (Chambers, Book of Days, i. 94). It is to be observed that in the “ Lord of Misrule,” who reigned from Christmas till Twelfth Night (see Brand, Popular Antiquities, i. 497 599.), we have a clear trace of one of , those periods of general licence and suspension of ordinary government which so commonly occur at the end
When Plutarch held the office of chief magistrate of his native town he performed this ceremony at the Town Hall, and he has recorded the discussion to which the custom afterwards gave rise. The ceremony closely resembles the Japanese, Hindoo, and Highland customs already described.?
But in civilised Greece the custom of the scapegoat took darker forms than the innocent rite over which the amiable and pious Plutarch presided. Whenever Marseilles, one of the busiest and most brilliant of Greek colonies, was ravaged by a plague, a man of the poorer classes used to offer himself as a scapegoat. For a whole year he was maintained at the public expense, being fed on choice and pure food. At the expiry of the year he was dressed in sacred garments, decked with holy branches, and led through the whole city, while prayers were uttered that all the evils of the people might fall on his head. He was then cast out of the city.” The Athenians regularly maintained a number of degraded and useless beings at the public expense; and when any calamity, such as plague, drought, or famine, befell the city, they sacrificed two of these outcasts as scapegoats.
One of the victims was sacrificed for the men and the other for the women. The former wore round his neck a string of black, the latter a string of white figs. Sometimes, it seems, the victim slain on behalf of the women was a woman. They were led about the city and then sacrificed, apparently by being stoned to death outside the city. But such sacrifices were not confined to extraordinary occasions of public calamity ; it appears that every year, at the festival of the
of the old year or beginning of the new one in connection with a general expulsion of evils. The fact that this period of licence immediately preceded the procession of the Morris Dancers on Plough Monday seems to indicate that the functions of these dancers were like those which I have attributed to the Salii. But the parallel cannot be drawn out here. Cp. meantime Dyer, British Popular Customs, pp. 31, 39. The Salii were said to have been founded by Vorrius, King of Veii (Servius on Virgil, Aen. viii. 285). Jorrius seems to be etymo. logically the same with Jamurius and
Mars (Usener, “ Italische Mythen,”
i Plutarch, Quaest. Conviv, vi. 8.
3 Servius on Virgil, Aen. iii. 57, following Petronius.
4 Helladius, in Photius, Bibliothea, p. 534 A, ed. Bekker; Schol. on Aristophanes, Frogs, 734, and on Knights, 1136; Hesychius, s.2'. φαρμακοί cp. Suidas, s.vv. kábapua, papuakós, and papuakoús ; Lysias, Orat. vi. 53. That they were stoned is an inference from llarpocration. See next note.
Thargelia in May, two victims, one for the men and one for the women, were led out of Athens and stoned to death. The city of Abdera in Thrace was publicly purified once a year, and one of the burghers, set apart for the purpose, was stoned to death as a scapegoat or vicarious sacrifice for the life of all the others.?
From the Lover's Leap, a white bluff at the southern end of their island, the Leucadians used annually to hurl a criminal into the sea as a scapegoat. But to lighten his fall they fastened live birds and feathers to him, and a flotilla of small boats waited below to catch him and convey him beyond the boundary. Probably these humane precautions were a mitigation of an earlier custom of flinging the scapegoat into the sea to drown, just as in Kumaon the custom of letting a man slide down a rope from the top of a cliff appears to be a modification of an older practice of putting him to death. The Leucadian ceremony took place at the time of a sacrifice to Apollo, who had a temple or sanctuary on the spot. As practised by the Greeks of Asia Minor in the sixth century B.C., the custom of the scapegoat was as follows.
When a city suffered from plague, famine, or other public calamity, an ugly or deformed person was chosen to take upon himself all the evils which afflicted the community. He was brought to a suitable place, where dried figs, a barley loaf, and cheese were put into his hand. These he ate. Then he was beaten seven times upon his genital organs with squills and branches of the wild fig and other wild trees. Afterwards he was burned on a pyre built of the wood of forest trees;
1 Harpocration, s.v. papuakós, who Saxaque devotum grandine plura says
δύο άνδρας 'Αθήνησιν εξήγoν petant,” καθάρσια έσομενους της πόλεως εν τοις Θαργηλίοις, ένα μεν υπέρ των ανδρών, ένα
with the scholiast's note, quoted by J. δε υπέρ των γυναικών. He does not Töpffer, Beiträge zur griechischen Alter. expressly state that they were put to
tumswissenschaft (Berlin, 1897), p. 132. death ; but as he says that the cere
The scholiast refers to Callimachus as mony was an imitation of the execu
his authority; tion of a mythical Pharmacus who was 3 Strabo, x. 2. 9. According to stoned to death, we may infer that the
the manuscript reading in Photius's victims were killed by being stoned.
Lexicon, s.v. Aeukátns, the priests flung Suidas (s.v. pápuakos) copies Harpocra- themselves into the sea ; but the read. tion.
ing has been altered by the editors. 2 Ovid, Ibis, 467 sq.
As to the Kumaon ceremony see above, “ Aut te devoveat certis Abdera dicbus
p. 104 sq.
and his ashes were cast into the sea.
A similar custom appears to have been annually celebrated by the Asiatic Greeks at the harvest festival of the Thargelia.”
In the ritual just described the scourging of the victim with squills, branches of the wild fig, and so forth, cannot have been intended to aggravate his sufferings, otherwise any stick would have been good enough to beat him with. The true meaning of this part of the ceremony has been explained by W. Mannhardt.3 He points out that the ancients attributed to squills a magical power of averting evil influences, and accordingly hung them up at the doors of their houses and made use of them in purificatory rites." Hence the Arcadian custom of whipping the image of Pan with squills at a festival, or whenever the hunters returned empty-handed, must have been meant, not to punish the god, but to purify him from the harmful influences which were impeding him in the exercise of his divine functions
a god who should supply the hunter with game. Similarly the object of beating the human scapegoat on the genital organs with squills and so on, must have been to release his reproductive energies from any restraint or spell under which they might be laid by demoniacal or other malignant agency; and as the Thargelia at which he was annually sacrificed was an early harvest festival, we must recognise in him a representative of the creative and fertilising god of vegetation. The representative of the god was annually slain for the purpose I have indicated, that of maintaining the divine life in perpetual vigour, untainted by the weakness of age; and before he was put to death it was not unnatural to stimulate his reproductive powers in order that these might be transmitted in full activity to his successor, the new god or new embodiment of the old god,
1 Tzetzes, Chiliades, v. 726-761. Tzetzes's authority is the satirical poet Hipponax.
? This may be inferred from the verse of Hipponax, quoted by Athenaeus, ix. p. 370 B, where for papuá xov we should perhaps read papuakoû with Schneidewin (Poetae lyrici Gracii,3 ed. ergk, ii. 763).
3 See his Mytholog. Forschungen, p.
113 $99., especially 123 sq., 133.
Pliny, Nat. Hist.
• Theocritus, vii. 106 sqq. with the scholiast.
Mommsen, Heortologie, 414 599. ; W. Mannhardt, A.W.F. p. 215.
who was doubtless supposed immediately to take the place of the one slain. Similar reasoning would lead to a similar treatment of the scapegoat on special occasions, such as drought or famine. If the crops did not answer to the expectation of the husbandman, this would be attributed to some failure in the generative powers of the god whose function it was to produce the fruits of the earth.
It might be thought that he was under a spell or was growing old and feeble. Accordingly he was slain in the person of his representative, with all the ceremonies already described, in order that, born young again, he might infuse his own youthful vigour into the stagnant energies of nature. On the same principle we can understand why Mamurius Veturius was beaten with rods, why the slave at the Chaeronean ceremony was beaten with the agnus castus (a tree to which magical properties were ascribed), why the effigy of Death in some parts of Europe is assailed with sticks and stones, and why at Babylon the criminal who played the god was scourged before he was crucified. The purpose of the scourging was not to intensify the agony of the divine sufferer, but on the contrary to dispel any malignant inAuences by which at the supreme moment he might conceivably be beset.
The interpretation here given of the custom of beating the human scapegoat with certain plants is supported by many analogies. With the same intention some of the Brazilian Indians beat themselves on the genital organs with an aquatic plant, the white aninga, three days before or after the new moon.3 We have already had examples of the custom of beating sick people with the leaves of certain plants or with branches in order to rid them of noxious influences." Some of the Dravidian tribes of Northern India, who attribute epilepsy, hysteria, and similar maladies
1 At certain sacrifices in Yucatan blood was drawn from the genitals of a human victim and smeared on the face of the idol. See De Landa, Relation des choses de Yucatan, ed. Brasseur de Bourbourg (Paris, 1864), p. 167. Was the original intention of this rite to transfuse into the god a fresh supply of reproductive energy ?
2 Aelian, Nat. Anim. ix. 26.
3 De Santa - Anna Nery, Folk- lore Brésilien (Paris, 1889), p. 253. + Above, pp. 2, 98 sq.
Compare Plutarch, Parallela, 35, where a woman is represented as going from house to house striking sick people with a hammer and bidding them be whole.