Ancient Art and Ritual

By Jane Ellen Harrison | Go to book overview

PREFATORY NOTE

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 worldwide ritual. The rise of the Indian drama, or the mediæval and from it the

-v-

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