Tag Archives: Georges Dumezil

Heimdallr recalls Janus

The Scandinavian Heimdallr especially recalls Janus, both in space and in time. Stationed “at the limits of earth.” “at the furthest point of the sky,” he is the watchman of the gods; “born in the beginning,” he is the ancestor of humanity, the procreator of the classes, and the founder of the whole social order; and yet he is decidedly inferior to the sovereign god Í“ðinn. The Shorter Völuspá defines him in comparison with Í“ðinn in almost the same terms by which Varro contrasts Janus, the god of the prima, and Jupiter, the god of the summa. Heimdallr was born “primigenius” […], Í“ðinn was born “maximus”

Dumézil in Archaic Roman Religion p. 332/3

Archaic Roman Religion

Three more quotes from Dumézil’s Archaic Roman Religion

At the beginning of the thirteenth century the scholar Saxo Grammaticus wonders at length how he can make the Othinus and Thor of Scandinavia correspond to Jupiter and Mars. Jupiter is the god who hurls the thunderbolt, like Thor, but he is also the king of the gods, like Othinus; on the other hand, the king of the gods is the god of war, like Mars… In antiquity, however, these scruples were in general quickly set aside: once based on a partial correspondence, identification unrolled its consequences, resulting in an unending chain of corrections and innovations in the characteriscs of the god concerned.

(p. 256/7)

Put in other terms, it is not a question of exclusive functional classes such as the ksatriya and the vaisya of India, the jarlar and karlar of the Eddaic RigsÞula, and the Irish flaith (the Gaulish equites) and the peasant mass of the bó airig. It is a question of two types of activity (of ethics,law, affinities, etc.) succeeding each other cyclically in the life of the adult.

(p. 261)

In Vedic India as well as in Scandinavia, the divinities of the third function, the Asvin as well as the Vanic gods, Njörðr and Freyr, act peacefully. Of the numerous services which the hymns to the Asvin obligingly list, not one is warlike; if they happen to appear in a battle, it is not to fight, but to pull a threatened combatant out of danger.


Masculine derivatives

The analysis of the conditions, of the component factors of succes in combat which Moles and Nerio present, recurs in Scandinavian mythology, which gives as sons to Ížhórr, a god partially homologous to Indra and Mars, the masculine derivatives of abstractions, Magni and Móði: megin is actually “physical power” (the magical girdle which gives Ížhórr his extraordinary strength is called, in plural, megin-gjanðar), and móðr is the warlike “madness” (in German, Wut rather than Mut) which principally characterizes Ížhórr and his regular adversaries, the giants (cf. jötun-móðr “giant madness”).

Georges Dumézil in Archaic Roman Religion, part 1, page 208.

Adjucts of sovereignty

Zoroastrian transpositions guarantee the antiquity of this structure, the meaning of which is clear: the great sovereign god has two adjuncts, one of whom cares for the persons constituting society, theother for the goods which they share.

Georges Dumézil in Archaic Roman Religion, part 1, page 201