Comments on Comparative Mythology 3, About Trifunctionalism and the Judgment of Paris
MetadataShow full item record
CitationNagy, Gregory. 2020, February 28. Comments on comparative mythology 3, about trifunctionalism and the Judgment of Paris. Classical Inquiries. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.eresource:Classical_Inquiries.
AbstractIn the previous post, Classical Inquiries 2020.02.21, at §9, I introduced the idea of “trifunctionality,” applied by the linguist Georges Dumézil in his analysis of myths about three kinds of “sins” committed by the hero Hēraklēs in the course of performing his otherwise exemplary heroic exploits. In terms of this idea, Hēraklēs committed his three “sins” by violating the three social “functions” of (1) sovereignty, (2) warfare, and (3) what I described in the previous post, at §10, as “reproductivity.” In the present post, I will offer an explanation for the wording I used to describe the “third function,” and I will do so while moving beyond the myths about Hēraklēs and concentrating instead on a different Greek myth—this one, about the Judgment of Paris. In this myth as well, Dumézil finds an example of trifunctionality, analyzing the challenge faced by the hero Paris in having to choose which of three rival goddesses—Hērā or Athena or Aphrodite—is supreme. For an example of the many visual retellings of this myth, I have chosen for the lead illustration here a vase painting that shows a scene where Paris is confronted by the three contending goddesses, each one of them arriving at the scene in her own personalized chariot. These three goddesses, as we will see, stand for the three “functions” of trifunctionality. In my essay, I will focus on the oldest attested verbal retelling of this myth, deployed near the end of the Homeric Iliad.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42638968
- FAS Scholarly Articles