Ch. 2. Ritual: Burkert begins with a survey of theories--many of them will be just names to you
--but what he means to suggest is the inadequacy of prevailing views. B regards the sort of fertility
theory that we met in Jacobsen's Treasures of Darkness as largely begging the question:
the explanation is as puzzling as what it tries to explain.
Similarly the Freudian approach --inventing religion in the 'primal horde' out of the conflict
between young males and the dominant 'fathers'--doesn't get us very far.
So B turns to something more basic and instinctual:
ritual in early human society functions much like 'ritual' in non-human species.
The essence of this approach is laid out pp. 36-7, with reference to animal ethologist Konrad Lorenz.
What does 'ritual' mean in these terms?
(2) Herms, etc., gives us illustrations of this approach: what Herms were for; what libations signified;
and how the supplication ritual evolved. Explain each of these examples
(3) This section explores what ritual is for in the broader sense of communication. What are some of the
socializing effects of ritual (building group identity etc.)?
(4-5) These sections set forth Burkert's basic theory of sacrifice. Summarize in your own words.
Ch. 3. Scapegoat As a trimphant demonstration of the biological approach, B sets about explaining
the widely-known Scapegoat Ritual. He begins by examining a few examples that resist easy
interpretation. Briefly summarize: [table showing key parallels]
* the foundation myth of Erythrae (a Greek city in Asia Minor)
** the Hittite ritual to avert plague and pestilence
*** the tale of Codrus, last king of Athens, who gave himself up to the invading Dorians
What is the common motive or emotional mechanism in all three?
(2) The Greek Pharmakos ritual offers yet another example--or series of variations on the same pattern.
Who fits the role of pharmakos? What (typically) is done with him? With what aim?
(3) Scholars have generally explained this scapegoat ritual either by magic or psychology.
Those who interpret most primitive ritual as a practice of magically ensuring fertility see the scapegoat
as the victim whose death perpetuates the cycle of regeneration. Jungian psychologists suppose that the
scapegoat is a way of suppressing the worst in our own (or our collective) personality.
Neither approach seems adequate for Burkert.
What, after all, is Burkert's 'biological' origin for these rituals?
(4) The last section of this chapter has to do with Virgin sacrifice. The reasoning is especially oblique.
What is Burkert suggesting about the origin of these myths?