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Thespis, by Theodor H. Gaster

- Abstract

This book is an extremely erudite study of the seasonal rituals of several societies of the ancient Near East, as they may be traced in surviving writings. But, as the subtitle suggests, it is not only of interest to philologists and archaeologists, but to students of drama, and to all who have been fascinated by The Golden Bough and the many studies growing out of it which have been made of the ritual forms underlying Greek tragedy and other literature. Professor Gilbert Murray, one of the most distinguished students of the ritual pattern, says in his introduction, “Dr. Gaster has turned his vast learning to demonstrating, in fields far beyond my reach, the existence of a similar pattern, based on the same seasonal drama, in the extant remains of Canaanite, Hittite, Egyptian, and Hebrew literature. He has shown that here too the same variety of forms obtains, and he has traced the essential structure backwards to purely functional procedures and forwards to residual survivals in hymns, psalms, and other forms of liturgical composition. The result is to my mind very impressive.”

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