Dahomean Narrative: A Cross-cultural Analysis

Front Cover
Melville Jean Herskovits, Frances Shapiro Herskovits
Northwestern University Press, 1958 - Social Science - 490 pages
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This new edition, published on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding by Melville Herskovits of the Program of African Studies at Northwestern University, brings back into print one of the classics in scholarly analysis and translation, written by one of the cultural anthropology. When this book was first published in 1958, Melville luminaries of American Herskovits, with his wife and collaborator, Frances, had spent over Twenty years studying the social networks, language, and oral traditions of the peoples of West Africa and their descendants in the New World. Dahomey, the major site of their African work, is in the country now known as the Republic of Benin.

This volume, had two goals: in its collection of 155 narratives, to provide basic texts of the analytical side, to provide a general theory of mythology using new oral narratives and looking at their tradition culminating in a survey of different prevailing Theories of myth. The result is a wide-ranging collection, culled from an entire narrative tradition, that remains unique among anthropological publications.

  

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Contents

DAHOMEAN NARRATIVE FORMS
3
The problem of classification
13
The heho
22
Riddle proverb and verse
54
Narrative and the changing culture
70
A CROSSCULTURAL APPROACH TO MYTH
81
Dramatis person
124
Sogbo becomes master of the Universe
129
Why those who die do not return to life
287
Market of the dead Mistreatment avenged
290
The good child and the bad
293
Why orphans are not mistreated
298
Death befriends victim Public contest Abiku avenged
300
Outwitting the Abiku
304
How the Tohosu cult was established
306
The Tohosu appear on the battlefield and win a bloodless victory
308

Sagbatas control of earth stabilized
132
Sun god brings iron to man
134
Why mountains hold riches Reason for earthquakes
135
The people who descended from the sky
136
Origin of the people of the Agblo quarter
137
How magic became a human skill Man against creator How magic spread
139
Why the dog is respected
142
Why Legba may take all women
148
Creator tricked Why the sky is high
149
Missionary version of Legba rejected
150
Why monkey did not become man
151
Mawus ways are just
152
Why a faint rumble succeeds loud thunder
155
Why Chameleon and Tortoise are respected
159
The tail that talked Changing to stone From animal to thundergod
162
Why a promise to the vodun must be kept
165
How the vodum came to Dahomey
167
Cult Separatism and the Great Gods
168
Divination
171
Dramatis person
172
The origin of Fa
173
The coming of Fa
176
Introduction of the Fa cult
179
How divination became the voice of the gods
181
The magic gourds Punishment for revealing secret
183
Diviner saves hunter
186
Tortoise as diviner for animals
191
Tortoise becomes diviner
192
Why one does not deceive the diviner
193
Why one does not displease the diviner
194
The dove that sacrificed and the one that failed to sacrifice
196
Bird outwits Elephant Why Titagweti is honored at death
197
Why goats avoid rain
199
The diviners parable
200
Rabbit tricks Death
201
Why Rabbit is head of the animals and Leopard their king Why Agbe is spotted
203
Why the king of the beasts the king of the birds and the king of the fish prey on their subjects
205
Seeking poverty
209
How Pig came to live with Man
212
in Hunter Stories
215
Dramatis persons
216
Little folk of the forest give men their gods
217
Hunters bring vodun from the forest
218
Why some animals may not be killed without a sacrifice
220
Hunter betrays Rabbit
222
Why lions kill hunters
224
Why women are not told secrets
225
The password Luwe and Serpent give riches Why one never tells women the truth
227
Animal ancestry taunted Understanding bird language Why one never tells a woman the truth
232
Why animals no longer change into women
235
Why human beings are no longer sacrificed to bring rain
237
The flight up the tree
240
Why Dog must be fed
242
The chosen suitor
243
Hunters magic brings to life Girlborntodie
246
Hunter is entitled to his kill
248
Hunter cures boastfulness
249
Why women do not travel great distances alone
250
Why Cat goes on all fours
251
Hyena plays dead
253
twins orphans and the
255
normally born Dramatis persons
256
Royal seducer must not be named Why Tohosu have separate houses
257
Substitute victim Changing into stone
262
Changing into stone
265
Why hunters do not tell what they see in the forest
271
Why fathers must be obeyed
272
Why the Abiku are worshipped in the bush
275
Why there are yehwe
284
Yo Stories
309
Dramatis persons
310
A wife for one cowry
311
A wife for one cowry
316
Elephant no scapegoat
319
How kings keep promises
320
The king must not take the wife of a poor man
322
The killing fire Why Lizard does not talk
324
Tar drum Guessing names Why dogs are killed
326
Killing Leopard and his children
330
The young are more cunning
333
False friendship
336
Killing boatmans children Why Yo does not live with the gods
339
Substitute victims Boxing contest Rabbit as king of the bush
342
Dogs head in the path
345
Why Yo is an unwelcome companion
347
Diviner saves goat from Yos greed
348
Tables turned
351
exploits of the Aladahonu
353
nasty Dramatis persorue
354
Magic flight
355
Origin of the royal sib
357
How the Aladahonu dynasty came to rule the plateau of Abomey
359
Early days of the Aladahonu dynasty
362
Why women must not be told secrets
368
How tribute to the King of Ayo was ended
372
The wilful heirapparent
374
Royal daughter as trickster
377
Poor stranger as kings conscience King above morality
378
How Behanzin fought against the whites
381
love intrigue and betrayal
385
Dramatis person
386
Lover makes supreme sacrifice Initiation period reduced
387
Love knows no fear Creator moved to pity
390
Death as a moralist
391
Fate of a faithless royal wife
395
Why there are several attendants at childbirth
397
Wives cure boastfulness
400
Wife as Informer
402
vin Explanatory and Moralizing Tales Dramatis person
406
Why the races of man differ in color
407
in Why there are liars adulterers and thieves
410
Why the Ado birds circle about cattle
412
Why Hetable cries Take him away
413
Turtledove cannot change its nature What Turtledove says
415
How Parakeet came to speak
416
Dilemma of conflicting tasks Why the woodpecker pecks
418
Why chickens and hawks are enemies
420
Friend as hostage Why Frog is in the water and Tortoise gives fire
422
Why Tortoise lives in the bush
423
Why animals do not talk
425
Why the Gha monkey has red buttocks
427
Why Monkeys mouth is black and her buttocks are red
428
Why the Monkey has red buttocks a large chest and flat belly
431
Goat as trickster Why one must have cunning
435
Why there is the Dokpwegan
436
Why Hyena has no friends
438
Hyena plays dead Why Hyena lives alone
439
The youngest is most cunning
440
The youngest is the most cunning
442
The youngest is the most cunning Why Leopard meets his enemy facetoface
444
The young are cunning
447
Origin taunted Why one does not say what is forbidden
449
The dilemma of conflicting tasks Why a mans best friend is first
450
Why a brother may not take a brothers wife
452
A man does not take a kings wife
453
The killing wheel Why children are never left alone
455
Why man should not learn animal speech
456
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About the author (1958)

Herskovits taught at Northwestern from 1927 until his death.

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