Cambridge Ritualists

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The Cambridge Ritualists were a recognised group of classical scholars, mostly in Cambridge, England, including Jane Ellen Harrison, F.M. Cornford, Gilbert Murray (who was actually from the University of Oxford), A. B. Cook, and others. They earned this title because of their shared interest in ritual, more specifically their attempts to explain myth and early forms of classical drama as originating in ritual, mainly the ritual seasonal killings of eniautos daimon, or the Year-King. They are also sometimes referred to as the myth and ritual school, or as the Classical Anthropologists.

Through their work in classical philology, they exerted profound influence not only on the Classics, but on literary critics, such as Stanley Edgar Hyman. Particularly affected by Émile Durkheim was F. M. Cornford, who used the French sociologist's notion of collective representations to analyze social forms of religious, artistic, philosophical, and scientific expression in classical Greece. Other significant influences on the group were Charles Darwin, Freud, James Frazer, and William Robertson Smith.

See also


  • The Cambridge Ritualists Reconsidered: Proceedings of the First Oldfather Conference, Held on the Campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign April 27–30, 1989, edited by W. M. Calder III
  • The Myth and Ritual Theory (1998), anthology edited by Robert A. Segal.

External links