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Ritual, Violence, and the Fall of the Classic Maya Kings$
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Gyles Iannone, Brett A. Houk, and Sonja A. Schwake

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062754

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062754.001.0001

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Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Scapegoat King

Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Scapegoat King

The Anatomy of a Model

(p.23) 2 Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Scapegoat King
Ritual, Violence, and the Fall of the Classic Maya Kings

Gyles Iannone

University Press of Florida

The fundamental tenet of the scapegoat king model is that the legitimacy of rulers is intricately bound up in the perceived prosperity of their polities, as is exemplified in the construction of awe-inspiring monumental architecture, the sponsorship of elaborate ceremonies, the wearing of ostentatious attire and displays of symbols of authority, and the “trafficking” in various forms of symbolic capital. Based on this premise, it follows that during times of stress kings would have been expected to ramp up these various activities to appease the apparently disgruntled supernatural powers and to maintain–at least in surface appearance–the prosperity of the polity. This could exacerbate an already difficult situation, leaving the king open to condemnation, and sometimes violent overthrow. This chapter explores the efficacy of these ideas from a cross-cultural perspective.

Keywords:   Prosperity, Scapegoats, Cross-cultural analysis, Maya

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