Ancient Art and Ritual

By Jane Ellen Harrison | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
PRIMITIVE RITUAL: PANTOMIMIC DANCES

IN books and hymns of bygone days, which dealt with the religion of "the heathen in his blindness," he was pictured as a being of strange perversity, apt to bow down to "gods of wood and stone." The question why he acted thus foolishly was never raised. It was just his "blindness"; the light, of the gospel had not yet reached him. Now-a-days the savage has become material not only for conversion and hymn-writing but for scientific observation. We want to understand his psychology, i. e. how he behaves, not merely for his sake, that we may abruptly and despotically convert or reform him, but for our own sakes; partly, of course, for sheer love of knowing, but also,--since we realize that our own behaviour is based on instincts kindred to his,--in order that, by understanding his behaviour, we may understand, and it may be better, our own.

-29-

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