Abstract:  Nicoleta Popa Blanariu analyzes several idiomatic expressions from Romanian, French and English, and proposes some hypotheses on their origins in archaic mythical structures of the imaginary: firstly, dualistic myths about the brotherhood between the Trickster (as “Second Demiurge”) and “good God”, universally spread in ancestral traditions of many people; and secondly, myths of chthonian motherhood, occurring, in various forms, in almost all cultures. In Popa Blanariu’s opinion, this is what happens with idiomatic expressions such as: a) Rom. a se face frate cu dracul (literally, “to fraternize with the devil” or, in the idiomatic sense, “call the bear ‘uncle’ till you are safe across the bridge”); b) Rom. copil din flori, Fr. né(e) sous un chou, Eng. born under a rose – all these three idioms having the same meaning in their corresponding languages which share the same Indo-European origin. (D)evil Demiurge and Mutter Erde are two (quasi)universal motifs of mythical imaginary, related to an archaic vision of cosmogony and anthropogony. Due to them, life on Earth appears as the creation of either an evil Father or a protective universal Mother. In terms of an ancestral ideology, this involves a radical dissociation between the essentially “evil” or, on the contrary, “good” nature of the life and its physical environment, of the human being and material body. Thus, two distinct principles of different trends of philosophical and religious thought, as well as idioms, such as the above-mentioned ones, are based on much more ancient structures of the mythical imaginary.


Keywords: myth; dualistic cosmology; chtonian motherhood; idiom; (D)evil Demiurge;  Mutter Erde.

The Romanian idiomatic expression a se face frate cu dracul (literally, “to fraternize with the devil” or, in the idiomatic sense, “call the bear ‘uncle’ till you are safe across the bridge”) seems to designate a somehow epigonic act of human being, moreover one of imitatio Dei. More precisely, my hypothesis is that this Romanian expression, still used today, derives from and   also reflects a layer of the collective imaginary – a set of beliefs and representations –, which is not strictly local or national, not even European, but (quasi)universal. The expression is a reminiscence, the verbal outcome of an archaic vision of the cosmogony. My lines of argumentation are particularly related to two aspects: on the one hand, the connection between the verbal structure and the collective mentality, in its mythical configuration; and, on the other hand, the continuity of certain archetypal structures of the imaginary, so-called “dualist”. With variations that do not change the essence of the issue, the latter may be found across vast distances of time and space, in the cultural geography of humanity. Thus, the Romanian expression a se face frate cu dracul (“to fraternize with the devil”) reminds of an original situation and, correlatively, of an archetypal act accomplished in illo tempore, which is the cosmogonic Creator’s action, closely related to his ambiguous relationship with a “second Demiurge”. The latter is seen as a source of imperfection in the physical world and human nature. He is generically called Trickster or “charlatan Demiurge” (Culianu 1990). In particular, he may be the Devil or Satanael, as in Bogomil legends. The relative antagonism between the two Creators is the specific note of dualist beliefs and representations. It should be noted here the particular meaning of this concept in the history of religions, different from that in other domains. The term dualismus was proposed by Thomas Hyde, in 1700, to designate a characteristic of Persian religion: the opposition of two divinities, Ormazd and Ahriman, assimilated – at the ontological, ethical and cosmological level – by two principles: the Good and the Evil; so that a “good”, respectively “evil” creation corresponds to each of them. In Ugo Bianchi’s definition, “dualist are the religions and life beliefs according to which two principles, coeternal or not, are the foundation of the real or ‘apparent’ presence of what exists and is manifested in the world” (Bianchi 1976: 39).