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Trifunctional hypothesis

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Title: Trifunctional hypothesis  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Threefold death, Georges Dumézil, Triple deity, Priest, Bernard Sergent
Collection: Anthropology, Comparative Mythology, Mythological Archetypes, Proto-Indo-European Religion, Sociological Theories
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Trifunctional hypothesis

This part of a 12th-century Swedish tapestry has been interpreted to show, from left to right, the one-eyed Odin, the hammer-wielding Thor and Freyr holding up wheat. Terje Leiren believes this grouping corresponds closely to the trifunctional division.

The trifunctional hypothesis of prehistoric

See also

  1. ^ According to Jean Boissel, the first description of Indo-European trifunctionalism was by Gobineau, not by Dumézil. (Lincoln, 1999, p. 268, cited below).
  2. ^ a b Dumézil, G. (1929). Flamen-Brahman.
  3. ^ a b Dumézil, G. (1940). Mitra-Varuna, Presses universitaires de France.
  4. ^ Dumézil, Georges. (1958). The Rígsþula and Indo-European Social Structure. Gods of the Ancient Northmen. Ed. Einar Haugen, trans. John Lindow (1973). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03507-0.
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ Bamshad, Michael; Kivisild T, Watkins WS, Dixon ME, Ricker CE, Rao BB, Naidu JM, Prasad BV, Reddy PG, Rasanayagam A, Papiha SS, Villems R, Redd AJ, Hammer MF, Nguyen SV, Carroll ML, Batzer MA, Jorde LB (June 2001). "Genetic Evidence on the Origins of Indian Caste Populations". Gnome Research 11 (6): 994–1004.  
  7. ^ Leiren, Terje I. (1999). From Pagan to Christian: The Story in the 12th-Century Tapestry of the Skog Church. Published online:
  8. ^ Bernard Sergent, Les Indo-Européens - Histoire, langues, mythes, Payot, 1995 ISBN 2-228-88956-3
  9. ^ In the monograph Les trois fonctions indo-européennes en Grèce ancienne Vol. 1, De Mycènes aux Tragique, Économica 1998 ISBN 2-7178-3587-3
  10. ^ Lebedynsky, I.. (2006). Les Indo-Européens, éditions Errance, Paris
  11. ^ Lincoln, B. (1999). Theorizing myth: Narrative, ideology, and scholarship, p. 260 n. 17. University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0-226-48202-6.
  12. ^ 2007.10.53Bryn Mawr Classical ReviewAllen, N. J.
  13. ^ Benjamin W. Fortson. Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction p. 32
  14. ^ Gonda, J. (1974). Dumezil's Tripartite Ideology: Some Critical Observations. The Journal of Asian Studies, 34 (1), 139–149, (Nov 1974).
  15. ^ Lindow, J. (2002). Norse mythology: a guide to the Gods, heroes, rituals, and beliefs, p. 32. Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-515382-8.
  16. ^ Grottanelli, Cristiano. Dumézil and the Third Function. In Myth and Method.
  17. ^ Belier, W. W. (1991). Decayed Gods: Origin and Development of Georges Dumézil's Idéologie Tripartite, Leiden.
  18. ^ Wolin, Richard. The seduction of unreason: the intellectual romance with fascism, p. 344
  19. ^ a b Arvidsson, Stefan. Aryan idols: Indo-European mythology as ideology and science, p. 3
  20. ^ Stroumsa, Guy G. (1998). Georges Dumézil, ancient German myths, and modern demons. Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft, 6, 125-136.[4]


The hypothesis has been criticised by historians Carlo Ginzburg, Arnaldo Momigliano[18] and Bruce Lincoln[19] as being based on Dumézil's sympathies with the political right. Guy G. Stroumsa sees these criticisms as unfounded.[20] Stefan Ardvidsson notes that Dumézil is known to have supported French group Action Française and to have used a pseudonym whilst writing in praise of Benito Mussolini.[19]

[17] Belier is strongly critical.[16] Cristiano Grottanelli states that while Dumézilian trifunctionalism may be seen in modern and medieval contexts, its projection onto earlier cultures is mistaken.[15] to reject his categories as non-existent. John Brough surmises that societal divisions are common outside of Indo-European societies as well, and consequently the hypothesis has only limited utility in illuminating prehistoric Indo-European society.[14] a sense that Dumézil blurred the lines between the three functions and the examples that he gave often had contradictory characteristics, causing detractors[13] concludes that the tripartite division may be an artefact, a [12] On the other hand, Allen

[11] The hypothesis was embraced outside the field of

Supporters of the hypothesis include scholars such as Bernard Sergent and Iaroslav Lebedynsky, who concludes that "the basic idea seems proven in a convincing way".[10]


  • Terje Leiren discerns a grouping of three Norse gods that corresponds to the trifunctional division; Odin as the patron of priests and magicians, Thor of warriors, and Freyr of fertility and farming.[7]
  • Bernard Sergent associates the Indo-European language family with certain archaeological cultures in Southern Russia and reconstructs an Indo-European religion based upon the tripartite functions.[8] He has also examined the trifunctional hypothesis in Greek epic, lyric and dramatic poetry.[9]

The Shudra, a fourth Indian caste, is an "outer" or serf caste serving the other three. A 2001 study found that the genetic affinity of Indians to Europeans is proportionate to caste rank, the upper castes being most similar to Europeans whereas lower castes are more like Asians. The researchers believe that the Indo-European speakers entered India from the Northwest, mixing with or displacing proto-Dravidian speakers, and may have established a caste system with themselves primarily in higher castes.[6]

  • The three Hindu castes, the Brahmans or priests, the Kshatriya—the warriors and military—and the Vaishya—the agriculturalists, cattle rearers and traders—are associated with three philosophical qualities (gunas), Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas respectively. The castes are socio-economic roles filled by members of society.[5]
  • One example is the supposed division between the king, nobility and regular freemen in early Germanic society[4]

Many such divisions occur in history.

Sovereignty fell into two distinct and complementary sub-parts, one formal, juridical and priestly but worldly, the other powerful, unpredictable, and also priestly but rooted in the supernatural world. The second main social division was connected with force, the military and war while the role of the third, ruled by the other two, was productivity, herding, farming and crafts.[2][3] Proto-Indo-European mythology was divided in the same way: each social group had its own god or family of gods to represent it and the function of the god or gods matched the function of the group.

  1. the function of sovereignty
  2. the military function
  3. the function of productivity

According to Dumézil, Proto-Indo-European society comprised three main groups corresponding to three distinct functions:

Three-way division


  • Three-way division 1
  • Reception 2
  • References 3
  • See also 4

[3].Mitra-Varuna and later in [2],Flamen-Brahman who proposed it in 1929 in the book [1]

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