Conclusion

There was a time when the very existence of solar and celestial mythology was denied, and when, as usual in the absence of knowledge and argument, it was ridiculed as drawn from that bank with unlimited liability, the inner consciousness of German professors.142

Müller's critics were right to castigate his excesses and those of the nature-myth school generally. But the reaction against that approach sometimes went too far. We have seen in this chapter that there was such a thing as solar mythology in Indo-European tradition, and a body of festive ritual associated with it. The poetic stories and imagery attaching to the Sun and to Dawn are for the most part directly intelligible in terms of diurnal experience. With figures such as the Daughter of the Sun and the Sons of Heaven, it is less clear how much has a meteorological or astronomical basis and how much is fanciful invention or the mythic reflection of seasonal rituals on earth. What is apparent in this context is that ancient Indic myth and more recent European folklore and custom are not to be studied exclusively as regional specialisms, but to be seen as patches remaining from one great historical tapestry for which 'Indo-European' is a singularly apt label.

141 J. Train, A Historical and Statistical Account of the Isle of Man (Douglas 1845), ii. 118-20, retold by Frazer (1911-36), iv. 258; Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, book xix; G. O. Jones and William Owen (edd.), Barddoniaeth Dafydd ab Gwilym (Llundain 1789), 540; A. H. Krappe, Rh. Mus. 80 (1931), 126 f.

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