l.m.fosse at l.m.fosse at
Wed May 1 10:26:20 UTC 1996

>Things being rather quiet on this list, I have been roaming, and have come
>across another group discussing Lefkowitz's new book "Not Out of Africa",
>which attacks, from a classicist's point of view, Afrocentric claims about
>the sources of Greek culture. Very wild and very reckless discussions go on
>there, mostly not very interesting or informative.  But it occurred to me
>that there is a new angle that may be of interest not only to classicists
>and africanists, but to indologists as well.  Unfortunately, I don't
>remember specific references, but I recall that Filliozat a long time ago
>made suggestions re the influence of Hindu [upaniSadic] sources on the
>likes of Plato, et al.  Does anyone on this list have references to
>Filliozat's claims?  And, just as important, does anyone know how
>classicists have responded to such claims, if at all?

I, for one, would certainly be interested in Filliozat's views on this.
There are ideas in Plato that would remind us of Indic thinking (e.g. his
theory on the philosophers, warriors and commoners), and this phenomenon
has been discussed by other too, I believe. See, i.a., Bruce Lincoln, Myth,
Cosmos and Society, Harvard University Press, 1986. The question is: Did
Plato "borrow" ideas from India, or do certain Indic and Platonic ideas go
back to a common source, the Indo-European culture. I should personally
think that the latter might be the case. Those who are interested would
perhaps like to read the studies by Georges Dumezil, who has written
extensively on Indo-European culture. Dumezil's theories have not been
accepted by everybody, but even if one disagrees with him, they still make
interesting and stimulating reading.

Here are a few of his titles:

G. Dumezil (1952). Les dieux des indo-europeens. Paris.

Georges Dumezil (1954). Rituels indo-europeens a Rome. Paris.

Georges Dumezil (1959). Le rex et les flamines maiores. La regalita sacra.
Leiden, E. J. Brill.

Georges Dumezil (1974). La religion romaine archaique. Paris, 2 ed..

Georges Dumezil (1968). Mythe et Epopee. L'ideologie des trois fonctions
dans les epopees des peuples indo-europeens. Paris, Gallimard. 5 ed.. 2

A comprehensive survey of Dumezilian ideas is given in

C. Scott Littleton (1982). The New Comparative Mythology. An
Anthropological Assessment of the Theories of Georges Dumezil. Berkeley,
Los Angeles, London, University of California Press. 319 pages.

The following article might also be of interest:

Emily B. Lyle (1982). "Dumezil's Three Functions and Indo-European Cosmic
Structure." History of Religions,  22(1): 25-44.

Any other references to this exciting theme out there?

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Lars Martin Fosse
Research Fellow
Department of East European
and Oriental Studies
P. O. Box 1030, Blindern
N-0315 OSLO Norway

Tel: +47 22 85 68 48
Fax: +47 22 85 41 40

E-mail: l.m.fosse at

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