SV: method of dating RV, III

George Thompson thompson at JLC.NET
Sat Oct 31 02:59:23 UTC 1998


I don't understand this at all. What do you mean by "two different metrical
systems"? As far as I can tell, Gathic metrics seems more primitive than
Vedic, since it appears to involve little more than syllable counting,
whereas Vedic metrics is closer to the quantitative metrics of archaic
Greek poetry, with its more or less regular alternations between long and
short syllables. Otherwise, the two seem very similar, in terms of line

You find two basic line lengths in Gathic Avestan: 7 to 9 syllable lines
[comparable to Vedic gAyatrI-anuSTubh]; and a longer line consisting of 4 +
7 [comparable to Vedic triSTubh-jagatI].

Admittedly, the stanza shape is rather different in Gathic than in Vedic.
The shorter Gathic line [of 7 to 9 syllables] is organized into couplets
[hemistichs] which are themselves grouped into triplets [so that we
typically get Gathic stanzas of this type consisting of three such couplets
of 7 and then 9 syllables]. The longer Gathic line [of 4 + 7 syllables] is
typically clustered into stanzas of five such lines.

Admittedly, these stanzas don't look very Vedic. But the fundamental unit
is  the line, which is obviously very similar to the standard Vedic line
[the short line consisting of 8 syllables, the long one consisting of 11 or
12]. I think it is wrong to consider the stanza the basic unit of measure.

In short, to my knowledge the 'conventional wisdom' recognizes these two
metrical systems as closely related.

And what is it that seems misleading about the term "Indo-Iranian" in this


>Regarding the statement that the rgveda and the avesta represent
>relics of a common Indian & Iranian tradition (that of the "second
>Aryan homeland" to use Y.Vassilkov's phrase -- I'd find the term
>Indo-Iranian misleading here) what is the conventional wisdom
>as to why they ended up in two different metrical systems? Some
>things were shared (poetic formulary, religious concepts) while
>others were not (metrical forms), but why?

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list