Claudio Sansone, Humanities Teaching Fellow, The University of Chicago
Sansone argues that the Rbhus, a group of minor divinities in the Rigveda, reveal a tension in the conceptualization of labor. The Rbhus are portrayed as craftsmen and laborers, and are associated both with the heroic labor par excellence in the Veda, Indra’s slaying of Vrtra, and with the mysterious and striking labor of creating the gods themselves. At the same time, the hymns reveal ambivalence and even disgust at their laboring human bodies. Sansone offers a broader context for thinking about the Rbhus as worker-gods, turning to Indo-European parallels at the level of language and mythology.