Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The Golden Age – about battling the forces of darknes and the forces that keeps you from developing

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 15, 2015

There are plenty of similarities between Sumerian (Mesopotamian) mythology/religion comming out of the PIE-culture existing in the Armenian Highland and the Jewish/Christian mythology/religion. There should be no doubt that Judaism and Christianity have the same root as the other mythologies/religions, as f ex the Greek mythology, Buddhism or Hinduism. In this way Mesopotamian mythology/religion have kept it going until today.

All religions/mythology started with one and then separated by people making up their own stories and made different local varieties. Just like our civilization, which started at Portasar (“Moutain Navel”) in the Armenian Highland 12000 years ago, it started in the Armenian Higland, but spread from there.

Portasar is the first megalithic temple in this world. It is in the heartland of Western Armenia. From there our civilization spread. It is said to be the place of the first religion. In the ancient world of the Mediterranean the omphalo was a powerful religious symbol. The omphalos was considered an object of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines.

The purpose of the structures is not yet clear. Excavator Klaus Schmidt believed that they are early neolithic sanctuaries. Schmidt engaged in some speculation regarding the belief systems of the groups that created Göbekli Tepe, based on comparisons with other shrines and settlements.

He assumed shamanic practices and suggested that the T-shaped pillars represent human forms, perhaps ancestors, whereas he saw a fully articulated belief in gods only developing later in Mesopotamia, associated with extensive temples and palaces.

This corresponds well with an ancient Sumerian belief that agriculture, animal husbandry, and weaving were brought to mankind from the sacred mountain Ekur, which was inhabited by Annuna deities, very ancient gods without individual names. Schmidt identified this story as a primeval oriental myth that preserves a partial memory of the emerging Neolithic.

It is also apparent that the animal and other images give no indication of organized violence, i.e. there are no depictions of hunting raids or wounded animals, and the pillar carvings mainly ignore game on which the society mainly subsisted, like deer, in favor of formidable creatures like lions, snakes, spiders, and scorpions.

Ekur is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer. It is one of the names for the earth, but is applied more particularly to that part of the mountain, also known as E-khar-sag-kurkura (É.ḪAR.SAG.KUR.KUR-‘a’ “house of the mountain of all lands”) where the gods were born.

Before the later speculative view was developed, according to which the gods, or most of them, have their seats in heaven, it was on this mountain also that the gods were supposed to dwell. Hence Ekur became also one of the names for temple, as the seat of a god.”

In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished. In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”).

The priests of the Ekur festivities are described with en being the high priest, lagar as his associate, mues the leader of incantations and prayers, and guda the priest responsible for decoration. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East.

Enlil (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.

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. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar. By his wife Ninlil or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin) and of Ninurta (also called Ningirsu) and Nergal.

In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta’s character with that of Nergal. The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.  In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Kronos, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.

Nergal evolved from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla).

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan. According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.

In Nippur, Ninurta, a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war, was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag. Hursag (HUR.SAG) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”.

Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”. According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.

After her death, Ninlil 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.

The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as “Ellil” in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. Dingir is a cuneiform sign, most commonly the determinative for “deity” although it has related meanings as well. As a determinative, it is not pronounced, and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna. Generically, dingir can be translated as “god” or “goddess”.

The sign in Sumerian cuneiform (DIĜIR) by itself represents the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”), the ideogram for An or the word diĝir (“god”), the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon. In Assyrian cuneiform, it (AN, DIĜIR) could be either an ideogram for “deity” (ilum) or a syllabogram for an, or ìl-. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again an.

The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky.

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.  The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur.

The Anunnaki are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures. The name is variously written “da-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke4-ne”, or “da-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”. They take their name from the old sky god An (Anu).” According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, the Anunnaki: “…are the Sumerian deities of the old primordial line; they are chthonic deities of fertility, associated eventually with the underworld, where they became judges.

Ensí (spelled PA.TE.SI) in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state.

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in the indigenous Germanic religion known as Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage the Æsir-Vanir War, which results in a unified pantheon.

The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî. The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly ‘demi-god’ and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use and survived only in a secularized meaning of “pole, beam, stave, hill” or “yoke”.

The a-rune ᚫ was named after the æsir. Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, ᚨ. The name is based on Common Germanic *ansuz “a god, one of the main deities in Germanic paganism”. The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a, like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph. The name aleph is derived from the West Semitic word for “ox”, and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph that may have been based on a Egyptian hieroglyph which depicts an ox’s head.

In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.

Cronus was usually depicted with a harpe, scythe or a sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father. In Athens, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of harvest. Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn.

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

All sources describe the deities Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja as members of the Vanir. Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, “friend”, and Latin Venus, “goddess of physical love.”

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *hewsṓs- or *hausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.

Derivatives of *hewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *hews-tro-. The name *hewsṓs is derived from a root *hwes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-. Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-. The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root.

The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *hewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir. The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess.

As a consequence, the love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The name of Aphrodite Άφροδίτη may still preserve her role as a dawn goddess, etymologized as “she who shines from the foam [ocean]” (from aphros “foam” and deato “to shine”).

J.P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from *abhor- “very” and *dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include Ἠριγόνη Erigone “early-born” in Greek. The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.

The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the New Year celebrations.

Golden Age refers to a mythological period of primeval human existence perceived as an ideal state when human beings were pure and free from suffering. According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador. She is Virgo, then we need Boötes (Enlil) and Leo (the sickle) to make the Spring Triangle.

Indra and the goddess of dawn

Indra, also known as Śakra in the Vedas, is the leader of the Devas and the lord of Svargaloka or heaven in Hinduism. He is the deva of rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant known as Airavata. Indra is the most important deity worshiped by the Rigvedic tribes and is the son of Dyaus and the goddess Savasi. His home is situated on Mount Meru in the heaven.

Indra is, with Varuna and Mitra, one of the Ādityas, the chief gods of the Rigveda (besides Agni and others such as the Ashvins). He is the god of war, smashing the stone fortresses of the Dasyu, but he is also is invoked by combatants on both sides in the Battle of the Ten Kings.

He delights in drinking soma and his central feat is his heroic defeat of Vṛtrá, a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra, liberating the rivers, or alternatively, his smashing of the Vala cave, a stone enclosure where the Panis had imprisoned the cows that are habitually identified with Ushas, the dawn(s).

Vala (valá-), meaning “enclosure” in Vedic Sanskrit, is a demon of the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda, the brother of Vrtra. Historically, it has the same origin as the Vrtra myth, being derived from the same root, and from the same root also as Varuna, *val-/var- (PIE *wel-) “to cover, to enclose” (perhaps cognate to veil).

The Panis are a class of demons in the Rigveda, from paṇi-, a term for “bargainer, miser,” especially applied to one who is sparing of sacrificial oblations. The Panis appear in RV 10.108 as watchers over stolen cows. They are located behind the stream Rasā, and sought out by Sarama. They boast to Sarama that they are well-armed and will not yield the cows without battle, and that the cows are furthermore well hidden in a rocky chamber. Sarama threatens them with the might of Indra and the Angirasas who will recover the cows.

The “rocky treasure-chest” of the Panis is identical to Vala, the stone split by Indra to liberate Dawn. The myth is a variant of that of Indra slaying Vrtra, imagined as a stone serpent, liberating the blocked rivers. The word pani is also applied in the Rig Veda to human beings, even respected members of the community, who are unwilling to share their wealth. In one hymn Indra himself is addressed as “pani”.

Shiva as we know him today shares many features with the Vedic god Rudra, and both Shiva and Rudra are viewed as the same personality in Hindu scriptures. The two names are used synonymously. Rudra, the god of the roaring storm, is usually portrayed in accordance with the element he represents as a fierce, destructive deity. Shiva’s rise to a major position in the pantheon was facilitated by his identification with a host of Vedic deities, including Purusha, Rudra, Agni, Indra, Prajāpati, Vāyu, and others.

The etymology of the theonym Rudra is somewhat uncertain. It is usually derived from the root rud- which means “to cry, howl.” According to this etymology, the name Rudra has been translated as “the roarer”. An alternative etymology suggested by Prof. Pischel derives Rudra as “the red one, the brilliant one” from a lost root rud-, “to be red” or “to be ruddy” or respectively, according to Grassman, “to shine”.

Nergal actually seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only a representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like. In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet.

The Golden Age

It is all about the new golden age, the age, According to legend, Astraea or Astrea (Ancient Greek: Ἀστραῖα; “star-maiden”) will bring with her back to Earth. The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline, sometimes followed by the Leaden Age.

By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age peace and harmony prevailed, did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age with a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully, with spirit living on as “guardians”.

Plato in Cratylus (397 e) recounts the golden race of humans who came first. He clarifies that Hesiod did not mean literally made of gold, but good and noble.

There are analogous concepts in the religious and philosophical traditions of the South Asian subcontinent. For example, the Vedic or ancient Hindu culture saw history as cyclical, composed of yugas with alternating Dark and Golden Ages.

The Kali yuga (Iron Age), Dwapara yuga (Bronze Age), Treta yuga (Silver Age) and Satya yuga (Golden Age) correspond to the four Greek ages. Similar beliefs occur in the ancient Middle East and throughout the ancient world, as well.

In classical Greek mythology the Golden Age was presided over by the leading Titan Cronus, the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.

In some version of the myth Astraea also ruled. She lived with men until the end of the Silver Age, but in the Bronze Age, when men became violent and greedy, fled to the stars, where she appears as the constellation Virgo, holding the scales of Justice, or Libra.

Cronus/ Saturn

Cronus was usually depicted with a harpe, scythe or a sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father.

In Athens, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of harvest.

Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn, the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. In later developments he came to be also a god of time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace.

The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. In December, he was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.

Enlil

Enlil (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 (Skypivot and Earthpivot, the Celestial poles). 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.

Enlil was also known as the god of weather. According to the Sumerians, Enlil requested the creation of a slave race, 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”.

By his wife Ninlil (“lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”) or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin), Ninurta (also called Ningirsu), and Nergal. Enlil is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu.

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.

Ninlil

Ninlil is variously described as the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba). 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.

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”.

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.

Ekur (omphalo)

Ekur is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer. In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished. The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur.

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.

In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”).

Hursag

Hursag (transcribed cuneiform: ḫur.saḡ(HUR.SAG)) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”.

Mountains play a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with deities such as Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag. Some scholars also identify hursag with an undefined mountain range or strip of raised land outside the plain of Mesopotamia.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag. Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”.

In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag or Ninkharsag was a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’.

According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.

The hursag is described here in a clear cultural myth as a high wall, levee, dam or floodbank, used to restrain the excess mountain waters and floods caused by the melting snow and spring rain. The hursag is constructed with Ninurta’s skills in irrigation engineering and employed to improve the agriculture of the surrounding lands, farms and gardens where the water had previously been wasted.

The Anunnaki

The Anunnaki (also transcribed as: Anunaki, Anunna, Anunnaku, Ananaki and other variations) are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures. The name is variously written “a-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke-ne”, or “-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”.

According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, the Anunnaki: “…are the Sumerian deities of the old primordial line; they are chthonic deities of fertility, associated eventually with the underworld, where they became judges. They take their name from the old sky god An (Anu).”

According to later Assyrian and Babylonian myth, the Anunnaki were the children of Anu and Ki, brother and sister gods, themselves the children of Anshar and Kishar, who in turn were the children of Lahamu and Lahmu (“the muddy ones”).

Lahamu and Lahmu

Lahamu and Lahmu, names given to the gatekeepers of the Abzu (House of Far Waters) temple at Eridu, the site at which the creation was thought to have occurred, were the children of Tiamat (Goddess of the Ocean) and Abzu (God of Fresh Water).

A lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: lamma; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human’s head, a body of an ox or a lion, and bird’s wings. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity.

A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL×BAD; Sumerian: alad; Akkadian, šēdu) which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations.

In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, either winged bulls or lions with the head of a human male. The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BCE. The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser as a symbol of power.

In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta, a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. Nergal evolved from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld.

Ninurta/ Nergal

In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag.

Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

In another legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future.

Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes” and despoils them of valuable items such as Gypsum, Strong Copper, and the Magilum boat. Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil.

There are a lot of parallels with both and the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Abzu (or Apsu), and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer,” to his father, Enki.

Kingu

Kingu was a god in Babylonian mythology, and — after the murder of his father Abzu — the consort of the goddess Tiamat, his mother, who wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all gods before she was killed by Marduk.

Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power. She placed him as the general of her army. However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually killed by Marduk.

Marduk mixed Kingu’s blood with earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings, while Tiamat’s body created the earth and the skies. Kingu then went to live in the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat.

Aries

In the description of the Babylonian zodiac given in the clay tablets known as the MUL.APIN, a comprehensive table of the risings and settings of stars, which likely served as an agricultural calendar, the constellation now known as Aries was the final station along the ecliptic.

Modern-day Aries was known as MULLÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”. Although likely compiled in the 12th or 11th century BC, the MUL.APIN reflects a tradition which marks the Pleiades as the vernal equinox, which was the case with some precision at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age.

The earliest identifiable reference to Aries as a distinct constellation comes from the boundary stones that date from 1350 to 1000 BC. On several boundary stones, a zodiacal ram figure is distinct from the other characters present.

The shift in identification from the constellation as the Agrarian Worker to the Ram likely occurred in later Babylonian tradition because of its growing association with Dumuzi the Shepherd. By the time the MUL.APIN was created—by 1000 BC—modern Aries was identified with both Dumuzi’s ram and a hired laborer. The exact timing of this shift is difficult to determine due to the lack of images of Aries or other ram figures.

Aries (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign between March 21 and April 19 each year. This time duration is exactly the first month of Solar Hejri calendar (Farvardin).

Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from 15 April to 15 May (approximately). The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece.

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. Because the Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to go around the Sun, the precise time of the equinox is not the same each year, and generally will occur about 6 hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years. Since 1900 the vernal equinox date ranged from March 20 at 08h (2000) to March 21 at 19h (1903).

Njörðr

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. Nerthus is attested by Tacitus, the first century AD Roman historian, in his ethnographic work Germania.

In Germania, Tacitus records that the remote Suebi tribes were united by their veneration of the goddess at his time of writing and maintained a sacred grove on an (unspecified) island and that a holy cart rests there draped with cloth, which only a priest may touch. The priests feel her presence by the cart, and, with deep reverence, attend her cart, which is drawn by heifers.

Everywhere the goddess then deigns to visit, she is met with celebration, hospitality, and peace. All iron objects are locked away, and no one will leave for war. When the goddess has had her fill she is returned to her temple by the priests. Tacitus adds that the goddess, the cart, and the cloth are then washed by slaves in a secluded lake. The slaves are then drowned.

The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr. While scholars have noted numerous parallels between the descriptions of the two figures, Njörðr is attested as a male deity.

Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.

While developments in historical linguistics ultimately allowed for the identification of Nerthus with Njörðr, various other readings of the name were in currency prior to the acceptance of this identification, most commonly the form Hertha. This form was proposed as an attempt to mirror the Old Norse goddess name Jörð ‘earth’.

Vanir

Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.'”

Hausos

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *hewsṓs- or *hausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.

Derivatives of *hewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Eos, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *hews-tro-.

The name *hewsṓs is derived from a root *hwes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-. Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-. The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root.

The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *hewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir.

The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess. As a consequence, the love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos.

Slayer of the blocker

Aspects of Indra as a deity are cognate to other Indo-European gods; they are either thunder gods such as Thor, Perun, and Zeus, or gods of intoxicating drinks such as Dionysus. The name of Indra (Indara) is also mentioned among the gods of the Mitanni, a Hurrian-speaking people who ruled northern Syria from ca.1500BC-1300BC.

Indra is the leader of the Devas and the lord of Svargaloka or heaven in Hinduism. He is the deva of rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant known as Airavata.

Vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning both thunderbolt and diamond. Additionally, it is a weapon which is used as a ritual object to symbolize both the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force).

Indra is the most important deity worshiped by the Rigvedic tribes and is the son of Dyaus and the goddess Savasi. His home is situated on Mount Meru in the heaven. 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.

Vala (valá-), meaning “enclosure” in Vedic Sanskrit, is a demon of the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda, the brother of Vrtra. In the early Vedic religion, Vritra (“the enveloper”) is a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra.

In Hinduism, Vritra is identified as an Asura. 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.

Historically, it has the same origin as the Vrtra myth, being derived from the same root, and from the same root also as Varuna, *val-/var- (PIE *wel-) “to cover, to enclose” (perhaps cognate to veil).

Parallel to Vrtra “the blocker”, a stone serpent slain by Indra to liberate the rivers, Vala is a stone cave, split by Indra (intoxicated and strengthened by Soma, identified with Brhaspati in 4.50 and 10.68 or Trita in 1.52, aided by the Angirasas in 2.11), to liberate the cows and Ushas, hidden there by the Panis.

Indra descends from an Indo-Iranian god known as *vrtra-g’han- (virtually PIE *wltro-gwhen-) “slayer of the blocker”. The word vrtra-/verethra- means “obstacle”. Thus, vrtrahan-/verethragna- is the “smiter of resistance”.

Janda (1998:221) suggests that the Proto-Indo-European (or Graeco-Aryan) predecessor of Indra had the epithet *trigw-welumos or rather *trigw-t-welumos (“smasher of the enclosure”) of Vritra, Vala) and diye-snūtyos “impeller of streams” (the liberated rivers, corresponding to Vedic apam ajas “agitator of the waters”), which resulted in the Greek gods Triptolemus and Dionysus.

Triptolemos is analysed by Janda (1998) as a Greek continuation of a variant of the epithet, *trigw-t-welumos, a “terpsimbrotos” compound “cracker of the enclosure”, Greek (w)elumos referring to the casings of grain in Greek being descended from the same root *wel-.

On such grounds, a rock or mountain *welos or *welumos split by a heroic deity, liberating Dawn or the Sun is reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European mythology (the “Sun in the rock” myth, sometime also speculated to be connected with the making of fire from flintstone).

Already in 2.24, the myth is given a mystical interpretation, with warlike Indra replaced by Brahmanaspati, the lord of prayer, who split Vala with prayer (brahman) rather than with the thunderbolt.

Aurvandil

The names Aurvandil or Earendel (Old Norse: Aurvandil; Old English: Ēarendel; Lombardic: Auriwandalo; Old High German: Orentil, Erentil; Medieval Latin: Horuuendillus) are cognate Germanic personal names, continuing a Proto-Germanic reconstructed compound *auzi-wandilaz “luminous wanderer”, in origin probably the name of a star or planet, potentially the morning star (Eosphoros).

The name is a compound whose first part goes back to *auzi- ‘dawn’, a combining form related to *austaz ‘east’, cognate with Ancient Greek ēṓs ‘dawn’, Sanskrit uṣā́s, Latin aurōra, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₂éuso-s ‘dawn’. The second part comes from *wanđilaz, a derivative of *wanđaz (cf. Old Norse vandr ‘difficult’, Old Saxon wand ‘fluctuating, variable’, English wander), from *wenđanan which gave in English wend.

In the Old English poem Crist I, the title given to a triad of Old English religious poems in the Exeter Book comprising a total of 1664 lines and dealing with Christ’s Advent, Ascension and Last Judgment, the name is taken to refer to John the Baptist, addressed as the morning star heralding the coming of Christ, the “sun of righteousness”.

Compare the Blickling Homilies (p. 163, I. 3) which state “And now the birth of Christ (was) at his appearing, and the new eorendel (morning-star) was John the Baptist. And now the gleam of the true Sun, God himself, shall come.”

Lucifer

The Latin word lucifer, corresponding to Greek was used as a name for the morning star and thus appeared in the Vulgate translation of the Hebrew word helel, meaning Venus as the brilliant, bright or shining one.

As a translation of the same Hebrew word the King James Version gave “Lucifer”, a name often understood as a reference to Satan. Modern translations of the same passage render the Hebrew word instead as “morning star”, “daystar”, “shining one” or “shining star”.

Astraea

Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the virgin goddess of Innocence and purity and is always associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis and the personification of just judgement).

Astraea was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion’s five deteriorating Ages of Man. According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the earth during the Iron Age. Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo.

The nearby constellation Libra reflected her symbolic association with Dike, who in Latin culture as Justitia is said to preside over the constellation. In the Tarot, the 8th card, Justice, with a figure of Justitia, can thus be considered related to the figure of Astraea on historical iconographic grounds.

According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.

Astraeus/ Eos

Astraea, in ancient Greek religion, was a daughter of Astraeus, an astrological deity and the Titan-god of the dusk, and Eos (Ancient Greek: Eos, “dawn”), a Titaness and the goddess of the dawn, who rose each morning from her home at the edge of the Oceanus.

Eos had a brother and a sister, Helios, god of the sun, and Selene, goddess of the moon. In classical times, Selene was often identified with Artemis, much as her brother, Helios, was identified with Apollo.

Both Selene and Artemis were also associated with Hecate, and all three were regarded as lunar goddesses, although only Selene was regarded as the personification of the moon itself. Her Roman equivalent is Luna.

In Hesiod’s Theogony and in the Bibliotheca, Astraeus is a second-generation Titan, descended from Crius, a son of Uranus and Gaia, and Eurybia, daughter of Earth (Gaia) and Sea (Pontus). He is also sometimes associated with Aeolus, the Keeper of the Winds, since winds often swell up around dusk.

Although “krios” was also the ancient Greek word for “ram”, the Titan’s chthonic position in the Underworld means no classical association with Aries, the “Ram” of the zodiac, is ordinarily made.

Aries is the first visible constellation in the sky at the spring season, marking the start of the new year in the ancient Greek calendar. This fact may have implied that Crius was the Titan god of constellations, measuring the duration of the year while his brother Hyperion measures the days and months.

Appropriately, as god of the dusk, Astraeus married Eos, goddess of the dawn. Together as nightfall and daybreak they produced many children who are associated with what occurs in the sky during twilight.

They had many sons, the four Anemoi (“Winds”): Boreas, Notus, Eurus, and Zephyrus, and the five Astra Planeta (“Wandering Stars”, i.e. planets): Phainon (Saturn), Phaethon (Jupiter), Pyroeis (Mars), Eosphoros/ Hesperos (Venus), and Stilbon (Mercury).

The joining of Astraios with Eos, the Dawn, brought forth Eosphoros, a name meaning “Light-Bringer”, the Morning Star, the planet Venus in its morning appearance, the other Stars and the Winds.

The Spring Triangle

The Spring Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn upon the celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Arcturus, Spica, and Regulus. This triangle connects the constellations of Boötes, Virgo, and Leo. It is visible rising in the south eastern sky of the northern hemisphere between March and May.

George Lovi of Sky & Telescope magazine had a slightly different Spring triangle, including the tail of Leo, Denebola, instead of Regulus. Denebola is dimmer, but the triangle is more nearly equilateral.

These stars forms part of a larger Spring asterism called the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli. The Great Diamond is an asterism. Astronomy popularizer Hans A. Rey called it the Virgin’s Diamond. It is composed of the stars Cor Caroli (in Canes Venatici), Denebola (the tail of Leo), Spica (the wheat of Virgo), and Arcturus (in Boötes). It is somewhat larger than the Big Dipper.

Boötes-Arcturus

Arcturus (α Boo, α Boötis, Alpha Boötis) of the constellation Boötes is the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere. The name of the star derives from Ancient Greek Arktouros and means “Guardian of the Bear”, ultimately from ἄρκτος (arktos), “bear” + ouros, “watcher, guardian”.

It has been known by this name since at least the time of Hesiod. This is a reference to its being the brightest star in the constellation Boötes (of which it forms the left foot), which is next to the Greater and Lesser Bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

As one of the brightest stars in the sky, Arcturus has been significant to observers since antiquity. In Mesopotamia, it was linked to the god Enlil, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”, or SHU-PA of unknown derivation in the Three Stars Each Babylonian star catalogues and later MUL.APIN around 1100 BC.

Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. The name comes from the Greek Βοώτης, Boōtēs, meaning herdsman or plowman (literally, ox-driver; from βοῦς bous “cow”).

In ancient Babylon the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers.

The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as “late-setting” or “slow to set”, translated as the “Plowman”.

Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear. According to one version, he was a son of Demeter, Philomenus, twin brother of Plutus, a ploughman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major. This is corroborated by the constellation’s name, which itself means “ox-driver” or “herdsman.”

The ancient Greeks saw the asterism now called the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” as a cart with oxen. This influenced the name’s etymology, derived from the Greek for “noisy” or “ox-driver”. Another myth associated with Boötes tells that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.

Another myth associated with Boötes by Hyginus is that of Icarius, who was schooled as a grape farmer and winemaker by Dionysus. Icarius made wine so strong that those who drank it appeared poisoned, which caused shepherds to avenge their supposedly poisoned friends by killing Icarius.

Maera, Icarius’s dog, brought his daughter Erigone to her father’s body, whereupon both she and the dog committed suicide. Zeus then chose to honor all three by placing them in the sky as constellations: Icarius as Boötes, Erigone as Virgo, and Maera as Canis Major or Canis Minor.

Following another reading, the constellation is identified with Arcas and also referred to as Arcas and Arcturus, son of Zeus and Callisto. Arcas was brought up by his maternal grandfather Lycaon, to whom one day Zeus went and had a meal.

To verify that the guest was really the king of the gods, Lycaon killed his grandson and prepared a meal made from his flesh. Zeus noticed and became very angry, transforming Lycaon into a wolf and gave back life to his son. In the meantime Callisto had been transformed into a she-bear, by Zeus’s wife, Hera, who was angry at Zeus’s infidelity.

This is corroborated by the Greek name for Boötes, Arctophylax, which means “Bear Watcher”. Callisto in form of a bear was almost killed by her son who was out hunting. Zeus rescued her, taking her into the sky where she became Ursa Major, “the Great Bear”.

The name Arcturus (the constellation’s brightest star) comes from the Greek word meaning “guardian of the bear”. Sometimes Arcturus is depicted as leading the hunting dogs of nearby Canes Venatici and driving the bears of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Canes Venatici, bordered by Ursa Major to the north and west, Coma Berenices to the south, and Boötes to the east, is a small northern constellation that was created by Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century. Its name is Latin for “hunting dogs”, and the constellation is often depicted in illustrations as representing the dogs of Boötes the Herdsman, a neighboring constellation.

In medieval times, the identification of these stars with the dogs of Boötes arose through a mistranslation. Some of Boötes’s stars were traditionally described as representing the club of Boötes.

When the Greek astronomer Ptolemy’s Almagest was translated from Greek to Arabic, the translator Johannitius (following Alberuni) did not know the Greek word and rendered it as the nearest-looking Arabic word, writing in ordinary unvowelled Arabic text “al-`aşā dhāt al-kullāb”, which means “the spearshaft having a hook”.

When the Arabic text was translated into Latin, the translator Gerard of Cremona (probably in Spain) mistook the Arabic word for kilāb (the plural of kalb), meaning “dogs”, writing hastile habens canes (“spearshaft having dogs”). In 1533, the German astronomer Peter Apian depicted Boötes as having two dogs with him.

These spurious dogs floated about the astronomical literature until Hevelius decided to specify their presence in the sky by making them a separate constellation in 1687. Hevelius chose the name Asterion (“little star”) for the northern dog and Chara (“joy”) for the southern dog, as Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs, in his star atlas. In his star catalogue, the Czech astronomer Bečvář assigned Asterion to β CVn and Chara to α CVn.

Virgo-Spica

Virgo is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin. Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, it is the second largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra). It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica.

The bright Spica makes it easy to locate Virgo, as it can be found by following the curve of the Big Dipper/Plough to Arcturus in Boötes and continuing from there in the same curve (“follow the arc to Arcturus and speed on to Spica”).

Due to the effects of precession, the First Point of Libra, (also known as the autumn equinox point) lies within the boundaries of Virgo very close to β Virginis. This is one of the two points in the sky where the celestial equator crosses the ecliptic (the other being the First Point of Aries, now in the constellation of Pisces.) This point will pass into the neighbouring constellation of Leo around the year 2440.

According to the Babylonian Mul.Apin, which dates from 1000–686 BCE, this constellation was known as “The Furrow”, representing the goddess Shala’s ear of grain. Virgo is often portrayed carrying two sheaves of wheat. One star in this constellation, Spica, retains this tradition as it is Latin for “ear of grain”, one of the major products of the Mesopotamian furrow. The constellation was also known as “AB.SIN” and “absinnu”. For this reason the constellation became associated with fertility.

According to Gavin White the figure of Virgo corresponds to two Babylonian constellations: the “Furrow” in the eastern sector of Virgo and the “Frond of Erua” in the western sector. The Frond of Erua was depicted as a goddess holding a palm-frond – a motif that still occasionally appears in much later depictions of Virgo.

The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter-Ceres who is the mother of Persephone-Proserpina. Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea, holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra.

Another myth identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius, who had been favoured by Dionysus, was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated and Erigone hanged herself in grief; Dionysus placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes and Virgo respectively. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As of 2002, the Sun appears in the constellation Virgo from September 17 to October 30. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Virgo from August 23 to September 22, and in sidereal astrology, from September 16 to October 15.

Leo-Regulus

Regulus (α Leo, α Leonis, Alpha Leonis) is the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Regulus is Latin for “prince” or “little king”. The Greek variant Basiliscus is also used. It is known as Qalb al-Asad, from the Arabic, meaning ”the heart of the lion”. This phrase is sometimes approximated as Kabelaced and translates into Latin as Cor Leōnis. In MUL.APIN, Regulus is listed as LUGAL, meaning “the star that stands in the breast of the Lion: “the King”.

Lugal is the Sumerian cuneiform sign for leader from the two signs, LÚ.GAL (“man, big”), and was one of several Sumerian titles that a ruler of a city-state could bear (alongside en and ensi, the exact difference being a subject of debate). The sign eventually became the predominant Sumerian term for a King in general. In the Sumerian language, lugal is used to mean an owner (e.g. of a boat or a field) or a head (of a unit such as a family).

There are different theories regarding the meaning of the title lugal in 3rd millennium Sumer. Some scholars believe that a ruler of an individual city-state was usually called ensi, and a ruler that headed a confederacy or larger dominion composed of several cities, perhaps even the whole of Sumer, was a lugal.

Other scholars consider ensi, en and lugal to have been merely three local designations for the sovereign, accepted respectively in the city-states of Lagash, Uruk and Ur (as well as most of the rest of Sumer), although the various terms may have expressed different aspects of the Mesopotamian concept of kingship.

The cuneiform sign LUGAL serves as a determinative in cuneiform texts (Sumerian, Akkadian and Hittite), indicating that the following word is the name of a king. In Akkadian orthography, it may also be a syllabogram šàr, acrophonically based on the Akkadian for “king”, šarrum.

Lugal is used extensively in the Amarna letters, for addressing the kings or pharaohs, and elsewhere in speaking about the various kings. One common address, in the introduction of many letters, from the vassals writing to the pharaoh was to use: Šàr-ri, (for šarrum); they used Lugal + ri = Šàr-ri, (i.e. Pharaoh, or King of, Ancient Egypt). (Ri (cuneiform) is one of the more commonly used hieroglyphs, in many cases for the use of the “r”).

The cuneiform Ri sign, or Re is found in both the 14th century BC Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh; it is in the top 25 most used cuneiform signs (Buccellati, 1979) for ri, or re, but has other syllabic or alphabetic uses, as well as the sumerogram usage for RI (Epic of Gilgamesh).

In the Amarna letters, ri also has a special usage when coupled with the naming of the Pharaoh, as “LUGAL-Ri”. Lugal is the Sumerogram translated in the Akkadian language to ‘King’, Sarru. Thus in the Amarna letters, Lugal is used as a stand-alone, but sometimes supplemented with Ri, and specifically used as sumerogram SÀR (an equivalent sumerogram to mean LUGAL) to be combined with RI to make sarru for king. (‘The King’, as an appellation is sometimes created by adding ma (cuneiform), suffix to the end of a name (Lugal-ma.)

The cuneiform ma sign is found in both the 14th century BC Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the Epic it is also used as the sumerogram MA, (for Akkadian language “mina”, manû, a weight measure, as MA.NA, or MA.NA.ÀM). The ma sign is often used at the end of words, besides its alphabetic usage inside words as syllabic ma, elsewhere for m, or a.

The usage of cuneiform ma in the Epic of Gilgamesh, is only exceeded by the usage of a (cuneiform) (1369 times, and 58, A (sumerogram), versus 1047 times for ma, 6 for MA (sumerogram)). The high usage for a is partially a result of the prepositional use for a-na-(Akkadian “ana”, to, for, etc.); “i”, also has an increased prepositional use of i (cuneiform), for Akkadian ina, (i-na), for in, into, etc.

Babylonians called it Sharru (“the King”), and it marked the 15th ecliptic constellation. It is known in Chinese as, the Fourteenth Star of Xuanyuan, the Yellow Emperor. In Hindu astronomy, Regulus corresponds to the Nakshatra Magha (“the bountiful” or “the Mighty”), in Sogdiana Magh (“the Great”), in Persia Miyan (“the Centre”) and also as Venant, one of the four “royal stars” of the Persian monarchy.

Leo is one of the constellations of the zodiac, lying between Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east. Its name is Latin for lion, and to the ancient Greeks represented the Nemean Lion killed by the mythical Greek hero Heracles (known to the ancient Romans as Hercules) as one of his twelve labors. The lion’s mane and shoulders also form an asterism known as “the Sickle,” which to modern observers may resemble a backwards “question mark.”

Leo was one of the earliest recognized constellations, with archaeological evidence that the Mesopotamians had a similar constellation as early as 4000 BCE. The Persians called Leo Ser or Shir; the Turks, Artan; the Syrians, Aryo; the Jews, Arye; the Indians, Simha, all meaning “lion”.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was called UR.GU.LA, the “Great Lion”; the bright star Regulus was known as “the star that stands at the Lion’s breast.” Regulus also had distinctly regal associations, as it was known as the King Star.

In Greek mythology, Leo was identified as the Nemean Lion which was killed by Heracles (Hercules to the Romans) during the first of his twelve labours. The Nemean Lion would take women as hostages to its lair in a cave, luring warriors from nearby towns to save the damsel in distress, to their misfortune.

The Lion was impervious to any weaponry; thus, the warriors’ clubs, swords, and spears were rendered useless against it. Realizing that he must defeat the Lion with his bare hands, Hercules slipped into the Lion’s cave and engaged it at close quarters.

When the Lion pounced, Hercules caught it in midair, one hand grasping the Lion’s forelegs and the other its hind legs, and bent it backwards, breaking its back and freeing the trapped maidens. Zeus commemorated this labor by placing the Lion in the sky.

The Roman poet Ovid called it Herculeus Leo and Violentus Leo. Bacchi Sidus (star of Bacchus) was another of its titles, the god Bacchus always being identified with this animal. However, Manilius called it Jovis et Junonis Sidus (Star of Jupiter and Juno).

As of 2002, the Sun appears in the constellation Leo from August 10 to Sept 10. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Leo from July 23 to August 27, and in sidereal astrology, from August 16 to September 17.

The Vanir

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Freyr or Frey is one of the most important deities of Norse religion. The name is conjectured to derive from the Proto-Norse *frawjaz, “lord”. The deities gave him Álfheimr, the realm of the Elves, as a teething present.

Freyr was associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, as well as was pictured as a phallic fertility god, Freyr “bestows peace and pleasure on mortals”. Freyr, sometimes referred to as Yngvi-Freyr, was especially associated with Sweden and seen as an ancestor of the Swedish royal house.

In Norse mythology, Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”) is a goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, keeps the boar Hildisvíni by her side, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi.

Scholars have theorized about whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples; about her connection to the valkyries, female battlefield choosers of the slain; and her relation to other goddesses and figures in Germanic mythology, including the thrice-burnt and thrice-reborn Gullveig/Heiðr, the goddesses Gefjon, Skaði, Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa, Menglöð, and the 1st century CE “Isis” of the Suebi.

Freyja’s name appears in numerous place names in Scandinavia, with a high concentration in southern Sweden. Various plants in Scandinavia once bore her name, but it was replaced with the name of the Virgin Mary during the process of Christianization. Rural Scandinavians continued to acknowledge Freyja as a supernatural figure into the 19th century, and Freyja has inspired various works of art.

Friday is the day after Thursday which precedes Saturday. Friday is associated with the planet Venus and symbolized by that planet’s symbol. In astrology, Friday is connected with the planet Venus. It is also connected with the Astrological signs Libra and Taurus.

The name is derived from Old English Þūnresdæg and Middle English Thuresday (with loss of -n-, first in northern dialects, from influence of Old Norse Þorsdagr) meaning “Thor’s Day”. Thunor, Donar (German, Donnerstag) and Thor are derived from the name of the Germanic god of thunder, Thunraz, equivalent to Jupiter in the interpretatio romana. The astrological and astronomical sign of the planet Jupiter is sometimes used to represent Thursday.

Njörðr’s name appears in various place names in Scandinavia, such as Nærdhæwi (now Nalavi), Njærdhavi (now Mjärdevi), Nærdhælunda (now Närlunda), Nierdhatunum (now Närtuna) in Sweden, Njarðvík in southwest Iceland, Njarðarlög and Njarðey (now Nærøy) in Norway. Njörðr’s name appears in a word for sponge; Njarðarvöttr (Old Norse “Njörðr’s glove”). Additionally, in Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.”

Saturday is the seventh and therefore last day of the week according to many commonly used calendars, and it is the second-to-last (sixth) day of the week according to ISO 8601. The Romans named Saturday Sāturni diēs (“Saturn’s Day”) no later than the 2nd century for the planet Saturn, which controlled the first hour of that day, according to Vettius Valens. In astrology, Saturday is associated with the planet Saturn and symbolized by that planet’s symbol.

The day’s name was introduced into West Germanic languages and is recorded in the Low German languages such as Middle Low German sater(s)dach, Middle Dutch saterdag (Modern Dutch zaterdag) and Old English Sætern(es)dæġ and Sæterdæġ.

However, the name was selected as a calque of the god Saturn, after whom the planet was named. The day was also referred to as “Sæternes dæġe” in an Old English translation of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. In Old English, Saturday was also known as sunnanæfen (“sun” + “eve” cf. dialectal German Sonnabend).

The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frige”, a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess Venus, with whom the day is associated in many different cultures. The same holds for Frīatag in Old High German, Freitag in Modern German and vrijdag in Dutch.

The expected cognate name in Old Norse would be *friggjar-dagr. However, the name of Friday in Old Norse is frjá-dagr instead, indicating a loan of the week-day names from Low German. The modern Scandinavian form is Fredag in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, meaning Freyja’s day. The distinction between Freyja and Frigg in some Germanic mythologies is problematic.

The word for Friday in most Romance languages is derived from Latin dies Veneris or “day of Venus” (a translation of Greek Aphrodites hemera) such as vendredi in French, venerdì in Italian, viernes in Spanish, divendres in Catalan, vennari in Corsican, and vineri in Romanian. This is also reflected in the p-Celtic Welsh language as dydd Gwener.

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