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How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics / Edition 1
     

How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics / Edition 1

by Calvert Watkins, Calvert Walkins
 

ISBN-10: 0195085957

ISBN-13: 9780195085952

Pub. Date: 12/28/1995

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

In How to Kill a Dragon Calvert Watkins follows the continuum of poetic formulae in Indo-European languages, from Old Hittite to medieval Irish. He uses the comparative method to reconstruct traditional poetic formulae of considerable complexity that stretch as far back as the original common language. Thus, Watkins reveals the antiquity and tenacity of the

Overview

In How to Kill a Dragon Calvert Watkins follows the continuum of poetic formulae in Indo-European languages, from Old Hittite to medieval Irish. He uses the comparative method to reconstruct traditional poetic formulae of considerable complexity that stretch as far back as the original common language. Thus, Watkins reveals the antiquity and tenacity of the Indo-European poetic tradition.

Watkins begins this study with an introduction to the field of comparative Indo-European poetics; he explores the Saussurian notions of synchrony and diachrony, and locates the various Indo-European traditions and ideologies of the spoken word. Further, his overview presents case studies on the forms of verbal art, with selected texts drawn from Indic, Iranian, Greek, Latin, Hittite, Armenian, Celtic, and Germanic languages.

In the remainder of the book, Watkins examines in detail the structure of the dragon/serpent-slaying myths, which recur in various guises throughout the Indo-European poetic tradition. He finds the "signature" formula for the myth—the divine hero who slays the serpent or overcomes adversaries—occurs in the same linguistic form in a wide range of sources and over millennia, including Old and Middle Iranian holy books, Greek epic, Celtic and Germanic sagas, down to Armenian oral folk epic of the last century. Watkins argues that this formula is the vehicle for the central theme of a proto-text, and a central part of the symbolic culture of speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language: the relation of humans to their universe, the values and expectations of their society. Therefore, he further argues, poetry was a social necessity for Indo- European society, where the poet could confer on patrons what they and their culture valued above all else: "imperishable fame."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195085952
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
12/28/1995
Pages:
640
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.87(d)

Table of Contents

Aspects of Indo-European Poetics
I.The Field of Comparative Poetics: Introduction and Background
1.The comparative method in linguistics and poetics3
2.Sketch for a history of Indo-European poetics12
3.Poetics as grammar: Typology of poetic devices, and some rules of poetic grammar28
4.Poetics as repertory: The poetic traditions of the Indo-European world--sources and texts50
5.The Indo-European poet: His social function and his art68
6.The poet's truth: The power, particularity, and preserveration of the word85
II.Case Studies
7.Greece and the art of the word97
8.Vedic India and the art of the word109
9.Ireland and the art of the syllable117
10.Saxa loquuntur: The first age of poetry in Italy--Faliscan and South Picene126
11.Most ancient Indo-Europeans135
12.The comparison of formulaic sequences152
13.An Indo-European stylistic figure165
14.A late Indo-European traditional epithet170
15.An Indo-European theme and formula: Imperishable fame173
16.The hidden track of the cow: Obscure styles in Indo-European179
III.The Strophic Style: An Indo-European Poetic Form
17.Some Indo-European prayers: Cato's lustration of the fields197
18.Umbria: The Tables of Iguvium214
19.Italy and India: The elliptic offering226
20.Strophic structures as "rhythmic prose"? Italic229
21.Strophic structures in Iranian232
22.'Truth of truth', 'most kavi of kavis', 'throng-lord of throngs': An Indo-Iranian stylistic figure241
23.More strophic structures247
24.Early Irish rosc255
25.The Asvamedha or Horse Sacrifice: An Indo-European liturgical form265
26.Orphic gold leaves and the great way of the soul: Strophic style, funerary ritual formula, and eschatology277
How to Kill a Dragon in Indo-European: A Contribution to the Theory of the Formula
IV.The Basic Formula and Its Variants in the Narration of the Myth
27.Preliminaries297
28.The root *g[superscript u]hen-: Vedic han-304
29.The root *g[superscript u]hen-: Avestan jan-313
30.The root *g[superscript u]hen-: Hittite kuen- and the Indo-European theme and formula321
31.The slayer slain: A reciprocal formula324
32.First variant: The root *udeh-330
33.'Like a reed': The Indo-European background of a Luvian ritual335
34.Second variant: the root *terh[subscript 2]-343
35.Latin tarentum, the ludi saeculares, and Indo-European eschatology347
36.The myth in Greece: Variations on the formula and theme357
37.Expansion of the formula: A recursive formulaic figure370
38.Herakles, the formulaic hero374
39.Hermes, Enualios, and Lukoworgos: The Serpent-slayer and the Man-slayer383
40.Nektar and the adversary Death391
41.The saga of Iphitos and the hero as monster398
42.The name of Meleager408
43.The Germanic world414
44.Thor's hammer and the mace of Contract429
V.Some Indo-European Dragons and Dragon-Slayers
45.Fergus mac Leti and the muirdris441
46.Typhoeus and the Illuyankas448
47.Python and Ahi Budhnya, the Serpent of the Deep460
48.Azi dakaka, Visvarupa, and Geryon464
VI.From Myth to Epic
49.From God to hero: The formulaic network in Greek471
50.The best of the Achaeans483
51.To be the death of: Transformation of the formula488
52.The formula without the word: A note on Euripides and Lysias493
53.The basic formula and the announcement of death499
54.Further Indo-European comparisons and themes505
55.The song of victory in Greek510
VII.From Myth to Charm
56.From dragon to worm519
57.The charms of Indo-European525
58.Indo-European medical doctrine537
59.The poet as healer540
Abbreviations545
References550
Indexes of names and subjects577
Index of passages586
Index of words601

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