Indo European Studies 1: #4

Choose one other Indo-European culture and compare and contrast it to the culture discussed in question 3 above with respect to each culture’s Indo-European nature. (minimum 300 words)

Fortson uses a lot of Greek examples to compare IE culture requirements, so in comparison with the northern traditions, we can find a lot of similar IE classifications.  One example is within the idea of exchange and reciprocity.  “A gift for a gift”, the exchange was not actually the act of giving or the act of taking, but the process of an exchange.  The Greek nemetai or ‘allots’ in comparison to the German nehmen or ‘take’.  From a religious standpoint, the Greek culture places Zeus, a sky god, as the “chieftain” or head of the IE pantheon.  In the Norse, we have Tyr, another sky god who was the former chieftain of the Norse pantheon (Fortson, 25).   At the same time, there are some simple yet important differences in how deities are represented if you compare the Sun god in Greek culture (Helios) with the Sun Goddess in Norse culture (Sunna), then you have a male versus female comparison.  Further religious comparison shows similarities between Norse and Greek culture in terms of the afterlife, or at least the method of getting to our afterlife destinations.  Here, a body of water is crossed to reach an afterlife that is gated by some form of guardian, though in Greek there is some form of payment is due to reach that destination, so even then we have some slight differences.

Aside from moral or divine appropriations, we can look at social units and how Germanic “tribes” existed as smaller groups of their inner culture.  Greeks had an early social system that consisted of Households, Clans, Villages, and Tribes.  Cleisthenes eventually developed an Athenian Democracy through the creation of the 10 Athenian tribes that were named after 10 heroes of Athens.  This was one of the initial glimpses into the development of what we now know as modern Democracy.  There was emphasis on familial obligation and namesake here that also expanded out into community tribal relations, like the Germanic cultures(Cleisthenes and the 10 Tribes of Athens).

(Word Count: 326)

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