Thoughts on Indo-European grammatical structures and Calvert Watkins's book “How to Kill a Dragon”

“The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family.”

“Professor Calvert Watkins traces the practice of spontaneously executing manifest thieves to Hindu and Greek, as well as Roman law. See Watkins, Studies in Indo-European Legal Language, Institutions, and Mythology, in INDO-EUROPEAN AND INDO-EUROPEANS 321, 342–45 (G. Cardona ed. 1970); cf. PLATO, THE LAWS ¶ 874 (“He that slays a thief entering the house by night with intent of robbery shall be guiltless.”). Watkins’ thesis, substantiated by linguistic as well as legal analysis, is that there is a prototypical form of Indo-European larceny. For comparative discussions of the similarities of Biblical and Roman approaches to manifest thievery, see generally D. DAUBE, STUDIES IN BIBLICAL LAW 235–305 (1947).”

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