How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics
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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."
Dragon 40 over all creation like god Surya. Of the other constituents, the verb tisthati 'stands' (whose unmarked position is sentence-final) is verse-final to the first line; the sentence- and verse-internal postpositional clause visvani bhuvanopdri 'over all creation' must be read "vertically" as well as horizontally. The soma is soma the plant, not (no) soma the god (devd); the tension of the juxtaposition sdmo devd is not resolved until the last word establishes the syntactic constituency
stylistic device, albeit known principally from Greece: the priamel. This stylistic figure is defined by Elroy Bundy in his seminal 1962 work (reprinted 1986:5)as 'a focusing or selecting device in which one or more terms serve as foil for the point of particular interest.' He illustrates the priamel by the 'straightforward example' of Sappho 16.1-4 L-P: Some there are who say that the fairest thing seen on the black earth is an array of horsemen; some, men marching; some would say ships; but I
lexical verbal responsion, ring-composition with the apparent final verb of the text,peparai. The frustrated expectation is then resolved at the very end, by the interjected douiad: as the real final verb of the text, it makes real ring-composition with the underlying, expected verb of the blessing, which is douiad. Marking the identities by boxing in different lines we have Ceres far me[la]tom Louf[i]r ui[no]m |p[a]rad| arcentelom huticilom | peparai [—[douiad] The double line boxes the
famed one: I say to you something worthy of trust. As Toporov 1981 has shown in detail, the message is that those who see and hear still do not properly comprehend: RV 10.71.4 utd tvahpdsyan nd dadarsa vdcam utd tvah srnvdn ndsrnoty enam I uto tvasmai tanvam vi sasre jayeva pdtya usattsuvdsdh 'The one, looking, does not see Speech; the one, listening, does not hear her; to the one she reveals her body as a desiring wife, well-dressed, to her husband.' We have already noted in chap. 8 the hidden
common prototype underlying the feminine participles Greek and Indie -anti, had been made by August Schleicher only the year before Kuhn's article, in the preface to Schleicher 1852. 14 How to Kill a Dragon guage was beginning to emerge' (West 1988a:152). Other scholars added to the corpus of phraseological equations among cognate Indo-European languages, which might with some confidence be attributed to the repertoire of the proto-language itself. A metaphorical expression for the