In a long series of important and stimulating publications Georges Dumézil has for almost half a century not only re-established a complex of theories with regard to the comparative study of ancient Indo-European mythology, but also applied a modernized comparative method. In investigating the foundations of the Indo-European socio-religious conceptions he bases his arguments and conclusions, it is true, to a certain extent on linguistic data, but these are always amplified and corroborated by a thorough consideration of the social structure, religious beliefs and ritual institutions of the ancient Indians, Romans, Germans, Celts and Greeks. Especially these last thirty-five years his work is of great originality in that he has founded and developed the theory of the trois fonctions, of the “three fundamental activities which the groups of priests, warriors and producers must fulfil and assure in order to maintain their community”. In this theory it is not the tripartite social organization of the prehistoric Indo-Europeans that is emphasized, but the principle of classification, the ideology to which, in Dumézil's opinion, this organization has given rise. Being reflected in the groupings of, and mutual relations between, the divine powers and in the very structure of Indo-European mythology and view of the world it is here again the ideological rather than the strictly sociological aspects that invite the reader's attention.

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