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Comparative Mythology

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  146 ratings  ·  18 reviews
In a magisterial work, Jaan Puhvel unravels the prehistoric Indo-Euopean origins of the traditions of India and Iran, Greece and Rome, of the Celts, Germans, Balts, and Slavs. Utilizing the methodologies of historical linguistics and archaeology, he reconstructs a shared religious, mytholoigcal, and cultural heritage. Separate chapters on individual traditions as well as o ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 1st 1989 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published 1987)
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Jaime I got mine from Abebooks for 12 dollars. So far, it's worth every cent.

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Jul 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Druids, Wiccans, Pagans, Jungians, Linguists
Recommended to Mae by: Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship
This book is quite scholarly, but having made it through, I'm glad I read it. It weaves a tapestry of culture, language, and myth to show how archetypes and beliefs were spread and evolved from sources like India and ancient Iran throughout Europe, including Ancient Greek and Celtic mythology.

I recommend it to any serious student of mythology, Druidry, or Paganism in general.
James Curcio
Aug 07, 2010 rated it liked it
This has been a very useful research companion for the Immanence of Myth, although the intention of our respective books is quite different, and as a result I've had to avoid raising my hackles over his niggling about chronological, historical methodology. His approach lends itself to research assistance, as he seems very hesitant to posit theories or interject himself into the material at all. This is an academic stance that follows from the idea of objectivity, maybe with an eye towards the pr ...more
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A wonderful introduction to the wild world of comparative mythology. Sure, there's quite a lot of philology, but it always serves the bigger picture and sheds light on the astonishing connections between mythic worldviews seemingly worlds apart.

Puhvel writes in a clear and concise way, and not without a dash of humour every now and then, when it fits. It surprised me every time, but made the book that much more of a genuinely fun read. Puhvel truly succeeds in what he sets out to do, namely, to
Comparative Mythology examines the connective tissue of Indo-European mythologies, highlighting common patterns as preserved and transformed across cultures. Puhvel dwells more on the philological dimensions of his material than I expected, but he writes with wit, clarity, and—for the most part—economy. There were a few authorial choices that puzzled me, such as recapitulating in brief the whole story of the Mahabharata. Nevertheless, each chapter was rewarding in its own way, and I will doubtle ...more
Linda A.
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best book I've ever read on Indo-European Comparative Mythology. Puhvel's wry sense of humor weaves through the text, taking what could have been a very dry topic and making it approachable by the general reader. If you love myth, this is a must have.
David McBride
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
A bit outdated and really riding on the wave of scholarship from the 60s and 70s of wishful thinking of myth-as-allegory that is now woefully and thankfully not relevant anymore.
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! Jaan Puhvel is simply the best.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: school, winter-2020
Read only select chapters for school reading a
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Interesting connections of Indo-European myth exchange. Overall dull and uniform. Though as an academic reference, it can be helpful. I would recommend reading the chapter of the region/racial subgroup you are currently focusing on.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adf
Well written and very informative, though I'm not sure how authoritative it should be. Puhvel, as a linguist, seems able to pull out quite a bit of information across numerous mythological traditions, though he does gloss a bit over the Celtic tradition. After reading Ireland's Immortals it seems that Puhvel may accept as authentic a number of mythical elements that were introduced during the monastic tradition. Additionally, some of the similarities between Celtic Myth and Roman/Greek Myth is d ...more
May 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a scholarly work, intended to be used as a university textbook. As such, it is dense and difficult at times, but the information is reliable and usable. He has a more post- structuralist approach, which might be difficult for many students of myth who come from a Jungian background, or for Pagans who might be more interested in enhancing their own phenomenological relationships with myth and meaning.
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it
I read this one as a requirement for the Dedicant's Program with ADF. I chose it out of the list because it sounded interesting. I've always been intrigued by how world mythologies seem to fit together, with too many similarities to be coincidental.

It's a bit of a difficult read though, if you're not a current university level student of mythology. Some of the jargon is not stuff you hear everyday...or my dictionary was always close by as well.
Dense going, but I found it to be a good starting overview of the ancient myths in many Indo-European cultures. Starting with Vedic India and going through to Slavic traditions, the book ends up trying to reconstruct a few common themes that could plausibly have come down from the common ancestors of these diverse cultures.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it
While I felt for a large part of this book that I was reading a graduate level "course" for which I'd skipped some of the pre-requisites, overall I think Puhvel's theories are sound. He occasionally stretches his analogies a little far, at least for me (which may just be my lack of familiarity with the material). Dense reading though, I suggest taking notes.
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Full of information, but too many asides to be readable for me. The author's humor was enjoyable, though.
Apr 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: celtic-mythology
A good beginner comparison of different mythologies.
Mar 06, 2009 marked it as to-read
Mpls Central: BL311.P84 1987
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