Comparative Mythology: An Essay
This volume contains an Introductory Preface on Solar Mythology by A. Smythe Palmer; a treatise entitled The Oxford Solar Myth by the Rev. R. F. Littledale; and Max Muller's Comparative Mythology.
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Muller's book makes a very useful philological contribution to the study of comparative mythology. It is a pity that it appears to be out of print currently, since the ways in which mythology and language are linked are fascinating. For example, the Braman cult of the suttee is explained by a simple and deliberate miss-spelling. While the mothers are exhorted in the Rigveda to go first to the altar to pour on oil for the funeral pyre - A rohantu ganayo yonim agre, - the Brahman altered this to to read yonim agneh - the womb of the fire, thus condemning many thousands of widows (vidhava) to a horrible and brutal death. From the Sanskrit, vidhava, which is a compound of the preposition vi - meaning without, and the substantive, dhava, which means man, is derived our word for widow - but this is also represented in the Celtic feadbh, Gothic viduvo, Slav vdova, Old Prussian widdewu and the Latin vidua - among others. An obvious conclusion from this is that the English concoction 'widower' is completely meaningless.
This sort of effortless thread following is part of the charm of Comparative Mythology. As a 'read', it is to be recommended, and as a source for study, even more so.