Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The thunder gods

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 17, 2014

Hittite carving of the sky-god Teshub discovered at Babylon

List of thunder gods

Tir/Tyr and Tork/Thor

Similarities between Thor (Nordic) and Tar (Armenian)

Mercury – the god of transformation, communication and bounderies

Polytheistic peoples of many cultures have postulated a Thunder God, the personification or source of the forces of thunder and lightning; a lightning god does not have a typical depiction, and will vary based on the culture.

In Indo-European cultures, the Thunder God is frequently known as the chief or king of the gods, e.g. Indra in Hinduism, Zeus in Greek mythology, and Perun in ancient Slavic religion; or a close relation thereof, e.g. Thor, son of Odin, in Norse mythology.

The storm gods of the ancient Near East

Abstract:

In many regions of the ancient Near East, not least in Upper Mesopotamia, Syriaand Anatolia where agriculture relied mainly on rainfall, storm-gods ranked amongthe most prominent gods in the local panthea or were even regarded as divinekings, ruling over the gods and bestowing kingship on the human ruler.

While the Babylonian and Assyrian storm-god never held the highest position amongthe gods, he too belongs to the group of ‘great gods’ through most periods ofMesopotamian history.

Given the many cultural contacts and the longevity of tra-ditions in the ancient Near East only a study that takes into account all relevantperiods, regions and text-groups can further our understanding of the differentancient Near Eastern storm-gods.

The study Wettergottgestalten Mesopotamiens und Nord Syriens by the present author (2001) tried to tackle the problems involved, basing itself primarily on the textual record and excluding the genuinely Anatolian storm-gods from the study. Given the lack of handbooks, concordances and the-sauri in ourfield, the book is necessarily heavily burdened with materials collected for the first time.

Despite comprehensive indices, the long lists and footnotes aswell as the lack of an overall synthesis make the study not easily accessible, especially outside the German-speaking community.

In 2003 Alberto Green published a comprehensive monograph entitled The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East whose aims are more ambitious than those of Wettergottgestalten: All regions of the ancient Near East—including a chapter on Yahwe as a storm-god—are taken into account, and both textual and iconographic sources are given equal space.

Unfortunately this book, which was apparently finished and submitted to the publisher before Wettergottgestalten came to its author’s attention, suffers from some serious flaws withregard to methodology, philology and the interpretation of texts and images.

In presenting the following succinct overview I take the opportunity to make up forthe missing synthesis in Wettergottgestalten and to provide some additions and corrections where necessary. It is hoped that this synthesis can also serve as a response to the history of ancient Near Eastern storm-gods as outlined by A. Green.

The storm gods of the ancient Near East: Summary, synthesis, recent studies – PART II

By Daniel Schwemer

Gugalanna

Gu or gud means ox, bull. In Mesopotamian mythology, Gugalanna (lit. “The Great Bull of Heaven” < Sumerian gu “bull”, gal “great”, an “heaven”, -a “of”) was a Sumerian deity as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

Inanna, from the heights of the city walls looked down, and Enkidu took the haunches of the bull shaking them at the goddess, threatening he would do the same to her if he could catch her too. For this impiety, Enkidu later dies.

Gugalanna was the first husband of the Goddess Ereshkigal, the Goddess of the Realm of the Dead, a gloomy place devoid of light. It was to share the sorrow with her sister that Inanna later descends to the Underworld.

Taurus was a constellation of the Northern Hemisphere Spring Equinox from about 3,200 BCE. It marked the start of the agricultural year with the New Year Akitu festival (from á-ki-ti-še-gur-ku, = sowing of the barley), an important date in Mespotamian religion.

The death of Gugalanna, represents the obscuring disappearance of this constellation as a result of the light of the sun, with whom Gilgamesh was identified.

In the time in which this myth was composed, the Akitu festival at the Spring Equinox, due to the Precession of the Equinoxes did not occur in Aries, but in Taurus. At this time of the year, Taurus would have disappeared as it was obscured by the sun.

Joseph Campbell wrote in The masks of God: Oriental mythology (1991): “Between the period of the earliest female figurines circa 4500 B.C. … a span of a thousand years elapsed, during which the archaeological signs constantly increase of a cult of the tilled earth fertilised by that noblest and most powerful beast of the recently developed holy barnyard, the bull – who not only sired the milk yielding cows, but also drew the plow, which in that early period simultaneously broke and seeded the earth.

Moreover by analogy, the horned moon, lord of the rhythm of the womb and of the rains and dews, was equated with the bull; so that the animal became a cosmological symbol, uniting the fields and the laws of sky and earth.”

Enlil

Enlil (nlin) (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the God of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets.

The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as “Ellil” in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar. Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.

By his wife Ninlil or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin) and of Ninurta (also called Ningirsu). Enlil is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu. By Ereshkigal Enlil was father of Namtar.

In one myth, Enlil gives advice to his son, the god Ninurta, advising him on a strategy to slay the demon Asag. This advice is relayed to Ninurta by way of Sharur, his enchanted talking mace, which had been sent by Ninurta to the realm of the gods to seek counsel from Enlil directly.

Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. His temple was named Ekur, “House of the Mountain.” Such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another to embellish and restore Enlil’s seat of worship. Eventually, the name Ekur became the designation of a temple in general.

Grouped around the main sanctuary, there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that Ekur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur. The name “mountain house” suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top.

Enlil was also known as the god of weather. According to the Sumerians, Enlil helped create the humans, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood. A mortal known as Utnapishtim survived the flood through the help of another god, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.

As Enlil was the only god who could reach An, the god of heaven, he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.

At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent. Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888–1900 by John P. Peters and John Henry Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Enlil was the head of an extensive pantheon. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.

Ishkur/ Adad/Hadad

Adad in Akkadian and Ishkur in Sumerian and Hadad in Aramaic are the names of the storm-god in the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon. The Akkadian god Adad is cognate in name and functions with northwest Semitic god Hadad.

Adad/Ishkur’s special animal is the bull. He is naturally identified with the Anatolian storm-god Teshub. Occasionally Adad/Ishkur is identified with the god Amurru, the god of the Amorites.

When Enki distributed the destinies, he made Ishkur inspector of the cosmos. Shamash and Adad became in combination the gods of oracles and of divination in general.

The Babylonian center of Adad/Ishkur’s cult was Karkara in the south, his chief temple being E. Karkara. He was worshipped in a temple named E. Durku.

In one litany Ishkur is proclaimed again and again as “great radiant bull, your name is heaven” and also called son of An, lord of Karkara; twin-brother of Enki, lord of abundance, lord who rides the storm, lion of heaven.

Adad/Ishkur’s consort (both in early Sumerian and later Assyrian texts) was Shala, a goddess of grain, who is also sometimes associated with the god Dagan. She was also called Gubarra in the earliest texts. The fire god Gibil (named Gerra in Akkadian) is sometimes the son of Ishkur and Shala.

In other texts Adad/Ishkur is sometimes son of the moon god Nanna/Sin by Ningal and brother of Utu/Shamash and Inanna/Ishtar. He is also occasionally son of Enlil.

Hadad (Ugaritic Haddu) is a Northwest Semitic storm and rain god, cognate in name and origin with the earlier attested East Semitic Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad. Hadad was also called “Pidar”, “Rapiu”, “Baal-Zephon”, or often simply Baʿal (Lord), but this title was also used for other gods.

The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress. Hadad was equated with the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Set; the Greek god Zeus; and the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus.

In Akkadian, Adad is also known as Ramman (“Thunderer”) cognate with Aramaic Rimmon which was a byname of the Aramaic Hadad. Ramman was formerly incorrectly taken by many scholars to be an independent Babylonian god later identified with the Amorite god Hadad.

The Sumerian Ishkur appears in the list of gods found at Fara, but was of far less importance than the Akkadian Adad later became, probably partly because storms and rain are scarce in southern Babylonia and agriculture there depends on irrigation instead.

Also, the gods Enlil and Ninurta also had storm god features which decreased Ishkur’s distinctiveness. He sometimes appears as the assistant or companion of one or the other of the two.

Aamong the Assyrians his cult was especially developed along with his warrior aspect. From the reign of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115–1077 BCE), Adad had a double sanctuary in Assur which he shared with Anu. Anu is often associated with Adad in invocations. The name Adad and various alternate forms and bynames (Dadu, Bir, Dadda) are often found in the names of the Assyrian kings.

Adad/Ishkur presents two aspects in the hymns, incantations, and votive inscriptions. On the one hand he is the god who, through bringing on the rain in due season, causes the land to become fertile, and, on the other hand, the storms that he sends out bring havoc and destruction.

He is pictured on monuments and cylinder seals (sometimes with a horned helmet) with the lightning and the thunderbolt (sometimes in the form of a spear), and in the hymns the sombre aspects of the god on the whole predominate. His association with the sun-god, Shamash, due to the natural combination of the two deities who alternate in the control of nature, leads to imbuing him with some of the traits belonging to a solar deity.

In religious texts, Ba‘al/Hadad is the lord of the sky who governs the rain and thus the germination of plants with the power of his desire that they be fertile. He is the protector of life and growth to the agricultural people of the region. The absence of Ba‘al causes dry spells, starvation, death, and chaos. Also refers to the mountain of the west wind.

The Biblical reference occurs at a time when Yahweh has provided a strong east wind (cf. Exodus 14:21,22) to push back the waters of the Red or Erythrian Sea, so that the sons of Israel might cross over.

In the Ugaritic texts El, the supreme god of the pantheon, resides on Mount Lel (perhaps meaning “Night”) and it is there that the assembly of the gods meet. That is perhaps the mythical cosmic mountain.

The Ba‘al cycle is fragmentary and leaves much unexplained that would have been obvious to a contemporary. In the earliest extant sections there appears to be some sort of feud between El and Ba‘al.

El makes one of his sons who is called both prince Yamm (“Sea”) and judge Nahar (“River”) king over the gods and changes Yamm’s name from yw (so spelled at that point in the text) to mdd ’il, meaning “Darling of El”. El informs Yamm that in order to secure his power, Yamm will have to drive Ba‘al from his throne.

In this battle Ba‘al is somehow weakened, but the divine craftsman Kothar-wa-Khasis strikes Yamm with two magic clubs, Yamm collapses, and Ba’al finishes the fight. ‘Athtart proclaims Ba‘al’s victory and salutes Ba‘al/Hadad as lrkb ‘rpt (“Rider on the Clouds”), a phrase applied by editors of modern English Bibles to Yahweh in Psalm 68.4. At ‘Athtart’s urging Ba‘al “scatters” Yamm and proclaims that Yamm is dead and heat is assured.

A later passage refers to Ba‘al’s victory over Lotan, the many-headed sea-dragon. Due to gaps in the text it is not known whether Lotan is another name for Yamm or a reference to another similar story. In the Mediterranean area, crops were often threatened by winds, storms, and floods from the sea, indicating why the ancients feared the fury of this cosmic being.

A palace is built for Ba‘al/Hadad with cedars from Mount Lebanon and Sirion and also from silver and from gold. In his new palace Ba‘al hosts a great feast for the other gods. When urged by Kothar-wa-Khasis, Ba’al, somewhat reluctantly, opens a window in his palace and sends forth thunder and lightning. He then invites Mot ‘Death’ (god of drought and underworld), another son of El, to the feast.

But Mot is insulted. The eater of human flesh and blood will not be satisfied with bread and wine. Mot threatens to break Ba‘al into pieces and swallow Ba‘al. Even Ba‘al cannot stand against Death. Gaps here make interpretation dubious.

It seems that by the advice of the goddess Shapsh ‘Sun’, Ba‘al has intercourse with a heifer and dresses the resultant calf in his own clothes as a gift to Mot and then himself prepares to go down to the underworld in the guise of a helpless shade. News of Ba‘al’s apparent death leads even El to mourn.

‘Anat, Ba‘al’s sister, finds Ba‘al’s corpse, presumably really the dead body of the calf, and she buries the body with a funeral feast. The god ‘Athtar is appointed to take Ba‘al’s place, but he is a poor substitute. Meanwhile ‘Anat finds Mot, cleaves him with a sword, burns him with fire, and throws his remains on the field for the birds to eat. But the earth is still cracked with drought until Shapsh fetches Ba‘al back.

Seven years later Mot returns and attacks Ba‘al in a battle which ceases only when Shapsh tells Mot that El now supports Ba’al. Thereupon Mot at once surrenders to Ba‘al/Hadad and recognizes Ba‘al as king.

In Sanchuniathon’s account Hadad is once called Adodos, but is mostly named Demarûs. This is a puzzling form, probably from Ugaritic dmrn, which appears in parallelism with Hadad, or possibly a Greek corruption of Hadad Ramān. Sanchuniathon’s Hadad is son of Sky by a concubine who is then given to the god Dagon while she is pregnant by Sky.

This appears to be an attempt to combine two accounts of Hadad’s parentage, one of which is the Ugaritic tradition that Hadad was son of Dagon. The cognate Akkadian god Adad is also often called the son of Anu (“Sky”). The corresponding Hittite god Teshub is likewise son of Anu (after a fashion).

In Sanchuniathon’s account, it is Sky who first fights against Pontus (“Sea”). Then Sky allies himself with Hadad. Hadad takes over the conflict but is defeated, at which point unfortunately no more is said of this matter. Sanchuniathion agrees with Ugaritic tradition in making Muth, the Ugaritic Mot, whom he also calls “Death”, the son of El.

Teshub/Taru

Teshub (also written Teshup or Tešup) was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. He was related to the Hattian Taru. His Hittite and Luwian name was Tarhun (with variant stem forms Tarhunt, Tarhuwant, Tarhunta), although this name is from the Hittite root *tarh- “to defeat, conquer”.

Teshub is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs.

The Hurrian myth of Teshub’s origin—he was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu’s genitals, as such it most likely shares a Proto-Indo-European cognate with the Greek story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony. Teshub’s brothers are Aranzah (personification of the river Tigris), Ullikummi (stone giant) and Tashmishu.

In the Hurrian schema, Teshub was paired with Hebat the mother goddess; in the Hittite, with the sun goddess Arinniti of Arinna – a cultus of great antiquity which has similarities with the venerated bulls and mothers at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic era. His son was called Sarruma, the mountain god.

According to Hittite myths, one of Teshub’s greatest acts was the slaying of the dragon Illuyanka. Myths also exist of his conflict with the sea creature (possibly a snake or serpent) Hedammu.

lluyanka is probably a compound, consisting of two words for “snake”, Proto-Indo-European *h₁illu- and *h₂eng(w)eh₂-. The same compound members, inverted, appear in Latin anguilla “eel”. The *h₁illu- word is cognate to English eel, the anka- word to Sanskrit ahi. Also this dragon is known as Illujanka and Illuyankas.

The Hittite texts were introduced in 1930 by W. Porzig, who first made the comparison of Teshub’s battle with Illuyankas with the sky-god Zeus’ battle with serpent-like Typhon, told in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke (I.6.3); the Hittite-Greek parallels found few adherents at the time, the Hittite myth of the castration of the god of heaven by Kumarbi, with its clearer parallels to Greek myth, not having yet been deciphered and edited.

In the early Vedic religion, Vritra (Vṛtra वृत्र “the enveloper”), is an Asura and also a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra. Vritra was also known in the Vedas as Ahi (“snake”). He appears as a dragon blocking the course of the rivers and is heroically slain by Indra.

Thor

In Norse mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing and fertility. The cognate deity in wider Germanic mythology and paganism was known in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar, stemming from a Common Germanic *Þunraz (meaning “thunder”).

Tanngrisnir (Old Norse “teeth-barer, snarler”) and Tanngnjóstr (Old Norse “teeth grinder”) are the goats who pull the god Thor’s chariot in Norse mythology.

In Norse mythology, Mjölnir is the hammer of Thor. Mjölnir is depicted as one of the most fearsome weapons, capable of leveling mountains. In his account of Norse mythology Snorri Sturluson relates how the hammer was made by the dwarven brothers Sindri and Brokkr, and how its characteristically short handle was due to a mishap during its manufacture.

Jörmungandr, alternately referred to as the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent, is a sea serpent of the Norse mythology, the middle child of Loki and the giantess Angrboða.

According to the Prose Edda, Odin took Loki’s three children by Angrboða, Fenrisúlfr, Hel and Jörmungandr. He tossed Jörmungandr into the great ocean that encircles Midgard. The serpent grew so big that he was able to surround the Earth and grasp his own tail, and as a result he earned the alternate name of the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. When he lets go, the world will end. Jörmungandr’s arch-enemy is the god Thor.

In the poem Völuspá, a dead völva recounts the history of the universe and foretells the future to the disguised god Odin, including the death of Thor. Thor, she foretells, will do battle with the great serpent during the immense mythical war waged at Ragnarök, and there he will slay the monstrous snake, yet after he will only be able to take nine steps before succumbing to the venom of the beast.

Afterwards, says the völva, the sky will turn black before fire engulfs the world, the stars will disappear, flames will dance before the sky, steam will rise, the world will be covered in water, and then it will be raised again; green and fertile. Thor’s sons will survive, and return after these events with Thor’s hammer.

In the poem Grímnismál, the god Odin, in disguise as Grímnir, and tortured, starved and thirsty, imparts in the young Agnar cosmological lore, including that Thor resides in Þrúðheimr, and that, every day, Thor wades through the rivers Körmt and Örmt, and the two Kerlaugar. There, Grímnir says, Thor sits as judge at the immense cosmological world tree, Yggdrasil.

Zeus

Zeus is the “Father of Gods and men” who rules the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father rules the family according to the ancient Greek religion. He is the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. Zeus is etymologically cognate with and, under Hellenic influence, became particularly closely identified with Roman Jupiter.

Zeus is the Greek continuation of *Di̯ēus, the name of the Proto-Indo-European god of the daytime sky, also called *Dyeus ph2tēr (“Sky Father”). The god is known under this name in the Rigveda (Vedic Sanskrit Dyaus/Dyaus Pita), Latin (compare Jupiter, from Iuppiter, deriving from the Proto-Indo-European vocative *dyeu-ph2tēr), deriving from the root *dyeu- (“to shine”, and in its many derivatives, “sky, heaven, god”).

Zeus is the only deity in the Olympic pantheon whose name has such a transparent Indo-European etymology. The earliest attested forms of the name are the Mycenaean Greek di-we and di-wo, written in the Linear B syllabic script.

Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of his siblings. In most traditions he is married to Hera, although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort is Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione.

He is known for his erotic escapades. These resulted in many godly and heroic offspring, including Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera, he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.

As Walter Burkert points out in his book, Greek Religion, “Even the gods who are not his natural children address him as Father, and all the gods rise in his presence.” For the Greeks, he was the King of the Gods, who oversaw the universe.

As Pausanias observed, “That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men”. In Hesiod’s Theogony Zeus assigns the various gods their roles. In the Homeric Hymns he is referred to as the chieftain of the gods.

His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical “cloud-gatherer” (Greek: Nephelēgereta) also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the Ancient Near East, such as the scepter. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward, with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.

Indra

Indra, also known as Śakra in the Vedas, is the leader of the Devas or demi gods and the lord of Svargaloka or heaven in Hinduism. He is the god of rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant known as Airavata.

Indra is the supreme deity and is the twin brother of Agni and is also mentioned as an Āditya, son of Aditi. His home is situated on Mount Meru in the heaven. He has many epithets, notably vṛṣan the bull, and vṛtrahan, slayer of Vṛtra, Meghavahana “the one who rides the clouds” and Devapati “the lord of gods or devas”.

Indra appears as the name of a daeva in Zoroastrianism (but please note that word Indra can be used in general sense as a leader, either of devatas or asuras), while his epithet, Verethragna, appears as a god of victory. Indra is also called Śakra frequently in the Vedas and in Buddhism (Pali: Sakka).

He is celebrated as a demiurge who pushes up the sky, releases Ushas (dawn) from the Vala cave, and slays Vṛtra; both latter actions are central to the Soma sacrifice. He is associated with Vajrapani – the Chief Dharmapala or Defender and Protector of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha who embodies the power of the Five Dhyani Buddhas.

On the other hand, he also commits many kinds of mischief (kilbiṣa) for which he is sometimes punished. In Puranic mythology, Indra is bestowed with a heroic and almost brash and amorous character at times, even as his reputation and role diminished in later Hinduism with the rise of the Trimurti.

Jupiter

Jupiter (Latin: Iuppiter; genitive case: Iovis) or Jove is the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder in myth. Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as sacrifice.

Jupiter is usually thought to have originated as a sky god. His identifying implement is the thunderbolt, and his primary sacred animal is the eagle, which held precedence over other birds in the taking of auspices and became one of the most common symbols of the Roman army. The two emblems were often combined to represent the god in the form of an eagle holding in its claws a thunderbolt, frequently seen on Greek and Roman coins.

As the sky-god, he was a divine witness to oaths, the sacred trust on which justice and good government depend. Many of his functions were focused on the Capitoline (“Capitol Hill”), where the citadel was located. He was the chief deity of the early Capitoline Triad with Mars and Quirinus. In the later Capitoline Triad, he was the central guardian of the state with Juno and Minerva. His sacred tree was the oak.

The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus, and in Latin literature and Roman art, the myths and iconography of Zeus are adapted under the name Iuppiter. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld. The Italic Diespiter was also a sky god who manifested himself in the daylight, usually but not always identified with Jupiter.

Tinia, the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, is usually regarded as his Etruscan counterpart. He was the husband of Thalna, a divine figure usually regarded as a goddess of childbirth, or Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia, identified by the Etruscans as their equivalent of Juno in Roman mythology and Hera in Greek mythology, and the father of Hercle (Greek Heracles, Latin Hercules). In the Etruscan tradition, it is Uni who grants access to immortality to the demigod Hercle by offering her breast milk to him.

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