The Golden Bough: The Roots of Religion and Folklore

Reference
Frazer, James G. (1981) The Golden Bough: The Roots of Religion and Folklore. Random House Value Publishing Inc. Published by Gramercy Books, New York.

Rex Nemorensis “King of Nemi” or “King of the grove”

3. Carrying out Death

Ω p264 “But sometimes a new potency of life seems to be attributed to the image of Death itself, and by a kind of resurrection it becomes the instrument of the general revival. Thus in some parts of Lusatia women alone are concerned in carrying out Death, and suffer no male to meddle with it.”

Ω p266 “Therefore the being which has just ben destroyed - the so-called Death - must be supposed to be endowed with a vivifying and quickening influence, which it can communicate to the vegetable and even the animal world. This ascription of a life-giving virtue to the figure of Death is put beyond a doubt by the custom, observed in some places, of taking pieces of the straw effigy of Death and placing them in the fields to make the crops grow, or in the manger to make the cattle thrive.”

p267 “Thus in Spackendorf (Austrian Silesia) the figure of Death made of straw, brushwood, and rags, is carried out with wild songs to an open place outside the village and there burned, and while it is burning a general struggle takes place for the pieces, which are pulled out of the flames with bare hands. Each one who secures a fragment of the effigy ties it to a branch of the largest tree in his garden, or buries it in his field, in the belief that this causes the crops to grow better.”

p268 “In Leipzig at Mid-Lent men and women of the lowest class used to carry through all the streets a straw effigy of Death, which the exhibited to young wives, and finally threw into the river, alleging that this made young wives fruitful, cleansed the city, and averted the plague and other sickness from the inhabitants for that year.”
See the timline, Mid-Lent = Vernal equinox, the time when spring would start. Death had a huge part to play in the end of the winter and the beginning of the farming or when life would return to the earth and signalled the start of when food would again be yielded from the earth.

Ω p269 “The customs, therefore, of bringing in the May and bringing in the Summer are essentially the same; and the Summer-tree is merely another form of the May-tree… Therefore, if the explanation here adopted of the May-tree (namely, that it is an embodiment of the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation) is correct, the Summer-tree must lifewise be an embodiment of the tree-spirit of spirit of vegetation. But we have seen that the Summer-tree is in some cases a revivification of the effigy of Death. It follows, therefore, that in these cases the effigy called Death must be an embodiment of the tree-spirit of spirit of vegetation.”
Italics mine.

It seems to me the book reaches a conclusion that it has been working towards on page 270:
p270 “In short we are driven to regard the expulsion of Death and the bringing in of Summer as, in some cases at least, merely another form of that death and resuscitation of the spirit of vegetation in spring which we saw enacted in the killing and resurrection of the Wild Man. The burial and resurrection of the Carnival is probably another way of expressing the same idea.”

p270 “Wood-spirit ( Metsik)”

4. Adonis

Σ p280 “At Byblus the death of Adonis was annually mourned with weeping, wailing, and beating of the breast; but next day he was believed to come to life again and ascend up to heaven in the presence of his worshippers.”
There's more in this paragraph on the blood of Adonis and there is definitely similarity here with the life of Christ and the biblical accounts.

5. Attis

Σ p298 “His origin is further attested by the story that he was born of a virgin, who conceived by putting in her bosom a ripe almond or pomegranate.”

Section 5. talks about Attis as a vegetation god where it is thought he was born to Nana daughter of the river god Sangarius. There are reports that he do, as with Adonis was slain by a wild boar: the ceremonies surrounding his death; killed by a boar (which apparently was presented to account for the dietary customs of his priests) or chopped off his penis (hence his priests were eunuchs) and bled to death under a pine tree. The relation to the Christ myth I find interesting is his mother being a virgin. For Osiris there is a similarity with Attis in that when Isis gathered up his (14) body parts that Set (his brother) had scattered throughout the land she could not include his penis as it was eaten by a catfish. Osiris is also known as a god of rebirth (when the gods resurrected him as a god of the underworld), the flooding of the nile and growth of crops. The fact that Osiris was a man and then resurrected as a god creates some similarity between him and Christ.

6. Osiris

p305 “The general similarity of the myth and ritual of Osiris to those of Adonis and Attis is obvious. In all three cases we see a god whose untimely and violent death is mourned by a loving goddess and annually celebrated by their worshippers. The character of Osiris as a deity of vegetation is brought out by the legend that he was the first to teach medn the use of corn, and by the fact that his annual festival began with ploughing the earth.”

p310 “It is in this character of corn-goddess that the Greeks conceived Isis, for the identified her with Demeter. In a Greek epigram she is described as “she who has given birth to the fruits of the earth,” and “the mother of the ears of corn,” and in a hymn composed in her honour she speaks of herself as “queen of the wheat-field,” and is described as “charged with the care of the fruitful furrow's wheat-rich path.”
I find this very interesting as Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains, the fertility of the earth and the seasons - that were personified by Horus, Isis' son as a result of being impregnated by Osiris when Isis raised him from the dead to impregnate her, then he died again.. Demeter's daughter was Persephone who had to stay in Hades for half the year as did Adonis when Persephone fell in love with him after Aphrodite left Adonis in her care for a bit. So you have Persephone underground for half the year, Adonis underground for a third of the year (one third with Aphrodite and the other where he wished - according to Zeus' decree after both Aphrodite and Persephone fell for him). He decided to stay with Aphrodite for two thirds of the year.

Σ p314 “Indeed on king, Amenhôtep IV, undertook to sweep away all the old gods at a stroke and replace them by a single god, the “great living disc of the sun.”1 In the hymns composed in his honour, this deity is referred to as “the living disc of the sun, besides whom there is none other.” He is said to have made “the far heaven” and “men, beasts, and birds; he strengtheneth the eyes with his beams, and when he showeth himself, all flowers live and grow, the meadows flourish at his upgoing and are drunken at his sight, all cattle skip on their feet, and the birds that are in the marsh flitter for joy.” It is he “who bringeth the years, createth the months, maketh the days, calculateth the hours, the lord of time, by whom men reckon.” In his zeal for the unity of god, the king commanded to erase the names of all other gods from the monuments, and to destroy their images.”
1 On this attempted revolution in religion see Lepsius in Verhandl. d. königl. Akad. d. Wissensch. zu Berlin, 1851, pp. 196-201; Erman, op. cit. p.355

p319 “A strong reason for interpreting the death of Osiris as the decay of vegetation rather than as the sunset is to be found in the general (though not unanimous) voice of antiquity, which classed together the worship and myths of Osiris, Adonis, Attis, Dionysus, and Demeter, as religions of essentially the same type.1

Σ P319 “Again, Plutarch, a very intelligent student of comparative religion, insists upon the detailed resemblance of the rites of Osiris to those of Dionysus.4
4 Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 35.

7. Dionysus

p321 “Of the trees particularly sacred to him, in addition to the vine, was the pine-tree. The Delphic oracle commanded the Corinthians to worship a particular pine-tree “equally with the god,” so they made two images of Dionysus out of it, with red faces and gilt bodies. In art a wand, tipped with a pine-cone, is commonly carried by the god or his worshippers.2
2 Pausania, ii. 2, 6 (5) sq. Pausanias does not mention the kind of tree; but does from Euripides, bacchae, 1064 sqq., and Philostratus, Imag. i. 17 (18), we may infer that it was a pine; though Theocritus (xxvi. I I) speaks of it as a mastich-tree.
Mastich tree Also known as Mastic - see wikipedia

The fennel staff tipped with a pine cone is known as a 'thyrsus'

p322 “Going abroad, Jupiter transferred the throne and sceptre to the child Dionysus, but, knowing that his wife Juno (Hera) cherished a jealous dislike for the child, he entrusted Dionysus to the care of guards upon whose fidelity he believed he could rely. Juno, however, bribed…etc”
Hang on a minute, reading the story of Dionysus as accounted for here: His father Jupiter (Zeus) had Dionysus with another woman outside of his marriage to Juno (Hera). He had to go away so left Dionysus in the hands of his guards but Juno bribed them, lured on Dionysus away and had him killed by the titans who cut him up, boiled his body with some herbs and ate him. His sister Minerva - who had shared in the deed - kept his heart and gave it to Jupiter on his return revealing to him the history of the crime….this is very much like the Juniper tree fairytale. This is just one version of the myth surrounding Dionysus - the book goes on in more detail about the other versions. This version with Minerva doesn't seem to be widely documented that I can find online. The more popular myth has Semele as the mother who convinces Zeus (with Hera's nefarious goading) to see him in his godly glory, so she dies 'cause no mortal can see that. Zeus saves the fetal Dionysus and puts him in his thigh (hence twice born). Another version does have Hera luring Dionysus away with toys and then having the Titans rip him up and eat him.

p326 “Another animal whose form Dionysus assumed was the goat… To save him from the wrath of Hera, his father Zeus changed him into a kid; when the gods fled to Egypt to escape the fury of Typhon, Dionysus was turned into a goat.”

Σ p327ff “The reason given for sacrificing goats to Dionysus is an example of a myth of the latter sort. They were sacrificed to him, it was said, because they injured the vine. Now the goat, as we have seen, was originally an embodiment of the god himself. But when the god had divested himself of his animal character and had become essentially anthropomorphic, the killing of the goat in his worship came to be regarded no longer as a slaying of the god himself, but as a sacrifice to him; and since some reason had to be assigned why the goat in particular should be sacrificed, it was alleged that this was a punishment inflicted on the goat for injuring the vine, the object of the god's especial care.”

I find this idea of sacrifice very interesting in that if this is the case - that Dionysus is himself being sacrificed, the embodiment of the god in the goat, then the idea of the eucharist, the eating of the body (read more on these pages about the sacrificing and eating of the goat or bull) was also applied to other gods, not just Christ.

8. Demeter and Proserpine

p358 “Thus the Proserpine of this year becomes the Demeter of the next, and this may very well have been the original form of the myth. But when with the advance of religious thought the corn came to be personified, no longer as a being that went through the whole cycle of birth, growth, reproduction, and death within a year, but as an immortal goddess, consistency requires that one of the two personifications, the mother or the daughter, should be sacrificed. But the double conception of the corn as mother and daughter was too old and too deeply rooted in the popular mind to be eradicated by logic, and so room had to be found in the reformed myth both for mother and daughter. This was done by assigning to Proserpine the rôle of the corn sown in autumn and sprouting in spring, while Demeter was left to play the somewhat vague and ill-defined part of the mother of the corn, who laments its annual disappearance underground, and rejoices over its reappearance in spring.”

Σ p360 “As men emerge from savagery the tendency to anthropomorphise or humanise their divinities gains strength; and the more anthropomorphic these become, the wider is the breach which severs them from those natural objects of which they were at first merely the animating spirits or souls. But in the progress upwards from savagery, men of the same generation do not march abreast; and though the anthropomorphic gods may satisfy the religious wants of more advanced individuals, the more backward member of the community will cling by preference to the older animistic notions.”

9. Lityerses

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