Notes on the Slavic Religio-Ethical Legends: The Dualistic Creation of the World

Notes on the Slavic Religio-Ethical Legends: The Dualistic Creation of the World

Notes on the Slavic Religio-Ethical Legends: The Dualistic Creation of the World

Notes on the Slavic Religio-Ethical Legends: The Dualistic Creation of the World

Excerpt

This is a translation of an essay by the Ukrainian academician, Mixailo Petrovič Dragomanov, written originally in Bulgarian.

There is a goodly number of reasons for rendering it into English. No other single folk-idea is so widely held in the world as this: that once a creator-being dived for earth to the bottom of a primeval ocean, which material a companion creatorbeing strewed upon it to make the dry land. This is the object of Dragomanov's study.

Its roots are in the Middle East of several millennia ago, in mankind's most fecund and dynamic culture area; but -- unlike the records left to us from the sophisticate strata of ancient societies, and which preoccupy the writings of history -- the tales which embody this folk-idea bespeak the mentality of the illiterate. And let us not forget that they always were the great bulk of ancient society.

The idea is a revealing by-product from the period which saw the climax and death of an ancient world and the embryogenesis of another. For several decades (ending with the first world war) there was a body of scholars, chiefly though not exclusively Slavs, who worked over the origin and history of the idea. In the opinion of the translator, Dragomanov's essay ranks first among their studies.

It is an instructive example of an intellectual activity which combines the canons of XIX century western scholarship with a subject-matter altogether too unfamiliar to Occidental scholars, of that day as well as of this.

However, the principal reason for the translation is one of culture-historical anthropology. Aboriginal North American culture is reasonably presumed to contain ingredients that passed from Eurasia eastward to this continent. If the origins of these at all could be pinned to time and place in the Old World, by so much the flatness of American ethnology might . . .

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