The Indo-European mythical scheme of the ‘Final Battle’ in Ancient Greek Mythology


A myth that appears in many Indo-European cultural groups and may be traced back to Proto-Indo-European times is the ‘Final Battle’, as Steven O’Brien called it in 1976. It deals with the end of the world and is defined by ten common episodes. Nearly all these elements appear in all myths he used for reconstruction. In 1998, Stefan Ahyan added the Ervandavan Battle from the Armenian history and another episode to O’Brien’s pattern. Two years later Daniel Bray showed that all these myths do share a twelfth episode and suggested that Hesiod’s Tinanomachy follows the same scheme.


This paper’s main aim is to revisit Bray’s claims regarding the Tinanomachy, because Hesiod’s Epics are heavily influenced by Middle Eastern narratives while searching for a better Greek counterpart in Epichoric myths. It is also intended to examine all the elements and their variations, specially because the Old Indian and the Armenian myths share the same variation with the Titanomachy in the third, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth elements.


All the narrative elements and structures will be analysed and summarised in a table, noting all the variations and how many times each element appears along myths and how many of these elements appear in each myth.


Hesiod’s Titanomachy has a heavy Middle Eastern influence, as Martin West proved, whereas Epichoric myths are generally believed to be more conservative and less influenced by Oriental cultures. Moreover, if this myth deals with the end of the world, why would it appear in a cosmogony? According to Bruce Lincoln (Death, war and sacrifice, 1991), it rather seems to be dealing with kingship. If he is right, the localist Greek version should be found in the legends of city-state monarchies. In fact, there are some elements in the Davidic ascent to the throne in the Bible that fit in with the pattern stablished by Bray. Finally, it would be significant if this Epichoric myth still to be found shares the same variations with the Old Indian and Armenian myths, as these three IE branches come from the same stem according to the Indo-Greek theory.


The ‘Return of the Heraclidae’ fits in with the O’Brien-Ahyan-Bray’s scheme and it does share the same coincidences with the Indian and Armenian versions. It is also a better and more conservative counterpart than the Hesiodic myth.


The ‘Final Battle’ appears in nearly all the main IE branches, but this examination proves that eschatology is not its main component. The shared variations in the Greek, Armenian and Indian version could point to the Indo-Greek theory or, at least, to Linguistics, as they can be explained because of the evolution and meaning of the PIE *nép(o)t in each IE phylum. However, the Biblical parallel suggests an expansion from the Middle East following a diffusionist model, so further investigation and a re-examination of the comparative method in this field are required.

Palabras clave

comparative mythology Greek mythology Indo-European

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Roger Ferran i Baños

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      Daniele Arciello

      Comentó el 11/12/2020 a las 22:32:04

      Congratulations Prof. Ferran i Baños for your interesting exposition. I would like to know in your opinion if there is a thematic resemblance between the eschatological aspects of those myths and the fabolous kingdom of Prester John. I thought about this possible comparison because many historians connect the famous medieval legend to the end of the world and the importance of a strong christian kingdom that could avoid it.


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      Javier Antonio Nisa Ávila

      Comentó el 11/12/2020 a las 13:24:13

      congratulations, is there a similar example in other mythologies of other cultures?


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        Roger Ferran i Baños

        Comentó el 11/12/2020 a las 15:46:08

        Thank you very much! Some of the elements of these Indo-European myths appear in the Bible (Judges, I Samuel), where a one-handed judge kills the Moabite king and the lame grandson of Saul cannot be king, for instance. The ‘eschatological’ version of the myth appears to in some Slavic and Caucasic traditions, and some hints point that it might have existed a Gaulish version too. The Nordic version (Ragnarök, which I believed is influenced by the Christian Apocalypsis) has some echoes in the Song of Ice and Fire saga, because there is a one-handed man who cannot inherit his father’s dominion (Jaime Lannister), a lame who cannot inherit Winterfell (Brandon Stark) and an one-eyed man whose sword can lit (Beric Dondarrion), so it can be said that these myth is still alive!


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