Filliozat, Dumezil + the IE connection

Julia Leslie jl6 at
Wed May 1 12:26:42 UTC 1996

Lars Martin Fosse wrote: 
>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. ...
>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.

May I add a recent article (March 1995) by Nick Allen in which he 
draws on the work of Dumezil to compare two versions -- one Greek, 
one Indian -- of a hero's journey? 

[My summary:]

 In the Odyssey, the hero's wanderings lead to four encounters 
with female figures in addition to his relationship with Penelope, 
his legal wife. In the Mahabharata, the exiled Arjuna's pilgrimage 
to the holy bathing places of India leads to a parallel set of four 
encounters with females in addition to his relationship with 
Draupadi, his primary wife. After pointing out the major 
differences between the two narratives, Allen proceeds 
to tease out in precise detail the distribution of similarities.

These parallels are interesting enough, but Allen goes further. 
Returning to Dumezil's three classical 'functions' or 'clusters of 
ideas', he outlines his own proposition of a fourth functiion that 
can be either positively valued (hence 'transcendent') or negatively 
valued (hence the associations with death, destruction, demons and so 

He then turns to the eight types of marriage listed in the Manusmrti, 
with svayamvara as the ninth, reducing the nine to five 'modes of 
marriage'. As he demonstrates, these five reflect the classical three 
'functions' together with both a positive and a negative value for 
the fourth. Finally, he compares these five 'modes of marriage' 
with the various relationships of the two epic heroes.

Allen concludes that the Proto-Indo-European corpus of oral 
narratives includes the voyage of a hero who temporarily leaves his 
wife and contracts four different types of liaison. He argues further 
that, of the Greek and Sanskrit versions derived from this, the 
Sanskrit is likely to be the more conservative, the one closer to 
their common Indo-European heritage. I would add that, for studies of 
Indian culture, this mythical gloss on the classical forms of 
marriage is an exciting addition to the study of the 'laws' of Manu.

The above article is included in MYTH AND MYTHMAKING: 
edited by Julia Leslie (London: Curzon, 1995) 
in the SOAS Collected Papers on South Asia series, no.12.

Julia Leslie: Introduction
N.J. Allen: The Hero's Five Relationship: A Proto-Indo-European Story
Laurie L. Patton: The Fate of the Female Rsi: Portraits of Lopamudra
Renate Sohnen-Thieme: The Ahalya Story through the Ages
Lynn Thomas: Parasurama and Time
Julia Leslie: Menstruation Myths
Peter G. Friedlander: The Struggle for Salvation in the Hagiographies 
of Ravidas
Indira Chowdhury-Sengupta: Reconstructing Spiritual Heroism: The 
Evolution of the Swadeshi Sannyasi in Bengal
Kathleen Taylor: Arthur Avalon: The Creation of a Legendary 
Anyone interested in brief summaries of any/all of the other articles 
in the volume, just let me know.

Julia Leslie

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