A Reader In Comparative Indo-European Religion by Ranko Matasovic


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2016

Ranko

atasoōić

Zagreb

2016

A READER IN COMPARATIVE INDO
-
EUROPEAN
RELIGION

©
This
publication

is intended
primarily for the use of students of the University of Zagreb.

It should not be copied or otherwise reproduced without a permission from the author.



FOREWORD

Comparative Indo
-
European religion is a study
of
th
e history of religious ideas. The central
idea of this approach is that by comparing the religious ideas of the peoples who speak (or
spoke) Indo
-
European languages we can plausibly reconstruct
some of the religious ideas of
the speakers of the common Prot
o
-
Indo
-
European language, from which the attested
languages are descended.
As in the case of the reconstruction of the PIE phonology and
morphology, the reconstruction of the PIE religion is not an end in itself. Rather, it is intended
to shed some light o
n the earliest history of religious ideas of the early historical communities
of speakers of IE languages.

The approach adopted here is strictly inductive;
we do not make any
a priori
assumptions
about what the system of belief of Indo
-
Europeans may have b
een
, nor do we posit any
original

ideology


structure

. We believe we can know about the PIE
religion only what the reconstructed fragments of PIE religious texts can teach us. S
ince

Proto
-
Indo
-
European


is primarily a linguistic entity,

our primary data are mythological
texts

attested in different IE traditions
, and all conclusions are based on their comparison
.

The texts
selected here are meant not only to illustrate the common features of various IE traditions, but
also their differenc
es, and the multi
-
faceted
nature

of all religions.

It should be stressed that

this book

is not
in the first place
about what Indo
-
Europeans
believed, or how they represented their gods. It is about how they expressed their beliefs in
words, and how the
y addressed their gods in their prayers, hymns, and incantations.

We hope
to reach a picture of this by a careful semantic reconstruction of the religious terminology of
PIE, including the poetic formulas
, occurring in texts

dealing with religious matters
.

These
formulas have been preserved

thanks to the stubborn and uninterupted oral poetic tradition
extending from PIE to the daughter languages. Much in that picture is likely to remain
fragmentary and unclear, but a fragmentary reconstruction reached by so
preferable, in our opinion, to aprioristic speculations of any kind, however persuasive and
rational they might appear to the uninformed reader.








Zagreb, November 20
15



PART I: ELEMENTS OF
PROTO
-
INDO
-
EUROPEAN RELIGION

1.

BASIC RELIGI
OUS TERMINOLOGY OF PIE

GOD

Since we have been living in a monotheist society for
centuries, the very meaning of

god


in
our
modern languages has evolved:

god


is the all
-
powerful
being
who is in charge of,
ultimately, everything (or so many of us like to

think). In societies unaffected by monotheist
way of thinking, this definition will obviously not do. For our purpsoses, we can consider as
gods all beings capable of entering into a religious bond with humans, so that they can be
addressed in prayers and

expected to assist humans, provided that appropriate rites are
performed.

It follows that it is not necessary to have a cover term for such a being, and
indeed, there is little reason to believe that there

was an all
-
inclusive term for

god


in PIE.
What
we have

is rather a list of terms covering various aspects of divine beings:

PIE *deywo
-


caelestial god

: Lat.
dīvus
,
Skr.
devás
, Lith.
,
OE
Tīw
, OIr.
dia
; this word
denotes the deity as a celestial being, in opposition to the earth
-
bound humans, the

name of
which is derived from

earth


in PIE (cf. Lat.
homo

‘m n’ <
d
h
g'
h
om
-
on
-

vs.

humus

‘e rth’

*d
h
g'
h
om
-
o
-
, OIr.
duine

*d
h
g'
h
om
-
yo
-
).

It
s meaning

probably does not include chthonic
deities

(Lat.
di inferi
)
, or deities belonging to the social sphere rather than to the cosmic
sphere of existence.

PIE *d
h
eh
1
s / *d
h
h
1
sos

divinely inspired being

: Gr.
theós


g
od

, Arm.
di
-
k
c


gods

, Lat.
fānum

consecrated place


*fasnom


*d
h
h
1
s
-
no
-
,
fēri e


religious festival
’ <
*d
h
eh
1
s
-
, Skr.
dhišā
‘with impetuosity’
; this word did not necessarily refer to gods, but rather to any divinely
inspired being
, or (according to some etymologists), a religious

rite or oblation
.

In Greek,
theós

took on the general meaning of

god

, while another word,
d ìmōn
, took the original
semantic sphere of *d
h
eh
1
s
-

(

a divine pow
er that may seize an individual

)
. In origin,
d ìmōn

is a derivative of
d ìom i


divide, share


(
PIE *deh
2
i
-
, Ved.
dáy te

cf. the similar semantic
development of Slavic
bogъ

below).

In principle, it would be possible to interpret
*d
h
eh
1
s
-

as
an s
-
stem built to the root
*d
h
eh
1
-

‘to do put m ke’ (L t.
facio
, OCS
děti
, etc.) in the sense
‘th t whic
h is est blished (by religious observ nce)’ but the sem ntic connection is we k.

*h
2
nsu
-

� Hitt.
h
ššu
-


king

, OIc.
áss


a kind of god

,
Skr.
ásur
-


a kind of god

, Av.
ahu
-


lord

; I believe this word originally referred to divine beings in their socia
l aspect. In the Rig
-
Veda, the Asuras (Bhaga, Mitra, Varuna, Aryaman) are notably the deities belonging to the
social sphere of existence

(in contradistinction to the

cosmic


devas
)
.

In the later layers of the
Vedas, they become demons, opposed to caelest
ial gods, the
devas.
I
t is possible that the
meaning

god


developed independently in Germanic and Indo
-
Aryan, and that the original
me
aning is preserved in Avestan (

lord

).
Some linguists derive these words from the root
*h
2
en
s
-


to beget


(Hitt.
hāši


b
egets

, LIV 239), but this is quite uncertain.

*b
h
h
2
eg
-

(
or
*b
h
ag
-
) �
Skr.
bhá
ga
-

(one of the Asuras),
Av.
b γ
-


god

,
OCS
bogъ
.

Some
linguists think that the Slavic word is an Iranian loanword, but I find that it is more probably
inherited.

The old deriv
ative OCS
ubogъ

poor


testifies that the
original meaning in Slavic
was

share, lot

, as in Indo
-
Aryan. A further cognate might lie in Gr.
phágos

a glutton

, but
this is difficult for semantic reasons
.

For the Germ nic word for ‘god’

see below.

Gods
are
often represented as


bestowers of wealth

: Gr. Hom.
dotéres eáōn
, e.g. Od. 8.335
,
Ved.



nām

RV
8. 51. 5

(cf. OCS
d ţ
d
ьbogъ
, Russ.
d ţbog
)
. The PIE expression
would have been *deh
3
tores h
1
weswom.

In
many traditions, we hear about

m
any
-
named


god
s, PIE *polh
1
-
h
3
nomn
-
o
-


Skr.
puru

-
,
Gr.
poly
nymos
(
RV 8. 93. 17, AV 6. 99. 1, of Indra;
Hymn. Dem.
18 and 32, of
Hades;
Hymn. Ap.
82, of Apollo)
. Gods have many names, but the correct name must be
used
in prayer, otherwise the prayer

is void.
The

god's names may be secret (
námāni
RV 5. 5. 10) and Rome, according to legends, had a secret name known only to the
initiated. A similar conception of many names of god is found in Islam.


T
he gods have their own language, different from
the language of men, a conception found in
the Sanskrit
T ittiriy
-
S
hita
5.25.5.2, in Homer (
Il.
1.403f.,
Od.
10.305), etc., and the
Norse
Alvìssmál
(9
-
34).
A Roman prayer invokes Jupiter Optimus Maximus
sive quo alio
nomine te appelari volueris


or by
whatever othe
r name you wish to be addressed


(Servius,
Aen. II, 351).

The gods are often called

the greatest

, or the highest

, cf. e.g.
Zeû kêdiste
mégiste


Z
eus, most glorious and greatest


(Il. 2.412),

Indra, the highest one


(
utt má
-
, RV
10.159.4
), and Juppiter's standing epithets
optimus maximus

the best and the greatest

.


Finally, in contrast to us mortals, the gods are, of course,

immortal

, PIE *n
-
mrtōs deywōs >
Skr.
tās
RV 3. 4. 11, 5. 69. 4; Gr.
thán toi
Il. 1.520
.

In this case it is probable that
Gr.
thán toi

replaced the original epithet *
ámbrotoi
, which was etymologically cognate with
Skr.
tās
.


The proper seat of the

gods is exactly that, PIE *sedos, derived f
rom *sed
-


to sit


(Lat.
sedeo
,
OCS
sěsti
, Eng.
sit
, etc.): in Homer's Iliad (5. 360, 367) the Olympus is called
th nátōn
hédos


seat of immortals

, and the same expression is used in Hesiod's Theogony (128) of
the
sky (
our nós
); in RV 3. 54. 5 we read that the gods abide in


seats


(
sádā

si
),

and in

10. 96. 2
a heavenly (or divine) seat is mentioned (
diviyám sád s
). The Old Irish word for the mounds
or hills where the ancient pagan gods live is
sìd
from PIE *sē
dos
-

(apparently with the
lengthened grade

of the root
).


It h s been rgued by George Dumézil nd others (see Dumézil 1958 Littleton

1982
)

that
Indo
-
Europe n gods were org nized in system of tri ds to reflect the ‘trip rtite ideology’

of
Indo
-
Europea
ns. According to this ‘ideology’

soci l ‘functions’: the priests the w r
riors and the agriculturalists (
or
craftsmen)
. In India,
these social functions evolved into a rigid caste system, consisting of
k
triyas
(warriors),
priests (
brahman
-
), and free
craftsmen

(
v iśy s
), but,
in

Dumézil
’s opinion
, there are traces of
:
i
n Rome, the three original
tribes (according to a legend preserved by

Titus Livius) were
Ramnes, Luceres
and
Titienses
.
The first of those were Romulus’ L tin comp nions nd they represented the priests
(Romulus himself was a
rex
-
augur
). The second group, the
Luceres
, were warriors brought by
Lucumon, while the
Titienses

w
ere the Sabines brought by Titus Tatius; they represent the
agricultural fertility and
opes
, or aboundance (they brought with them
to Rome
not just the
ir

agricultural skills
, but also women, abducted by Romans).

Dumézil s w simil r trip rtite
organizatio
n of society reflected in the
traditional
division of Ionians into four tribes
representing three social functions, in the three original kin
-
groups depicted in Nart legends of
the Ossetes (an Iranian people living in the Caucasus and having a rich oral he
roic tradition),
in the three original groups of the Scythians (as related by Herodotus), etc
. According to
Dumézil e ch ‘function’ h d symbolic system ssoci ted with it including colour (white
as the colour of priests, red as the colour of warriors
, and black as the colour of the
agriculturalists).


These three soci l groups (or ‘functions’) h ve their
different gods assigned to their respective
domains
.

In the Vedic p ntheon Indr (the thunderer) would be typic l god of the w rriors
V ru nd

Mitra would represent the priests, while the agriculturalists would be represented
by Aryaman
.
In Rome, the three functions would correspond to the Capitoline triad of gods:
Juppiter would be the god of the priestly function, Mars the warrior
-
god, and Qui
rinus the god
of the third social group or function (the agriculturalists).
This tripartite ideology would, in
Dumézil’s opinion be reflected not just in the w y the gods were conceived ( nd in the myths
associated with them), but also in the way they wer
e worshipped
, in the religious practices of
Indo
-
Europeans. For example, the widespread practice of healing by word (magical charms),
surgery and medicine would reflect the ideological division of proper actions for priests
(speaking holy words), warriors
(acting with instruments, including surgical instruments) and
agriculturalists (procuring food and medicine).


It must be noted that t
he term ‘
Indo
-
European
ideology’ is not me nt to reflect the re l soci l
organization of the society of speakers of PIE (
or any other concrete society), but rather as a
set of ideas determining the culture of early IE societies; there is certainly nothing particular
about the languages of the Indo
-
Europeans or their genes that made them accept that
particular system of ideas

which was transmitted to their descendants by cultural, chiefly oral
tr nsmission: “
J’ ppelle ‘idéologie’ l’invent ire des idées directrices qui comm ndent l
réflexion et l conduite d’une société et qui bien entendu n’impliquent p s je ne s is quelle
org nis tion p rticulière des cerve ux
‖ (Dumézil 1985: 312).


Although intelectually bold and ingen
u
ous Dumézil’s ide s bout the org niz tion of PIE
religion and mythology remain controversial. They are aprioristic, in the sense that almost any
type of t
extu l evidence c n be m de to fit “trip rtite‖
ideological
scheme, hence the very
hypothesis of a tripartite ideology of Indo
-
Europeans is
strictly
irrefutable.
The same applies
to Allen’s (1987) ttempt to introduce fourth ‘function’ to Dumézil’s sys
tem, that of the
‘other’ nd to connect the soci l functions of e rly Indo
-
European societies with
organizational schemes of kinship systems.
Because of
their inherent irrefutability, such
theories will not be further mentioned in this book.



SACRED

To c
onclude from the number of preserved cognates, PIE had a rather rich terminology
connected with the sacred sphere:

PIE *
seh
2
k
-
/
*
sh
2
k
-

� Lat.
s cer s cerdōs
,
sācer

worthy to be sacrificed

,
TochB
sākre

happy, blessed

, Lat.
sancio


establish a law

,
san
ctus


sanctified

, Hitt.
š
ā
klāi

rite, custom

.

PIE *k'wento
-

� Goth.
hunsl

sacrifice

, Lith.

‘holy’
, OCS
svętъ
, Av.
spǝnt
-
, perhaps
TochB
känts
-


right, firm

.

?*sewp
-

� Umbr.
supa


viscera of sacrificed animal

, Hitt.
š
uppa
-


flesh of sacrific
ed animal

,
suppi
-


pure

.

*weh
2
ti
-

� OIr.
fáith

prophet

, Lat.
vātēs
, Goth.
wōds

demon
-
possessed

,
Skr.
api
-
vat
-


inspire

.

The root *weh
2
-

prob bly me nt something like ‘inspir tion’ nd the deriv tive
*weh
2
ti
-

w s ‘h ving inspir tion inspired (prie
st)’.

PIE *(H)ish
2
ro
-


provided with supernatural strength


� Gr.
hierós hi rós


holy

,
Skr.
iširás


holy, strong

; this set of words could be related to dialectal IE *(H)ish
2
r
-
no
-


iron


� OIr.
ì rn
, Germ.
Eisen
, Eng.
iron
(the Germanic words are conside
red as Celtic loanwords).

The
semantic motivation is in the properties of iron as the strongest of metals.

The verbal root is
preserved in Skr.
i y ti
‘enlivens fortifies’.

PIE *yag
-

(or *yeh
2
g
-
)

� Gr.
hágios


holy

,
h gnós

(Hom.); cf.
házom i


I am afraid

,
Skr.
yaj
-


to sacrifice

,
-


a sacrifice

.

PIE *
h
2
yewos
-


divine rule


� Lat.
iūs
, cf.
iūdex

judge

: Av.
y oţ
-
dāt r
-
,
y oţdāt
-


h
oly

.

The root is probably the same as in
PIE *h
2
oyu
-


life force


(
Skr.
āyu
-
),
although the semantic
connection is not obvious
.

PIE *noyb
h
o
-

?

holy


� OIr.
noìb


holy

, OPers.
naiba
-


good, beautiful

, cf. also MW
nwyf


passion, joy

.

OIr.
nì b
‘vit l fo
rce’ (< *neyb
h
o
-
) shows that the semantic evolution was
similar to the one in *
(H)ish
2
ro
-

‘provided with supern tur l strength’ bove.

PIE *k'ub
h
ro
-

‘brilli nt’

or ‘holy’

(Skt.
śubhrá
-

‘brilli nt’
�) Arm.
surb
‘holy’
.

In most early IE traditions there i
s a

bipolar opposition between

holy


as a negative concept


sacer,
Gr.
hágios
, Goth.
weihs
, Av.
sp
ǝ
nta
-
) and

holy


as a positive concept



(Lat.
sanctus,
Gr.
hierós
, Go
th.
heilags
, Av.
y oţdāt
-
).

In Greek, there is also
hósios


holy, pious


(signifying that which is permitted by Gods)
, but this word does not seem to have a PIE
etymology.

Gr.
sébom i

wors
hip, pay respect to


deve
loped from the earlier meaning

feel
awe


and

be ashamed


(in Homer); it is related to Skr.
tyajati

abandons


( PIE *tyeg
w
-
).

The Germanic words such as Eng.
holy
, Germ.
heilig
developed from *hailaga
-
, which is
derived from *haila
-

(OHG
heil
, OE
hēl
, Goth.
hails
)

whole, healthy

. The semant
ic
connection lies in the healing power of the sacred object (a sacrificial victim) and sacred
practices (religious ceremonies). The same connection can also be observed in W
coel

sign,
omen

, Oscan
kaila

tem
ple

, which are also derived from PIE *kaylo
-

(or *kh
2
eylo
-
, cf. also
OCS
cělъ

whole

, OPr.
k ilūstik n

health

). The appurtenance of Lat.
c erimōni

religious
practice


(? < *k ylimōni ) is doubtful
, as well as the
etymology of Lat.
caelum

sky

, which
is quite plausibly also derived from *kaylo
-

(the semantic motivation wou
ld lie in the
divination by watching the flight of birds in a demarcated area of the sky;
caelum

as

the
whole


would be the opposite of
templum


temple, the part


in the speech of the
augures
)
.

The semantic connection of holyness and (ritual) purification

can be observed in the
etymology of Lat.
pius


faithful, pious


(originally an attribute of one who conscientiously
performs religious duties). Like its Italic cognates (e.g. Umbrian
piìhiúì
(Dat. sg.)) it is
derivable from the root *peh
2
u
-

(or *pewh
2
-
, w
ith laryngeal metathesis)

to purify

, from
which we also have Lat.
pūrus

clean


( *puh
2
-
ro
-
)
. The development of
pius
from *puh
2
-
yo
-

is likewise regular, cf. also the verb
piāre

to propitiate, cleanse by expiation


and
piāculum

victim, expiatory offer
ing


*puh
2
-
yeh
2
-
tlo
-
.


PRIESTS

There is no common PIE term for

priest

; h
owever, h
ere are two terms that are at least
reasonably good candidates

for PIE status, whatever their exact original meaning
:

PIE *kowh
1
-


Gr.
koìēs

priest of the Samothracian m
ysteries

, Lyd.
k veś

priest

,
OInd.
k vì
-


seer

.

The root is also found in OCS
čują čuti
‘to he r’
, Gr.
koéō
‘he r notice’
, Lat.
c ueō
‘be c reful heed’
. With s
-
mobile we also have OHG
scouwōn
‘w tch’
, Eng.
show
, and,
perhaps, Pol.
chow ć
‘be c reful

.

Lat.
flāmen
:
Skr.
br hmán
-

h
lag'smen, however
non
-
Indo
-
European that reconstruction looks. Note also that
the Lat. word is usually derived
from *bleh
2
-
, cf. Goth.
blōt n

sa
crifice’
.
Skr.
br hmán
-

is also re
lated to OIc.
bragr


poetry

.

Although this etymology is disputed, it is interesting to note that there are several common
taboos affecting the desired behavior of both Roman flamines and Vedic brahmins:


In Sanskrit and Av
est n there re m ny terms for ‘
priest’
, since there were many specialized
hót r
-

and Av.
zaotar
, which are both
from *g'
h
ew
-

‘to pour ( lib tion)’
, Gr.
khéō
.

The Germanic word for 'god' (Eng.
god,
Germ.
Gott,
Goth.
guë
,
originally neuter
)

is

often derived from this root (PIE *g'
h
u
-
tóm ‘worthy of
lib tion’
), but equally possible is to derive it from the quasi
-
homophonous root *g'
h
ewH
-

‘c ll invoke’

(Skr.
háv te
OCS
zъv ti
)
.

If that is correct,
god
would origin lly h ve been ‘the
invoked one’.

OCS
ţrъcь

‘(p g n) priest’

is derived from the verb
ţrьti
‘s crifice’
, ORuss.
ţereti
, from PIE
*g
w
erH
-

‘pr ise’

(Lith.
gírti
‘pr ise’
, OPr.
girtwei
‘pr ise’
,
Skr.
g


‘pr ise’
)
, cf. also Russ.
górdyj
‘proud’

*g
w
rH
-
d
h
h
1
o
-


worthy
of pr ise’
, Gaul.
bardos
‘b rd’
, W
bardd
.




SACRIFICE

The functions of the PIE priest would have included the performance of various rites,
including the sacrifice. The most common type
s of sacrifice are the libation and the slaugthter
of animals; of these, the cattle, the sheep and the horse are the most prominent sacrificial
animals, and there are several combinations, such as the Roman
Suovetaurilia

(the sacrifice of
a sheep, a pig, a
nd a bull, chiefly during the festival of
Ambarvalia
in May, when the
sacrificial animals are led around the crops to protect them from blight).

Any self
-
respecting sacrificer ended the sacrifice with a feast, on which the sacrificed animal
was shared with

the gods. This feast seems to be denoted by PIE
*dapnom

sacrificial meal


(Lat.
daps,
ON
tafn


sacrificial animal

, Arm.
tawn


feast

, Hitt.
LU
tappala
-


person
responsible for court cooking

, Gr.
d pánē

ostentatious expenditure

)
.

The term for libation
is PIE
*spend
-
, hence

Lat.
spondeo

promise, vow

, Gr.
spendō

pour a
libation

,
spond
Hitt.
išp nd
-


pour a libation

, TochAB
spänt
-


trust

.

The development of
meaning in Lat.
spondeo

(cf. also
sponsa


the promised bride,
fi ncée

) is clear if we recal
l
that a libation is the proper time to make a promise to the deity in expectation of a returned
favor.

Another root which denoted the libation was
*g'
h
ew
-

� Gr.
khéō
, Phryg.
zeuman


libation

,
Skr.
hu
-


pour

,
hót r

priest

, Arm.
jawnem

o
ffer, consecrat
e

, TochAB
ku
-

‘pour’
.

The
original meaning was perhaps less tightly tied to the religious sphere
but ‘the pourer’

is a
common term for a priest, cf. also Gaul.
gutu
-
ater,
who was a kind of a pries
t (‘the f ther of
pouring’
?)
.

In contrast to PIE *spend
-
,
which denoted the sacrificial pouring of a substantial amount of
liquid (milk, or mead, or anything pleasing the gods), PIE
*leyb
-

probably meant

to
pour

a
few drops

, hence

Lat.
lībo
,
lībum

sacrificial cake

,
Gr.
leìbō
;

de Vaan derives Lat.
līb
ō

from
*h
2
leyb
h
-


to anoint


(Gr.
leìphō áleiph r

unguent

), cf. Lat.
lino
.

In that case it would be
unrelated to Gr.
leìbō
, which is hard to believe.

Gr.
loib
is a sacrifice made by p
ouring a
sacrificial liquid (especially wine), but, unlike
kho
and
spond
, it was used to avert a
punishment by the gods, rather than to ensure their help and propitiousness.


PRAY
ER

Prayer is closely connected with incantation and magic, the chief diff
erence being that, in a
prayer, you don't expect the desired outcome to occur as a direct consequence of your prayer
(as in a charm, or incantation); the prayer is intended to persuade the supernatural beings,
while the charm should coerce them. Moreover,
since prayers usually involve a promise to the
deity that the supplicant would do certain things, it is clear that the words for

prayer


will to
some extent overlap with the words for

vow

, or

solemn declaration

. There are several
verbal roots in PIE t
hat can be translated as

to pray

; it is difficult to ascertain which of them
were used in the specifically religious sense of

prayer

.

PIE
*meld
h
-

� OE
meldian

announce

,
Lith.
meldţi


pray

,
OCS
moliti
, Hitt.
m ldāi


pray

;

as Pol.
modlić

pray


show
-
Slavic (*ld � *dl). I
am not sure whether Arm.
malt
c
em

pray


also belongs here, because of the unexpected

t
c
-

(*d would be regular). The semantics of the reflexes in Germanic point to the conclusion that
the o
riginal meaning was probably

utter a solemn prayer


or similar;

PIE
*g
wh
ed
h
-

� OIr.
guidid


pray

,

Gr.
théss sth i

ask, pray

, Av.
ĵ
iδyemi


pray

,
OCS
ţeţdą

thirst

.

PIE
*h
1
or
-

� Lat.
ō
ro
, Hitt.
ariya
-


consult an oracle

;

the length of the vowel in Latin points
to a root
-
noun *h
1
ōr
-
, but the etymology is doubtful (some linguists derive Lat.
ōro

from the
noun
ōs ōris

‘mouth’.

PIE
*
h
1
weg'
h
-


vow


� Lat.
voveo
, Gr.
eúkhom i


pray

,
Skr.
oh
-


utter solemnly
, pride
oneself

, Av.
aog
-


utter (with authority)

.

PIE *h
1
erk
-

‘sing

(solemn
ly)
’ (Skt.
rká
-

‘light m gic song’ TochB
yarke
‘worship’ Hitt.
arku
-

‘ch nt’) > Arm.
erg
‘song’
.

The

correspondence between Lat.
lito

to obtain or give favourable omens


and Gr.
lit


request


(usually a request for a compensation when one has been wronged, or when one has
wronged the gods)

is doubtful
; many linguists think that Lat.
lito

is a denominative verb from
unattested *lita, which is in turn borrowed from Gr.
lit

(cf.
the Gr. denominative
lìssom i


beg

).

Lat.
supplicare
‘to pr y

implore,
beg humbly’ is derived from
supplex

‘begging
humble submissive’ which is in turn from *sub
-

and *plek
-

‘bent twisted’ (OCS
pletą
‘we ve’ Gr.
plékō
), since
praying was done while
kneeling in submissive ‘bent’ position.

Another derivative of the same root is
supplicium

‘pr yer’.

In several IE traditions, prayers begin with a standard invocation to the deity, PIE *k'lud
h
i
moy

hear me



Gr.
klythì

moi

(e.g. Il. 5.115)
,
Skr.
śrudh
ì

me


hear me


(e.g. RV 8.66.12)
, cf.
also
'hear o goddess' (Il. 23.770, Odysseus to Athena)
.

Gods are then often called
to come to the sacrifice, e.g. in RV 1.1.5 (of Agni):


the god may come
here with the gods

, RV 1.2
1

Vāyu come o beutiful one

; Sappho calls
on Aphrodite (1. 5) thus:
têid' élth'

ì pot k térōt tjs ém s úd s ìois p loi éklyes


but
come here, if ever at another time you heard my voice far of and hearkened

. Other parts of

the prayer may include a reminiscence of the past services done to the deity, or of the past
favours the deity has done to the supplicant, and a detailed request, specifying what is desired
of the deity. The preciseness of formulation of such requests is
particularly developed in
Roman

prayers, both private and public.

A particular formula associated with IE prayers is

protect men and livestock

, PIE *wiHro
-

*pek'u
-

peh
2
-
, reflected as
Umbrian
ueiro pequo ... salua seritu,
Lat.

pastores pecuaque salua
ser
uassis,
Av
. θrāyrāi p svā vīr yā
,
Skr.
trāyántām... púru
m páśum.

MAGIC



without the intercession of a deity that
needs to be persuaded


through magical deeds or incantations. In many languages, the

magical action is seen as

binding

, PIE *seh
1
-
i
-

(ON
seiĎr

band, belt

, Lith.
saitas

bond,
fetter

, from which we have W
hud

magic

, ON
seiĎ


magic

, perhaps also TochB
nesait

magic

.
The root *k
w
er
-


make, do


may have been used in the technical sen
se of performing
magical rites or composing incantations, cf. OIr.
creth,
W
prydydd

poet

, OCS
č ri
, Lith.
kerai

magical spells


and the Ved. formula
-

(e.g. RV 10.71.2:
vāc m kr t


they
(the poets) made the Word

).
It has been argued that t
he visible sign of supernatural action
was denoted by PIE *ke�wdos Gr.
kŷdos
, OCS
čudo

(Gen. sg.
čudese
)

miracle

.

In a number of traditions magical incantations have been preserved, e.g. the Gaulish
Phraseological correspondences have been discovered in

a number of charms used for healing
the disjointed leg.

The Atharva
-
Veda
(4.12)
heal
s the disjointed leg by putting

marrow to
marrow, skin to skin and flesh to flesh

, and the same procedure is applied in the
OHG

Second Merseburg Charm

, where various d
eities cure the leg of Baldur's horse by joining
ben zi bena, bluot zi bluoda, lid zi
geliden

bone to bone, blood to blood, limb to limb

.
Finally, in the OIr. tale
Cath Maige Tuired
(34. 135
-
6)
we read
how the Irish physici n Mì ch
tried to rejoin the se
vered arm of the god
Nú du

by chanting
ult fri h lt di & féith fri féith


joint to joint of it, and sinew to sinew

. Similar incantations are found in Hittite, Latvian, and
Russian, but in the absence of specific etymological correspondences, they may ha
ve spread
by diffusion, or simply be the result of chance (or similar ways of thinking about healing).


BELIEF

In our modern world
-
view,

to believe


is to have a particular attitude towards the truth of a
proposition. We

believe


that there was a thing t
he physicists call the

Big Bang

, because
that belief is consistent with other things the physicists teach us, although this particular belief
does not affect our everyday lives and actions at all. This modern sense of

believe

, however,
is the result of

a long semantic evolution; in pre
-

to believe


is to place
one's trust into a set of actions, to establish a bond with the supernatural. In PIE, this is the
sense of the phrase
*k'red
-
d
h
eh
1
-

� Lat.
credo
, OIr.
cretid
,
Skr.
śr d
-
dhā
-
, Hitt.
karatan
-
dai
;
the first element of this compound is often related to PIE *k'erd
-


heart


(Lat.
cor,
OCS
srъdьce

etc.), but this is doubtful, since this word never occurs with the full grade in the
second syllable (*k'red
-
). The appurtenance

and the exact meaning of Hitt.
karatan
-

have also
been doubted.


Perhaps it is possible to reconstruct another verb, PIE*h
2
oh
3
-


believe


� Hitt.

-
zi
, Lat.
ōmen


omen, augury

; the semantics of the connection would work if the original meaning of
*h
2
eh
3
-

men
-

� Lat.
ōmen

was

the credible (sign of the gods)

. Note that an alternative
etymology derives Lat.
ōmen

from *h
3
e
w
-
s
-
men (

what is seen

, from the root of
oculus


eye

).
Finally, there is the Avestan term
d ēn
-

which is usually rendered as 'religio
n'; it is
the etymological equivalent of
Skr.
dhena
-
. Another possible cognate is Lith.
d inj
'song',
Latv.
daina
.



OATH

Swearing is a religious act in all archaic religions, as the swearer takes gods as his witnesses.
A common motive in many IE tradition
s is swearing by some holy water, e.g. the river Styx in
the Greek mythology, Ganges in India and Leiptr in ancient Scandinavia. These rivers are
often connected with the Otherworld (suggesting th t one ctu lly swe rs by one’s ncestors
who are now deceas
ed), but Ganges was believed to have a source in the heavens
(
M hābhār t
3.107).
In the Iliad (14.271
-
3) Hypnos (god of dreams) asks Hera to swear to
him by using this formula:
mèn héle
‘Come on nd swe r to me
now by the terrible water of Styx, take by one hand the earth, rich in fodder, and by the other
the shining se ’.

There re not m ny words for ‘swe ring’ nd ‘o th’ in the

PIE lexicon:

*h
1
oyto
-

‘o th’ (OIr
.
oeth
, OHG
eid
, Gr.
o tos

‘course f te’) deriv tive of the root *h
1
ey
-

‘go’ (Skt.
émi
, Lat.
eo
, OCS
iti
); the sem ntic connection between the verb ‘to go’ nd ‘o th’
is seen in the practice of walking between parts o
f a sacrificed animal while giving an oath
(this custom is recorded in Hittite documents and in the 14
th

century Lithuania).

*wroto
-

‘o th’ (ORuss.
rota,
Croat. arch.
rzt
, Skt.
vr tám

‘comm nd
, law
’); this term seems
to be dialectal in PIE.

The semantic
connection between ‘comm nd l w’ nd ‘o th’ is p r llel
to the connection between Lat.
iūro
‘swe r’ nd
iūs
‘l w’ < PIE *h
2
yewos
-

‘vit l force’

(Skt.


-

‘of life’ Av.
y oš
-

‘life)
.

*h
2
emh
3
-

‘gr sp swe r’ (Gr.
ómnymi

‘swe r’ Skt.
ámīti
‘holds gr sps swe rs’ perh ps L t.
amo

‘love’); in L tin the sem ntic evolution w s from ‘be bound
by n o th’ to ‘h ve s
friend love’; the sem ntic connection between ‘hold gr sp’ nd ‘swe r’ lies in the custom of
touching or holding an object (or a person) one swears by.

A similar semantic development
may be seen in PCelt. *tongo
-

‘swe r’ (OIr.
ton
gaid
, W
tyngu
) from PIE *teh
2
g
-

‘touch’ (L t.
tango
, Goth.
tekan
).

In some l ngu ges the words for ‘o th’ h ve less cle r etymologies. PCelt. *lugiyo
-

‘o th’
(OIr.
lugae
2
lewg
-

(Hitt.
haluga
-

‘mess ge’) but the
original me
aning of the root is uncertain and the semantic connection is weak. PGerm.
*swarja
-

‘to swe r’ (Eng.
swear
, Germ.
schwören
, Schwur
) is usually connected with
OCS
sv rъ
‘dispute’ (Russ.
svár
, Pol.
swar
) so the sem ntic evolution would be from ‘to h ve
d
ispute’ to ‘swe r’ (the Sl vic forms would nee
d to be from a lengthened grade expected in a
root
-
noun,

PIE *swōr
-
, and the Germanic forms from the o
-
grade *swor
-

of the same root
).

The Balto
-
Sl vic verb for ‘swe ring’ (OCS
klęti
, Latv.
klentēt
, OPr.
klante
mmai
‘we
beseech’) is prob bly from PIE *kleh
1
-

‘c ll’ (G
k léō
‘c ll’ OE
hlynn
‘sound’).





2.

ELEMENTS OF PIE MYTHOLOGY


SKY GOD

There are reasons to believe that
PIE *dyēws

sky, Sky
-
god


was the supreme deity of the PIE
pantheon. He was certeainly most
often preserved in the individual pantheons, cf.

Ved.
dy ú
-
,
Lat.
Dius Fidius
, Gr.
Zeús
, Hitt.
š
iu
š

‘god’
,
ON
Têr
.

He is commonly addressed as

father

,
PIE
*dyēws ph
2
tēr

Sky Father


� Lat.
Iuppiter,
Umbr.
Iupater
, Gr.
Zes p tēr
,
Skr.
Dya
u

pitā
, Luv.
t
ātis tiw z
,

Latv.
Dievs debess tēvs
;
cf. also
ON
ÓĎinn ÁlföĎr


Odin, father of all


and
OIr.
(Echu) Ollathir

(Echu) father of all

.

The sky god often bears the standard epithet

All
-
knowing

, or

All
-
seeing

: Gr.
eurêop
Zeús
, RV 6.70.6
viśváved s Dy ú
.



DAWN GODDESS

The Vedas praise the Dawn as a young maiden, and
Ved.
U
ās

is clearly the same etymon as
Gr. Hom.
ē s
; this deity plays almost no role in Greek mythology, so it seems that several of
her attributes were taken by other deities, chiefly

Aph
rodìtē
and

Helé


*
welenā
, from
PIE
*welh
1
-


wish, desire, choose


(Lat.
velle
, OCS
volja


will

).

Similarly in
Lat.
aurora
is just an
appelative, but the cult of the Dawn was preserved in the rites devoted to
Mater Matuta
. In
Lith.
dainas
Aušrinė


dawn


is a young maiden often represented as marrying
Mėnuo


the
moon

. Lasicius (a Polish writer of the 16th century, on Lith.
Aušr
)
:
Ausca dea est radiorum
solis vel occumbentis vel supra horizontem ascendentis
.



The Dawn was originally

the

daughter of th
e Sky

, PIE *d
h
ugh
2
tēr diwos > Ved.
divás
Gr.
thygátēr Diós
(especially of Aphrodite, Helen, and the Muses);

Alcman (Fr. 43
Edm.) begins his poem with the words:
M}s’ áge K llióp thygáter Diós
‘come on Muse
C lliope d ughter of Zeus!’. Since D
wn is associated with poetic inspiration in the Vedas, it
is not too far
-
fetched to assume that the phrase
thygátēr Diós
was transferred to the Muse
from
Eōs
who plays an unsignificant role in Greek mythology. In the Latvian and Lithuanian
dainas, the phr
ase
*d
h
ugh
2
tēr diwos
(deywos)
is also found, e.g.

Lith.
Dievo dukrytė
(of
Saule).

The common epithet of the PIE dawn was

Shiny Dawn

, PIE *b
h
eh
2
-

(
RV 3. 6. 7:
U
ó

Gr. Hom.
ph ein
)
; she was the one who regularly opened the


doors of heaven


RV

1. 48. 15:
,

Latv.
dieva durvis
, cf. RV 7.79.4
h
a
śy dúro ádrer ur

o


you
(U
as) have opened the gates of the closed rock

.

Vedic U
as was a patron of the rishis, the
Vedic poets, and the Old Irish goddess
Brigit

(
dea poetarum

ac
cording to Cormac, who wrote
in the tenth century) w s born t d wn. Her n me comes from PCelt. *brig ntī < PIE
*b
h
rg'ntih
2

and

from

the same proto
-
form is derived one of the epithets of Uš s
h tī

the
exalted one

.



MOTHER EARTH

Although it appears t
hat the Earth was represented as

mother


in most IE traditions, it is not
generally represented as the spouse of

father sky

; the Earth is a deity in
Ved.
, where she is
called


(Gr.
pl teî
Gaul.
Litavi
,
OE
folde
) *pltHwih
2


The broad one

.

G
r.
G î
,
does not have a PIE etymology, but she is also
called
Khth n

(
Aesch.
Eum.
6, fr. 44. 1

), and
this is the Greek reflex of the PIE word for ‘e rth’ (*d
h
g'
h
ōm)
.

Gr.

believed to be a personification of the same earth
-
goddess, b
ut there is little evidence that

-

actually meant

earth

. Other deities that belong here are
Hitt.
Dagan
-
zipas annas
, Lith.
šemynė
,

Latv.
Zemes Māte
(

Mother of the Earth

),

ON
IörĎ

(Odinn's wife), and perhaps

Thracian Semele
;
i
n Old English we have

Fol
de fīr modor

Earth, mother of men


(in a
charm).
Tacitus claims that the Germans worship
‘Nerthum id est Terr m m trem’ (
Germ.
40. 2)
. Finally,
OIr.
Anu

is called
mater deorum Hiberniensium
(
by
Cormac

in the 10th
century),

cf.

Dá chìch An nn
(in Killa
rney)


two breasts of Anu

.

The etymology of the name
Anu

is unknown.

The standard epiteths of earth is

dark

, cf.

Hitt.
d nkuiš tek n
, Gr.
khth n mél in
Russ.
M t' čërn j zemlj
, perhaps OIr.
domunn donn

(where
domunn
me ns ‘world’ but
donn
is
‘d rk
’)
. Another common expression is

broad earth

: Hom.
eureî khth n
RV 6.17.7.
k
ām
urvīm
. In the Russian folklore,
zemlja
is commonly called
syraja
‘wet moist’ nd the n me
of the Slavic goddess
Mokošь

(perhaps the consort of the thunderer
Perunъ
) is
probably from
the root of *mokrъ ‘wet’ (Cro t.
mokar,
Russ.
mokryj
, etc.).


SUN
-
GOD

AND SUN MAIDEN

The S
un is the only
heavenly body that was worshipped by Indo
-
Europeans.
In contrast to,
e.g., the Semitic religions, the Moon plays a very modest role in In
do
-
European mythologies.
The PIE word for

sun

,
on the other hand, is a theonym in sevareal traditions. PIE
*seh
2
wōl

sun


is preserved as
Ved.
-

and
, Gr.
H lios
Latv.
Saule

and
Saules meita
.

As a
common noun, it is preserved in Lat.
sōl
a
s well as in OCS
slъnьce
, etc.

As a mythological creature, the Sun shares a number of epithets across several IE traditions; e.
g. it is a

seer

, cf.
Ved.
sūry m...sp ś m
,
RV 4. 13. 3
Gr.
E lion...skopón


sun, the seer

;
Also
since the

sun is a

seer

, we can easily understand the semantic
evolution in
OIr.
, where

súil

means

eye

, cf. also

Arm.
aregakn

sun




eye of the sun

.

As
the all
-
seeing deity, the Sun is the natural choice for the supervisor of oaths, and in several
traditio
ns we have records of oaths directed to the Sun (cf. Agamemnon's oath in the Iliad
3.276f.). In RV, it is stated that
dìś


sūryo ná mināti


Sun does not infringe the directi
ons
prescribed’
, where
dìś
-

‘direction’

is from the same root as Gr.
dìkē
‘justice divine l w’
.
Heraclitus (B 92) states that the Sun does not overstep his measures, which implies that it
always obey
s the same divine rule.

Moreover, the Sun drives across the sky in a chariot. Hence the expressions
Ved.
sūry sy
cákr m
Gr.
H liou kêklos


the wheel of the sun


Aesch.
Pers.
504
. Its course is

fast

, cf.
Mimnermus fr. 11a.
ōkéos ēelìoio
and AV 13.2.2
ā
PIE *h
1
ōk'u
-

*seh
2
wōl

swift sun

.


STORM
-
GOD (THUNDERER)

The name of the PIE Storm
-
God is probably preserved in
Hitt.
Tarhunt
-
, ON
ë
órr
, OIr.
torann


PIE
*torh
2
-
nt
-

‘thunder’
;
we find a rather different etymon in
Lith.
nas

and

Russ.
P
erún

(cf.

also

Gr.
ker unós

thunder

, which may have been abstracted from Zeus'
epithet
terp
s
ikér unos
‘delighting in thunderbolt’
, perhaps from *perk
w
i
-
per wnos ‘h ving
smiting bolt’
).
These

names seem to come from

PIE *per
-
k
w
-
u
-
no
-
.

In this PIE form,
we may
have the amalgam of two distinct etymons, a word for

rock


(
cf. Hitt.
peruna
-


rock

, OInd.
parvata
-

*perwn
-
to
-
), and the word for

oak


(PIE *perk
w
u
-

� Lat.
quercus
,
OHG
fereh
-
eih
), cf. also the ON theonym
Fjörgyn
‘mother E rth’ which ppe rs to

be from PGerm.
*fergunja
-

‘mount in’ > Goth.
fairguni
‘mount in’
). T
he
thunder is believed to be rocky

(
cf.
the Byeloruss. expression
kamen Peruna
,
Lith.
perkūno kmuo
)
, and the oak is the tree most
often hit by thunder, hence it is dedicated to the Storm
-
God. On the other hand, these
theonyms
are

probably unrelated to Ved.
P rjá
nya
-
, who is mostly associated with rain in the
RV, and whose name is difficult to reconcile with the PIE proto
-
form *per
-
k
w
-
u
-
no
-

(which is
problematic anyway)
.

PSl. *Perunъ is pr
ob bly origin lly ‘the Striker’ from the root *perti
‘to strike’ (cf. the
figura etymologica
in Byelorussian charms
pj run pj rec’
‘the Thunder
strikes’). The suffix is prob bly Sl vic

unъ
used to form
nomina agentis

(as in OCS
běgunъ
‘fugitive’ from *bě
gti ‘run’).

The standard weapon of the Storm
-
God is, of course, the thunder, which is often represented
as some sort of mace, or hammer. Thus, Indra's mace is called
vájr
-
, from PIE *w
a
g'
-

‘sm sh’

(or *weh
2
g'
-
, with wovel
-
shortening by Lubotsky's rule), c
f. Gr.
ágnymi
‘sm sh’
,
TochA
w śir
'thunderbolt'. Thor's hammer is called
Mjöllnir
in the Edda, and this is from the
same root as Latv.
milna
‘thunder’
, OCS
mlъnьji
‘thunder’
, Luv.
maldani
‘h mmer’

and Lat.
malleus
‘h mmer’
.


DIVINE TWINS

The following myt
hological creatures are divine twins, a mythological conception of probably
PIE origin:
Gr.
Dióskouroi

(
Castor and Polydeuces
)
, Ved.
Aśvì
n
ā
(dual)
, also called

Nās tyā
,
Latv.
diev dēli

(

the sons of Dievs). In the RV the Aśvins re c lled

Descendents (o
r sons)
of the Sky

: Ved.
divó n pātā

RV
1. 117. 12, 182. 1
; they are
often described as

youthful

,

yuvānā
(RV 1. 117. 14) nd in L tin C stor nd Pollux (< Polydeucēs) re c lled

iuvenes

(Cicero,
De natura deorum

2.6)
.

They are a
ssociated with horses
: Pindar (
Ol.
3. 39)

calls them
eúippoi
‘h ving good horses’
,
and
RV 7.
68.1

has
suáśvā

with good horses

; Castor is

usually called

hippód mos

horse
-
taming


in Homer
. They are

bright

: RV8.5.32 refers to the Aśvins s

púruśc ndrā

‘very
bright’.

The name

of

P
olydeukēs

is prob bly dissimil ted from *polyleukēs

with many lights


(cf. Gr.
leukós

white

).


They are b
rothers of the Dawn (in the RV), and of Helen (in Greek Myth)
; in both the Greek
and in the Vedic traditions they are invoked as the saviours,
or helpers, Gr.
sōtéres
. Their
Vedic name
Nās tyā

probably also originally meant

saviours

, cf. Goth.
nasjands

Saviour,
Christ

.



HORSE SACRIFICE

There is no doubt that horses played an important role in the Indo
-
European society.
Consequently, the sacr
ifice of a horse is the mother of all sacrifices.
Ved.
śv medh
-

was
a
ritual of royal inauguration;
after running around the kingdom freely for an amount of time,
the queen was made to symbolically mate with it, and then it was butchered. The Vedic name
Gaul.
name
Epomeduos
, but this does not
amount to much
;

more importantly,

the coronation ritual of Ulster kings, as recorded by
Giraldus Cambrensis

in the 12th century

also included the ritual slaughter of a hor
se, in whose
broth the elected king was made to bath. One important character in the Ulster sagas,
Medb
, is
often seen as a sovereignty figure (she spends men quite ostentatiously, including several
kings), and her name contains the same element (*med
h
wo
-


intoxication

) recognized in
śv medh
-
. Finally
, the Roman ritual October Equus

(unsurprisingly held in October)
involved
horse racing followed by
the sacrifice of a horse, whose head was put on a stake
outside of the
Regia
. The ritual involved the
Rex s
acrorum
, so it is quite possible that it had
.

In the Slavic
folklore songs studied by R dosl v K tičić the hero whose return m rks the beginning of
spring (
Jarylo
) is slaughtered i
n the form of a horse at the end of the fertility rite.


DRAGON
-
SLAYING MYTH

It has been claimed that a
PIE

formula

*g
wh
ent h
3
eg
wh
im

he slew the serpent


can be
reconstructed on the basis of the formulaic expr
e
ssions such as the following:
Ved.
áh nn
áhim

(of Indra, who slew the dragon Vrtra)
,
Av.
ĵ
ana
t

ţīm
(of Thraetaona, who slew the
n sty serpent Aţi D h k
, Hitt.
muš
Illuyankan kuenta

(of the Storm God, Hitt.
Tarhunt
-
), OIr.
gono mìl

I slay the beast


(in charm texts).
Homer

also uses verbs from the same root, e.g.
épephnen
, when describing the

slaying of several monsters
. For example, in his description of
how Bellerophontes slew the Chimaira
(
Il. 6. 179
-
186
):
pr{ton mén rh Khìm ir n
m im kétēn ekéleusen pephnémen... tz trìton û k tépephnen Am zón s ni neìr s

first he
decided to kill the t
errible Chimaira... and thirdly he killed the Amazons, who were similar to
men

. The same phraseology is used in Pindar's account of the same myth (Ol. 6. 179
-
186):

So mounted, out of the cold gulfs of the high air forlorn, he smote the archered host of
women, the Amazons, and

the Chimaira, breathing flame;

and the Solymoi, and slew
(
épephnen
)

them

.
Another root often used in dragon
-
slaying texts is *b
h
eyd
-

‘split’

(
vì...
vrtrásy śiro bibhed

he (Indra) splitted the head of Vrtra


(RV 8. 6. 6.).

It is possible that
the root *b
h
eyd
-

is just a variant of *b
h
eyH
-

(if *H = *h
1
) ‘to strike’ which

yielded OCS
biti,
OIr.
benaid
, OLat.
per
-
fines
. This verb

is regularly use
d in the Slavic dragon
-
slaying myth
preserved in the folk
-
lore texts

(e.g. in Byelorussian
dyk tut Pjarun zabiv zmeja
‘here the
Thunder slew the dr gon’ K tičić 2008: 136). The ltern tion *d *h
1

would be parallel to
the one in PIE *med
-

‘me sure’ (> L
t.
medeor
‘he l’ OIr.
midithir
‘judge’) nd *meh
1
-

‘me sure’ (> OCS
měr
, Skt.
māti
).

The original dragon
-
slayer was probably the Storm
-
God, PIE *torh
2
nt
-
, as in the Slavic myth,
where the thunderer
Perunъ
slays the snaky dragon
Velesъ

(
Volosъ

in Russian

sources
).

Note
that there is still no consensus about the reco
nstruction of the PIE word for ‘sn ke’
, the
Storm
-
God's opponent. While *h
3
eg
wh
i
-

will serve to reconcile Ved.
áhi
-
,
Av.
ţī
-

and Gr.
óphis
, Lat.
anguis

and OCS
ąţь
point to a nasalized root, pe
rhaps *h
2
eng
wh
i
-
/
*h
2
e
g
wh
i
-
.


DRINK OF IMMORTALITY

Many IE traditions have a story about the drink and/or food of the immortals; this substance is
often said to provide the consumer with immortality, cf.
Ved.
soma
, Gr.
mbrosì

(the food of
the gods, from P
IE *n
-
mrto
-


immortal

)
,

and

nékt r
, the drink of the gods, from PIE *nek'
-
terh
2
-


death
-
overcoming

, with the regular loss of the laryngeal in compounds. Compare
AV
4.35
t rā

tyum


I will overcome death

.

In the Norse tradition, a parallel is perhaps
represented by the story of Mìmir's well drink from which gives supern tur l wisdom.


COSMOGONY

In a number of traditions, the origin of the world


either in its phys
ical or in its social aspect


is connected with the myth of the

twin


(PIE *
(H)
yemo
-


Skr.
yama
-

‘twin’
,
Av.
yima
-
,
Latv.
j
mis

‘p ir’
,
OIr.
emon
‘twin’
ON
Ymir,
perhaps also Lat.
Remus

(if from *yemos on
the analogy with
Romulus
)

and
geminus
‘twin’ (w
ith
g
-

on the analogy with
gigno
‘engender’). The root m y be identic l with the one in
imāg
o
‘picture’ Hitt.
himma
-

‘imit tion substitute’
. This primeval twin has, in all appearances, nothing to do with the
divine twins, the sons of the sky (see above). In th Norse myth (
Grīmnismál
40
-
41) the giant
Ymir
is dissected and the mountains are f
ormed from his skull, the trees from his hair, etc.
Tacitus (in
Germania,
2), tells how the Germans believe that they originate from a primeval
Tuisto

(originally

twin

?), who had a son called
Mannus


man

. This is reminiscent of the
Vedic myth, where

Yam
a was the first mortal to die, and he was subsequently given the rule
of the Otherworld.
His brother,
Manu
-
, the progenitor of the humankind, sacrificed him.
The
legend of a miraculous birth of twins also lies in the legend of the foundations of
Emain
Mach
ae
, the ancient capital of Ulster in the Old Irish Ulster Cycle.
In that legend, it is told
how the goddess
Macha
raced as a mare with other horses while being pregnant, and gave
birth to twins after the race. The tale is used to explain how
Emain Machae

the twins of
M ch ’ got its n me.
The motif of the sacrificed twin may have its roots in the widespread
infanticide of one of the twins in early societies, in which it was economically impossible for
women to raise twins.


OTHERWORLD

There is no evidence f
or a consistent picture of the PIE otherworld. We do not know where it
was, but it appears that t
he abode of the dead is reachable by boat, cf. OIr.
tìr inn mb n
,
which is an island, as is the
tech Duinn

the house of Donn

, to which the eponymous deity
(
“the d rk one‖) invited his descend nts the Irish people to come when they die (OIr.
co tech
nDuind frisndál it m irb
‘to the house of Donn where the de d h ve their tryst’)
. Likewise,
the island of Avalon in the British legend is the resting place of her
oes, such as King Arthur
(Welsh
Arthwr
).

OCS
n vъ

the otherworld


is derivable from the word for

boat

, PIE

*neh
2
u
-

(Lat.
nāvis
,
Skr.
n ú
-
,

etc.)
, and in the Greek belief,
one has to cross the river Styx

to
reach the otherworld
.

The idea that one crosses

the river is here combined with the other one,
namely that the realm of the dead is underground; in the Old Irish sagas, you enter it via the
fairy mounds, the
sìd
(< PIE *sēdos

seat

). In a few traditions we find the idea that the
dead
abide in a wonder
ful meadow, rich in horses, cf.
Hitt.
wēllu
-


meadow (of the otherworld)

,
Gr.
(W)ēlêsion pedìon

Elysean fields

, RV 10.14.2:

this cow pasture is not to be taken
away

, OIr.
mag mell
;
in
TochA
the word
walu

dead


may be related, as well as

ON
val
-
höll

Valhalla

.

Lith.
Vélni s

‘devil’ m y be from the s me root s well s the n me of the Sl vic
god of the dead and cattle,
Velesъ
(Russian also
Volosъ
), but this is uncertain.

In the Rig Veda, we find a belief that the realm of the deceased (

the fathers

,
pitaras
)

is in the
sky, more precisely in the Milky Way (
svarga
-
, which is compared to Gr.
ólbios


blessed



*swel
-
g
w
(H)o
-
).

The otherworld may have been ruled by the original progenitor of mankind, *Yemo
-

(
Skr.
Yama
-
, Av.
Yima
-
)
, see above
.

Caesar (
De be
llo Gallico
, IV: 18) says that the Gauls
considered themselves descendants of Dis Pater, the god he identified with the Roman god of
the underworld.


FIRE IN WATER

(?)

A mythological fiery protector of waters is reconstructed on the basis of
Lat.
Neptūnus
,
Skr.
A

(
*h
2
epom nepōt
-


the descendant of water (
ap
-
)

, identified with Agni, the
fire)
, OIr.
Nechtan

(a mythical spouse of
Boand,
the river Boyne)
, cf. also ON
s ev r niĎr

descendant of the sea


(a kenning for

fire

)
. All of this,
however, is on a very shaky soil.
Neptūnus

is plausibly derived from PIE *neb
h
-
tu
-


moisture


(Av.
napta
-


moist

), and
Nechtan
may be from the root *neyg
w
-


to wash


(OIr.
nigid
).


THE WORLD
-
TREE

In a number of traditions we find a conception of a world
-
t
ree, growing through the three
cosmic spheres: the earth, the middle sphere (Ved.
nt rik
a
-
) and the sky. The most famous
example is the Old Norse

ash
-
tree

yggdrásil
. Here is its description in Grìmnismál 32:
R t toskr heitir ìkorni er renn sk l t
ski Yggdr sils; rn r orð h nn sk l of n ber ok
segja /
n
iðhöggvi niðr.

Ratatosk is the squirrel who shall run on the ash
-
tree Yggdrasil; from
above it bears the words of the eagle and tells them to Nidhogg (the world serpent) beneath

.
Similar motive
s are found in Slavic folk
-
lore and in the Celtic mythology (e.g. the wonderful
tree on which the god Ll
e
w is sitting in the shape of the eagle in the Mabinogi). The first
element of the name
Ygg
-
drasil
contains the root *IHwo
-


yew


which is also found in

the
name of the mythological world
-
tree of the Hittite myth (
GIŠ
Eya
-
, KUB XVII, 10. IV 27
-
31.
).

In Hittite, the tree is represented in the myth of the vanishing god Telipinu (who is discovered
in his hiding by bee) nd it is s id th t sheep’s wool (
hul
ana
-
)

and other valuables are
hanging from it. In the Slavic folk
-
lore texts, the tree is represented as a fir
-
tree with roots in
the water (a stream or a source), and a dragon is often depicted lying beneath it. Bees are
found in its branches, and on its
top there is a bird of prey (an eagle or a falcon) watching far
away. In some East Slavic charms the wool is also found on its branches (in parallel to the
Hittite motive mentioned above).

In Greek and Indo
-
Iranian, the conception of the world
-
tree seems t
o be missing, but we do
have the
understood as his shoulders, e.g. in Ibycus, or
Od.

1.52
-
4

(
kìones m kr ì
)
.
In RV 8.41.10 it is
s id th t V ru holds the he ven with pill r.
Many linguists see in the conception of the
world tree an influence of the shamanistic traditions of Northern Eurasia, rather than PIE
inheritance.

The heaven itself is considered to be m
de of stone; indeed the word for ‘he ven’ in Avest n
is
asman
-
, from PIE *h
2
ek’mōn the reflexes of which me n ‘stone’ (Skr.
áśmā
, OCS
kamy
,
Lith.
kmu}
). Note that in Greek we have a shadowy figure of
Ákmōn
who is said to be the
father of
Our nós

(‘th
e sky’) in Alkm n (PMGF 61).


BATTLE OF GODS

In a number of traditions, we find mention of

former gods

,
Gr.
theoí próteroi
(Hesiod,
Th.
424, 486, Ved.
(RV 1.164.50), Hitt.
k ruilieš š
iune
š
.
Also, in several traditions,
we find the two gene
rations of gods fighting each other for supremacy, like

Ved. Asuras and
Devas, Av. Daevas
and Angra Mainyu versus

Ahura Mazda

(the supreme deity established by
Z r thuštr ) the Greek Olympi n
gods and Titans, OIr.
Tú th Dé D n nn
the
Fir Bolg

and
the
Fo
moire
,
and the Norse

Aesir
and
Vanir
.

These stories about the clash of two generations
(or simply bands) of gods have actually rather little in common and it is unclear whether a
common myth can be posited for PIE.


A FEW
OTHER MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES

Gr.
n
and Ved.

án
-

*pewh
2
sōn

(or *peh
2
us
-
h
3
on
-
, from the root *peh
2
-


to her
d’
, cf.
Lat.
pāstor
‘shepherd’
)
; both deities are protectors of cattle and are associated with wilderness
and traveling.

Pan is not attested in Homer, and his chief sanctuary
was in Arcadia. Elsewhere
in Greece his functions seem to have been taken over by Hermes.

án
-

is the mediator
between gods and men
, usually accompanied by goats (like Pan)
.

Like Hermes in his function
of the
psychopompos

an guides the dead on the
ancestors' path.

Skr.
bhu
-

and Gr.
Orpheús
; the Rbhus are divine craftsmen in the Veda,
and their art
resembles

the musical artistry of Orpheus;
Tv
tar,
their boss, they made the
weapon of Indra, his
vájr .
T
he
bhus

have also been relat
ed to Norse
Alfs

(
dwarves), but that
is even less convincing.

Skr.
Ary mán
-

(Av.
airyaman
-


friendship

) and OIr.
Éremón

(son of Mìl) OIc.
Iormönr
(a
n me of ÓĎinn)
; all three names could be derived from the alleged PIE ethnonym *h
2
eryo
-


the Aryan

.


The

fire
-
thief


Gr.
Promētheús
bears a name similar to

Skr.
Māth v
-
, a mythical king who
2
-


to steal


(Ved.
).

Gr.
ōke nós
(a mythical river encompassing the world) has been compared to the

Ve
dic
epithet

ā
-
śá
y
ā
na
-
, predicated of the dragon
tra
-

(e.g. RV 4.17.7)
, who captured the
cows/rivers (for the mythical equivalence of cows and rivers compare also OIr.
Bó nd


the
river Boyne *bow
-
windā

white cow

). And indeed, the Okeanos is
represen
ted with a
dragon
-
tail o
n some early Greek vases.

The hell
-
the basis of the correspondence between Gr.
Kérberos

and Ved.
śáb l
-

(later also
śárv r
-


speckled

, but the epi
thet is applied to the two hounds guarding the otherworld). However, a
proto
-
form *k'erbero
-

looks distinctly non
-
Indo
-
European, so it is probable that both
Kérberos
and
śáb l
-

are loanwords from some unknown source.



PART II. A
SELECTION OF TEXTS


HITTI
TE

The sources of our knowledge about Hittite religion are quite diverse. Firstly, there is a large
number of archaeological findings, scattered throughout the Hittite Empire, including the
spectacular temple at Yazilikaya and religious complexes within th
e H
ittite capital at Hattusha
(Bo
az
-
Köy
, see Appendix
). More importantly for our purposes, we have extensive written
documents found in the
royal
archives of Hattusha

(texts found in other excavations are much
less numerous)
. These include many precise descr
iptions of Hittite rituals, including
mythological texts and prayers recited during their performance, but also historiographic texts
(the annals of Hittite kings) which often include references to rituals and prayers (e.g. the
famous Prayers of Murshili I
I against the plague).
They were written down roughly between
1700 and 1150 BC.
The standard reference to Hittite texts are the abbreviations KUB
(
Keilschrift
-
Urkunden us Bogh zköy
, 60 volumes) and (
Keilschrifttexte us Bogh zköy
, 45
volumes). All of thes
modern palaeography have allowed linguists to distinguish between Old

Hittite texts (roughly
from 170
0 until 1550), Middle Hittite (1550
-
1300) and Neo
-
Hittite (1300
-
1150), though many
Old Hittite texts exist only in rather late transcriptions.


One tho
us nd gods of the l nd of H tti’

included many borrowed deities, and a handful of
them that bear inherited names. For example, the Hittite god of Thunder was called
T rhunt š
in Hittite,
and this name has a clear Indo
-
European etymology (see below); however, in Hattic
he was called
Taru
, and the similarity of the two names is probably accidental. Likewise,
original Sumerian Inanna was first identified with the Akkadian goddess Ishtar
, and
then she
bec me Hurri n Š woš
ka. None of these names
are

originally Hittite or Indo
-
European.

There is some evidence for a structured pantheon, especially in the Hattic stratum of the
Hittite religion. The divine family is represented by Wurukatte (the Hat
tic head of the
p ntheon) nd his wife Wurušemmu. Their children re Telipinu ( fertility god) nd
Mezzula, whose function is not entirely clear.

These gods seem to have been particularly
worshipped at the court, and are in a sense protectors of the king
and the royal family.

Since the Hittite Empire lasted for more than half a millennium (roughly from 1750 to 1150),
divinities and their names went in and out of fashion. It is curious that one of the earl
iest
Hittite theonyms, that of

Our God


(Hitt.
Šiu
-
šummiš
), which is attested i
n our very first
Hittite text (

The Procl m tion of Anitt ’
) does not occur in later texts. In the last centuries of
the existence of the Hittite state, it seems that the Hurrian divine names gain ground at the
expense of Hittit
e, Hattic and Semitic ones
, and this can be connected to the fact that the
ruling dynasty of the Empire was Hurrian at that time
.

Hittite gods were anthropomorphic; there were, however, a few theriomorphic divine
creatures, like the bulls of the Storm
-
God,

Šerri nd Hurri. Indeed the Storm
-
God himself,
Tarhunt
š
, is occasionally represented as a bull (e.g. in the depictions found in Alaca
-
Hüyük).
One recalls immediately the epithets of Indra (
vṛ
š
abha
-

and

š bh
-
,
both meaning

bull’
) and
the fact that t
he Greek master of the thunderbolt, Zeus, also has a strong connection with bulls
(in the shape of a bull he impregnated his mistress Europa). But, on the whole, it appears that
Hittites, as well as Indo
-
Europeans, worshipped their gods in the human shape,

but that, being
very powerful, the gods could, if they wished, change their shape into particular animals.

As in many other religions of the Ancient Near East, the proper attitude of humans towards
gods is the one of slaves, or servants to their masters.
The structure of the divine society is
modelled according to the structure of the human society, so that, for instance, the king is seen
as the chief servant of the gods. If they are not served properly, the gods are likely to take
offence, and to punish t
he negligent servant and his property (including his family and his
land, i.e. the land of the Hittites). Only regular sacrifices can supress the wrath of the gods,
who usually do not forget the sins of the human
s. Whe
n king Shuppilulliuma

(

He of the pure

sources’
) forgot to perform the sacrifice to the river M
ā
la (Euphrates), the plague ravished his
land for twenty years. Failure to perform the proper sacrifices is a sin, just like breaking one
of many taboos that affected the life of ordinary people as w
ell as of kings. The most awful of
all taboos are called
hurkil
, e.g. having sex with cows, dogs, or pigs, but, interestingly, having
sex with horses is not a
hurkil

according to Hittite laws.

In the last decades of the existence of the Hittite empire, it
seems that a new conception
gained ground: the last Hittite kings had their own personal protectors, with whom they
established a more personal relationship; as Hattushili III tells us in his autobiography, he was
the favourite of Ishtar of Shamukha since
he was born, and it was this goddess that helped his
way to the throne. It is important to note that many Hittites bore theophoric names, but some
of these names were never recorded outside of the royal family. This might mean that several
deities


includ
ing, probably, most of the Hattic gods and goddesses


were only worshipped
at the court, as part of the official cult, whereas they were practically unknown among the
ordinary people.

Eschatological conceptions of the Hittites are not altogether clear; br
oken vessels in tombs,
together with remains of food and drinks, clearly indicate that some sort of afterlife was
envisaged, and in the case of the king, it was generally thought that he would be deified after
his death; in f
act, the common expression for

he died’
, when applied to kings, is

he became
god’
. Note that in Egypt, the Pharaohs were thought to be gods already during their lifetime,
and the Hittite habit of deifying their kings is similar to Roman solemn declarations by the
Senate that people li
ke Caesar, Augustus, and other emperors became gods after dying. There
is, m
oreover, the conception of the

meadow of the otherwo
rld’

(Hitt.
wellu
-
), where the king
is supposed to pasture his flocks in the afterlife. This has clear parallels in Greek (the
Elysian
fields) and, perhaps, Celtic (OIr.
mag mell
). It is quite unclear where the meadow of the
otherworld is supposed to be located.

The priests were a numerous and very privileged caste in the Hittite society. Their duty was to
take care of the temple,

seen as the house of gods. The gods were thought to be actually living
in the temple, and they were represented by their statues, many of which were excavated at
Hittite sites. Taking away a statue of a god was considered as an ill
-
omen. The priests were
also responsible for various rites and sacrifices, and these had to be performed according to
rigidly prescribed instructions, in conditions of ritual purity


pollution or impurity (Hitt.

pratar
) can spoil any ceremony, and had to be avoided, or remedied, by magical
incantations. The large majority of Hittite texts, especially from the late periods (13
-
12
centuries BC) are instructions for the correct performance of seemingly endless ritu
als. The
rites, although rigidly prescribed, were not necessarily ascetic: most of the in
structions end
with the phrase

and

then the priests e t nd drink’
, and there is one particular ritual in which
the royal prince must sleep with twelve women (servant
s in a temple).

Divination was also part of the priests' duties, and there were several techniques thereof:
interpreting dreams, looking into a sacrificed animal's liver, or examining how one of the
temple's animals had waned. All of these techniques are a
ttested in other Near Easter religions
of the IInd Millennium BC.

It appears that there were also priest
esses (they are usually called

wise women’
) but they
were in charge of less important rituals, especially magic.

Principal
Hittite gods all have non
-
I
E names
:
Wuruš
emmu, Wurukatte, Lelwanni, Taru,
Telepinu
, E
š
tan
H lm šuitt

(the personified throne) and the divine smith
H š mmili

are all
from Hattic
,

while
Šerri

and
Hurri

(two bulls),
Š wo
šk Teš
š
ub, Kumarbi

are from Hurrian.
Theonyms with
decent
PIE e
tymolog
ies

include
Šiuš

(< *dyēws

sky’
)
,
Tarhunt
-

(
the Storm
-
God, from PIE

*torh
2
nt
-


thunder

)
,
Dagan
-
zipa

(from PIE
*d
h
eg'
h
om
-


ea
rth’
, with the Hattic
suffix
-
zipa
) and, possibly,
Ullikummi,
if from PIE *wlik
w
-
mo
-


the wet
(or bathed)
one

,
since this
name denotes the giant, slain by the Thunder
-
God, who is standing in the Ocean (cf.
OIr.
fliuch

wet

, Lat.
liquor

liquid’
)
.





1.

The dr gon Illuy nk š nd the Storm
-
God






Thus speaks the priest Kilas of the city of Nerik

on the feast
-
d
a
y of the
Tarh
unt
, the Caelestial One:

When the feast of Purulliya is held, they speak thus:

There should be peace in the land of Hatti

and the earth should be steadfast,

and when the earth is steadfast

Purulliya is held.

When
Tarhunt, the Storm God

escaped from Illuyan
ka

in the l nd of Kiš
kilu

Illuyanka overcame him.

Then
Tarhunt

became sad

and he was with all the gods.

Inara made a feast:

she prepared many things,

a barrel of wine, a barrel of beer

and a barrel of another drink.

There was plenty of drink there.

Inara t
hen went to Zigarat

nd found Hup šiy
.

Inara said:


Hup šiy
, look, behold!

I will say something to you:

come here and join me!


Hup šiy

said to Inara:


I will do your heart's desire

if I may sleep with you.


And she lay with him.

In r took Hup šiy

to
a temple,

and locked him there.

She called Illuyanka from its hole:


Behold, I will make a feast,

come eat and drink!


Then Illuyanka came with its offspring,

they ate and they drank,

they drank a barrel of each drink

and became very drunk.

Thus, they cou
ld not return to their hole,

nd Hup šiy

tied Illuyanka with a rope.

Then
Tarhunt

came,

and slew Illuyanka,

and all the gods were with him.



2.

The myth of Telipinu, the vanishing God


GIŠ
lu
-
ut
-
ta
-
a
-
us kam
-
ma
-
ra
-
a
-
as
IṢ
-
BAT

É
-
er tuh
-
hu
-
is
IṢ
-
BAT


I
-
NA

GUNNI
-
ma kal
-
mi
-
i
-
sa
-
ni
-
is ú
-
i
-
su
-
u
-
ri
-
ya
-
an
-
ta
-
ti

is
-
ta
-
na
-
na
-
as an
-
da DINGIR
MEŠ

ú
-
i
-
su
-
u
-
ri
-
ya
-
an
-
ta
-
ti

I
-
NA

TÙR n
-
da UDU
HI.A

KI.MIN

I
-
NA

É.GU


an
-
da
-
an GU

HI.A

ú
-
i
-
su
-
u
-
ri
-
ya
-
an
-
ta
-
ti

UDU
-
us
-
za SILA

-
ZU

mi
-
im
-
ma
-
a
s

GU

-
ma AMAR
-
ŠU

mi
-
im
-
ma
-
as

D
Te
-
le
-
pe
-
nu
-
sa ar
-
ha i
-
ya
-
an
-
ni
-
is

hal
-
ki
-
in
D
Im
-
mar
-
ni
-
in sa
-
al
-
hi
-
an
-
ti
-
en ma
-
an
-
ni
-
it
-
ti
-
en is
-
pi
-
ya
-
tar
-
ra pe
-
e
-
da
-
as

gi
-
im
-
ri ú
-
e
-
el
-
lu
-
i mar
-
mar
-
as an
-
da
-
an
D
Te
-
le
-
pe
-
nu
-
sa pa
-
it

mar
-
mar
-
ri an
-
da
-
n ú
-
li
-
is
-
ta

se
-
e
-
ra
-
as
-
se
-
is
-
sa
-
an ha
-
le
-
en
-
zu hu
-
wa
-
i
-
is

nu nam
-
ma hal
-
ki
-
is ZÍZ
-
tar
Ú
-
UL

ma
-
a
-
i

nu
-
za nam
-
ma GU

HI.A

UDU
HI.A

DUMU.LÚ.U
₁₉
.LU
MEŠ

Ú
-
UL

ar
-
ma
-
ah
-
ha
-
an
-
zi ar
-
ma
-
u
-
wa
-
an
-
te
-
sa ku
-
i
-
es nu
-
za a
-
pi
-
ya
Ú
-
UL

ha
-
as
-
sa
-
an
-
zi

HUR.SAG
DIDLI.HI.A

ha
-
a
-
te
-
er

GIŠ
HI.A
-
r
u ha
-
a
-
az
-
ta

na
-
as
-
ta par
-
as
-
du
-
us
Ú
-
UL

ú
-
e
-
ez
-
zi

ú
-
e
-
sa
-
es ha
-
a
-
te
-
er

TÚL
HI.A

ha
-
a
-
az
-
ta

nu KUR
-
ya an
-
da
-
an ka
-
a
-
as
-
za ki
-
i
-
sa
-
ti

DUMU.LÚ.U
₁₉
.LU
MEŠ

DINGIR
MEŠ
-
sa ki
-
is
-
ta
-
an
-
ti
-
it har
-
ki
-
ya
-
an
-
zi

GAL
-
is
-
za
D
UTU
-
us EZEN

-
an i
-
e
-
et

nu
-
za 1
LI
-
IM

DINGI
R
MEŠ
-
sa hal
-
za
-
i
-
is

e
-
te
-
er ne
Ú
-
UL

is
-
pi
-
i
-
e
-
er

e
-
ku
-
i
-
e
-
er
-
ma ne
-
za
Ú
-
UL

ha
-
as
-
si
-
ik
-
ke
-
er


“T
he fog kept (filled) the windows; the smoke kept (filled) the

house;

the woods in the oven were smothered;

At the altars the god were smothered, the sheep in

the fold were

smothered, in the stable

T
he cattle were smothered, the sheep refused her lamb,

t
he cow refused her calf.

Telipinu too went away;

the fertility of animals and seeds, their productivity and (also)

their abundance to desert and

meadow he took
away. Telipinu too went into the field and in the

filed

he disappeared (mixed in). Over him,
halenzu
plant grew. So

the b rley nd the whe t h ven’t grown nymore. C ttle sheep

and human beings

didn’t become pregn nt nymore nd the pregn nt ones didn’t

g
ive birth.

In order to sprout not, mountains and trees got dry.

In order to be hunger in the country, pastures and springs got dry.

The human beings and the gods are dying of hunger.

The Great Sun God arranged a banquet and he invited thousand gods.

They a
te.

But they weren’t full up; they dr nk but they didn’t
quench

their thirst.

VEDIC

Almost everything we know of the original Vedic religion has been transmitted orally from
around the middle of the 2nd century BC until the present day in the form of
śrú
ti
-

or ‘
what
has been heard

. This oral tradition has been collected in the form of the Vedas (cf. Skr.

da
-

‘knowledge’
), or four collections of hymns and ritual texts devoted to Vedic deities. These are
composed in an early form of Sanskrit, the learned

language of India, which is commonly
referred to simply as Vedic, or Vedic Sanskrit.
Since there are no manuscript from that period
(the oldest inscriptions in Indi re Buddhist incriptions of king Aśok from the 3rd century
BC), the datation of the core of the Vedic texts is estimated on the basis of philological
arguments and the assume
d rate of language change from the Vedic period until our earliest
historical documents in India (chiefly related to the life of Buddha in the 5th century BC).

The oldest parts of the Vedas could have been

roughly contempor ry with the ‘Mit nni
Contr cts’
, documents preserved in Hittite archives, in which the ruler of the Kingdom of
Mitanni in Northern Mesopotamia swears by invoking Vedic deities Mitra, Indra, Varuna and
the Nasatyas. We know, then, that the ruling caste of the State of Mitanni in the 14th

century
BC worshipped the same gods to whom hymns are devoted in the Vedic texts, and many of
them, as we shall see below, have exact counterparts in the Iranian religion (note, however,
t
h t the n mes mentioned in the “Mit nni Contr cts‖

are specifically

Indo
-
Aryan, not Iranian
or Indo
-
Iranian).

The four collections of Vedic texts (also called
sa

hitās
, from PIE *som
-

‘together’

and
*d
h
eh
1
-

‘put m ke’
) are Rig
-
Veda, Sama
-
Veda, Yajur
-
Veda, and Atharva
-
Veda. The Rig
Veda is certainly the oldest of them; the Sama
-
Veda and the Yajur
-
Veda contain mostly
material taken over from the Rig
-
Veda, and the

Atharva
-
Veda is a collection of magical
chants and
rituals, and it is generally believed to be the latest of all four samhitas.

The Rig
-
Veda got its name from the Sanskrit word
c
-

‘pr ise verse’
. It

is divided into ten
books, or

ṇḍ
alas

(from Skr.



ala
-

‘circul r circle’
, of uncertain etymology)
.
Each of
the books contains several dozens of hymns, or
s
ū
ktas

(from
su
-
ukta
-

‘well recited eulogy’
)
,
the total number of suktas in the Rig
-
Veda being 1028, which is the amount of text
corresponding, r
ough
ly to the “Ili d‖ nd the “Odyssey‖

ymns are
believed to h ve been “he rd‖ by the mythic l “seers‖

or rishis (Skr.
i
-

PIE *h
2
er
-
s
-
, cf.
Lith.
rš
s

vio
lent’
, MHG
rasen
‘r ge’
, Arm.
he


‘r ge’
), and they were chanted by the
Vedic
priests, the purohitas (Skr.
puró
hita
-
,
from
purá
-

‘in front of before’

and
-
hita
-

‘put
pl ced’
) during re
ligious rituals. The so
-
c lled “f mily books‖
, attributed to various families
of priests, are generally believed to contain the oldest material in t
he Rig
-
Veda. These are the
books 2
-
7
. T
he books 1 and 10 are, on the other hand, younger than the rest and contain traces
of post
-
Vedic philosophical speculations and religious views. The book 9 contains only
hymns dedicated to Soma, the divine intoxicatin
g drink.

The text of the Rig
-
Veda has been
preserved in several versions. It is usually reproduced either as
padapatha
, with words
isolated by
pauses

for better memorizing, or as the
samhitapatha,
in which words are
generally joined by sandhi for easier re
citing. The oldest surviving manuscript of the Rig
-
Veda, written in devanagari script, dates only from 1464.

The Vedic hymns are composed in a variety of isosyllabic metres, and the most common ones
are the eight
-
syllable (composing the stanza called

yatr
ī

with thr
ee eight
-
syllable lines), the
twelv
e
-
syllable (composing the
j g tī
,
with four lines), and the eleven
-
syllable (composing
the four line
tri

ubh
stanza).

Many Rig
-
Vedic hymns mention various forms of sacrifice, the most prominent being the

sacrifice of the holy drink, the
soma
-

(from *suH
-

‘to press’
, since the drink was prepared
from some plant that had to be pressed). There are also fire rituals, chiefly devoted to the fire
deity (
Agnihotra
-

and
Agnicayana
-
,
the piling of the fire altar),

the horse
-
sacrifice
(
Aśv medh
), the human sacrifice (
P
uru
amedha
-
, which did not include the actual killing of
a man), the seasonal sacrifices such as
Caturmasya
-

and the royal consecration (
Rāj sū
ya
-
).


In the later books of the Rig
-
Veda we also find accounts of Vedic cosmo
gony and
eschatology. The famous
Purusha
-
Sukta

(RV X 90) tells how the world was created from the
body of the prim
ev
al Man,
Puru
a
-
, who
had been

sacrificed
. The priest (
brāhmán
) originated
from his head, the warrior (
rāj nyá
-
) from his hands, the freeman

(
v ìśy
-
) from his hips, and
the slave (
śūdrá
-
) from his feet. Moreover, his spirit is the source of the Moon, the Sun was
created from his eye,
the Wind from his breath,
and
the F
ire from his mouth. Thus both the
social and the cosmic order originated fr
om the same source.
Hymns such as RV X 18, recited
during funeral ceremonies, give an account of the fate of the soul after death and cremation;
the urn with the cremated remains was buried, and the family of the deceased was ritually
purified, while the s
oul was thought to follow the celestial

path of the Fathers


(
p
it

yān
).

Besides the Vedas themselves, we also have a number of commentaries on the Vedas
stemming from the Vedic period (roughly, before the 5th century BC). These are the
Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and the Upanishads. Some of these texts comment on the V
edas
and interpret the Vedic religious beliefs and practices, but there is ample evidence that the
original function of the Rig
-
Vedic deities was significantly altered and ill
-
understood during
the later Vedic period. This can also be seen in the later San
skrit commentaries of the Vedas
(e.g. inYāsk 's etymologic l compendium

Nirukta

, or in
Sāy

a's

Vedartha Prakasha

).
Although they preserved some ancient lore, they are not completely reliable. After the Vedic
period, the Aryan religion evolved slowly t
owards Hinduism, which is divided into a number
of sects and schools of religious thought. However, all Hindu sects still share the belief in the
sacred nature of the Vedas, which are considered to be holy texts by all the Hindus.

In contrast to the abunda
nce of archaic Vedic texts, archaeology yields very little information
about the earliest form of Indian religion. Archeological sites in Northern India attributable to
the Indo
-
Aryans in the 2nd and early 1st millennium BC are few and contain very scarce
remains attributable to cultic practices
or ritu ls. The rem ins of the “P inted Grey W re‖

culture, which stretched from East Punjab to the Middle Ganges in the 1300
-

400 contain very
little excavations of inhabited sites; houses were built from primitive

wickerwork and mud,
and simple red decorations on ceramic pots do not tell us anything about deities worshipped
by Indo
-
Arians during that period. Depictions of later Hindu gods (see APPENDIX) certainly
bear little resemblance to the Vedic originals. Earl
ier archaeological cultures possibly
attributab
le to Indo
-
Ary ns such s the “G ndh r Gr ve Culture‖

in the Swat valley in
Pakistan (in the early 2nd Millennium BC) have left us equally scarce remains.

Principal
Vedic gods are the following
:
Indra
-

(of
unknown origin, no relation whatsoever to
OCS
jędrъ


strong
, quick

, Russ.
j dró
‘kernel core’
)

is celebrated in many hymns as the
slayer of the dragon
tra
-
, and many linguists see in this a reflex of the Indo
-
European
dragon
-
slaying myth.
In Avesta, there is a minor daevic figure of
Indara
, about

whom very
little is known, but the form of his name, as well as the corresponding form
In
-
da
-
ra
in the
Mitanni contracts, show that the Proto
-
Indo
-
Iranian form of the theonym was *Indara
-
.
The
name of
Mitra
-

comes
from the abstract noun
mitrá
-


contract

,

from the PIE root *mey
-

‘exch nge’
, OCS
minąti
‘p ss’
, Latv.
miju
‘exch nge’
, Ved.
mi
-

‘exch nge’
. He

is a deity
with chiefly social function, closely parallel to Avestan
Miθr
. On the other hand,

Varu

a
-

is
the god who binds the souls of the dead, but he is also a healer and a watcher over the
social
order. His name
probably
comes
from the root *wel
-


to close,
cover,
ensnare

,

Gr.
élytron

covering, case

; contrary to the opinion of many famous linguists, it bears

no relation
whatsoever to Slav.
Velesъ
. The

Aśvinā(u)

are the divine twins, compa
rable to Greek
Dioskoú
r
o
i

C
astor and Polydeuces. The adduced form of their name is the

dual, literally
meaning

horsemen

, from *h
1
ek'wo
-


horse

,
Skr.
áśv
-
.

U
ās
-

is the dawn
-
goddess, and her
name is
the word for

dawn

, PIE *h
2
ewsōs Gr.
ē s
, etc.

She

is one of rather few goddesses in
a very macho Pantheon of Vedic India.


Rudr
á
-

is the god of the disease (which, like Apollo, he disperses with his arrows), and of
healing. His name may be derived from PIE

*
(H)
rewd
-


be coarse


(Lat.
rudis
)
.
His sons ar
e
the

Maruts
,
who often accompany Indra; their

name is still unexplained. Some linguists
connect it with Lat.
M
ā
rs

(though this is actualy from older
Mavors
), while others connect it
with the name of the young warriors, the
marya
-
,
or with the PIE word for ‘se ’

(*mori
-


Lat.
mare
); since the Maruts are connected with the wind, the form
mar
-
ut
could have
o
riginall
y me nt something like ‘(the wind) from the se
-
side’
, but I don't find this very
convincing.

Otherwise, the god of the wind is
Vāyú
-

(also the Sanskrit word for

wind

, PIE
*weh
1
-
yu
-
, cf. Lith.
vėj s
, Lat.
vēntus
). The name of
P rjá
nya
-

has
unclear etymol
ogy
; he is

often connected to Lith.
nas

etc.
, but this may be just a chance correspondence
; as a
comon noun,
p rjány
-

means

rain cloud

. On the other hand,
Dyau
-

is clearly the sky
-
god,
and his name is also
the word for

sky

PIE *dyēws
, cf. Gr.
Z
eús
.

Agni
-

is the deified fire
(=
agni
-


fire


*ng
w
ni
-
, Lat.
ignis
)
,
while
Rātrī
-


Night


derives her name
from the root

-


to
bestow

,
rātì
-


gift


PIE *(H)reh
1
-
,
(
cf. Lat.
rēs


thing, wealth

)
. The name of the divine
drink


ma
-

litterally means

w
hat is being pressed, from *sew
-


to press

, Ved.
su
-
.
Vi

u
-
,
who latter became one of the chief Hindu deities, bears a name
of unclear etymology, despite
attempts to derive it from
viś
-


village

,
(
Lat.
vīcus
,
OCS
vьsь
, etc.
)
; he is said to have
measur
ed the world in three steps, corresponding to the three spheres in the Vedic cosmology:
the sky, the earth, and the space in between. T
he name of
S vitá
r
-

has been rather plausibly
interpreted as

the impeller

, from the root *sewH
-


to impel, drive

.
The
sun
-
god,
-
,
bears the name i
dentic l to the Vedic word for ‘sun’
, from PIE *seh
2
wōl
-

‘sun’

(Lat.
sōl
, Lith.
, etc.); like his Greek counterpart,
H lios
, he is often depicted as driving a golden chariot
accross the sky.
The divine twins,
Yama
-

and
Y mī
-

derive the
ir names from the PIE word for
‘twin’

(*yemo
-
, OIr.
emain
,
perhaps Lat.
geminus
). These are only
one of several deities that
are usually mentioned as couples, e.g.
Mitrā
-
Varu

ā
-

(or simply
Varu

ā
in the du l) ‘
Mi
tra
nd V run ’
,
Dy vā
-
P
thivī
‘he ven nd e rth’
, etc.

There are also abstract deities, such as
Vāk
-

‘the Word’

(cf. Lat.
vōx
‘voice sound’
),
B
has
-
pati
-

‘lord of the pr yer’
,
Aditi
-

‘liberty’ liter lly ‘un
-
binding’
, whose sons are generally
called
ādity
-

‘descend nts of Aditi’
(V
aruna, Bhaga, Aryaman, and others).


Aryaman
-
,
who
is interpreted as the personified Friendship,

has been compared to OIr.
Éremón
one of the
heroes in the mythical account of the peopling of Ireland. The root of these names may be
*h
2
er
-
yo
-


friendl
y, tru
sty’

(Skr.
ryá
-

‘honour ble Ary n’
, OIr.
aire
‘noble’
, cf. also Av.
airyaman
-

‘trib l network lli nce’
).
Finally,


an
-
,
like Gr.
Pkn
,
is

a protector of cattle,
and his name may go back to
PIE *pewh
2
sōn
, but the root of this formation is unclear

(the
connection with PIE *pews
-

‘thrive succeed’ > Skt.
pú y ti
is improbable because this root
does not contain a laryn
geal
; the connection with *pewH
-

‘to stink rot’ > Skt.
Lith.
is more promising
; a compound
*peh
2
us
-
h
3
on
-
, from the root *peh
2
-


to her
d’ is lso
possible
)
.


1. The Praise of Agni,
RV I.1

ag
nim

ī

e
purohita


y jx sy dev



tvīj m |

hotār
a


r tn dhāt m m ||

ag
ni


pūrvebhir


ibhir

ī

yo nūt n ir

uta |

s devāneh v k

ati ||

ag
ninā r yim śn v t po

ameva dive
-
dive |

y ś s


vīr v tt m m ||

ag
ne ya


y jx m dhv r


viśv t


p ribhūr

asi |

sa id

deve

u gachati ||

ag
nir

hotā k vikr tu


sat
y ścitr śr v st m


|

devo devebhir

ā g
amat ||

yada

g
dāśu

e tvam ag
ne bhadra


kari

yasi |

tavet tat satyama

g
ira


||

up tvāg
ne dive
-
dive do

āv st rdhiyā v y m |

namo bharanta emasi ||

rāj nt m

dhv rā

ā


g
opā



t sy dīdivim |

v rdh mān


sve dam
e ||

sa na


pitev sūn ve g
ne sūpāy no bh v |

s c svā n


svastaye ||



1
I Laud Agni, the chosen Priest, God, minister of sacrifice,

The hotar, lavishest of wealth.

2 Worthy is Agni to be praised by living as by ancient seers.

He shall bring. hitherwa
rd the Gods.

3 Through Agni man obtaineth wealth, yea, plenty waxing day by day,

Most rich in heroes, glorious.

4 Agni, the perfect sacrifice which thou encompassest about

Verily goeth to the Gods.

5 May Agni, sapient
-
minded Priest, truthful, most glorious
ly great,

The God, come hither with the Gods.

6 Whatever blessing, Agni, thou wilt grant unto thy worshipper,

That, Angiras, is indeed thy truth.

7 To thee, dispeller of the night, O Agni, day by day with prayer

Bringing thee reverence, we come

8 Ruler of
sacrifices, guard of Law eternal, radiant One,

Increasing in thine own abode.

9 Be to us easy of approach, even as a father to his son:

Agni, be with us for our weal.




2. The myth of Indra and the dragon Vrtra,
RV I.32 1
-
5


indrasya
nu vīryā

i pra voca


yāni c kār pr th māni v jrī |

ahann

ahim

anv

apastatarda pra vak

a

ā bhin t p rv tānām ||

ahannahi


p rv te śiśriyā

a


tva

āsm i v jr


svarya


tatak

a |

vāśrā iv dhen v


sy nd mānā xj


samudramava jag
mur

āp


||

v

āy mā

o
av
ṛṇ
īt som


trikad
ruke

vapibat sutasya |

āsāy k


m gh vād tt v jr m

ahann

ena


pr th m jām

hīnām ||

y dindrāh n pr th m jām

hīnāmān māyinām minā


prot māyā


|

āt sūry


j n y n dyāmu

ās


tādītnāś tru


n kilā vivitse ||

ahan v

tra


v

tratara


vya

sam

indro vajre

a

m h tā v dhen |

sk ndhā

sīv kuliśenā viv

k

āhi


ś y t up p

k p

thivyā


||



1 I WILL declare the manly deeds of Indra, the first that he achieved, the Thunder
-
wielder.

He slew the Dragon, then disclosed the waters, and cleft the channels of the mounta
in
torrents.

2 He slew the Dragon lying on the mountain: his heavenly bolt of thunder Tvastar fashioned.

Like lowing kine in rapid flow descending the waters glided downward to the ocean.


drank the juices.

Maghavan grasped the thunder for his weapon, and smote to death this firstborn of the
dragons.

4 When, Indra, thou hadst slain the dragon's firstborn, and overcome the charms of the
enchanters,

Then, giving life to Sun and Dawn and Heave
n, thou foundest not one foe to stand against
thee.

5 Indra with his own great and deadly thunder smote into pieces Vrtra, worst of Vrtras.

As trunks of trees, what time the axe hath felled them, low on the earth so lies the prostrate
Dragon.



3. The hym
n to the Dawn,
RV 1.48

s h vāmen n u o vyuchā duhit rdiv ḥ |

s h dyumnen bṛh tā vibhāv ri rāyā devi dāsv tī ||

śvāv tīrghom tīrviśv suvido bhūri cy v nt v st ve |

udīr y pr ti mā sūnṛtā u ścod rādho m ghonām ||

uvāso ā uchācc nu devī jīrā r thānām |

ye syā āc r
ṇe u d dhrire s mudre n śr v sy v ḥ ||

u o ye te pr yāme u yuxj te m no dānāy sūr y ḥ |

trāh t t k ṇv e ā k ṇv t mo nām ghṛṇāti nṛṇām ||

ā ghā yo ev sūn ryu ā yāti pr bhuxj tī |

j r y ntī vṛj n p dv dīy t ut pāt y ti p k iṇ ḥ ||

vi yā sṛj
ti s m n vy rthin ḥ p dā n vetyod tī |

v yo n ki ṭe p ptivā s ās te vyu ṭ u vājinīv ti ||

e āyukt p rāv t ḥ sūry syod y nād dhi |

ś t r thebhiḥ subh gho ā iy vi yāty bhi mānu ān ||

viśv m syā nānām c k se j gh jjyoti kṛṇoti sūn rī |

apa
dve o m ghonī duhitā div u ā uch d p sridh ḥ ||

u ā bhāhi bhānunā c ndreṇ duhit rdiv ḥ |

āv h ntī bhūry sm bhy s ubh gh vyuch ntī divi ṭi u ||

viśv sy hi prāṇ n jīv n tve vi y duch si sūn ri |

sā no r then bṛh tā vibhāv ri śrudhi citrām
ghe havam ||

u o vāj hi v sv y ścitro mānu e j ne |

tenā v h sukṛto dhv rānup ye tvā ghṛṇ nti v hn y ḥ ||

viśvān devānā v h som pīt ye. nt rik ādu stv m |

sāsmāsu dhā ghom d śvāv dukthy mu o vāj suvīry m ||

y syā ruś nto rc y ḥ pr ti bh dr
ā dṛk t |

sā no r yi viśv vār supeś s mu ā d dātu sughmy m ||

ye cid dhi tvā ṛ y ḥ pūrv ūt ye juhūre. v se m hi |

sā n stomān bhi ghṛṇīhi rādh so ḥ śukreṇ śoci ā ||

u o y d dy bhānunā vi dvārāv ṛṇ vo div ḥ |

pr no y ch tād vṛk pṛthu ch
rdiḥ pr devi ghom tīri ḥ ||

s no rāyā bṛh tā viśv peś sā mimik vā s mi ābhirā |

s dyumnen viśv turo o m hi s vāj irvājinīv ti ||



“D wn

on us with prosperity, O Us
h
as, Daughter of the Sky,

Dawn with great glory, Goddess, Lady of the Light, daw
n thou with riches, Bounteous One.

2 They, bringing steeds and kine, boon
-
givers of all wealth, have oft sped forth to lighten us.

O
Ushas
, waken up for me the sounds of joy: send us the riches of the great.

3
Ushas

hath dawned, and now shall dawn, the God
dess, driver forth of cars

-
seekers on the flood.

4 Here Kanva, chief of Kanva's race, sings forth aloud the glories of the heroes' names,
-

The. princes who, O Us
h
as, as thou comest near
, direct their thoughts to liberal gifts.

5 Like a good matron
Ushas

comes carefully tending everything:

Rousing all life she stirs all creatures that have feet, and makes the birds of air fly up.

6 She sends the busy forth, each man to his pursuit: delay
she knows not as she springs.

O rich in opulence, after thy dawning birds that have flown forth no longer rest.

7 This Dawn hath yoked her steeds afar, beyond the rising of the Sun:

Borne on a hundred chariots she, auspicious Dawn, advances on her way to M
en.

8 To meet her glance all living creatures bend them down: Excellent One, she makes the light.

Ushas
, the Daughter of the Sky, the opulent, shines foes and enmities away.

9 Shine on us with thy radiant light, O
Ushas
, Daughter of the Sky,

Bringing to us

great store of high felicity, and bearning on our solemn rites.

10 For in thee is each living creature's breath and life, when, Excellent! thou dawnest forth.

Borne on thy lofty car, O Lady of the Light, hear, thou of wondrous wealth, our call.

11 O
Ushas
, win thyself the strength which among men is wonderful.

Bring thou thereby the pious unto holy rites, those who as priests sing praise to thee.

12 Bring from the firmament, O
Ushas
, all the Gods, that they may drink our Soma juice,

And, being what thou ar
t, vouchsafe us kine and steeds, strength meet for praist and hero
might.

13 May
Ushas

whose auspicious rays are seen resplendent round about,

Grant us great riches, fair in form, of all good things, wealth which light labour may attain.

14 Mighty One, who
m the Rsis of old time invoked for their protection and their help,

O
Ushas
, graciously answer our songs of praise with bounty and with brilliant

light.

15
Ushas
, as thou with light to day hast opened the twin doors of heaven,

So grant thou us a dwelling w
ide and free from foes. O Goddess, give us food with kine.

16 Bring us to wealth abundant, sent in every shape, to plentiful refreshing food,

To all
-
subduing splendour,
Ushas
, Mighty One, to strength, thou rich in spoil and wealth.



4. The primeval sacrif
ice of Purusha (RV X 90)

s h sr śīr

ā puru

a


s h srāk

a


s h sr pāt |

s bhūmi


viśv to v

tvāty ti

h d d śā

ghulam ||

puru

a eveda


sarva


y d bhūt


yacca bhavyam |

utām

t tv syeśāno y d nnenātiroh ti ||

etāvān sy m himāto jyāyā

śc pūru

a


|

pādo.
sy viśvā bhūtāni tripād syām

ta


divi ||

tripādūrdhv ud it puru

a


pādo. syehābh v t pun


|

tato vi

va


vy krām t sāś nān ś ne bhi ||

t smād virā


jāy t virājo dhi pūru

a


|

s jāto ty ricy t p ścād bhūmim tho pur


||

yat puru

e

a havi

ā devā

y jx m t nv t |

v s nto syāsīdājy


ghrī

ma idhma


ś r d dh vi


||


A thousand heads hath Purusha, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet.

On every side pervading earth he fills a space ten fingers wide.

This Purusha is all that hath been and all that is to
be

The Lord of Immortality that waxes greater still by food.

So mighty is his greatness, yea, greater than this is Purusha,

All creatures are one
-
fourth of him, three
-
fourths eternal life in heaven.

With three fourths Purusha went up: one fourth of him aga
in was here.

Thence he strode out to every side over what cats not and what cats.

From him Viraj was born; again Purusha from Viraj was born.

As soon as he was born he spread eastward and westward o'er the earth.

When gods prepared sacrifice with Purusha a
s their offering,

its oil was spring, the holy gift was autumn, summer was the wood.


IRANIAN


The Avestan religion, or Mazdaism, is the result of the first great reform in the mankind's
religious history due to the prophet Z r thuštr . The collection o
f religious texts stemming
from his reform is known as the Avesta.
The oldest part of the Avesta are the
Gāthās
,
composed t le st in p rt by the prophet Z r thuštr himself. The word derives from PIE
*geh
2
-

‘to sing’

(Ved.
gāy ti gāti
).

It is only fair to say that we do not know the dates of
Z r thuštr 's life. According to some experts he lived not too
long before the founding of the
Achaemenid Empire in the 7th century BC, and it has even been claimed that the Kavi
Vištāsp the princely p tron mentioned by Z r thuštr w s none other th n Hist spes the
father of Cyrus the Great. However, another theor
y posits the period around 1000 BC as the
more likely time of Z r thuštr 's life
1

and no consensus about this is in sight.

The Gāthās consist of seventeen hymns but they re only p rt of the gre t Z r thuštr 's
liturgy, the Yasna, which is the core of
the Mazdaism's sacred canon. They are written in Old
Avestan language, which must be significantly earlier than the language of other Avestan
books, known as the Young Avestan.
2

The Yasna is a text with clear function in the Avestan
ritual: it is recited d
uring a ceremony performed in the fire
-
temple, which also includes the
drinking of the sacrificial drink
haoma
(Ved.
sóm
-
).

Z r thuštr w s prophet who undertook thorough reform of the inherited Indo
-
Iranian
religion with its dozens of gods, whose nam
es were mostly preserved in the Rig
-
Veda. His
religious message was summarized pregnantly by Helmut Humbach (1992: 3):


A basic
feature of Zarathustra's religion is the interdependence between material and bodily welfare,
on the one hand, and mental or sp
iritual welfare, onthe other. The prophet concerned himself
equally with both, and taught maxims which also governed the social life of the Iranian tribes.
-
breeding, and
comelled his foll
owers to accept new hygienic and ecological standards, and setablished rules
for avoiding infection in the human body and pollution of fire, water, air, and earth. Further,
he integrated all of these material postulates into a great universal religious con
cept, and in
this respect he is unique among the great founders of religions in history

.

The (Younger) Avestan term for 'god' is
yazata
-

(cf. Ved.
y j tá
-

‘worthy of s crifice’
) rather
than the inherited Iranian term
baga
-
, which occurs only rarely in Yo
ung Avestan, where it is
attributed to the Moon (OPers.
baga
is used of Ahur M zdā in the Ach emenid inscriptions).
Z r thuštr himself does not use either of these terms in the Gāthās: he seems to h ve been
quite obsessed with the divinity of the

Wise
Lord

the Ahur M zdā nd there w s no pl ce
for other divinities in his system.

The
d ēv s

of the old Indo
-
Iranian religion have been reduced to demons, hence the unusual
etymological equation of Av.
d ēv
-

‘demon’

and Skr.
devá
-

‘god’
. The followers of

the



1

This view is more or less consistent with the dates transmitted by Greek and Roman authors, who relied on
ancient Iranian sources, cf., e.g. Pliny, Natural History 30, 2, 3
-
4: "
Eudoxus, qui inter apientiae sectas
clarissimam utilissimamqu
e eam intellegi voluit, Zoroastrem huc sex milibus annorum ante Platonis mortem
Most authors think that
sex millibus annorum
here is corrupted for 600 years.

2

Besides the Gāthās there re few other short texts writt
en in Old Avestan, such as the prose text of
Yasna
H ptnhāiti
; Old Avestan is not the direct ancestor of Young Avestan, but rather a closely related and more
archaic Iranian dialect.

d ēv s
simbolize all that is bad and deceitful (
dr
ə
guua

t
) while Z r thuštr 's followers re
elated as

the truthful ones


(
a
š

auuan
-
). The world is seen through eternal struggle between
the good principle represented by Ahur M zdā nd the

Divine
Immortals

, but the struggle
is predetermined s the Ahur M zdā nd the other Ahur s (l ter

Divine Immortals

),
supported by the truthful ones, are certain to triumph in the end. Note that the original
Z r thuštr 's conception seems to h ve been more mo
notheistic than dualistic: the arch
-
enemy of Ahur M zdā the

Evil Spirit


(
A
ŋ
gra Mainyu
, later
Ahriman
) is not even
mentioned in the Gāthās.

The Younger Avest n texts include the Y šts 21 hymns to Ir ni n deities th t were included
in the orthodox Mazd
ism fter Z r thuštr 's period the Vendid d ( text used in ritu l
purification) and the Visprat (or Visperad), a collection of supplements to the Yasna.

Like the Vedas, the Avesta was initially transmitted orally, and there are reasons to believe
that i
t was only written down during the Sasanid period (4th
-

7th century AD). Large parts of
the Avestan corpus
-

including commentaries on the original holy scriptures
-

exist only in
Pehlevi, the Middle Iranian language spoken in the Sasanid Empire. These ar
e the
Dēnk rd
,
the
Bund hišn

(a mythological history of the world),
Arda Viraf Namak

(a book containing
elements of Mazdaist eschatology), and others. The Pehlevi parts of the Avesta are generally
known as the Zend, or Zend
-
Avesta. To this day, the Mazdais
t religion has been preserved in
parts of Iran, where its followers are tolerated (but discriminated), while the largest numbers
of them migrated to Bombay during Middle Ages. It is there that the extant manuscripts of the
Avesta were preserved.

The chief
divine being of Mazdaizm,
Ahura
,
bears a name (or title)

related to Skr.
ásur
-

‘god’

and derived from Av.
ahu
-

‘life existence’
, which is from PIE *h
2
ensu
-

‘god’

(see
above);
M zdā
'lord' is from the PIE compound *mens
-
d
h
eh
1
-

(cf. Skr.
medhā
-

‘wisdom’
; the
name of the Muses (Gr.
Moús i
) is also usually derived from a similar compound

(*mons
-
d
h
h
1
yo
-
)
.
Am
ə
a Sp
ə

ta

‘Holy Immort l’

is the Young Avestan term referring

to the

six
c
omp nions of Ahurā M zd ;
they re bstr ct deities introduced by Z r thuštr

(he called
them collectively Ahuras, the lords)
.
Am
ə
a
is the negate
d participle of the verb *mer
-

‘to die’

(Ved.
am

ta
-
), and
Sp
ə

ta
is from PIE *k'wento
-

‘holy’

(OCS
svętъ
, et
c.).
The six Holy
Immortals are
Am
ə
r
ə
t tāt
‘Immort lity’
,
V hišt
‘the Best Truth’

(cf. Skr.

ta
-

‘divine
order’
),
H uruu tāt
‘Integrity’

(from PIE *solwo
-
, cf. Gr.
hólos
‘whole’
, Lat.
salvus
),
Sp
ə

ta
Ārm iti
‘Holy Devotion’

(the second part of the na
me is parallel to Skr.
aramati
-

‘obedience’
,
from Skr.
aram
‘enough’
),
Xš θr V irii
‘Desir ble Rule’

(from the Indo
-
Iranian word for
'rule', cf. Skr.
k
ay
-

‘to rule’
, perhaps Gr.
ktáom i
‘g in’
; the second part of the name is from
PIE *welh
1
-

‘desire’
,
Lat.
volo
, OCS
volja
, etc.), and
Vohu Manah
‘Good Spirit’

(the first
part of the name is from PIE *h
1
wesu
-

� Gr.
, OIr.

-
, etc.).


Aŋr M iniiu
‘the Evil Spirit’

is the chief enemy of Ahur M zdā in the Z r thustri n
conception;
Aŋr
me ns simply ‘
ba
d
evil’
, and the etymology of this word is uncertain; some

rel te it to the PIE word for ‘blood’

(*h
1
esh
2
�r Hitt.
ešh r
, Latv.
asins
, Gr.
é r
).
Mainiiu
is of
course the same word as Ved.
manyu
-

‘spirit’
.

Of the Old Iranian deities that slowly infiltrated

M zd ism fter Z r thuštr 's reforms
Haoma

is of course the Avestan equivalent of the Vedic
Sóm
-
, from the PIE verb *sew
-

‘press’

(Ved.
sunóti
, Av.
hunaoiti
)
,

and

Vāyu
-

‘Wind’

is the Vedic
Vāyu
-

(see above
)
.
Apąm N p t

is
a divinity connected with the wa
ters (his n me me ns liter lly ‘descend nt of w ters’

and is
parallel to Ved.
Apām N pāt

,
which is usually an epithet of Savitar or Agni, e.g. in RV II 35);
Āt r
-


is the fire deified, derived from the root *h
2
eh
1
-

‘to burn’

(cf. Hitt.
h šš
-

‘he rth’
), and
Ar
ə
duuī Sūr Anāhit
is one of the very few goddesses in the
Avestan corpus; her name
me ns ‘
strong (
Sūr
) and immaculate (
Anāhit
)

Ar
ə
duuī

; since she is associ
ated with the
rivers,
Ar
ə
duuī
is usually related to Ved.
ardati
‘moves goes’
.

Miθr
is an old Indo
-
Iranian
divinity, and his name is the same as that of Ved.
Mitra
-

(see above).

R šnu
is the divine
judge presiding over the dead souls; his name is connecte
d with Av.
rāz iieiti
Ved.
rāj ti
‘rules’
, from PIE *h
3
reg'
-

‘to stretch direct rule’
.
V
ə
r
ə
θr γn
‘Victory’

is a compound name
parallel to Ved.
V
t
r
a
-
hán
-

‘the sl yer of Vrtr ’
, which is an epithet of Indra.
Sr oš


obedience


is derived from PIE *k'le
w
-

‘to he r’

(Ved.
śru
-
, Gr.
klêō
, OCS
slyš ti
, etc.)
.

Tištrii

refers to the star Sirius, which is associated with rain in the Avesta; its name is related
to Ved.
ti

ya
-

‘divine rcher Sirius’
.
Finally,
Yima
is the original Man, the ancestor of all the
h
umans; his name is, of course, the same as Ved.
Yám
-

(see above).

Another important, although late, source for the study of Iranian religion, are the legends of
the Narts, preserved among the Iranian Ossetians on the Caucasus. These legends were
collected

of a long history of oral transmission, and it has been claimed (especially by Georges
Dumézil the first western schol r who studied them) th t they preserve m ny Indo
-
Eur
opean
motives.

However, the names of all the leading Nart (e.g. the divine smith
Kurdalaegon,
the
iron
-
bodied hero
Soslan,
the brave
Wazirmaeg,
and the lady
Satana
)

are probably not Iranian
.
Since Nart heroes are also attested in Circassian folk
-
lore, as w
ell as in the traditions of other
Caucasian peoples, it is difficult to disentangle the various influences that shape them, both
Indo
-
European and non
-
Indo
-
European.



1. Z r thuštr 's met physic l l ment
,

Yasna 29 1
-
2

xšm ibiiā gǝ:uš uruuā gǝrǝţdā k hmāi mā θβ rōdūm kǝ: mā t š
t

ā mā ēšǝmō h z scā rǝmō [ā]hišāiiā dǝrǝšcā tǝuuišcā

nōi
t

mōi vāstā xšm
t

niiō θā mōi sąstā vohū vāstriiā


dā t šā gǝ:uš pǝrǝs
t

a

ǝ
m k θā tōi g uuōi r tuš

hiia
t

hīm dātā xš ii

tō h dā vāstr
ā g odāiiō θβ xšō

kǝ:m hōi uštā hurǝm yǝ: drǝguuō dǝbīš ēšǝmǝm vādāiiōi
t


The soul of the cow complains to You: For whom did You shape me? Who fashioned me?

Wrath and oppresion, fury, spite and violence, hold me fettered.

I have no other shepherd other

thanYou. So appear to me with good pastoral work.


Thereupon the fashioner of the cow asks Truth: What is the nature of thy judgement for
the cow?

When cow
-
milking zeal, together with forage, takes possession of her, o you ruling ones,

whom do you wish to

be her Ahura, one who might break through the wrath caused by the
deceitful?


2. A Young Avestan hymn to Victory






GREEK

Many people think that Greek religion is thoroughly known and researched. After all, we
have so many preserved temples from class
ical antiquity, we have detailed accounts of
Greek mythology not only from Greek, but also from Roman sources, and we are familiar
with the way the Greeks depicted their gods from thousands of preserved statues and
pictures on Greek vases. Homer gave us vi
vid stories about the relations
hips of Gods and
humans in his Iliad and Odyssey
, and the whole history of the gods and the uni
verse is
presented in Hesiod's Theogony
. We can also learn a whole lot about Greek's attitude to
religion from the early lyrics an
d drama, especially from the solemn hymns of Pindar and
the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles.

However, none of the works mentioned were actually recited or otherwise used in Greek
temples during religious services. There is no Greek equivalent of th
e “Rig

Ved ‖
, and we
know virtually nothing about how the priests addressed their gods. Many ceremonies are
known only from depictions on vases and scarce references in works of ancient authors.
Indeed, many of the ceremonies were intended to be secret, so it is

no wonder we can only
guess what wa
s actual
ly going on during the “Eleusyni n

Mysteries‖
, dedicated to
Persephone
. Only the initiated could participate in the mysteries, but the initiated at some
point included the majority of the citizens of Athens.
The
“Eleusyni n Mysteries‖ took
place in the month of Boedromion (in late summer) and lasted for ten days. The festivities,
only some elements of which are understood, involved a solemn procession to Eleusys
long the ‘s cred w y’ (
hierj hodós
), the consumptio
n of a drink made of barley (
kêkeon
),
an all
-
night vigil (
p nnykhìs
), and the revelation of the sacred objects to the initiates
(
mêst i
)
in the great hall called Telesterion; the initiates would recite:

I have fasted, I
have drunk the
kykeon
, I have taken

from the
kìstē

(“box‖) nd fter working it h ve put it
back in the
kál thos

(“open b sket‖)

. It is unknown what the contents of the box were
(since revealing that secret was punisheable by death), but Hippolytus of Rome, a
Christian writer from the 3
rd

century, w
ho could not care less about the pagan secrets,
cl ims th t the s cred object w s “ n e r of gr in re ped in silence‖.


Other ceremonies are
somewhat
better known, especially those organized in Athens, such
as
the

Thesmophoria

,

in w
hich only women could participate,
or
the “Len i ‖
, dedicated to Dionysus
.
The “Gre t Dionysi ‖ w s festiv l during which
dramatic performances (both comedy and tragedy) were organized
, but some were also
held during the Lenaia
.
Although we know a lot ab
out what was happening during these
ceremonies we do not h ve ny “s cred texts‖ th t were recited during them. App rently
the Greeks did not need any such texts, there was plent of room for improvisation. If
anything, Greek religion was non
-
dogmatic and

not based on any form of holy scriptures.


The l ck of religious nd mythologic l “c non‖ expl ins why we h ve so m ny versions
of individual Greek myths.
Moreover, the Greek mythology was transmitted to us mostly
in late sources, especially in works of

Hellenistic authors who sought to systematize and
preserve ancient and half
-
forgotten traditio
ns, such as Pseudo
-
Ap
o
llodorus' “Bibliothec ‖
.
We also have some accounts of Greek

customs


including religious festivities


in the
works of suc
h authors as He
rodotus (in his “Histories‖

from the 5th cen
tury BC) and
P us ni s (in his “Description of Greece‖

from the 2nd century AD). We also have
thousands of inscriptions, including laws and contracts carved into stone monuments,
public decrees and decrees of rel
igious associations. These documents often record names
of ceremonies, priests and priestly families.


Of all the cultic texts, we only have some fragments used in the Orphic mysteries, which
became very popular in Greece in the 5
th

centuyr BC and after.
Especially numerous are
short instructions to the soul of the dead, written on gold leafs, and fragments of Orphic
poems. In this field there have been some interesting new discoveries, such as the famous
Derveni Papyrus
, found in 1962 but published only i
n 1997. It contains a commentary on
a mythological Orphic poem.


Our first written sources for the history of Greek religion are the tablets written in the
syllabic Linear B script. These are almost exclusively lists of offerings to various
sanctuaries (su
ch as the sanctuary of
Pa
-
ki
-
ja
-
ne

near Pylos) and gods. Many theonyms
found on the tablets are known from the classical period, e.g. Zeus, Hera (who appears to
h ve been lre dy worshipped s Zeus’s consort) Ares Eny lios Artemis P i n (l ter
Apollo),

and, interestingly, Dionysos. There are, however, some theonyms that are
unknown in later periods, e.g. the mysterious Drimios, son of Zeus, or the various female
deities called
po
-
ti
-
ni
-
ja

(=
pótni
‘l dy’) of which
A
-
ta
-
na po
-
ti
-
ni
-
ja
(the lady of Atan
a
=
Ath nē
) and
Da
-
pu
-
ri
-
to
-
jo po
-
ti
-
ni
-
ja
(the lady of the Labyrinthos) are prime examples.

Items offered to the gods do not differ from those used in sacrifices in the classical period,
e.g. grains, olive oil, wine and spices, but also sacrificial animals,
e.g. the sheep, the bull,
and the pig on one tablet, reminding one of Roman
suovetaurilia.

Interestingly, the Greeks
did not sacrifice horses, so there is no

true

Greek parallel to Vedic
śv medh
-
.

Besides
blood sacrifices, there were, of course, libation
s; those made to the gods (Gr.
spond
usually involving wine, and
loib
) were distinguished from those made to the dead (
kho
),
the latter including a mixture of wine, water, and honey and a strewing of twigs on the
place of the libation (closely paral
lel to the
b rhì

-

‘s crifici l litter’

in the Vedic
sacrifice).
For the Greeks, the sacrifice included the ritual sharing of food of the
slaughtered animal; the master of the sacrifice could, in principle, be anyone, there was no
privileged priestly cas
te in charge of the sacred rites. The Greeks found it funny that the
Persians could not sacrifice without a priest.

This is not to say that certain individuals
were not specialized in particular ways of communicating with the deities. Already in
Homer we h
ave evidence for the existence of seers (Gr.
mántis
, Il. I, 62), interpreters of
sacrifices (
thyoskóos
Il. XXKV, 221), the flight of birds (
oiōnopólos
, Il. I, 69) and dreams
(
oneiropólos
, Il. I, 62); there is also evidence for priestesses (Gr.
hiérei

Il.

VI, 300).


The sacrifices are publicly made in front of the temple, where the sacrificial fire is burnt;
the temple itself is the place whe
re the images and statues of gods are preserved, and the
temple is seen as the house of god, just as in the Near Eastern religions. It has been stated
that the classical temple evolved from the Mycenaean
még ron
, or royal palace. In any
case, the existence

of temples in Greece is in sharp contrast to their lack in Vedic India,
where sacrifices, for all we know, were perfomed out in the open.

Moreover, as in the
Hittite tradition, sanctuaries are tightly connected with particular places, e.g. the sanctuary
o
f Apollo at Delphi
, or of Zeus at Olympia
. Gods are especially powerful in particular
places, not necessarily everywhere.


Sacrifices had to be made according to strict rules: the sacrificed animal was brought to
the altar in a procession, and it hat to be

without blemish; male animals were sacrificed to
gods, and female to goddesses.
The sacrificed animals had to be without blemish (
teléoi
)

The s crifice itself w s preceded by ritu l blution of the s crificer’s h nds

in a special
vessel (
khérnips
)
, and us
ually some hair of the animal was burned before its throat was
cut.

The slaying of the victim was accompanied by loud cries of women.

Only bones and
skin, and maybe some fat was offered to the gods, and the rest of the meat and skin was
divided among those

present at the sacrifice.
There were, however, instances where whole
animals were burned in honour of gods, usually the underworld deities. This kind of
sacrifice was called
holók ustos
(from
holós
‘whole’ nd
k úō
‘burn’).
Some sacrifices
were expiatory in nature, i.e. they were made to make good for a committed sin (
mì sm
).
Every shedding of blood had to be expiated, often by blood of a sacrificed animal,
especially pig.


The chief god of the Greek Pantheon i
s, of course,

Zeús

< *dyēws

sky


(Myc. genitive
Di
-
wo
)
; besides
being the chief among

the gods, he is also the thunderer (
terpsi
-
ker unós
)
and cloud
-
gatherer (
nephelēgerét
).

His symbols are thunder, oak, eagle and bull.
He is
also

the
husband

of
H r

(M
yc.
E
-
ra
)
, whom he cheated on with several gods and mortals
(his illegitimate children include
Artemis, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy,

etc., while his
official offspring are Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus)
. The Myc. form of Hera's name shows
that it cannot
b
e rel ted to the PIE word for ‘ye r’

(*yeH
-
ro
-

� Germ.
Jahr
), because
Mycenaean would have preserved the word
-
initial *y
-
. Therefore, the
etymology
of this
name is
unknown
.

Her
sacred animal

was a cow, and her standing epithet in Homer is
bo{pis

ox
-
e
yed’
.
The
original wife of Zeus' was probably
Di nē
, who shared a sanctuary with him in Dodone.
She was considered as one of the Titans in later Greek mythology
, but her former
importance is sho
wn by her name, which is derived from the name of Zeus (PIE *diw
-
h
3
en
-
)
.
The noun
Tītknes Tītênes
is itself without etymology, just like the names of the
gods
belonging to this generation, e.g.
Krónos

and
G ì

‘E rth’
.
The castrated father of
Kronos
,
Oura
nós
‘sky’ m y h ve origin lly been ‘the r iner’

(cf.
Skr.
v
ár
ati
‘r ins’
).
A

llōn

was the protector of the arts, but he was also the god of medicine and healing.
He
killed the
Pyth n

( PIE *b
h
ud
h
-

‘bottom’
, cf. Ved.
áhi budhny
-

‘the serpent of the
a
byss’
), a mythical dragon, in Delphi, where his major sanctuary was located.
T
hough
his
name is
afl

strength


the etymology is ultimately unknown;
the name is probably borrowed from Anatolian, cf. the theonym
Ap lliun š

attested i
n
Hittite documents de ling with Wiluš Troy
.

In Homer's epics, he is the protector of the
Trojans, and his cult was certainly very
widely known in Asia

Minor.

In contrast to the male
-
dominated Vedic religion, Greeks worshipped quite a number of
powerful goddesses.
Ath nē

was attested in Linear B tablets (
Myc.
A
-
ta
-
na
), but it seems
to have been the general noun
,

perhaps meaning

lady

. It is of pre
-
Greek origin.

Likewise
of probably Anatolian origin is
Ártemis
the hunter
-
goddess, (Myc.
A
-
ti
-
mi
-
te
, dat.),
cf.
Lyd.
Artimuś
Aritimi
. Attempts to derive her name from Gr.
árktos

‘be r’

are
futile.
H
phaistos
, the blacksmith god, has a name of unknown origin
. Although he was
certainly worshipped by the professional smiths, few of the myths about him have been
p
reserved, and he is chiefly know as the husband of the unfaithful

Aphrodìtē
, the goddess
of love. Her name

is also obscure, though her bimbo
-
like appearance and many attributes
(e.g.
khryséē
‘golden’
, or
thygátēr Diós
‘d ughter of Zeus’
) make her comparabl
e to the
Vedic Dawn Goddess,
U
ās.
Aphrodite's name bears
no relation whatsoever with
phrós


foam

, despite the folk
-
etymology; the true origin of the name is unknown
.
Her cult
seems to have spread from Paphos on Cyprus, where she had her oldest sanctuar
y.
On the
other hand, t
he Greek Dawn Goddess,
s

whose name is identical to
U
ās

is somewhat
eclipsed already in Homer. She is mentioned rarely, though, and her name is often
modified by the beautiful poetic epithet
rhododáktylos
'rose
-
fingered'.

Árēs
,
the god of
war, is a personified abstraction


his name is obviously derived from


curse

.
Likewise,
Hermks

(Myc.
E
-
ma
-
ha
)

seems to have been, origina
lly,

the binder

; his name
is d
erived from
*ser
-


fasten together


(Gr.
e
ì

Lat.
sero


her

,
sermo

speech

,
Skr.
sìs rti

stretches, extends

,
which is often predicated of Mitra's hands.

He can be
compared to Varuna, who binds the sinners in the RV (Hermes is the
psychopomp
in the
Greek religion), and also to Vedic

an
, who is connected
to cattle and cattle
-
raiding (it
was Hermes who stole Apollo's cattle).
The daughter of Zeus and Hera,
H bē
was the
cupbe rer of the Olympi n gods; her n me simply me ns ‘youth’ (< PIE *yeh
1
g
w
eh
2
, cf.
Lith.
jėgj
‘power’).
Poseidáōn

(Myc.
Po
-
si
-
da
-
wo
-
ne
,
dat.
)
,

the lord of the sea, who has
also a strong connection with horses, was

originally

called

*potey
-
dāwōn

the lord
(*potis) of *dā wh tever th t is

(
cf.
páti
-



the lord of waters

, RV 1.136.3
, of
Varu

a
)
.

Pkn
, the protector of roads and shep
herds, is clearly related to
Ved.

an
-
(
*pewh
2
son
-
, see above
)
,

and the name of the god of wine,

Dió
nysos

(Myc.
Di
-
wo
-
nu
-
so
)
is derivable from
*diwos nuso
-


the
nuso
-

of the Sky

, whatever
nuso
-

originally meant
.


Persephó


is the abducted wife of the

god of the underworld. Her name is
probably from
peìrein

pierce


and
ph ós

light

,

but she is often called simply
Kórē
‘girl’ especi ll
y

in
her function of a vegetation goddess

(she was often depicted with a sheaf of grain)
; in
Arcadia she was worshipp
ed under the title of
déspoin
‘mistress’
. T
he name of her
spouse,

H ìdēs
,

according to some
linguists, may be
from
*sm
-
wid
-

(?)

the place where
one sees his ancestors again

, but
it is
more probably from *Haywid
-

*sh
2
ey
-
w
-
, cf.
Lat.
saevus


cruel

, fro
m the root *sh
2
ey
-

to bind

,
cf. Ved.
sétu
-
,
the fetter of

Varu

a
.

The
name of the Muse,
Moûs
,

is from PIE *montyeh
2

(or *mon
-
d
h
h
1
yeh
2
)

memory

, from
the root *men
-


think


(Lat.
mens,
OCS
mьniti
, Skr.
mány te
, etc.).
There was originally
only one Muse,

and their classical number of seven has been fixed only during the
classical period.
Finally, the name of the domestic goddess

Hestì

is
the word for

fireplace

, Gr.
hestì
*westi
-
, cf. Lat.
Vesta
.

The goddess of childbirth,
Eileìthy
(earlier
Eleúthy
, Myc.
e
-
re
-
u
-
ti
-
ja
); her name is usually related to Gr.
lython êlthon
‘I
c me’

( PIE *h
1
lewd
h
-
, OIr.
luid
‘c me’
), because she comes to the help of women at
childbirth, but this may be just folk etymology.

Finally, the name of
Órpheus
the
mythical divine singer, may be related to Ved.
bhu
-
, the craftsman

among the gods. Both
may go back to PIE *h
3
rb
h
ew
-
.


1. An inscription in Linear B from Pylos (PY Fr 343
-
1213)

e
-
ti
-
we po
-
]se
-
da
-
o
-
ne re
-
ke
-
to
-
ro
-
te
-
ri
-
jo
OIL[

For Poseidon, festival of the Spreading of the Couch, oil perfumed with
e
-
ti
-


2
.
Chryses' Praye
r to Apollo (The Iliad, I, 33
-
42)

ὣς

ἔθαη᾽
,
ἔδεζζεκ

δ᾽



γέρςκ

ηαὶ

ἐπείθεηο

ιύθῳ
:

βῆ

δ᾽

ἀηέςκ

παρὰ

θ῔κα

ποθσθθοίζβοζο

θαθάζζδς
:

ποθθὰ

δ᾽

ἔπεζη᾽

ἀπάκεσθε

ηζὼκ

ἠρᾶθ᾽



γεραζὸς

Ἀπόθθςκζ

ἄκαηηζ
,
ηὸκ

ἠΰηοιος

ηέηε

Λδηώ
:

ηθῦθί

ιεσ

ἀργσρόηολ᾽
,
ὃς

Χρύζδκ

ἀιθζβέβδηας

Κίθθάκ

ηε

γαθέδκ

Τεκέδοζό

ηε

ἶθζ

ἀκάζζεζς
,

Σιζκθεῦ

εἴ

ποηέ

ηοζ

παρίεκη᾽

ἐπὶ

κδὸκ

ἔρερα
,



εἰ

δή

ποηέ

ηοζ

ηαηὰ

πίοκα

ιδρί᾽

ἔηδα

ηαύρςκ

ἠδ᾽

αἰγῶκ
,
ηὸ

δέ

ιοζ

ηρήδκοκ

ἐέθδςρ
:

ηίζεζακ

Δακαοὶ

ἐιὰ

δάηρσα

ζο῔ζζ

βέθεζζζκ
.


He went forth in silence along the shore of the loud
-
resounding sea, and earnestly then, when
he had gone apart, the old man prayed to the lord Apollo, whom fair
-
haired Leto b
ore:

Hear
me, god of the silver bow, who stand over
Chryse

and holy Cilla, and rule mightily over
Tenedos
, Sminthian god, if ever I roofed over a temple to your pleasing, or if ever I burned to
you fat thigh
-
pieces of bulls and go
tears by your arrows




(Translated by Samuel Butler, 1924)


3
.
Homeric Hymn 6 to Aphrodite

α

δο

δκ
,
πρσζοζη

θακοκ
,
ηαθ

κ


θροδ

ηδκ


ζοιαζ
,


π

ζδς

Κ

προσ

ηρ

δεικα

θ

θογπεκ

ε

καθ

δς
,

θζ

ιζκ

Ζεθ

ροσ

ι

κος


γρ

κ

ἀέ
κηος


κεζηεκ

ηαη


η

ια

ποθσθθο

ζβοζο

θαθ

ζζδς

5


θρ



κζ

ιαθαη

:
η

κ

δ


πρσζ

ιπσηες


ραζ

δ

λακη



ζπαζ

ςς
,
περ


δ



ιβροηα

ε

ιαηα


ζζακ
:

ηραη


δ



π



θακ

η


ζηεθ

κδκ

ε

ησηηοκ


θδηακ

η
αθ

κ
,
πρσζε

δκ
:

κ

δ


ηρδηο

ζζ

θοβο

ζζκ


κθει



ρεζπ

θηοσ

πρσζο
῔ό

ηε

ηζι

εκηος
:

10
δεζρ


δ



ιθ



παθ


ηα


ζη

θεζζκ


ργσθ

οζζζκ


ριοζζζ

πρσζ

οζζζκ


η

ζιεοκ
,
ο

ζ


περ

α

ηα



ραζ

ηοζιε

ζθδκ

πρσζ

ιπσηες
,

ππ

η



οζεκ


ς

πορ

κ


ιερ

εκηα

θε

κ

ηα


δ

ιαηα

παηρ

ς
.

α

η

ρ


πεζδ


π

κηα

περ


προ


η

ζιοκ


θδηακ
,

15

γοκ


ς


θακ

ηοσς
:
ο


δ



ζπ

γοκηο


δ

κηες

περζ


η



δελζ

ςκηο

ηα



ρ

ζακηο


ηαζηος

ε

καζ

ηοσρζδ

δκ


θοποκ

ηα


ο

ηαδ



γεζθαζ
,

ε

δος

θασι

γοκηες


οζηεθ

κοσ

Κσθερε

δς
.

πα

ρ



θζηοβθ

θαρε
,
γθσησιε

θζπε
:
δ

ς

δ



κ


γ

κζ

20
κ

ηδκ

η

δε

θ

ρεζθαζ
,

ι

κ

δ



κησκοκ


οζδ

κ
.

α

η

ρ


γ


ηα


ζε

ο

ηα



θθδς

ικ

ζοι



οζδ

ς
.


I will sing of stately Aphrodite, gold
-
crowned and beautiful, whose dominion is the walled
cities of all sea
-
set
Cyprus
.

There the moist breath of the western wind wafted her over the
waves of the loud
-
moaning sea [5] in soft foam, and there the gold
-
her joyously. They

clothed her with heavenly garments: on her head they put a fine, well
-
wrought crown of gold, and in her pierced ears they hung ornaments of orichalc and precious
gold, [10] and adorned her with golden necklaces over her soft neck and snow
-
white breasts,
j
ewels which the gold
-
to join the lovely dances of the gods. And when they had fully decked her, [15] they brought
her to the gods, who welcomed her when they saw her, giving her their
hands. Each one of
them prayed that he might lead her home to be his wedded wife, so greatly were they amazed
-
crowned Cytherea.

Hail, sweetly
-
winning, coy
-
eyed goddess! Grant that I may gain the victory in this contest,
[20] and or
der you my song. And now I will remember you and another song also.



4.
H
era swears
to Zeus
by the waters of the underground river Styx (Homer,
The Iliad

15, 37
-
41
)



ζης

κ

κ

ηόδε

Γα

α

ηα


Ο

ρακ

ς

ε

ρ

ς


περθε

ηα


η


ηαηεζβόιεκοκ

Σησγ

ς


δςρ
,

ς

ηε

ιέγζζηος


ρηος

δεζκόηαηός

ηε

πέθεζ

ιαηάρεζζζ

θεο

ζζ
,

ζή

θ



ερ


ηεθαθ


ηα


κςΐηεροκ

θέπος

α

η

κ

ηοσρίδζοκ
,
η


ι

κ

ο

η


κ


γώ

ποηε

ι

ρ


ιόζαζιζ
:



“Hereto now be E rth my witness nd the bro d He ven bove nd the down
-
flowing water
of Styx, which is the greatest and most dread

oath for the blessed gods, and thine own sacred
head, and the couch of us twain,

couch of our wedded love,
whereby I ver
ily would never
forswear myself
.




5
.
Sappho, fr. 1 (Hymn to Aphrodite)


Ποζηζθόθροκ
',
ἀθάκαη
'
Ἀθρόδζηα
,

πα῔

Δίος
,
δοθόπθοηε
,
θίζζοιαί

ζ
ε

ιή

ι
'
ἄζαζζζ

ιήη
'
ὀκίαζζζ

δάικα
,









πόηκζα
,
θῦιοκ·


ἀθθὰ

ησ῔δ
'
ἔθθ
',
αἴποηα

ηἀηέρςηα

ηᾶς

ἔιας

αὔδςς

ἀΐοζζα

πήθσζ

ἒηθσες
,
πάηρος

δὲ

δόιοκ

θίποζζα









πρύζζοκ

ἦθθες


ἄρι
'
ὐπογεύλαζζα·

ηάθοζ

δέ

ζ
'
ἆγοκ

ὤηεες

ζηροῦθοζ

περὶ

γᾶς

ιεθαίκας

πύηκα

δζκεῦκη
ες

πηέρ
'
ἀπ
'
ὠράκς

αἴθε
-









ρας

δζὰ

ιέζζς
.


αἶρα

δ
'
ἐλίηοκηο·

ηὺ

δ
',


ιάηαζρα
,

ιεζδζάζαζζ
'
ἀθακάηῳ

προζώπῳ
,

ἤρε
',
ὄηηζ

δδὖηε

πέποκθα

ηὤηηζ









δδὖηε

ηάθδιζ
,


ηὤηηζ

ιοζ

ιάθζζηα

θέθς

γέκεζθαζ

ιαζκόθᾳ

θύιῳ·

ηίκα

δδὖηε

Πείθς

ια῔ς

ἄγδκ

ἐς

ζὰκ

θζθόηαηα
,
ηίς

ζ
',










Ψάπθ
',
ἀδζηήεζ;


ηαὶ

γὰρ

αἰ

θεύγεζ
,
ηαπέςς

δζώλεζ
,

αἰ

δὲ

δῶρα

ιὴ

δέηεη
'
ἀθθὰ

δώζεζ
,

αἰ

δὲ

ιὴ

θίθεζ
,
ηαπέςς

θζθήζεζ









ηςὐη

ἐθέθοζζα
.


ἔθθε

ιοζ

ηαὶ

κῦκ
,
παθεπᾶκ

δὲ

θῦζοκ

ἐη

ιερζικᾶκ
,
ὄζζα

δέ

ιοζ

ηεθέζζαζ

θῦιος

ἰιέρρεζ
,
ηέθεζοκ·

ζὺ

δ
'
αὔηα









ζύιιαπος

ἔζζο
.



Immortal Aphrodite of the broidered throne, daughter of Zeus, weaver of wiles, I pray thee
break not my spirit with anguish and distress, O Queen. But come hither, if
ever before thou
didst hear my voice afar, and listen, an
d leaving thy father's golden house camest with chariot
yoked, and fair fleet sparrows drew thee, flapping fast their wings around the dark earth, from
heaven through mid sky. Quickly arrived they; and thou, blessed one, smiling with immortal
countenance,
didst ask What now is befallen me, and Why now I call, and What I in my mad
heart most desire to see. 'What Beauty now wouldst thou draw to love thee? Who wrongs
thee, Sappho? For even if she flies she shall soon follow, and if she rejects gifts shall yet
give,
and if she loves not shall soon love, however loth.' Come, I pray thee, now too, and release
me from cruel cares; and all that my heart desires to accomplish, accomplish thou, and be
thyself my ally.



6
.
Instruc
tions on how to make a libation:
Sopho
cles,

Oedipus at Colonus



Ο

δίποσς

465


θίθηαθ᾽
,
ὡς

κῦκ

πᾶκ

ηεθοῦκηζ

προλέκεζ
.

Χορός

θοῦ

κῦκ

ηαθαριὸκ

ηῶκδε

δαζιόκςκ
,
ἐθ᾽

ἃς

ηὸ

πρῶηοκ

ἵηοσ

ηαὶ

ηαηέζηεζρας

πέδοκ
.

Οἰδίποσς

ηρόποζζζ

ποίοζς
;


λέκοζ
,
δζδάζηεηε
.

Χορός

πρῶηοκ

ιὲκ

ἱερὰς

ἐλ

ἀεζρύηοσ

ποὰς

470
ηρήκδς

ἐκεγηοῦ
,
δζ᾽

ὁζίςκ

πεζρῶκ

θζγώκ
.

Οἰδίποσς

ὅηακ

δὲ

ηοῦηο

πεῦι᾽

ἀηήραηοκ

θάβς
;

Χορός

ηραηῆρές

εἰζζκ
,
ἀκδ
ρὸς

εὔπεζρος

ηέπκδ
,

ὧκ

ηρᾶη᾽

ἔρεροκ

ηαὶ

θαβὰς

ἀιθζζηόιοσς
.

Οἰδίποσ
ς

θαθθο῔ζζκ



ηρόηαζζζκ
,


ποίῳ

ηρόπῳ
;

Χορός

475
οἰός

γε

κεαρᾶς

κεοπόηῳ

ιαθθῷ

θαβώκ
.

Οἰδίποσς

εἶεκ
:
ηὸ

δ᾽

ἔκθεκ

πο῔

ηεθεσηῆζαί

ιε

πρή
;

Χορός

ποὰς

πέαζθαζ

ζηάκηα

πρὸς

πρώηδκ

ἕς
.

Οἰδίποσς



ηο῔ζδε

ηρςζζο῔ς

οἷς

θέγεζς

πές

ηάδε
;

Χορός

ηρζζζάς

γε

πδγάς
:
ηὸκ

ηεθεσηα῔οκ

δ᾽

ὅθοκ
.

Οἰδίποσς

480
ηοῦ

ηόκδε

πθήζας

θῶ
;
δίδαζηε

ηαὶ

ηόδε
.

Χορός

ὕδαηος
,
ιεθίζζδς
:
ιδδὲ

προζθέρεζκ

ιέθσ
.

Οἰδίποσς

ὅηακ

δὲ

ηούηςκ

γῆ

ιεθάιθσθθος

ηύπῃ
;

Χορός

ηρὶς

ἐκκέ᾽

αὐηῇ

ηθῶκας

ἐλ

ἀιθο῔κ

περο῔κ

ηζθεὶς

ἐθαίας

ηάζδ


ἐπεύπεζθαζ

θζηάς
.

Οἰδίποσς

485
ηούηςκ

ἀηοῦζαζ

βούθοιαζ
:
ιέγζζηα

γάρ
.



Oedipus


Ch
orus

Then make atonement to these divinities, to whom you have come first, and on whose ground
you have trespassed.

Oedipus

With what rites? Instruct me, strangers.

Chorus

First, from an ever
-
flowing [470] spring bring sacred drink
-
offerings, borne in ri
tually pure
hands.

Oedipus

And when I have gotten this unmixed draught?

Chorus

There are bowls, the work of a skilled craftsman; crown their edges and the handles at either
side.

Oedipus

With olive branches, or woollen cloths, or in what way?

Chorus

[4
75] Take the freshly
-
shorn wool of a ewe
-
lamb.

Oedipus

Good; and then to what last rite shall I proceed?

Chorus

Pour the drink
-
offerings, with your face to the dawn.

Oedipus

Shall I pour them with these vessels of which you speak?

Chorus

Yes, in three
streams; but the last vessel



Oedipus


Chorus

With water and honey; but add no wine.

Oedipus

And when the ground under the dark shade has drunk these?

Chorus

Three times lay on

it nine branches of olive with both your hands, and meanwhile make this
prayer.

Oedipus

[485] I wish to hear this prayer; it is the most important part.



(Translated by Sir Richard Jebb, 1899)

ITALIC


In sharp contrast to the rich literary and epigraphi
c sources for the study of the Greek religion,
the early sources on Latin religion are very modest. A few fragments of the ancient cultic
songs, such as the famous
Carmen Arvale
and the
Carmina Saliaria
, and a handful of
inscriptions earlier than the 3rd c
entury BC is all that is left before the Hellenistic period,
when the original Roman religion underwent a profound influence of the Greek religion.

Italic intermediar,

e.g.
Hercules
(from Greek
Heracles
) or
Proserpina
(from Greek
Persephone
).

In the second century BC, many cults from the Orient spread in Rome, and it
took a formal decision by the Senate to prohibit the orgiastic cult of Dionysus
(
Senatusconsultum de Bac
chanalibus
, the text of which is preserved in full).
It was Augustus
century AD, and the literary mythological works of Virgil (
The Aeneid
) and Ovid (especially
The Metamorphoses
) should be viewed in the light of Augustus's refoms. Whatever ancient
lore is preserved in these works, we have to bear in mind that much of the mythology
contained in them is an artificial creation of their authors.


We have a fair idea
to sacrifices, priestly offices, and the organization of the temples; moreover, a number of
authentic prayers have been preserved, including famous Cato's prayer from
De re rustica
.
We

also have a good knowledge about the ancient Roman festivities, especially those that
occurred during the first half of the year, since Ovid was only able to write the first half of his
calend
a
r in verses (
Fasti
) before being banished to the Black Sea by
Augustus.

There are,
however, no original and integral sacred texts comparable to the Rig
-
Vedic hymns, but the
practical, down
-
to
-
earth nature of Roman religion teaches us that Romans probably never had
anything similar to the Rig
-
Veda.

However, since we k
now so much about the daily lives of
and attitude towards religion: we can easily vividly imagine Horace making an offering to the
source of Bandusia, just as we
find numerous references to superstitions and silly customs in

From all this we can easily conclude that the Roman's approach
to religion was practical; Cicero says (
De natura deorum,
III 87) th t ‘
Jupiter is called Best
a
nd Greatest because he does not make us just or sober or wise but
healthy and rich and
prosperous’
. The favour of the gods can be won by careful and regular observance of rites
(
disciplina
), and this was mostly delegated to priests, organized as
flamines
a
nd
pontifices
, as
well as to priestesses (the best known were the Vestal Virgins who were in charge of the
sacred fire in the temple of Vesta). The priests were not a caste, separated from the rest of
society, but rather influential and wealthy citizens; t
he highest priests were often the most
powerful politicians, so that, for example,
Caesar was during his career a
pontifex maximus
(the chief priest of Jupiter)
. Since the
pontifices
were in charge of public worship, it was a
sensible thing that they were
chosen among the rich citizens (unlike contemporary politicians,
who tend to raise taxes as they like, the Roman dignitaries had to provide the money for
public services and festivities from their own pocket).

In contrast to the
pontifices,
the
flamines,
d
evoted to the Capitoline triad (Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus) had little public
influence, since their office was subject to severe taboos. The chief priest of Jupiter, the
flamen Dialis,
could not ride a horse and could not spend more than three consecutiv
e nights
outside Rome.
Ordinary people had to observe
their own private rites, mostly in relation to
their ancestors
, but they were not obliged to participate in public worship. Horace tells us how
he
dropped

in
on a service in a temple (
Sat.
I, 114), more

Horace tells us that he was a
parcus deorum cultor et infrenquens
(Od. I.34) ‘
a sp
aring and
occ sion l worshipper’
.

The Roman sacrifice was similar to Greek, but it was also peculiar in some respects. The
favourite sacr
ificial animals were the pig, the sheep and the ox (the
suovetaurilia
included all
three), and in contrast to the Greeks, the Romans also sacrificed horses to Mars on October 15
(the
October Equus
). The sacrificial animal was brought to the temple, and its

forehead was
sprinkled with a mixture of salt and flour (
mola salsa
, hence the term
immolatio
); the slaying
of the victim had to be done in complete silence, except for the sound of the flute played by a
tibicen
.

Sacrifices were often promised as vows (
vo
ta
) to the gods, but other vows might
include gifts to temples or building of various monuments. The formula
votum soluit libens
merito
is
one of the most common phrases found on Roman inscriptions. The methods of
divination employed by the Romans were sim
ilar to those of the other ancient peoples, but
there were also some local fashions, especially in procedures for examining the entrails of
victims, performed by
haruspices

(from PIE *g'
h
rHu
-

‘intestines’
, Lith.
ţ rnj
, Skr.
-

‘vein’ nd *
-
spek'
-

‘to w tch’
, Gr.
sképtom i
). There were also curious
methods of divination
from the flight of birds (performed by
augures
, from
avis
‘bird’
, and the root found in
gustus
‘t ste’
, or rather from the root of
augeo


incr
e se’

PIE *h
2
ewg
-
, Lith.
áugti
‘grow’
)
, or the
pecking of chickens.

It h s been cl imed by Georges Dumézil nd his followers th t the origin l mythology of
Rome is preserved, but camouflaged, in Titus Livius' account of the history of the early
Rome. For

example, the story of the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus is interpreted
as the original (Indo
-
European) cosmogonic myth, in which the world is created from the
body of the primeval man, who had been sacrificed by his twin brother; the name of Remus

is
then derived from *Yemos, and compared to Skr.
Yama
-
, and the initial
R
-

is explained on the
analogy with
Rōmulus
, whose name is certainly eponymous with
Rōm
.

There are certainly
other elements of ancient mythology spread and concealed in Livius's wor
k, but it is difficult
to gain any certainty in these matters.

Finally, the least reliable sources for the study of the Roman religion are the Christian writers,
such as St. Augustine,
or Arnobius (
Contra Paganos
)

who often deliberately ridiculed the
rites

and customs of the pagans.

independently on the basis of other sources.

Thus, while Arnobius (
Contra Paganos

II. 15.5)

claims that there was a deity presiding over the threshold (
Limentinus
), a de
ity in charge of
the hinges (
Cardea
) and one protecting the leaf of the door (
Forculus
), we know from authors
such as Aulus Gellius and Servius (who wrote and important commentary on the Aeneid), that
there were pontifical books containing detailed lists o
f
indigitamenta
, or deities responsible
for little everyday activities and objects. For example, Aulus Gellius (XIII, 23)
lists Lua
Saturni, Salacia Neptuni, Hora Q
uirini, Virites Quirini, Moles Martis
, and others.

These were
the
numina,
or various aspects

of divinity (from

nuo, adnuo

‘give sign nod’
). The universe
was full of divinity, or, as Virgil says (Georg. IV, 221f.)


God passes throught all lands, all
tracts of sea and the depths of the sky

.

The chief god of the Roman pantheon, and the head of

the Capitoline Triad is

Jūpiter

(or

Juppiter
); his name is actually from the PIE phrase
*dyēws ph
2
tēr

father Sky


(see above);
his consort,

Jūno
,
bears the name of
Uni,
but perhaps
it is
originally from
the PIE
root *dye
w
-
/*diw
-


sky


(Lat.
deus
‘god’
, Gr.
Zeús
, see ab
ove); if her original name was
*Diwō (Gen. *Diwōn
-
es), it can be compared to Gr.
Di nē
, who was

also the original wife of
Zeus
.
In that case, the name of Iuno must have been borrowed in Latin through some
intermediary language, since it is
never
written a
s *Diuno, even in the archaic monuments.
Another etymology relates her name to Lat.
iuvenis
‘young’ nd interprets it s ‘the young
wife’
; she would have been the woman's counterpart to the
genius,
the personal spirit of every
man. In her epiphany as
Iuno
Lucina

she was especially worshipped as the goddess of birth
(parallel to Gr. Eileithya).
The somewhat obscure god
Quirīnus

was an agricultural deity
whose name is easily derived from

*co
-
virīnus

(from
vir
PIE *wiHro
-

‘m n’
, Skr.
vīrás
,
Lith.
vêr s
). He was
originally the protector of the community, cf.

also

cūri
*co
-
viria.
Besides Juppiter and Quirinus, the third

member of the Capitoline Triad was


rs
,
who was
rather clumsily identified with Gr. Ares. He was also originally an agricultural deity rather
than the god of war. His name is known in its older forms

Mavors,
Māmers
and
Marmar,
and, unsurprisingly, it is

of unknown origin
.

The name of
Venus

is
originally
an
abstract
numen, from the neuter *wenos

desire, lust

,
Skr.

nas
. She was identified with Gr.
Aphrodite, and the name of

Apollo

was directly borrowed
from Greek
.
The god of trade and
the protector of
roads,

Mercurius

(identified with Gr.
Hermes
)
,
was likewise originally an
abstract numen, and his name was derived
from
merx

commerce

, of unknown
, perhaps

origin
. Another possibility would be to derive
merx
from
*merg’
-

‘divide’ (Hitt.
mārk
-
i

‘divide sep r te’) from which we lso h ve
m rgō m rginis
‘border limit’
.

A proto
-
form
*merg
-
s


would have assimilated to
merx
nd it would h ve been n bstr ct root noun me ning ‘ division
sh ring’ just s its form l p r llels such s
pāx lēx nex
been from ‘wh t is divided sh re’ to ‘goods merch ndise’.

The two
-
faced god


nus
, who
protected the entrances of Roman houses and the beginnings
of all endeavors, bears the name identical to the
noun

nus,

arched passage, doorway


PIE
*yeh
2
-
no
-
, cf.
Skr.

goes

, Lith.
jóti

ride

)
.

The name of
Minerva
, the goddess of wisdom
(identified with Athena) was
probably
be a borrowing from s
ome IE dialect. It might ultimately be
from *Mēneswā deriv tive of

PIE *meh
1
nos
-


moon

, Lith.
nuo
, or from
PIE
*menos

mind


(Ved.
mán s
)
.
The name of

Saturnus

is
of unknown origin,
though it is
S vitá
r
-

(see above)
,

and t
he name of the wild forest divinity

Faunus

is also unclear; it is

sometimes derived from
*b
h
h
2
u
-
no
-
, from the root

to be, become

.

The goddess of the hearth,
Vesta
, is of course
identical to

Gr.
Hestì

(see above
)
,

and

Līber

is from PIE
*h
1
lewd
h
ro
-


free
(man)


(OCS
ljudьje
,
Germ.
Leute,
etc.)
.
The god of the blacksmiths

Volcanus

bears the name
of unknown
origin
.

gens Volca
, if he was originally their
protector deity.

Tellus
,
of which little is known from classica
l sources,

may have been the
original Roman
Terr Māter
‘Mother E rth’

(Virgil calls her
prima deorum
in Aen. 7.136).

Her name is, of cou
rse the norm l L tin word for ‘
earth
, ground


PIE *telh
2
-

‘ground’

(Skr.
tala
-

‘surf ce bottom’
, ORuss.
tьlo
, OIr.

talam
‘ground’
).

She is often identified with
Cerēs
the goddes of grain and fruits (from
*k'erH
-

‘nourishment’
, Lith.
šérti
‘feed’
, OHG
hirso
‘millet’
).
The name of the protectors of the household (in particular of the hearth) was
Lār
es


L
ā
s
es
in
Carmen

saliare
. It is

of unknown origin
, but
perhaps
it may be derived
from PIE
*deh
2
-
es
-


divide, apportion


(with the common development of *d �
l
,
and rhotacism of

s
-

from the original s
-
stem)
. The other household deities, the

Penātēs
,
have the name
derived
from
penus
,

food, provisions

, cf. Lith.
ti

feed

. The etymology of
Man
ē
s

(
pl.
, Roman
ancestor spirits
) is

unknown
as well as of

P lē
s

(sg., a goddess of shepherds)
and

of

Lemures

(malevolent spirits of the dead)
.

The

rvae,
another word for ances
tor spirits, has been
derived from *g'
h
lh
3
r
-
wo
-

‘the ble k ones’

(Gr.
khlōrós
‘greenish’
, OCS
zelenъ
‘green’
).
Bona
Dea

was, of course,

the good goddess

, and the name of

Fortūn

is
derived from
fors


destiny, fate

, from the root *b
h
er
-


carry

. The Rom
an god of the sea,

Neptūnus
,
is
usually
related to
Skr.
Apām N pāt


the descendant of waters

, an epithet of Agni, but a different
etymology is also viable:
Neptūnus
can be from the root *neb
h
-

as in
nebula

fog

,
imber

rain


with a dental suffix, i.e. *n
eb
h
-
tu
-

� *neptu
-
, with the typical suffix characteristic of
other theonyms (e.g.
Portūnus
, the protector of gates, Lat.
porta
) and terms for officials (e.g.
tribūnus
,
dominus
).

Religions of other Italic peoples are considerably less well
-
known, but luckil
y enough we
have a rather large religious text in Umbrian, the famous
Tabulae Iguvinae
, bronze tables
found in 1444. in Gubbio (ancient Iguvium). They contain a description of a ritual involving a
procession and several sacrifices to various deities, e.g.
claimed that the ritual shows certain resemblances to the worship of Catholic saints still
taking place in Gubbio today.


1.
Cato's prayer (
Suovetaurilia
, from

De re rustica
, 2.1.10

)


Mars pater, te precor quaesoque uti

sies volens propitius mihi domo familiaeque nostrae,
quoius re ergo agrum terram fundumque meum suovitaurilia circumagi iussi, uti tu morbos
visos invisosque, viduertatem vastitudinemque, calamitates intemperiasque prohibessis
defendas averruncesque; utiq
domo familiaeque nostrae; harumce rerum ergo, fundi terrae agrique mei lustrandi lustrique
faciendi ergo,

sicuti dixi, macte hisce suovitaurilibus lactentibus inmolandis esto; Mars pater,
eiusdem rei ergo macte hisce suovitaurilibus lactentibus esto



Father Mars, I pray and beseech thee that thou be gracious and merciful to me, my house,
and my household; to

which intent I have bidden this suovetaurilia to be led around my land,
my ground, my farm; that thou keep away, ward off, and remove sickness, seen and unseen,
barrenness and destruction, ruin and unseasonable influence; and that thou permit my
harvests,

my grain, my vineyards, and my plantations to flourish and to come to good issue,
preserve in health my shepherds and my flocks, and give good health and strength to me, my
house, and my household. To this intent, to the intent of purifying my farm, my la
nd, my
ground, and of making an expiation, as I have said, deign to accept the offering of these
suckling victims; Father Mars, to the same intent deign to accept the offering of these
suckling offering.



2.
Augustine
on the pagan beliefs
(
De civitate dei
, 6.9.3
)

ut maneat cum viro, additur dea Manturna. Quid ultra quaeritur? Par
catur humanae
verecundiae; peragat cetera concupiscentia carnis et sanguinis procurato secreto pudoris.
ae, sed ut feminae sexu
infirmae, novitate pavidae illis cooperantibus sine ulla difficultate virginitas auferatur. Adest
enim dea Virginensis et deus pater Subigus, et dea mater Prema et dea Pertunda, et Venus et
Priapus. Quid est hoc? Si omnino laborante
m in illo opere virum ab diis adiuvari oportebat,
etiam dicitur nuncupata, quod sine vi femina virgo esse non desinat? Si est ulla frons in
hominibus, quae non est in n
uminibus, nonne, cum credunt coniugati tot deos utriusque sexus
esse praesentes et huic operi instantes, ita pudore afficiuntur, ut et ille minus moveatur et illa
S
ubigus, ut viro subigatur; si adest dea Prema, u
t subacta, ne se commoveat, com
p
r
imatur:
dea Pertunda ibi quid facit?


t
he bride must be taken to one's house, and thus the god Domiducus is invoked, and the
goddess Manturna so that she would stay with the man. What else is needed? Let human
e secrecy demanded by de
cency.
Why fill the marriage bed with the mob made of deities, when the wedding companions are
getting away? And they gather there, not in order to cause more concern for decency, but so
that the woman, who is of the weaker sex and scared by the new situat
ion, should be deprived
of her virginity through their assistance. There is also the goddesss Virginensis, the fatherly
god Subigus, the motherly Prema and the goddess Pertunda, as well as Venus and Priapus.
What is all that? If the husband, labouring in t
hese matters needs any help at all, would it not
suffice only one of them, male or female? Would only Venus not be enough, who is called
that way, because a woman does not cease to be a virgin without force? If there is any shyness
in men (since there is n
one among gods), and since the newly weds believe that so many
deities of both sexes are present and engaged in the act, will they not be too overwhelmed by
shame, so that he will lose all lust, and she will be more resilient? And really, if the goddess
Vi
rginensis is there to unleash the virgin's belt, if the god Subigus is also present to make her
submissive to the
husband, if the goddess Prema is there to make her motionless, when she
submits, what is the goddess Pertunda doing there? May she blush with
shame and get out!
Let the husband do something!




3. Horace promises a sacrifice (Odes 3.13)

O

fons

Bandusiae

splendidior

vitro
,

dulci

digne

mero

non

sine

floribus
,

cras

donaberis

haedo
,

cui

frons

turgida

cornibus

primis


venerem


proelia

destinat
;

frustra
:
nam

gelidos

inficiet

tibi

rubro

sanguine

rivos

lascivi

subo
les

gregis
.

te

flagrantis

atrox

hora

Caniculae

nescit

tangere
,
tu

frigus

amabile

fessis

vomere

tauris

praebes


pecori

vago
.

fies

nobilium

tu

quoque

fontium

me

dicente

cavis

inpositam

ilicem

saxis
,
unde

loquaces

lymphae

desiliunt

tuae
.

Bandusia's fount, in clearness crystalline,

O worthy of the wine,

the flowers we vow!

Tomorrow shall be thine

A kid, whose crescent brow

Is sprouting all for love and victory.

In vain: his warm red blood, so early stirr'd.

Thy gelid stream shall dye,

Child of the wanton herd.

Thee the fierce Sirian star, to madness fire
d,

Forbears to touch: sweet cool thy waters yield

To ox with ploughing tired,

And lazy sheep afield.

Thou too one day shalt win proud eminence

'Mid honour'd founts, while I the ilex sing

Crowning the cavern, whence


(Translated

by John Conington, 1882)






4
. Tabulae Iguvinae VI a:


This rite

shall start with the observation of the birds

parfa
(?owl)
, the horned one, dersua

woodpecker,
peica, merstu

He who will go to observe the messages (of birds)

should, sitting at the
trem
no

ask the priest (
arfertur
):

Ascertain that I am observing

the owl, the
dersua
, the horned one
dersua

the woodpecker
merso

the peica
mersta

mersta
birds

mersta
divine messengers.

The
arfertur

ascertains in his answer:

There you should observe

the owl, the

dersua
, the horned one
dersua

the woodpecker
merso

the peica
mersta

mersta
birds

mersta
divine signs

for me,

for the city of Iguvium

in this
stahmo stahmito
.

When one who went to watch the messengers

will have sat on the seat,

no sound should be made,

and

others should not sit at the same time (with him)

until he who went to watch the messengers

shall have returned.

If any sound is made

or if anyone
sits in the meanwhile (with him)

the rite is void.




CELTIC


The study of Celtic religion is difficult for

a number of reasons. First of all, it is quite
uncertain whether there was ever

the Celtic religion


in the first place. All we have from the
Roman and pre
-
Roman periods are local cults devoted to many deities, very few of which
have pan
-
Celtic character
. Besides that, our sources for the study of pagan Celtic rites and
beliefs are very limited. Besides archaeological data, all we have about the subject from the
period when Celts were still pagan, are references by Classical authors, such as Caesar, who
a
re biased in their approach.
Caesar, for example, in his
De Bello Gallico,
does give an
account of the Gaulish religion, but his purpose is not so much to teach his audiences in Rome
about what the Gauls actually believed, but rather to convince them that
their beliefs were not
so dissimilar from the Roman ones, and that therefore Gaul is worth conquering after all.
Other Classical references to Celtic religion are scarce and too fragmentary to be of any use,
e.g. the mention onf three Gaulish gods (
Teutat
e
s, Esus,
and
Taranis
)

in Lucan
(
De Bello
Civili

I
,

444
-
6)
.

There are a few Gaulish inscriptions in Roman alphabet dealing with magic, e.g. the

Plomb
from Larzac


and the

Inscription from Ch m lières

. Most of these documents are poorly
understood, since

the Gaulish language is not well attested, and its grammar appears to have
been quite different from the grammars of the Insular Celtic languages.
The druidic

Calend
a
r
from Coligny


also dates from the early years after the Roman conquest, but it preserv
es only
names of months and of some religious festivities.

The post
-
classical sources are most numerous, but they all come from the period when the
Celtic peoples were already Christianized. To what extent the old traditions may have been
preserved, and tr
ansmitted in the Insular Celtic oral literature, is a matter of dispute among
scholars.

In Old Irish, we have several dozens of sagas, prose texts written down in the
Middle Ages, but certainly going back to an oral tradition stretching back to the first c
enturies
AD. They were written down, and latter copied, by Christian monks
, and theres is little doubt
that all pagan content passed through Christian censorhip.
The same holds for the early Welsh
prose stories, which are much less numerous. Mythological e
lements are especially prominent
in the

Four Branches of the Mabinogi


(
Pedeir Ceinc y Mabinogi,
12th century).

Perhaps the only Celtic god attested in all Celti
c
-
speaking countries is *Lugos
.

In Gaulish
inscriptions from the Roman period, he is known as

Lugus
,
while his Welsh name was

Llew

and OIr.
Lug
.
The

name is
of unknown origin,
but it is
lênks

lynx

)
.
Lug’s ssoci tion with the rts c n be deduced from his OIr. epithet
s mildán ch
‘h ving ll the skills’. He w s dmitted t
o the feast in Tara, the pagan sanctuary of Ireland,
after bragging that he was a wright, as mith, a champion,
hero, historian, sorcerer and leech.
The Irish thought he was also the inventor of the board
-
game
fidchell
(liter lly ‘wood
-
sense’).

In Gaul, Lug

seems to have been identified with Roman
Mercur
ius
, of whom Casear says he
was the most revered Gaulish deity
.
In Gaulish art, he is depicted as young, beardless, and

is
often associated with the goddess called
Maia
or
Rosmerta
(on which see below), who may
have been a goddess of abundance.
Gaul.
Maponos

(from PCelt. *makkwo
-


son
,
boy

, OIr.
macc
)

was probably an underworld god; in OIr. he is called
M cc ind Óc
‘the y
oung son’
, the
son of the chief god Dagdae. Gaul.
An inscription from Roman Britain calls Maponos a
citharoedus

‘the h rper’ which me ns th t he w s ssoci ted with the rts.
Taranis

may have
been the Celtic Thunderer. His name is probably from the same r
oot as OIr.
torann


thunder

,
ON
Thórr
, etc
. Gaul.
Borvo

(also
Bormo
)
,
known from a number of Roman inscriptions, was
a god of termal spring
s
, whose name is from the root of OIr.
berbaid

brew


(PIE *b
h
erw
-
, cf.
Lat.
ferwo
,

Eng.
brew
)
. Gaul.
Teutates
seems

to have been the protector of the tribe. His name
is form PIE *tewto
-


tribe

, cf. OIr.
tú th
,

Goth.
ëiud
‘people tribe’
.
Lucan's
Teutates, Esus,
and
Taranis

may have actually represented a three
-
part name of a single deity, since
Esus
is
nicely derived

from PIE *h
1
esh
2
os

lord


(Lat.
erus
, Hitt.
išh š
), so the three names quoted by
Lucan may simply reflect

Taranis, the lord of the tribe

.

The god
Grannos,
associated with thermal springs at
Aquae Granni
(present day
Aachen
)
seems to have been
identifie
d

with Gallo
-
Roman A
pollo. His n me m y h ve me nt ‘
the
beard
ed one’
, cf. OIr.
grend
‘be rd’
, W
gramm
‘chin be rd’
, OGH
grana
‘moust che’
.
In
inscriptions from Noricum Apollo bears the epithet
Belenus,
which m y h ve me nt ‘shining
brilli nt’ (cf. the p
gan Irish feast of
beltene
on the 1
st

of M y which is interpreted s ‘the
shining fire (
tene
), but this is far from certain).

The Gaulish goddesses include

Sirona
(probably from the PIE word

for ‘st r’
, PIE *h
2
stēr >
OIr.
sir
, Lat
.
stēll
, Gr.
st r
),
R
osmerta
(whose name is probably formed with the prefix *ro
-

‘very’ nd the root *smer
-

‘think remember’ cf. Ved.
smár ti
, Gr.
himeìrō
‘wish for’
perhaps also Croat.
máriti
‘t ke c re of’
)

and
Epona,
whose name is derivable from
Gaul.
*epos

horse


PIE
*h
1
ek'wos, Lat.
equus
. Her Welsh equivalent may have been
W
Rhiannon
< *Rīg ntōnā ‘the gre t queen’ who is forced to serve s m re in the M binogi
.

In the OIr.
sagas of the mythological cycle, one of the chief figures is called

Echu

Ollathir
. His name i
s
related to OIr.
ech

horse

; his epi

the father of all

, and
he is also called
Dagdae

the good
god


*dago
-
deywo
-
. Other prominent mythological figures in the OIr. sagas
include the goddesses

Ét in
(of unknown etymology),
Macha
(of unknown o
rigin),
Danu

(of
unknown etymology),
Anu

(of unknown origin),
as well as
Brigit
, who may have been the
goddess of poetry (Cormac's dictionary, from the 10th century, says that she was
deam...esse
poetarum
). Later she was euhemerized as the Christian St. Br
igid from Kilkenny. Her name
comes from PCelt.
*brig ntī < *
PIE
b
h
rg'
h
ntih
2


the exalted one

,
cf.
Ved.
h tī

(an epithet of
U
ās
, the Dawn).

A goddess
Brigantia
(the patron of the tribe
Brigantes
) is known from a
votive inscription in Roman Britain.

Sh
e may be the same figure that Caesar calls Minerva in
his account of the Gaulish religion; Solinus, writing in the 3
rd

century A.D. says that perpetual
fire burned in the sanctuary of Minerva in Britain, and her standing epithet was
Belisama
‘most brilli n
t’. This fits well with the inform tion bout Brigit supplied by Gir ldus
Cambrensis in the 12
th

century, who says that she and her nuns guarded a sacred fire in her
sancturary
-
turned
-
convent. Her feast
-
day was February 1, coinciding with
Imbolc
, the paga
n
Irish festival of spring.

OIr.
Óengus
is also called
M cc ind Óc
‘the young son’

(see above); his name comes from
*oyno
-
gusto
-


the only strong one

,
cf. OIr.
gus
‘power strength’
. A somewhat mysterious
figure of

Lir

seems to be comparable to W
Llir
fr
om the

Four Branches of the Mabinogi

; his
name (OIr.

lir,
W
llyr

) means simply

the sea

, perhaps from the root *leyH
-


to pour

, but
this has been doubted on both

semantic and formal grounds. The god of blacksmiths was OIr.
Goibniu
, doubtlessly identic
al with Welsh
Gofannon
; both figures bear the name meaning
‘gre t smith’ (cf. OIr.
gobae
,

gen. sg.

gobann


smith

, perhaps related to Lat.
faber


PIE
*g
wh
ob
h
-
)
.
As one of the Tú th Dé D n nn Goibniu forged we pons no one whom they
wounded could survive.

Another god related to the crafts was

Ogmae
(presumably the same
as Gaul.
Ogmios
,
whom Lucian, writing in the 2
nd

century A.D., identified as a Gaulish
Hercules
)
.

He is traditionally credited with the invention of the Ogam script, but the
etymology of his

name is unclear.

Ogmios, on the other hand, was a figure armed with a club
and bow, and also as an old man wh
o was associated with eloquence (he was depicted as
drawing behind him men attached to him by thin chains to the tip of his tongue).

Gaulish
Sucel
lus
, who is depicted as a
middle
-

is
sometimes identified with C es r’s Dis P ter the otherworld deit from which the G uls were
thought to be descended. His n me m y h ve me nt ‘the good striker’ (from *h
1
su
-

‘well’ nd
*k’elh
2
-

‘strike’ cf. L t.
per
-
cello

‘strike’) but it h s lso been interpreted s *h
1
su
-
k’el
-
mno
-

‘protecting well’ (from the root of L t.
celo

‘hide’ OIr.
celid
) and parallel to the OInd. name
Suś rm n
-
.

Sucellus is often paired with the goddess
Nanto
svelta
, whose name contains the
root
nant
-

‘brook’ (W
nant
); the second element of her name may be from PCelt. *swel
-

‘turn’ (OIr.
sel

‘turn moment’ MW
chwyl

‘destiny course’) or from PIE *swel
-

‘burn’
(OHG
swellen
).

Cernunnos
is perhaps the best known

of the Gaulish deities with theriomorphic features. He is
depicted as a deity with antlers, or horns
. His name is similar to the epithet
Cernach

born by
one of the heroes of the Old Irish Ulster cycle of tales,
Connall Cernach
.

Gaul.
Damona

‘the
great cow
’ (cf. OIr.
dam
‘ox’ < PCelt. *d mo
-
) was a companion of the aforementioned god
of the thermal springs, Borvo.


1.
Caesar,
De Bello Gallico VI, 17
, On the Gaulish Religion

Deorum maxime Mercurium colunt. Huius sunt maxima simulacra, hunc omnium inventorem
artium ferunt, hunc viarum atque itinerum ducem, hunc ad questus pecuniae mercaturasque
habere vim maximam arbitrantur. Post hunc Apollinem et Martem et Iovem et Minervam. De
his eandem fere quam reliquae gentes habent opinionem: Apoll
i
nem morbos depellere
,
Minervam operum atque artificiorum initia tradere, Iovem imperium caelestium tenere,
Martem bella regere.

Among the gods they worship Mercury most of all. He is most often represented in pictures,
and they think of him as the inventor of all the arts and

a guide on the roads and on journeys
and the most influential for money
-
making and commerce. After him, they worhip Apollo,
Mars, Jupiter and Minerva. They have almost the same opinion of them as the other peoples
do: they think that Apollo drives away di
seases, that Minerva takes care of the works and arts,
that Jupiter holds the empire of the sky and that Mars rules over war.


2.
Inscription from Ch m lières

Andedion uediiumi diiiuion risun ritum pon ruerii tin lopites snieĎĎic
sosbrixtiaanderon /
clucionfloronnigrinon adgarion aemili / on paterin claudion legitumon
caelion / pelign claudio pelign marcion uictorin asiaticona
ĎĎedilli etic secoui toncn m n
toncsiìontìo meìon toncsesit buetid ollon regucc mbion exops pissìumìtsocc ntì rissuis onson
bis
sìet luge dessummiìis luge dessumìis luge dessumììs luxe.

Tentative translation:

I invoke Maponos Arveriatis among the infernal deities; may you
punish (?) and torture them with infernal magic: Caius Lucius, Florus Nigrinus, the
adgarios

(?

accuser

)
, Aem
ilius Paterinus, Claudius Legitumus, Caelius Pelignus, Claudius, Pelignus,
M rcus Victorinus nd Asi ticus AĎĎedili. And those who swe r by such f lse o ths
moreover, he swore
:

May everything be crooked (?bad) to him! I see it blind (?)
. It will be
goo
d (?) for us (?).

O Lugus, take them (?), take them, Lugus, take them, Lugus (?)




















3.

Old Irish saga

The Voyage of Conlae




This is the voy ge of Connl e the son of Conn Cétch th ch.

I
. Connl e the Red the son of Conn Cétch t ch w s st n
ding once before his father on the
heights of Uisnech, when he saw a women in unusual clothes.

II
. Connlae said:

Whence do you come, woman?


III
.
Mulier respondit
:


I come from the Land of the Living, where there is no sin or transgression. We eat in
con
stant feasts without exertion. We have peace without strife. We live in a
sìd

and therefore
they c ll us 'people of the sìd'.

IV
.

Who are you talking to?


sked Conn Cétch th ch. Nobody s w the wom n except
Connlae.

V
.
Mulier respondit
:

He is speaking to

a young, lovely woman from a good family, who does
not expect either death or old age. I have fallen in love with Connlae the Red. I call him to
M g Mell where the etern l Bó d g reigns without cry or l ments he is in his l nd sin
ce he
had assumed his t
hrone. Co
me with me, Connlae the Red, o speckled
-
necked, candle
-
red one.
The red hair on your purple face will be the ornament of your royal appearance. If you come
with me, the youth and beauty of your appearance will not be lost until the Judgement.



4.

The Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi (Math mab Mathonwy)
, p. 176ff.:

Sef a wnaeth ynteu: edrych ym blaen y prenn; a phan edrych, ef a welei eryr ym blaen y
prenn. A phan ymysgytwei yr eryr, y syrthei y pryuet ar kic pwdyr ohonaw, ar hwch yn yssu y
rei hynny.

Sef a wnaeth ynteu: medylyaw, mae Lleu, oed yr eryr; a chanu eglyn:

Dar a dyf yrwng deu lynn;

Gordu
-
wrych awyr a glynn:

Ony dywetaf i eu,

Oulodeu Lleu pan yw hynn.



Then he looked at the top of the tree and saw an eagle; whenever the eagle shook, worms a
nd
rotten flesh would drop off, and the sow would eat them. Gwydion thought that the eagle was
Lleu, and he sang an
englyn
:

An oak
-
tree grows between two lakes:

dark sky and a plain;

If I should not tell a lie,

these are Lleu's feathers.



GERMANIC


Our f
irst written source for the study of Germanic religion is a brief account of it in Caesar's
De Bello Gallico
(6.21); Caesar contrasts the Gaulish religion with Germanic, which he
believes to be much more primitive, concentrating on the

visible


gods such
as the Sun and
the Moon, and neglecting institutionalized priests, temples and sacrifices. The second
important Roman source is Tacitus'
Germania
. It is a thorough account of the Germanic tribes
known to Romans in the 1st
-
2nd century AD, and it includes se
veral passages dealing with
Germanic religious beliefs and customs. He even captures their cosmological story, according
to which all Germans were descended from the earth
-
born god
Tuisco
(or
Tuisto

‘twin’
) and
his son
Mannus
‘m n’
. However, we should bear

in mind that the main purpose of Tacitus'
writing was to show example of the barbarians' vices and virtues to his fellow Romans, rather
than to give a scientific account of the Germans' customs and beliefs. Late Classical authors,
such as Jordanes, who wr
ote the history of the Goths based partly on native traditions, also
contain references to pagan Germanic religion.

The Runic inscriptions, found in Scandinavia and Britain in the Early Middle Ages, are
mostly short and contain proper names, with few ref
erences to pagan worship. We do have,
however, ecclesiastical authors, who wrote in Latin, and made several references to Germanic
and Slavic peoples who were still pagan, or only recently baptized, during their lifetime, e.g.
Adam of Bremen (
Gesta Hamburg
ensis Ecclesiae,
around 1080) and Saxo Grammaticus
(
Gesta Danorum,
early 13th century).

The only written source for the study of Germanic paganism preserved on the Continent are
the Old High German
Merseburg Incantations
(Germ.
Merseburger Z ubersprüche
);
they
contain references to the sun
-
goddess
Sunna,
her sister
Sinthgunt,

and some other theonyms
familiar from the Scandinavian sources.

The main source for the study of the Scandinavian paganism is the
Poetic Edda
, an
anonymous collection of pagan poems th
at had probably been transmitted orally before being
written down in the only surviving manuscript, the
Codex Regius
from the 13th century.
The
name
Edda
probably meant simply

poetry


and is a derivative of
ó
ð
r

poem
, poetry

.
The
best known of the poems

in the
Poetic Edda

are the
Völuspá

The Vision of the

Prophetess’

(an account of the origin and the fate of

the world) and
Háv mál
, a collection o
f the wise
dvices by the god Ó
ð
inn himself.

Skìrnismál
(

The words of Skìrnir

) tells a story about the
love of the god Freyr for
the beautiful female giant Gerd.


The Prose Edda

(or
Snorra Edda
)

was written in early 13th century by the learned
Icelandman, Snorri Sturluson

(1178
-
1241)
.
Snorri was a bishop and a very important
politic
ian
, but his inte
rest as an author is chiefly ant
iquarian. He wanted to contribute to the
preservation and understanding of the

old, mostly pagan Norse poetry, and

a necessary pre
-
condition for this was the understanding of the pagan mythology which permeated these texts.

Of course, as a Christian, Snorri euhemerized his material, stating, for instance, that the
ancient Norse
gods
were
Trojan heroes

who came

from Asia

, which is why they were called
Aesir
.

This ingenious, but utterly false etymology

is just an example of his pseudo
-
historical
approach to Norse
mythology.

Snorra Edda
has three parts:

Gylfaginning

(

The delusion of Gylfi

)
,
Skáldsk p rmál
(

A
word on Poetry

) and
Hátt t l
(

A list of verses

).
Gylfaginning
is the most important source
for the pagan
Norse mythology. It

contains a dialogue between the mythical king

of Sweden,
Gylfi
, and three pagan deities
(
Har

the High

,
Jafnhar

the equally High


and
Tridi

the

Third

)
who tell him about the pagan Norse mythology. The history of the world is seen
through the clash between the heavenly gods (
Áss
pl.
Aesir
) and the earthly gods (
Van,
pl.
Vanir
).
Snorri lists all of the major gods of both groups and usually gives several names of
each figure
; this was necessary in order to understand
man
y

poetic riddles (
kennings
) of the
Norse poets (
skalds
) who referred to them.

The chief among the
Aesir
was
Ó
ð
in
n
, toget
her with his brothers
Vili

Will


and


Holy

,
who are both less prominent in the extant mythological texts. The most important
of the Vanir
were
Njör
ð
r
and his children
Freyr
and
Freyja,
who were taken hostages by the Aesir.
The
euhemerization o
f the conflict between the Aesir and Vanir is reminiscent of the similar
procedure in Livy’s history of Rome where ncient deities re represented s pseudohistoric l
figures.
It must be remembered that Snorri was a Christian, and that the Scandinavian pe
oples
were in contact with the Christians for centuries before the two Eddas were written down, so
that it is reasonable to assume that Christianity in many ways influenced our sources. Besides
the Eddas, the Norse texts in which we find some evidence of p
agan beliefs include the
Icelandic sagas
-

stories telling mostly about the period of the settling of Iceland
-

and the
scaldic poetry
-

the poems of the court poets, partly stemming from the pagan period and
transmitted orally before they were written dow
n.

The Norse divine family consists of
Ó
ð
inn
(OE
Woden
, OHG
Wotan
,
from PIE *weh
2
tu
-


insight, inspiration

, cf. Lat.
vātes

sooth
-
sayer

, OIr.
fáith

prophet

) and his wife
Frigg

*priHyo
-


dear


(Croat.
prijatelj
‘friend’
, Skr.
priyá
-

‘de r’
). Their son

is the beautiful
Baldr

(from *balda
-

‘br ve’
, OE
beald
, OGH
bald
)
, whose death will eventually bring about the
destruction of the world (
R gn rök
).
The trickster god who actually causes Baldr's death was
Loki
PIE *lewg'
-


break, crush

, cf. OE
to
-
lūc n

destroy

,
Skr.
rujáti

breaks

).
A very important god was the thunderer
Thórr
whose
name originally meant simply

thunder


(Eng.
thunder
, Germ.
Donner
), from PIE *tonh
2
ro
-
,

(
cf. Gaul.
Taranis

above
)
.

In a famous story he is the one who fishes the

dragon of the deep

,
Mi
ð
gardsormr
.

His importance can also be seen in the Scandinavian toponymy, where
the
number of
placenames containing
his name

far exceed
s

all
other divine names, including
Ó
ð
inn

s
.

Heimdallr

was also called

white Áss


(
hvìti áss
), and Snorri says that he was born
by nine sisters and that he is the guardian of the gods, with excellent sight and hearing.

His
name is
probably
derived from
Germanic
*hayma
-


home


PIE *k

oymo
-

(Lith.
šiem

family

).

Njör
ð
r

was one of the Vanir, and his name is derived from PIE
*nertu
-
, most probably
a
derivative of

*ner
-
to
-

‘under deep’ Gr.
nérteros
, OIc.
nor
ð
r
‘north’
.

Nj
ör
ð
r
is probably the
same figure as Tacitus


Nerthus
, who is, however, represented as female in

Germania

.

Ullr
,
who was claim
ed to be a bow
-
god by Snorri h s n me th t origin lly me nt ‘glory’ (OE
wuldor
) PIE *wltu
-

(Lat.
voltus, vultus
‘f ce’).

The name of the goddess of spring was
preserved only in OE (

ostre,
mentioned by Bede) and OHG

star
k
); the month of April
was ca
lled originally

ostur
-
monath,
cf. Eng.
easter
. The attested forms are derivable from
PIE *h
2
ewsōs ‘d wn’

(see above).

The other goddesses include
Fjörgynn

(
a mother of gods,
whose name is
often compared to Slav.
Perunъ
etc., but more likely derived from
*pork'o
-


furrow

, Lat.
porca
)
and
Freyj
a
, originally
probably
the same goddess as Frigg mentioned
above.

The goddess
Iör
ð
,
who is not very prominent in the Norse mythology,

was the
personified Earth (cf. Germ.
Erde
, Goth.
irë
).

The world is seen as encompassed
by the ocean and the snake
MiĎg rĎsormr

-

probably
originally the personification of the world ocean, just as the Greek
ōke nós
, which is also

on Greek vases
. In the middle of the world is the sacred tree,
the
Yggrasill

(from
Ygg
‘ sh
-
tree’
, related to Croat.
ȉ
va
‘osier’
, Lith.
ìev

and Eng.
yew
)
. Near
its roots are two wells, the well of wisdom (the well of
Mìmir
, the giant

whose name means
‘Rememberer’
) and the well of Fate (
Ur
ð
r
).

Mìmir w s behe ded in the Aesir
-
Vanir war an
d
his he d w s c rried off by ÓĎinn who g ined secret knowledge from it.


1. Tacitus, Germania 9
-
10, on the gods of the Germanic peoples

Deorum

maxime

Mercurium

colunt
,
cui

certis

diebus

humanis

quoque

hostiis

litare

fas

habent
.
Herculem

ac

Martem

concessis

animalibus

placant
. [
2
]
pars

Sueborum


Isidi

sacrificat
:
unde

causa


origo

peregrino

sacro

parum

comperi

nisi

quod

signum

ipsum

in

modum

liburnae

figuratum

[
3
]
docet

advectam

religionem
.
ceterum

nec

cohibere

parietibus

deos

neque

in

ullam

humani

oris

speciem

adsimulare

ex

magnitudine

caelestium

arbitrantur
:
lucos

ac

nemora

consecrant

deorumque

nominibus

appellant

secretum

illud
,
quod

sola

reverentia

vident
.

Auspicia

sortesque

ut

qui

maxime

observant
.
sortium

consuetudo

simplex
.
virgam

frugiferae

arbori

decisam

in

surculos

amputant

eosque

notis

quibusdam

discretos

super

[
2
]
candidam

vestem

temere

ac

fortuito

spargunt
.
mox
,
si

publice

,
sacerdos

civitatis
,
sin

privatim
,
ipse

pater

familiae
,
precatus

deos

caelumque

suspiciens

ter

singulos

tollit
,
sublatos

secundum

impressam

ante

notam

[
3
]
.
si

prohibuerunt
,
nulla

de

eadem

re

in

eundem

diem

consultatio
;
sin

permissum
,
auspiciorum

adhuc

fides

exigitur
.

illud

quidem

etiam

hic

notum
,
avium

voces

volatusque

interrogare
:
proprium

gentis

equorum

[
4
]
quoque

praesagia

ac

monitus

experiri
.
publice

aluntur

isdem

nemoribus

ac

lucis
,
candidi


nullo

mortali

opere

contacti
;
quos

pressos

sacro

curru

sacerdos

ac

rex

vel

princeps

civitatis

comitantur

hinnitusque

ac

fremitus

observant
. [
5
]
nec

ulli

auspicio

maior

fides
,
non

solum

apud

plebem
,
sed

apud

proceres
,
apud

sacerdotes
;
se

enim

ministros

deorum
,
illos

conscios

putant
.
est


alia

observatio

auspiciorum
,
qua

gravium

bellorum

eventus

explorant
. [
6
]
eius

gentis

cum

qua

bellum

est

captivum

quoquo

modo

interceptum

cum

electo

popularium

suorum
,
patriis

quemque

armis
,
committunt
:
victoria

huius

vel

illius

pro

praeiudicio

accipitur
.

Mercury is the deity whom they chiefly worship, and on certain days they

deem it right to
sacrifice to him even with human victims. Hercules and Mars they appease with more lawful
offerings. Some of the Suevi also sacrifice to Isis. Of the occasion and origin of this foreign
rite I have discovered nothing, but that the image,
which is fashioned like a light galley,
indicates an imported worship. The Germans, however, do not consider it consistent with the
grandeur of celestial beings to confine the gods within walls, or to liken them to the form of
any human countenance. They c
onsecrate woods and groves, and they apply the names of
deities to the abstraction which they see only in spiritual worship.

Augury and divination by lot no people practise more diligently. The use of the lots is simple.
A little bough is lopped off a fru
it
-
bearing tree, and cut into small pieces; these are
distinguished by certain marks, and thrown carelessly and at random over a white garment. In
public questions the priest of the particular state, in private the father of the family, invokes
the gods, a
nd, with his eyes toward heaven, takes up each piece three times, and finds in them
a meaning according to the mark previously impressed on them. If they prove unfavourable,
there is no further consultation that day about the matter; if they sanction it, t
he confirmation
of augury is still required. For they are also familiar with the practice of consulting the notes
and flight of birds. It is peculiar to this people to seek omens and monitions from horses. Kept
at the public expense, in these same woods an
d groves, are white horses, pure from the taint
of earthly labour; these are yoked to a sacred car, and accompanied by the priest and the king,
or chief of the tribe, who note their neighings and snortings. No species of augury is more
trusted, not only by

the people and by the nobility, but also by the priests, who regard
themselves as the ministers of the gods, and the horses as acquainted with their will. They
im
portant war. Having taken, by whatever means, a prisoner from the tribe with whom they
are at war, they pit him against a picked man of their own tribe, each combatant using the
weapons of their country. The victory of the one or the other is accepted as a
n indication of
the issue.


2. Tacitus on the Festivity of Nerthus (Germania, 40)
:

Contra Langobardos paucitas nobilitat: plurimis ac valentissimis notionibus cincti non per
obsequium sed proeliis et perclitando tuti sunt. Reudigni deinde et Aviones et An
glii et Varini
et Eudoses et Suardones et Nuithones fluminibus aut silvis muniuntur. 2. Nec quicquam
notabile in singulis, nisi quod in commune Nerthum, id est Terram matrem, colunt eamque
intervenire rebus hominum, invehi populis arbitrantur. Est in insul
a Oceani castum nemus,
dicatumque in eo vehiculum, veste contectum; attingere uni sacerdoti concessum. 3. Is adesse
penetrali deam intellegit vectamque bubus feminis multa cum veneratione prosequitur. Laeti
tunc dies, festa loca, quaecumque adventu hospiti
oque dignatur. 4. Non bella ineunt, non
arma sumunt; clausum omne ferrum; pax et quies nunc tantum nota, tunc tantum amata,
donec idem sacerdos satiatam conversatione mortalium deam templo reddat. 5. Mox
vehiculum et vestes et, si credere velis, numen ipsu
m secreto lacu abluitur. Servi ministrant,
quos statim idem lacus haurit. Arcanus hinc terror sanctaque ignorantia, quid sit illud quod
tantum perituri vident.

What on the contrary ennobles the Langobards is the smallness of their number, for that they,
wh
o are surrounded with very many and very powerful nations, derive their security from no
obsequiousness or plying; but from the dint of battle and adventurous deeds. There follow in
order the Reudignians, and Aviones, and Angles, and Varinians, and Eudoses
, and Suardones
and Nuithones; all defended by rivers or forests. Nor in one of these nations does aught
remarkable occur, only that they universally join in the worship of Herthum; that is to say, the
Mother Earth. Her they believe to interpose in the aff
airs of man, and to visit countries. In an
island of the ocean stands the wood Castum: in it is a chariot dedicated to the Goddess,
covered over with a curtain, and permitted to be touched by none but the Priest. Whenever the
Goddess enters this her holy v
ehicle, he perceives her; and with profound veneration attends
the motion of the chariot, which is always drawn by yoked cows. Then it is that days of
rejoicing always ensue, and in all places whatsoever which she descends to honour with a
visit and her co
mpany, feasts and recreation abound. They go not to war; they touch no arms;
fast laid up is every hostile weapon; peace and repose are then only known, then only
beloved, till to the temple the same priest reconducts the Goddess when well tired with the
c
onversation of mortal beings. Anon the chariot is washed and purified in a secret lake, as
also the curtains; nay, the Deity herself too, if you choose to believe it. In this office it is
slaves who minister, and they are forthwith doomed to be swallowed u
p in the same lake.
Hence all men are possessed with mysterious terror; as well as with a holy ignorance what
that must be, which none see but such as are immediately to perish.

3.
The Poetic Edda.
Völuspá 1
-
7.


1. Hljóðs bið ek ll r

helgar kindir,

me
iri ok minni

mögu Heimd ll r;

viltu t ek V lföðr!

vel framtelja

forn spjöll fìr

ì u er fremst um m n.

2. Ek m n jötn

ár um born

ìá er forðum

mik fœdd höfðu;

nìu m n ek heim

nìu ìviði

mjötvið mœr n

fyr mold neð n.

3. Ár v r ld

ì r

er émir bygði

v r s ndr né sær

né sv l r unnir

jörð f nnsk æv

né upphiminn

gap var ginnunga,

en gras hvergi.

4. Áðr Burs synir

bjöðum um ypðu

ìeir er Miðg rð

mœr n skópu;

sól skein sunn n

á s l r stein

ìá v r grund gróin

grœnum l uki.

5. Sól v rp sunn n

sinni mán

hendi inni hœgri

um himinjódyr;

sól ì t ne vissi

hv r hon s li átti

máni ì t ne vissi

hv t h nn megins átti

stjörnur ì t ne vissu

hv r ìær st ði áttu.

6. ëá gengu regin öll

á rökstól

ginnheilug goð

ok um ì
t gættusk;

nátt ok niðjum

nöfn um gáfu

morgin hétu

ok miðj n d g

undorn ok aptan,

árum t telj .

7. Hittusk æsir

á Ið velli

ìeir er hörg ok hof

hátimbruðu

fl lögðu

uð smìðuðu

t ngir skópu

ok tól görðu.

1. Hearing I ask | from the holy

races,

From Heimdall's sons, | both high and low;

Thou wilt, Valfather, | that well I relate

Old tales I remember | of men long ago.

2. I remember yet | the giants of yore,

Who gave me bread | in the days gone by;

Nine worlds I knew, | the nine in the tre
e

With mighty roots | beneath the mold.

3. Of old was the age | when Ymir lived;

Sea nor cool waves | nor sand there were;

Earth had not been, | nor heaven above,

But a yawning gap, | and grass nowhere.

4. Then Bur's sons lifted | the level land,

Mithgarth

the mighty | there they made;

The sun from the south | warmed the stones
of earth,

And green was the ground | with growing
leeks.

5. The sun, the sister | of the moon, from
the south

Her right hand cast | over heaven's rim;

No knowledge she had | where he
r home
should be,

The moon knew not | what might was his,

The stars knew not | where their stations
were.

6. Then sought the gods | their assembly
-
seats,

The holy ones, | and council held;

Names then gave they | to noon and
twilight,

Morning they named, |
and the waning
moon,

Night and evening, | the years to number.




Shrines and temples | they timbered high;

Forges they set, and | they smithied ore,

Tongs they wrought, | and tools they
fashioned.


4. Snorra Edda, Gyl
fagynning 11: The Celestial family

ëá m elti G ngleri:

Hversu stêrir h nn g ng sól r ok tungls?


Hár segir:

Sá m ðr er
nefndr Mundilfoeri er átti tv u bǫrn; ë u vóro svá fǫgr ok frìð t h nn k ll ði nn t Mán en
dóttur sìn Sól ok gipti h n ëeim m nne
er Glenr hét. En guðin reidduz ëessu ofdr mbi ok
tóku ë u syskin ok settu up á himin létu Sól keyr ëá hest er drógu kerru sól rinn r ëeir r
er guðin hǫfðu sk p t til t lês heim n f ëeiri sìo er fl ug ór Muspellzheimi. ëeir hest r
heit svá: Árv kr o
k Alsviðr.

Gangleri asked again:

How does one govern the path of the sun and the stars?


The High One
said:

The man who was called Mundilfari had two children. They were so nice and kind that
he called his son Mani or the Moon, and his daughter Sol or th
e Sun. He married her to the
man who was called Glen. But the gods were angry at this impertinence and took the brother
and the sister and placed them in the sky. Sol had to drive the horses who drew the chariot
with the suns. And the gods created them fro
m sparks flying out of Muspellsheim to light up
the worlds. The horses were c lled thus: Arv k nd AlsviĎ.


5
.
2
ND

Merseburg Charm

Phol ende Uu{d n uuorun zi holz .

Dû uu rt demo B lderes uolon sîn uuoz birenkit.

thû biguol en Sinthgunt Sunn er suister

thû biguol en Frîi Uoll er suister;

thû biguol en Uu{d n s{ hê uuol cond :

s{se bênrenkî s{se bluotrenkî

s{se lidirenkî:

bên zi bên bluot zi bluod

lid zi geliden s{se gelimid sin!

Phol and Wodan rode to the wood.

There Balder's foal
disjointe
d

his foot.

Then Sinthgunt addressed him, and Sunna, her sister,

Then Friia addressed him, and Wolla, her sister.

Then Wodan addressed him, so as he understood:

As the bone disjointment, so the blood disjointment,

so the
limb

disjointment.

Leg to leg, bloo
d to blood,

limb

to
limb
, so they should be joined!


6. Adam of Bremen describes the pagan sanctuary at Uppsala (
Gesta Hammaburgensis
Ecclesiae Pontificum
5, 26
-
27)

26. Nunc de supersticione Sueonum pauca dicemus. Nobilissimum illa gens templum habet,
quod

Ubsola dicitur, non longe positum ab Sictona civitate. In hoc templo, quod totum ex
auro paratum est, statuas trium deorum veneratur populus, ita ut potentissimus eorum Thor
in medio solium habeat triclinio; hinc et inde locum possident Wodan et Fricco. Q
uorum
significationes eiusmodi sunt: 'Thor', inquiunt, 'praesidet in aere, qui tonitrus et fulmina,
ventos ymbresque, serena et fruges gubernat. Alter Wodan, id est furor, bella gerit, hominique
ministrat virtutem contra inimicos. Tertius est Fricco, pacem

voluptatemque largiens
mortalibus'. Cuius etiam simulacrum fingunt cum ingenti priapo. Wodanem vero sculpunt
et deos ex hominibus factos, quos pro ingentibus factis

immortalitate donant, sicut in Vita
sancti Anscarii leguntur Hericum regem fecisse.

27. Omnibus itaque diis suis attributos habent sacerdotes, qui sacrificia populi offerant. Si
pestis et famis imminet, Thorydolo lybatur, si bellum, Wodani, si nuptiae ce
lebrandae sunt,
sollempnitas in Ubsola celebrari. Ad quam videlicet sollempnitatem nulli praestatur
immunitas. Reges et populi, omnes et singuli sua dona transmittunt ad Ubsolam,

et quod omni
poena crudelius est, illi qui iam induerunt christianitatem, ab illis se redimunt cerimoniis.
Sacrificium itaque tale est. Ex omni animante, quod masculinum est, novem capita offeruntur,
quorum sanguine deos placari mos est. Corpora autem sus
penduntur in lucum, qui proximus
est templo. Is enim lucus tam sacer est gentilibus, ut singulae arbores eius ex morte vel tabo
immolatorum divinae credantur. Ibi etiam canes et equi pendent cum hominibus, quorum
corpora mixtim suspensa narravit mihi aliqu
is christianorum 72 vidisse. Ceterum neniae,
quae in eiusmodi ritu libationis fieri solent, multiplices et inhonestae ideoque melius
reticendae.


xxvi (26). That folk has a very famous temple called Uppsala, situated not far

from the city of Sigtuna and B
jorko. In this temple, entirely decked out in gold, the

people worship the statues of three gods in such wise that the mightiest of them, Thor,

occupies a throne in the middle of the chamber; Wotan and Frikko have places on

either side. The significance of

these gods is as follows: Thor, they say, presides over

the air, which governs the thunder and lightning, the winds and rains, fair weather

crops. The other, Wotan
-
that is, the Furious
-
carries on war and imparts to man strength

against his enemies. The th
ird is Frikko, who bestows peace and pleasure on mortals.

His likeness, too, they fashion with an immense phallus. But Wotan they chisel armed,

as our people are wont to represent Mars. Thor with his scepter apparently resembles

Jove. The people also worsh
ip heroes made gods, whom they endow with immortality

because of their remarkable exploits, as one reads in the Vita of Saint Ansgar they did

in the case of King Eric.


xxvii (27). For all their gods there are appointed priests to offer sacrifices for the

people. If plague and famine threaten, a libation is poured to the idol Thor; if war, to

Wotan; if marriages are to be celebrated, to Frikko. It is customary also to

solemnize in Uppsala, at nine
-
year intervals, a general feast of all the provinces of

Swed
en. From attendance at this festival no one is exempted.3 Kings and people all and

singly send their gifts to Uppsala and, what is more distressing than any kind of

punishment, those who have already adopted Christianity redeem themselves through

these cer
emonies. The sacrifice is of this nature: of every living thing that is male, they

offer nine heads,4 with the blood of which it is customary to placate gods of this sort.

The bodies they hang in the sacred grove that adjoins the temple. Mow this grove is
so

sacred in the eyes of the heathen that each and every tree in it is believed divine

because of the death or putrefaction of the victims. Even dogs and horses hang there

with men. A Christian seventy
-
two years old told me that he had seen their bodies

su
spended promiscuously. Furthermore, the incantations customarily chanted in the

silence about them.

(Translated by Francis J. Tschan)
ARMENIAN


The pre
-
Christian
Armenian religion is very poorly known; after all, Armenia was the first
country in the world to embrace Christianity as the official religion, in the beginning of the
4th century AD. Our main sources for the study of Armenian paganism are the ecclesiastic
al
writers such as Moyses of Koren (
Mowsēs K
c
orenac
c
i
) who wrote a

History of Armenia


in
which he noted some ancient traditions and even fragments of pre
-
Christian poetry. It appears
that the Armenian religion, just as the Armenian language, was subject
to a strong Iranian
influence. This is not surprising, since Armenia was ruled by Parthians for nearly half a
millennium.
The name of the mythical hero
Vahagn
,
celebrated in a famous passage from
Moyses' History,

is from Iranian, cf.
Av.
V
ǝ
r
ǝ
θ
r
a
γ
n
a
-
.

We als
o learn that the chief god of the
pagan Armenians was
Aramazd
, which is clearly the avestan name of
Ahur M zdā
, borrowed
from the Parthians.

However, unlike his Iranian model, Aramazd was conceived as a god of
thunder (
ampropayin
). The goddess
Anahit
, cal
led “l dy‖ (
tikin
), was clearly modelled on
Avestan
Ar
ə
dvī Sūrā Anāhitā

(see above). Cattle bearing the brand of a star were sacrificed to
her, and it has been claimed that she has absorbed some of the elements of the worship of
Ishtar, the ancient Near Ea
stern goddess of love. Finally, the great Armenian fire
-
festival, still
celebrated on the 13th of February, is originally the Mazdaist festival
Āθr kān
, celebrated in
the fire
-
temples and associated with Mithra (the Avestan name of the pagan temple,
mehea
n
,
probably comes from Iranian
māi
θ
ryān
-

also derived from the name of this god).



1.
The birth of Vahagn (from

The
History of Armenia


of Mowsēs Kc
orenac
c
i)

Erknēr erkin erknēr erkir

erknēr ew covn cir ni;

erkn i covown ownēr ew zk rmrikn ełegnik;

ǝ
n
d ełeg n p
c
oł cux el nēr

ǝ
nd ełeg n p
c
oł boc
c

el nēr;

ew i boc
c
oyn v zēr x rte š p t nekikn hur her unēr boc
c

unēr mōrus

ew č
c
kunk
c
n ēin reg kunk
c
.



The Sky was in labour, the Earth was in labour,

The purple sea was also in labour;

Labour caught a
lso a small red reed in the sea.

Through the reed's tube came a smoke,

and from the reed's tube came a flame,

and from the flame a red
-
haired youth jumped.

He had fire as hair, fire as beard,

and his eyes were Suns

.


SLAVIC


By the time they became liter
ate, all the Slavic peoples were Christianzied. We do not have
any written texts from the pre
-
Christian period, and even the archaeological data about the
Slavs before their great migrations (6th
-
7th centuries AD) are

rather limited
.
Some scarce
informatio
n about pagan Slavs' beliefs and religious practices can be found in the works of the
Byzantine authors, such as Procopius.
Russian
(The Primary
Chronicle) contains valuable references to the paganism of the Eastern Slavs
, including a
n
account of the baptism of Kiev (988), when the Russian prince Vladimir accepted Christianity
and threw the large statue of the chief pagan god Perun into the Dnieper.
There are also
several references to pagan gods in the earliest Russian literary text,

The tale of Prince Igor


(
Slovo o Polku Igorevě
, 12th century). Although this poem was composed in Christian Russia
and it tells about an unsuccessful raid by the (Christian) prince Igor against the pagan
Polovtsians, the poetic language preserved several

formulas inherited from the pagan period,
including the mention of s
e
veral gods, e.g.
Velesъ
and
Sv rogъ.



Western medieval chroniclers, such as Thietmar of Merseburg (11th century), also mention
pagan practices among the Slavs, e.g. the pagan temple ded
icated to
Zuarasic
(*Sv roţičь
, a
deminutive of *Sv rogъ otherwise known s one of the Sl vic deities
) in Riedegost.
In
Russian medieval sources,
Sv roţičь
is explained as the personification of fire.
Other authors
who gave accounts of Slavic paganism inc
lude Saxo Grammaticus (see above) and Helmold
(
Chronica Slavorum
, 12th century), who mentions, e.g.
,

Zerneboh

(*Čьrnobogъ ‘
the black
god

) and the goddess
Ziva
(*šiv ‘the living one’
). Most of these references (in Latin) are
about the religion of the West
ern Slavs, with whom the Germans were in contacts during the
Middle Ages.


Other than the mentioned sources, we have rich collections of Slavic folklore, which often
mentions pagan gods and other supernatural creatures in euhemerized forms. Traces of Slavi
c
paganism are also visible in the toponymy of the Slavic
-
speaking countries, cf., e.g., the
placenames
Perunovo brdo
and
Mokošic
in Croatia, or
Veles
in Macedonia.

Several lexical
traces of paganism in Slavic languages are no longer understood, e.g. why
the flower
Iris
is
called
perunika
in Croatian, and also
bogiš
(a derivative of
bog
‘god’) in di lects. W s it the
flower dedicated to
Perun
?


It is generally agreed that the chief deity of the Slavic pantheon was

Perunъ
, who is usually
mentioned first in

the lists of pagan deities. His name is probably derivable from

*peru
-
n
-


rock


(Hitt.
peruna
-
), but it may also
be connected to the root *per
-

‘be t strike’

(Lith.
,
Russ.
prat'
‘be t (linen) w sh’
. Pol.
piorun
still me ns ‘thunder’
, and in Gr. w
e have
ker unós
‘thunderbolt’

with unexpected
k
-
.

Velesъ Volosъ

skotii bogъ
‘the god of c ttle’
; his name is
probably related to Lith.



soul of the deceased


an
d
Vélni s
‘devil’
, less certainly with Hitt.
wellu
-


meadow

, etc.)
.

In Old Norse, the name of the
Valkyries (ON
Valkyrja
‘chooser of the sl in’) m y be from the s me root which is lso
contained in
Valhalla,
the hall of the slain.
While the dom in of Perunъ is the high ground
(*gora) and sky (*nebo), the domain of Veles
ъ Volosъ is the low ground the mud nd the
sw mp (*bolto) where Perunъ sl ys him with his we pon the thunder (*gromъ *trěskъ)
mythologic lly represented s n rrow (*strěl cf. the Byelorussi n expression
str lá
perunóv
).

In the Slavic
folk
-
lore
rep
resentation of the world
-
tree the thunderer Perunъ is
usu lly represented s bird or prey (*orьlъ ‘e gle’ or *sokolъ ‘f lcon’)
, which bears
resembl nce to simil r represent tions of Old Norse ÓĎinn (whose s cred bird is the e gle)
and Celtic *Lugos (not
e that his Welsh incarnation,
Llew
, is represented as an eagle,
eryr
, in
the M binogi). Velesъ Volosъ on the other h nd is represented s sn ke (*zmьj or
*zmьjь ‘dr gon’) lying in w ter by the root of the world
-
tree. Occasionally, he is also
represen
ted s be r (*medvědъ) or some other kind of ‘fierce be st’ (PSl. *ljutъ zvěrь).

It
has been argued that
Velesъ Volosъ is c ttle
-
stealer, and Old Russian sources call him
skotii
bogъ
‘the god of c ttle’.
When Perunъ killed him the c ttle w s pp rent
ly released.
Perun
ъ
’s
killing of *Veles
ъ
Volos
ъ
-
Veda, which
also leads to the freeing of cattle and the flowing of rivers.


Svantevid,
or
Svętovitъ
,
the pagan deity worshipped on the island of Arkona

in the Baltic and
mentioned by

Saxo, may be
derived from
svętъ

holy


and
vitъ
, or rather
vidъ
‘ ppe r nce’
.

The god
Trigl vъ

at least has a
transparent

etymology, since his name simply means

three
headed one

, cf. OCS
glava
‘he d’
; three
-

and four
-
headed

gods are well known in Early
Slavic iconography
,

and they are attested in the writings of authors such as Saxo Grammaticus
(in his account of the sanctuary of Arkona among the Baltic Slavs).
Stribogъ

is also a
compound name, but its first element is uncle
ar; some connect it to PIE *ph
2
tēr (L t.
pater,
Gr.
p t r
, etc.) and see in him the father of the gods (*ph
2
trey
-
b
h
ogo
-
); however, this
etymology is very disputable
, as the regular refle
x

of *pHt
-

in Slavic is uncertain
.
The gods
*Xъrsъ (ORuss.
Xors
) and
Sim rglъ
mentioned in ORuss. chronicles, are generally believed
to be

borrowed from Iranian, and this is also possible for
Sv rogъ
, although this latter deity is
often connected with PSl. *sv rъ ‘dispute strife’ (Russ.
svár
, Pol.
swar
); this etymology
f
aces both semantic problems (
Sv rogъ
was probably a fire
-
god) and formal difficulties
(*
-
ogъ is not suffix in Sl vic)
.

The Hypathian Codex (a 15
th

century Russian translation of
the 6
th

century Greek text by John Malalas) translates Greek
Hephaestus
as
S
v rogъ
, which
implies the connection of this god with smiths; the same text also claims that the Sun was a
son of Sv rogъ nd th t he w s c lled
D ţьbogъ
. His n me me ns ‘the giving god’ (from
ORuss.
dati
‘give’ nd
bogъ
‘god’) but this etymology does no
t make the connection with the
Sun any clearer. Moreover, it is uncertain how reliable the Hypathian Codex is as a source on
pre
-
Christian Russian (and Slavic) mythology.


The goddesses seem to have been scarce among the Slavic deities.

Mokošь
, mentioned i
n the
Russian Chronicles and well attested in toponymy

(e.g. in Croatian placename
Mokošic
)
, is
of unknown origin; the connection with OCS
mokrъ

wet


is slightly more probable than the
relationship with OIr.
Macha
, a goddess connected
with horses in the
Old Irish
Ulster cycle
.

The goddess
Morana,
scarcely attested, and not in early sources, most likely represents a
female demon, and her name is usually derived from
moriti


to kill

. There may have also
been the goddess of the spring,
Vesna.
Her name means

simply ‘spring’
, cf. Russ.
vesná
PIE
*wesr
-

(Skr.
vasanta
-
,
Gr.
é r
Lat.
vēr
etc.). In Slovene dialects on the Sontia river she is
attested only as a sort of a wood fairy, and otherwise the attestations of such a deity are
scarce. The general name for

female nymphs in Slavic folklore is
Vila
(Croat.
vìl
Slov.
vîl
,
ORuss.
vila
, Cz.
vìl
); the etymology of this noun is uncertain, but it may be related to Lith.
vej vêti
‘ch se hunt’
, OHG
weidōn
‘hunt’
.


Little is known with any certainty about the p
agan Slavic rites and customs. Christian authors
tell us th t there were temples to gods (such s the temple of Perunъ bove ncient Kiev or
the temple of Velesъ in Y rosl vl’) nd cert in rites
apparently
involved
keeping of eternal
fires (in the temple

of Velesъ in Y rosl vl’) s crifices of nim ls nd (if Christi n chroniclers
are to be believed) humans.
Gods were represented by giant statues (CSl.
kumirъ
a word of
Turkic origin)
.

There were fertility rites, that may have involved orgiastic elements,

e.g. the
feast of Jarylo celebrated in the early spring (he was later confused with St. George, whose
day fell on April 23). As reconstructed chiefly from folk
-
lore texts (K tičić 2010) the myth of
Jarylo represented this god as a traveller who
is coming

from afar
(*jьz z morj čьrven ego
‘from beyond the red se ’)
and whose arrival made the fields bear crops (*
Kąd
J rylo xoditъ
,
tąd
pole roditъ).
His voy ge t kes him over muddy ro ds (*do kolěn bolto do ormene vod
‘mud (re ching his) knees w ter r
e ching his elbows’) on which he rides white or grey
horse (*J rylo j detъ n bělomь sivomь koni). He uses his sword to cut of the he d of
dr gon or sn ke (*pozoju zmьji mьčemь golvą sěčetъ)
(*gordъ) by fem le pers
on lity whose n me K tičić reconstructs s
Morana
or
Mara
(*M r děvojьk po gordu xoditъ děvery buditъ ‘The girl M r w lks in
gordъ

and
awakens (her) brothers
-
in
-
l w’). She h s golden pple (*zolto j blъko)

and uses it to choose
Jarylo as her brideg
room (*Jemu ţe j blъko tomu děvojьk . J rylu j blъko J rylu děvojьk ).

There follows a ritual of holy wedding between Jarylo and Mara, which takes place in a
moist dewy me dow (*p dl jestь ros děvojьk xoditъ bos ‘the dew fell the girl is
walking b
refoot). After ritu lized convers tion (*děvice k k jego jesi rod ‘M iden wh t
is your kin?’) J rylo nd M r recognize e ch other s brother nd sister (*děvice ty jesi
moj sestric ‘m iden you re my sister’).

The holy matrimony celebrated to
bring about
fertility to the fields is thus incestuous.

After the marriage, the bridegroom is driven to the
fields and slaughtered as a horse, a gruesome end to the ritual which has been compared to the
Old Indian horse
-
sacrifice (
śv medh
).



1
. Vladimir

worships pagan gods (
Laurentian Codex

(1377)
, sub anno
9
80)

ɧɚɱɚ ɤɧ ɠɢɬɢ Вɨɥɨɞɢɦɟɪъ ɜъ ɢ ɜ ɞɢɧъ . ɢ ɩɨɫɬɚɜɢ ɤɭɦɢɪъ

ɧɚ ɯɨɥɦɭ . ɜɧ
ɞɜɨɪɚ ɬɟɪɟɦɧɚɝɨ . ɟɪɭɧɚ ɞɪɟɜ ɧɚ . ɚ ɝɥɚɜɭ ɝɨ ɫɪɟɛɪɟɧɭ . ɚ ɨɭɫъ ɡɥɚɬъ . ɢ ъɪɫɚ
ɚɠьɛɚ


. ɢ Сɬɪ
ɢɛɚ


. ɢ Сɢɦɚɪьɝɥɚ . ɢ Мɨɤɨшь [ɢ]
А

ɠɪ ɯɭ ɢɦъ ɧɚɪɢɱющɟ ӕ ɛ[ɨɝ]ъ
Б
.
[ɢ]
А

ɩɪɢɜɨɠɚɯɭ ɫɧ

ъ ɫɜɨӕ ɢ ɞъщɟɪɢ . ɢ ɠɪ ɯɭ ɛ ɫɨɦъ . [ɢ]
А

ѡɫ
ɤ
ɜɟɪɧ ɯɭ ɡɟɦɥю
ɬɟɪɟɛɚɦɢ ɫɜɨɢɦɢ . ɢ ѡɫɤɜɟɪɧɢɫ ɤɪɨɜьɦɢ ɡɟɦɥ ɭɫɤɚ . ɢ ɯɨɥɦɨ
-
ɬъ ɧɨ ɩɪɛɥ

ɝɢɢ Бъ


ɧɟ ɯɨɬ ɫɦɪ

ɬɢ ɝɪ шɧɢɤɨɦъ . ɧ
ɚ ɬ
ɨ
ɦъ ɯɨɥɦ ɧъ

ɧ ɰɪ

ɤɢ ɫɬɨɢɬь . ɫɬ

ɝɨ Вɚɫɢɥьӕ ɫ
ɬь

.
ɥ.25ɨɛ. ӕɤɨɠɟ ɩɨɫɥ ɞɢ ɫɤɚɠɟɦъ . ɦъ ɠɟ ɧɚ ɩɪɟɞɧɟ ɜъɡɪɚɬɢɦɫ . Вɨɥɨɞɢɦɟɪъ ɠɟ
ɩɨɫɚɞɢ ɨɛɪъ ɧɭ
В

ɨɭӕ ɫɜɨ ɝɨ ɜ Нɨɜ ɝɨɪɨɞ . ɢ ɩɪɢшɟɞъ ɨɛɪъ ɧɚ Нɨɨɭɝɨɪɨɞɭ .
ɩɨɫɬɚɜɢ ɤɭɦɢɪɚ ɧɚɞъ ɪ ɤɨю Вɨɥɯɨɜɨɦъ . ɢ ɠɪ ɯɭ

ɦɭ ɥюɞь Нɨɨɭɝɨɪɨɞьɫɬ

ɢ . ɚɤɢ
Бɭ
.

Translation

into

Modern

Russian
:


ɫɬɚɥ Вɥɚɞɢɦɢɪ ɤɧяɠɢɬь ɜ ɢɟɜɟ ɨɞɢɧ ɢ ɩɨɫɬɚɜɢɥ ɤɭɦɢɪы ɧɚ ɯɨɥɦɟ ɡɚ

ɬɟɪɟɦɧыɦ ɞɜɨɪɨɦ: ɞɟɪɟɜяɧɧɨɝɨ ɟɪɭɧɚ ɫ ɫɟɪɟɛɪяɧɨɣ ɝɨɥɨɜɨɣ ɢ ɡɨɥɨɬыɦɢ ɭɫɚɦɢ ɢ

ɨɪɫɚ ɚɠьɛɨɝɚ ɢ Сɬɪɢɛɨɝɚ ɢ Сɢɦɚɪɝɥɚ
ɢ Мɨɤɨшь. ɩɪɢɧɨɫɢɥɢ ɢɦ ɠɟɪɬɜы

ɧɚɡыɜɚя ɢɯ ɛɨɝɚɦɢ ɢ ɩɪɢɜɨɞɢɥɢ ɫɜɨɢɯ ɫыɧɨɜɟɣ ɢ ɞɨɱɟɪɟɣ ɢ ɩɪɢɧɨɫɢɥɢ ɠɟɪɬɜы

ɛɟɫɚɦ ɢ ɨɫɤɜɟɪɧяɥɢ ɡɟɦɥю ɠɟɪɬɜɨɩɪɢɧɨшɟɧɢяɦɢ ɫɜɨɢɦɢ. ɨɫɤɜɟɪɧɢɥɚɫь ɤɪɨɜью

ɡɟɦɥя ɭɫɫɤɚя ɢ ɯɨɥɦ ɬɨɬ. Нɨ ɩɪɟɛɥɚɝɨɣ Бɨɝ ɧɟ ɡɚɯɨɬɟɥ ɝɢɛɟɥɢ ɝɪɟшɧɢɤɨɜ

ɢ ɧɚ

ɬɨɦ ɯɨɥɦɟ ɫɬɨɢɬ ɧыɧɟ ɰɟɪɤɨɜь ɫɜяɬɨɝɨ Вɚɫɢɥɢя ɤɚɤ ɪɚɫɫɤɚɠɟɦ ɨɛ эɬɨɦ ɩɨɫɥɟ.

Тɟɩɟɪь ɠɟ ɜɨɡɜɪɚɬɢɦɫя ɤ ɩɪɟɠɧɟɦɭ.

Вɥɚɞɢɦɢɪ ɩɨɫɚɞɢɥ ɨɛɪыɧю ɫɜɨɟɝɨ ɞяɞю ɜ Нɨɜɝɨɪɨɞɟ. ɩɪɢɞя ɜ

Нɨɜɝɨɪɨɞ ɨɛɪыɧя ɩɨɫɬɚɜɢɥ ɤɭɦɢɪɚ ɧɚɞ ɪɟɤɨю Вɨɥɯɨɜɨɦ ɢ ɩɪɢɧɨɫɢɥɢ ɟɦɭ

ɠɟɪɬɜы ɧ
ɨɜɝɨɪɨɞɰы ɤɚɤ ɛɨɝɭ.



And Vladimir started to rule alone in Kiev, and he placed the idols on the hill behind the
c stle: wooden st tue of Perun with silver he d nd golden moust che nd Xors D ţьbog
nd Stribog Sim rgl nd Mokošь. And they s crifice
d to them, calling them gods, and
brought their sons and daughters, and they made sacrifices to demons, and they desecrated the
earth with their sacrifices. And the Russian land and that hill were desecrated by blood. But
the very merciful God did not want

the sinners to perish, and the church of Saint Basil stands
on that hill today, as we shall tell later. Now let us return to our story. Vladimir set up
Dobrynya, his uncle, in Novgorod. And when he came to Novgorod, Dobrynya placed an idol
above the river

Volkhov, and the Novgorodians made sacrifices to that idol as if it were God.



2. S xo Gr mm ticus' description of the p g n Sl vic worship t Arkon (Rügen)
Gesta
Danorum

14.39.1ff.

[1] Interea, dum haec geruntur, Rugianorum ex regis longius agentis oc
cupatione fidentium
defectio incidit. [2] Qui cum, finita hieme, expeditionem adversum se destinari cognoscerent,
quendam conspectioris ingenii ac facundiae politioris subornant, qui regis propositum
exquisita adulationis arte subverteret. [3] Quod cum min
ime efficere quivisset, reditu suo
hostium adventum praecurrere noluit, ne aut civibus bellum dissuadendo suspectus aut
concitando perniciosus exsisteret. [4] Igitur Absalonem, uti se comitem pateretur, oravit,
quoad eius consilium a civibus posceretur, qu
od stolidae mentis hominibus plus requisita
quam oblata consilia placere soleant. [5] Rex, varias Rugiae partes adortus, cum ubique
praedae, nusquam vero pugnae materiam repperisset, fundendi sanguinis aviditate perductus,
urbem Arkon obsidione tentavit.

[1] Haec, in excelso promontorii cuiusdam vertice collocata, ab ortu, meridie et aquilone non
manu factis, sed naturalibus praesidiis munitur, praecipitiis moenium speciem praeferentibus,
quorum cacumen excussae tormento sagittae iactus aequare non possit.

[2] Ab iisdem quoque
plagis circumfluo mari saepitur, ab occasu vero vallo quinquaginta cubitos alto concluditur,

muniti callis beneficio oppidanis iter
patebat. [4] Huius quondam Ericus usu violentius intercluso, non levius siti quam armis
obsessos premebat. [5] Medium urbis planities habebat, in qua delubrum materia ligneum,
opere elegantissimum visebatur, non solu
m magnificentia cultus, sed etiam simulacri in eo
collocati numine reverendum. [6] Exterior aedis ambitus accurato caelamine renitebat, rudi
atque impolito picturae artificio varias rerum formas complectens. [7] Unicum in eo ostium
intraturis patebat. [8]
Ipsum vero fanum duplex saeptorum ordo claudebat, e quibus exterior
parietibus contextus puniceo culmine tegebatur, interior vero, quattuor subnixus postibus,
parietum loco pensilibus aulaeis nitebat nec quicquam cum exteriore praeter tectum et pauca
laque
aria communicabat.

[1] Ingens in aede simulacrum, omnem humani corporis habitum granditate transscendens,
quattuor capitibus totidemque cervicibus mirandum perstabat, e quibus duo pectus
totidemque tergum respicere videbantur. [2] Ceterum tam ante quam re
tro collocatorum
unum dextrorsum, alterum laevorsum contemplationem dirigere videbatur. [3] Corrasae
barbae, crines attonsi figurabantur, ut artificis industriam Rugianorum ritum in cultu capitum
aemulatam putares. [4] In dextra cornu vario metalli genere
excultum gestabat, quod
sacerdos sacrorum eius peritus annuatim mero perfundere consueverat, ex ipso liquoris
habitu sequentis anni copias prospecturus. [5] Laeva arcum reflexo in latus brachio
figurabat. [6] Tunica ad tibias prominens fingebatur, quae ex
diversa ligni materia creatae
tam arcano nexu genibus iungebantur, ut compaginis locus non nisi curiosiori contemplatione
deprehendi potuerit. [7] Pedes humo contigui cernebantur, eorum basi intra solum latente.
[8] Haud procul frenum ac sella simulacri co
mpluraque divinitatis insignia visebantur. [9]
Quorum admirationem conspicuae granditatis ensis augebat, cuius vaginam ac capulum




3
. A Byelorussian charm




This is how God (
var.
Ilias) quarrelled with the Devil: I will, kill you, he says!.
-
And how
will you kill me?
-
I will hide.
-
Where?
-
Under a man!
-
I will kill the man, forgive his sins,
and kill you.
-
Then I will hide under a horse!
-
I will kill the horse, too. I will
rec
ompensate the man, and kill you.
-
Then I will hide under a cow!
-
I will kill the cow
too, recompensate her master at once, and I will kill you.
-
Then I'll hide under a building.
-
I will burn down the building, recompensate the man, and kill you.
-
Then I wi
ll hide
under a tree. There you will not kill me.
-
I will crush the tree, and kill you!
-
Then, he says,
I will hide in the water, under a trunk, under a plank!
-
Well, there is your place, there you
should be! So, when a thunder comes to strike, it is God w
ho strikes the devil. He changes
into a dog, or a pig, or a cat, as the dark cloud comes. He will change into anything and
hide under anyone. Then the thunder strikes there.



4. A Serbi n song bout the Sun nd the Moon (Vuk K r dţić
Srpske narodne pjesm
e
I, 235)


Aj gjevojko dušo moj !

Što si t ko jednolik

i u pasu tankovita

kan'da s Suncu kose plela,

a Mjesecu dvore mela,

van stajala, te gledala

gdje se Munja s Gromom igra;

munja groma nadigrala

dvjema, trima jabukama.



O girl, my soul!

Why are you
so simple
-
looking

and thin on the waist,

as if you wove the Sun's hair

and swept the court of the Moon,

as if you stood outside and watched

how the Thunder played with the Lightning;

the Lightning outplayed the Thunder

with two or three apples.

BALTIC


Ba
ltic peoples were among the last in Europe to accept Christianity. Lithuania was definitely
baptized only in the 14th century.

No wonder, then, that all of our sources for the study of
Baltic paganism are rather late.

Some pagan customs and rites were reco
rded by German
authors who wrote about the Balts,
or mention them in other contexts,
e.g. by
Adam of
Bremen, in his
History of the Bishops of Hamburg
(11th century), or
Simon Grunau
,

in his
Prussian Chronicle
(15th century), but such texts are often unreli
able. Therefore, we have to
rely on folklore texts collected in the Baltic countries long time after Christianization, such as
the monumental collection of Latvian folk
-
songs (
dainas
) by Christi n Bārons (finished in the
1st half of the 20th century).


I
n
Latvian and Lithuanian dainas

we find many names of pagan gods
.
The word for 'god'
(Lith.
dievas,
Latv.
dievs
) originally referred to only one of the pagan gods, as is still clear
from many dainas, where
diev dēli

'god's sons' are mentioned.

The thunderer
,

nas
,
Latv.

rkons
is cert inly rel ted to Sl v. *Perunъ (ORuss.
Perunъ
, etc.), but the forms are
not superimposable on each other. The Baltic theonym was probably contaminated by the
reflex of PIE
*perk
w
u
-


oak


(Lat.
quercus
,
etc.
),

since the oa
k
-
tree is the favorite target of
Perkunas's thunde
r. The name of the sun
-
goddess,

S ulė
is the PIE word for ‘sun’
, PIE

*seh
2
wōl

sun


(Lat.

l
,

Gr.
h lios
etc.). Another important mythological figure in the dainas
is her daughter,

Lith.
S ulės dukrytė

(=

sun's daughter

),

Latv.
Saules meita

the S
un
-
maiden

.

Velnias
, Latv.
Velns


devi
l’

is the B ltic counterp rt to Sl vic *Velesъ ORuss.
Velesъ Volosъ

(
related to

Lith.


,
Latv.
velis


soul of the deceased

, which might be
connected to Hitt.
wellu
-


meadow

, see above
).
The ‘lord of the wind’

in Lithuanian dainas is
called
Vėjop tis
(from
vėj s
‘wind’

and
patis
‘m ster’
, cf. Gr.
Poseidáōn
which is a similar
compound).
The goddess of fate, Lith.

L imė
,
Latv.
Laima

is also the
abstract noun meaning

l
uck

,
but this word is
without a clear etymology. The earth
-
goddess, or the personified
Earth, is Latv.
Zeme,
or
Zemes māte
‘mother of the e rth’
,
Lith.

šemynė
(a deminutive of
ţemė

earth


PIE *d
h
g'
h
em
-
,
OCS
zemlja,
Lat.
humus
, etc
.
).

Similarly, Latv.
M
ēness
(Lith.
Mėnulis
) is simply ‘the Moon’
.

Latv.
Meţ māte
‘the mother of the wood’

(Lith.
Medeinė
)
rules over the wild animals, and there is also the
Jūr s māte
‘the mother of the se ’
, the
Snieg māte
‘the mother of the snow’
, and the
Lietus māte
‘the m
other of the r in’. The B ltic
cult of the ‘mothers’

is comparable to the cult of the mothers
(
matres
)

in Gaul (e.g. the

Mothers of Namausis


from a Gaulish inscription)
, or to Latin
Mater Matuta
(originally the
Dawn Goddess)
.



The chief god of the Pruss
ians, according to Simon Grunau's Chronicle, was
Patollo

(also
called
Pickols
, and
Pickollos
), portrayed as an old man with a pale, deathly color. He may
have been the god of death, and his name i srelated to Lith.
pykst
‘be ngry’
.


One of the most imp
ortant motives in Baltic dainas is a heavenly wedding between
the Sun
and the Moon, or, alternatively, between the Sun Maiden and one of her suitors (often the
Moon).



1
A Latvian Daina

(Bā
rons

no.

34127
)
.

Kuplis ug ozoliņš

Diev n m g liņē;

Speŗ pēr
kons rīb zemiņ'

Ne l piņ nedrebēj .


A branchy oak
-
tree grows

by the house of Dievs;

Perkons shot it, the earth trembled,

not a leaf shivered

.


2. Bā
rons 32909

Vāj Jāniti Diev dēls

tavu platu cepuriti

visa plata pasaulite

p kš t v s cepurites
.



O

Janis, son of Dievs,

your hat is so broad!

The whole broad world

is under your hat!



3. Bā
rons 33742


Aiz k lniņ ezeriņš

Aiz ezer ozoliņš;

Diev dēls jostu kār

S ules meit v iņ dziņu.



Behind the hill there is a lake,

behind the lake there is an o
ak
-
tree;

The son of Dievs
hangs

the belt,

the Sun
-
mainden
hangs

the garland

.


4
.
A Lithuanian daina (Rhesa, 48 1
-
4)

Po klevelių š ltin itis

Čyst s v nden itis.

Kur teit S ulės dukrytės

nskti burną pr ustis.


Prie klevelio š ltin ičio

ėj u burną pr usti
s;

m n bepr usi nt b ltą burną

nuplovj u ţied itį.


O tėjo Dievo suneli i

su šilku tinkleli is

Ir ţvej vo m no ţied itį

iš v ndens gilumos.


Ir atjojo jauns bernytis

nt bėro ţirg
ičio;

O t s bėr sis ţirg itis

ukso p dk v itėms.


Under the ash
-
three th
ere is a well

of clear water,

where the daughters of the Sun

come to wash their faces in the morning.


I went to the ash
-
tree by the well

to wash my face.

And I washed my white face,

and my ring fell off.


And God's sons came

with silk little nets

they cau
ght my ring,

from the depth of the water.


And a young boy came

on a brown horse;

and that brown horse

had golden hooves.




APPENDIX:
I
LLUSTRATIONS

A HITTITE GOD



A PROCESSION OF HITTITE GODS IN THE SANCTUARY AT YAZILIKAYA




A VEDIC SACRIFICE















INDR
A



VARUNA



AGNI










THE SILVER PLATE FROM LURISTAN




THE CARYATIDES FROM A GREEK TEMPLE
















ORPHEUS












A STATUE OF APOLLO


OKEANOS (FROM A GREEK VASE)







A ROMAN SACRIFICE



THE GUNDESTRUP CAULDRON
WITH CELTIC DEITIES













CALEND
A
R FROM COLIGNY (ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM, LYON)



TARANIS (JUPITER) FROM CHÂTELET:





THÓRR



A STATUE OF SVANTEVID FROM ARKONA (RÜGEN)

(MODERN)



A PAGAN SLAVIC IDOL


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ABBREVIATIONS


TEXTS:

AV = Atharva
-
Veda

Barons = Kr. Barons,
Latvju dainas
Rīg
1922.

Il. =
Homer,
The Iliad

KUB = Keilschrifturkunden aus Bogh
az
-
köy

Od. =
Homer,
The Odyssey

RV = Rig
-
Veda



LANGUAGES:

Alb. = Albanian

Arm. = Armenian

Croat. = Croatian

Eng. = English

Gaul. = Gaulish

Gr. = Greek

Goth. = Gothic

Hitt. = Hittite

Hom. = Homeric

Lat. = Latin

Latv. = Latvian

Lith. = Lithuanian

Luv. = Luv
ian

Myc. = Mycenaean

OCS = Old Church Slavic

OE = Old English

OHG = Old High German

OIc. = Old Icelandic

OIr. = Old Irish

ON = Old Norse

OPr. = Old Prussian

PIE = Proto
-
Indo
-
European

Pol. = Polish

Russ. = Russian

S
kr
. = Sanskrit

Toch. = Tocharian

Ved. = Ve
dic

W = Welsh




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