Njord-Nerthus – Tyr/Hel – Mars/Nerio-Venus
Posted by Fredsvenn on November 21, 2016
In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in 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.
Odin – Mercury – Enki (Nabu) / Ninshubar
Njord – Saturn – Enlil
Thor – Jupiter – Ninurta
Tyr – Mars (Dyeus/Dis Pater) – Nergal
Odin/Odr (Mercury) – Frigg/Freya (Venus)
In Germanic mythology, Odin (from Old Norse Óðinn) is a widely revered god. The day of the week Wednesday bears his name in many Germanic languages, including English. The name is derived from Old English Wōdnesdæg and Middle English Wednesdei, “day of Woden”, ultimately a calque of dies Mercurii “day of Mercury”.
In Anglo-Saxon England, Odin held a particular place as a euhemerized ancestral figure among royalty, and he is frequently referred to as a founding figure among various other Germanic peoples, including the Langobards.
In Norse mythology, from which stems most of the information about the god, Odin is associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet. Odin has a particular association with Yule, and mankind’s knowledge of both the runes and poetry is also attributed to him.
In Old Norse texts, Odin is given primacy over female beings associated with the battlefield—the valkyries—and oversees Valhalla, where he receives half of those who die in battle, the einherjar. The other half are chosen by the goddess Freyja for her afterlife location, Fólkvangr.
Odin consults the disembodied, herb-embalmed head of the wise being Mímir for advice, and during the foretold events of Ragnarök, Odin is told to lead the einherjar into battle before being consumed by the monstrous wolf Fenrir.
In later folklore, Odin appears as a leader of the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession of the dead through the winter sky. He has also been associated with charms and other forms of magic, particularly in Old English and Old Norse texts.
Odin has been a frequent subject of study in Germanic studies, and numerous theories have been developed regarding his characterization. Some of these focus on Odin’s particular relation to other figures; for example, the fact that Freyja’s husband Óðr appears to be something of an etymological doublet of the god, whereas Odin’s wife Frigg is in many ways similar to Freyja, and that Odin has a particular relation to the figure of Loki.
Odin is the husband of the goddess Frigg. The English weekday name Friday (etymologically Old English “Frīge’s day”) bears her name. The Latin weekday name is dies Veneris ‘Day of Venus’. Due to significant thematic overlap, scholars have proposed a particular connection to the goddess Freyja.
The connection with and possible earlier identification of the goddess Freyja with Frigg in the Proto-Germanic period (Frigg and Freyja origin hypothesis) is a matter of scholarly debate. The name Freyja is not attested outside of Scandinavia, like the name of the group of gods to which Freyja belongs, the Vanir. This is in contrast to the name of the goddess Frigg, who is attested as a goddess common among the Germanic peoples, and whose name is reconstructed as Proto-Germanic *Frijjō.
Frigg is the wife of the major god Odin and dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir, is famous for her foreknowledge, is associated with the goddesses Fulla, Lofn, Hlín, and Gná, and is ambiguously associated with the Earth, otherwise personified as an apparently separate entity Jörð (Old Norse “Earth”).
Enki and Ninhursag
Enki is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians. He was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer).
Enki was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.
The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”. The Sumerian En is translated as a title equivalent to “lord” and was originally a title given to the High Priest. Ki means “earth”, but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.
The main temple to Enki is called E-abzu, meaning “abzu temple” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu. He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp.
In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag was a mother goddess of the mountains. As the wife and consort of Enki she was also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife). She had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.
Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC, though more generally from the early second millennium BC. It appears on some boundary stones — on the upper tier, indicating her importance. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.
In Norse mythology, the goddess Frigg spins clouds from her bejewelled distaff in the Norse constellation known as Frigg’s Spinning Wheel (Friggerock, Orion’s belt).
Uttu in Sumerian mythology is the goddess of weaving and clothing. She is both the child of Enki and Ninkur, and she bears seven new child/trees from Enki, the eighth being the Ti (Tree of “Life”, associated with the “Rib”). When Enki then ate Uttu’s children, Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and disappears. Uttu in Sumerian means “the woven” and she was illustrated as a spider in a web. She is a goddess in the pantheon.
In Hurrian mythology, the Hutena are goddesses of fate. They are similar to the Norns of Norse mythology or the Moirai of ancient Greece. They are called the Gul Ses (Gul-Shesh; Gulshesh; Gul-ashshesh) in Hittite mythology. The Norns are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men. They roughly correspond to other controllers of humans’ destiny, the Fates, elsewhere in European mythology.
Ninshubur was the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. A goddess in her own right, her name can be translated as ‘Queen of the East’, and she was said to be a messenger and traveller for the other gods.
As Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, Ninshubur was said to be associated with Mercury, as Venus and Mercury appear together in the sky. Due to similarities between the two, some believe the later Hermes to have been based in part on Ninshubur.
Ninshubur accompanied Inanna as a vassal and friend throughout Inanna’s many exploits. She helped Inanna fight Enki’s demons after Inanna’s theft of the sacred me. Later, when Inanna became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress’s release.
Though described as an unmarried virgin, in a few accounts Ninshubur is said to be one of Inanna’s lovers. In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was male. In “A hymn to Nergal” Ninshubur appeared as the minister of the underworld.
Hermes and Mercury
Hermes is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, and the second youngest of the Olympian gods (Dionysus being the youngest).
Hermes is considered a god of transitions and boundaries. He is described as quick and cunning, moving freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine. He is also portrayed as an emissary and messenger of the gods; an intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. He has been viewed as the protector and patron of herdsmen, thieves, oratory and wit, literature and poetry, athletics and sports, invention and trade, roads, boundaries and travelers.
In some myths, he is a trickster and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or for the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster, the tortoise, satchel or pouch, winged sandals, and winged cap. His main symbol is the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus, which appears in a form of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.
Mercury is a major Roman god, being one of the Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He was considered the son of Maia and Jupiter in Roman mythology. He is the patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages, communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he is also the guide of souls to the underworld.
Like Hermes, he was also a god of messages, eloquence and of trade, particularly of the grain trade. His name is possibly related to the Latin word merx (“merchandise”; compare merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages); another possible connection is the Proto-Indo-European root merĝ- for “boundary, border” (cf. Old English “mearc”, Old Norse “mark” and Latin “margō”) and Greek οὖρος (by analogy of Arctūrus/Ἀρκτοῦρος), as the “keeper of boundaries,” referring to his role as bridge between the upper and lower worlds.
In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms; both gods share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand. Etruscan artwork often depicts Turms in his role as psychopomp, conducting the soul into the afterlife.
Inanna (Venus) and Tammuz (Aries)
Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries. Inanna is the goddess of love. However, she also has a very complicated relationship with her lover, Dumuzi, in “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”.
Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god. Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity.
Ereshkigal’s hatred for Inanna could be referenced in a few other myths. Ereshkigal, too, is bound by the laws of the underworld; she can not leave her kingdom of the underworld to join the other ‘living’ deities, and they can not visit her in the underworld, or else they can never return. Inanna symbolized erotic love and fertility, and contrasts with Ereshkigal.
The story of Inanna’s descent to the underworld is a relatively well-attested and reconstructed composition. Demons of Ereshkigal’s followed (or accompanied) Inanna out of the underworld, and insisted that she wasn’t free to go until someone took her place.
Despite Inanna’s fate, and in contrast to the other individuals who were properly mourning Inanna, Dumuzi was lavishly clothed and resting beneath a tree, or upon her throne, entertained by slave-girls. Inanna, displeased, decrees that the demons shall take him, using language which echoes the speech Ereshkigal gave while condemning her. Dumuzi is then taken to the underworld.
In other recensions of the story, Dumuzi tries to escape his fate, and is capable of fleeing the demons for a time, as the deities intervene and disguise him in a variety of forms. He is eventually found. However, Dumuzi’s sister, out of love for him, begged to be allowed to take his place. It was then decreed that Dumuzi spent half the year in the underworld, and his sister take the other half.
Inanna, displaying her typically capricious behavior, mourns his time in the underworld. This she reveals in a haunting lament of his deathlike absence from her, for “[he] cannot answer . . . [he] cannot come/ to her calling . . . the young man has gone.” Her own powers, notably those connected with fertility, subsequently wane, to return in full when he returns from the netherworld each six months. This cycle then approximates the shift of seasons.
Njord (Saturn) / Nerthus-Njorun
In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed 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 Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.”
Njörðr has been the subject of an amount of scholarly discourse and theory, often connecting him with the figure of the much earlier attested Germanic goddess Nerthus, a goddess associated with fertility.
The name Njörðr corresponds to that of the older Germanic fertility goddess Nerthus, and both derive from the Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz. The original meaning of the name is contested, but it may be related to the Irish word nert which means “force” and “power”.
It has been suggested that the change of sex from the female Nerthus to the male Njörðr is due to the fact that feminine nouns with u-stems disappeared early in Germanic language while the masculine nouns with u-stems prevailed.
However, other scholars hold the change to be based not on grammatical gender but on the evolution of religious beliefs; that *Nerþuz and Njörðr appear as different genders because they are to be considered separate beings. The name Njörðr may be related to the name of the Norse goddess Njörun.
Nerthus is often identified with the van Njörðr who is attested in various 13th century Old Norse works and in numerous Scandinavian place names. The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, Nerthus being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around the first century.
This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic deity or that the name may indicate the otherwise forgotten sister-wife in a divine brother-sister pair like the Vanir deities Freyja and Freyr.
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’.
In Norse mythology, Njörun (Old Norse Njǫrun, sometimes modernly anglicized as Niorun) is a goddess attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and various kennings (including once in the Poetic Edda).
Several scholars have suggested that the stem syllable in her name, Njǫr-, may represent the element *ner- as in Tacitus’ earth-goddess Nerthus (*Ner-þuz), whose name is etymologically identical with that of the Norse god Njǫrðr, and that Njörun may therefore be a name for the earth.
Scholarly theories concerning her name and function in the pantheon include etymological connections to the Norse god Njörðr and the Roman goddess Nerio, and suggestions that she may represent the earth and/or be the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr.
The possible etymological connection with Njǫrðr and Nerthus suggests that Njörun may be a preserved name for the sister-wife of Njörðr, who is highly unusual in the Old Norse context in being unnamed. Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon additionally suggests a connection with the Roman goddess Nerio.
Saturn and Opis
Saturn is a god in ancient Roman religion, and a character in myth. He was 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. But Saturn also had a less benevolent aspect, as indicated by the blood shed in his honor during gladiatorial munera.
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.
Macrobius (5th century AD) presents an interpretation of the Saturnalia as a festival of light leading to the winter solstice. The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.
The Roman soil preserved the remembrance of a very remote time during which Saturn and Janus reigned on the site of the city before its foundation: the Capitol was named mons Saturnius. The Romans identified Saturn with the Greek Cronus, whose myths were adapted for Latin literature and Roman art. In particular, Cronus’s role in the genealogy of the Greek gods was transferred to Saturn. As early as Livius Andronicus (3rd century BC), Jupiter was called the son of Saturn.
Saturn had two consorts who represented different aspects of the god. The name of his wife Ops or Opis, meaning “riches, goods, abundance, gifts, munificence, plenty, wealth, abundance, resources”, the Roman equivalent of Greek Rhea, was a fertility deity and earth-goddess of Sabine origin. The word is also related to opus, which means “work”, particularly in the sense of “working the earth, ploughing, sowing”. The association with Ops though is considered a later development, as this goddess was originally paired with Consus.
Opis, when syncretized with Greek mythology, was not only the wife of Saturn, she was his sister and the daughter of Caelus. Her children were Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, Ceres, and Vesta. Opis also acquired queenly status and was reputed to be an eminent goddess. By public decree temples, priests, and sacrifices were accorded her.
Earlier was Saturn’s association with Lua (“destruction, dissolution, loosening”), sometimes called Lua Saturni (“Saturn’s Lua”) and identified with Lua Mater, “Mother Destruction,” a goddess in whose honor the weapons of enemies killed in war were burned, perhaps as expiation.
Little evidence exists in Italy for the cult of Saturn outside Rome, but his name resembles that of the Etruscan god Satres. H.S. Versnel, however, proposed that Lua Saturni should not be identified with Lua Mater, but rather refers to “loosening”; she thus represents the liberating function of Saturn. It may be that Lua was merely an alternative name for Ops.
The potential cruelty of Saturn was enhanced by his identification with Cronus, known for devouring his own children. He was thus used in translation when referring to gods from other cultures the Romans perceived as severe; he was equated with the Carthaginian god Ba’al Hammon, to whom children were sacrificed, and to Yahweh, whose Sabbath was first referred to as Saturni dies, “Saturn’s day,” in a poem by Tibullus, who wrote during the reign of Augustus; eventually this gave rise to the word “Saturday” in English.
The identification with Ba’al Hammon later gave rise to the African Saturn, a cult that enjoyed great popularity til the 4th century. It had a popular but also a mysteric character and required child sacrifices. It is also considered as inclining to monotheism. In the ceremony of initiation the myste intrat sub iugum, ritual that Leglay compares to the Roman tigillum sororium.
Even though their origin and theology are completely different the Italic and the African god are both sovereign and master over time and death, fact that has permitted their encounter. Moreover, here Saturn is not the real Italic god but his Greek counterpart Cronus.
Saturn’s chthonic nature connected him to the underworld and its ruler Dis Pater, the Roman equivalent of Greek Plouton (Pluto in Latin) who was also a god of hidden wealth. In 3rd-century AD sources and later, Saturn is recorded as receiving gladiatorial offerings (munera) during or near the Saturnalia. These gladiator combats, ten days in all throughout December, were presented by the quaestors and sponsored with funds from the treasury of Saturn.
The practice of gladiatorial munera was criticized by Christian apologists as a form of human sacrifice. Although there is no evidence of this practice during the Republican era, the offering of gladiators led to later theorizing that the primeval Saturn had demanded human victims. Macrobius says that Dis Pater was placated with human heads and Saturn with sacrificial victims consisting of men (virorum victimis). The figurines that were exchanged as gifts (sigillaria) during the Saturnalia may have represented token substitutes.
Tyr (Mars/Dyeus-Dis Pater) and his wife (Hel)
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.
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. 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.
Mannus, according to the Roman writer Tacitus, was a figure in the creation myths of the Germanic tribes. Tacitus is the only source of these myths. Tacitus wrote that Mannus was the son of Tuisto and the progenitor of the three Germanic tribes Ingaevones, Herminones and Istvaeones. The names Mannus and Tuisto seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”.
In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda. It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.
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.
The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza as the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.
In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. In the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, and Heimskringla, Hel is referred to as a daughter of Loki, and to “go to Hel” is to die.
In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim. In the same source, her appearance is described as half blue and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance.
The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.
Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.
Nergal and Ereshkigal
Nergal was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. He is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta.
Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.
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.
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”.
The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical.
Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”.
In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”.
Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.
Inanna was associated with the planet Venus. Her symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).
Ereshkigal is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.
The goddess Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Inanna’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.
Dyēus is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih2 Méh2ter, “earth mother”.
Rooted in the related but distinct Indo-European word *deiwos is the Latin word for deity, deus. The Latin word is also continued in English divine, “deity”, and the original Germanic word remains visible in “Tuesday” (“Day of Tīwaz”) and Old Norse tívar, which may be continued in the toponym Tiveden (“Wood of the Gods”, or of Týr).
Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.
Cicero in his De Natura Deorum derives the name of Dīs Pater from dives, suggesting a meaning of “father of riches”, directly corresponding to the name Pluto (from Greek Ploutōn, meaning “wealthy”). Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Ph₂ter).
According to some 19th century authors many of Cicero’s etymological derivations are not to be taken seriously, and may indeed have been intended ironically, however, this particular derivation of Cicero’s has been accepted by some contemporary authors, some even suggesting that Dīs Pater is a direct loan translation of Ploutōn.
Mars – Nerio and Venus
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. The Spear of Mars, which represents the spear and shield of Mars, is also the symbol for the planet Mars and Male gender.
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.
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 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”).
Nerio probably originates as a divine personification of Mars’ power, as such abstractions in Latin are generally feminine. Her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as “marriages.”
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.
Like Ares who was the son of Zeus and Hera, Mars is usually considered to be the son of Jupiter and Juno. However, in a version of his birth given by Ovid, he was the son of Juno alone.
Jupiter had usurped the mother’s function when he gave birth to Minerva directly from his forehead (or mind); to restore the balance, Juno sought the advice of the goddess Flora, a Sabine-derived goddess of flowers and of the season of spring – a symbol for nature and flowers (especially the may-flower), on how to do the same.
While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime, as did her role as goddess of youth.
Flora obtained a magic flower (Latin flos, plural flores, a masculine word) and tested it on a heifer who became fecund at once. She then plucked a flower ritually using her thumb, touched Juno’s belly, and impregnated her. Juno withdrew to Thrace and the shore of Marmara for the birth.
The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, where September is the seasonal equivalent of the Northern Hemisphere’s March.
Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year perhaps as late as 153 BC, and several religious observances in the first half of the month were originally new year’s celebrations. Even in late antiquity, Roman mosaics picturing the months sometimes still placed March first.