Gods of the Ancient Northmen
Gods of the Ancient Northmen
Gods of the Ancient Northmen
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Price: $140.00 FREE for Members
Type: eBook
Publisher: University of California Press
Page Count: 199
Format: pdf
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0520035070
ISBN-13: 9780520035072
User Rating: 5.0000 out of 5 Stars! (3 Votes)

Gods of the Ancient Northmen download

Georges Dumezil download

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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| 5 out of 5 Stars!

I will not attempt to review the merit of this treatise in which Dumézil details a seminal application of his proposed tripartite structure of the indo-european religions and societies. The author started working on this in the middle of the twenties, but reached his conclusions only in the late thirties. I believe this edition is based on a 1958 revision. Notoriously, Dumézil's approach, questionable as it might be to some, revolutionized the field of Indo-European studies, and therefore it is not in my capacity to offer a criticism; only a taste of this brief yet insightful and profoundly influential book.

While Dumézil tries to find sense in the struggle between the Asi and Vani, the two "tribes" of scandinavian mythology, as it is depicted by relatively recent icelandic records, he unveils strikingly similar yet much older structures in Indian Vedic literature (Gods against Nsatya) as well as in the epics of the Italic people (Latini against Sabini) and, less frequently, Celts. After about fifteen years of research, the author discovers "the great connections that induce one to ascribe to the Indo-Europeans, before their dispersion, a complex theology centred upon the three functions of sovereignty, force and fertility". Odhinn and Tyr would occupy the first level in Scandinavia; Mitra and Varuna in Vedic India; Jupiter and Dius Fidius (eventually adsorbed into Jupiter) in central Italy.

This double occupancy of the first level replicates elsewhere in the Roman epic: Romolus and Numa, but also, Horatius Cocles and Mucius Scaevola: indeed, Dumézil explains, as Tyr sacrifices his right hand in the mouth of the primordial wolf Fenrir, to convince the beast to wear Odhinn's magical lace and therefore to pacify the universe, similarly Scaevola sacrifices his right hand in the burning bracer to convince Lars Porsena to end the war against Rome; and as Odhinn, the supreme sorcerer king, can shift the course of a battle by literally scaring the enemy by simply gazing with his one eye, so did Oratius Cocles, roman legionary, also one-eyed, scare away the enemy etruscans whom he faced alone on a bridge on the Tiber.

And then there is the second level (Thor in Scandinavia, Mars in Italy, Indra in India) and the third (Freyr in Scandinavia, Quirinus in Italy...). But by now perhaps I have convinced you that these one hundred and forty dense pages are worth the effort of a Sunday afternoon. I myself, always indirectly aware of the content of this book, was eventually much rewarded from reading it.

| 5 out of 5 Stars!

Dumezil largely founded the discipline of tracing themes and stories across Indo-European traditions. His work was pioneering and often lead to a rough framing of ideas which other scholars would later fill in to some extent. His arguments are sound, and his logic solid.

This does not mean that the book does not contain ideas which may miss the mark (I am somewhat unconvinced of his arguments relating to the murder of Baldr and the parallels in the Mahabharata), but the general theories and framework are still very much accepted.

I would highly recommend this work as an introduction to Dumezil's work, as well as an important look into Norse mythology in general.

| 5 out of 5 Stars!

It's a shame no one else has reviewed this books because it's really a classic. The works of Dumezil are still THE standard in comparative Indo-European religion. I can't even begin to guess the number of books I've read that make reference to his works in their footnotes. If you have heard of "trifunctionalism"** it's probably due to the influence of Dumezil. This book is a great read and very informative.

** The theory that Indo-European societies were traditionally structured in a tripartite manner and are patterned after the divine order and the various roles of the gods themselves.

1. Maintenance of Cosmic and Juridical Order. ( Priestly caste and Juridical powers.. Varuna and Mitra or Wotan and Tyr)
2. The exersize of physical prowess ( the warrior caste , Thor or Indra)
3. The promotion of physical well being and producers (farmers, craftsmen.. Frey and Freya.)

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