Epic Destinies of Mythical but Real Warriors.


The poet argues that a land devoid of legends is destined to die of ice, and this might well be true. A people without myths, on the other hand, is still extinct. The role of myths is to articulate dramatically the philosophy under which a society lives; not only to hold out to its conscience the beliefs it recognizes and the ideals it pursues from generation to generation, but also to express its own being and nature, the components, relations, balances, and conflicts that compose it.

These myths may come in a variety of forms. Others are literary fictions incarnating important concepts of the philosophy in certain personages and translating the relationships between these concepts into the connections between various figures. Others are set beyond the narrow limits and few millennia of national history, adorning a distant past or future and inaccessible zones where gods, giants, goblins, and demons have their sport; some are happy with common citizens, familiar locations, and plausible ages. However, both tales have the same reason for existence.

The comparative study of the earliest Indo-European civilizations, which has been ongoing for decades, has had to consider both the myths' pragmatic unity and the diversity of mythic forms. In fact, it became obvious almost instantly that the Romans are not, at all, a people without mythology—as textbooks now love to depict them—but rather that mythology, and in particular a very old mythology inherited in large part from Indo-European times, has thrived under the framework of history, despite having been ruined at the level of theology.

The narratives and types of personages, as well as the very structures of the traditions surrounding these personages, which were ascribed to the divine world by the Indians and Germans, either completely or in their essential features, have been rediscovered in the Roman setting, with the same structure and lesson, but ascribed exclusively to men, and to men with typical Roman names, be it.

On one level, a theology, neat and simple in any field of which we have some knowledge, describing abstractly, ordering a hierarchy, and, according to these definitions, setting up groups of powerful gods, but gods without adventures. On the other hand, a tradition of beginnings tracing the major deeds of men who, in character and purpose, are analogous to these gods.

Consider the core motif of Indo-European ideology: the assumption that the world and culture will only exist in equilibrium if the three stratified roles of authority, force, and fecundity operate together harmoniously.

This creation is articulated in India in both religious and human words, in a theological and epic ensemble; moreover, the gods, like the characters, are represented as having colorful experiences, or at the very least as executing deeds or activities that express their essences, roles, and relationships.

The two main sovereign gods, Varuna, the all-powerful magician, and Mitra, the contract personified, have created and organized the worlds, with their plan and overall mechanisms, at the first level of Vedic theology; at the second level, Indra, the physically powerful god, is engaged in a number of magnificent duels, conquests, and victories; and at the third level, the twins  are the heroes of short well described scenes.

A contrast can be seen in the epic material from the Mahabharata, which was developed only later but has been seen to have continued a very old and partly pre-Vedic tradition; Pandu and his five putative sons evolve the same philosophy of the three roles through their character, acts, and adventures.

Pandu and the eldest Pandava, Yudhisthira, both kings in contrast from the others, incarnate the two facets of authority, Varunian and Mitrian; the second and third Pandavas, Bhima and Arjuna, incarnate the two aspects of the warrior's power, being violent and chivalrous, which the Rig Veda puts together in the solitary Indra. The fourth and fifth sons, the twins Nakula and Sahadeva, embody many of the divine twins' virtues, including benevolence, modesty, readiness to lead, and expertise in cattle and horse breeding.

In the exploits of her gods and heroes, India thus offers a double mythical manifestation of the trifunctional philosophy. The analysis of the relations between these two mythologies is still in its early stages, but they do intersect, at least in part.

In 1954, it was discovered that one of the Vedic exploits of the warrior god Indra, his duel with the Sun god, has an exact analogue in one of the epic exploits of the warrior hero Arjuna: just as Indra is triumphant in the duel because he detaches or pushes down one of the solar chariot's wheels, Arjuna is victorious because he detaches or pushes down one of the solar chariot's wheels. In the eighth book of the Mahabharata, Arjuna, the son of Indra, defeats Karna, the son of the Sun, only when one of the latter's chariot wheels miraculously falls into the earth.

Five years later, the sovereignty was equally recognized as Yudhisthira, his father, and two uncles. Another tableau, a documentation in a different kind, emerges in the Roman sense. The gods of the pre-Capitoline triad, those of the great flamens, are well expressed and patronized, in their hierarchy, by the three roles.

However, having noted that Jupiter and his variant Dius Fidius embody the two facets of authority, strength, and law, that Mars is a dominant warrior deity, and that Quirinus communicates and guarantees some essential aspects of the third role (social mass and vigilant peace; agricultural prosperity) directly or through his flamen, one has exhausted what can be said about these divinities. Their relation can be found in their hierarchy, and their entire being can be found in their meanings, which leave no room for narrative accounts.

This dramatic unfolding of character, which the gods ignore, forms the very foundation of epic, of an epic—accepted as historical by Titus Livius and Plutarch, the former with trepidation and the latter with devotion—the history of Rome's first kings. We have a chronological history here, but unlike the Mahabharata, Roman mythology has not grouped its trifunctional heroes into a community of contemporaries, of brothers hierarchized so that the first alone is king and the others his specialized auxiliaries.

As seems to have been the case in the Iranian epic as well, Roman history has spread them in time, in a series of kings, each of whom communicates and contributes to the collective undertaking one of the roles, or an aspect of one of the functions, important to the wellbeing of the community, through his character, founding acts, and whole life.

While the importance of the first reigns' character and arrangement has been discussed many times in the last thirty years, it is worth revisiting here since one of those reigns, Tullus', would be the subject of our current study. But let us first note — and we cannot emphasize this enough — that the scheme devised by the first kings of Rome was not devised by us; the Romans understood, explained, appreciated, and saw in it the influence of divine benevolence: all we had to do was pay attention to their sentiment.

Thus, Rome's origins, the pre-Etruscan years, were concentrated as a revolutionary creation in many stages, with the gods' caressing each time a different style of ruler, builder of new institutions, in tune with the needs of the time.

These phases have been seen to correlate to the Varunian component of the role of sovereignty—creative and awful strength, organizing and benevolent authority—, the function of martial force, and some aspects of the dynamic third function.

The following are the kings: 

Romulus, the demigod of enigmatic birth and youth, the city's founder, the redoubtable king armed with spears, poles, and bonds.

Numa, the intelligent, religious, and fully human creator of cults, priesthoods, and laws

Tullus Hostilius, the purely warlike king, aggressive, who bestows control on R o m e by military means.

Ancus Marcius, the king who saw a significant rise in the Roman plebes and economic opulence, and who only went to war when forced to defend Rome.

For the first three founding kings, this practical explanation has been universally accepted: the clearly intentional antithesis between Romulus and Numa, remembering the two opposite but important facets of the first feature, and Tullus' wholly warlike character need little debate.

For the fourth king, Ancus Marcitis, things were different. Despite the long-recognized anachronisms in his work, one cannot help but feel that it is with Ancus Marcitis that historical accuracy starts to bear some weight in the traditions; that he portrays, in the sequence of kings, the stage at which a strictly fictional history, intended merely to justify, is welded to a history.

This sort of bringing down to earth of a people's or dynasty's past speculations is still a delicate point for the critic: What ordinal word, for example, must the human mantle be put first in the sequence of Ynglingar—those descendants of the god Freyr who gradually became the very real kings of the Swedish Upland, then of southern Norway?

The issue is still being discussed, and there is a wide range of viewpoints. As a result, one hesitates—and many do—to remember, either in one part of his history or a part of his identity, a final fragment of a pseudohistory of mystical origin only meant to explain the successive appearances of the three roles.

Whatever the epic expression of the third function may be, which is still complex and enigmatic since it is multiform, the understanding of the first two functions and their members, the two leaders Romulus and N u m a, and their immediate successor Tullus, is certain. That will suffice for the dilemma we'll be discussing now. The military work of king Tullus has been followed in depth, in his character, in his structures, and in his profession, in a small book that has been lauded by some and condemned by others as outrageous, but which has endured more than a quarter-century of self-criticism.

Tullus replaced Numa Pompilius, who was given the throne gladly as a mark of gratitude for his bravery. Both military discipline and the art of warfare were created by him. So, having wondrously educated Rome's soldiers [iuuentus], he ventured to defy the Albans, an important and for a long-time leading citizen. The king himself is depicted as a traditional iuuenis: Not only was this king unlike the previous [the pacific Numa], but he was even more warlike [ferocior] than Romulus. Aside from his youth and courage, he was also motivated by his grandfather's glory [the most prestigious of Romulus' companions].

So, thinking that the country was decrepit from inaction, he found reasons also'- where for stirring up war Tullus is such a professional of war, and more especially of military life and creation, that even when Rome was afflicted with a pestilence, the warlike king who believed, besides, that the young men [iuuenes] were heaving, no respite from service was permitted by the warlike king who believed, besides, that.

Finally, his entire eulogy is composed of a single phrase: magna gloria belli regnauit annos duos et Iriginta. Four centuries later, the Christian Orosius, giving a bird's-eye view of world history, was to echo this persistent practice in three words: Tulius Hostilius, miiitaris rei instilutor.

On the basis of this practical description of the third king of Rome, we attempted to understand the most famous episode in Tullus' reign—the duel between Horace and the Curiaces—in the light of a comparative analysis of the myths, legends, and practices synonymous with the same role, that of the warrior, among other Indo-European peoples, in the book described above, published in 1942.

This little drama in three scenes seemed to us to be—the duel between the three brothers, from which one of the three Roman champions emerges alone but victorious; the cruel scene in which the knight, intoxicated and exuberant with victory, murders his sister before the city gates for her crime of exposing the feminine vulnerability of a lover's sorrow.

Finally, the Roman adaptation, reduced to the usual categories of experience, emptied of its mysterious causality, and colored in accordance with Roman morality, of a series of scenes readily comparable to that in an Ulster legend which constitutes the story of the Black Prince—is but the Roman adaptation, reduced to the usual categories of experience, emptied of its mysterious causality, and colored in accordance with Roman morality, of a series of scenes readily comparable to that in an Ulster legend which constitutes the story.

Cuchulainn, still a boy, travels to his country's border, provokes, and defeats the three sons of Nechta, the Ulates' constant foes. Then, outside himself, in a terrifying and deadly state of magical fury born of battle, he returns to the capital, where a lady, the queen, attempts to calm him down with the crudest of sexual propositions. Cuchulainn rejects the deal, but the Ulates seize him and submerge him in enormous vats of freezing water, effectively killing him.

He will now keep this talent, which makes him immortal and is the priceless product of his initiation, in reserve to re-energize himself when war requires it and to avoid endangering his own people.

The topic of a 1942 research is a contrast of the Irish account and the ceremonial realities it retains with Horace's strictly literary work. There, is proposed an evolutionary model to explain the transition from one style to the next: once the savage ideal and grand manner of the Italic warriors of prehistory (as it remained of the warriors of Celtic and Germanic epic) 'had been depreciated for the sake of legionary discipline, the scenes of the narrative, while retaining their order, were depreciated for the sake of legionary discipline.

The confrontation of aggressive virility with unleashed femininity abandoned the troubled regions of sex and took the form of a mystical force; a justified and almost rational rage, provoked from without and after the exploit, was substituted for the physical and spontaneous exaltation of the whole being during the exploit; and, above all, the confrontation of aggressive virility with unleashed femininity abandoned the troubled regions of sex and took the form of a mystical force.

Cuchulainn's and Horace's exploits are two versions, or rather two neighboring forms of the same version, of a ceremonial or legendary exploit known from other examples in the literatures of many Indo-European peoples: the risky battle of a deity or hero against an opponent blessed with some sort of triplicity. Significantly, the Indo-Iranian tradition knows of other expressions of the same theme of similar intent: on the one hand, Indra's duel with a tricephalic being, or the duel of a hero he is defending, and on the other, Oraetaona's fight with another creature created from the same mold.

It is also true that the Irish version, which is compassionate and pseudo-historical like the Latin, is best suited to explaining certain key facts, especially anything that relates to, or has related to, the concept of furor in the story's likely prehistoric nature. However, those correspondences between the defeat of the Indian Tricephal and that of the Curiaces, which illuminate them in a more metaphysical light and open insights on the warrior role that are much simpler than those revealed by the legend of Cuchulainn, are less striking at first sight because they are less vivid.

Moreover, almost the entire legend of King Tullus Hostilius has, from one stage to the next, found its parallel in the most famous exploits of the god Indra. Thus, between Rome and India, that remarkable and profound identity—first observed at the level of Romulus and Varuna, Numa Pompilius and Mitra—will extend itself to the second cosmic and social level, both in the ideology and in its mythical expression.