Harappan Euhemerus

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Sun Dec 17 06:52:47 UTC 2000

Steve Farmer wrote:
>Euhemerism is simply the technical name for what Shendge is
>doing. The term refers back to the work of Euhemerus, fl. ca. 300
>BCE, whose _Sacred History_ suggested that all ancient myths
>could be traced back to specific historical events.

About 100 years ago a certain Fritz Bonsens (sic!, a.k.a. Alfred
Hillebrandt) attacked, in a pamphlet called "Die Goetter des Rgveda. Eine
euhemeristische Skizze", the method of explaining the mythology of the Veda
as  "nature mythology",  --  a method begun by M. Mueller, Roth, Kuhn,
Bergaigne, Bloomfield... and Hillebrandt.

Bonsens therefore begins:

"Once upon a time, there was Indra, a great Raajan, just as there still are
Raajans in India today",

and ends with

"The Rgveda does not know of phenomena of nature that have become gods, it
knows only of human beings."

For the full text of the parody (people then still had a sense of humor),
see Hillebrandt's Kleine Schriften, ed. RP Das, Wiesbaden: Steiner 1987.

Then read Shendge. Then read W. Rau's tongue in cheek, matter of fact book
review in ZDMG :  "Rudra, the leader of the alpine brigade, was also in
charge of house numbers...."

As Bonsens said : long live Euhemerus!

Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138, USA

ph. 1- 617-496 2990 (also messages)
home page:  http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm

Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:  http://www1.shore.net/~india/ejvs

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