Behaghels Law the Augmented Triad

The priamel is an end-weighted structure, the final component forming a climax. To this extent, at least, it fits a pattern widely attested for Indo-European. The principle underlies what is known as Behaghel's Law, or the 'Gesetz der wachsenden Glieder'. This is the rule that shorter phrases tend to be placed before longer ones, both in prose and in verse, so that the sentence gains rather than loses weight as it develops.132

A special case of Behaghel's Law that is distinct and easily recognizable is what I call the Augmented Triad. It consists of the construction of a verse from three names (or occasionally other substantives), of which the third is furnished with an epithet or other qualification. I have devoted a paper to this topic and collected there numerous examples from the Vedas, the Indian epics, the Avesta, Hesiod and Homer, and the Germanic and Celtic literatures (West 2004). A few will suffice here by way of illustration. I can now add one from Hittite and a couple from Latvian.

131 Pind. Ol. 1. 1 f., cf. 3. 42-4; Bacchyl. 3. 85-92. For the Vedic comparison see Wüst (1969), 70-108.

132 O. Behaghel, IF 25 (1909), 110-42; cf. Hermann Hirt, Indogermanische Grammatik (Heidelberg 1927-37), i. 126, vii. 232 f.; Gonda (1959), 61-4, 69-71, 142-4; Schmitt (1967), 272-4.

If he has seen something with his eyes, or taken something with his hand, or trodden something with his powerful foot. (CTH 760 V iv 1 ff.)133 Diyaur, Vana, Girayo vrksakes'ah.

The Sky, the Forests, the Mountains tree-tressed. (RV 5. 41. 11)

Tvasta, Savita, suyama Sarasvati

Tvastr, Savitr, easy-guided Sarasvati. (RV 9. 81. 4)

Daityanam Danavanam ca Yaksanam ca mahaujasam.

Daityana and Danavana and Yaksana of great might. (MBh. 1. 2. 76)

Bnaaav Te Z^Kapfinv Te Kal Avyelas ¿paTeivas. Bessa and Skarphe and lovely Augeae. (Il. 2. 532)

Heorogar ond HroSgar ond Halga til.

Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga the good. (Beowulf 61)

Vara sandr ne ssr ne svalar unnir.

There was not sand nor sea nor the cool waves. (Vgluspa 3) Noe, Ladru Lergnaid, luath Cuar.

Noe, Ladru Lergnaid, the swift Cuar. (Campanile (1988), 29 no. 6. 3) Simtiem dzina govis, versus, I simtiem berus kumelinus.

Par centaines elle menait les vaches, les taureaux, par centaines les bruns chevaux. (LD 33957; Jonval (1929), no. 144)

Ligo bite, ligo saule, I ligo mana ligavina.

Sing, bee, sing, sun, I sing, O my bride. (LD 53542)

In the Indian, Greek, Germanic, and Celtic traditions we often find such triadic lines within longer catalogues of names. Catalogues are typical of heroic poetry, as they are of genealogical and other antiquarian verse. They may have been a feature of Indo-European heroic poetry, and the augmented triad a traditional device in them.

But triads also appear where there is no longer list but just a trio of names. Sometimes it is explicitly noted that the last name is the third: Il. 14. 117 'Agrios and Melas, and horseman Oineus was the third', cf. 15. 188; Campanile (1988), 33 no. 17. 3 f. 'from a branch of Galian's line (came) Find fer Umaill (i.e. Find and his father Umall); an active hero was Trenmor as third';134 Gripisspa 37. 3-4 'Gunnarr and Hogni and you, prince, as third'.

133 Quoted by Watkins (1995), 251. 134 So emended by Campanile, 57.

Sometimes the trio of names is preceded by the announcement that they are three. There is one especially common type, where three sons are recorded as sprung from one father, for example:

Tpaios S' av rpeis naiSes a^v^oves i^eyevovro, 'IAos r ZlooapaKos re Kal avrideos FavvirSns-

From Tros three fine sons were born:

Ilos and Assarakos and godlike Ganymedes. (Il. 20. 231 f.)

trayas tv Angirasah putra loke sarvatra visrutah: Brhaspatir Utathyas ca Samvartas ca dhrtavratah.

But of Angiras, three sons renowned everywhere in the world: Brhaspati and Utathya and Samvarta the resolute. (MBh. 1. 60. 5)

Tri meib Giluaethwy ennwir, tri chenryssedat kywir: Bleidwn, Hydwn, Hychdwn hir.

The three sons of false Gilfaethwy, three champions true:

Bleiddwn, Hyddwn, Hychdwn the tall. (Math vab Mathonwy 281-3 Ford)

tri meic Noe nair cech neirt: Sem, Cam, Iafet aurdairc.

Three sons of Noah, of every (kind of) strength:

Shem, Ham, Japheth the glorious. (Lebor Gabala Erenn 189 f.)

In these and in many other cases we have a more or less identical pattern: the words 'three sons', with the father's name in the genitive, with or without a verb such as 'were born'; a general qualification of the sons as 'fine', 'renowned', etc.; and then their individual names in an Augmented Triad.135 It is hard to avoid the inference that this was a traditional formula from the common poetic inheritance. Here we seem to find a remnant of the Indo-European storyteller's building work: a recognizable structural component, with the lineaments of its verbal patterning still in place.

135 To the examples quoted in my 2004 paper, 46 f., may be added a further Irish one from The Fort of Ard Ruide (E. Gwynn, The Metrical Dindshenchas, iv (Dublin 1924), 368-71), 'Three sons did Lugaid leave; I whither are gone their riches?-- I Ruide, son of broad-built Lugaid, I Eochaid and manly Fiachu'.

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