Chapter 4. Patroklos, Concepts of Afterlife, and the Indic Triple Fire

The rituals occasioned by the Funeral of Patroklos, as narrated in Iliad XXIII, have been compared with the royal funerary rituals of the Hittites. [1] The parallelisms in details and in ideology suggest a common Indo-European heritage, in view of additional comparative evidence available from the Indic traditions. [2] If indeed the Funeral of Patroklos reflects an ideology so early as to be of Indo-European heritage, then a basic criterion for the dating of narrative traditions in the Homeric poems has to be revised. Archaeologists tend to interpret the cremation of Patroklos in particular and of Homeric heroes in general as inspired by practices that went into effect only in the first millennium B.C., when cremation and inhumation are found to exist side by side; in this respect, then, Homeric poetry is supposed to reflect a near-contemporary state of affairs, as opposed to a more archaic heritage dating back to the Mycenaean era of the second millennium B.C., a period when cremation is sporadic and inhumation is the norm. [3] The comparative evidence, on the other hand, now suggests that the procedures and ideologies of cremation as attested in Homeric poetry are in fact so archaic as to predate the second millennium B.C., thus reflecting—albeit distantly—customs that go back to a time even before the entry into Greece, in the beginning of the second millennium, of the Indo-European language that {85|86} ultimately became the Greek language. Even more important for my purposes, the comparative evidence also suggests that the cremation of Patroklos is a traditional theme founded upon concepts of afterlife beyond Hades.
For the moment, I choose the word “afterlife” instead of “rebirth” or “eschatology.” These other words too are pertinent to my inquiry: as we shall see in what follows, the Indo-European languages, Greek included, abound with earlier patterns of thought concerning life after death. [4] Still, it is useful to start with the most general term possible.
The concept of afterlife, as I argue, is implicit in the Homeric narrative of the cremation of Patroklos. Comparable concepts, as we shall see, are explicitly attested in Indic institutions, especially as represented in prayers to the god Savitr̥ and in rituals involving the so-called Triple Fire. After a detailed exposition of the Indic evidence, soon to follow, we shall also see that closely analogous concepts are represented—albeit indirectly—in the Greek evidence, specifically in the diction of Homeric poetry. [5]
In correlating various concepts of afterlife with the practice of cremation, I am not about to claim that cremation was the definitive Indo-European funerary ritual. I argue only that cremation was clearly one of perhaps several different types of Indo-European funerary ritual. In any discussion of differences in funerary practices, as in the case of cremation and inhumation, I wish to stress from the start that no universals can be assumed for the thought-patterns—let us continue to call them ideologies—traditionally associated with such practices. The ritual dimensions of cremation and inhumation may “mean” different things in different societies or in different phases of the same society. [6] Where the two practices coexist in one society, they may conceivably convey two distinct meanings. [7] In other situations, coexistence may reflect a blurring of distinctions. [8] In some contexts, a practice like inhumation may not even imply anything about a given society’s concepts of afterlife. [9] In other contexts, however, there is good reason to think that the same {86|87} practice of inhumation does indeed imply the concept of rebirth. [10] To take the stance of doubting in general the presence of such an ideology, on the grounds that “a simple inhumation without the accompanying idea of rebirth is often found,” [11] seems to me unjustified. [12]
Let us begin with the briefest possible summary of the evidence from the Indic Vedas, representing the oldest attested Indic concepts of afterlife. [13] Before death the realm of consciousness, of both rational and emotional functions, is the mánas-. When death occurs, this mánas- is separated from the body, and in the process of this separation mánas- can be either equated or paired with the word ásu-. After death, mánas- and ásu- designate the disembodied conveyor of the dead person’s identity, sometimes represented as a frail and vulnerable homunculus who is a miniature vision of the deceased as he seemed in life. [14] Eventually, mánas- and/or ásu- arrive at the “third sky,” where the pitŕ̥̥-s ‘ancestors’ abide. [15] The mánas- and/or ásu- are destined to be reintegrated with the body, and cremation of the body is the key to this eventual reintegration. [16]
From a preliminary comparison with the archaic Greek evidence, we see some striking convergences and divergences. Before death the realm of consciousness, of rational and emotional functions, is the thūmós, [17] which can be paired in this context with the word ménos. [18] {87|88} When death occurs, the thūmós is separated from the body, and in the process of this separation thūmós can be paired with the words ménos or psūkhḗ. [19] After death, psūkhḗ designates the disembodied conveyor of the dead person’s identity, sometimes represented as a homunculus who is a miniature vision of the deceased as he seemed in life. [20] I should stress that the psūkhḗ is merely a conveyor of identity, not the identity itself: in Homeric diction, the word autós ‘self’ actually designates the body, which the psūkhḗ leaves behind when the hero dies (e.g. Iliad I 3-4). [21]
Before death, the word psūkhḗ is as a rule excluded from designating the realm of consciousness, of rational and emotional functions; [22] after death, the words thūmós and ménos are as a rule excluded from designating the disembodied conveyor of the dead person’s identity. [23] Only in the process of death can all three words thūmós/ménos/psūkhḗ be fully synonymous. [24] As they are separated from the body, they head for Hades. {88|89}
In some Homeric variations, however, arrival at Hades may be delayed. For example, after the psūkhḗ of Patroklos has been separated from his body by death (Iliad XVI 856), it leaves for Hades (XVI 856), but is thwarted from entering (XXIII 72-74); in a vision (XXIII 65ff.) the psūkhḗ of Patroklos asks Achilles to give his body a funeral in general (XXIII 71) and a cremation in particular (XXIII 76), so that his psūkhḗ may finally enter Hades (XXIII 71, 75-76). Achilles is astounded that the psūkhḗ of Patroklos has phrénes (XXIII 103-104). [25] We must note that this word phrénes designates the physical localization of thūmós [26] and ménos [27] in the living. Indeed, what the psūkhḗ of Patroklos says to Achilles in Iliad XXIII 65-92 are the words of one who appears to be conscious of himself, in possession of his rational and emotional faculties. [28] By implication, the psūkhḗ of Patroklos can become detached or distinct from his thūmós/ménos and become free to enter Hades only after his body is cremated. [29]
On the surface, then, it seems as if the Homeric poems point to Hades as the ultimate destination of the psūkhḗ. Moreover, once the process of cremation enables the psūkhḗ to arrive at Hades, it is liable to lose consciousness as well as rational and emotional faculties, and we are left with the initial impression that the dead person stays dead forever. Here we see a major divergence from the Indic formulation, where the mánas- and/or ásu- not only preserve consciousness and the faculties but also become eventually reintegrated with the body by way of cremation. Yet the divergence lies not in what the Greek formulation says about the afterlife but rather in what it leaves unsaid. Let us keep in mind that, conscious or unconscious, the psūkhḗ is a conveyor of identity. Thus the door is still left open for the possibility that the psūkhḗ may yet be reintegrated with the body. A word like thūmós or like ménos may at first seem from our point of view more appropriate for designating the aspect that is separated and then hypothetically reintegrated with the body, since both thūmós and ménos designate consciousness and the faculties. In fact, as we have just noted, thūmós and ménos are synonymous with psūkhḗ at the moment of death. Yet these very words thūmós and ménos cease to apply to the identity once it passes through the gates of Hades; from here on, {89|90} the identity is conveyed by psūkhḗ only. This suspension of synonymity is itself telling us something: that the psūkhḗ once had an affinity with consciousness and the faculties—an affinity which is then suspended in Hades.
My interpretation here differs from the view that any absence of synonymity between “Ichseele” (e.g. thūmós/ménos) and “Psycheseele” (e.g. psūkhḗ) in the mythopoeic thinking of any “primitive” culture invariably implies an original distinctness between the two concepts. [30] What I propose is that the distinctness, as in the case of thūmós/ménos on one side and psūkhḗ on the other, may be a secondary development—a matter of secondary specialization. In other words, the convergence in meaning between thūmós/ménos and psūkhḗ may be primary and the divergence, secondary. Then we can account for such rare “exceptions” as Iliad VII 131 (where the thūmós goes to Hades) and XXI 569 (where the psūkhḗ abides in a living hero) as residual traces of an earlier ideology where thūmós/ménos and psūkhḗ were as yet undifferentiated in realms where they are later differentiated.
My interpretation is also at odds with the view that the Homeric psūkhḗ is not a “Psycheseele” but a mere “Totengeist.” [31] The reasoning behind this disputed view is based on the conventional diction describing the swooning of a hero: the psūkhḗ is regularly envisaged as leaving the body, but it is never mentioned as returning when the hero revives. [32] Only the thūmós or ménos are mentioned as returning to the hero when he is revived. [33] For some, this restriction in diction means that “Homer” did not know of any function that could be attributed to psūkhḗ in the living hero—that the word psūkhḗ simply did not denote consciousness. [34]
And yet, as even those who prefer this explanation have to concede, [35] the concept of psūkhḗ is indeed derived from the concept of breathing (cf. Homeric psúkhō ‘blow’, with “winds” as subject, at XX 40), the loss of which is the primary manifestation of death in the conventional Homeric descriptions. The words thūmós and ménos are also associated with breathing. [36] Accordingly, the descriptions of both swooning and {90|91} dying as a loss of thūmós/ménos/psūkhḗ are physiologically appropriate and proper, and yet the regaining of the hero’s breath after swooning is restricted in Homeric diction to thūmós/ménos, with psūkhḗ excluded. The reason for this exclusion is surely not physical but ideological. To repeat, it has been argued that psūkhḗ is excluded because it does not denote consciousness, whereas thūmós/ménos regularly do. But this argument is predicated on the assumption that psūkhḗ is distinct from thūmós/ménos at the moment when they become separated from the body. This is to confuse words with concepts, and I must insist here on returning to the facts of Homeric diction. What leaves the body at the moment of dying or swooning is functionally expressed as thūmós and/or ménos and/or psūkhḗ. At the moment of dying or swooning, all three words are formulaically interchangeable synonyms, expressing the same concept. [37]
If, then, the word psūkhḗ is excluded in descriptions of revival from swooning, it is because this synonym of thūmós/ménos at the moment of dying and swooning has at other moments a meaning that goes beyond the concept of breath or even the concept of consciousness. Some would argue that this meaning is simply that of ‘ghost’: once the psūkhḗ is in Hades, the reasoning goes, it cannot return to the body of someone who has swooned because the psūkhḗ would already be a ghost—and its owner would already be dead. [38] Yet, this reasoning again fails to account for the fact—as established by observation of Homeric diction—that psūkhḗ is synonymous with thūmós/ménos at the moment of dying or swooning. It cannot simply be assumed that psūkhḗ should mean one thing when a hero swoons and another thing when he is revived.
There may be a more sublime reason for the avoidance of the word psūkhḗ in Homeric descriptions of a hero’s revival. As we have noted, the synonymity of thūmós/ménos/psūkhḗ at the moment of death implies an affinity of psūkhḗ with consciousness—an affinity that is then suspended in Hades. If it is simply a matter of suspension, however, then the door is left open for imagining an eventual restoration of synonymity, with all three words thūmós/ménos/psūkhḗ once again capable of designating the identity of the deceased. The setting for such a restoration is, I submit, the eventual reintegration of the psūkhḗ and body, when the deceased comes back to life. In that case, the avoidance of the word psūkhḗ in descriptions of a hero’s revival from a swoon would be motivated by a need to keep this theme distinct from the theme of a hero’s revival from death. Elsewhere, I have attempted to document this theme, the hero’s {91|92} revival from death, on the basis of the internal evidence available in the diction in Greek poetic traditions. [39] In that effort, however, I did not confront what the Iliad has to say, albeit indirectly, about the afterlife of Patroklos. Which is the problem at hand—a problem that may be solved, I submit, by now pursuing even further the semantics of thūmós/ménos/psūkhḗ.
Exceptionally, the restoration of synonymity for thūmós/ménos/psūkhḗ can happen in Hades itself. The psūkhḗ of the seer Teiresias (Odyssey x 492) is described as the only one in Hades to be endowed with phrénes (x 493), which as we have seen is the physical localization of thūmós and ménos. [40] Accordingly, the psūkhḗ of Teiresias is the only one in Hades to recognize Odysseus without having to drink blood (xi 91). To be contrasted are the other psūkhaí who are as a rule without faculties” (aphradées xi 476) except whenever they get to drink a libation of blood (xi 147-149). [41] The reason for my drawing attention at this point to the exceptional psūkhḗ of Teiresias has to do with yet another crucial word, one that serves to explain why Teiresias has phrénes even in Hades: Persephone had given him nóos (x 494). This word, which here epitomizes the synonymity of thūmós/ménos/psūkhḗ, [42] is as a rule used in Homeric diction to designate the realm of rational functions only, [43] whereas thūmós is used to designate the realm of both rational and emotional functions. [44] As such, nóos represents a mere subcategory of thūmós in the living Homeric hero. Why, then, should this word be a key, in Odyssey x 494, to the synonymity of thūmós/ménos/psūkhḗ and, by implication, to the reintegration of consciousness and body?
The etymology of nóos provides an answer. As the researches of Douglas Frame have established, [45] the root of nóos is *nes-, which means not just ‘return home’, as attested in Greek néomai (verb) and nóstos (noun), but also ‘return to light and life’, as apparently attested in Indic {92|93} Nā́satyau, an epithet of the Indic Divine Twins, the Aśvin-s who bring mortals back to life and who bring about sunrise after the night brought on by each sunset. [46] As Frame also shows, there is in fact a pervasive interplay between the themes of nóos and nóstos in the Odyssey, so that the fundamental meaning of the root *nes-, ‘return to light and life’, is reenacted within the overall structure of this epic; in other words, the Odyssey itself is built on the symbolism of rebirth from death, as visualized in the dynamics of sunrise after sunset and as verbalized in the nóos/nóstos of Odysseus himself. [47] Within the space of the present discussion, I cannot do full justice to the evidence and arguments that Frame adduces. Rather, I am simply confining myself to the problem of connecting the death of Patroklos with the semantics of thūmós/ménos/psūkhḗ. Still, the etymology of nóos, which functions in Homeric diction as a subcategory of thūmós and as a principle that reunites thūmós/ménos/psūkhḗ in synonymity, can serve as an ideal point of transition to the main part of this presentation—a survey of assorted evidence available in Indic traditions that may throw light on the afterlife of Patroklos. If this evidence will help strengthen Frame’s own arguments, then I hope that he will accept my efforts here as a tribute to his own.
Indic traditions formalize the theme of returning to light and life in more ways than one. Besides the Nā́satyau, I cite a Vedic sun-god called Savitŕ̥-, appropriately meaning ‘the vivifier’ (root sū- ‘vivify’). As we shall see, Savitr̥’s solar journey enables the aspects of man that leave the body at death to be reintegrated in the realm of the pitŕ̥-s ‘ancestors’. Since the comparative evidence of the Savitr̥ tradition is both ample and complex, it may be best to anticipate here the conclusions that I plan to draw from this evidence at a later point. What will emerge is that the Indic words designating the aspects of man that leave the body at death, mánas- and ásu-, are actually cognate with the Homeric noun + epithet combination ménos ēú (μένος ἠύ), designating in general the energetic faculties of heroes (e.g. Iliad XX 80) and, in particular, the aspect of Patroklos that has been lost as a result of death (XXIV 6).
The correspondence between the Indic noun mánas- and the Greek noun ménos is overt. As for the Indic noun ásu- and the Greek adjective {93|94} ēú (ἠύ), the correspondence on the levels of both form and meaning is complicated, and further discussion is useless until we can review the comparative evidence preserved in Iranian traditions. [48]
Suffice it now to add another overt comparandum besides Indic mánas- on one side and Greek ménos on the other: the Indic word pitŕ̥- ‘ancestor’ is directly cognate with the Greek element patro- of Patro-kléēs, a name that literally means ‘he who has the glory [kléos] of the ancestors [patéres]. [49] In view of Erwin Rohde’s observation that the Funeral of Patroklos in the Iliad bears the distinct features of hero cult [50] and that the cult of heroes is itself an institution that evolved from the worship of ancestors, [51] we may recover an Indo-European theme in comparing the association of ménos ēú (= μένος ἠύ) and Patrokléēs in the context of that hero’s death with the association of mánas/ásu- and the pitŕ̥-s ‘ancestors’ in the context of their coming back to life after death.
Having anticipated my conclusions from the comparative Indic evidence about Savitr̥ and his role in bringing the dead back to life, I will now present this evidence to the extent that I am able to sketch it without oversimplifying its rich complexities. [52]
As we begin to examine the traditions about this specialized sun-god Savitr̥, we note that there are contexts of darkness as well as brightness. Savitr̥ protects the righteous at night (Rig- Veda 4.53.1) and wards off the demonic Rakṣas-es all night (1.35.10). [53] The time of these Rakṣas-es is the {94|95} night (7.104.18); in the east they have no power, because they are wiped out by the rising sun (Taittirīya-Saṃhitā As the Rig-Veda makes clear, the daily breakthrough to light in the east is caused by Savitr̥ (10.139.1). How, then, can the sun-god Savitr̥ be present at night? As we see from Rig-Veda 1.35, the Savitr̥ Hymn, the god reverses the course of his chariot with each sunrise and sunset: he travels through the brightness at day and then through the darkness at night. During the night trip, he is the good aspect of darkness, just as he is the good aspect of brightness during the day trip. The night trip of Savitr̥ is especially precarious for mortals not only because of the darkness but also because the daylight course of the sun is reversed. After the forward course of the chariot at daytime comes the backward course at nighttime. This forward /backward movement of Savitr̥ is expressed in terms of downstream/upstream, the words for which are pravát/udvát-: [54]
yā́ti deváḥ pravátā yā́ty udvátā
Rig-Veda 1.35.3
The Deva [god] goes downstream, goes upstream. [55]
It remains to ask where it is that Savitr̥ travels “upstream,” from west {95|96} to east, during the night. [56] The Rig-Veda is ostentatiously cryptic about the sun’s whereabouts at nighttime, offering only such indications as in the following verses of the Savitr̥ Hymn:
kvèdā́anīm sū́ryaḥ káś ciket
katamā́m dyā́m raśmír asyā́ tatāna
Rig-Veda I.35.7
Where is the sun now? Who knows?
Which sky has its ray reached?
A further indication about this unmentionable sky occurs in stanza 6 of the same Savitr̥ Hymn, where Savitr̥ is described as having two skies. From such indirect mystical hints we may surmise that the sky of this our world is matched by another sky, of the underworld. Furthermore, there is a third sky mentioned in the same stanza (Rig-Veda 1.35.6), this one belonging to Yama rather than Savitr̥; it is in this third sky that immortal things abide (amŕ̥tā́dhi taṣḥur), and
ihá bravītu yá u tác cíketat
Rig-Veda 1.35.6
whoever knows it should say it here.
The name Yama refers to the king of the pitŕ̥-s ‘ancestors’ (Rig-Veda 10.14 passim), particularly the Aṅgiras-es (10.14.3, 5), and his path is death (1.38.5). He is the first person ever to experience death (Atharva-Veda 18.3.13), and he is specifically addressed as “our pitŕ̥” (Rig-Veda 10.135.1). Yet the abode of Yama and the pitŕ̥-s is in the midst of the sky (10.15.14), in the highest sky (10.14.8), in the third sky which has eternal light and where the sun was placed (9.113.7-9). The abode of the pitŕ̥-s is the highest point of the sun (9.113.9), and they are in communion with it (1.125.6, 10.107.2, 10.154.5). Thus, the third sky of Yama could be visualized as above the first sky of Savitr̥, who goes pravát- ‘downstream’ during the day; come sunset, Savitr̥ reaches the dreaded second sky of the lower world, where he travels udvát- ‘upstream’ during the night.
How, then, did Yama the primordial mortal reach the third sky? {96|97} Come sunrise, he ascends along with the sun, traveling pravát- ‘downstream’:
pareyivāṃsam praváto mahī́r ánu
bahúbhyaḥ pánthām anupaspaśānám
Rig-Veda 10.14.1
having gone along the great pravát- streams,
having discovered a path for many.
In the Atharva-Veda (6.28.3, 18.4.7), Yama is described as the first ever to have gone along the pravát-. Before reaching the third sky with the coming of sunrise, it may be that Yama, the first person ever to experience death, is imagined as having to traverse the unmentionable second sky with the corning of sunset. A model and guide for this kind of trip could be Savitr̥ himself.
The role of Savitr̥ as psychopomp is illustrated by such passages as Rig-Veda 10.17.3-6: according to the Kalpa to Taittirīya-Āraṇyaka 6.1.1, this text is a prayer for the dead at the ritual of cremation; Savitr̥ is implored to place the dead man into the abode of the pitŕ̥-s:
yátrā́sate sukŕ̥to yátra té yayús
tátra tvā deváḥ savitā́ dadhātu
Rig-Veda 10.17.4
where the doers of good abide, where they have gone,
there may the Deva [god] Savitr̥ put you [the dead man]. [57]
In the function of psychopomp, Savitr̥ has a thematic correlate called Pūṣan; in the same Savitr̥ passage (10.17.5) this Pūṣan is implored to guide the dead man “along the least dangerous path” (ábhayatamena), being a “bestower of well-being” (svastidā́). [58] Like Savitr̥, Pūṣan is associated with the path of the sun (Rig-Veda 2.40.4-5, 6.56.3, 6.58.2); in fact, it is the theme of the sun’s path that makes Savitr̥ and Pūṣan overlap in identity: {97|98}
utá pūṣā́ bhavasi deva yā́mabhiḥ
Rig-Veda 5.81.5
and you, Deva [the god Savitr̥] become Pūṣan by your movements.
Previously, the movements of Savitr̥ had just been described:
utá rā́trīm ubhayátaḥ páriyasa
Rig-Veda 5.81.4
and you [Savitr̥] go around the night on both sides.
From the other contexts, [59] we may assume here that Savitr̥ goes east to west when night is below us and west to east when night is above us. Savitr̥ and Pūṣan are correlates elsewhere, too, in the Rig-Veda (3.62.9-10, 10.139.1), but it will suffice here to consider only their correlation in solar movement. [60]
In the same hymn where Savitr̥ and Pūṣan function as correlate psychopomps, the solar movements of Pūṣan are described in the following mystical language:
prápathe pathā́m ajaniṣṭa pūṣā́
prápathe diváḥ prápathe pr̥thivyā́ḥ
ubhé abhí priyátame sadhásthe
ā́ ca párā ca carati prajānán
Rig-Veda 10.17.6
at the extremity of paths was Pūṣan born,
at the extremity of the sky, at the extremity of the earth;
over both most dear sadhástha-s
he goes to and fro, knowing [the way].
Two basic questions are: (1) what is the extremity of sky/earth and (2) what are the two sadhastha-s ‘abodes’ of the sun?
A bivalent answer can he derived from the Indic concept of Sky and Earth as surrounded by Ocean, on all sides. This concept is implicit in a Rig-Vedic theme that has it that all streams and rivers flow into the Samudra ‘Ocean’ (1.32.2, 1.130.5, 2.19.3), as also in another theme, {98|99} which has it that there is an East Ocean and a West Ocean (10.136.5), or that there are four Oceans (9.33.6). These concepts seem to be based on mythopoeic patterns of cosmic order rather than geographical experience, so that there is room for believing also in an upper Ocean matching the Sky as well as a lower Ocean matching the Earth (cf. 10.98.5, 12). But this distinction is just a sophisticated elaboration: the basic idea remains that the Ocean comes between where the Earth stops and the Sky begins. It follows, then, that the sun submerges in the Ocean at sunset and emerges from it at sunrise; in fact, this concept is explicit in the testimony of the Taittirīya-Āraṇyaka (4.42.33) and the Aitareya-Brāhmaṇa (4.20.13; cf. also Atharva-Veda 13.2.14). Thus the birth of Pūṣan from the extremity of Sky/Earth (again, Rig-Veda 10.17.6) must mean that the sun was born of the Ocean. [61] It must be for this reason that Pūṣan’s solar correlate Savitr̥ is specifically called apā́ṃ nápāt ‘progeny of the waters’ (1.22.6); furthermore, Savitr̥ as Apām Napãt even knows such secrets as where the fountainhead of the Ocean gushes forth (10.149.2). As for the two sadhástha-s ‘abodes’ of Pūṣan (10.17.6), they must be the Sky and the Ocean: as he travels to and fro (ā́ ca párā ca carati), he goes cast to west in the Sky at day and, somehow, west to east at night after having plunged into the Ocean.
To be contrasted with the two sadhástha-s of Pūṣan are the three sadhástha-s of the fire-god Agni (Rig-Veda 3.20.2, etc.); in fact, one of Agni’s epithets is tri-sadhasthá- ‘having three sadhástha-s’ (5.4.8, etc.). Unlike the fire of the sun, which has abodes only in the sky and in the water, Agni as sacrificial fire abides also on earth. The word agní- itself means ‘fire’, cognate with Latin ignis. Agni as god links the microcosm of sacrificial fire with the macrocosm of celestial fire. As sacrificial fire, Agni is kindled on earth at dawn so that the sun may rise (4.3.11, 5.6.4). If there were no sacrificial fire at dawn, there would be no sunrise (Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa From a cosmic point of view, Agni himself caused the sun to rise (Rig-Veda 10.156.4). [62]
The three sadhástha-s ‘abodes’ of Agni correspond to three different proveniences of Agni, and the Rig-Veda reveals them in the following order (10.45.1): [63] {99|100}
First, Agni is born in the Sky, as lightning; [64]
Second, Agni is born on Earth, as sacrificial fire;
Third, Agni is born in the Ocean, as the risen sun.
Let us examine in more detail the third provenience of Agni. Like the sun-god Savitr̥, the water-born third Agni is also called apā́ṃ nápāt ‘progeny of the waters’ (Rig-Veda 3.1.12-13, 3.9.1, etc.). Elsewhere, Apām Napāt seems to exist as a separate entity (10.30.3-4, etc.); he is celebrated in one whole hymn (2.35), but even here he is identified with Agni in the last stanza. Just as Savitr̥ as specialized sky-god has features derivable from Dyaus ‘Sky’ [65] so also Apām Napãt: whereas Savitr̥ is called the prajā́pati-, the creator of the universe (4.53.2), [66] Apām Napāt is described as the one who “created all things” (víśvānibhúvanā jajāna 2.35.2). [67]
The Vedic figure Apām Napāt is so ancient that there is a formal analogue in the Iranian evidence: the Avestan figure Apąm Napå. [68] While other thematic evidence about Apąm Napå is elusive, he is known to have the epithet auruuat̰-aspa- ‘having swift horses’ (Yašt 19.51); [69] otherwise, this word serves only to describe the huuar- ‘sun’ (Yašt 10.90, etc.). There is a thematic parallel in the Rig-Vedic word āśuhéman- ‘driving swift horses’, which serves as epithet for Apām Napāt (2.31.6, 2.35.1, 7.47.2); he is transported by horses as swift as thought itself (1.186.5). [70]
In Rig-Veda 1.162, a hymn celebrating the sacrificial horse, it is specifically Pūṣan’s goat that leads the horse to its immolation (stanzas 2-3). In fact, Pūṣan’s chariot is regularly drawn by goats (1.138.4; 6.55.3-4, 6; 6.57.3; 6.58.2); by contrast, Savitr̥’s chariot is drawn by {100|101} horses (7.45.1; cf. 1.35.3, 5). Therefore, the ritual symbolism of having the sacrificial goat of Pūṣan precede the sacrificial horse can be related with mythological symbolism: just as the goat is the horse’s guide in ritual, so also Pūṣan is Savitr̥’s guide in myth. From the conventional association of Indic Apām Napāt and of Iranian Apąm Napå with horses, it follows that the designation of Savitr̥ the sun-god as Apām Napāt (1.22.6) is old enough to be a part of the shared Indo-Iranian heritage and is due to his own solar association with horses (7.45.1); by contrast, Pūṣan is called Apām Napāt nowhere in the Rig-Veda, presumably because he is associated with goats, not horses. In their function as solar psychopomps, Savitr̥ and Pūṣan may be correlates, [71] but not so in terms of the epithet Apām Napāt: the inherited phraseology of this expression requires association with horses, not goats.
When it comes to the death and rebirth of man, Apām Napāt serves as a solar model rather than solar guide. The celestial fire plunges into the waters at sunset, only to be reborn from them at sunrise. As a parallel, the sacrificial horse is immolated so that it may draw the chariot of the sun come sunrise, but its guide is the goat. In the Rig-Vedic hymn to Apām Napāt, sun and horse are parallel as they rise at dawn:
áśvasyā́tra jánimāsyá ca svàr
Rig-Veda 2.35.6
There [in the waters] is the birthplace of the horse and this sun. [72]
For the function of enacting man’s rebirth after death, there is an element missing in the figure of Apām Napāt; as the hymn composed specially for him makes clear, Apām Napāt is Apām Napāt only in the waters and in the sky, but on earth he becomes someone else:
só apā́ṃ nápād ánabhimlātavarṇo’
‘nyásyevehá tanvā̀ viveṣa
Rig-Veda 2.35.13
Apām Napāt, with imperishable radiance,
is at work here [on earth] with the body of another.
This “other” is then identified in the last stanza of the hymn as Agni himself, in his function as sacrificial fire (2.35.15). Thus whereas Agni is {101|102} Apām Napāt, Aparn Napāt is not Agni in all respects. Specifically, Apām Napāt lacks one of Agni’s three aspects; he is not at work on earth.
To round out this complex picture of the tripartite Agni, let us briefly consider his first provenience. Besides the earth-born Second Agni of the sacrificial fire and the water-born Third Agni of the sun, there is also the sky-born First Agni of lightning (Rig-Veda 10.45.1-3; also 1.143.2, 3.2.13, 6.6.2). While the water-born Agni has two sadhástha-s ‘abodes’, Sky and Ocean, the sky-born Agni in the form of lightning can go directly from Sky to Earth through the antárikṣa- ‘intermediate space’ (6.8.2, 10.65.2).
The tripartite distribution of Agni is subject to a number of confusions. As lightning, sky-born Agni qualifies as being in the third sky (Rig-Veda 1.143.2, etc.); yet the sky-born Agni is the first Agni, Also, with the concept of celestial waters matching terrestrial waters (1.32.2, 12, etc.), it may seem tempting to imagine the water-born Agni as not only the sun but also lightning; and yet, Indic ritual shows that water-born Agni was basically incompatible with the fire of lightning: according to the Śatapalha-Brāhmaṇa (; cf. Aitareya-Brāhmaṇa 7.7), “the Agni in the waters” must be expiated if fire from lightning has been mixed with sacrificial fire. [73]
Lightning, however, is not the only form in which Agni comes from Sky to Earth. We are now about to see the purpose of Agni’s tripartition, which links the mystery of afterlife with the mystery of terrestrial fire’s origin from celestial fire. We begin with the Vedic concept of human reproduction, where the male plants the gárbha- ‘embryo’ in the uterus of the female: thus when Sky impregnates Earth with rainwater, the embryo is none other than “the Agni in the waters,” and this embryo is then lodged within the plants that grow out of the impregnated Earth (Rig-Veda 7.9.3, 8.43.9, 1.141.4, etc.). [74] One of the designations of Agni within plants is actually apā́m gárbha- ‘embryo of the waters’ (7.9.3); one of the designations of “plant” is óṣadhī-.
apsv àgne sádhiṣ ṭava
saúṣadhīr ánu rudhyase
Rig-Veda 8.43.9
Your station is in waters, Agni;
you grow into óṣadhī-s. {102|103}
Etymologically, óṣadhī- may be interpreted as being composed of roots uṣ- and dhā-, meaning ‘light-emplacement.’ [75]
The one who brought fire from the Sky to the Earth is called Mātariśvan, messenger of Vivasvat (Rig-Veda 6.8.2; also 1.93.6, 3.2.13, 1.143.2). Elsewhere, the messenger of Vivasvat is specified as Agni himself (1.58.1, 8.39.3, 10.21.5), and the word mātaríśvan- actually serves as Agni’s epithet (1.96.4, 3.5.9, 3.26.2). “Though the myth of Mātariśvan is based on the distinction between fire and a personification which produces it, the analysis of the myth shows these two to be identical.” [76] It remains to ask how Mātariśvan brought celestial fire to Earth: he produced fire by friction, expressed with verb forms of the root manth- (as in 1.71.4, 1.141.3, 1.148.1, 3.9.5). In the language of the Rig-Veda, fire is produced by the manth- ‘friction’ of fire-sticks called the aráṇi-s: [77]
ástīdám adhimánthanam
ásti prajánanaṃ kr̥tám
etā́ṃ viśpátnīm ā́ bhara
agním manthāma pūrváthā
aráṇyor níhito jātávedā
gárbha iva súdhito garbhíṇīṣu
Rig-Veda 3.29.1-2
This is the friction-place,
birth-giving, it has been prepared;
bring the viśpátnī [mistress of the household];
as before, let us rub fire.
Agni the Jātavedas has been emplaccd in the two aráṇi-s
well-placed like the embryo in pregnant females.
The fire latent in the wood of the aráṇi-s is born as terrestrial fire, and we note that the Agni-epithet Mātariśvan is etymologically appropriate to the theme of latent fire: mātarí- ‘in the mother’ and -śvan- ‘swelling’ (from root śū- ‘swell’). Here, then, is the key to the mystery of how the terrestrial fire of sacrifice was produced from celestial fire. Agni descends from the Sky as an embryo in rainwater. Then lie is lodged in the plants that grow from the impregnation of Earth with rain. Finally, he is {103|104} rubbed out of wood, thus becoming terrestrial fire. The link between celestial and terrestrial fire is Agni Mātariśvan, messenger of Vivasvat. (6.8.2, etc.).
As for Vivasvat, he is the first to receive fire on earth by virtue of being the first to sacrifice on earth, and he is the ancestor of humans (Maitrāyaṇī-Saṃhitā 1.6.12, Taittirīya-Saṃhtiā, Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa [78] To say sádane vivásvataḥ ‘at the place of Vivasvat’ (Rig-Veda 1.53.1) is the same as saying ‘at the sacrifice’. [79] Vivasvat, father of Yama (10.14.5, 10.17.1) is formally and thematically cognate with the Avestan figure Vìvahvant, father of Yima, who was the first person ever to prepare Haoma (Yasna 9.3-4). The association of Vīvahvant with Haoma is important because Soma/Haoma constitutes the Indic/Iranian sacrifice par excellence, [80] and the Vedic Vivasvat also has special associations with Soma (Rig-Veda 9.26.4, 9.10.5, etc.). In the context of the breaking dawn, uṣás-, the word vivásvat- also occurs as an epithet of Agni, meaning ‘shining’:
ámūraḥ kavír áditir vivásvān
susaṃsán mitró átithiḥ śivó naḥ
citrábhānur uṣásām bhāty ágre
apā́m gárbhaḥ prasvà ā́ viveśa
Rig-Veda 7.9.3
The unerring seer, the Aditi, the Vivasvat,
the Mitra of good company, our kind guest,
with majestic brightness he shines in front of the dawns,
the embryo of the waters has lodged in pregnant plants.
Such thematic connections (cf. also 1.44.1, 1.96.2, 3.30.13) serve as confirmation of the etymology: the vas- of vivásvat- is derived from the verb vas-/uṣ- ‘shine’, and so, too, is the uṣ- of uṣas- ‘dawn’. Furthermore, the vas- of vivásvat- is cognate with the Latin ues- of Vesta, Roman goddess of the domestic fireplace. [81] As for the domestic aspect of Vivasvat, it is best understood in relation to the Indic Triple Fire. Matching the tripartite nature of Agni, there evolved certain Indic cult practices that involve a triple sacrificial fire, as documented in minute detail by the Brāhmaṇas. Whereas the single sacrificial fire is suitable for domestic purposes, the triple sacrificial fire is a priestly institution associated with {104|105} the cult centers of the Indic peoples (cf. Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa Some sacrifices, such as the offerings at sunrise and sunset, can he enacted with either a single or a triple fire, but others are restricted to one or the other: for example, rites related to family life belong to the single fire, whereas Soma-rites are restricted to a triple fire. [82]
Among the three fires of the Triple Fire, one is still specifically associated with the domestic aspects: it is the Gārhapatya, meaning ‘fire of the gr̥hápati-’. The word gr̥hápati-, like viśpáti-, means ‘lord of the household’; both are common Rig-Vedic epithets of Agni. Significantly, if the fire of the Gārhapatya is extinguished, it must be rekindled with aráṇi-s (Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa By contrast, if another of the three fires, the Āhavanīya (from preverb ā- plus root hav- ‘pour libation’), is extinguished, it is to be relit from the fire of the Gārhapatya (Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa The specific association of the Gārhapatya with the aráṇi-s (see also Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa is parallel to the association of Vivasvat with the aráṇi-s:
In the Mātariśvan myth, Agni is produced with manth- ‘friction’. [83]
Mātariśvan is the messenger of Vivasvat. [84]
Vivasvat is the first, to receive fire by virtue of being the first sacrificer on earth. [85]
Agni is produced with the manth- ‘friction’ of fire-slicks called aráṇi-s in Rig-Veda 3.29.1-2. [86]
We note that the fire apparatus in the latter passage, Rig-Veda 3.29.1-2, [87] is called viśpátnī ‘mistress of the household’: here, too, the domestic implication is pertinent to the function of the Gārhapatya. Finally, besides the aráṇi-s, still another feature of the Gārhapatya links it to the Mātariśvan myth: it is the designation of its enclosure as the yóni- ‘uterus’ (Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa [88]
The connection between Indic Vivasvat/Mātariśvan/Gārhapatya and Italic Vesta extends beyond the general feature of the domestic fireplace. Even in such specific details as the relighting of the Gārhapatya with the {105|106} friction of wood, the cult of Vesta affords specific parallels. The fire in the Roman sanctuary of Vesta was supposed to be kept going at all times (cf. Cicero Philippics 11.10), and it was a grave matter if it ever went out:
ignis Vestae si quando interstinctus esset, uirgines uerberibus adficiebantur a pontifice, quibus mos erat tabulam felicis materiae tamdiu terebrare, quousque exceptum ignem cribro aeneo uirgo in aedem ferret.
Paulus ex Festo 94 ed. Lindsay
Whenever the fire of Vesta was interrupted, the Virgins were beaten by the pontifex; their custom was to bore a tabula of fēlix māteria until a fire could be taken and brought in a brazen cribrum to the sanctuary by a Virgin. [89]
We note that the wood used here is called māteria, a noun apparently derived from māter ‘mother’, and that māteria is qualified as fēlix, an adjective appropriate to the theme of fertility. Immediately comparable in theme are the name mātariśvan- ‘swelling in the mother’ [90] and the name for the enclosure of the Gārhapatya, yóni- ‘uterus’. [91]
If the fire of the Gārhapatya went out, it was likewise a grave matter: the fire must not be relit by borrowing from the fire of the Āhavanīya, nor by substituting the Āhavanīya for the Gārhapatya; rather, fire must be rubbed from the aráni-s (Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa [92] This ritual hierarchy reflects symbolically the Indo-European custom of borrowing fire from the domestic fireplace of a fellow member of a community: we may compare such expressions as Greek πῦρ αὔειν/λαβεῖν, Lithuanian ùgnį im̃ti, Latin ignem accipere, Italian fuoco prendre, all meaning ‘take fire’; as Wilhelm Schulze has noticed, the contexts of these expressions point back to the same ancestral custom. [93] The point remains that the Gārhapatya, by virtue of being the domestic fire, is the central point from which all other fires emanate. [94]
Having observed the primacy of the Gārhapatya, let us examine how the distinction between the Gārhapatya and the Āhavanīya symbolizes the distinction between terrestrial and celestial fire. To repeat, whereas terrestrial fire is obviously incompatible with its opposite element, water, the nature of water-born celestial fire is different in Indic myth: {106|107}
  • —the sun plunges into the waters of the west only to be reborn the next day from the waters of the east;
  • —celestial fire is hidden in raindrops will impregnate the earth; it remains hidden in plants dial grow out of the earth; then it is rubbed out of wood as terrestrial fire.
The distinction in myth, as we shall now see, is partially conveyed by the interplay of the Gārhapatya and the Āhavanīya.
The fireplace of the Gārhapatya is set up in a circular enclosure, with the space on the inside representing the earth and the space on the outside representing the ocean around it (these ritual symbols are definitively and explicitly recounted in Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa, 13); the enclosure, set off with bricks, is circular because the shape of the earth is circular ( We note that the waters are symbolized, as being outside the enclosure that is to receive the terrestrial fire, the Gārhapatya.
By contrast, the fireplace of the Āhavanīya is set up in a quadrilateral enclosure representing the dyáus ‘sky’, with a lotus leaf placed inside the enclosure for the specific purpose of representing the waters (again, these symbols are definitively and explicitly recounted in Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa The enclosure of the Āhavanīya is quadrilateral because the four directions—north, south, east, west—can be ascertained from the dynamics of the sky (the sun’s path, the stars’ positions); orientation comes from the sky, not from earth—which is therefore symbolized as circular, that is, without directional coordinates of its own. We note that the waters are symbolized as being inside the enclosure that is to receive the celestial fire, the Āhavanīya. Unlike terrestrial fire, celestial fire is compatible with its opposite element, water; in macrocosm, the sun dips into the waters of the west only to be reborn the next clay in the waters of the east.
While duly taking into account the distinctions between the cults of the Indic peoples, attested at a nomadic stage, and the cults of the Italic peoples, attested at a sedentary stage of development, Georges Dumézil [95] has noticed a remarkable parallelism between the Indic Āhavanīya and the ordinary Roman templum, a quadrilateral precinct drawn along the lines of the four cardinal points of the sky (cf. Vitruvius 4.5); also between the Indic Gārhapatya and the aedēs of Vesta, with its foundations built in the shape of a circle (hence the designation aedēs instead of templum). Just as the Gārhapatya represents the domestic {107|108} aspects of fire, so also the Roman Vesta is the goddess of the domestic fireplace. Dumézil has also noticed further parallelisms. Just as the Gārhapatya is incompatible with water, so also aedēs of Vesta: in the course of the rituals that take place within the aedēs no water may touch the ground, not even if it is put down in a container. In line with this prohibition is the essence of a water jar called the futtile, derived from the adjective futtilis (‘which is poured’); besides the radical variant fu-t-, Latin also preserves fu-d- as in fundō ‘pour’). The use of this jar is explicitly described as follows:
futile uas quoddam est lato ore, fundo angusto, quo utebantur in sacris Vestae, quia aqua ad sacra Vestae hausta in terra non ponitur, quod si fiat, piaculum est. unde excogitatum uas est, quod non stare posset sed positum statim effunderetur.
Servius on Aeneid 11.339
The futtile is a container with a wide mouth and a narrow base which they used in the rites of Vesta, since water drawn for the rites of Vesta is not put down. And if it does happen, it is a matter for expiation. Hence the invention of a vase which could not stand up and which, once it is put down, would immediately spill.
The third aspect of the Indic Triple Fire has yet to be mentioned: besides the Gārhapatya situated toward the west and the Āhavanīya toward the east, there is also the Dakṣiṇa toward the south. Meaning ‘the right-hand one’, the Dakṣiṇa serves primarily to ward off the evil spirits from the sacrifice (Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa, Given the associations of the earth-born Agni with the Gārhapatya and of the water-born Agni with the Āhavanīya, it follows that the sky-born Agni of lightning should be associated with the Dakṣiṇa.
While the Gārhapatya symbolizes earth and the Āhavanīya symbolizes the sky plus ocean, the Dakṣiṇa symbolizes the antárikṣa- ‘intermediate space’ (as explicitly affirmed in the Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa The sky-born Agni is specifically described as protecting the sacrificial ordinances and spanning the antárikṣa-.
ṣa jā́yamānaḥ paramé vyòmani
vratā́ny agnír vratapā́ arakṣata
vy àntárikṣam amimīta sukrátur
vaiśvānaró mahinā́ nā́kam aspr̥śat
Rig-Veda 6.8.2
Born in the highest sky,
Agni the ordinance-guardian watches over the ordinances; {108|109}
the Sukratu, he spans the intermediate space;
the Vaiśvānara, he touches the sky-vault with his greatness.
The antárikşa- is the context for a fusion of Agni with Indra in the act of smiting the demon Vr̥tra in a stylized thunderstorm:
antárikṣam máhy ā́ paprur ójasā
Rig-Veda 10.65.2
they [the gods] filled the intermediate space with their ójas-.
The root of ójas- ‘power’ (*h2eu̯g-) is cognate with that of vájra- (*h2u̯eg -), the name of Indra’s thunderbolt, [96] which is conferred upon him by Agni:
ā́ bāhvór vájram índrasya dheyām
Rig-Veda 10.52.5
I [Agni] will put the vájra- in the arms of Indra.
In fact, the epithet vájra-bāhu- ‘he who holds the vájra- in his arms’ is applied to the fused figure of Indra-Agni (Rig-Veda 1.109.7) as well as to Indra alone (1.32.15, etc.). [97] To conclude: since the Dakṣiṇa symbolizes the antárikṣa- ‘intermediate space’, it follows that it is proper to the sky-born Agni of lightning.
We are now in a position to summarize the symbolism of the Indic Triple Fire:
  • 1. Dakṣiṇa: sky-born Agni, lightning
  • 2. Gārhapatya: earth-born Agni, fire
  • 3. Āhavanīya: water-born Agni, sun
The three fires have been listed here to match the order of Agni’s three births, as revealed by Rig-Veda 10.45.1. [98] This Rig-Vedic order of Agni’s three births is significant because it helps account for the interpretation of the name Trita Āptya as the watery ‘third one’. [99] It is also significant {109|110} because it corresponds to the order in which the Deva-s [100] had set up the Triple Fire:
  • 1. Dakṣiṇa
  • 2. Gārhapatya
  • 3. Āhavanīya
By contrast, the antagonists of the Deva-s, the Asura-s, [101] had set up the Triple Fire in the following order:
  • 3. Āhavanīya
  • 2. Gārhapatya
  • 1. Dakṣiṇa
The myth of these rival orders is recorded in the Taittirīya-Brāhmaṇa (, where it is added that the fortunes of the Asura-s or ‘demons’ consequently went backward and they lost all, while the fortunes of the Deva-s or ‘gods’ went forward and they prospered. But the Deva-s were not to have any progeny; in this respect, the Deva-s are then contrasted with Manu, whose sacrifice brought him both prosperity and progeny. Throughout the Brāhmaṇa-s, this Manu is the ideal sacrificer and the ancestor of the human race. In Sylvain Lévi’s description, Manu is the hero of the śraddhā [102] given that this Vedic word designates the sacrificer’s attitude toward his sacrifice. As ancestor of the human race, Manu would naturally have the same order of fire placement as that practiced by the Indic peoples; throughout the Rig-Veda, whenever a sacrificer kindles fire, he does so manuṣvát- ‘like Manu’ (1.44.11, etc.). Here is the order in which the Indic sacrificer sets up the Triple Fire:
  • 2. Gārhapatya
  • 3. Āhavanīya
  • 1. Dakṣiṇa
The key to Mann’s success in progeny—where even the gods have failed—is that he started the order of fire placement with the Gārhapatya, where Agni is born like a human: as the mātaríśvan-, the one ‘swelling in the mother’, Agni is born of the Gārhapatya’s yóni- ‘uterus’. [103] From the Rig-Veda, we know that it was Mātariśvan who gave {110|111} Agni to Manu (1.128.2, 10.46.9), and that Agni abides among the offspring of Manu (1.68.4).
Manu can be described as a specialized multiform of Vivasvat: both figures are primordial sacrificers, both are ancestors of the human race, both have special affinities with Mātariśvan and the Gārhapatya. In fact, Manu is in some versions the “son” of Vivasvat and thus bears the epithet Vaivasvata (Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa, etc.). Also “son” of Vivasvat is Yama (Rig-Veda 10.14.5, etc.), who likewise bears the epithet Vaivasvata (10.14.1, etc.). As the first person ever to experience death, Yama Vaivasvata is ruler of the dead, while Mann Vaivasvata is ruler of the living sacrificers (Śatapatha-Brāhmaṇa
The etymology of mánu- is transparent: it is derived from the verb man- ‘to have in mind’. The meaning of Manu as ‘the mindful one’ is appropriate to the theme of Manu: as Sylvain Lévi points out, his sheer virtuosity in “the delicate art of sacrifice” confers upon him an incontestable authority on matters of ritual. [104] There is no sacrificial error for which he does not know a remedy (Taittirīya-Saṃhitā, etc.). To the degree that ritual was the informing principle of law in the social history of the Indic peoples, Mann’s authority was further extended: he was also regarded as a sort of lawgiver, and it is for this reason that the Indic corpus of juridical and moral aphorisms is named after him. [105]
The semantics of Mánu- go beyond the theme of being ‘mindful’ at a sacrifice. The broader implications are visible in another derivative from the root man-, the noun mánas-. As we shall see, mánas- conveys both the mental power of prayer at sacrifice and the cosmic power triggered by such prayer. It also conveys, along with the noun ásu-, the aspect of man that survives death. [106] Just as Mánu- assures the perpetuity of the human race by way of sacrificial fire, so also mánas- assures the regeneration of the individual human—again by way of Agni as sacrificial fire. [107] {111|112}
How, then, is this regeneration concretely visualized with an abstract noun like mánas-? As we shall see, the concrete imagery associated with mánas- (and with ásu-) is vision and breath in microcosm, sun and wind in macrocosm. The focus of this imagery is Agni’s aspect as terrestrial fire, which provides the dead with a direct link to Agni’s aspect as celestial fire, namely, the sun. The sun-gods Savitr̥ and Pūṣan can be psychopomps only because Agni himself is a psychopomp, by virtue of cremating the dead. Agni is the supreme model and guide of rebirth.
The cremating fire of Agni ultimately confers upon the dead a communion with the sun:
sū́ryaṃ cákṣur gacchatu vā́tam ātmā́
Rig-Veda 10.16.3
may the eye go to the sun and the breath to the wind [108]
Here we see the elements of vision and breath absorbed into the macrocosm of sun and wind. Elsewhere too, the theme of wind is correlated with that of the sun:
sū́rya ātmā́ jágatas tasthúṣaś ca
Rig-Veda 1.115.1
sun, the breath of everything moving and unmoving
Such correlations of wind with sun can be derived from the microcosm of sacrificial fire: its air-suction and exhaust are simply transferred to the macrocosm of the sun. [109]
Turning now to the associations of these concrete images with the abstract noun mánas-, let us examine the deployment of this word in Vedic diction. As “thought” or “power of thought,” mánas- has speed comparable with that of the Aśvin-s’ horse team (Rig-Veda 1.181.2, 6.62.3, 4). These Aśvin-s are the Nā́satyau, [110] sons of Dyaus ‘Sky’ (1.183.1, etc.), {112|113} consorts of the sun-goddess Sūryā (4.43.6) and fathers of Pūṣan (10.85.14); their sunlike chariot (8.8.2) is set in motion by Savitr̥ before the dawn (1.34.10). They appear as the sacrificial fire is kindled and as the sun rises (1.157.1, 7.72.4, etc.). The frequent Rig-Vedic theme that their chariot is faster than mánas- ‘thought’ (1.117.2, etc.) implies a comparison of mánas- with wind. In the hymn to the Sacrificial Horse, the victim’s thought is specifically likened with vā́ta-, the wind (1.163.11); the epithet for vā́ta- here is dhrájīmat- ‘rushing’, which occurs elsewhere only once:
áhir dhúnir vā́ta iva dhrájimān
Rig-Veda 1.79.1
The raging serpent, like the rustling wind
The raging serpent here is none other than the fire-god Agni himself,
The Greek cognate of mánas-, ménos (μένος), generally means not ‘thought’ or ‘power of thought’ but ‘power’, by way of a basic meaning ‘having in mind, reminding’ common to both Indic mánas- and Greek ménos. For instance, the goddess Athena reminded (hup-é-mnē-sen) Telemachus of his father, thereby giving him ménos:
τῷ δ’ ἐvὶ θυμῷ
θῆκε μένος καì θάρσος, ὑπέμνησέν τέ ἑ πατρὸς
μᾶλλον ἔτ’ ἢ τὸ πάροιθεν
Odyssey i 320-322
In his thūmós
she had put ménos and daring; and she had reminded him of his father,
more than before. [111]
Besides the contextual guarantee from the verb root *men-/*mn-eh2- in hup-é-mnē-sen (ὑπέμνησεν) here, there is also a thematic guarantee for the interpretation of ménos as ‘reminding’: in order to put ménos into Telemachus, Athena has assumed the form of a hero called Méntēs (Μέντης i 105ff.), a name that literally means ‘the reminder’. [112] {113|114}
The precise transmission of divine ménos is by breathing, as the gods blow it (ἐμπνεῖν) into the hero (Iliad X 482; XV 59-60, 262; XX 110; Odyssey xxiv 520). Consequently, warriors eager for battle are literally “snorting with ménos,” that is, μένεα πνείοντες (Iliad II 536, III 8, XI 508, XXIV 364; Odyssey xxii 203). The gods also breathe ménos into horses:
ὣς εἰπὼν ἵπποισιν ἐνέπνευσεν μένος ἠύ
Iliad XVII 456
So saying he [Zeus] breathed good ménos into the horses.
Parallel to this μένος ἠύ ‘good ménos’ blown by Zeus is the “good mánas-’ that Agni is implored to blow into the sacrificers: [113]
bhadráṃ no ápi vātaya mánaḥ
Rig-Veda 10.20.1
blow us a good mánas-!
Besides heroes and horses, other entities, too, can have ménos, such as the sun (Iliad XXIII 190), fire (VI 182, XVII 565), moist winds (Odyssey xix 440), and streams (Iliad XII 18). Like heroes, cosmic forces have to be reminded of their power, and this is precisely what sacrificers have to do. One Vedic word for this reminder is mánas-, as when the priests (vípra-s) hitch up mánas- and thoughts at the coming of the sun-god Savitr̥:
yuñjáte mána utá yuñjate dhíyo
Rig-Veda 5.81.1
they hitch up mánas- and they hitch up thoughts
The time of Savitr̥’s coming is sunrise (Rig-Veda 5.81.2), and his function as daily “vivifier” (the actual meaning of Savitr̥-) [114] is duly recounted (5.81.2-5). By hitching up mánas-, the priests indirectly hitch up the dhī́yas ‘thoughts, consciousness’ of mankind, insomuch as they have reminded Savitr̥, whose daily function it İs to rouse men by awakening them at sunrise (4.53.3, 6.71.2, 7.45.1). Specifically, it is the consciousness of men that Savitr̥ rouses: {114|115}
tát savitúr váreṇyam
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt
Rig-Veda 3.62.10
May we receive this choice light
of the Deva Savitr̥,
who will rouse our thoughts.
This stanza is the celebrated Sāvitrī, [115] with which Savitr̥ is invoked at the inception of one’s Vedic study. Again, the word for “thoughts” is dhī́yas, which was the correlate of mánas- in Rig-Veda 5.81.1, quoted above. [116] From such contextual evidence, İt is possible to infer that not only Savitr̥ but also mánas- is connected with awakening from sleep as well as resurrection from death. In Greek usage, too, ménos is an element that is lost during sleep:
οὐ γὰρ πανσωλή γε μετέσσεται, οὐδ’ ἠβαιόν,
εἰ μὴ νὺξ ἐλθοῦσα διακρινέει μένος ἀνδρῶν
Iliad II 386-387
There will not be a pause for rest [from battle] in between, not a bit,
unless the night comes and separates the ménos from the men.
We come back, then, to our original starting point: that the Greek word ménos is synonymous with thūmós and psūkhḗ at the moment of death in particular and of losing consciousness in general. Now we see from the comparative evidence of the Indic cognate mánas- that this Greek word has a heritage of leaving open the possibility of reawakening from death on the model of reawakening from sleep or a swoon. In Indic traditions the context of this reawakening is the realm of the pitŕ̥-s ‘ancestors’. We also come back, then, to the collocation of the expression ménos ēú with the name Patro-kléēs ‘whose glory is that of the ancestors’ in a context where the expression designates the aspect of Patroklos that is separated from his body by death (Iliad XXIV 6).
The comparative evidence of the Indic cognate mánas- can tell us still more about Greek ménos: we now see that there is an inherited affinity between the ménos of the sun (Iliad XXIII 190) or wind (Odyssey xix 440) and the ménos of a hero whose name conveys the glory of the ancestors. {115|116} Through the intermediасу of the fire that cremates the body, vision and breath can become one with sun and wind. [117] It is therefore a vital fact that the fire of cremation is itself called “the ménos of fire” in Iliad XXIII 238 and XXIV 792; moreover, in the first passage, the body that is being cremated is that of Patroklos himself. [118] By way of this intermediасу, we can now see how a verb like psū́khō, which designates the blowing of winds at Iliad XX 440, has a noun-derivative psūkhḗ that can function as the synonym of ménos at the moment of dying. Or again, we now see how the Indo-European verb root *an- (*h2enh1-), as attested in Indic ániti ‘blows’, leads to noun-derivatives like both ánemos ‘wind’ in Greek and animus ‘spirit’ in Latin. Significantly, the word ánemoi (plural) in Greek can also designate ‘spirits of the ancestors’ (e.g. Suda s.v. tritopátores, etc.). [119] Further, Latin fūmus and Indic dhūmá-, both meaning ‘smoke’, are cognate with Greek thūmós: again, we can better understand such semantic specializations when we envision the exhaust of sacrificial fire as it transforms the breath of life into wind (and we have already witnessed this theme in an earlier passage). [120]
We are still left, however, with the problem of the epithet ēú in the Homeric expression ménos ēú (μένος ἠύ). Semantically, ēú corresponds to bhadrám ‘good’ in the Vedic expression bhadrámmánas. [121] Formally, as we shall now see, ēú corresponds to the noun ásu-, which is used in combination with mánas- to designate the conveyors of identity after death. Before we can examine this formal connection, however, we shall have to survey the concrete visualizations of ásu- at the moment of cremation and thereafter. {116|117}
As we have already seen, the setting sun can be envisioned as taking along the breath and vision cosmically absorbed from the cremated dead. [122] Significantly, a goat has been cremated together with the corpse (Rig-Veda 10.16.4). With the goat as warrant of divine guidance, the righteous dead must travel along the way of the ancestors, the pitŕ̥-s, who have reached the ásu- and who have been avr̥kā́s ‘unharmed by the wolf’:
ásuṃ yá īyúr avr̥kā́ r̥tajñā́s
Rig-Veda 10.15.1
who have reached the ásu-, unharmed by the wolf, knowing righteousness
Not only the cremation of the goat but also the threat of the wolf point to the psychopomp Pūṣan: it is he who fends off the wolf from the traveler’s path (Rig-Veda 1.42.2). Another threat are Yama’s hounds, who are asutŕ̥pāásu-robbers’ (10.14.11). It is because of these hounds that the following prayer must be recited:
tā́v asmábhyaṃ dr̥śáye sū́ryāya
púnar dātām ásum adyéhá bhadrám
Rig-Veda 10.14.12
may these two [hounds], so that we may see the sun,
give us back, here today, our good ásu-
Thus “good ásu-” with the same epithet bhadrá- ‘good’ that we have already seen applied elsewhere to mánas-, [123] is a key to the vision of sunlight.
With Agni/Savitr̥/Pūṣan as psychopomp, the dead must travel along the ásunīti- ‘path leading to ásu- (Rig-Veda 10.12.4, 10.15.14, 10.16.2); elsewhere, ásunīti- is personified as a goddess, implored to give bach to the dead their vision of sunlight (10.59.5-6). As the dead near the end of their trip from west to east, sleepers are ready to waken and Uṣas ‘Dawn’ is awaited:
úd īrdhvaṃ jīvó ásur na ā́gād
ápa prā́gāt táma ā́ jyótir eti
ā́raik pánthāṃ yā́tave sū́ryāya {117|118}
áganma yátra pratiránta ā́yuḥ
Rig-Veda 1.113.16
Arise! The living ásu- has come to us;
darkness has gone away, light draws near;
she [Uṣas] has made free the path for the sun to go;
we have arrived where they continue life.
At the same moment that sleepers awake, the dead are resurrected. After the righteous dead have successfully traveled along the underworld path, they rise with the sun on the pravát- stream, following the example of Yama, to the abode of the pitŕ̥-s ‘ancestors’, the highest point of the sun (Rig-Veda 9.113.9), where they may stay in communion with it (1.125.6, 10.107.2, 10.154.5).
A suitable psychopomp for the ascent (with Yama: 10.14.8) into the abode of the pitŕ̥-s is the sun-god Savitr̥ himself (10.17.4). [124] Or Agni can serve as a cosmic model, in the function of Apām Napāt. [125] There is even a variant of apā́ṃ nápāt that is specially applicable to Agni, namely, praváto nápāt ‘progeny of the pravát- stream’ (Atharva-Veda 1.13.2). We may also compare this declaration in the Vedas:
pravát te agne jánimā
Rig-Veda 10.142.2
The pravát- stream is your birthplace, Agni!
Since ásu- in the highest heaven is the ultimate goal of the righteous dead, it is significant that every time Agni is lit again on the sacrificial altar, he himself returns to his own ásu-:
devó yán mártān yajáthāya kr̥ṇnván
sī́dad dhótā pratyáṅ svám ásuṃ yán
Rig-Veda 10.12.1
When the Deva [Agni] helps mortals sacrifice,
abiding as Hotr̥, returning to his ásu-…
When flames die down, it is Agni who quickens them with ásu-: {118|119}
tā́sāṃ jarā́m pramuñcánn eti nā́nadad
ásuṃ páraṃ janáyañ jīvám ástr̥tam
Rig-Veda 1.140.8
taking away from them their oldness, he comes roaring,
producing a higher, living, unsurpassable ásu-
There is an Iranian cognate for the expression ásuṃ páram ‘higher ásu-’ here: it is Avestan parāhu- ‘higher existence’ (Yasna 46.19), describing the place where the righteous dead abide. The translation of parāhu- as ‘higher existence’ is warranted by the synonym parō.asti- ‘higher existence’ (Yašt 1.25). [126] These Iranian formations *para-ahu- and *para-asti- both seem to be noun-derivatives of the verb *(h1)es-, namely, *es-u- and *es-ti-, in terms of Indo-European morphology. [127] If indeed Iranian ahu- and Indic ásu- are cognates derived from *es-u-, then it is possible to translate ásu- in a passage like Rig-Veda 1.140.8, quoted immediately above, as ‘existence’.
That Indic ásu- and Iranian ahu- are truly cognates is suggested by other evidence as well. [128] For example, in the same passage that contained the collocation of pára-and ásu- (Rig-Veda 1.140.8), [129] corresponding to Avestan parāhu- (Yasna 46.19), there is also the collocation of jīvá- ‘alive, living’ and ásu-, [130] corresponding to the Avestan expression juiiō aƞhuš ‘living ahu-’ (Hadōxt Nask 2.2). Moreover, there is the collocation of verb jan- ‘produce, beget’ and ásu- (again, Rig-Veda 1.140.8), [131] corresponding to the Avestan expression aƞhə̄uš ząθōi ‘in the begetting of ahu-’ (Yasna 43.5). I draw attention to the context of the last expression, where the supreme god Ahura [132] is being described as the primal being ‘in the begetting of essence [ahu-]’. The identical expression aƞhə̄uš ząθōi ‘in the begetting of ahu-’ occurs elsewhere (Yasna 48.6) in a description of Ahura as he causes the plants to grow at the begetting of primaeval essence (ahu-), and we may compare a stanza immediately preceding the one where the collocation of pára- and ásu- occurs (Rig-Veda 1.140.8): [133] here we find a description of Agni as he causes the plains to grow (1.140.7). {119|120}
The Avestan ahu- ‘essence’ of afterlife is ambivalent: for the good, it is vahišta- ahu- ‘best essence’ (Yasna 9.19, etc.), while for the bad it is acišta- ahu- ‘worst essence’ (Yasna 30.4, etc.). There is a semantic parallel in the Vedic combination of ásu- and the epithet bhadrá- ‘good’ (Rig-Veda 10.14.12). [134] In the Indic evidence, the contexts of ásu- are one-sidedly good. It happens, however, that the Avestan analogue to the Rig-Vedic combination of ásu- plus root - ‘lead’ (as in ásu-nīti- ‘path leading to ásu-) [135] is in an evil context: tə̄m…ahūm…naēsat̰ ‘may it lead to such an [evil] ahu-’ (Yasna 31.20). As for the good essence, another term for it is ahu- manahiia- ‘essence of manah-, spiritual essence’ (Yasna 57.25, etc., as opposed to the negative ahu- astuuant- ‘essence of bones’, Yasna 28.2, etc.). Not only is Avestan ahu- cognate with Vedic ásu- but Avestaıı manah- is cognate with Vedic mánas-, and it is these two Vedic words, ásu- and mánas-, that designate the elements of afterlife in the Indic traditions. [136] Furthermore, just as Vedic ásu- and mánas- can function as correlates (Atharva-Veda 18.2.24, etc.), so also Avestan ahu- and manah-: [137]
yaθācā aƞhat̰ apə̄mǝm aƞhuš
acištō drǝguuatąmat̰ ašāunē vahištǝm manō
Yasna 30.4
as the ahu- will be finally.
It [the ahu-] of the unrighteous will be the worst [acišta-],
But the righteous will have the best [vahišta-] manah-
The Iranian comparative evidence, where we see not only noun manah- coordinated with noun ahu- but also the adjective of noun manah- subordinated to noun ahu- (ahu- manahiia-), helps account for the Greek evidence, where the adjective ēú (ἠύ) is subordinated to the noun ménos (μένος) in the expression ménos ēú (μένος ήύ, as in Iliad XX 80, XXIV 6). [138] In brief, then, we find coordination and subordination in Iranian (manah- plus ahu-, manahiia- plus ahu-), but only coordination in Indic (mánas- plus ásu-) and only subordination in Greek (ménos ēú). The directions of subordination, moreover, are reversed in Greek and Iranian. {120|121}
Even if we may not be certain about the precise phonological prehistory of Greek ēú (ἠύ) in comparison with Indic ásu- and Iranian ahu-, one thing seems certain: that all are derived from root *es- ‘to be’. The semantic specialization of ‘good’ in adjectival derivatives of *es- is commonplace: we have only to cite the Greek adjective es-thlós (ἐσθλός) ‘good’ as perhaps the most immédiate example. [139]
In the case of ménos ēú (μένος ήύ) in Iliad XXIV 6, where the expression applies to the aspect of Patroklos that has been lost as a result of death, I propose that we arc witnessing an archaic context where the meaning ‘good’ for ēú is only on the surface. Beneath the surface, we find the echo of a Homeric hero’s afterlife. {121|122}


[ back ] 1. Christmann-Franck 1971, esp. pp. 61-64; cf. Vieyra 1965. The edition of the Hittite royal funerary texts: Otten 1958.
[ back ] 2. Cf. Lowenstam 1981.152 on Rig-Veda 10.16.4 and 10.16.7 as compared with Iliad XXIII 167-169; in both the Indic and the Greek passages, the corpse is covered with layers of the fat of sacrificial animals.
[ back ] 3. Cf. Andronikos 1968, esp. p. 76.
[ back ] 4. For an introduction to the topic of “Indo-European eschatology,” cf. Lincoln 1986.119-140.
[ back ] 5. My comparative approach leads to conclusions that differ, at least in part, from those of some more recent studies on the Greek concept of the “soul,” such as Claus 1981 and Bremmer 1983. For an accounting of these works, as well as those of Ireland and Steel 1975, Darcus 1979ab, and Garland 1981, I cite the dissertation of Caswell 1986, to be published as a monograph.
[ back ] 6. Cf. Bremmer 1983.94-95.
[ back ] 7. Cf. Bérard 1970.48-53, with reference to archaic Eretria.
[ back ] 8. Cf. Bremmer 1983.95.
[ back ] 9. Bremmer p. 95.
[ back ] 10. Cf Bérard p. 52 on the inhumation of children in archaic Eretria.
[ back ] 11. Bremmer 1983.97.
[ back ] 12. More on distinct ideologies associated with cremation, inhumation, and exposition in chapters 5 and 6 below.
[ back ] 13. For a most useful synthesis, see Arbman 1926/1927. These articles also offer important typological observations on the Greek evidence. For bibliography surveying the influence of Arbman’s work on further scholarship: Bremmer p. 10.
[ back ] 14. In the story of Sāvitrī, for example (Mahābhārata 3.281, critical ed.), Yama the king of the ancestors and god of the dead extracts from the body of Sāvitrī’s husband a thumb-sized person, whereupon the body’s breathing stops and symptoms of death appear. See the commentary by Arbman 1927.79, 105-106, 110.
[ back ] 15. For a collection of passages, see Oldenberg 1917.533-534. See also his pp. 527-528 for a survey of passages in the Atharva-Veda where incantations are offered for the dying: it is a persistent theme that mánas- and ásu- must stay in the body for the dying to stay alive.
[ back ] 16. See Arbman 1927.90-100, esp. p. 93. This reintegration of body and mánas-/ásu- is envisioned as an eschatological process. In Jaiminīya-Brāhmaṇa 1.49.1 and following, for example, the identity of the deceased leaves the body and “goes from the smoke into the night” (dhūmād vai rātrim apy eti) by way of cremation, then moving from the night into the day and then into the dark half of the month and then into the light half of the month and then into the month itself, whereupon the body and ásu- are finally reunited. Note that the original separation of identity and body is here simultaneous with cremation, whereas in other versions it is simultaneous with the moment of death. For more on the theme of dhūmá- ‘smoke’ in the fire of cremation, see pp. 115-116.
[ back ] 17. See Arbman 1926.185-191 and Böhme 1929.69-74.
[ back ] 18. Instances of thūmós and ménos paired: Iliad V 470, VI 72, XI 291, etc. See also N 1979a.136-137 on Iliad XX 174 as contrasted with 171. Both words embrace physical as well as mental aspects: on thūmós see Redfield 1975.173 and on ménos see N 1974a.266-269. Further work on thūmós: Caswell 1986.
[ back ] 19. See Warden 1971 for a list of Homeric attestations. It has been argued that ménos does not technically leave the body at death, in that the verb λύθη ‘was set loose’, for which ménos serves as subject in passages like Iliad V 296, conveys “a metaphor comparing the collapsing of the dead with the collapsing of horses when they are unharnessed after a tiring ride” (Bremmer p. 76). But we should note the pairing of ménos with psūkhḗ as a correlative subject in this and other passages such as Iliad VIII 123, 315; the fact is, the psūkhḗ is indeed regularly conceived as leaving the body at the moment of death (e.g. XVI 856). So, too, with the other potential correlate of ménos, that is, thūmós: it, too, leaves the body at the moment of death (e.g. XXIII 880). Moreover, the act of releasing a horse, as conveyed by the verb lúō ‘set loose’, can be a matter of starting to drive it away (as e.g. at Iliad X 498), not just stopping it after having driven it (as e.g. at V 369). In other words, the combination of λύθη ‘was set loose’ with ménos as subject may imply that the horse races off while the chariot from which it has just been unharnessed is left behind. Similarly in metaphorical descriptions of fatigue, ménos can be visualized as becoming separated from the body (cf. the collocation of dia-kr*no ‘separate’ with ménos at II 387).
[ back ] 20. For representations of the psūkhḗ of Patroklos and even of Achilles as such homunculi in Black Figure iconography, see Stähler 1967, esp. pp. 32-33, 44. On the Münster Hydria (inv. no. 565), the miniature figure of Patroklos is actually labeled ΦΣΥΧΕ ‘psūkh ’: Stähler p. 14. On pp. 28-29, Stähler argues cogently that such iconographical representations of psūkh have a “pre-Homeric” heritage. See further at p. 220 below.
[ back ] 21. Cf. N 1979a.208. The concept of psūkh has a built-in tension between identity and nonidentity, as Jean-Pierre Vernant (1985 [1962].330) observes in connection with the psūkh of Patroklos when it appears to Achilles: “c’est la presence de l’ami, mais c’est aussi son absence irrémédiable; c’est Patrocle en personne, mais aussi bien un soufflé, une fumée, une ombre ou l’envol d’un oiseau.”
[ back ] 22. See Arbman 1926.191-198. I disagree, however, with the argument against any connection between psūkh and the semantic sphere of breathing: see pp. 90-91.
[ back ] 23. See Arbman 1926.185-191 and 1927.165. Consider also the Homeric expression νεκύων ἀμενηνὰ κάρηνα ‘persons of the dead, without ménos’ (Odyssey x 521, 536; xi 29, 49). On the Greek visualizations of “head” as “person,” see Warden 1971.97.
[ back ] 24. Cf. Böhme 1929.103; also Schnaufer 1970.180.
[ back ] 25. See Schnaufer pp. 77-79 for an interpretation of these two verses; the ἀτάρ of verse 104, as he shows, indicates the unexpected and contradictory factor (that is, the presence of phrénes). Achilles is in effect saying: “So there really is a psūkhḗ, even outside of Hades, a mere image—and yet it is conscious (= has phrénes)!”
[ back ] 26. E.g. Iliad X 232, IX 462, XIII 487, etc.
[ back ] 27. E.g. Iliad I 103, XXI 145; Odyssey i 89, etc.
[ back ] 28. Moreover, the psūkhḗ of Patroklos is at this time not miniature (Iliad XXIII 66).
[ back ] 29. At p. 87n16, we have seen a corresponding Indic theme, that the identity of the dead person is separated from his body by way of the dhūmá- ‘smoke’ of cremation.
[ back ] 30. E.g. Arbman 1927.159-160.
[ back ] 31. Böhme 1929.124.
[ back ] 32. See Schnaufer 1970.194-195 for a useful chart of passages.
[ back ] 33. For thūmós see Iliad XXII 475; Odyssey v 458, xxiv 349; for ménos see Iliad XV 60 and 262 as discussed by Schnaufer pp. 192-193.
[ back ] 34. Böhme 1929.111, 124.
[ back ] 35. Böhme pp. 22 and 124, pace Arbman 1926.194-195; for a fuller discussion see Schnaufer 1970.198-201.
[ back ] 36. Consider the collocation of ἄμπνυτο ‘he breathed again’ with the revival of the thūmós at Iliad XXII 475, Odyssey v 458, xxiv 349; also the collocation of ἐμπνεύσῃσι/ἐνέπνευσε ‘he [Apollo] breathes/breathed’ with object ménos [into Hektor] at Iliad XV 60 and 262 (cf. n33).
[ back ] 37. For an instant demonstration, see tables 1, 2, and 3 in Warden 1971.102.
[ back ] 38. Cf. Schnaufer 1970.201.
[ back ] 39. See e.g. N 1979a.165-168 (also p. 208) on Odyssey iv 561-569, xi 601-604, and Hesiod F 25.25-28 MW. In the case of anaps*khein ‘reanimate’ at Odyssey iv 568, the themes of revival from death and revival from a swoon actually converge: N 1979a.167-168 * 28n2. Cf. also p. 142 on Iliad V 677 (Sarpedon is revived from a swoon by a blast from Boreas the North Wind).
[ back ] 40. See p. 89.
[ back ] 41. Cf. Schnaufer 1970.67.
[ back ] 42. See also Iliad XVIII 419, where nóos is explicitly said to be localized in the phrénes. As Böhme 1929.65 puts it, nóos can designate the ego while phrénes designates “the organ of the ego.”
[ back ] 43. See Böhme p. 75. The description “rational” may be too broad here: cf. Fritz 1943. Such words as “intuitive” or “perceptive” may be more appropriate.
[ back ] 44. For a list of attestations where rational functions are attributed to thūmós in Homeric diction, see Böhme p. 72n1; as for the emotional functions, see his pp. 69-71.
[ back ] 45. Frame 1978.
[ back ] 46. For a collection of these themes in Indic lore, see Frame pp. 134-152; cf. also Güntert 1923.253-276 and n 1979a.198-200. On the morphology of Indic Nā́satyau, see Frame pp. 135-137; cf. Greek Lampetíē, as discussed at p. 249n80. (The attestation of disyllabic scansion for the first vowel of Nā́satyau [naasatyau] remains a problem.) For a survey of the Indo-European myth of the Divine Twins, see Ward 1968; cf. also Joseph 1983 and Davidson 1987. Further discussion of the Divine Twins, including the Greek Dioskouroi, at pp. 255-256.
[ back ] 47. Frame pp. 34-80. For other aspects of the theme of rebirth in the S, see Newton 1984.
[ back ] 48. See pp. 118ff.
[ back ] 49. For patéres as ‘ancestors’, see e.g. Iliad VI 209; for more on the semantics of Patrokléēs, see N 1979a.102ff.
[ back ] 50. Rohde 1898 1:14-22, esp. p. 16n1. See also Stähler 1967.32, who argues that the picture on the Münster Hydria (p. 88n20 above) represents the beginning of the hero cult of Patroklos.
[ back ] 51. Rohde 1:108-110; see also N 1979a.114-115. Cf. p. 116n119 for thematic connections between the concept of ‘ancestor’ and the actual word hḗrōs (ἥρως) ‘hero’. In view of the inherited relationship of this word with hṓrā (ὥρα) ‘season, seasonality, timeliness’ (on which see Pötscher 1961), we may compare the Indic representation of seasonal eschatology as outlined at p. 87n16.
[ back ] 52. The patterns that I have found are clearly no the only ones attested in Indic traditions. I am persuaded by the account, in Witzel 1984, of alternative traditions, featuring alternative visualizations, especially with regard to the “backward” or “reversed” course of celestial bodies, the “oceans” of the sky, and the abode of Yama.
[ back ] 53. In both these passages, Savitr̥ is invoked as Asura (ásura-). In a future project, I hope to show in detail that this epithet was primarily appropriate to Dyaus (dyáus) ‘sky’ personified, cognate of Greek Zes (Ζεύς), in contexts where the god Dyaus is ambivalently beneficent or maleficent (cf. the applications of ásura- to dyáus at Rig-Veda 1.122.1, 1.131.1, 8.20.17, etc.). As Dyaus becomes obsolescent, specialized sky-gods like Savitr̥ inherit the epithet Asura in contexts of ambivalence. In the plural, however, Asura becomes one-sidedly bad, designating demons only, while Deva (devá-), derivative of Dyaus (dyáus), becomes one-sidedly good, designating gods only. In the Iranian traditions of the Avesta, on the other hand, the original sky-god remains head of the universe, but only under the name of Ahura-, cognate of the Indic ásura-; meanwhile, the Iranian cognate of Indic Dyaus (dyáus) survives only in a derivative form, daēuua-, cognate of Indic devá-. Moreover, all daēuua-s are bad, demons only. I follow Schlerath 1968.144-145 in interpreting the morphological segmentation of Indo-Iranian *ásura- to be *as-ura-, the root of which I am inclined to reconstruct as Indo-European *es- ‘to be’. I agree with Schlerath that *ásura- is not derived directly from Indo-Iranian *ásu-; going beyond Schlerath’s own arguments, I venture to propose that both forms *ásu- and *ásura- are derived from the root *as- (Indo-European *es-, that is, *h 1 es-). For more on Indo-Iranian *asu- (Indic ásu-, Iranian ahu-), see pp. 118ff.
[ back ] 54. Cf Rig-Veda 5.31, where Indra is represented as driving the chariot of the sun (stanza 11) as he repels the darkness (stanza 3, etc.), and where he specifically makes his chariot go pravát- ‘downstream’ = ‘forward’: [ back ] índro ráthāya pravátaṃ kr̥ṇoti [ back ] Rig-Veda 5.31.1 [ back ] Indra drives the chariot forward [ back ] At Rig-Veda 1.18.3, Indra’s chariot is described as pravátvant- ‘moving downstream’. Elsewhere in the Rig-Veda, as at 7.50.3, pravát means not the downstream specifically but simply the stream: here ‘downstream’ is further specified as nivát-, as opposed to udvát- ‘upstream’. Just as the unmarked path of the sun is simply the path of the sun, so also the unmarked downstream is simply the stream. One need specify ‘downstream’ only in opposition to ‘upstream’: otherwise it is just ‘stream’.
[ back ] 55. On the word devá- ‘god’, see p. 94n53. It is in the precarious nighttime context of the sun’s direction reversed that Savitr̥ is euphemistically called sunīthá- ‘heading in the good direction’ (Rig-Veda 1.35.7, 10). It is precisely in this ambivalent context (1.35.10) that Savitr̥ is called Asura (on which see again n53).
[ back ] 56. The patterns that I have found in answer to this question, as I outline them in what follows, are clearly not the only ones attested in Indic traditions. Again I refer to Witzel 1984.
[ back ] 57. On the word devá- ‘god’, see again p. 94n53.
[ back ] 58. Cf. the semantics of sunīthá- ‘heading in the good direction’ (Rig-Veda 1.35.7, 10), as discussed at p. 95n55.
[ back ] 59. See pp. 94ff.
[ back ] 60. Since Savitr̥ is called Asura specifically in the context of his movements (Rig-Veda 1.35.10), it is important to stress that Pūṣan, too, is called Asura (5.51.11). See again p. 94n53.
[ back ] 61. There is a cognate theme in Greek traditions: the sun rises from and sets into the Okeanós ‘Ocean’ (e.g. Iliad VII 421-423 and VIII 485 respectively), visualized as a cosmic river that surrounds an Earth that is round and flat; for further discussion, see N. 1979a.195ff. In the death wish of Penelope, Odyssey xx 61-65, the thūmós ‘spirit’ after death is visualized as traveling to the far west, where it is plunged into the Okeanos: see p. 237. This plunge implicitly parallels the plunge of the sun itself: p. 246.
[ back ] 62. For further discussion of this theme: pp. 147ff.
[ back ] 63. Cf. also Rig-Veda 8.44.16, 10.2.7, 10.46.9.
[ back ] 64. Cf. Rig-Veda 1.143.2, 3.2.13, 6.6.2, etc.; cf. also Agni’s common epithet Vaidyuta ‘he of the vidyút- [lightning]’ in the Brāhmaṇa-s.
[ back ] 65. See pp. 94n53.
[ back ] 66. According to the Taittirīya-Brāhmana (, Prajāpati became Savitr̥ and created the universe.
[ back ] 67. This creation of all things by Apām Napāt is done asuryàsa mahnā́ ‘with the greatness of Asura-power’ (Rig-Veda 2.35.3). Like the sun-god Savitr̥, Agni too is called Asura (4.2.5, 5.15.1, 7.2.3, etc.).
[ back ] 68. Just as the Indic Apām Napāt uses the greatness of Asura-power (see n67), so too the Iranian Ap*m Napå is called bǝrǝsantǝm ahurǝm ‘the high Ahura’ (Yasna 2.5, etc.). On the Indic/Iranian correspondence os Asura/Ahura, see p. 94n53.
[ back ] 69. The context of the epithet ‘having swift horses’ is this: the fire-god Ātar and the demon Dahāka have been fighting to a standstill over xvarǝnah- ‘brilliance of glory’; then Apąm Napå, the auruuaṯ-aspa- ‘having swift horses’, seixes the xvarǝnah- and takes it to the bottom of the Ocean. For parallel themes in Persian epic traditions, most notably in the Shāhnāma of Ferdowsi, see Davidson 1985.88-103. For Celtin parallels, see Dumézil 1973.21 and following.
[ back ] 70. Cf. the Laconian custom of sacrificing horses to Helios the sun-god on a peak of Mount Taygetos (Pausanias 3.20.4). On the solar symbolism of horses in Greek mythology: N 1979a.198-200, 209-210 § 50n2.
[ back ] 71. See p. 97.
[ back ] 72. On a cognate theme in the Iliad: N 1979a.209-210 §50n2.
[ back ] 73. Also in the Atharva-Veda, there is an explicit distinction between the Agni-s of the waters and the Agni-s of lightning (3.21.1, 7;; 8.1.11;12.1.37).
[ back ] 74. Cf. Bergaigne 1878 1:17, Oldenberg 1917.113-114.
[ back ] 75. For a survey of the etymological possibilities of óṣa-dhī ‘plant’, including the one chosen here, see Minard 1956.268. For more on this etymology, see p. 150n.25.
[ back ] 76. Macdonell 1897.71.
[ back ] 77. On the etymology of aráṇi as the ‘nurturing, nourishment’ of the fire, see p. 156.
[ back ] 78. See Dumézil 1954.34-35.
[ back ] 79. Cf. Dumézil p. 42n43.
[ back ] 80. Cf. Oldenberg 1917.281-283.
[ back ] 81. Dumézil 1954.33-34. Cf. p. 146ff. below.
[ back ] 82. Cf. Oldenberg 1917.347-348.
[ back ] 83. See p. 103.
[ back ] 84. See p. 103.
[ back ] 85. See p. 104.
[ back ] 86. Quoted at p. 103.
[ back ] 87. See again p. 103.
[ back ] 88. On the etymology of aráṇi-, which reveals a semantic parallelism with yóni-, see pp. 156ff.
[ back ] 89. The details of the tabula and the brazen cribrum will be taken up at pp. 168-169, where this same passage will be reexamined at greater length.
[ back ] 90. See p. 103.
[ back ] 91. See p. 105.
[ back ] 92. See Dumézil 1954.30.
[ back ] 93. Schulze 1966 [1918].189-210.
[ back ] 94. For further details: Dumézil 1961.252-257.
[ back ] 95. Dumézil 1954.27-43.
[ back ] 96. On the vájra-: pp. 192, 197.
[ back ] 97. On the Indo-Iranian pedigree of the theme conveyed by vájra-bāhu-: Benveniste 1968.74.
[ back ] 98. See pp. 99-100.
[ back ] 99. See Rönnow 1927, esp. p. 178.
[ back ] 100. On whom see p. 94n53.
[ back ] 101. On whom see again p. 94n53.
[ back ] 102. Lévi 1966 [1898].120. See also p. 70 above.
[ back ] 103. Cf. p. 105.
[ back ] 104. Lévi 1966 [1898].121. Also p. 70 above. See Christensen 1916 for further documentation of the ubiquitous mythological type that equates the first man with the first sacrificer. In this connection we may note that Mánu-, the name of the primordial Indic man, is cognate with English man. In Germanic lore, as we hear from Tacitus (Germania 2), the first man was Mannus, son of Tuisto; the etymology of the latter name reveals the meaning ‘twin’, and we may compare the meaning of Yamá-, Manu’s “brother”; it is likewise “twin’. For documentation, see Güntert 1923.315-343; also Puhvel 1975. On the variation between brother-brother and father-son dyads, see further Davidson 1987.
[ back ] 105. Cf. Lévi p. 121.
[ back ] 106. See p. 87.
[ back ] 107. Keeping in mind not only the connection between Indic mánas- and Mánu- as ‘man’ (see n104) but also the cognate relationship of mánas- with Greek ménos (μένος), we note that the ménos ēú (μένος ἠύ) of Patroklos at Iliad XXIV 6 is in collocation with his androtḗs ‘manhood’ (ἀνδροτῆτά τε καὶ ηένος ἠύ).
[ back ] 108. The following verses of this stanza present a variant theme that is beyond the scope of this presentation—one that I hope to examine in a projected study of the óṣadhí.
[ back ] 109. In the Brāhmaṇa -s, the sacrificial South Fire of the pitṛ-s ‘ancestors’ is designated as Vāyu, name of the wind-god (Taittirīya-Brāhmaṇa, etc.), and Vāyu frequently forms a triad with Agni and Sūrya the sun-god (Taittirīya-Saṃhitā 3.1.6b, 3.2.4h, etc.). The association of the South Fire with the pitṛ-s is “natural” because their abode is the highest point in the sky (cf. p. 96), and this position in the Northern Hemisphere can be represented as south in terms of east and west. Further details in Hillebrandt 1927 1:103nn2, 3.
[ back ] 110. See pp. 92ff.
[ back ] 111. We note that Telemachus gets the ménos placed in his thūmós (Odyssey i 320); elsewhere in Homeric diction, thūmós can function not only as the localization of ménos but also as its synonym (see pp. 87ff.).
[ back ] 112. N 1974a.266-269. See also p. 210n22 below. On Greek and Hittite thematic parallels from the same root, cf. Watkins 1985b.
[ back ] 113. Cf. Schmitt 1967.115.
[ back ] 114. See p. 93.
[ back ] 115. Cf. also the name of the epic character discussed at p. 87n14.
[ back ] 116. See p. 114.
[ back ] 117. See p. 112.
[ back ] 118. In this connection, let us recall that ménos in Homeric diction applies not only to heroes like Patroklos but also to horses (see p. 114). At Iliad XVII 456, moreover, Zeus blows ménos into horses that are immortal and that belong to Achilles himself. Further discussion in N 1979a.209-210 § 50n2, where I argue that Xanthos the immortal horse of Achilles is presented by the Iliad as a model of solar rebirth. Xanthos and the other horses of Achilles are represented on the Münster Hydria (see p. 88n20), and it is argued by Stähler (1967.44ff.) that these horses function there as symbols for the death of Patroklos. In view of the semantic range inherited by the word ménos, which extends to the sun itself (Iliad XXIII 190), I would add that these same horses also function as symbols for the afterlife of Patroklos and of Achilles. Cf. Rig-Veda 2.35.6, as quoted at p. 101.
[ back ] 119. For documentation, see Rohde 1898 1:247-249, esp. pp. 248-249n1. In view of Rohde’s analysis of hero cult as a transformation of ancestor worship in the context of the polis or city-state (see p. 93 above), we may compare the word tritopátores (τριτοπάτορες e.g. Photius s.v., Suda s.v.), as discussed by Rohde, with the Linear B word ti-ri-se-ro-e = *tris hērōei (dative; Pylos tablets Fr 1204, Tn 316.5); cf. Homeric trìs mákar (τρὶς ηάκαρ), as discussed by Sacconi 1960.171ff.
[ back ] 120. See p. 87.
[ back ] 121. See p. 114.
[ back ] 122. See p. 112.
[ back ] 123. See p. 114.
[ back ] 124. Quoted at p. 97.
[ back ] 125. See pp. 100ff.
[ back ] 126. Schlerath 1968.149.
[ back ] 127. Schlerath p. 149. Cf. EWA 147.
[ back ] 128. Schlerath pp. 147-148, 152.
[ back ] 129. Quoted immediately above.
[ back ] 130. Quoted immediately above.
[ back ] 131. Quoted immediately above.
[ back ] 132. On whom see p. 94n53.
[ back ] 133. Quoted immediately above.
[ back ] 134. See p. 117.
[ back ] 135. On which see p. 114.
[ back ] 136. See p. 87.
[ back ] 137. Schlerath 1968.153.
[ back ] 138. See pp. 93ff.
[ back ] 139. For more on es-thlós (ἐσθλός): Watkins 1972, 1982b.