Until his retirement in 2001, Nick Allen was for 25 years Lecturer/Reader in the Social Anthropology of South Asia at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford, and a Governing Body Fellow at Wolfson College.  His D.Phil., based on twenty months fieldwork in East Nepal, focused on the mythology and oral traditions of a Tibeto-Burman ‘tribal’ community.  Apart from Himalayan comparativism, he has written on the macro-history of kinship systems and on the French tradition in sociological thought (cf. his Categories and Classifications, Berghahn 2000).  His main research interest in recent years, and particularly since retirement, has been Indo-European cultural comparativism, and in particular the common origins of the Sanskrit and ancient Greek epic traditions.  One offshoot of this work has been an interest in the similarities between the biography of the Buddha and that of the Greek hero Odysseus. 


N.J. Allen

PUBLICATIONS ON INDO-EUROPEAN COMPARATIVISM. For contextualisation see autobiographical sketch:  From mountains to mythologies.  Ethnos 68 (2003) : 271-284.


AbbreviationsJRAI = Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.  JASO = Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford.   JRAS = Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.  SALG = South Asian Librarians’ Group.



1987        The ideology of the Indo-Europeans: Dumézil’s theory and the idea of a fourth function.  Int. J. Moral and Social Studies 2(1): 23-39.

1991        Some gods of pre-Islamic Nuristan.  Revue de l’histoire des religions 208(2): 141-168

1993        Arjuna and Odysseus: a comparative approach.  SALG Newsletter 40:39-43.

1993        Debating Dumézil:  recent studies in comparative mythology.  JASO 24(2): 119-131.

1994        Primitive Classification: the argument and its validity.  Pp. 40-65 in W S F Pickering and H Martins (eds) Debating Durkheim.  London:  Routledge.  Revised version: chapter 2 in N.J. Allen Categories and classifications: Maussian reflections on the social.  Oxford: Berghahn, 2000.

1996a      The hero’s five relationships: a Proto-Indo-European story.  Pp. 1-20 in J Leslie (ed) Myth and Myth-making: continuous evolution in Indian tradition.  London: Curzon.

1996b      Romulus and the fourth function.  Pp. 13-36 in E C Polomé (ed) Indo-European religion after Dumézil (JIES Monograph Series 16).  Washington: Institute for the Study of Man.

1996c      Homer’s simile, Vyasa’s story.  Journal of Mediterranean Studies 6 (2): 206-18.

1997        Why did Odysseus become a horse?  JASO 26 [for 1995](2): 143-154.

1998a      The Indo-European prehistory of yoga.  International journal of Hindu studies 2: 1-20.

1998b      The category of substance: a Maussian theme revisited.  Pp. 175-191 in W James and N J Allen (eds.) Marcel Mauss: a centenary tribute.  Oxford: Berghahn.

1998c      Varnas, colours and functions: expanding Dumézil’s schema.  Z. für Religionswissenschaft 6: 163-177.

1998d      Cúchulainn in the light of the Mahâbhârata and the Odyssey.  In E Lyle (ed) Cosmos 14 [2001]: 51-6.

1999a      Hinduism as Indo-European: cultural comparativism and political sensitivities.  Pp. 19-32 in Johannes Bronkhorst and Madhav M Deshpande (eds.) Aryan and non-aryan in South Asia: evidence, interpretation and ideology. Cambridge, Mass.: Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University.

1999b      Arjuna and the second function: a Dumézilian crux.  J. Royal Asiatic Society, Series 3, 9(3): 403-418.

1999c      Hinduism, structuralism and Dumézil.  Pp. 241-260 in E C Polomé (ed) Miscellanea Indo-Europea. [JI-ES Monograph No. 33.] Washington: Institute for the study of Man.

1999d      Les crocodiles qui se transforment en nymphes. Ollodagus 13: 151-167.

2000a      Argos and Hanuman: Odysseus’ dog in the light of the Mahabharata. J. Indo-European Studies 28(1-2):3-16.

2000b      Cúchulainn’s women and some Indo-European comparisons. Emania 18: 57-64.

2000c      Scripture and epic: a comparativist looks at the biography of the Buddha. Visvabharati Quarterly N.S. 9: 51-62.

2000d      Imra, pentads and catastrophes. Ollodagos 14: 278-308.

2000e      Reflections on Mauss and classification; Magic, religion and Indo-European ideology. Chapters 6 and 7 in N.J. Allen Categories and classifications: Maussian reflections on the     social.  Oxford: Berghahn.

2001        Athena and Durga: warrior goddesses in Greek and Sanskrit epic.  Pp. 367-382 in S Deacy and A Villing (eds) Athena in the Classical World.  Leiden: Brill.

2002a      The stockmen and the disciples. J. Indo-European Studies 30: 27-40.

2002b      Pénélope et Draupadî: la validité de la comparaison. Pp. 305-312 in A. Hurst and F. Létoublon (eds) La mythologie et l’Odyssée.  Hommage à Gabriel Germain. Geneva: Droz.

2002c      Mahabharata and Iliad: a common origin?  Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Institute 83: 165-177.

2003        The Indra-Tullus comparison.  In Indo-European Language and Culture: Essays in Memory of Edgar C. Polomé, part I, ed. B Drinka & J Salmons.  General Linguistics 40 [2000]: 148-171.

2004        Dyaus and Bhīṣma, Zeus and Sarpedon: towards a history of the Indo-European sky god.  Gaia: Revue interdisciplinaire sur la Grèce archaïque 8: 29-36.

2005        The articulation of time: some Indo-European comparisons.  Cosmos 17/2 (for 2001): 163-178.

2005        Scripture and Epic: A Comparativist Looks at the Biographies of the Buddha and Odysseus. Indika Online – 2005.

2006        Thomas McEvilley: The Missing Dimension. Indika Online – 2006.

in press     The close and the distant: a long-term perspective.  To appear in G. Pfeffer ed ?    title.

in press     Asceticism in some Indo-European traditions. To appear in Studia Indo- Europaea,   2:

in press     Bhisma and the Hesiodic Succession Myth.  Int. J of Hindu Studies 7:

in press     Hesiod’s Theogony in the light of Indo-European comparativism and the  Mahabharata.  (N.G. Politis Conference: Athens?)

in press     Romulus et Bhishma: structures qui s’entrecroisent.  To appear in Anthropologie et Sociétés

in press     The Buddhist Wheel of Existence and two Greek comparisons. In Anthropology of the Indo-European World and Material Culture: 5th International Colloquium of Anthropology of the Indo-European World and Comparative Mythology.