On the origin of the Germans – comparative mythology
Posted by Fredsvenn on November 23, 2016
The name Armenia enters English via Latin, from Ancient Greek. The Armenian endonym for the Armenian people and country is hayer and hayk’, respectively. The exact etymology of the name is unknown, and there are various speculative attempts to connect it to older toponyms or ethnonyms.
The name Armenia is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble” or “create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc. The name has also been claimed as a variant of Urmani (or Urmenu), attested epigraphically in an inscription of Menuas of Urartu.
The names Armen and Arman, feminine Arminé, are common given names by Armenians. Armin is a given name or surname, and is an Ancient Greek given name, modern form of Ariobarzanes, meaning “exalting the Aryans”, an ancient Zoroastrian given name in Persian, meaning Guardian of Aryan land, and a Germanic given name, the modern form of Arminius (18/17 BC–21 AD) (Arminius being a Latinization), who defeated a Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.
The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in c. 2250 BC identified with an Akkadian colony in the Diarbekr region.
However, many historians, such as Wayne Horowitz, identify Armanî which was conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad, with the Syrian city of Aleppo and not with the Armenian Highland.
Armani, (also given as Armanum) was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad as stretching from Ibla to Bit-Nanib, its location is heavily debated, and it continued to be mentioned in the later Assyrian inscriptions.
Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. It is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inana, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.
The goddess Inanna (Neo-Assyrian Mush), the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, resides in Aratta, but Enmerkar of Uruk pleases her more than does the lord of Aratta, who is not named in this epic. Inanna was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.
Muṣaṣir (Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake), in Urartian Ardini was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC.
The Kurgan hypothesis postulates that the Proto-Indo-Europeans were the bearers of the Kurgan culture of the Black Sea and the Caucasus and west of the Urals. It was introduced by Marija Gimbutas in 1956, combining kurgan archaeology with linguistics to locate the origins of the Proto-Indo-European (PIE)-speaking peoples.
She tentatively named the culture “Kurgan” after their distinctive burial mounds and traced its diffusion into Europe. This hypothesis has had a significant impact on Indo-European studies.
Those scholars who follow Gimbutas identify a “Kurgan culture” as reflecting an early Indo-European ethnicity, which existed in the steppes and southeastern Europe from the 5th to 3rd millennia BC.
In Kurgan cultures, most of the burials were in kurgans, either clan kurgans or individual ones. Most prominent leaders were buried in individual kurgans, now called “Royal kurgans.” More elaborate than clan kurgans and containing grave goods, the elite examples have attracted the greatest attention and publicity.
In the early 20th century, researchers established the existence of a local Maykop animal style in the artifacts found. This style was seen as the prototype for animal styles of later archaeological cultures: the Maykop animal style is more than a thousand years older than the Scythian, Sarmatian and Celtic animal styles.
In the south it borders the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it. To the north is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300—2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent. It is contemporaneous with the late Uruk period in Mesopotamia.
The Kuban River is navigable for much of its length and provides an easy water-passage via the Sea of Azov to the territory of the Yamna culture, along the Don and Donets River systems. The Maykop culture was thus well-situated to exploit the trading possibilities with the central Ukraine area.
New data revealed the similarity of artifacts from the Maykop culture with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tell Khazneh in northern Syria, the construction of which dates back to 4000 BC. Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 calBC.
After the discovery of the Leyla-Tepe culture in the 1980s, some links were noted with the Maykop culture. The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 B.C. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture.
The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region. The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets.
It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.
In 2010, nearly 200 Bronze Age sites were reported stretching over 60 miles from the Kuban River to Nalchik, at an altitude of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet. They were all “visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads.”
In the genealogies of the Hebrew Bible, Ashkenaz was a descendant of Noah. He was the first son of Gomer and brother of Riphath and Togarmah (Genesis 10:3, 1 Chronicles 1:6), with Gomer being the grandson of Noah through Japheth.
His name is likely a derivation from the Assyrian Aškūza ( Aškuzai, Iškuzai), a people who expelled the Cimmerians from the Armenian area of the Upper Euphrates, The Assyrian name is likely based on that of the Scythians, also known as Scyth, Saka, Sakae, Sacae, Sai, Iskuzai, or Askuzai.
In Armenian tradition, Ashkenaz, along with Togarmah, was considered among the ancestors of the Armenians. Koriun, the earliest Armenian historian, calls the Armenians an “Askanazian (ie., Ashkenazi) nation”.
In 1498, a monk named Annio da Viterbo published fragments known as “Pseudo-Berossus”, now considered a forgery, claiming that Babylonian records had shown that Noah had more than the three sons listed in the Bible. Specifically, Tuiscon or Tuisto is given as the fourth son of Noah, who had been the first ruler of Scythia and Germany following the dispersion of peoples, with him being succeeded by his son Mannus as the second king.
Later historians (e.g. Johannes Aventinus and Johann Hübner) managed to furnish numerous further details, including the assertion by James Anderson in the early 18th century that this Tuiscon was in fact none other than the biblical Ashkenaz, son of Gomer.
James Anderson’s 1732 tome Royal genealogies reports a significant number of antiquarian or mythographic traditions regarding Askenaz as the first king of ancient Germany.
The association of the term by medieval Jewry with the geographical area centered on the Rhineland led to the Jewish culture that developed in that area to be called Ashkenazi, the only form that the term is still used today.
The Scythians were mentioned by the literate peoples surrounding them as inhabiting large areas in the central Eurasian steppes from about the 9th century BC until about the 1st century BC.
Modern interpretation of historical, archaeological and anthropological evidence has proposed two broad hypotheses. The first, formerly more espoused by Soviet and then Russian researchers, roughly followed Herodotus’ (third) account, holding that the Scythians were an Eastern Iranian group who arrived from Inner Asia, i.e. from the area of Turkestan and western Siberia.
An alternative view explains the origin of the Scythian cultural complex to have emerged from local groups of the “Timber Grave” (or Srubna) culture (although this is also associated with the Cimmerians). This second theory is supported by anthropological evidence which has found that Scythian skulls are similar to preceding findings from the Timber Grave culture, and distinct from those of the Central Asian Sacae.
Others have further stressed that “Scythian” was a very broad term used by both ancient and modern scholars to describe a whole host of otherwise unrelated peoples sharing only certain similarities in lifestyle (nomadism), cultural practices and language.
The 1st millennium BC ushered a period of unprecedented cultural and economic connectivity amongst disparate and wide-ranging communities. A mobile, broadly similar lifestyle would have facilitated contacts amongst disparate ethnic groupings along the expansive Eurasian steppe from the Danube to Manchuria, leading to many cultural similarities. From the viewpoint of Greek and Persian ancient observers, they were all lumped together under the etic category “Scythians”.
The fourth-century Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus wrote that the Alans, a people closely related to the Scythians, were tall, blond and light-eyed. The 4th century bishop of Nyssa Gregory of Nyssa wrote that the Scythians were fair skinned and blond haired.
The 5th-century physician Adamantius, who often follow Polemon, describes the Scythians are fair-haired. It is possible that the later physical descriptions by Adamantius and Gregory of Scythians refer to East Germanic tribes, as the latter were frequently referred to as “Scythians” in Roman sources at that time.
The “classical Scythians” known to ancient Greek historians were located in the northern Black Sea and fore-Caucasus region. Other Scythian groups documented by Assyrian, Achaemenid and Chinese sources show that they also existed in Central Asia.
Although ancient Persian sources also used Saka to refer to the Western Scythians of the northern Black Sea, modern scholars usually use the term Saka to refer to Iranian-speaking tribes who inhabited the Eastern Steppe and the Tarim Basin.
Scythian contacts with craftsmen in Greek colonies along the northern shores of the Black Sea resulted in the famous Scythian gold adornments that feature among the most glamorous artifacts of world museums. Ethnographically extremely useful as well, the gold depicts Scythian men as bearded, long-haired Caucasoids.
Archaeological remains of the Scythians include kurgan tombs (ranging from simple exemplars to elaborate “Royal kurgans” containing the “Scythian triad” of weapons, horse-harness, and Scythian-style wild-animal art), gold, silk, and animal sacrifices, in places also with suspected human sacrifices.
The earliest known kurgans are dated to the 4th millennium BC in the Caucasus, and are associated with the Indo-Europeans. Kurgan barrows were characteristic of Bronze Age peoples, and have been found from the Altay Mountains to the Caucasus, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria. Kurgans were used in the Ukrainian and Russian steppes, their use spreading with migration into eastern, central, and northern Europe in the 3rd millennium BC.
The monuments of these cultures coincide with Scythian-Saka-Siberian monuments. Scythian-Saka-Siberian monuments have common features, and sometimes common genetic roots.
The Alans (or Alani) were an Iranian nomadic pastoral people of antiquity. The name Alan is an Iranian dialectical form of Aryan, a common self-designation of the Indo-Iranians.
Possibly related to the Massagetae, the Alans have been connected by modern historians with the Central Asian Yancai and Aorsi of Chinese and Roman sources, respectively.
Having migrated westwards and become dominant among the Sarmatians on the Pontic Steppe, they are mentioned by Persian and Roman sources in the 1st century AD. At the time they had settled the region north of the Black Sea, and frequently raided the Parthian Empire and the Caucasian provinces of the Roman Empire. In 215–250 AD their power on the Pontic Steppe was broken by the Goths.
Upon the Hunnic defeat of the Goths on the Pontic Steppe around 375 AD, many of the Alans migrated westwards along with various Germanic tribes. They crossed the Rhine in 406 AD along with the Vandals and Suebi, settling in Orléans and Valence. Around 409 AD they joined the Vandals and Suebi in the crossing of the Pyrenees into the Iberian Peninsula, settling in Lusitania and Carthaginiensis.
The Iberian Alans were soundly defeated by the Visigoths 418 AD, and subsequently surrendered their authority to the Hasdingi Vandals. In 428 AD, the Vandals and Alans crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into North Africa, where they founded a powerful kingdom which lasted until its conquest by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century AD.
The Alans who remained under Hunnic rule founded a powerful kingdom in the North Caucasus in the Middle Ages, which ended with the Mongol invasions in the 13th century AD. These Alans are said to be the ancestors of the modern Ossetians.
The Alans spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian. The Ossetians or Ossetes (Ossetian: ir, irættæ; digoræ, digorænttæ) are an Iranian ethnic group of the Caucasus Mountains, indigenous to the region known as Ossetia. They speak Ossetic, an Iranian language of the Eastern branch of the Indo-European languages family, with most also fluent in Russian as a second language.
The Ossetians and Ossetia received their name from the Russians, who adopted the Georgian designations Osi (sing., pl.: Osebi) and Oseti (“the land of Osi”), used since the Middle Ages for the Iranian-speaking population of the Central Caucasus and probably based on the old Alan self-designation “As”.
As the Ossetians lacked any single inclusive name for themselves in their native language, these terms were accepted by the Ossetians themselves already before their integration into the Russian Empire.
This practice was put into question by the new Ossetian nationalism in the early 1990s, when the dispute between the Ossetian subgroups of Digoron and Iron over the status of the Digoron dialect made the Ossetian intellectuals search for a new inclusive ethnic name.
This, combined with the effects of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, led to the popularization of “Alania”, the name of the medieval Sarmatian confederation, to which the Ossetians traced their origin, and inclusion of this name into the official republican title of North Ossetia in 1994.
The Alemanni (also Alamanni; Suebi “Swabians”) were a confederation of Germanic tribes on the upper Rhine river. First mentioned by Cassius Dio in the context of the campaign of Caracalla of 213, the Alemanni captured the Agri Decumates in 260, and later expanded into present-day Alsace, and northern Switzerland, leading to the establishment of the Old High German language in those regions.
Old High German (OHG, German: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. Ahd.) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 700 to 1050 AD.
Another mention by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.
Mitanni (Hittite cuneiform KUR URUMi-ta-an-ni; Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni), also called Hanigalbat (Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) in Assyrian or Naharin in Egyptian texts, was a Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC. Their sphere of influence is shown in Hurrian place names, personal names and the spread through Syria and the Levant of a distinct pottery type.
The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.
The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.
The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya), though some think that they are more immediately related to the Kassites.
The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.
Urartu, also known as Kingdom of Van (Urartian: Biai, Biainili; Assyrian: māt Urarṭu; Babylonian: Urashtu) was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. It corresponds to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat.
Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “kingdom of Urartu” or “Biainili lands” are terms used in modern historiography for the Urartian-speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region. The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Anatolia, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus Mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands.
The language appears in cuneiform inscriptions. It is argued on linguistic evidence that proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC), before the formation of the Urartian kingdom. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.
Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after the god Ḫaldi (also known as Khaldi or Hayk), one of the three chief deities of Urartu (Ararat). His shrine was at Ardini (Muṣaṣir). The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa.
Of all the gods of the Urartian pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to Khaldi. His wife was the goddess Arubani. He was portrayed as a man with or without wings, standing on a lion. Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bows and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.
Minni is a Biblical name of the region, appearing in Jeremiah 51:27) alongside Ararat and Ashchenaz, probably the same as the Minnai of Assyrian inscriptions, corresponding to the Mannai.
The Mannaeans (country name usually Mannea; Akkadian: Mannai, possibly Biblical Minni) were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of lake Urmia, around the 10th to 7th centuries BC.
At that time they were neighbors of the empires of Assyria and Urartu, as well as other small buffer states between the two, such as Musasir and Zikirta. In the Bible (Jeremiah 51:27) the Mannaeans are called Minni. In the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), Minni is identified with Armenia, but it could refer to one of the provinces in ancient Armenia; Minni, Ararat and Ashkenaz.
According to examinations of the place and personal names found in Assyrian and Urartian texts, the Mannaeans, or at least their rulers, spoke Hurrian, a non-Semitic and non-Indo-European language related to Urartian, with no modern language connections.
Mannus, according to the Roman writer Tacitus, was a figure in the creation myths of the Germanic tribes. Tacitus wrote that Mannus was the son of Tuisto and the progenitor of the three Germanic tribes Ingaevones, Herminones and Istvaeones.
*Mannaz is the conventional name of the m-rune ᛗ of the Elder Futhark. It is derived from the reconstructed Common Germanic word for “man”, *mannaz. Younger Futhark ᛘ is maðr (“man”). It took up the shape of the algiz rune ᛉ, replacing Elder Futhark ᛗ. As its sound value and form in the Elder Futhark indicate, it is derived from the letter M (𐌌) in the Old Italic alphabets, ultimately from the Greek letter Mu (μ).
The term man (from Proto-Germanic *mannaz or *manwaz “man, person”) and words derived from it can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their sex or age. The word developed into Old English man, mann meaning primarily “adult male human” but secondarily capable of designating a person of unspecified gender, “someone, one” or humanity at large (see also German man, Old Norse maðr, Gothic manna “man”).
More restricted English terms for an adult male were wer (cognate: Latin vir; survives as the first element in “werewolf”) and guma (cognate: Latin homo; survives as the second element in “bridegroom”).
In Old English the words wer and wīf (and wīfmann) were used to refer to “a man” and “a woman” respectively, while mann had the primary meaning of “adult male human” but could also be used for gender neutral purposes (as is the case with modern German man, corresponding to the pronoun in the English utterance “one does what one must”).
However, man in traditional usage (without an article) refers to the species, to humanity, or “mankind”, as a whole. The usage persists in all registers of English although it has an old-fashioned tone.
Equating the term for the male with the whole species is common in many languages, for example in French (l’Homme). On the other hand, some languages have a general word for ‘human individual’ which can apply to people of either gender. German has the general word Mensch, but Mann for (adult) male person; Latin has the general word homo and for males the word vir.
It is derived from a Proto-Indo-European root *man- (see Sanskrit/Avestan manu-, Slavic mǫž “man, male”). The Slavic forms (Russian muzh “man, male” etc.) are derived from a suffixed stem *man-gyo-.
Some etymologies treat the root as an independent one, as does the American Heritage Dictionary. Of the etymologies that do make connections with other Indo-European roots, man “the thinker” is the most traditional — that is, the word is connected with the root *men- “to think” (cognate to mind).
This etymology relies on humans describing themselves as “those who think” (see Human self-reflection). This etymology, however, is not generally accepted. A second potential etymology connects with Latin manus (“hand”), which has the same form as Sanskrit manus.
Another speculative etymology postulates the reduction of the ancestor of “human” to the ancestor of “man”. Human is from *dhghem-, “earth”, thus implying *(dh)ghom-on- would be an “earthdweller”. The latter word, when reduced to just its final syllable, would be merely *m-on-.
This is the view of Eric Partridge, Origins, under man. Such a derivation might be credible if only the Germanic form was known, but the attested Indo-Iranian manu virtually excludes the possibility. Moreover, *(dh)ghom-on- is known to have survived in Old English not as mann but as guma, the ancestor of the second element of the Modern English word bridegroom.
In the late twentieth century, the generic meaning of “man” declined (but is also continued in compounds “mankind”, “everyman”, “no-man”, etc.). The same thing has happened to the Latin word homo: in most of the Romance languages, homme, uomo, om, hombre, homem have come to refer mainly to males, with a residual generic meaning.
The names Mannus and Tuisto/Tuisco seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”. Týr is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed.
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 in origin was a generic noun meaning “god”, e.g. Hangatyr, literally, the “god of the hanged”, as one of Odin’s names, which was probably inherited from Týr in his role as god of justice. The t-rune ᛏ is named after Týr, and was identified with this god.
Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is rendered as Tius or Tio and also formally as Mars Thincsus.
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. In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon.
According to Tacitus’s Germania (98 CE), Tuisto (or Tuisco) is the divine ancestor of the Germanic peoples. The figure remains the subject of some scholarly discussion, largely focused upon etymological connections and comparisons to figures in later (particularly Norse) Germanic mythology. In the larger Indo-European pantheon, Tuisto is equated to the Indic/Vedic Tvastar.
The Germania manuscript corpus contains two primary variant readings of the name. Root of the word is from the Hindu Vedic ‘Tvasthar’ – father of Manu. The most frequently occurring, Tuisto, is commonly connected to the Proto-Germanic root *tvai- “two” and its derivative *tvis- “twice” or “doubled”, thus giving Tuisto the core meaning “double”.
Any assumption of a gender inference is entirely conjectural, as the tvia/tvis roots are also the roots of any number of other concepts/words in the Germanic languages. Take for instance the Germanic “twist”, which, in all but the English has the primary meaning of “dispute/conflict”.
The second variant of the name, occurring originally in manuscript E, reads Tuisco. One proposed etymology for this variant reconstructs a Proto-Germanic *tiwiskoand connects this with Proto-Germanic *Tiwaz, giving the meaning “son of Tiu”. This interpretation would thus make Tuisco the son of the sky-god (Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus) and the earth-goddess.
Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir in later Norse mythology, attested in 13th century sources, based upon etymological and functional similarity. Meyer (1907) sees the connection as so strong, that he considers the two to be identical.
Lindow (2001), while mindful of the possible semantic connection between Tuisto and Ymir, notes an essential functional difference: while Ymir is portrayed as an “essentially … negative figure” – Tuisto is described as being “celebrated” (celebrant) by the early Germanic peoples in song, with Tacitus reporting nothing negative about Tuisto.
Jacob (2005) attempts to establish a genealogical relationship between Tuisto and Ymir based on etymology and a comparison with (post-)Vedic Indian mythology: as Tvastr, through his daughter Saranyū and her husband Vivaswān, is said to have been the grandfather of the twins Yama and Yami, so Jacob argues that the Germanic Tuisto (assuming a connection with Tvastr) must originally have been the grandfather of Ymir (cognate to Yama).
Incidentally, Indian mythology also places Manu (cognate to Germanic Mannus), the Vedic progenitor of mankind, as a son of Vivaswān, thus making him the brother of Yama/Ymir.
In a disputable etymology, W. Meid (1992) has linked the names Yama (reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European as *yemos) and the name of the primeval Norse frost giant Ymir, which can be reconstructed in Proto-Germanic as *umijaz or *jumijaz, in the latter case possibly deriving from PIE ym̥yos, from the root yem “twin”.
In his myth, however, Ymir is not a twin, and only shares with Yama the characteristics of being primeval and mortal. However, Ymir is a hermaphrodite and engenders the race of giants.
In 1498, a monk named Annio da Viterbo published fragments known as “Pseudo-Berossus”, now considered a forgery, claiming that Babylonian records had shown that Tuiscon or Tuisto, the fourth son of Noah, had been the first ruler of Scythia and Germany following the dispersion of peoples, with him being succeeded by his son Mannus as the second king.
Later historians (e.g. Johannes Aventinus) managed to furnish numerous further details, including the assertion by James Anderson that this Tuiscon was in fact none other than the biblical Ashkenaz, son of Gomer.
Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer,” 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, who 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. In the description of the Babylonian zodiac given in the clay tablets known as the MUL.APIN, the constellation now known as Aries was the final station along the ecliptic.
The MUL.APIN was a comprehensive table of the risings and settings of stars, which likely served as an agricultural calendar. 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.
Yama and Yami
Yama or Yamarāja, also called Imra, is a god of death, the south direction and the underworld, belonging to an early stratum of Rigvedic Hindu deities. In Sanskrit, his name can be interpreted to mean “twin”. In the Zend-Avesta of Zoroastrianism, he is called “Yima”.
According to the Vishnu Purana, his parents are the sun-god Surya and Sanjna, the daughter of Vishvakarman (Sanskrit for “all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer”), the personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda.
Yama is the brother of Sraddhadeva Manu and of his older sister Yami, which Horace Hayman Wilson indicates to mean the Yamuna. According to Harivamsa Purana her name is Daya. There is a temple in Srivanchiyam, Tamil Nadu dedicated to Yama.
In the Vedas, Yama is said to have been the first mortal who died. By virtue of precedence, he became the ruler of the departed, and is called “Lord of the Pitrs, (Sanskrit: the fathers), the spirits of the departed ancestors in Hindu culture.
The Pitṛs are most primeval deities and they never cease to exist. The manuṣyāḥ pitaraḥ (ancestors of human beings) can attain the same level of the divine Pitṛs and live with them in heaven by righteousness. They are reborn at the end of every thousand mahayugas and revive the worlds. From them all the Manus and all progeny at the new creation are produced.
Yamuna is a sacred river in Hinduism and the main tributary of the Ganges (Ganga), the holiest river of Hinduism. The river is worshipped as a Hindu goddess called Yamuna. In the Vedas, Yamuna is known as Yami, while in later literature, she is called Kalindi.
In the Vedas, Yami is associated with her twin brother and partner Yama, the god of death. Later, she is associated with the god Krishna as one of Ashtabharya, his consort as well and plays an important role in his early life as a river. Bathing and drinking Yamuna’s waters is regarded to remove sin.
*Tîwaz derives from the Proto-Indo-European base *dei-, *deyā-, *dīdyā-, meaning ‘to shine’, whence comes also such words as “deity”. His name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.
Dyēus is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. 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).
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 Pltwih Méhter, “earth mother”.
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 Phter).
Like Pluto, Dīs Pater eventually became associated with death and the underworld because the wealth of the earth—gems and precious metals—was considered in the domain of the Greco-Roman underworld. As a result, Dīs Pater was over time conflated with the Greek god Hades.
In being conflated with Pluto, Dīs Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dīs Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.
An (“sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions. He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked.
When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara, an underworld god of the law described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore equated with Nergal, and Dumuzi.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Dione is translated as “Goddess”, and given the same etymological derivation as the names Zeus, Diana, et al. In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was eventually equated with the Greek goddess Artemis.
Diana was one of the triple goddess, the same goddess being called Luna in heaven, Diana on earth, and Proserpina in hell. Michael Drayton praises the Triple Diana in poem The Man in the Moone (1606): “So these great three most powerful of the rest, Phoebe, Diana, Hecate, do tell. Her sovereignty in Heaven, in Earth and Hell”.
Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma. His name means “king of the mountains”.
The mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, in Greek myth. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter.
In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.
Sarruma is a son of the weather-god Teshub and the goddess Hebat and brother of the goddess Inara. He is often depicted riding a tiger or panther and carrying an axe (cf. labrys).
Dionysus is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology. The god himself is drawn in a chariot, usually by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, and is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus. Dionysus has remained an inspiration to artists, philosophers and writers into the modern era.
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis.
In Hellenistic times, especially during the 3rd century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, Titan god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, Titan goddess of the moon.
In Latin texts, on the other hand, Joseph Fontenrose declared himself unable to find any conflation of Apollo with Sol among the Augustan poets of the 1st century, not even in the conjurations of Aeneas and Latinus in Aeneid XII (161–215). Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the 3rd century CE.
In Greek mythology, Apollo and Dionysus are both sons of Zeus. Apollo is the god of reason and the rational, while Dionysus is the god of the irrational and chaos. The Greeks did not consider the two gods to be opposites or rivals, although often the two deities were entwined by nature.
The Apollonian is based on reason and logical thinking. By contrast, the Dionysian is based on chaos and appeals to the emotions and instincts. In The Birth of Tragedy (1872), the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche proposed that a tension between Apollonian and Dionysian aesthetic principles underlay the development of Greek tragedy; Dionysus represented what was unrestrained chaotic and irrational, while Apollo represented the rational and ordered.
Apollo has ominous aspects aside from his plague-bringing, death-dealing arrows: Marsyas was a satyr who challenged Apollo to a contest of music. He had found an aulos on the ground, tossed away after being invented by Athena because it made her cheeks puffy. The contest was judged by the Muses.
After they each performed, both were deemed equal until Apollo decreed they play and sing at the same time. As Apollo played the lyre, this was easy to do. Marsyas could not do this, as he only knew how to use the flute and could not sing at the same time. Apollo was declared the winner because of this.
Apollo flayed Marsyas alive in a cave near Celaenae in Phrygia for his hubris to challenge a god. He then nailed Marsyas’ shaggy skin to a nearby pine-tree. Marsyas’ blood turned into the river Marsyas. Another variation is that Apollo played his instrument (the lyre) upside down. Marsyas could not do this with his instrument (the flute), and so Apollo hung him from a tree and flayed him alive.
Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu. Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal, who was linked to Shamash, Babylonian god of the sun, 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.
Nergal was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia 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. He seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.
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.
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”.
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.
Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaedaor Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”. The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only.
Gemini is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for “twins,” and it is associated with the twins Castor and Pollux in Greek mythology. In Babylonian astronomy, the stars Castor and Pollux were known as the Great Twins (MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL).
The Twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively ‘The One who has arisen from the Underworld’ and the ‘Mighty King’. Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld.
In Greek mythology, Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and is the queen of the underworld. Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic princess of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead.
Persephone was married to Hades, the god-king of the underworld. The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.
Kali is portrayed mostly in two forms: the popular four-armed form and the ten-armed Mahakali form. In both of her forms, she is described as being black in colour but is most often depicted as blue in popular Indian art. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her.
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 *h₂ews-tro-.
The name *h₂ewsṓs 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-.
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. 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 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 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 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).
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 of the early Indo-Aryans.
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. He 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.
The name of March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named for Mars, the Roman god of war who was also regarded as a guardian of agriculture and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus.
Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. 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.
His month Martius was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare, and the festivals held in his honor during the month were mirrored by others in October, when the season for these activities came to a close.
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.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the meteorological beginning of spring occurs on the first day of March. 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.
Aries (meaning “ram”) is one of the constellations and the first astrological sign in the zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Aries is located in the northern celestial hemisphere between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east. The name Aries is Latin for ram, and its symbol is, representing a ram’s horns.
Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign mostly between March 21 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to May 14 (approximately).
The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying gold-hair[a] winged ram, which was held in Colchis and provided the Golden Fleece. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.
Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.
Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) is a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.
In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.
The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.
In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. 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: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year. According to some scholars, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz.
Baldr (“lord, prince, king”) is a god in Norse mythology, who is given a central role in the mythology. Despite this his precise function is rather disputed. He is often interpreted as the god of love, peace, forgiveness, justice, light or purity, but was not directly attested as a god of such. He is the second son of Odin and the goddess Frigg. His twin brother is the blind god Höðr.
In Norse mythology, Nanna Nepsdóttir or simply Nanna is a goddess associated with the god Baldr. Nanna is the wife of Baldr and the couple produced a son, the god Forseti (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese) is an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation in Norse mythology. After Baldr’s death, Nanna dies of grief.
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 was sometimes identified with the goddess Bellona, and occasionally with the goddess Minerva. Spoils taken from enemies were sometimes dedicated to Nerio by the Romans. Nerio was later supplanted by mythologized deities appropriated and adapted from other religions.
In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Nerine were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with Minerva.
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.”
In Roman mythology, Virtus was the deity of bravery and military strength, the personification of the Roman virtue of virtus. The Greek equivalent deity was Arete. He/she was identified with the Roman god Honos (personification of honour) and was often honoured together with him, such as in the Temple of Virtus and Honos at the Porta Capena in Rome itself.
This deity was represented in a variety of ways, for example, on the coins of Tetricus, it can appear as a matron, an old man, or a young man, with a javelin or only clothed in a cape.
Within the realm of funerary reliefs Virtus is never shown without a male companion. Often her presence within this realm of art is to compliment and provide assistance to the protagonist of the relief during a scene of intense masculinity or bravery.
In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. 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. North (Proto-Germanic *norþ-) comes from the proto-Indo-European *nórto-s ‘submerged’ from the root *ner- ‘left, below, to the left of the rising sun’.
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 Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “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’.
In Norse mythology, Njörun is a goddess. 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.
Andy Orchard suggests that she may be fictitious. 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.
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.
Saturn and Lua
Saturn is a god in ancient Roman religion, and a character in myth. Saturn is a complex figure because of his multiple associations and long history. 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. 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.
Saturn had two consorts who represented different aspects of the god. The name of his wife Ops, the Roman equivalent of Greek Rhea, means “wealth, abundance, resources.” The association with Ops though is considered a later development, as this goddess was originally paired with Consus. Earlier was Saturn’s association with Lua (“destruction, dissolution, loosening”), a goddess who received the bloodied weapons of enemies destroyed in war.
In Roman mythology, Lua was a goddess to whom soldiers sacrificed captured weapons. She is sometimes referred to as “Lua Mater” or “Lua Saturni”, the latter of which makes her a consort of Saturn. It may be that Lua was merely an alternative name for Ops (Latin: “Plenty”), a fertility deity and earth-goddess of Sabine origin.
In Ops’ statues and coins, she is figured sitting down, as Chthonian deities normally are, and generally holds a scepter or a corn spike as her main attributes. The husband of Ops was Saturn. In Roman mythology, and in Greek mythology where Ops is identified as Rhea, her husband was Cronus, the bountiful monarch of the Golden Age. Cronus was Rhea’s husband and brother.