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Destiny of a King

ISBN-10: 0226169766

ISBN-13: 9780226169767

Edition: N/A

Authors: Georges Dumezil, Alf Hiltebeitel

List price: $26.00
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Description:

The preeminent scholar of comparative studies of Indo-European society, Georges Dumézil theorized that ancient and prehistoric Indo-European culture and literature revolved around three major functions: sovereignty, force, and fertility. This work treats these functions as they are articulated through "first king" legends found in Indian, Iranian, and Celtic epics, particularly the Mahabharata. Dumézil, drawing on an extraordinarily broad range of Indo-European sources from Scandinavia to India and offering an original and provocative analytic method, set a new agenda for studies in comparative oral literature, historical linguistics, comparative mythology, and history of religions. The Destiny of a King examines one of the "little" epics within the Mahabharata--the legend of King Yayati, a distant ancestor of the Pandavas, the heroes of the larger epic. Dumézil compares Yayati's attributes and actions with those of the legendary Celtic king Eochaid Feidlech and also finds striking similarities in the stories surrounding the daughters of these two kings, the Indian Madhavi and the Celtic Medb. When he compares these two traditions with the "first king" legends from Iran, he finds such common themes as the apportionment of the earth and the "sin of the sovereign."
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Book details

List price: $26.00
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 8/26/1988
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 168
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.638
Language: English

Until his death, Georges Dumezil was the guiding light of the study of Indo-European civilizations. He taught at the College de France for many years, directed the Section des Sciences Religieuses of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes of the Sorbonne, and by the time he was elected to the Academie Francais in the fall of 1978, Dumezil had extended his influence worldwide. In essence, Dumezil's work effects a "paradigm shift" in the study of Indo-European mythology. Earlier scholars worked from a narrowly philological paradigm. Dumezil supplemented this approach with insights derived from functionalist sociology. His concern was not with isolated pieces but with systems. At its simplest, his basic idea is that Indo-European peoples share a "tripartite ideology"; they tend to think in specific groups of three. Dumezil postulated that initially Indo-European society was arranged hierarchically into three distinct groups: priests, warriors, and herder-cultivators. Corresponding to each group was a specific function: sovereignty, physical (primarily military) prowess, and sustenance. Furthermore, each group was represented collectively by gods and goddesses who shared its function. The hierarchical division of society has been preserved only in India (the upper three varnas, or classes), but its effects are widespread in the mythologies and religions of Indo-European peoples, and occasionally, as at Rome, in their accounts of their histories as well. Some scholars have always disputed Dumezil's theories. The most notable, recent critic has been British archaeological theorist Colin Renfrew. In the last few years, Dumezil, like many of his generation, has also been criticized for his politics.

Introduction
Yayati and His Sons
Yayati and His Daughter's Sons
Vasu Uparicara
Madhavi
Eochaid Feidlech, His Daughters, and His Sons Perspectives
Notes
Index