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Mitra-Varuna: An Essay on Two Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty Paperback – February 23, 1990

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Georges Dumézil a member of the Academic Française, was Professor of Indo-European Civilization in the College de France. He is the author of numerous books including Camillus, The Gods of the Ancient Northmen, and The Stakes of the Warrior.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Zone; Reprint edition (February 23, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0942299132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0942299137
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #431,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is a work of comparative mythology that manages to be relevant to political theory. According to Georges Dumezil, there is a story common in the mythologies of the ancient world that goes something like this. Among the many gods, there is a special division of authority between two, a jurist-priest and a magician-king. This twosome was called by the Norse Tyr/Odin and by the Romans Numa/Jupiter, but as an ideal type Dumezil calls them by their Vedic names, Mitra/Varuna. Mitra the jurist-priest represents juridical sovereignty; Varuna the magician-king represents political sovereignty. The kings of the world in governing their cities and states (political orders) reproduced the form of this dual sovereignty: the Rex and the Flamen, the Raja and the Brahman. Among flawed gods, demigods, fallen angels, and certainly frail kings, and political orders, whose imperfection should never be coupled with omnipotence, the power to make laws and the power to execute them ought/ have been so often separated and configured as "agonism." The figure of Mitra, in secular form, combines what in Montesquieu's scheme are legislative and judicial powers; juridical sovereignty meant employing pacts in peace as both a reasoned judge and legislator, preserving society through the validity of contracts and fulfillment of formal responsibilities. Mitra is patron to the tender-minded idealists: the principled, optimistic, religious, and dogmatic. Varuna is by contrast a patron for the tough-minded realists: the pessimistic, irreligious, fatalistic, flexible, materialistic and skeptical. Varuna rules during times of war and rebellion, he executes and binds in entirely physical ways.Read more ›
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