List and discuss the major primary sources for the mythology of three Indo-European cultures, including their dates of origin and authorship (if known). Discuss any important factors that may cause problems in interpreting these sources, such as the existence of multiple revisions, or the presence of Christian or other outside influences in surviving texts. (minimum 300 words)
I mainly work with the Norse culture, but also somewhat that of the Greek, and I suppose for this particular notation I will attempt to include the Irish since my Grove works closely with that hearth culture as well.
For knowledge of the Greek culture, most people turn to Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey which features epic poetry about history and the Divine as primary sources of both a historical and liturgical influence. There is also Theogony by Hesiod thought to be written around 750 or 650 B.C., which is claimed to be a more detailed account of the actual history and creation of the world. Additional sources of reference for Greek Mythology include the Homeric Hymns which is various works from various anonymous historians. The reason they are called the “Homeric” hymns is because they follow the same style as Homer’s works and written around seventh century B.C (Homeric Hymns). I do not see any particular issue with these resources as the Greeks were very passionate about their storytelling traditions, and while I’m sure they were embellished, they have a great record of recorded history compared to other cultures.
While not the first sources of Germanic tradition, the Edda’s are probably the most influential literary sources for the lore of northern traditions. Snorri Sturluson, born in 1179 and died in1241, was a historian who wrote the Prose Edda as a tales of religious tales. The Poetic Edda is a series of poems from various authors, but was hidden in origin for so long that it’s not known from where it came from or how long ago it was written. But it was found by a bishop in 1693 and placed in the Codex Regius from the 13th century (Poetic Edda). Without knowing the original source for these texts, we’re forced to try and interpret them by comparing them to other texts or significant historical research to determine whether they are credible sources of information.
The Celtic Mythology was so strongly based on an oral tradition due to the written word being forbidden for so long to some castes. The Book of Dun Cow is the oldest of the manuscripts that survived in the medieval times. The Book of Leinster is where we equate the Battle of Moytura as a crucial piece of lore for the Celts. Unfortunately, Christian monks and religious figures have been the sources for the compilation of oral notations to written scripts that we have now. It is assumed in some circles that they largely influence the tales with their own Christianized input, which to me would mean they are somewhat diluted from that point of view. It makes it more difficult to assume that these texts are entirely accurate due to the bias nature that could be prevalent in the Christian viewpoint.