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Daemons Are ForeverContacts and Exchanges in the Eurasian Pandemonium$
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David Gordon White

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226692401

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226715063.001.0001

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Odysseus in Taprobane

Odysseus in Taprobane

(p.131) 5 Odysseus in Taprobane
Daemons Are Forever

David Gordon White

University of Chicago Press

Widely attested in Indic, Greek, and Celtic literature, mythic accounts of a fraught encounter between a hero together with a group of human “brothers” and the shape-shifting genius loci of a sylvan lucus—either a body of placid water or a forest grove—have two principal variants. When that dæmon is male, he tests the humans with riddles that they are required to answer at the peril of their lives. When the dæmon is female, she is often cast as the sister or surrogate of the male genius loci. Overcome by the cunning, force, beauty or goodness of the hero, she betrays her brother and gives herself up, often sexually, to the hero. This latter variant frequently overlaps with Indo-European myths concerning the winning of female Sovereignty, embodied in a goddess who first appears to the hero in a horrific form and threatens his life. The former variant, in which the genius loci is male, may be reflective of an ancient ritual complex involving riddles posed by a dæmon to humans trespassing its lucus, or, as in the case of the Greco-Roman world, questions posed by humans to a dæmon oracle.

Keywords:   genius loci, lucus, hero, riddles, yakṣas, oracles, Indo-European mythology, Irish mythology, Greek mythology, Indic mythology

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