Gods of the Ancient Northmen

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University of California Press, Jan 1, 1973 - Religion - 157 pages
 

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Contents

Editors Preface
vii
Introduction Part II by Udo Strutynski
xix
Authors Preface
xlv
Odin and Tyr
26
Balder Hoder Loki
49
Thor Njord Frey Freya
66
Bibliographical Notes Chapters 14
80
Byggvir and Beyla 1952
89
The Rigsţula and IndoEuropean Social Structure 1958
118
Comparative Remarks on the Scandinavian
126
Notes on the Cosmic Bestiary of the Edda and
141
Index
151
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About the author (1973)

Until his death, Georges Dumezil was the guiding light of the study of Indo-European civilizations. He taught at the College de France for many years, directed the Section des Sciences Religieuses of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes of the Sorbonne, and by the time he was elected to the Academie Francais in the fall of 1978, Dumezil had extended his influence worldwide. In essence, Dumezil's work effects a "paradigm shift" in the study of Indo-European mythology. Earlier scholars worked from a narrowly philological paradigm. Dumezil supplemented this approach with insights derived from functionalist sociology. His concern was not with isolated pieces but with systems. At its simplest, his basic idea is that Indo-European peoples share a "tripartite ideology"; they tend to think in specific groups of three. Dumezil postulated that initially Indo-European society was arranged hierarchically into three distinct groups: priests, warriors, and herder-cultivators. Corresponding to each group was a specific function: sovereignty, physical (primarily military) prowess, and sustenance. Furthermore, each group was represented collectively by gods and goddesses who shared its function. The hierarchical division of society has been preserved only in India (the upper three varnas, or classes), but its effects are widespread in the mythologies and religions of Indo-European peoples, and occasionally, as at Rome, in their accounts of their histories as well. Some scholars have always disputed Dumezil's theories. The most notable, recent critic has been British archaeological theorist Colin Renfrew. In the last few years, Dumezil, like many of his generation, has also been criticized for his politics.

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