Ha-ka-tu: The old hag
Posted by Fredsvenn on May 18, 2015
Inanna (Inara) / Ereshkigal (Ares)
The symbol for Saturn is often referred to as an ancient scythe or sickle. Since Saturn was the Roman god of seed-sowing, it makes sense that the planetary symbol would be a tool used for cutting down grains. Below are a few fun and interesting facts about Saturn.
The Ka was the Egyptian concept of vital essence, that which distinguishes the difference between a living and a dead person, with death occurring when the ka left the body. The Egyptians believed that Khnum created the bodies of children on a potter’s wheel and inserted them into their mothers’ bodies.
Depending on the region, Egyptians believed that Heket or Meskhenet was the creator of each person’s Ka, breathing it into them at the instant of their birth as the part of their soul that made them be alive. This resembles the concept of spirit in other religions.
The Egyptians also believed that the ka was sustained through food and drink. For this reason food and drink offerings were presented to the dead, although it was the kau within the offerings that was consumed, not the physical aspect. The ka was often represented in Egyptian iconography as a second image of the king, leading earlier works to attempt to translate ka as double.
To the Egyptians, the frog was a symbol of life and fertility, since millions of them were born after the annual inundation of the Nile, which brought fertility to the otherwise barren lands. Consequently, in Egyptian mythology, there began to be a frog-goddess, who represented fertility, referred to by Egyptologists as Heqet (also Heqat, Hekit, Heket etc., more rarely Hegit, Heget etc.), written with the determinative frog.
Her name was probably pronounced more like *Ḥaqā́tat in Middle Egyptian, hence her later Greek counterpart Ἑκάτη (see Hecate). Heqet was usually depicted as a frog, or a woman with a frog’s head, or more rarely as a frog on the end of a phallus to explicitly indicate her association with fertility. She was often referred to as the wife of Khnum.
The beginning of her cult dates to the early dynastic period at least. Her name was part of the names of some high-born Second Dynasty individuals buried at Helwan and was mentioned on a stela of Wepemnofret and in the Pyramid Texts. Early frog statuettes are often thought to be depictions of her.
Later, as a fertility goddess, associated explicitly with the last stages of the flooding of the Nile, and so with the germination of corn, she became associated with the final stages of childbirth. This association, which appears to have arisen during the Middle Kingdom, gained her the title She who hastens the birth.
Some claim that—even though no ancient Egyptian term for “midwife” is known for certain—midwives often called themselves the Servants of Heqet, and that her priestesses were trained in midwifery. Women often wore amulets of her during childbirth, which depicted Heqet as a frog, sitting in a lotus.
Heqet was considered the wife of Khnum, who formed the bodies of new children on his potter’s wheel. In the myth of Osiris developed, it was said that it was Heqet who breathed life into the new body of Horus at birth, as she was the goddess of the last moments of birth.
As the birth of Horus became more intimately associated with the resurrection of Osiris, so Heqet’s role became one more closely associated with resurrection. Eventually, this association led to her amulets gaining the phrase I am the resurrection in the Christian era along with cross and lamb symbolism.
Khnum was one of the earliest Egyptian deities, originally the god of the source of the Nile River. Since the annual flooding of the Nile brought with it silt and clay, and its water brought life to its surroundings, he was thought to be the creator of the bodies of human children, which he made at a potter’s wheel, from clay, and placed in their mothers’ wombs. He later was described as having moulded the other deities, and he had the titles Divine Potter and Lord of created things from himself.
Khnum is the third aspect of Ra. He is the god of rebirth, creation and the evening sun, although this is usually the function of Atum. He was sometimes regarded as the consort of Heket, or of Meskhenet, whose responsibility was breathing life into children at the moment of birth, as the Ka.
In art, he was usually depicted as a ram-headed man at a potter’s wheel, with recently created children’s bodies standing on the wheel, although he also appeared in his earlier guise as a water-god, holding a jar from which flowed a stream of water.
However, he occasionally appeared in a compound image, depicting the elements, in which he, representing water, was shown as one of four heads of a man, with the others being, – Geb representing earth, Shu representing the air, and Osiris representing death.
Heka was the deification of magic in ancient Egypt, his name being the Egyptian word for “magic”. According to Egyptian writing (Coffin text, spell 261), Heka existed “before duality had yet come into being.” The term “Heka” was also used for the practice of magical ritual. The Coptic word “hik” is derived from the Ancient Egyptian.
Heka literally means activating the Ka, the aspect of the soul which embodied personality. Egyptians thought activating the power of the soul was how magic worked. “Heka” also implied great power and influence, particularly in the case of drawing upon the Ka of the gods. Heka acted together with Hu, the principle of divine utterance, and Sia, the concept of divine omniscience, to create the basis of creative power both in the mortal world and the world of the gods.
As the one who activates Ka, Heka was also said to be the son of Atum, the creator of things in general, or occasionally the son of Khnum, who created specific individual Ba (another aspect of the soul). As the son of Khnum, his mother was said to be Menhit.
The hieroglyph for his name featured a twist of flax within a pair of raised arms; however, it also vaguely resembles a pair of entwined snakes within someone’s arms. Consequently, Heka was said to have battled and conquered two serpents, and was usually depicted as a man choking two giant entwined serpents. Medicine and doctors were thought to be a form of magic, and so Heka’s priesthood performed these activities.
Egyptians believed that with Heka, the activation of the Ka, an aspect of the soul of both gods and humans, (and divine personification of magic), they could influence the gods and gain protection, healing and transformation. Health and wholeness of being were sacred to Heka.
Hecate or Hekate is a goddess in Greek religion and mythology, most often shown holding two torches or a key and in later periods depicted in triple form. She was variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, the moon, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery.
In the post-Christian writings of the Chaldean Oracles (2nd-3rd century CE) she was regarded with (some) rulership over earth, sea and sky, as well as a more universal role as Saviour (Soteira), Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul. She was one of the main deities worshiped in Athenian households as a protective goddess and one who bestowed prosperity and daily blessings on the family.
Hecate may have originated among the Carians of Anatolia, where variants of her name are found as names given to children. William Berg observes, “Since children are not called after spooks, it is safe to assume that Carian theophoric names involving hekat- refer to a major deity free from the dark and unsavoury ties to the underworld and to witchcraft associated with the Hecate of classical Athens.” She also closely parallels the Roman goddess Trivia, with whom she was identified in Rome.
Hecate is now firmly established as a figure in Neopaganism, which draws heavily on folkloric traditions associating Hecate with ‘The Wild Hunt’, witches, hedges and ‘hedge-riding’, and other themes that parallel, but are not explicitly attested in, Classical sources.
Strmiska notes that Hecate, conflated with the figure of Diana, appears in late antiquity and in the early medieval period as part of an “emerging legend complex” associated with gatherings of women, the moon, and witchcraft that eventually became established “in the area of Northern Italy, southern Germany, and the western Balkans.”
This theory of the Roman origins of many European folk traditions related to Diana or Hecate was explicitly advanced at least as early as 1807 and is reflected in numerous etymological claims by lexicographers from the 17th to the 19th century, deriving “hag” and/or “hex” from Hecate by way of haegtesse (Anglo-Saxon) and hagazussa (Old High German).
Such derivations are today proposed only by a minority since being refuted by Grimm, who was skeptical of theories proposing non-Germanic origins for German folklore traditions.
Modern etymology reconstructs Proto-Germanic *hagatusjon- from haegtesse and hagazussa; the first element is probably cognate with hedge, which derives from PIE *kagh- “hedge, enclosure”, and the second perhaps from *dhewes- “fly about, be smoke, vanish.”
The figure of Hecate can often be associated with the figure of Isis in Egyptian myth. In the syncretism during Late Antiquity of Hellenistic and late Babylonian (“Chaldean”) elements, Hecate was identified with Ereshkigal, the underworld counterpart of Inanna in the Babylonian cosmography. Before she became associated with Greek mythology, she had many similarities with Artemis (wilderness, and watching over wedding ceremonies).
Gugalanna (Sumerian: GU.GAL.AN.NA, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: GU.AN.NA), was the first husband of the Goddess Ereshkigal, as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
In Roman mythology, Diana (lt. “heavenly” or “divine”) was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and childbirth, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals.
Oak groves were especially sacred to her. According to mythology (in common with the Greek religion and their deity Artemis), Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona. Diana made up a triad with two other Roman deities: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.
She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy. Diana was worshipped in ancient Roman religion and is revered in Roman Neopaganism and Stregheria. Dianic Wicca, a largely feminist form of the practice, is named for her.
Diana was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, Diana, Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry.
Vesta is the virgin goddess of the hearth, home, and family in Roman religion. Vesta’s presence is symbolized by the sacred fire that burned at her hearth and temples. Her closest Greek equivalent is Hestia.
The importance of Vesta to Roman religion is indicated by the prominence of the priesthood devoted to her, the Vestal Virgins, Rome’s only college of full-time priests.
Georges Dumézil (1898–1986), a French comparative philologist, surmised that the name of the goddess derives from Indoeuropean root *h₁eu-, via the derivative form *h₁eu-s- which alternates with *h₁w-es-. The former is found in Greek heuein, Latin urit, ustio and Vedic osathi all conveying ‘burning’ and the second is found in Vesta. (Greek goddess-name Ἑστία Hestia is probably unrelated).
Diana (pronounced with long ‘ī’ and ‘ā’) is an adjectival form developed from an ancient *divios, corresponding to later ‘divus’, ‘dius’, as in Dius Fidius, Dea Dia and in the neuter form dium meaning the sky. It is rooted in Indoeuropean *d(e)y(e)w, meaning bright sky or daylight, from which also derived the name of Vedic god Dyaus and the Latin deus, (god), dies, (day, daylight), and ” diurnal”, (daytime).
On the Tablets of Pylos a theonym diwia is supposed as referring to a deity precursor of Artemis. Modern scholars mostly accept the identification. The ancient Latin writers Varro and Cicero considered the etymology of Dīāna as allied to that of dies and connected to the shine of the Moon.
The persona of Diana is complex and contains a number of archaic features. According to Georges Dumézil it falls into a particular subset of celestial gods, referred to in histories of religion as frame gods. Such gods, while keeping the original features of celestial divinities, i.e. transcendent heavenly power and abstention from direct rule in worldly matters, did not share the fate of other celestial gods in Indoeuropean religions—that of becoming dei otiosi or gods without practical purpose, since they did retain a particular sort of influence over the world and mankind.
The celestial character of Diana is reflected in her connection with light, inaccessibility, virginity, and her preference for dwelling on high mountains and in sacred woods. Diana therefore reflects the heavenly world (diuum means sky or open air) in its sovereignty, supremacy, impassibility, and indifference towards such secular matters as the fates of mortals and states. At the same time, however, she is seen as active in ensuring the succession of kings and in the preservation of humankind through the protection of childbirth.
According to Dumezil the forerunner of all frame gods is an Indian epic hero who was the image (avatar) of the Vedic god Dyaus. Having renounced the world, in his roles of father and king, he attained the status of an immortal being while retaining the duty of ensuring that his dynasty is preserved and that there is always a new king for each generation.
The Scandinavian god Heimdallr performs an analogous function: he is born first and will die last. He too gives origin to kingship and the first king, bestowing on him regal prerogatives. Diana, although a female deity, has exactly the same functions, preserving mankind through childbirth and royal succession.
I. H. Pairault in her essay on Diana qualifies Dumézil’s theory as “impossible to verify”. Dumezil’s interpretation appears deliberately to ignore that of James G. Frazer, who links Diana with the male god Janus as a divine couple. This looks odd as Dumézil’s definition of the concept of frame god would fit well the figure of Janus.
Frazer identifies the two with the supreme heavenly couple Jupiter-Juno and additionally ties in these figures to the overarching Indoeuropean religious complex. This regality is also linked to the cult of trees, particularly oaks. In this interpretative schema, the institution of the Rex Nemorensis and related ritual should be seen as related to the theme of the dying god and the kings of May, a figure in the mythology of Great Britain and Ireland, as well as a folk custom.
As a goddess of hunting, Diana often wears a short tunic and hunting boots. She is often portrayed holding a bow, and carrying a quiver on her shoulder, accompanied by a deer or hunting dogs. Like Venus, she was portrayed as beautiful and youthful. The crescent moon, sometimes worn as a diadem, is a major attribute of the goddess.
Diana’s cult has been related in Early Modern Europe to the cult of Nicevenn (a.k.a. Dame Habond, Perchta, Herodiana, etc.). She was related to myths of a female Wild Hunt. Today there is a branch of Wicca named for her, which is characterized by an exclusive focus on the feminine aspect of the Divine. Diana’s name is also used as the third divine name in a Wiccan energy chant- “Isis Astarte Diana Hecate Demeter Kali Inanna”.
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. It is conventionally thought that the month of January is named for Janus (Ianuarius), but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month.
Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The doors of his temple were open in time of war, and closed to mark the peace. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.
Janus had no flamen or specialized priest (sacerdos) assigned to him, but the King of the Sacred Rites (rex sacrorum) himself carried out his ceremonies. Janus had a ubiquitous presence in religious ceremonies throughout the year, and was ritually invoked at the beginning of each one, regardless of the main deity honored on any particular occasion.
The ancient Greeks had no equivalent to Janus, whom the Romans claimed as distinctively their own. Modern scholars, however, have identified analogous figures in the pantheons of the Near East. His name in Greek is Ianós.
The relationship between Janus and Juno is defined by the closeness of the notions of beginning and transition and the functions of conception and delivery, result of youth and vital force. The reader is referred to the above sections Cult epithets and Tigillum Sororium of this article and the corresponding section of article Juno.
Quirinus is a god that incarnates the quirites, i.e. the Romans in their civil capacity of producers and fathers. He is surnamed Mars tranquillus peaceful Mars, Mars qui praeest paci Mars who presides on peace. His function of custos guardian is highlighted by the location of his temple inside the pomerium but not far from the gate of Porta Collina or Quirinalis, near the shrines of Sancus and Salus.
As a protector of peace he is nevertheless armed, in the same way as the quirites are, as they are potentially milites soldiers: his staue represents him is holding a spear. For this reason Janus, god of gates, is concerned with his function of protector of the civil community.
For the same reason the flamen Portunalis oiled the arms of Quirinus, implying that they were to be kept in good order and ready even though they were not to be used immediately. Dumézil and Schilling remark that as a god of the third function Quirinus is peaceful and represents the ideal of the pax romana i. e. a peace resting on victory.
Portunus may be defined as a sort of duplication inside the scope of the powers and attributes of Janus. His original definition shows he was the god of gates and doors and of harbours.
In fact it is debated whether his original function was only that of god of gates and the function of god of harbours was a later addition: Paul the Deacon writes: “… he is depicted holding a key in his hand and was thought to be the god of gates”. Varro would have stated that he was the god of harbours and patron of gates.
His festival day named Portunalia fell on August 17, and he was venerated on that day in a temple ad pontem Aemilium and ad pontem Sublicium that had been dedicated on that date.
Portunus, unlike Janus, had his own flamen, named Portunalis. It is noteworthy that the temple of Janus in the Forum Holitorium had been consecrated on the day of the Portunalia and that the flamen Portunalis was in charge of oiling the arms of the statue of Quirinus.
The relationship between Janus and Vesta touches on the question of the nature and function of the gods of beginning and ending in Indo-European religion. While Janus has the first place Vesta has the last, both in theology and in ritual (Ianus primus, Vesta extrema).
The last place implies a direct connexion with the situation of the worshipper, in space and in time. Vesta is thence the goddess of the hearth of homes as well as of the city. Her inextinguishable fire is a means for men (as individuals and as a community) to keep in touch with the realm of gods.
Thus there is a reciprocal link between the god of beginnings and unending motion, who bestows life to the beings of this world (Cerus Manus) as well as presiding over its end, and the goddess of the hearth of man, which symbolises through fire the presence of life.
Vesta is a virgin goddess but at the same time she is considered the mother of Rome: she is thought to be indispensable to the existence and survival of the community.
From other archaeological documents though it has become clear that the Etruscans had another god iconographically corresponding to Janus: Culśanś, of which there is a bronze statuette from Cortona (now at Cortona Museum).
While Janus is a bearded adult Culśans may be an unbearded youth, making his identification with Hermes look possible. His name too is connected with the Etruscan word for doors and gates.
According to Capdeville he may also be found on the outer rim of the Piacenza Liver on case 14 in the compound form CULALP, i.e., “of Culśanś and of Alpan(u)” on the authority of Pfiffig, but perhaps here it is the female goddess Culśu, the guardian of the door of the Underworld.
Although the location is not strictly identical there is some approximation in his situations on the Liver and in Martianus’ system. A. Audin connects the figure of Janus to Culśanś and Turms (Etruscan rendering of Hermes, the Greek god mediator between the different worlds, brought by the Etruscan from the Aegean Sea), considering these last two Etruscan deities as one.
This interpretation would then identify Janus with Greek god Hermes. Etruscan medals from Volterra to show the double headed god and the Janus Quadrifrons from Falerii may have an Etruscan origin.
According to Johannes Lydus with the testimony ascribed to Varro Janus was named caelum among the Etruscans. Caelus or Coelus was a primal god of the sky in Roman myth and theology, iconography, and literature (compare caelum, the Latin word for “sky” or “the heavens”, hence English “celestial”).
The deity’s name usually appears in masculine grammatical form when he is conceived of as a male generative force, but the neuter form Caelum is also found as a divine personification.
The name of Caelus indicates that he was the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Uranus, who was of major importance in the theogonies of the Greeks. Varro couples him with Terra (Earth) as pater and mater (father and mother), and says that they are “great deities” (dei magni) in the theology of the mysteries at Samothrace.
Although Caelus is not known to have had a cult at Rome, not all scholars consider him a Greek import given a Latin name; he has been associated with Summanus, the god of nocturnal thunder, as “purely Roman.”
Caelus begins to appear regularly in Augustan art and in connection with the cult of Mithras during the Imperial era. Vitruvius includes him among celestial gods whose temple-buildings (aedes) should be built open to the sky. As a sky god, he became identified with Jupiter, as indicated by an inscription that reads Optimus Maximus Caelus Aeternus Iupter.
According to Cicero and Hyginus, Caelus was the son of Aether and Dies (“Day” or “Daylight”). Caelus and Dies were in this tradition the parents of Mercury. With Trivia, Caelus was the father of the distinctively Roman god Janus, as well as of Saturn and Ops.
Caelus was also the father of one of the three forms of Jupiter, the other two fathers being Aether and Saturn. In one tradition, Caelus was the father with Tellus of the Muses, though was this probably a mere translation of Ouranos from a Greek source.
Uranus (meaning “sky” or “heaven”) was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia (Earth), Mother Earth.
Uranus has two astronomical symbols. The first to be proposed was suggested by Lalande in 1784. In a letter to Herschel, Lalande described it as “un globe surmonté par la première lettre de votre nom” (“a globe surmounted by the first letter of your surname”).
A later proposal is a hybrid of the symbols for Mars and the Sun because Uranus was the Sky in Greek mythology, which was thought to be dominated by the combined powers of the Sun and Mars. In Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese, its name is literally translated as the “sky king star” (天王星).
According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Uranus was conceived by Gaia alone, but other sources cite Aether as his father. Uranus and Gaia were the parents of the first generation of Titans, and the ancestors of most of the Greek gods, but no cult addressed directly to Uranus survived into Classical times, and Uranus does not appear among the usual themes of Greek painted pottery. Elemental Earth, Sky and Styx might be joined, however, in a solemn invocation in Homeric epic.
The most probable etymology traces the name to a Proto-Greek form *worsanós enlarged from *ṷorsó- (also found in Greek ouréō ‘to urinate’, Sanskrit varṣá ‘rain’, Hittite ṷarša- ‘fog, mist’). The basic Indo-European root is *ṷérs- ‘to rain, moisten’ (also found in Greek eérsē ‘dew’, Sanskrit várṣati ‘to rain’, Avestan ‘it rained on’), making Ouranos the ‘rainmaker’.
A less likely etymology is a derivative with meaning ‘the one standing on high’ from PIE *ṷérso- (cf. Sanskrit várṣman ‘height, top’, Lithuanian viršùs ‘upper, highest seat’, Russian verx ‘height, top’). Georges Dumézil’s equation of Ouranos with the Vedic deity Váruṇa (Mitanni Aruna), god of the sky and waters, is etymologically untenable.
Uranus is connected with the night sky, and Váruṇa is the god of the sky and the celestial ocean, which is connected with the Milky Way. His daughter Lakshmi is said to have arisen from an ocean of milk, a myth similar to the myth of Aphrodite.
Georges Dumézil made a cautious case for the identity of Uranus and Vedic Váruṇa at the earliest Indo-European cultural level. Dumézil’s identification of mythic elements shared by the two figures, relying to a great extent on linguistic interpretation, but not positing a common origin, was taken up by Robert Graves and others.
The identification of the name Ouranos with the Hindu Váruṇa, based in part on a posited PIE root *-ŭer with a sense of “binding”—ancient king god Váruṇa binds the wicked, ancient king god Uranus binds the Cyclopes, whom had tormented him. The most probable etymology is from Proto-Greek *(F)orsanόj (worsanos) from a PIE root *ers “to moisten, to drip” (referring to the rain).
The Greek creation myth is similar to the Hurrian creation myth. In Hurrian religion Anu is the sky god. His son Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three deities, one of whom Teshub, later deposed Kumarbi. In Sumerian mythology and later for Assyrians and Babylonians, Anu is the sky god and represented law and order.
It is possible that Uranus was originally an Indo-European god, to be identified with the Vedic Váruṇa, the supreme keeper of order who later became the god of oceans and rivers, as suggested by Georges Dumézil, following hints in Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912).
Another of Dumézil’s theories is that the Iranian supreme God Ahura Mazda is a development of the Indo-Iranian *vouruna-*mitra. Therefore this divinity has also the qualities of Mitra, which is the god of the falling rain.
In Hesiod’s Theogony, Uranus is the offspring of Gaia, the earth goddess. Alcman and Callimachus elaborate that Uranus was fathered by Aether, the god of heavenly light and the upper air.
Under the influence of the philosophers, Cicero, in De Natura Deorum (“Concerning the Nature of the Gods”), claims that he was the offspring of the ancient gods Aether and Hemera, Air and Day. According to the Orphic Hymns, Uranus was the son of Nyx, the personification of night.
Nyx (“Night”) – Roman (in Latin): Nox – is the Greek goddess (or personification) of the night. A shadowy figure, Nyx stood at or near the beginning of creation, and was the mother of other personified deities such as Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death).
Her appearances are sparse in surviving mythology, but reveal her as a figure of such exceptional power and beauty, that she is feared by Zeus himself. She is found in the shadows of the world and only ever seen in glimpses.
In Hesiod’s Theogony, Nyx is born of Chaos. With Erebus (Darkness), Nyx gives birth to Aether (Brightness) and Hemera (Day). Later, on her own, Nyx gives birth to Moros (Doom, Destiny), Ker (Fate, Destruction, Death), Thanatos (Death), Hypnos (Sleep), the Oneiroi (Dreams), Momus (Blame), Oizys (Woe, Pain, Distress), the Hesperides (Evening, Sunset), the Moirai (Fates), the Keres, Nemesis (Indignation, Retribution), Apate (Deceit), Philotes (Friendship, Love), Geras (Old Age), and Eris (Strife).
In his description of Tartarus, Hesiod locates there the home of Nyx, and the homes of her children Hypnos and Thanatos. Hesiod says further that Hemera (Day), who is Nyx’s daughter, left Tartarus just as Nyx entered it; continuing cyclicly, when Hemera returned, Nyx left. This mirrors the portrayal of Ratri (night) in the Rigveda, where she works in close cooperation but also tension with her sister Ushas (dawn).
The ancient Greeks and Romans knew of only five ‘wandering stars’: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Following the discovery of a sixth planet in the 18th century, the name Uranus was chosen as the logical addition to the series: for Mars (Ares in Greek) was the son of Jupiter, Jupiter (Zeus in Greek) the son of Saturn, and Saturn (Cronus in Greek) the son of Uranus. What is anomalous is that, while the others take Roman names, Uranus is a name derived from Greek in contrast to the Roman Caelus.
In the Olympian creation myth, as Hesiod tells it in the Theogony, Uranus came every night to cover the earth and mate with Gaia, but he hated the children she bore him. Hesiod named their first six sons and six daughters the Titans, the three one-hundred-handed giants the Hekatonkheires, and the one-eyed giants the Cyclopes. The Hekatonkheires were thus part of the very beginning of things in the submerged prehistory of Greek myth, though they played no known part in cult.
The Hekatonkheires or Hecatonchires (singular: “Hekatonkheir” or “Hecatonchir” (“hundred-handed ones”), also called the Centimanes (Latin: Centimani) or Hundred-handers, were figures in an archaic stage of Greek mythology, three giants of incredible strength and ferocity that surpassed all of the Titans, whom they helped overthrow. Their name derives from the Greek hekaton (“hundred”) and kheir (“hand”), “each of them having a hundred hands and fifty heads” (Bibliotheca). Hesiod’s Theogony reports that the three Hekatonkheires became the guards of the gates of Tartarus.
In Virgil’s Aeneid (10.566–67), in which Aeneas is likened to one of them (Briareos, known here as Aegaeon), they fought on the side of the Titans rather than the Olympians; in this, Virgil was following the lost Corinthian epic Titanomachy rather than the more familiar account in Hesiod.
Other accounts make Briareos (or Aegaeon) one of the assailants of Olympus. After his defeat, he was buried under Mount Aetna (Callimachus, Hymn to Delos, 141).
Soon after they were born, their father Uranus threw them into the depths of Tartarus because he saw them as hideous monsters. In some versions, Uranus saw how ugly the Hekatonkheires were at their birth and pushed them back into Gaia’s womb, upsetting Gaia greatly, causing her great pain and setting into motion the overthrow of Uranus by Cronus, who later imprisoned them in Tartarus.
The Hekatonkheires remained there, guarded by the dragon Campe, until Zeus rescued them, advised by Gaia that they would serve as good allies against Cronus and the Titans. During the War of the Titans, the Hekatonkheires threw rocks as big as mountains, one hundred at a time, at the Titans, overwhelming them. After the War of the Titans, the Hekatonkheires became the guards of Tartarus.
Uranus imprisoned Gaia’s youngest children in Tartarus, deep within Earth, where they caused pain to Gaia. She shaped a great flint-bladed sickle and asked her sons to castrate Uranus. Only Cronus, youngest and most ambitious of the Titans, was willing: he ambushed his father and castrated him, casting the severed testicles into the sea.
For this fearful deed, Uranus called his sons Titanes Theoi, or “Straining Gods.” From the blood that spilled from Uranus onto the Earth came forth the Giants, the Erinyes (the avenging Furies), the Meliae (the ash-tree nymphs), and, according to some, the Telchines. From the genitals in the sea came forth Aphrodite.
After Uranus was deposed, Cronus re-imprisoned the Hekatonkheires and Cyclopes in Tartarus. Uranus and Gaia then prophesied that Cronus in turn was destined to be overthrown by his own son, and so the Titan attempted to avoid this fate by devouring his young. Zeus, through deception by his mother Rhea, avoided this fate.
These ancient myths of distant origins were not expressed in cults among the Hellenes. The function of Uranus was as the vanquished god of an elder time, before real time began.
In Greek mythology, Hyperion (“The High-One”), a Titan and god of the sun, was one of the twelve Titan children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky or Heaven) who, led by Cronus, overthrew Uranus and were themselves later overthrown by the Olympians.
With his sister, the Titaness Theia (sometimes rendered Thea or Thia), also called Euryphaessa “wide-shining”, a Titaness and a goddess of the moon, Hyperion fathered Helios (Sun), Selene (Moon) and Eos (Dawn). The name Theia alone means simply “goddess” or “divine”; Theia Euryphaessa brings overtones of extent (eurys, “wide”) and brightness (phaos, “light”).
In Greek mythology, Ēōs (“dawn”) is a Titaness and the goddess of the dawn, who rose each morning from her home at the edge of the Oceanus. She is the daughter of Hyperion and Theia and sister of Helios, god of the sun, and Selene, goddess of the moon, “who shine upon all that are on earth and upon the deathless gods who live in the wide heaven.”
Eos is cognate to Vedic Sanskrit Ushas and Latin Aurora, both goddesses of dawn, and all three considered derivatives of a PIE stem *h₂ewsṓs (later *Ausṓs), “dawn”, a stem that also gave rise to Proto-Germanic *Austrō, Old Germanic *Ōstara and Old English Ēostre/Ēastre. This agreement leads to the reconstruction of a Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess.
The dawn goddess Eos was almost always described with rosy fingers or rosy forearms as she opened the gates of heaven for the Sun to rise. In Homer, her saffron-coloured robe is embroidered or woven with flowers; rosy-fingered and with golden arms, she is pictured on Attic vases as a beautiful woman, crowned with a tiara or diadem and with the large white-feathered wings of a bird.
Haya, known both as a “door-keeper” and associated with the scribal arts, is mainly known as spouse of the goddess Nidaba/Nissaba, the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest. Haya’s functions are two-fold: he appears to have served as a door-keeper but was also associated with the scribal arts, and may have had an association with grain.
As with many Sumerian deities, Nisaba’s exact place in the pantheon and her heritage appears somewhat ambiguous. She is the daughter of An and Urash. From Sumerian texts, the language used to describe Urash is very similar to the language used to describe Ninhursag. Therefore, the two goddesses may be one and the same.
Nisaba is the sister of Ninsun, the mother of Gilgamesh. If Urash and Ninhursag are the same goddess, then Nisaba is also the half sister of Nanshe and (in some versions) Ninurta. In some other tales, she is considered the mother of Ninlil, and by extension, the mother-in-law of Enlil.
On a depiction found in Lagash, she appears with flowing hair, crowned with horned tiara bearing supporting ears of grain and a crescent moon. Her dense hair is evoked in comparison in the description of similarly hairy Enkidu in the Gilgamesh epic.
In some cases Haya was identified as father of the goddess Ninlil, (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, the consort goddess of Enlil. Another Akkadian source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu (Sumerian Ki). Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu.
She lived in Dilmun with her family. Raped and ravaged by her husband Enlil, who impregnated her with water, she conceived a boy, Nanna/Suen, the future moon god. As punishment Enlil was dispatched to the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, where Ninlil joined him. Enlil impregnated her disguised as the gatekeeper, where upon she gave birth to their son Nergal, god of death.
In a similar manner she conceived the underworld god Ninazu when Enlil impregnated her disguised as the man of the river of the nether world, a man-devouring river. Later Enlil disguised himself as the man of the boat, impregnating her with a fourth deity Enbilulu, god of rivers and canals. All of these act as substitutes for Nanna/Suen to ascend. In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta, the heroic god who slew Asag the demon with his mace, Sharur.
After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.
In the sleeping quarters, in the flowered bed fragrant like a cedar forest, Enlil made love to his wife and took great pleasure in it. He sat her on his dais appropriate to the status of Enlil, and made the people pray to her. The lord whose statements are powerful also determined a fate for the Lady (Aruru), the woman of his favour; he gave her the name Nintur, the ‘Lady who gives birth’, the ‘Lady who spreads her knees’. (…) Proud woman, surpassing the mountains! You who always fulfil your desires—from now on, Sud, Enlil is the king and Ninlil is the queen. The goddess without name has a famous name now …
After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.
There is also a divine name Haia(-)amma in a bilingual Hattic-Hittite text from Anatolia which is used as an equivalent for the Hattic grain-goddess Kait in an invocation to the Hittite grain-god Halki, although it is unclear whether this appellation can be related to dha-ià.
Haya is also characterised, beyond being the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. He is designated as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”.
Attempts have also been made to connect the remote origins of ha-ià with those of the god Ea (Ebla Ḥayya), although there remain serious doubts concerning this hypothesis. How or whether both are related to a further western deity called Ḥayya is also unclear.