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Ancient Gods and Heroes of East and West

by: Marta Vannucci

This book is an in-depth study of the people of nomadic groups of Central Asia — notably, the Greeks, the ancient Iranians and Indo-Aryans of the Indian subcontinent — from about 6000 bce to the last millennium bce. It deals with the evolution of cultures, migrations and settlements, myths and legends gods and heroes of the ancient cultures.

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ISBN: 9788124604137
Year Of Publication: 2007
Edition: 1st
Pages : xxi, 468
Bibliographic Details : 3 folded coloured maps; 7 b/w photographs & maps;Bibliography; Index
Language : English
Binding : Hardcover
Publisher: D.K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Size: 23
Weight: 850

Overview

This book is a study of the people of nomadic groups or clans of Central Asia from about 6000 bce to the last millennium bce to explore why cultures and history developed the way they did in Central Asia by taking up the Indo-European and other settlements — notably, the Greeks, the ancient Iranians and Indo-aryans of the Indian subcontinent — for in-depth study. It deals with the quest for knowledge which led to evolution of cultures from simple primitive life to a society complex in structure, from philosophy to religion. The study of gods and heroes examines stories relating to migration and settlements and the geography of ancient civilizations. It is in this setting that their unique philosophies and religious beliefs flourished, giving rise to belief in numerous gods and heroes. It discusses the myths and legends of the ancient cultures, highlighting names, deeds and events relating to honoured gods and much-praised heroes. Dr Marta Vannucci significantly concludes that both Indo-aryan and Indo-Iranian people had been able to maintain their traditional customs and habits backed by technical developments up to the last centuries bce. Throughout, she bases her observations on reliable information provided by archaeology substantiated by oral and written traditions of Central Asia, Greece and Rome. The volume will be invaluable to scholars of history, anthropology and archaeology who are keen to systematically unravel the obscure origins of the great human civilizational march.

Contents

Preface
List of Figures
Transliteration Chart
Introduction
Part I — The Indo-Europeans of the Euro-Asian Steppes
(A) The Scenario
The Place
The People
Expansion of the Inhabited World
Urban Development
Cities and Language
Nomadism and Settlements
Indo-European Settlements in East and West
Conclusion
(B) The Problem and the very Ancient Past
Mythology
Indo-European cultures
Evolution from the heroic times
Sources
Conclusion
(C) Proto-history and Pre-history
Oral and written tradition
Sources
Fossil, archaeological and cultural remains
The quest for knowledge
From philosophy to religion
Expansion of the Indo-Europeans
Conclusion
(D) Evolution of Cultures and Ancient Historical Times
Sources and the passage from proto-history and pre-history to history
Ancient historical cultures
East and West
City States and villages
Increase of cultural diversification
Geography and cultural syncretism
In the East
Gods and beliefs
Oral tradition and factual findings
Conclusion
Part II – Gods
(A) The Indelible Link Between Man and God
Gods and Truth
Gods
Nature Gods
Homer and Hesiod
Hesiod
Traditional Gods
From Pre-history to History
The Indian and Greek Sources
Mythology in the East
Mythology in the West
Conclusion
(B) Dionysos — The Forces and Vitality of all Nature
Nature Gods
Dionysos, untamed Nature
The young God Dionysos
The archaic God
Urbanization of Dionysos
Myths
The mythical personalities of Dionysos
Ancient poems about Dionysos and Dionysan rites
Dionysism, Orphism and Vedism
Evolution with time
Nonnos and the Dionysiacs
Homeric hymns to Dionysos and Nonnos’ other writings
Legends about Dionysos
Dionysos, Summary and Conclusions
(C) Demeter — The Domestication of Nature
Mythology and pre-historic evidence
The personality of Demeter
Kore, daughter of Demeter
Demeter and her cult
Demeter’s acts and mission
The rites, the kykeon
The Mysteries
Demeter — Summary
Dionysos and Demeter-Summary and Conclusions
(D) Gods of the Indo-Europeans of the East
Agni and Atar
The Graeco-Roman tradition
Rudra, the Maruts and the Vasus
Maruts and Vasus
Varuna, God
Myths
Asura
Indra
Gods of the Indo-Iranians
Avesta and Rigveda
Aryan Gods
Gods of the Indo-Iranians
Vendidad II
Rgvedic and Avestan traditions
Summary and Conclusions
Part III – Heroes
(A) Heroes and Epic Poetry
Heroes, warriors and weapons
Graeco-Roman culture and civilization
Epic poetry
(B) Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneis
The Iliad
The Odyssey
The Aeneis
Graeco-Roman epics — Summary
(C) The Thrust, Bagao and Balletys
(D) Herakles and Other Ancient Greek Heroes
(E) Heroes and Epics of the Indo-Aryans
(F) Ancient Indo-European Heroic Traits
1) Influence of non Indo-European cultures and the late Graeco-Roman civilization
2) Ancient Indo-European characteristics common to the Indo-Europeans of East and West
Late Indo-European epics, ad age Dionysiacs and the Shah Namah
Summary and Conclusions
Part IV – Summary and Conclusions
(A) People and Environments
Migrations: Indo-Arya and Indo-Iranians
Migrations — The Indo-Iranians
Structured societies and architectural structures
Ecology
Indo-Europeans of the West
Autochthonous people
Relict Indo-European populations in East and West
Summary
(B) Myths, Legends, History and Geography
The birth and use of myths
The life and world of myths
Mythologies of fire
Archaic myths
Archaic myths among relict societies
Archaic myths of East and West
The evolution of myths
The dawn of history
Evolution of knowledge and wisdom, pride and arrogance
(C) Destiny and Fate
Meaning of Fate and Destiny
Free-will and will-power
Fate and destiny among the Indo-Europeans of the West
Fate and destiny among the Indo-Europeans of the East
Summary and conclusions
(D) Philosophies and Religions
Philosophy and Religion
Indo-Europeans of the West
The Graeco-Roman religion
Sunset over the Olympian Theocracy
Religion and civil life in the West
Religious vacuum and natural philosophy
Survival of traditional knowledge and wisdom
Nature Gods and Goddesses
Philosophy and religion among Indo-Europeans of the East
Indo-Arya and Indo-Iranians
In conclusion
(E) Gods and Heroes
Epilogue
Notes
Figures
Bibliography
Index

Meet the Author
avatar-author
1921
Dr Marta Vannucci is a globally distinguished biological oceanographer who has been UNESCO’s Senior Expert (Marine Sciences) and was a member of oceanographic research cruises in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. She has been engrossed in studies in the libraries, archives, museums and universities of Florence, Italy and India aided by a grasp over almost all Latin and Greek derived languages, English and German. She has been honoured with the prestigious Grand Cross of the “Order of Merit in Science” of Brazil. She is Italian born and has been resident in India since 1970.
Books of Marta Vannucci