Book: Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion
Chapter: 35. Raffaele Pettazzoni and Károly Marót: Companions-in-Arms in the Field of the History of Religions
Raffaele Pettazzoni (1883-1959) and Károly Marót (1885-1963) were born around the same period in two different countries with very strong contrasts in language but affinities in culture and similar historical trajectories. They had parallel academic and political careers. The Hungarian outlived his Italian and wrote a sympathetic obituary in his memory. Pettazzoni was a classicist in his formation but in a very short time he took his path to the science of universal religious history and became a generalist, the most prominent comparative historian of religions of his époque. Marót was a professor of classical philology primarily concerned with Greek mythologic themes, but shared with his colleague an interest in folklore and comparison. They met first in 1929 and maintained an epistolary correspondence until Pettazzoni’s death. It was thanks to their joint efforts that in 1957 the Hungarian group of historians of religions became affiliated with the IAHR. With regard to the role played by Marót in the field of the study of religion, it has to be recognized that he was a precursor of two approaches that were to become dominant in the developments of the discipline. In sum, if the Italian Pettazzoni was in his times the leading figure in the historical study of religion, the Hungarian Marót must be also considered a scientist of religion of remarkable vision and commitment, rooted in the past but with an eye turned to the future.