The Golden Bough by J. G. Frazer

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PaperMac, 1994. 

'Sir James George Frazer originally set out to discover the origins of one ancient custom in Classical Rome - the plucking of the Golden Bough from a tree in the sacred grove of Diana, and the murderous succession of the priesthood there - and was led by his investigations into a twenty-five year study of primitive customs, superstitions, magic and myth throughout the world. The monumental thirteen-volume work which resulted has been a rich source of anthropological material and a literary masterpiece for more than half a century.

The Golden Bough describes our ancestors' primitive methods of worship, sex practices, strange rituals and festivals. Disproving the popular thought that primitive life was simple, this monumental survey shows that savage man was enmeshed in a tangle of magic, taboos, and superstitions. Revealed here is the evolution of man from savagery to civilization, from the modification of his weird and often bloodthirsty customs to the entry of lasting moral, ethical, and spiritual values.'