LibraryThing Review. User Review – – LibraryThing. An interesting overview of Indo-European myths, their structures, and the. JAAN PUHVEL: Comparative Mythology. Pp. x+; 17 white figures. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins U. Press, Paper,?9. A paperback of Puhvel’s . Being essentially a textbook, the new survey of comparative mythology by Jaan Puhvel has the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of.

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An article or two giving a more coherent view of trends in the discipline of history of religions today would have been welcome-especially one written in the Werblowsky tradition. Mmythology the volume does well what it sets vomparative to do: Zwi Werblowsky by gathering studies from scholars all over the world on the theme of gilgul in the history of religions. The studies are interesting, instructive, and thought provoking. In reading this volume one is taken on a tour of the whole field of the history of religions today, with its various problems and its many possibilities.

Johns Hopkins University Press, Being essentially a textbook, the new survey of comparative mythology by Jaan Puhvel has the advantages and disadvantages of this kind puvhel work.

It is well-planned, eclectic, and goal-oriented; characterized by a remarkable clar- ity of exposition, it carefully holds the precarious balance between text and interpretation in such a way that the student is not plunged compadative the quagmire of conflicting exegeses of the myths, but led, as it were, by Ariadne’s thread through the maze of difficult explanations to the coherent solution proposed by the author.

Comparative Mythology

On the other hand, while the last five chapters are devoted to such “themes” as “God and warrior,” “horse and ruler,” “fire in water,” and so on, there is ckmparative scant discussion of such important issues as cosmology or shamanism and hardly any mention of figures like the “divine smith” and the like.

The contrast between this conservatively prudent survey and the by far more interpretative work on La religion cosmique des Indo-Europiens by Jean Haudry Milan: Les Belles Lettres,also based on the DumCzilian jawn, is therefore particularly striking.

Being apparently geared to a monolingual English academic audience, the book refers almost exclusively to works in English in its rather limited bibliographical references, presented as “recommended reading,” though it is obvious from the text that the author is using without quoting them specifically a wide array of sources, most of which the student can comparatife easily in C.

Scott Littleton’s listings in the 3d ed. University of California Press,pp.

With Puhvel’s apparent familiarity with the literature developed by the French school around Georges Dumkzil, it is rather surprising not to see the problem of Vedic cosmogony discussed in the light of Jean Varenne’s Cosmogonies vkdiques Paris: Les Belles Lettres; Milan: Riima et le Ramiiyana Paris: On the other hand, the Dumkzilian approach to the discussion of Zoro- astrianism entails a benign neglect of Zurvanism pp.

A Zoroastrian Dilemma New York: Manchester University Press,he apparently does not take into account her divergent views on such problems as the pre-Zoroastrian religion of ancient Iran cf. Mary Boyce, A History of Zoroastrianism, vol. Der Nahe und der Mittlere Osten, 8.

Also surprising is the omission of S. Textes et Mkmoires 8 [Leiden: Brill, in the bibliographical references. While the followers of Dumkzil readily acknowledge that a tripartite model based on social hierarchization is less transparent in Greek religion than in the organization of the Vedic or Roman pantheon, they usually fail to emphasize the cosmic character of Indo-European religion, as Eliade did in History of Religious Ideas, vol.


University of Chicago Press,p. Centre Georges Pompidou, Pandora,pp. The interpretation of Gaulish gods is difficult: On the altar of the nautae Parisiaci, Esus appears as a bearded woodcutter, wielding an ax to fell a tree, next to another panel depicting Tarvos Trigaranus, “Bull with three cranes,” whereas a relief from Trier shows a woodcutter axing down a tree on top of whose foliage a bull’s head and three sizable birds can be seen.

With DumCzil, Puhvel believes that this presumably points to a myth similar to Indra’s killing of his tricephalic foe TriSiras, whose three heads, severed by a carpenter after the slaying, released several kinds of birds. But as long as we cannot identify the myth to which our iconography alludes, it remains difficult to decide which one of the scholiasts of Lucan is right when one tells us that Esus represents Mars because, to placate him, “a man is hanged on a tree” until ultimately dismembered, whereas the other equates Esus with Mercury because he is worshiped by traders.

The etymology of the name Esus does not help cf. Presses Universitaires de France,p. Guyonvarc’h La civilisation celtique [Rennes: As he focuses on myth, Puhvel has to concentrate essentially on the Scandinavian sources when dealing with the Germanic world since the non- Scandinavian materials on Germanic religion hardly supply any detail about myths.

Due to their late date and the new sociocultural context in which they have been written down, the northern texts are, however, not always as reliable reflections of archaic situations as DumCzil and Puhvel would like us to believe: Also, although a Saxon god Irmin p.

The name of this cultic pillar, destroyed by Charlemagne, does not designate a column dedicated to Irmin, but what Rudolf of Fulda described as a universalis columna quasi sustinens omnia-a cosmic pillar, an axis mundi cf. Magic plays an important role in the Scandinavian world, and two differ- ent types of practices are carefully distinguished, namely, I galdr, essentially incantations, oral spells, and the like, and 2 seidr, which Freyja teaches Odin-a kind of shamanistic skill that enables him to journey to distant countries in another shape while his body remains in catalepsy cf.

The author tries to solve the ever vexing problem of gender contrast between the Terra Mater Nerthus of Tacitus and the Scandinavian god Njqrbr by reconstructing a primordial Germanic couple in which the little- known ski- and bow-god Ullr is merged with the “amazonal mountain lass” Skabi, whose name would then be a masculine, meaning “injurer” p.

The only thing he has in common with Skadi is that they both ski and use bows! Anyhow, it is very difficult to assess where Ullr belongs in the DumCzilian trifunctional system on the basis of the scanty information we have about him: On the distinction between seidr and galdr, see the article on “Magic” by Stephen E. Flowers, forthcoming in Garland’s Encyclopedia of Medieval Scandinavia in press.

Mytohlogy sur la representation de la magie islandaise et de ses agents dans les sources litteraires norroises” Ph. As he must lack no particle of dignity they called him Odin too. As he generally follows Dumezil in the treatment of Germanic topics, Puhvel sometimes espouses some of his rather controversial views, for ex- ample, the reference to the Welsh mermaid Gwenhudwy p.

Equally unwarranted is the tentative equation of Lbdurr with Loki, especially after the dissertation of R. The section on Baltic and Slavic myth makes excellent use of the limited information to place it into the proper perspective of the Indo-European heritage and the strong Germanic impact.


Jaan Puhvel

To the set of cognates of the name of the thunder-god Slavic Perunb, Baltic perkhasPuhvel p. Much less attractive, however, is his tentative association p. Myhhology last chapters briefly discuss important themes, mostly connected with the upper two DumCzilian functions: Hilda Ellis Davidson Cambridge: University of Texas Press, ,pp. The last two topics refer to subjects Puhvel has tackled previously in his articles: The latter, presented here pp.

Uni- versity of California Press,pp. The interpretation of the Tacitean Tuisto as the “twin” is, however, disputable: Linguistic and Philological Investigations, ed. Bela Brogyanyi and Thomas Krommelbein [Amsterdam: Jaan Puhvel has given us an excellent synopsis of the Indo- European mythological heritage as it ymthology reflected by the traditions of the various Indo-European peoples puhvep whom we have relevant documentation.

He has done so in a DumCzilian perspective, but with a distinct personal touch and with stimulating new approaches. Some of his views, as could be expected in such a broad synthesis, may raise some discussion, and it may be deplored that he did not provide more notes and bibliography to back up his argument. But, on the whole, it is certainly a work that will leave its coomparative on the study of Indo-European myth, and I can only recommend it most warmly to any reader interested in this topic.

Review of Comparative Mythology | Jaan Puhvel | Reviewed by Edgar C. Polomé | Academic Room

The focus of Puhvel’s book is to provide a broad monogenetic picture of mythology in Indo-European I-E societies with due reference to the diffusion of Near Eastern themes, in particular creation myths. In this context, his interest remains, therefore, rather confined to the background of the Hurrian- Hittite myth of Kumarbi and mmythology Hesiod’s Theogony, and their distant echo in the Iranian Book of Kings of Firdausi.

Puhvel then examines briefly the reasons why the Indo-European religious heritage has been best preserved in India and in Rome and to a lesser degree in Iran, on account of the Zoroastrian reform, and in Insular Celtic where the impact of Christianity has affected the late sources, whereas the Eddic literature in Scandinavia appears to have largely escaped this bias.

He rightly stresses the role of a strongly organized priesthood like the brahmins, the flamens, and the druids in the preservation of age-old traditions. SAL [“storm-god of the meadow”] and could be compared with Comparatie. Hermann Reichert and Giinter Zimmermann [Vienna, Directories Courses Discussion Groups. Review of Comparative Mythology by Jaan Puhvel. Set your country here to find out accurate prices. United States United Kingdom Canada.

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