The Dagda, Thor and ATU 1148B

Analogues, Parallels, or Correspondences?

  • John Shaw University of Edinburgh

Abstract

Since ancient times celestial thunder gods have been a familiar feature in mythologies throughout the Indo-European language area. Their Irish counterpart, the Dagda, is a major personage at the centre of the Mythological Cycle, and his possible connections to the Scandinavian god Thor are examined here. Following a brief section dealing with questions of methodology, points of comparison are addressed which include the two gods’ common primary role as defenders of their realm; their place in the assembly of gods; their principal weapons and implements (iron club/hammer/harp, cauldron); their associations with cosmology and artisans; and their visits to the abode of their monstrous adversaries, incorporating elements of the burlesque. Both gods appear in versions of the international tale ATU 1148B ‘The Thunder Instrument’ (Thor in the Old Norse poem Þrymskviða, and the Dagda’s recovery of his harp from the Irish Mythological Cycle), and the nature of the parallels between the two versions is examined. The question of a borrowing during the Viking era, or of an inherited body of tradition possibly from Indo-European times, is discussed: the international tale type also leads to the myth, at a further temporal and geographical remove, of the Greek god Zeus and the theft of his thunderbolts. A proposed sequential account of the development and evolution of both gods from remote antiquity is provided.

Published
2019-06-29
How to Cite
Shaw, J. (2019). The Dagda, Thor and ATU 1148B: Analogues, Parallels, or Correspondences?. Temenos - Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion, 55(1), 97-120. Retrieved from https://journal.fi/temenos/article/view/83427