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Death, War, and Sacrifice

Studies in Ideology & Practice

One of the world’s leading specialists in Indo-European
religion and society, Bruce Lincoln expresses in these essays
his severe doubts about the existence of a much-hypothesized
prototypical Indo-European religion.

Written over fifteen years, the essays—six of them
previously unpublished—fall into three parts. Part I deals
with matters "Indo-European" in a relatively unproblematized
way, exploring a set of haunting images that recur in
descriptions of the Otherworld from many cultures. While
Lincoln later rejects this methodology, these chapters remain
the best available source of data for the topics they

In Part II, Lincoln takes the data for each essay from a
single culture area and shifts from the topic of dying to
that of killing. Of particular interest are the chapters
connecting sacrifice to physiology, a master discourse of
antiquity that brought the cosmos, the human body, and human
society into an ideologically charged correlation.

Part III presents Lincoln’s most controversial case
against a hypothetical Indo-European protoculture.
Reconsidering the work of the prominent Indo-Europeanist
Georges Dumézil, Lincoln argues that Dumézil’s writings
were informed and inflected by covert political concerns
characteristic of French fascism. This collection is an
invaluable resource for students of myth, ritual, ancient
societies, anthropology, and the history of religions.

Bruce Lincoln is professor of humanities and religious
studies at the University of Minnesota.

312 pages | 18 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 1991

Religion: Comparative Studies and History of Religion

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Wendy Doniger
I. Indo-European Religions: An Introduction
Part One: Death and Funerary Geography in Indo-European Myth
2. On the Imagery of Paradise
3. The Lord of the Dead
4. Waters of Memory, Waters of Forgetfulness
5. The Ferryman of the Dead
6. Mithra(s) as Sun as Savior
7. The Hellhound
8. The House of Clay
9. The Two Paths
Part Two: War, Sacrifice, and the Science of the Body
10. Homeric Iyssa: "Wolfish Rage"
11. War and Warriors: An Overview
12. Warriors and Non-Herdsmen: A Response to Mary Boyce
13. Sacrificial Ideology and Indo-European Society
14. The Druids and Human Sacrifice
15. On the Scythian Royal Burials
16. Debreasting, Disarming, Beheading: Some Sacrificial Practices of the Scyths and Amazons
17. Physiological Speculation and Social Patterning in a Pahlavi Text
18. Embryological Speculation and Gender Politics in a Pahlavi Text
Part Three: Polemic Pieces
19. Shaping the Past and the Future
20. Kings, Rebels, and the Left Hand
21. Myth and History in the Study of Myth: An Obscure Text of Georges Dumézil, Its Context and Subtext

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