Jaan Puhvel Comparative Mythology Essays

In a magisterial work, Jaan Puhvel unravels the prehistoric Indo-Euopean origins of the traditions of India and Iran, Greece and Rome, of the Celts, Germans, Balts, and Slavs. Utilizing the methodologies of historical linguistics and archaeology, he reconstructs a shared religious, mytholoigcal, and cultural heritage. Separate chapters on individual traditions as well as oIn a magisterial work, Jaan Puhvel unravels the prehistoric Indo-Euopean origins of the traditions of India and Iran, Greece and Rome, of the Celts, Germans, Balts, and Slavs. Utilizing the methodologies of historical linguistics and archaeology, he reconstructs a shared religious, mytholoigcal, and cultural heritage. Separate chapters on individual traditions as well as on recurrent thees - god and warrior, king and virgin, fire and water - give life to "Comparative Mythology" as both a general introduction and a detaled reference....more

Paperback, 320 pages

Published August 1st 1989 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published 1987)

Georges Dumézil, best known as the deviser of the theory of a tripartite patterning impulse in the cultures making up the Indo-European (I-E) linguistic group, spent sixty years refining this concept, and adding other themes such as the bifurcation of his fonctions and the concept of Interfunctional War. Before his death, his ideas were used to explain I-E patterns in cultural areas such as the Celtic, the Norse-Scandinavian and the Western medieval; since his death, his theorised structures have served as a base for such extensions as a ‘fourth’ function, a feminine potency to the formula and age-set-divisions as a part of the patterning impulse. Critics have concentrated on philological points, though some have denied the existence of the I-E tripartite division tout court. Just before Dumézil's death a variation on the ‘revisionist’ line began to accuse him of suspect personal–political opinions, and these accusations continue. The ultimate usefulness of Dumézil is the flexibility of his system and the extraordinary range of materials one can draw into his theories; his value is as a ‘medium’ for further research and theoretical structuring.

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