James Frazer

James Frazer

Overview
Sir James George Frazer (1 January 1854, Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

 – 7 May 1941, Cambridge), was a Scottish social anthropologist influential in the early stages of the modern studies of mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 and comparative religion
Comparative religion
Comparative religion is a field of religious studies that analyzes the similarities and differences of themes, myths, rituals and concepts among the world's religions...

. He is often considered to be the father of modern anthropology.

His most famous work, The Golden Bough
The Golden Bough
The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer . It first was published in two volumes in 1890; the third edition, published 1906–15, comprised twelve volumes...

(1890), documents and details similar magical and religious beliefs across the globe. Frazer posited that human belief progressed through three stages: primitive magic, replaced by religion, in turn replaced by science.

Born in Glasgow, Frazer attended school at Springfield Academy and Larchfield Academy
Larchfield Academy
Larchfield Academy was a preparatory school for boys in Helensburgh, Scotland.It was founded in 1845. Among its famous pupils were Sir James Frazer and John Logie Baird. In the late 1920s and early 1930s Cecil Day-Lewis and W. H...

 in Helensburgh
Helensburgh
Helensburgh is a town in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It lies on the north shore of the Firth of Clyde and the eastern shore of the entrance to the Gareloch....

.
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Quotations

The heaviest calamity in English history, the breach with America, might never have occurred if George the Third had not been an honest dullard.

Ch. 3

By religion, then, I understand a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life.

Ch. 4

If the test of truth lay in a show of hands or a counting of heads, the system of magic might appeal, with far more reason than the Catholic Church, to the proud motto, Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus (Always, everywhere, and by all), as the sure and certain credential of its own infallibility.

Ch. 4

It is a common rule with primitive people not to waken a sleeper, because his soul is away and might not have time to get back; so if the man wakened without his soul, he would fall sick. If it is absolutely necessary to rouse a sleeper, it must be done very gradually, to allow the soul time to return.

Ch. 18

The awe and dread with which the untutored savage contemplates his mother-in-law are amongst the most familiar facts of anthropology.

Ch. 18

The danger, however, is not less real because it is imaginary; imagination acts upon man as really does gravitation, and may kill him as certainly as a dose of prussic acid.

Ch. 21

The world cannot live at the level of its great men.

Ch. 37
Encyclopedia
Sir James George Frazer (1 January 1854, Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

 – 7 May 1941, Cambridge), was a Scottish social anthropologist influential in the early stages of the modern studies of mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 and comparative religion
Comparative religion
Comparative religion is a field of religious studies that analyzes the similarities and differences of themes, myths, rituals and concepts among the world's religions...

. He is often considered to be the father of modern anthropology.

His most famous work, The Golden Bough
The Golden Bough
The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer . It first was published in two volumes in 1890; the third edition, published 1906–15, comprised twelve volumes...

(1890), documents and details similar magical and religious beliefs across the globe. Frazer posited that human belief progressed through three stages: primitive magic, replaced by religion, in turn replaced by science.

Biography


Born in Glasgow, Frazer attended school at Springfield Academy and Larchfield Academy
Larchfield Academy
Larchfield Academy was a preparatory school for boys in Helensburgh, Scotland.It was founded in 1845. Among its famous pupils were Sir James Frazer and John Logie Baird. In the late 1920s and early 1930s Cecil Day-Lewis and W. H...

 in Helensburgh
Helensburgh
Helensburgh is a town in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It lies on the north shore of the Firth of Clyde and the eastern shore of the entrance to the Gareloch....

. He studied at the University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's four ancient universities. Located in Glasgow, the university was founded in 1451 and is presently one of seventeen British higher education institutions ranked amongst the top 100 of the...

 and Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...

, where he graduated with honours in Classics
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 (his dissertation would be published years later as The Growth of Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's Ideal Theory
) and remained a Classics Fellow all his life. He went on from Trinity to study law at the Middle Temple
Middle Temple
The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, commonly known as Middle Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court exclusively entitled to call their members to the English Bar as barristers; the others being the Inner Temple, Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn...

 and yet never practised. He was four times elected to Trinity's Title Alpha Fellowship, and was associated with the college for most of his life, except for a year, 1907–1908, spent at the University of Liverpool
University of Liverpool
The University of Liverpool is a teaching and research university in the city of Liverpool, England. It is a member of the Russell Group of large research-intensive universities and the N8 Group for research collaboration. Founded in 1881 , it is also one of the six original "red brick" civic...

. He was knighted in 1914, and a public lectureship
Frazer Lecture
The Sir James George Frazer Memorial Lectureship in Social Anthropology is a British academic lecture series.In the year 1920 a sum of £675 was raised by a Committee of the University of Cambridge for the purpose of commemorating Sir James Frazer’s contributions to learning...

 in social anthropology at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Glasgow and Liverpool was established in his honour in 1921. He was, if not blind, then severely visually impaired from 1930 on. He and his wife, Lily, died within a few hours of each other. They are buried at the Ascension Parish Burial Ground
Ascension Parish Burial Ground, Cambridge
The Ascension Parish Burial Ground, formerly St Giles and St Peter's Parish, is a cemetery just off Huntingdon Road near the junction with Storey's Way in the northwest of Cambridge, England. It includes the graves of many Cambridge academics and non-conformists of the 19th and early 20th century...

 in Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

, England.

The study of myth
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 and religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 became his areas of expertise. Except for visits to Italy and Greece, Frazer was not widely traveled. His prime sources of data were ancient histories and questionnaires mailed to missionaries and Imperial officials all over the globe. Frazer's interest in social anthropology was aroused by reading E. B. Tylor's Primitive Culture (1871) and encouraged by his friend, the biblical scholar William Robertson Smith
William Robertson Smith
William Robertson Smith was a Scottish orientalist, Old Testament scholar, professor of divinity, and minister of the Free Church of Scotland. He was an editor of the Encyclopædia Britannica and contributor to the Encyclopaedia Biblica...

, who was linking the Old Testament with early Hebrew folklore.

Frazer was far from being the first to study religions dispassionately, as a cultural phenomenon rather than from within theology. He was, though, the first to detail the relations between myths and rituals. His theories of totemism
Totemism
Totemism is a system of belief in which humans are said to have kinship or a mystical relationship with a spirit-being, such as an animal or plant...

 were superseded by Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

 and his vision of the annual sacrifice of the Year-King has not been borne out by field studies. His generation's choice of Darwinian evolution as a social paradigm
Paradigm
The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

, interpreted by Frazer as three rising stages of human progress—magic giving rise to religion, then culminating in science—has not proved valid. Yet The Golden Bough
The Golden Bough
The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer . It first was published in two volumes in 1890; the third edition, published 1906–15, comprised twelve volumes...

, his study of ancient cults, rites, and myths, including their parallels with early Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, arguably his greatest work, is still rifled by modern mythographers for its detailed information. The first edition, in two volumes, was published in 1890. The third edition was finished in 1915 and ran to twelve volumes, with a supplemental thirteenth volume added in 1936. He also published a single volume abridgement, largely compiled by his wife Lady Frazer, in 1922, with some controversial material removed from the text. The work's influence spilled well over the conventional bounds of academia; the symbolic cycle of life, death and rebirth which Frazer divined behind myths of all pedigrees captivated a whole generation of artists and poets. Perhaps the most notable product of this fascination is T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

's poem The Waste Land
The Waste Land
The Waste Land[A] is a 434-line[B] modernist poem by T. S. Eliot published in 1922. It has been called "one of the most important poems of the 20th century." Despite the poem's obscurity—its shifts between satire and prophecy, its abrupt and unannounced changes of speaker, location and time, its...

(1922). More recently, it was an influence on the ending of Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

's film Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American war film set during the Vietnam War, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The central character is US Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard , of MACV-SOG, an assassin sent to kill the renegade and presumed insane Special Forces...

(a copy of The Golden Bough figures in one of the final shots). Totem and Exogamy is also cited frequently by Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...


in Totem and Taboo
Totem and Taboo
Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics is a book by Sigmund Freud published in German in 1913 under the title Totem und Tabu: Einige Übereinstimmungen im Seelenleben der Wilden und der Neurotiker...

: Resemblances Between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics
.

Frazer's pioneering work has come under criticism by more recent scholars, following a series of critical, even vituperative articles by Edmund Leach
Edmund Leach
Sir Edmund Ronald Leach was a British social anthropologist of whom it has been said:"It is no exaggeration to say that in sheer versatility, originality, and range of writing he was and still is difficult to match among the anthropologists of the English speaking world".-Personal and academic...

, one of which was selected as the lead article in Anthropology Today, vol. 1 (1985); in part Frazer's Golden Bough was criticised for the breadth of comparisons drawn from widely separated cultures, but the criticism is often based on the abridged edition, which omits the supportive archaeological details. In a positive review of a work narrowly focusing on the cultus in the Hittite city of Nerik, J. D. Hawkins remarked approvingly in 1973, "The whole work is very methodical and sticks closely to the fully quoted documentary evidence in a way that would have been unfamiliar to the late Sir James Frazer."
Frazer's six volume commentary on the Greek traveler Pausanias' description of Greece in the mid 2nd c. AD remains one of his most important works although archaeological excavations have added enormously to our knowledge of Greece since his time. There is still much of value in his detailed historical and topographical discussions of different sites and his eyewitness accounts of Greece at the end of the 19th century.

Origin of death stories



Frazer collected stories from throughout the British Empire and devised four general classifications into which many of them could be grouped:
  1. The Story of the Two Messengers
  2. The Story of the Waxing and Waning Moon
  3. The Story of the Serpent and his Cast Skin
  4. The Story of the Banana

The Story of the Two Messengers


This type of story is common in Africa. In this story, there are two messages carried from the supreme being to mankind: one of eternal life and one of death. The messenger carrying the tidings of eternal life is delayed and so the message of death is received first.

The Bantu people of Southern Africa, such as the Zulu, tell that Unkulunkulu
Unkulunkulu
Unkulunkulu is the creator god in the language of the Zulu people. Unkulunkulu is believed to be father of Jesus and the term "Nkulunkulu" simply means "God". Other names include uMdali "Creator", uMvelinqandi "Before everything" also is uMvelinqangi in isiXhosa language...

, the Old Old One, sent a message that men should not die, giving it to the chameleon
Chameleon
Chameleons are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of lizards. They are distinguished by their parrot-like zygodactylous feet, their separately mobile and stereoscopic eyes, their very long, highly modified, and rapidly extrudable tongues, their swaying gait, the possession by many of a...

. The chameleon was slow and dawdled, taking time to eat and sleep. Unkulunkulu meanwhile had changed his mind and gave a message of death to the lizard who travelled quickly and so overtook the chameleon. The message of death was delivered first and so, when the chameleon arrived with its message of life, mankind would not hear it and so is fated to die.

Because of this, Bantu people such as the Ngoni
Ngoni people
The Ngoni people are an ethnic group living in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, in east-central Africa. The Ngoni trace their origins to the Zulu people of kwaZulu-Natal in South Africa...

 will punish lizards and chameleons. For example, children may put tobacco into a chameleon's mouth so that the nicotine
Nicotine
Nicotine is an alkaloid found in the nightshade family of plants that constitutes approximately 0.6–3.0% of the dry weight of tobacco, with biosynthesis taking place in the roots and accumulation occurring in the leaves...

 poisons it and it writhes in multi-coloured death.

Variations of the tale are found in other parts of Africa. For the Akamba, the messengers are the chameleon and the thrush
Robin-chat
The robin-chats are small insectivorous birds in the genera Cossyphicula and Cossypha. They were formerly in the thrush family Turdidae, but are now more often treated as part of the Old World flycatcher Muscicapidae....

 while, for the Ashanti, they are the goat and the sheep.

The Bura people
Bura-Pabir language
Bura-Pabir is a Chadic language spoken in Nigeria. Dialects are Pela, Bura Pela, Hill Bura, Hyil Hawul, Bura Hyilhawul, and Plain Bura....

 of northern Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 say that, at first, neither death nor disease existed but, one day, a man became ill and died. The people sent a worm to ask the sky deity, Hyel, what they should do with him. The worm was told that the people should hang the corpse in the fork of a tree and throw mush at it until it came back to life. But a malicious lizard, Agadzagadza, hurried ahead of the worm and, instead, told them to dig a grave, wrap the corpse in cloth and bury it instead. The people did this so when the worm arrived and said that they should dig up the corpse, place it in a tree, and throw mush at it, they were too lazy to do this and so death remained on Earth. This Bura story has the common mythic motif
Motif (narrative)
In narrative, a motif is any recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story. Through its repetition, a motif can help produce other narrative aspects such as theme or mood....

 of a vital message which is diverted by a trickster
Trickster
In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. It is suggested by Hansen that the term "Trickster" was probably first used in this...

.

In Togoland
Togoland
Togoland was a German protectorate in West Africa from 1884 to 1914, encompassing what is now the nation of Togo and most of what is now the Volta Region of Ghana. The colony was established during the period generally known as the "Scramble for Africa"...

, the messengers were the dog and the frog, and, as with the Bura, the messengers go first from mankind to God.

The Story of the Waxing and Waning Moon



The moon
Lunar phase
A lunar phase or phase of the moon is the appearance of the illuminated portion of the Moon as seen by an observer, usually on Earth. The lunar phases change cyclically as the Moon orbits the Earth, according to the changing relative positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun...

 regularly seems to disappear and then return. This gave primitive peoples the idea that should or might return from death in a similar way. Stories which associate the moon with the origin of death are found especially around the Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 region. In Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

, it is said that the moon suggested that mankind should return as he did. But the rat god, Ra Kalavo, would not permit this, insisting that men should die like rats. In Australia, the Wotjobaluk aborigines say that the moon used to revive the dead until an old man said that this should stop. The Cham have it that the goddess of good luck used to revive the dead but the sky-god sent her to the moon so she could not do this any more.

The Story of the Serpent and his Cast Skin



Animals which shed their skin such as snakes and lizards appeared to be immortal to primitive people. This led to stories in which mankind lost the ability to do this. For example, in Vietnam, it was said that the Jade Emperor
Jade Emperor
The Jade Emperor in Chinese folk culture, is the ruler of Heaven and all realms of existence below including that of Man and Hell, according to a version of Taoist mythology. He is one of the most important gods of the Chinese traditional religion pantheon...

 sent word from heaven to mankind that, when they became old, they should shed their skins while the serpents would die and be buried. But some snakes overheard the command and threatened to bite the messenger unless he switched the message so that man would die while snakes would be eternally renewed. For the natives of the island of Nias
Nias
Nīas is an island off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Nias is also the name of the archipelago, containing the Hinako archipelago....

, the story was that the messenger who completed their creation failed to fast
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

 and ate bananas rather than crabs. If he had eaten the latter then mankind would have shed their skins like crabs and so lived eternally.

The Story of the Banana



The banana
Banana
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....

 plant bears its fruit on a stalk which then dies. This gave people such as the Nias islanders the idea that they had inherited this short-lived property of the banana rather than the immortality of the crab. The natives of Poso
Poso
Poso is the main port and transportation hub for the northeastern coast of Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Its geographical location is .Poso is one of ten regencies in Central Sulawesi Province, located exactly in the middle of the province on the shore of the gulf of Tomini, right in the central...

 also based their myth on this property of the banana. Their story is that the creator in the sky would lower gifts to mankind on a rope and, one day, a stone was offered to the first couple. The gift was refused as they did not know what to do with it and so the creator took it back and lowered a banana instead. The couple ate this with relish but the creator then told them that they would live as the banana, perishing after having children rather than remaining everlasting like the stone.

Selected works

  • Creation and Evolution in Primitive Cosmogenies, and Other Pieces (1935)
  • The Fear of the Dead in Primitive Religion (1933–36)
  • Condorcet on the Progress of the Human Mind (1933)
  • Garnered Sheaves (1931)
  • The Growth of Plato's Ideal Theory (1930)
  • Myths of the Origin of Fire (1930)
  • Fasti
    Fasti (poem)
    The Fasti is a six-book Latin poem by Ovid believed to have been left unfinished when the poet was exiled to Tomis by the emperor Augustus in the year 8...

    , by Ovid
    Ovid
    Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

     (text, translation and commentary), 5 volumes (1929)
    • one-volume abridgement (1931)
      • revised by G. P. Goold (1989, corr. 1996): ISBN 0-674-99279-2
  • Devil's Advocate (1928)
  • Man, God, and Immortality (1927)
  • The Gorgon's Head and other Literary Pieces (1927)
  • The Worship of Nature (1926) (from 1923–25 Gifford Lectures
    Gifford Lectures
    The Gifford Lectures were established by the will of Adam Lord Gifford . They were established to "promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term — in other words, the knowledge of God." The term natural theology as used by Gifford means theology supported...

    ,)
  • The Library
    Bibliotheca (Pseudo-Apollodorus)
    The Bibliotheca , in three books, provides a comprehensive summary of traditional Greek mythology and heroic legends, "the most valuable mythographical work that has come down from ancient times," Aubrey Diller observed, whose "stultifying purpose" was neatly expressed in the epigram noted by...

    , by Apollodorus
    Apollodorus
    Apollodorus of Athens son of Asclepiades, was a Greek scholar and grammarian. He was a pupil of Diogenes of Babylon, Panaetius the Stoic, and the grammarian Aristarchus of Samothrace...

     (text, translation and notes), 2 volumes (1921): ISBN 0-674-99135-4 (vol. 1); ISBN 0-674-99136-2 (vol. 2)
  • Folk-lore in the Old Testament
    Folklore in the Old Testament Studies in Comparative Religion Legend and Law
    Folklore in the Old Testament: Studies in Comparative Religion, Legend, and Law written in 1918 by Sir James Frazer, compares episodes in the Old Testament with similar stories from other cultures in the ancient world.-Contents:...

    (1918)
  • The Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead, 3 volumes (1913–24)
  • The Golden Bough
    The Golden Bough
    The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer . It first was published in two volumes in 1890; the third edition, published 1906–15, comprised twelve volumes...

    , 3rd edition: 12 volumes (1906–15; 1936)
    • 1922 one-volume abridgement: ISBN 0-486-42492-8
  • Totemism and Exogamy (1910)
  • Psyche's Task (1909)
  • The Golden Bough, 2nd edition: expanded to 6 volumes (1900)
  • Pausanias, and other Greek sketches (1900)
  • Description of Greece, by Pausanias
    Pausanias (geographer)
    Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

     (translation and commentary) (1897-) 6 volumes.
  • The Golden Bough: a Study in Magic and Religion, 1st edition (1890)
  • Totemism
    Totemism
    Totemism is a system of belief in which humans are said to have kinship or a mystical relationship with a spirit-being, such as an animal or plant...

    (1887)
  • Jan Harold Brunvard, American Folklore; An Encyclopedia, s.v. "Superstition" (p 692-697)

See also

  • Joseph Campbell
    Joseph Campbell
    Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

  • Archetypal literary criticism
    Archetypal literary criticism
    Archetypal literary criticism is a type of critical theory that interprets a text by focusing on recurring myths and archetypes in the narrative, symbols, images, and character types in a literary work...

  • Edward Burnett Tylor
    Edward Burnett Tylor
    Sir Edward Burnett Tylor , was an English anthropologist.Tylor is representative of cultural evolutionism. In his works Primitive Culture and Anthropology, he defined the context of the scientific study of anthropology, based on the evolutionary theories of Charles Lyell...

  • Life-death-rebirth deity
    Life-death-rebirth deity
    A dying god, also known as a dying-and-rising or resurrection deity, is a god who dies and is resurrected or reborn, in either a literal or symbolic sense. Male examples include the ancient Near Eastern and Greek deities Baal, Melqart, Adonis, Eshmun, Attis Tammuz, Asclepius, Orpheus, as well as...

  • Sacred king
    Sacred king
    In many historical societies, the position of kingship carries a sacral meaning, that is, it is identical with that of a high priest and of judge. The concept of theocracy is related, although a sacred king need not necessarily rule through his religious authority; rather, the temporal position...

  • The Seclusion of Girls at Puberty

External links


  • Sir James Frazer: brief analysis
  • Sir James George Frazer Collection at Bartleby.com
  • Works by James Frazer at the Internet Archive
    Internet Archive
    The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...