Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

68008Re: Proto-Indo-European religion

Expand Messages
  • Slag
    Sep 4, 2011
      --- In cybalist@yahoogroups.com, "cafaristeir" <cafaristeir@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hi Slag !
      >
      > Why do you link Dumézil with "Catholic Fascism" ? This is not true.
      > Because he was a free-mason, he was even banished from the university in 1941 by the pro-German Pétain government. He had a far-right friend, Pierre Gaxotte, but this one was known for being against the German occupation !
      >
      > Olivier

      The reason I think Dumézil was a Catholic Fascist is because his arguments are recognizable as Catholic Fascism while there is no linguistic basis for them.

      The specific argument that society is inevitably divided into three classes was made by Thomas Aquinas who is thought of as a great thinker by the Roman Catholic Church. But it's not just a theory, it was very conspicuous in history from various events, such as the coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III in 800 CE, and by the interdiction of Henry II of England in 1174, which resulted in a de facto acknowledgment of the ultimate power of the Papacy over the kings of Europe. It's a power play of course and the RCC wanted to have ultimate power over kings and warriors (and leave them to control the lower and larger class). This situation held in western Europe until the invention of the printing press and the Protestant Reformation, which of course was as much about who got to tax farmers and choose the king as it was about religion.

      The argument is presented affirmatively by modern Indo-European linguists, such as Mallory and Adams, "A comparison of social institutions among the different Indo-European traditions from India to western Europe reveals a recurrent pattern of three social 'estates'; priests, warriors and herder-cultivators, a social-ideological system that continued into the Middle Ages where we find the same system of oratores, bellatores, and laboratores..." (Oxford Introduction, p. 429). Mallory and Adams at least admit that there is no linguistic basis for it and that it seems unlikely among the Proto-Indo-Europeans, given the simplicity of their society.

      It is also accepted by a number of other authors that publish in the Journal of Indo-European Linguistics and this is despite the fact that even Dumézil admits he can't prove his own argument. For example, he says, referring to his own research in support of the tripartite division of society, especially concerning evidence for any gods that would be deifications of the Third Function:

      "After 30 years there is a disequilibrium in the results" and further, "Thus though the insights gained through the comparative study of the twin gods and heroes [representing in his mind the Third Function]... no general structure has yet appeared and one may doubt whether the future will disclose one" p. ix-x in The Destiny of the Warrior.

      That's a rather confused quote, but it was the clearest statement I could find on the subject. The "twin gods" refer to the Horse Twins (Asvins), and he has tried to argue that they represent the Third Function which did not have the same status when it came to offerings in the Rig Veda. But his conclusion is that he cannot find any deity representing the Third Function that is general to the Indo-Europeans, and which presumably would be reconstructable to Proto-Indo-European. Note also that he is referring to a "comparative study", although his arguments have been applied to the society of the Indo-European speaking people as a whole. In fact, Dumézil and his followers almost never use linguistic arguments (e.g. arguments based on historical phonology), instead they use arguments based on comparative studies in which they pick and choose motifs with no criteria for examining their relevance. Dumézil is here admitting that he can't prove his own argument, which only has three parts, and it seems to be the "threeness" of it that he is so concerned with. Many authors have pointed to the Indian caste system as corroborating an Indo-European class system but it has 4 castes (or more). A comparative study that has only two points in common, and those are not very convincing, is a poor argument.

      It's hard to prove a negative of course because it more or less requires that one search everywhere to prove that the evidence is nowhere. But this chart at
      http://faculty.oxy.edu/yokatta/dumezil.paradigm.htm
      or faculty.oxy.edu/yokatta/dumezil.paradigm.htm
      whichever link works, goes a long way toward demonstrating the lack of evidence for the theory. It represents a set of concordances that are supposed to align various gods/clans/whatnot according to the trifunctional division.

      In addition to the three functions it also has a "light" and "dark" aspect which I understand to be a contribution from the Levi-Strauss school of psychological Structuralism. This chart is a confused wreck. Leaving aside repetitions, there are hardly any linguistic cognates in the whole chart. Noticeable are Zeus/Jupiter/Tyr which are generally accepted (but have no "priestly" qualities) and Mars/Maruts and possibly Ares which are arguable. The Asvins and Quirinus in the Third Function might be cognates, but I'm not sure Dumézil recognized that. Harvatat and Sarasavati are also cognates but they are basically dialect variations, so that doesn't prove anything as far as Proto-Indo-European goes. The Brahmins and Flamens (priests as a "social" group) in the First Function were believed to be cognate by Dumézil but this is now discounted. That he lists priests in the First Function is significant, because the point of this chart is apparently to try to prove that the priests should have authority over other classes in society, including the warriors and serfs. Most of the other "social" names in the first function group also have a religious connection (Druids, hieropoioi and athravani) though they often don't constitute a religious "class." Neither the Greeks, Romans or Germans had a priestly class. However Dumézil also argues that the First Function has sovereignty, e.g. royal power, or that it is a Sacred Kingship. In fact the story keeps changing and that's significant too. Although there are such things as Sacred Kings, they generally do not wield political or military power. Most actual kings are or were military generals and their power, at least traditionally stems from their high status within the military. This is rather in conflict with sacred status and the many obligations of full time priests which do not allow for military readiness and capability. I think Dumézil tried to finesse this by arguing that the First Function had a dual status (e.g. Mitra-Varuna), while "sovereignty" might be invested in both the first and second functions but no matter how flexible his use of data, they never really fit his argument.

      Speaking of repetitions, Romulus and Remus and Hadingus appear in all three groups on this chart. If the three classifications of society are so distinctive and important that they can be reconstructed back to PIE or are part of the basic mentality of Indo-Europeans, why do some gods/heroes appear in all three functions? And Hadingus is a reversed Euhemerization (not quite legendary and not quite historicized) version of Odin which I think Dumézil recognized, so given that Hadingus appears in all three categories, why doesn't Odin?

      Still this type of scheme with the light/dark divisions is apparently spoken of approvingly by Mallory and Adams in the Oxford Introduction, p. 431, where they say: "Nevertheless refinements of the Dumézilian system which distinguish between opposites with the same function, e.g. the protective but also destructive aspects of the Second Function, indicate where a structural approach may also be useful."

      Stefan Arvidsson ascribes to Momigliano and Ginzburg the flat statement that the arguments fit with fascism when he says: "Momigliano and Ginzburg argued that Dumézil's theory about the Indo-European tripartite ideology had more to do with the Fascism of the 1930's than with prehistoric religions. According to the two historians, Dumézil's work amounted to an attempt to confer historical background and legitimacy on the Fascist dream of a society that would be harmoniously integrated and, at the same time, hierarchically divided into leaders, soldiers, and workers," p. 2, Aryan Idols.

      Momigliano is right that it's fascism, but it isn't "leaders" that Dumézil wants in his first function, it's priests. It's these attempts to prove that members of the First Function were priests with sovereignty that make me think he was a Catholic Fascist. In 1929, there was a rapprochement between the Catholic Church (represented by the Pope), and the government of Italy, represented by Mussolini. As I understand it (this is not my field) Mussolini was not a Catholic Fascist, because Il Duce wanted to be Il Duce. But the Pope wanted to be Il Duce too, and if he couldn't, he would settle for being the skirt behind the throne. I think that's the source of Dumézil's constant dithering between whether sovereignty is invested in the First Function or the Second Function or both, while in real life there really is only one king at a time.

      Dumézil's theories never add up to a coherent system, much less a linguistic argument. The fact that he seems to be looking for anything to fit his trifunctional view with a priesthood at the top of a rigid hierarchical society makes it look like he came in with the Catholic theology and set about trying to prove it. I don't find his arguments convincing with regard to Proto-Indo-European society or religion.

      Sources:
      The Destiny of the Warrior by G. Dumézil, transl. by Alf Hiltebeitel, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1969.

      Aryan Idols by Stefan Arvidsson transl. by Sonia Wichmann, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2006

      Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World by J. P. Mallory and Douglas G. Adams, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006.

      On Pagans, Jews and Christians by Arnaldo Momigliano, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown Conn. 1987.

      > --- In cybalist@yahoogroups.com, "Slag" <slag310@> wrote:
      > >
      > > I just got around to updating my webpage at
      > > http://pierce.yolasite.com/pierintro
      > > or pierce.yolasite.com/pierintro
      > > This is the Introduction for the subject of Proto-Indo-European religion and I realized I had not posted anything about it here in a while. I have opened quite a few pages since the last time I have sent a note.
      > >
      > > Slag310
    • Show all 8 messages in this topic