One of the world's leading specialists in Indo-European
religion and society, Bruce Lincoln expresses in these essays
his severe doubts about the existence of a much-hypothesized
prototypical Indo-European religion.
Written over fifteen years, the essays—six of them
previously unpublished—fall into three parts. Part I deals
with matters "Indo-European" in a relatively unproblematized
way, exploring a set of haunting images that recur in
descriptions of the Otherworld from many cultures. While
Lincoln later rejects this methodology, these chapters remain
the best available source of data for the topics they
In Part II, Lincoln takes the data for each essay from a
single culture area and shifts from the topic of dying to
that of killing. Of particular interest are the chapters
connecting sacrifice to physiology, a master discourse of
antiquity that brought the cosmos, the human body, and human
society into an ideologically charged correlation.
Part III presents Lincoln's most controversial case
against a hypothetical Indo-European protoculture.
Reconsidering the work of the prominent Indo-Europeanist
Georges Dumézil, Lincoln argues that Dumézil's writings
were informed and inflected by covert political concerns
characteristic of French fascism. This collection is an
invaluable resource for students of myth, ritual, ancient
societies, anthropology, and the history of religions.
Bruce Lincoln is professor of humanities and religious
studies at the University of Minnesota.