How (exactly) to slay a dragon in Indo-European? PIE *bheid- {h₃égʷhim, kʷṛ́mi-}


In this paper I present evidence for a formula associated with the Indo-European dragon-slaying myth, PIE * bheid- {h₃égʷhim, kʷrmi-} ‘split serpent/worm’. This formula is robustly attested in Vedic in the form bhid- áhi-, alongside the variant vraśc- áhi- ‘tear/split serpent’, with possible reflexes being found also in Iranian and Germanic. Though not as widely attested as PIE * gʷhen- h₃égʷhi- ‘slay serpent’ — a formula discussed in great detail by Watkins 1987, 1995 — * bheid- {h₃égʷhim, kʷrmi-} ‘split serpent/worm’ is semantically more specific, and therefore more distinctive, than * gʷhen- h₃égʷhim, thus lending additional support for Watkins' thesis that there exists a distintively Indo-European dragon-slaying myth.

Historische Sprachforschung 121:3–53.
Benjamin Slade
Benjamin Slade
Associate Professor of Linguistics

My research interests include formal semantics and syntax, historical linguistics, South Asian and Caribbean languages, and the use of computational concepts in formal linguistics.