Serpentine Power in Greece and India
Review by Enrica Garzilli, April 1st, 1996
We have received the Internet version prepared by Prof. Francisco Diez De Velasco (Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain) of his paper Serpentine Power in Greece and India, published in English in the third volume of the review Yavanika (Journal of the Indian Society for Greek and Roman Studies 3, 1993, 13-31). The full version is in Spanish, in the fourth chapter of Los caminos de la muerte: religión, rito e iconografía del paso al más allá en la Grecia antigua, Valladolid, 1995, Editorial Trotta (ISBN 84-8164-016-6), and Alicante, 2006, Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes.
The essential role played by serpents in some mythical Greek episodes does not appear to be sufficiently clarified. In view of the impossibility to find decisive explanations in the Hellenic culture itself, we decided to use an instrument of historical- religious analysis, the comparative method, to find an extra-Hellenic example with a sufficient degree of relevancy to enlighten the religious "reality" that underlies these serpentine episodes. The country where the systematization of the symbolism of the serpent is accessible and with a suitable development for our purpose is India. In this multiform culture we will try to find an example that offers an explanatory linkage for the sparse information that survives in the Hellenic culture.