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How to Kill a Dragon : Aspects of Indo-European Poetics - Calvert Watkins

How to Kill a Dragon

Aspects of Indo-European Poetics

Paperback Published: 17th May 2001
ISBN: 9780195144130
Number Of Pages: 640

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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."

"The book...is at once an impressive summation of what has gone before and a bold step forward into new waters...In its methodology, in its breadth, Watkins' book can only be termed a tour de force."--Journal of the American Oriental Society "This book is an inspiring introduction to the problems and techniques of comparative Indo-European poetics and at the same time a major contribution to that field...It is both delightfully entertaining and a very important work..."--The Classical Journal "[This] rewarding book crowns many decades of thorough and often brilliant linguistic research."--Religious Studies Review "Watkins builds a compelling case for his interpretations....This work is richly illustrated with examples from relevant literature, with all passages presented both in the original and in translation."--Diachronica "The sheer mass of the learning in this landmark book by Watkins is overwhelming....the whole book is full of stimulating ideas....We owe a debt of gratitude to Watkins for this massive--and masterly-- synthesis of traditional poetics in the Indo-European tradition."--Journal of American Folklore "...it attests to an extraordinary erudition and unique command of the major ancient IE languages; it contains innumerable original insights and fascinating notes on religion and mythology; it is well written and develops its argument step by step with growing conviction and clarity; altogether, a challenging and stimulating work!"--The Journal of Indo-European Studies "...it attests to an extraordinary erudition and unique command of the major ancient IE languages; it contains innumerable original insights and fascinating notes on religion and mythology; it is well written and develops its argument step by step with growing conviction and clarity; altogether, a challenging and stimulating work!"--The Journal of Indo-European Studies "The book...is at once an impressive summation of what has gone before and a bold step forward into new waters...In its methodology, in its breadth, Watkins' book can only be termed a tour de force."--Journal of the American Oriental Society "This book is an inspiring introduction to the problems and techniques of comparative Indo-European poetics and at the same time a major contribution to that field...It is both delightfully entertaining and a very important work..."--The Classical Journal "...[this] rewarding book crowns many decades of thorough and often brilliant linguistic research."--Religious Studies Review "Watkins builds a compelling case for his interpretations....This work is richly illustrated with examples from relevant literature, with all passages presented both in the original and in translation."--Diachronica "...the sheer mass of the learning in this landmark book by Watkins is overwhelming....the whole book is full of stimulating ideas....We owe a debt of gratitude to Watkins for this massive - and masterly - synthesis of traditional poetics in the Indo-European tradition."--Journal of American Folklore

ABSTRACTS OF INDO-EUROPEAN POLITICS I. The Field of Comparative Poetics: Introduction and Background 1: The comparative method in linguistic and poetics 2: Sketch for a history of Indo-European politics 3: Poetics as grammar: Typology of poetic devices, and some rules of poetic grammar 4: Poetics as repertory: The poetic traditions of the Indo-European world -- sources and texts 5: The Indo-European poet: His social function and his art 6: The poet's truth: The power, particularly, and preservation of the word II. Case Studies 7: Greece and the art of the world 8: Vedic India and the art of the world 9: Ireland and the art of the syllable 10: Saxa loquuntur: The first age of poetry in Italy -- Faliscan and South Picene 11: Most ancient Indo-Europeans 12: The comparison of formulaic sequences 13: An Indo-European stylistic figure 14: A late Indo-European traditional epithet 15: An Indo-European theme and formula: Imperishable fame 16: The hidden track of the cow: Obscure styles in Indo-European III. The Strophic Style: An Indo-European Poetic Form 17: Some Indo-European prayers: Cato's lustration of the fields 18: Umbria: The Tales of Iguvium 19: Italy and India: The elliptic offering 20: Strophic structures as "rhythmic prose"? Italic 21: Strophic structures in Iranian 22: 'Truth of Truth', 'most kavi of kavis', 'throng-lord of throngs': An Indo-Iranian stylistic figure 23: More strophic structures 24: Early Irish rosc 25: The Asvamedha or Horse Sacrifice: An Indo-European Liturgical form 26: Orphic gold leaves and the great way of the soul: Strophic style, funerary ritual formula, and eschatology HOW TO KILL A DRAGON IN INDO-EUROPEAN: A CONTRIBUTION TO THE THEORY OF THE FORUMLA IV. The Basic Forumla and Its Variants in the Narration of the Myth 27: Preliminaries 28: The root *guhen-: Vedic han- 29: The root *guhen-: Avestan jan- 30: The root *guhen-: Hittite kuen- and the Indo-European theme and formula 31: The slayer slain: A reciprocal forumla 32: First variant: The root *uedh- 33: 'Like a reed': The Indo-European background of a Luvian ritual 34: Second variant: the root *terh2- 35: Latin tarentum, the ludi saeculares, and Indo-European eschatology 36: The myth of Greece: Variations on the formula and theme 37: Expansion of the forumla: A recursive formulaic figure 38: Herakles, the formulaic hero 39: Hermes, Enualios, and Lukoworgos: The Serpent-slayer and the Man-slayer 40: Nektar and the adversary Death 41: The saga of Iphitos and the hero as monster 42: The name of Meleager 43: The Germanic world 44: Thor's hammer and the mace of Contract V. Some Indo-European Dragons and Dragon-Slayers 45: Fergus mae Leti and the muirdris 46: Typhoeus and the Illuyankas 47: Python and Ahi Budhnya, the Serpent of the Deep 48: Azi dahaka, Visvarupa, and Greyon VI. From Myth to Epic 49: From God to hero: The formulaic network in Greek 50: The best of the Achaeans 51: To be the death of: Transformation of the formula 52: The forumla without the word: A note on Euripides and Lysias 53: The basic forumla and the announcement of death 54: Further Indo-European comparisons and themes 55: The song of victory in Greek VII. From Myth to Charm 56: From dragon to worm 57: The charms of Indo-European 58: Indo-European medical doctrine 59: The poet as healer

ISBN: 9780195144130
ISBN-10: 0195144139
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 640
Published: 17th May 2001
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.29 x 16.33  x 4.22
Weight (kg): 0.9