The Mythology of A God’s Life

Irene is mistaken when she supposes Kavi to be Indian in the opening poem of “A God’s Life.” The main inspiration for the mythology of “A God’s Life” is the Mihr Yasht, a section of the Avesta, sacred Zoroastrian text, but Kavi isn’t a Zoroastrian god either. He’s part of an imagined proto-Indo-Iranian pantheon, based partly on a study of existing theories in linguistics and comparative mythology, partly on my own interpretation of sacred texts in English translation, and partly on the idea that the earliest poems (in the chronology of the story) are occurring at a moment when a new greatest-of-all god is displacing the old gods — not only lowering their position in the hierarchy, but beginning an evolution that culminates (in later religions) in the belief that they never existed. 

Mithra the character is Mithra as the ultimate spy god, and Kavi is one of his many spies: “Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, proves an undeceivable spy and watcher for the man to whom he comes to help with all the strength of his soul, he of the ten thousand spies, the powerful, all-knowing, undeceivable god.” (Mihr Yasht X.46, translated by James Darmesteter, “The Zend-Avesta.” New Delhi: Atlantic, 1990. Vol. 1, page 131.) The epithets about Mithra’s thousands of ears and eyes are understood as representing his spies. In “the divorce,” the eye closing on Mithra’s helmet is Kavi.

The gods of other pantheons make appearances here and there, often in ways that twist several mythologies together. The bit about gods communicating by burning letters is an imagined extension of burnt offerings, which of course manifest in various ways in many religions. 

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