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
Associate Professor of Linguistics