This is what we’re up against. And yes, yes I know – the hazards of reading Wikipedia … but that’s just it, isn’t it. So many people do. The stuff they see on that website is their first (and quite frequently, last and only) meaningful introduction to a topic, its nuances and its intricacies. As applies matters Indo-European … this leads to some very questionable interpretations and even outright fictional “facts” being perpetuated – because they’re part of the ‘preferred headcanon’ of some wiki editor out there somewhere.
Although in truth, it’s not quite their fault. They – usually – just put up and approve changes to pages that can provide a citation to an academic or other expert in the field. And in principle, that’s no bad thing … except some of the academics in some fields have some very strange ideas that are frequently, demonstrably, pants-on-head incorrect.
In some cases, it’s stuff which came up when our field was first getting its serious start in the 1800s … and has just become so much ‘part of the furniture’ that it hasn’t really seriously been challenged nor changed since then by people acting to present the ‘orthodoxy’ of the field to outsiders and lay-people.
An example for that is the situation around Dyaus Pitar being “dead” or “absent” – blatantly not true, directly contradicted by various IE mythic canons .. yet it persists on, and then somehow feeds into that “Odin displacing Tyr” meme (also false and another example of flawed etymology / comparative analysis from early days in the field still being re-perpetuated to this day).
In some further cases, it’s a case of probably-honest error, resultant from people – even experts in a field – not quite grasping what they’re grapping with, and then in something approaching good-faith presenting a flawed position which then gets seized upon by others.
David Anthony’s ‘The Horse, The Wheel, And Language’ (at least, I think that’s the book people quote with this in) has a prominent instance of this – advancing the notion of Indra being a sort of ‘canon immigrant’ without other Indo-European cognates and being sourced into the Vedic religion from the BMAC (Bactria Margiana Archaeological Complex), and others suggesting that the ‘original’ Dragon-Slayer in Indo-Iranic mythology ‘should’ be Trita Aptya with Indra having ‘stolen His Thunder’ so to speak by becoming prominent for a deed that’s .. in the I-I mythology at least .. kinda shared.
Except that’s … really not the case – as I’ve repeatedly demonstrated through my work, Indra is quite clearly a strongly IE expression of the Indo-European Striker/Thunderer deific, and the key features of the mythology are directly concordant with what we should expect there as the fairly direct result. There’s no room for ‘incorporation’ – as He was already there! The reason why it’s come up in academia is because Zoroastrian-oriented scholars have seen the lack of an Indra god in the Zoroastrian canon, noted that their version of Trita fulfils the relevant role, and rather than observe that there’s an Indra demon [i.e. the demonized God Indra] Who has been displaced … assumed that the lack of an Indra deific is the ‘proper’ baseline Indo-Iranian state. It’s annoying – although as applies guys like Anthony, I don’t think it’s been done maliciously.
In other cases still, it’s stuff where somebody has almost deliberately sought to put out a ‘controversial’ (we could probably just as well say ‘edgy’) take on things, because that stands out and gets you a reputation, interest, and funding.
The thing which annoyed me in this screencap is partially derived from that – although, again, it’s a much bigger problem as applies the Greek sphere.
Guys like Beekes and Furnee have almost vandalized the field by running around publishing works proclaiming that there are “no” Indo-European etymologies for various integral Greek mythic and religious terms, in a bid to ascribe seemingly anything and everything that isn’t nailed down (and quite a lot which, quite frankly, actually is), to non-IE “Pre-Greeks”.
In order to do this, they blatantly and seemingly deliberately ignore clearly viable Proto-Indo-European etymologies and obvious and obviously close cognates in Sanskrit etc. Because it would be decidedly inconvenient for what they’re selling to acknowledge thus … because it’d make their schtick entirely unnecessary were they to do so.
This does not just extend to the linguistic sphere – but also right out into the mythological one, as well.
There is some utter aversion to the notion that large swathes of an Indo-European mythic canon … might in fact be Indo-European, archaically and endogenously so. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t scope for occasional syncretizations or foreign incorporations – especially later on.
But looking at this list of deifics that somebody’s identified as possessing “no parallels in the mythologies of other Indo-European peoples” … as with Indra, we are finding that key and core figures are being ascribed an entirely foreign and blatantly unnecessary non-Indo-European point of origin.
Or, I suppose, an “Anatolian” one … because whomever wrote this apparently hasn’t realized that “Anatolian Indo-European” is literally a thing – and the dominant set of spheres in that place at the point in time when any interchange could have occurred.
I won’t go through and point-by-point refute every deific listed there being lacking in clear IE parallels – I’ve done that for many of Them in the course of my previous work, for all but Aphrodite and Apollo (and I haven’t done much in those Two directions not because They are somehow non-IE … but simply because it has not been an especial area of interest – although I have written several times tangentially about Apollo in IE comparanda terms; our associate Athanaricus is quite keen to write something looking at Aphrodite specifically in these Indo-European terms as well). Happy to link the relevant (A)Arti-cles in the comments if they are of interest to people.
Now as for ‘why this matters’ – well, some might suggest that the whole thing is a bit academic. They are both correct, and to a certain extent missing the point. If you don’t grasp why the active engagement with heritage and faith are important even (no doubt especially) amidst the detritus of the modern era .. I’m not going to sell you on it right now.
But if you do, then you already understand why it’s so important for such things to be accurate. And if you’re most interested in engaging with our ancestral elements … then being told “oh, hey, x y and z aren’t actually anything to do with these, they turned up later and were borrowed/nicked off some other neighbouring people”, can significantly chance your perception thereof.
We look in righteous disdain at people attempting to co-opt such things for their own very modern indeed agendas. The sorts who insist outright that Yoga was ‘Kemetic’ and African rather than Indian (interestingly, a line of popularity amongst those who think they are ‘fighting’ ‘Right Wing Hindutva Extremism’ in certain white American settings), or that Leonardo Da Vinci somehow sourced much of the Renaissance from a Chinese visitation to Italy (I am not kidding, this is basically what Gavin Menzies is pushing these days – to PRC enthusiastic support), or various groups endeavouring to place themselves as the direct descendants of Ancient Egypt’s Pharaohs.
We react with indignation (or bemusement) at these bristling ridicularities precisely because we can see that they are incorrect – and that they are being wilfully repeated all about the place by people who want to get you to believe something which is fundamentally nonsense. Because it serves some agenda or agendas in order for you to do so.
And yet, when it comes to The Gods – Our Gods – … Who shall step up to defend Them from similar misconstruement, spurious eschewment, and in various cases active and out-right defamation.
After all – ‘perception’ seems to manufacture ‘reality’, these days … and one of the most powerful conditioners for reshaping views is “Oh, I saw it upon Wikipedia”.