When is a Myth Not a Myth: The Origins of the Green Man

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James Frazer has a lot to answer for.

He was born in 1854 in Glasgow, Scotland. He became a Fellow of Classics at Trinity College, Cambridge. From there he leapfrogged sideways into folklore studies and comparative anthropology, two disciplines he knew nothing about (although to be fair, at the time, neither did anyone else really.) His masterwork was The Golden Bough, two volumes of meticulously researched albeit fairly wrong comparative mythology from all over the world. His research was conducted mostly by postal questionnaire since he wasn’t into travelling. The title of the book comes from one of the more mysterious bits of the Aeneid , where the Roman epic hero finds a magical golden branch which he then has to hand over to a priestess in exchange for passage to visit the land of the dead.

Frazer had some Complex Views About Religion. He basically decided that ...