Inherited bovine aspects in Greek reflexes of the Indo-European serpent-slaying myth
McDonald, John Andrew
MetadataShow full item record
Numerous Greek reflexes of the Indo-European serpent-slaying myth retain an inherited theme in which cows are liberated from the serpent. In some reflexes, the cows are replaced by a goddess or woman, but even in these instances, vestiges of the goddess' or woman's erstwhile bovine identity persist. The release of the cattle is marked by a reference to COW and CALF, for which there are comparable expressions in Sanskrit, Anatolian and medieval Irish and Scandinavian reflexes of the serpent-slaying myth, indicating that the dyad COW and CALF is also inherited from the Indo-European proto-myth. The polysemy exhibited by the cows, which alternately signify the dawn, water and poetic inspiration in Greek reflexes of the serpent-slaying myth, also derives from the proto-myth. The same bovine polysemy surfaces in Rigvedic, Irish and Icelandic reflexes of the serpent-slaying myth.