Horses and chariots again.

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Thu Nov 12 03:09:15 UTC 1998

On Wed, 11 Nov 1998, Vidhyanath K. Rao wrote:

> Anthony's claim that `wegh' meant `convey in a >vehicle<' sounds
> suspect to me. It does not have that specific a meaning in RV. What
> about Hittite, Greek, etc?

The attestation in a great number of IE languages points to a rather old
meaning "to take something (in a vehicle) somewhere" (terminative action),
which has become durative already in (late) Proto-IE and thus made an
s-aorist necessary (Vedic avaaT, subj. aor.  vakS-at; Greek (dial.)
eFekse, Latin vexi, etc.):

Present: Vedic vahati 'drives', Avest. vazaiti 'drives', Greek (dial.)
FeksetO 'must bring', Latin veho 'drive', Old Norse vega 'move, drive'
(plus engl. waggon, etc.), Lithuanian vez^u 'drive'. Old Church Slav.
vezo, (vesti) 'drive', Tocharian B wask, A wAsk 'to move, twitch' (new
formation with -sk'e- present).


> The find of one case of human body and horse head cannot be compared to
> Dadhyanc. The former is a funerary practice while the latter is a myth.
> Surely no one is proposing that Dadhyanc was a real live person and that
> the Asvins did perform the first case of head transplant.

Funerary rituals do not have a connection with local myths? E.g. what
about the injunction against cremation in Christian societies not so long
ago (since you need all of your bones to be resurrected)? Or the various
Hindu practices?

In myth you do not need *real live* persons. -- A transplant of sort -
by horse head - was certainly performed on the Sintastha man after his
death, just as it was done to Dadhyanc, to insure his (mythical) survival
after Indra had cut off his head.

The Sintastha man also has a flute next to his feet - it is in Yama's
realm that the flute is blown (RV/AV)....

> The Sintasha burial
> is a clear case of burying the man's possessions with him, a practice
> found quite widely.

Fine but, please, do not bury me with a horse head, though I, like
everybody, would like to speak/or to hear straight from the horse's
mouth...  especially if it is the secret of the (succesful) ritual, as in
the case of Dadhyanc AatharvaNa.

Michael Witzel                       witzel at
my direct line (also for messages) :  617- 496 2990

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