Myths of Non-Functioning Fertility Deities in Hittite and Core Indo-European

In: Dispersals and Diversification

Abstract

The Hittite myth of Telipinu, the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone, the Norse myth of Baldr and the Indic myths of Cyavana reflect an inherited Proto-Indo-European mythical theme about “Non-Functioning Fertility Deities”, as shown by the fact that they display several phraseological and thematic parallels in their employment of poetic devices describing the non-functioning, or incapacitated, state of the protagonists and the consequent non-functioning condition of the cosmos around them. The use of these poetic devices is a reflex of inherited Proto-Indo-European poetic culture, as they systematically match phraseological collocations and themes attested in several Indo-European traditions describing the existential conditions of any non-functioning character (e.g. dead characters) and of any non-functioning cosmos (e.g. the world at the End of Time), respectively.

The Greek, Norse and (to some extent) the Indic narratives also attest structurally comparable scenes involving horses, whereas the Hittite myth does not, thus reflecting an innovation which must have taken place after the split between Proto-Anatolian and Core Indo-European (from which Greek, Old Norse and Sanskrit later developed). The chariots employed in the Greek and Indic narratives must reflect an even younger innovation (after the 21st century BCE).

Dispersals and Diversification

Linguistic and Archaeological Perspectives on the Early Stages of Indo-European

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