Starbucks, Montesquieu and Constitutional Reform #2


Montesquieu starts his historic overview of the world’s forms of government using examples of ancient Greece, Rome and Persia. In the core of anthropological part of The Spirit of Laws, laying down mechanisms of environmental influences directly on psychology and indirectly through physiology, which shape the driving forces and reasons for the transition from the prehistorical state of humans to civilized societies, Montesquieu primarily investigates the world of “our ancestors” – German tribes in description of classical authors.

More on that, Montesquieu doesn’t claim that the form of government and the state organization, he considers the best, is the best for each and every nation, but rather for European civilization, and based on European ancestors’ customs. In opposite, the worse form of government in his view – Despoty, based of cultural background of Middle Eastern nations, may be perfectly good for them. And a forceful change of the state organization to a more progressive form, from the more advanced society point of view, but not compliant with the cultural background of people “being helped”, is considered by Montesquieu as a second form of Despoty – Despoty of Idea. He discusses in a great detail how customs of such a Despoty oriented cultures can be “subverted” and prepared for the gradual introduction of Liberty.

However, in conjunction with the genesis of Montesquieu’s ideas, we are interested in history, mythology and linguistics of those cultures, which already gave rise of building blocks of Montesquieu’s governing principles. What’s the common ground uniting these, for the first glance, such different cultures? A century later after Montesquieu, first, linguists, and then comparative mythologists, recognizing common roots of these cultures, brought up such a terminology as a proto-indo-european (PIE) world, which spawned into Greek, Roman, Celtic, German, Slavic, Baltic, Anatolian, Iranian and Hindu languages and civilizations.
So what the original PIE principles of social and heavenly organization were? A praised comparative mythologist and philologist Georges Dumezil laid down hypothesis of the specific to the PIE world, tri-functional (in opposite of two-fold Afro-Asian, and four-fold
Native American) organization.

The first function is Sovereignty, Wisdom, Sorcery and Justice. This function belongs to the class of Priests: of Hindu Brahmana, Roman Flamen, Celtic Druids, Persian Dervishes or Slavic Volhv. In the sacral dimension it’s represented by gods Mitra and Varuna in India, Mithra and Ahura in Persia, Zeus and Uranus of Greece, Jupiter and Dius Fidius or god-like mythical-historical figures of Romulus and Numa Pompilius in Rome, Tyr/Tiwas and Odin/Wodnaz of German tribes (in honor of whom we have the Tuesday and Wednesday days of the week) and Svarog and Weles of Slavs. Celtic Druids represented an ultimate judiciary branch of power in Celtic society – no punishment, even imposed by tribal leaders, could not be carried without their presence and approval. The very name Druid itself literally means tree-seer. However, in PIE mythology and etymology a tree is a synonym of truth (no wonder they sound similarly), transforming the meaning into truth-seer.

The second function is Force, Honor and Bravery. It’s the one of Kings, Rajas, Nobility and Heros and the Warrior gods – Hindu Indra, German Thor/Thunaraz (now we unknowingly praise him every Thursday), Slavic and Baltic Perun/Perkunas. Which obviously makes up the executive branch of power of the society.

And the third one is the function of Well-being, Productivity and Fertility – function of Artisans, Travelers, Healers, Craftsmen, Herdsmen and Farmers. In a Heavenly domain it’s represented by Hindu Aswin twins and their sister Ushas, Greeko-Roman Dioscuri and Helen, German Freyr and Freya (lazy or ‘free’ day of Friday is their day), Slavic Jarilo and Marzanna. A very important occupation of musicians and poets of pre-literacy era was maintaining verbal versions of history, law and customs. The rime, beat, melody were a some kind of control check sum mechanism, canvas or external skeleton of the being carried message. Celtic Bards or Slavic Guslars (Harpists) were the legislative branch of these times, keeping the history and its lessons alive in the people’s memory.

However, it’s not a mere linear enumeration of functions. It’s rather a ring or triangle, where each function opposes, and, in the same time, connects with opposing functions by their wings or flanks. And we see an additional two-fold division inside of each function. If Mitra is a protector of contracts, the letter of dry laws, Varuna is a wild, unruly, but the one who brings life to the spirit of the laws. Untamed Gandharva, half-men and half-horses, patrons of musicians and guardians of vital force, are also called Varuna’s people, thus Varuna’s secondary function touches the third, well-being function. As well as the wild and unruly Romulus and his band of Lupercy (wolf pups) were remembered in the Roman Lupercalia festival, when young men, dressed only in leather strips were running down the streets, bringing life and fertility to women with the special whip called Februa, which echo comes to us in the name of the month February.
While Mitra’s priests – Brahmana, and Jupiter priests – Flamen had to be strictly forbidden from such activities and can’t touch dogs, horses, see or be seen naked, which all are indications of Varuna or Uranus influence. As well the Roman priesthood leaders – Flamen Dialis and Rex Sacrorum (especially the last one) were tilted to the second, kingly “caste” – they were responsible for protecting the King in sacred dimension. However, the mutual inter-dependence of these two wings of the function were well remembered. Maintainers and Improvers of the Law like Numa and, created by him, institute of Flamen had a risk of loosing the life force of the Creators like Romulus. For this reason priests of the Flamen college had to have a wife – Flaminica – who had to have children. If she died or was infertile, the priest had to step down from his position.

A similar duality and connection we can trace between all other Dumezil’s functions. Indra, who is the representation of the Warrior deity, has secondary functions of agricultural fertility and justice (actually, fixing the injustice). As well as the Third function figures have the well formed duality, descending from the original PIE concept of Divine Twins. The Slavic version – Jarilo, being the single person, still has two faces – young and old, and is depicted having a decapitated head in one arm, and a flower wreath in another.

It’s very fascinating how the visualization of this circular model of three functions found its way into monumental sculpture of XIX and beginning on XX centuries. The Queen Victoria Fountain near the Buckingham Palace in London has sculptural groups representing Law and Justice, Artisans, Warriors, Farmers and Workers on its perimeter. As the same motive as the Statue of Liberty, the Law and Justice figures, situated on the far side of the Fountain, hold the scripture and torch. But on the closest to the Buckingham Palace side, facing the Palace, stand the figures of Worker with hammer and Farmer Woman with sickle, resembling the famous Soviet sculpture of Worker and Kolkhoz Woman from the World Fair of 1937.

To be continued…

References:

The Theological Basis of Liberal Modernity in Montesquieu’s
Indo-European Poetry and Myth
Mitra-Varuna: An Essay on Two Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty
A History of Pagan Europe

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