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353 (Jul. - Sep., 1976), pp. 345-350 Published by: American Folklore SocietyAmerican Folklore Society Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/539450 Accessed: 14/10/2010 13:55
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" Perhapsthen with Poets as well as well as survival. $9. her scholarship stands as an example of how future curatorsmay fulfill their duties with honor. and extinct folk arts of man. and its capacity for passion sometimes woven into great art.accounts for feelings and external events by mechanicaldeterminismor the accident of statistical probability.bibliography. it contains brief endnotes to some of the chapters and two new chapters which discuss Dumezil's writings since 1966 and those of his followers and critics.95) Gods of the Ancient Northmen. Scott Littleton and Udo Strutynski. Stanford University Stanford. folk poetry. The new edition is not in any sense rewritten.bibliographical The original 1966 edition of Littleton's book was for some reasonnot reviewedin these pages. Pp. (Berkeley: Universityof Dumezil. Georges xv California 1973. By Georges Dumezil.In the Epitaphios for Adonis. Littleton.Introductionby C. 1973) and Myth in Indo-European Antiquity edited by GeraldJames Larson. No. Kythereiaasks Adonis for a final kiss before his lips are cold. 2 notes. though. A technological society can hardly stand any one of these. certainlynot all three.index. its love for intimate interpersonalexchange. for Alexiou and those like her will mourn the passing of sensitivity. Publications of the UCLA Center for the Study of ComparativeFolklore and Mythology. Well. There are other features which bear on the coming death of survivals. and Jaan Puhvel (Berkeley. 2 prefaces. And as long as such treasuresexist there will be survivals.author'spreface. and the ceremonials which embracethese. It is said that when Duke Ellington lay dying (May 1974) his final words were "kiss. editor's preface. not quite. (Berkeley: Universityof CaliforniaPress. It is unfortunate. then there shall be no laments. xlvi + 157. 3.California RICHARD andEVABLUM Mythology: Analysis and Classification Dumizil: A Review Essay The New Comparative Mythology: An AnthropologicalAssessmentof the Theoriesof Revised edition.for that which any peasant economy seeks for the relief of arduouswork and industrialization avoidable pain does not readily abide the Greek national character with its personalizing of abstractions. + 271. that the new edition could not have been delayed somewhatlongerin order to contain a discussion of two very important recent books. Scott Littleton. Dumezil's Mythe et Epopee III (Paris. $11.00) introductions. By C. Pp. and dispatches his elders at age fifty to the recreationalcoffin of a retirement community so that he need not see them age let alone die. 1973. passion. artists as well as scholarsthere is hope for regeneration as scholarsshould readAlexiou.BOOK REVIEWS 345 irrational. Her analysishas enriched that museum. One is gratefulthen that Alexiou Like zoos are for endangered has collected these materialsbefore all have disappeared. kiss. Edited and translatedby EinarHaugen. in which are stored the endangered the folklore become museums publications species. Rather. . 1974). Press. index.
myths. the developmental (1938-1949). Littleton offers a number of more specific criticisms. and magico-religious tripartite ideology in social structures. and controversialwriter of the twentieth century on comparativeIndo-European mythology. Dumezil'sthought is divided into four phases: the formative (1924-1938).To what model uniquely Indo-European? extent is tripartitiontruly an ideology rather than a single theme amongothers?And how much of the Indo-Europeandata does the tripartitemodel really explain? Since the system is still being developed. which other critics have often posed. To what extent are data selected by DIumezil because they fit his preconceived model? To what extent are data interpretedin order to fit the model?And to what extent is the To these we might add two other questions.Among the variousIndo-European speakingpeoples he detects a of and juridical sovereignty. the florescent (1949-1966). fecundity represented Dumezil believes that this ideology characterizedproto-Indo-European society and survived in part among its various offshoots.346 BOOK REVIEWS Georges Dumezil has undoubtedly been the most original. personalappearancesin America. 66-67). in which Dumezil has tried to show how the characterof different branchesof Indo-European myth modified the inheritedsystem to from historical was transferred and how the system legend.and the phase de bilan (1966-present). and other cultural institutions. He also believes that this ideology is uniquely Indo-Europeanand is found elsewhere only as the result of culturecontact. Footnote referencesand a lengthy bibliographyhelp to alleviatethis problem.he takes a sociological approachto myth. Littleton's book is very useful as a concise overview of the development of Dumezil's thought. Following a brief overview of the tripartite system and an introduction to Indo-European studies and mythological theory comes the heart of the book. He represents Dumezil and his critics fairly and is careful to separate his own ideas from theirs. myth This is not the place to offer a critiqueof Dumezil'ssystem. A small criticism is that sometimes he gives only Dumezil's conclusions on a particularproblem without summarizingthe evidence on which they are based.in which the tripartiteideology was first outlined. its true test will be whether it can be reconciled with other systems and approacheswhich have shown themselvesto be useful for explainingthe data. and Littleton's book. in which Dumizil and his followers filled in the outlines of the system and discovered important secondary themes such as the three sins of the warriorand the conflict between the first two parts of the system and the third. in which the influence of Frazer and Mannhardt was apparent. warrior force. for example. following the school of Emile Durkheimin viewingthe charactersand actions of myths as "collective representations"of important societal forces and structures.At the end there is an assessmentof all this in the light of anthropologicaltheory.noting.Basically. although in all fairnessit must be stated that the great detail involved in many of the argumentswould take many pages even to summarize. but until recent translationsof some of his works."and no alternativesystem has been developed that explains as much.Suffice it to say that for many scholarsthe system "works. Littleton himself raises three important questions (pp. influenced by the school of Durkheimand Mauss. prolific. a discussionof Dumezil'swritingsand those of his followers and critics. that the "fecundity" portion of the system sometimes tends to become a "catch-all"category . these questions cannot yet be answered. he was little known to Americanscholars. But since Dumezil's system is hardlylikely to prove capable of explaining everything in Indo-Europeanmythology.
232-233). Some of Littleton's attempts to contribute to the development of the tripartite system and to give it a strongeranthropologicalbase seem ill founded. like the Finns. Alfonso Ortiz. nomadic hunting and gatheringpeople over a sedentaryNeolithic people (pp. Littleton reveals himself to be somewhat of a Euhemerist in suggesting. 228-230) and speculates that other ideologies based in language families might someday be discovered (pp. He also leaps too readily to Dumezil'sdefense in his long-raging controversy with PaulThieme over the meaningof arya-and related terms. In fact. he sometimes proves too eager to support some of the weaker arguments of Dumezil and his followers. 165. 164-165). 13. Weknow. Ruth Benedict.BOOK REVIEWS 347 and needs to be more precisely defined (p. that the Indo-Europeanpeoples practiced ultimogeniture (pp. on the basis of mythic and legendary evidence. as is his contention that the kind of universallyknown binary oppositions in which Loki is involvedhave "a flavor that is generally Indo-European"(p.much less to launch successful wars against them. For example. 164). On the other hand. despite the fact that they are membersof three different languagefamilies. when the evidencefrom the practicesof real people suggests. and Littleton's proposal of a connection with Greekaptoros does nothing to resolvethe problem (pp. 183).Littleton uncritically accepts Gerschel's simplistic correlation of the motifs of three magical tripartitesystem (p. however. 77). Why should this ideology. . parts of this ideology have spread to the neighboring Navahos. Elsie Clews Parsons. The work of MelvilleHerskovitsand others has shown that Afro-Americanpeoples could retain significant aspects of African ideological systems while speaking languages that are classifiable as IndoEuropean.and Basques without any significanteffects on their languagestructure?If little evidence for such borrowingshas been found so far.is controverted by the fact that almost all of the historical and ethnographicevidence shows that huntingand gatheringsocieties lack the degreeof political organizationand integration necessaryto withstand the attacks of food producers. Hungarians. be borrowed by non-Indo-European speaking peoples. who are membersof yet anotherlanguagefamily. 89). 86) has little to recommend it except a myth which Littleton himself has shown not to be Indo-European in origin. Similarly his comparison of the ScandinavianLoki to the Roman Tarpeiais without foundation. His conjecturethat the proto-Indo-European communitywas formed by the victory of a warlike. in turn. 219).the opposite. advancedagain on the basis of myths and legends." even though Dumezil himself has often based his arguments largely on linguistic comparisons.if anything. Littleton attempts without much success to correlate IndoEuropeanlanguagestructurewith the tripartiteideology (pp. 186-192). These ideas seem to me to bearon the weakest aspect of Dumezil'sthought. it is probablybecause most Indo-European specialistshave not searched for it. be uniquely the possessionof peoples whose languages are genetically related? Could it not have been adopted by the proto-Indo-Europeansfrom a neighboring society? And could it not. and he objects in modern legends with the Indo-European to gives guardedsupport Toporov's unsystematicspeculationson the Slavic pantheon (p. he printswithout comment (p. or any other ideology.from other cases that language structurehas no determiningeffect on ideology. His suggestion that the Greekgod Ouranosservesas a "dieu premier"like the RomanJanusand Indic Vayu (p. and others have also amassedconsiderableevidencewhich suggeststhat the Pueblo Indianssharea common ideology. 144) Dumezil'sstatement that Max Miiller'sZeus = Dyaus equation "n'enseignepresque rien.
let us hope that it is truly "revised" as well as expanded. that Dumezil's ideas have received anywhere from guarded to enthusiastic support from such eminent Germanists as Wikander. Strutynski puts Dumezil's book into the context of research on folk narrative in general and Germanic mythology and religion in particular. but were the Scandinavians themselves more affected by the details? These problems and others make this book perhaps not the best place for the reader to begin immersing himself in Dumezil's thought. 100-139 the heading describing Dumezil's florescent phase reads consistently "1949 to the Present" instead of "1949-1966. is by no means a handbook of Scandinavian mythology but is instead a prop for the tripartite system. To this have been added translations of four articles by Dumezil on Scandinavian subjects published between 1952 and 1959. then.348 BOOKREVIEWS Some serious printing errors diminish the attractiveness of Littleton's otherwise useful book. which is reviewed above. however. the latent system or the manifest mass of often contradictory details? The system may appear more important to us. and on pp. Consequently. Ward. 128 for Sa'icov) and 139 (y'vce6ts for Yervers). Polome. or finally. and Davidson. He also minimizes the differences between the Scandinavian and continental Germanic religions. Dumezil insists that Scandinavian mythology was basically Indo-European and. He reviews the development of Dumezil's thinking on Germanic matters and the opinions of Germanists on his work. The translations are generally readable and accurate. as it is applied to one branch of Indo-European mythology. tripartite in its organization. Gods of the Ancient Northmen brings us directly in contact with the thought of Dumezil himself. of course. some waxing and others waning. The book is a translation by Einar Haugen's students of a 1959 revision of a work which originally appeared in 1939. It should be noted. Whether it is a strong or a weak prop can be answered only when the system is fully developed. Littleton basically summarizes his book. while on p. Turville-Petre. although a printer unfamiliar with Greek and an incautious proofreader have allowed some errors to creep in on pp. Dumezil has done a great service (Sa`cyv for the reader by bringing his bibliographical notes up to date (1973). which is more important. This book. Do they explain the myths and religion as they were felt by living people some 1. 77-78 and 98 there are several repeated lines of text. who do not fit so neatly into the tripartite system. defending Dumezil against some of his critics. On pp. rather than as a collection of competing or geographically distinct cults. Betz. Also he fails to discuss the place of such "minor" gods as Ullr and Frigg. then. despite generally a difference of a millennium in the dates of our sources. Haugen. Dumezil views the Aesir-Vanir distinction as the fundamental problem of . Dumezil will also have to face the question of whether his elegant interpretations of certain myths explain the most important aspects of the Scandinavian and continental Germanic religious systems. In typical Durkheimian and Malinowskian fashion Dumezil sees the Scandinavian religious system as an integrated. the Scandinavian. On p. however. for he is apt to come away with an unduly harsh opinion. partially alleviate this problem. smoothly functioning whole." If there is ever a third edition of this book. 109 there are two lines missing and replaced with two others.000 years ago. The introductions by Littleton and Strutynski. he is able to adduce continental evidence to buttress otherwise weak arguments based on the Scandinavian data. 213 there is a footnote missing. de Vries.
while Thor represents the second (warlike) level. Frey. he identifies Njord with the GermanicNerthus mentioned by Tacitus. The warlikeattributesof Odin and Tyr are viewed as the result of the exaggeratedemphasis In essence they are connected respectivelywith placed upon war by the Scandinavians. along with many other such groupingsin other Indo-European Dumezil comparesthe war between the Aesir and Vanirto the Indic conflict between Indra and the Nasatya and the war between the Romans and the Sabines.noting that this pattern may be connected with a warrior'sinitiation rite.BOOK REVIEWS 349 interpretationin Scandinavianmythology.and their epic transformations Vidura and Dhrtarastra. despite the sex changethat this figurewould have had to undergo. The Aesir gods Odin and Tyr represent respectively the magicalandjuridicalaspects of the first (sovereign)level of the tripartitesystem. whose role in Scandinavianreligion is not well attested in our sources. He rejects the "historical"view that sees this as a reflection of a war between two peoples. Frey." In order to that " 'Mars'-Tyr account for the downgrading of Tyr to simply a guarantor of victory. 47) has in practicedescendedto the rankof 'Hercules'-Thor. Dumezil proposes that the god Balder representsthe hope for a return to justice in a future world.) .the Indic Aryamanand Bhaga. The Vanir gods Njord. His identificationof Byggvirwith the barley (following Grundtviget al.particularly Tyr.who has a three-corneredheart. which he theme is views as a historicizedmyth. To the latter he adds the Roman "historical" pairs Romulus/Numa and Horatius Cocles/Mucius Scaevola. with other Indo-European myths and legends of the killing of a triple or tricephalicadversary. Dumezil downplays Thor's many connections with fertility in a not altogether convincing manner.Loki represents the demon and is comparable to Kali and Duryodhana in India. He then in the case of confronts the considerabledifficulties in this interpretation. and Freya with fecundity. In another brilliantcomparisonDumezil correlatesBalderand his slayerHoder with the Roman gods Juventasand Terminus. The four additionalarticleshelp to fill out the system that Dumezil describedin his originalbook. The relationship of this supposedly Indo-Europeanpattern to more recent Europeanlegends and Mirchen as well as to other widespread narrativepatterns pitting culture heroes againstvarious demonic adversaries remainsto be determined. Dumrzil compareshis slaying of the giant Hrungnir. and magical juridical sovereignty. Dumezil comparesthe sovereigngods Odin and Tyr to the Indic Varunaand Mitra and to the Roman Jupiter and Dius Fidius. Mercurius-Mars/Hercules/Isis and Uu6ten/Thunar/Saxnotof the Saxons offer parallelsto the Scandinaviansystem mythologicalsystems. and Freya represent collectively the third (fecundity) level. Yet the strain that their warlike image places upon the tripartite system forces Dumezil to conclude (p. Like many earlierwriters. Sun/Vulcan/Moon noted by Caesar. Insteadhe believesthat the war and reconciliation between the Aesir and Vanir represent an inherited Indo-European ideological pattern brought by the ancestors of the Germanic peoples from the Indo-EuropeanUrheimat. Dumezil also draws a comparison between Balderand Loki and the Ossetic legendarycharacters Sozryko and Syrdon. Thor is viewed as a typical figureof the warriorlevel. The isolation of this important Indo-European probably one of the most brilliant comparisons made in Dumezil's long and distinguishedcareer. Continental Germanic triads of noted by Tacitus. according to Dumezil. This is done so that he can highlight the obvious connections of the Vanir gods Njord.
which might easily escape the notice of a student of the . where Odin and Thor often have warrior and fertility attributes respectively.The three Indo-European social classes. and one of the few serious efforts to grapple with the subject of the folk-religiousnorms of nineteenth century America. This glaringfact has often been used as a criticismagainsthis whole tripartite system. and Nobleman). Dumrzil's interpretation of this myth is quite interesting if somewhat tortuous. (Knoxville: University of TennesseePress.50) This maddeninglittle volume is at once one of the best. $7. In a second articleDumezil tackles the problemof the lack of a priestly class among the Germanicpeoples. on the Indo-European ideology or the Scandinavian reality.It and Littleton's book should guarantee a resurgence of interest among Americans in comparative IndoEuropeanmythology. seem to have been downgradedamong the Germanic peoples.as typified and codified by the camp-meeting. is the most speculative and least tidy of those printed in this book. In this latter respect Heimdall is comparable to the Indic god Dyauh and his epic incarnation Bhisma. Dumezil does not find such a social class anywhere. though. is highly recommended. especially the more recent secondary sources. one of the worst.Song and Society And They All Sang Halleluja.Despite their demotion.but he does cite a myth in which the god Heimdallbegets three sons namedThraell. California DAVIDEVANS Folksong.350 BOOK REVIEWS and Beyla with the bee will mainly be of interest to Scandinavianspecialists. By Dickson D. a tendency that can also be seen at the divine level.beer and mead. Heimdallhimself is interpretedas a "dieu premier"like the RomanJanus but more particularlyas a "frame god" who sets things in motion and survivesto their end.which extends from India to the British Isles and from ancient myth to modernfolklore. while Jarl has a son who becomes a magician-king. CaliforniaState University Fullerton. The book as a whole. 1974. This latter trait is compared to the circumstancesof the birth of Bhisma. Jr.This article is a beautiful example of the brillianceof Dumezil'scomparative scholarshipand of the scope of his research. Dumezil has recourse to Welsh folklore about Gwenhudwy to explain Heimdall'sconnection with the ram and the fact that he is describedas the son of nine mothers. Dumezil's final article. then.Karl. Peasant.These two "minor gods" are viewed as representativesof the two important alcoholic beverages. Dumezil assertsthat Byggviris not a Mannhardtian corn-god and that he is unrelatedto Beowulf or the EstonianPeko. but it again raises the question of where the emphasisshould be placed. comparing the fauna associated with the Scandinavian mythological trees Yggdrasil and Laerad with the Vedic one-legged billy-goat and serpent of the deep. Bruce. The book has real strength in its use of sources.and Jarl (=Slave. the three sons of Heimdallretain an association with the three colors characteristicof their original positions in the Indo-European tripartite structure.
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