CHAPTER VI
TABUS, PRIESTS, AND KINGS

PERHAPS nothing so sharply differentiates the savage from the civilized man as the circumstance that the former observes tabus, the latter does not. In making this assertion I do not forget that a vast number of people in civilized countries, or what are called such (for no country is fully civilized, or ever has been), observe tabus. Thus, numerous adherents, in name, of Christianity, which is a highly civilized religion, so feel the need of a tabu-day that they have transferred to Sunday many of the restrictions of the Sabbath, the latter being of course in origin a relic of the early days of Judaism. Others, again, are very careful to tabu the number thirteen when they invite guests to dinner; many and quaint tabus are observed under the mysterious rubric 'it isn't done'; and every 'silly season' brings a crop of proposals to tabu some custom which happens at the moment to be popular. But all these things are nothing but proofs that much of the savage still survives among us to-day; very gradually he and his ways of thought seem to be dying out, and a quite large proportion of a modern population, if they have not always a sound reason for refraining from a particular action, at least feel that they ought to have. Multiplicity of tabus, therefore, is a tolerably good indication of the retention of a considerable amount of savagery.

-111-

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Primitive Culture in Italy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Chapter I - Introductory 1
  • Notes on Chapter I 20
  • Chapter II - Race, Religion and Culture 22
  • Notes on Chapter II 41
  • Chapter III - The Gods 42
  • Notes on Chapter IIi 61
  • Chapter IV - Worship and Magic 63
  • Notes on Chapter IV 85
  • Chapter V - Worship and Magic (continued): The Calendar 87
  • Notes on Chapter V 110
  • Chapter VI - Tabus, Priests, and Kings 111
  • Notes on Chapter VI 130
  • Chapter VII - Their Exits and Their Entrances 131
  • Notes on Chapter VIi 158
  • Chapter VIII - Family and Clan 159
  • Notes on Chapter VIii 179
  • Chapter IX - The Law. I. Crimes and Torts 180
  • Notes on Chapter IX 201
  • Chapter X - The Law. II. Property; Public Opinion; Status, Etc. 203
  • Notes on Chapter X 224
  • Chapter XI - Some Negative Considerations. Conclusion 226
  • Notes on Chapter XI 242
  • Bibliography 244
  • Index 247
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