Re: Indo-European Studies

R. Wallace (
11 Jul 1995 13:44:58 GMT

Gerold Firl ( wrote:
: In article <3tk47a$> (Raghu Seshadri) writes:

: >I agree you make a plausible case, but the Veda is
: >quite descriptive of Aryan travels within India; not
: >the mark of the history and geography illiterates
: >you theorize about. Why did they record details of
: >inter-Indian travel, but not the ones outside it ?

: My knowledge of the vedas is very sketchy; where are these travels
: mentioned? Are you sure it isn't in the upanishads or bramanas? These
: verses were composed long after the rig veda.

: In any case, the migration down from the passes of the hindu kush was
: *long* before anything was written down. Within a few generations, such
: memories get very vague.

Is there perhaps a parallel in the Germanic Nibelungenlied? If there is a
historical kernel to this story it is in the period when the Germans were
dismantling the Roman empire; and some of the characters may be reflections
of real historical people (Theoderic, Attila, and a king of the Burgundians
recorded by Roman historians as Guntharius). Looking at it from our
perspective, the destruction of the Roman empire is the most momentous event
taking place at the time, and yet neither in this poem nor (I think)
elsewhere in Germanic heroic literature is it so much as mentioned; the
Romans don't even appear!

Similarly the events which led to the destruction of the Mycenean palace
kingdoms (whatever they were) don't really figure in the Greek tradition of
heroic poetry, which concentrates on other events.

Tradition can be curiously selective about what it preserves.

Also, a ruler might not want poets to dwell on the fact that his family had
not always occupied the lands he now holds. So (for example) thaere are no
heroic poems about the Norman conquest of England; instead the (ultimately)
Norman-French kings patronise poets who develop the Arthurian legends which
link them (through Britanny) to an older and plausibly more legitimate
dynasty than the English kings they supplanted.

But poetry makes bad history.

Richard Wallace