From Taurus (Tyr) to Aries (Mars)
Posted by Fredsvenn on July 2, 2015
In many languages, Tuesday is named for the planet Mars or the god of war: In Latin, martis dies (“Mars’s Day”), survived in Romance languages as martes (Spanish), mardi (French), martedi (Italian), marţi (Romanian), and dimarts (Catalan). In Irish (Gaelic), the day is An Mháirt. The English word Tuesday derives from Old English “Tiwesdæg” and means “Tiw’s Day”, Tiw being the Old English form of the Proto-Germanic war god *Tîwaz, or Týr in Norse.
Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”; symbol: , Unicode: ♉) is the second astrological sign in the present Zodiac, which means it is crossed by the plane of the ecliptic. Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox. It spans the 30-60th degree of the zodiac, between 27.25 and 54.75 degree of celestial longitude.
Under the tropic zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between April 20 and May 20 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Taurus from April 20th through May 20th. People born between these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Taureans. The symbol of the bull is based on the Cretan Bull, the white bull that fathered the Minotaur and was killed by Theseus.
Taurus was the second sign of the zodiac established among the ancient Mesopotamians—who knew it as the Bull of Heaven—because it was the sign through which the sun rose on the vernal equinox. Due to the procession of the equinox, it now follows Aries. The Bull represents a strong-willed character with great perseverance and determination.
In Egypt, Taurus was seen as the cow goddess Hathor. Hathor was the goddess of beauty, love, and happiness, and she represented all of the riches seen in cattle as the providers of nourishment. Roman astrologers considered Taurus ruled by Venus, the goddess of beauty.
Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. As of 2008, the Sun appears in the constellation Taurus from May 13 to June 21. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Taurus from April 20 to May 20.
The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures, including indigenous groups of Australia, North America and Siberia. This suggests that the name may have a common ancient origin.
In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU4.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.
Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El. From the first publication of the Kingship in Heaven tablets scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.
The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven relates that Alalu was overthrown by Anu who was in turn overthrown by Kumarbi. When Anu tried to escape, Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three new gods. In the text Anu tells his son that he is now pregnant with the Teshub, Tigris, and Tašmišu.
Upon hearing this Kumarbi spit the semen upon the ground and it became impregnated with two children. Kumarbi is cut open to deliver Tešub. Together, Anu and Teshub depose Kumarbi.
In another version of the Kingship in Heaven, the three gods, Alalu, Anu, and Kumarbi, rule heaven, each serving the one who precedes him in the nine-year reign. It is Kumarbi’s son Tešub, the Weather-God, who begins to conspire to overthrow his father.
In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.
Gugalanna (Sumerian: GU.GAL.AN.NA, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: GU₄.AN.NA), was a Sumerian deity as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
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.
The equinox was considered the Sumerian New Year, Akitu, an important event in their religion. The story of the death of Gugalanna has been considered to represent the sun’s obscuring of the constellation as it rose on the morning of the equinox.
In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.
To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.
In Greek mythology, Taurus was identified with Zeus, who assumed the form of a magnificent white bull to abduct Europa, a legendary Phoenician princess. In illustrations of Greek mythology, only the front portion of this constellation are depicted; this was sometimes explained as Taurus being partly submerged as he carried Europa out to sea. A second Greek myth portrays Taurus as Io, a mistress of Zeus. To hide his lover from his wife Hera, Zeus changed Io into the form of a heifer. Greek mythographer Acusilaus marks the bull Taurus as the same that formed the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labors of Heracles.
Taurus became an important object of worship among the Druids. Their Tauric religious festival was held while the Sun passed through the constellation. In Buddhism, legends hold that Gautama Buddha was born when the Full Moon was in Vaisakha, or Taurus. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated with the Wesak Festival, or Vesākha, which occurs on the first or second Full Moon when the Sun is in Taurus.
Týr is a god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio.
In the late Icelandic Eddas, Tyr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion. It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age (376 to 800 AD), as Odin shares his role as God of war.
Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. After a warrior has dedicated his weapon to Týr he should not lose it or break it. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.
Old Norse Týr, literally “god”, plural tívar “gods”, comes from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz (cf. Old English Tīw, Old High German Zīo), which continues Proto-Indo-European *deiwós “celestial being, god” (cf. Welsh duw, Latin deus, Lithuanian diẽvas, Sanskrit dēvá, Avestan daēvō “demon”). And *deiwós is based in *dei-, *deyā-, *dīdyā-, meaning ‘to shine’.
The earliest attestation for Týr’s continental counterpart occurs in Gothic tyz “the t-rune” in the 9th-century Codex Vindobonensis 795. The rune was also compared with Mars. Tacitus also named the German “Mars” as the primary deity, along with the German “Mercury” (believed to be Odin), Hercules (believed to be Thor) and “Isis”. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.
Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”) was the Hittite and Hattic god of the sun. In Luwian he was known as Tiwaz or Tijaz. He was a god of judgement, and was depicted bearing a winged sun on his crown or head-dress, and a crooked staff.
According to Tacitus’s Germania (98 CE), Tuisto is the divine ancestor of the Germanic peoples. The figure remains the subject of some scholarly discussion, largely focused upon etymological connections and comparisons to figures in later (particularly Norse) Germanic mythology. In the larger Indo-European pantheon, Tuisto is equated to the Vedic Tvastar, in Vedic religion the first born creator of the universe.
The Germania manuscript corpus contains two primary variant readings of the name. The most frequently occurring, Tuisto, is commonly connected to the Proto-Germanic root tvai (“two”) and its derivative tvis (“twice”; “doubled”). Allusions to intersex is entirely conjectural, as the tvia/tvis roots are also the roots of any number of other concepts/words in the Germanic languages. Take for instance the Germanic “twist”, which, in all but the English has the primary meaning of “dispute/conflict”.
The second variant of the name, occurring originally in manuscript E, is Tuisco (sometimes rendered Tuiscon). One proposed etymology for this variant reconstructs a Proto-Germanic tiwisko, and connects this with Proto-Germanic Tiwaz, yielded the meaning “son of Tiu”. This interpretation implies that Tuisco is the son of the sky god (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus) and the earth-goddess.
Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir in later Norse mythology, attested in 13th century sources, based upon etymological and functional similarity. Meyer (1907) sees the connection as so strong, that he considers the two to be identical.
Lindow (2001), while mindful of the possible semantic connection between Tuisto and Ymir, notes an essential functional difference: while Ymir is portrayed as an “essentially … negative figure” – Tuisto is described as being “celebrated” (celebrant) by the early Germanic peoples in song, with Tacitus reporting nothing negative about Tuisto.
Jacob (2005) attempts to establish a genealogical relationship between Tuisto and Ymir based on etymology and a comparison with (post-)Vedic Indian mythology: as Tvastr, through his daughter Saranyū and her husband Vivaswān, is said to have been the grandfather of the twins Yama and Yami, so Jacob argues that the Germanic Tuisto (assuming a connection with Tvastr) must originally have been the grandfather of Ymir (cognate to Yama).
Tacitus relates that “ancient songs” (Latin carminibus antiquis) of the Germanic peoples celebrated Tuisto as “a god, born of the earth” (deum terra editum). These songs further attributed to him a son, Mannus, who in turn had three sons, the offspring of whom were referred to as Ingaevones, Herminones and Istaevones, living near the Ocean (proximi Oceano), in the interior (medii), and the remaining parts (ceteri) of the geographical region of Germania, respectively.
Tacitus’s report falls squarely within the ethnographic tradition of the classical world, which often fused anthropogony, ethnogony, and theogony together into a synthetic whole. The succession of father-son-three sons parallels occurs in both Germanic and non-Germanic Indo-European areas. The essential characteristics of the myth have been theorized as ultimately originating in Proto-Indo-European society around 2,000 BCE.
The sequence in which one god has a son, who has three famous sons, has a resemblance to how Búri has a son Borr who has three sons: Odin, Vili and Vé. The same tradition occurs with the Slavs and their expansion, in the legend of Lech, Čech and Rus.
Incidentally, Indian mythology also places Manu (cognate to Germanic Mannus), the name of accorded to a progenitor of humanity being the first human to appear in the world in an epoch after universal destruction, the Vedic progenitor of mankind, as a son of Vivaswān, thus making him the brother of Yama/Ymir.
According to the Puranas, 14 Manus appear in each kalpa (aeon). The period of each Manu is called Manvantara. The current world is that of Vaivasvata, the seventh Manu of the aeon of the white boar (sveta varaha kalpa).
Vaivasvata, also known as Sraddhadeva or Satyavrata, was the king of Dravida before the great flood. He was warned of the flood by the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, and built a boat that carried his family and the seven sages to safety, helped by Matsya. The earliest extant text that mentions this story is the Satapatha Brahmana (dated variously from 700 BCE to 300 BCE). The myth is repeated with variations in other texts, including the Mahabharata and the various Puranas. It is similar to other flood myths such as that of Gilgamesh and Noah.
Ziusudra (also Zi-ud-sura and Zin-Suddu; Hellenized Xisuthros: “found long life” or “life of long days”) of Shuruppak is listed in the WB-62 Sumerian king list recension as the last king of Sumer prior to the deluge. He is subsequently recorded as the hero of the Sumerian flood epic. Akkadian Atrahasis (“extremely wise”) and Utnapishtim (“he found life”), as well as biblical Noah (“rest”) are similar heroes of flood legends of the ancient Near East.
The term Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned in the Mitanni treaty, which establishes him as a Proto-Indo-Iranian divinity. Tvaṣṭṛ is a solar deity in the epic of Mahābhārata and the Harivaṃśa. He is mentioned as the son of Kāśyapa and Aditi, and is said to have made the three worlds with pieces of the Sun god Surya.
In Vedic religion, Tvaṣṭṛ is the first born creator of the universe. Purusha sukta refers to the Purusha as Tvasta, who is the visible form of creativity emerged from the navel of the invisible Viswakarma (“all-accomplishing, maker of all,” “all doer”). In Yajurveda purusha suktha and in the 10th mandala of the Rigveda his character and attributes are merged with the concept of Hiranyagharbha/Prajapathy or Brahma.
The term, also transliterated as Tvaṣṭr, nominative Tvaṣṭā, is the heavenly builder, the maker of divine implements, especially Indra’s Vajra and the guardian of Soma. Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned 65 times in the Ṛgveda and is the former of the bodies of men and animals,’ and invoked when desiring offspring, called garbha-pati or the lord of the womb. Similarly, as mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata, Tvaṣṭr is Śukra’s son.
Tvaṣṭṛ is sometimes associated or identified with similar deities, such as Savitṛ, Prajāpatī, Viśvakarman and Puṣan. He is the father of Saranyṇ, who twice bears twins to Vivasvat (RV 10.17.1), Yama and Yami, also identified as the first humans to be born on Earth. He is also the father of Viśvarūpa or Triśiras who was killed by Indra, in revenge Tvaṣṭṛ created Vrtra a fearsome dragon. Surprisingly he is also inferred to as Indra’s father.
Aries (♈) (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30º). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign between March 21 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from 15 April to 15 May. According to the Tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which occurs around March 21. Individuals born during these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Arians or Ariens.
Ara the Beautiful
Ara the Beautiful is a legendary Armenian patriarch. In Armenian mythology, Ara was a warrior whose handsomeness drew marriage proposals from queen Semiramis. When Ara rejected Semiramis due to his marriage to Nvard, Semiramis sent soldiers to kill Ara and bring his body to her, where she prayed for his eventual resurrection. Ara was descended from Hayk.
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. Mars also gave his name to the third month in the Roman calendar, Martius, from which English “March” derives. In the most ancient Roman calendar, Martius was the first month. The planet Mars was named for him and in some allegorical and philosophical writings, the planet and the god are endowed with shared characteristics.
He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.
The word Mārs (genitive Mārtis), which in Old Latin and poetic usage also appears as Māvors (Māvortis), is cognate with Oscan Māmers (Māmertos). The Old Latin form was believed to derive from an Italic *Māworts, but can also be explained as deriving from Maris, the name of an Etruscan child-god; scholars have varying views on whether the two gods are related, and if so how.
Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares (literally meaning “battle”), whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. But the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, who is often treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature.
The Greeks were ambivalent toward Ares: although he embodied the physical valor necessary for success in war, he was a dangerous force, “overwhelming, insatiable in battle, destructive, and man-slaughtering.” His sons Fear (Phobos) and Terror (Deimos) and his lover, or sister, Discord (Enyo) accompanied him on his war chariot.
In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war, in contrast to his sister the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship.
Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. Virility as a kind of life force (vis) or virtue (virtus) is an essential characteristic of Mars.
As an agricultural guardian, he directs his energies toward creating conditions that allow crops to grow, which may include warding off hostile forces of nature. As an embodiment of masculine aggression, he is the force that drives wars – but ideally, war that delivers a secure peace.
The etymology of the name Ares is traditionally connected with the Greek word arē, the Ionic form of the Doric ara, “bane, ruin, curse, imprecation”. The adjectival epithet, Areios, was frequently appended to the names of other gods when they took on a warrior aspect or became involved in warfare: Zeus Areios, Athena Areia, even Aphrodite Areia. In the Iliad, the word ares is used as a common noun synonymous with “battle.”
He is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was married to Hephaestus (whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan), god of craftsmanship. The most famous story related to Ares and Aphrodite shows them exposed to ridicule through the wronged husband’s clever device.
The union of Venus and Mars held greater appeal for poets and philosophers, and the couple were a frequent subject of art. Scenes of Venus and Mars in Roman art often ignore the adulterous implications of their union, and take pleasure in the good-looking couple attended by Cupid or multiple Loves (amores). Some scenes may imply marriage, and the relationship was romanticized in funerary or domestic art in which husbands and wives had themselves portrayed as the passionate divine couple.
The uniting of deities representing Love and War lent itself to allegory, especially since the lovers were the parents of Harmonia, in ancient Greek religion the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, and the immortal goddess of harmony and concord. Her Roman counterpart is Concordia, and her Greek opposite is Eris (“Strife”), whose Roman counterpart is Discordia.
Enyo was a goddess of war and destruction in Greek mythology, the companion and lover of the war god Ares. She is also identified as his sister Eris, and daughter of Zeus and Hera, in a role closely resembling that of Eris; with Homer in particular representing the two as the same goddess. She is also accredited as the mother of the war god Enyalius, by Ares. However, the name Enyalius or Enyalios can also be used as a title for Ares himself.
As goddess of war, Enyo is responsible for orchestrating the destruction of cities, often accompanying Ares into battle, and depicted “as supreme in war”. During the fall of Troy, Enyo inflicted terror and bloodshed in the war, along with Eris (“Strife”), and Phobos (“Fear”) and Deimos (“Dread”), the two sons of Ares. She, Eris, and the two sons of Ares are depicted on Achilles’s shield.
The Romans identified Enyo with Bellona, and she also has similarities with the Anatolian goddess Ma, a local goddess at Ma (Comana) and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele. Enyo was also the name of one of the Graeae, three sisters who shared one eye and one tooth among them, along with Deino (“Dread”) and Pemphredo (“Alarm”).
Bellona was an Ancient Roman goddess of war. She was called the sister of Mars, and in some sources, his wife or an associate of his female cult partner Nerio. Bellona’s main attribute is the military helmet worn on her head, and she often holds a sword, a shield, or other weapons of battle. The name Bellona is transparently derived from the Latin word bellum “war”—the older form Duellona demonstrates its antiquity, showing the same sound change as duellum.
The Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino notes that “only Venus dominates Mars, and he never dominates her”. In ancient Roman and Renaissance art, Mars is often shown disarmed and relaxed, or even sleeping, but the extramarital nature of their affair can also suggest that this peace is impermanent.
In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Nerio was an ancient war goddess and the personification of valor. The consort of Mars was Nerio or Nerine, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, “manly virtue” (from vir, “man”).
She was the partner of Mars in ancient cult practices, and was sometimes identified with the goddess Bellona, and occasionally with the goddess Minerva. Spoils taken from enemies were sometimes dedicated to Nerio by the Romans. Nerio was later supplanted by mythologized deities appropriated and adapted from other religions.
In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Nerine were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with Minerva.
The Spear of Mars, which represents the spear and shield of Mars, is also the symbol for the planet Mars and Male gender. The spear is the instrument of Mars in the same way that Jupiter wields the lightning bolt, Neptune the trident, and Saturn the scythe or sickle.