Indo-European Religion

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
A thread on Indo-European religion, from the reconstructed beliefs of the Proto Indo-Europeans to the divergent descendant religions.
 

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
The Indo-Europeans had a system of gods, with Dyḗus Ph₂tḗr at the top, being the sky father, a motif of faith that would last throughout ages. The Avestan is .

Of the old fathers, straight from Dyḗus Ph₂tḗr, is Dyáuṣpitṛ́, द्यौष्पितृ, the king of the Vedic pantheon.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
Screenshot_2020-03-09-21-20-39.png


Yes, of course, Jupiter and Zeus are from this root.
 

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
If one will talk about the gods, one must know the heavens. Here I will post from my notes on the celestial bodies.

The Sun has multiple reconstructions, all alike to séhₐul; the laryngeal is either h₂ or h₄, as the subscript a indicates.
The older branches and oldest all take from this root (hypothetically Hittite did, but diverged): [Avestan hvar, Lat. sōl, Grk hēélios, Skt. svar, sū́r(y)a].
The Old Irish reflex is sūil, which means "eye", as in the sun being the eye of the high god. This concept is also reflected within Greek and Indic mythology; among the pre-hellenic Pelasgians, and retained with the Greeks, the sun was of upmost importance in relation to the all father god. In theory, this sun being was conflated with the all father in Indo-European religion (Compare this Orphic saying: Zeus, Hades, Helios-Dionysus, three gods in one godhead!)
and described as his eye; Helios is described as the Eye of Zeus, and the Avestan Hvare-khshæta is called the Eye of Ahura Mazda.
Romanian folklore features the metaphor "Eye of God" for the Sun.

(The Hittite word for sun is Istanus, an unrelated non-IE word from Hurrian Estanu. Istanu is thought by some to be a male sun god, but Arinna was the main solar deity of the Hittites.)

An alternate Proto Indo-European concept was being the torch or lamp of Dyēus, as called "heaven's candle" in Beowulf and the "land of Hatti's torch" in Hittite.

Corresponding to my description of the Sun comes the Moon. As common throughout the Indo-European family of languages, the moon was of great importance for early calendars.

The main word for the moon, reconstructed as *méh₁-ot or *meh₁-n[é|s-] (meh₁nés), is of the root *meh₁-, to measure. As the concept of the month and its marker were so close, in daughter languages it is reflected as moon, month, or both; [OIr mī, Lat. mēnsis, Lith. mėnuo, Grk. mén, Skt. mās "moon, month", OCS mêsęcî "moon, month", Alb. mauj, "month", Arm. amis, "month", Avestan må, "moon, month"].
(The Hittite is armas, and the Tocharian B form is meñe.)
The other noun for moon, *(s)kand [Alb. hënë, "moon", Skt. cándra, "moon", Lat. candeo "to shine"] comes from the root verb *(s)kand-, "to shine".

So two views of the Moon can be deduced; one of practical importance, and one of sight, and beauty.

Regional words: within the northwest IE world, *louksnehₐ-, "moon", from *lewk- "bright, to shine, to see" [Lat. lūna, OCS luna, OPrus lauxnos "stars"]; *meldh, "lighting";
West-Central (s)ǩeh₁w(e)r- "north wind", [Lith. šiāre, Lat. caurus "north wind", šiuras "cold, northen", OCS sĕverŭ, "north", Arm. c'urt, "cold, shower"]; *ghromos, "thunder" (possibly independent formations in the daughter languages) [Grk. khrómos, "noise", (from the verb *ghrem- "groan") OCS grumŭ, "noise", vŭz-grĭmŏti, "to thunder".]

On the stars there is *h₂stér, and reflexes follow as: MI ser, Lat. stēlla, Armenian astł, Skt. tāras, Hittite hasterza (in the Anatolian, the laryngeal even is preserved! Hittite gives the theory much credibility.)

This bears striking similarities to the Proto-Semitic *ʕaṯtar~ʕaθtar, and thus *h₂stér is debated to have been derived from the Semitic. However, this is problematic, as *ʕaṯtar did not come to mean a star in general (*ʕaṯtar is the source of the name of the goddess Ištar) until later on (2500-2000 B.C.) whereas Proto Indo-European could derive its own word as a natural progression from h₂ehₓ-s, "burn", to *h₂(hₓ)-s-tér, "ember".
A semantic difference between burning and star from the same root can be seen between Anglo-Saxon ysle, "glowing ash", and the Albanian yll, "star". Both come from *h₁us-li~*h₁us-los, which is a derivative of h₁eus, h₁ews, "to burn".

(These words could be related even in this case, as there is a possibility that Proto Afro-Asiatic, Proto Indo-European, and Proto-Uralic all descend from Nostratic; considering the personal pronouns of each system (and especially between Proto Indo-European and Proto Afro-Asiatic) correspond rather closely, it is a fair thing to keep in mind; indeed Nostratic theory is problematic, but it is also sound in some areas.)

In the heavens also are clouds, and the singular can be confidently reconstructed as *nébʰos, from nébʰ, "to dampen, get cloudy"; so it reads as "that which gets damp, that which rains".

Although*nébʰos is primarily "cloud" in meaning, it often gave daughter languages secondary words for heaven, or sky; [OIr nem, Lat. (borrowed from Hellenic) nebula, "mist, fog", A-S nifol, "deep, low", Lith. debesỹs, "cloud", OCS nebo, "sky", Grk. néphos, "sky", Skt. nábhas, "mist, cloud, sky", Hit. nepis, "sky".]

The word *migʰ-, *migʰ-lo-, from h₃meigh, also came to mean cloud in some languages [Lith. miglā, Rus. mgla, "mist, darkness, Grk. omíkhlé, "cloud", Skt. megha, "cloud" (Sanskrit loves to use all roots). A third root, *sneudh-, "to cover", gave Welsh nudd, "mist", Latin nubēs, "cloud, mist", and the Avestan snaoδa-, "cloud".
Slightly different semantically speaking is *wápōs, "steam, vapor", occuring in the far west and far east of the Indo-European world, with the Latin vapor, "vapor, steam", and the Sanskrit vāṣpá~bāṣpá-(*vāpṣá-), "vapor, steam, tears."

The verbal root *dei, "to shine", was used to form the day, the sky, and the (later) sky deity. His name was formed as *d(i)yēus, "sky-god", and from there the basic word for deity came, *deiwos.

Coming back to the day itself: there are three reconstructible words. The first, *hₐéǵhr̥, is only found in Germanic [ON dagr, OE dæġ] and Aryan [Av. azan, Skt. ahar], and futhermore, the Germanic forms give the problem of initial *d, which is traditionally either explained with *hₐéǵhr̥ being conflated with Proto-Germanic *dāȝwaz, "warm time of year", from *dʰōǵho- "burning", or from a phenomenon analogous to the English "nickname" [an ekename, a nekename]
in which a mistaken division of *tod hₐéǵhr̥, "that day", led to "to(d) dhₐéǵhr̥".

As for the next word, *deino~*dino (grade change; from the full grade *deino: [Got. sinteins, "daily", Lith. dienà, "day"]. From the zero grade *dino, [OIr trēdenes "three day period", Lat. nundianae "the ninth (market) day", OCS dĭnĭ, "day", Skt dinam, "day"].
The final word is dye(u), (OIr dīa, Lat. diēs, Grk. éndīos, "at mid-day", Arm. tiw, "day". (Tiw is a noticable reoccurring Indo-European word that has to with days and gods as it comes from the same root, cf. war-god Tyr) Hitt. sīwatt, Skt. divasá "day". Both *deino~*dino and dyeu derive from *dei-.

As for describing the darkened sky of the night, there is the root *nekʷt-, which is uniformly the source of night in ten groups [OIr. innocht, "(at) night", Lat. nox, "night", Hitt. nekuz "(at) night", Lith. naktìs "night", OCS noštĭ, Alb. natë, Grk. núks, "night", Skt. nákt, TochA. nokte "(at) night"].

An honorable mention is *n̥kʷt(us), zero-grade of *nekʷt-, and in Germanic is "early morning" [AS ūhte], in Greek is day of sunlight [Grk aktis], and in Indic, night [Skt. aktú].
Looking at the word *n̥kʷt(us), one would expect the meaning to be an extension of the meaning "night". As older Indic also retains the meaning "end of the night", this seems likely. H₁est.
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
The word for god is *deiwos, an o-stem derivative of dyēu.
Reflexes are [OIr dīa, Latin deus, (of course), Lith. diēvas, Hitt. sius].
In both Iranian and Slavic, the word means "demon" [Av. daēva, Slv. *divъ], a result of a religious reformation that denounced the old Indic gods as demons and gave way to the new religion of Zarathustra. (As I said in another post, this was caused by pre-historic cultural exchange between Iranians and Slavs on the lower Russian steppes).

Lat. Iupiter, Grk. Zeús patḗr, Skt. Dyáuṣ-Pitṛ́, Palaic Tiyaz Papaz, Scythian Papa Zios, Papaios, AS wargod Tyr, and Illyr. Dei-Pátrous all are direct descendants of the name Dyḗws Ph₂tḗr.
The god's name is the source of the adjective *diwyós, "divine", giving Lat. dīus, Grk. dîos, and Skt. divyá.
Therr is also evidence for a feminine deity as well, *dhuǵhₐtḗr diwós, "sky daughter", preserved in [Lith. diẽvo duktė, "Saulytė", the daughter of the sky, Grk. thugátēr diós, Skt. duhitā́ diváh].
The epithet is specifically given to the dawn goddess *hₐéusōs in Baltic, Greek, and Aryan. Reflexes are [Lat. aurōra, Lith. aušrine, Latv. auseklis, Grk. Ēōs, Sky. Ušás].

The celestial nature of the deities is further supported by Germanic and Tocharian. *Gudaz is from *ǵʰutóm, "that which is invoked, that which is called down", while in Toch B god is ñakte (Toch A ñkät) from PIE *ní-ǵhutos, "he who is invoked downwards", from the heavens.
Another word for god is *dhēh₁s, which purely retains semantics in Grk. theós and Arm. dik, "the gods", but in the rest of the IE languages give cognates, [Lat. fēriae, "festival day", Skt. dhišána, "epithet used for various gods", dhišā́, "with impetuosity"; alike to enthusiasm, "[having (a)] god inside".
There is also hₐénsus, "god, spirit", which is from a Germanic-Aryan isogloss. The Germanic has ON ōss, god (the Æsir), and the Aryan Skt. ásu-, Asura, "powerful spirit", Av. Ahura-Mazda.
The remaining titles and names designated gods are problematic. The word *bhr̥ǵhn̥tihₐ- "high one", Celtic has the goddess Brigantia, Germanic has the name Bergunt, and Indic had the adjective br̥hati, "high, lofty". The Aryan suggests a *neptonos or *h₂epom nepōts, "grandson/nephew of waters" [Sk. Ap ā́m Nápāt], and the Western reflexes are [OIr
Nechtain, Lat. Neptūnus], although problematic in terms of relation.

A Proto Indo-European *wl̥kānos~*wl̥kehₐnos, "smith god", is insecure, based on a seeming linkage between the Roman Volcānus (if not Indo-European, this is from Etruscan or one of the various Aegean dialects) and the Ossetian wœrgon, "smith god". This lack cognates, but is sound going by phonological correspondence.

The divine nature of an apportioner, *bhagos, who was deified, is secured only by Aryan [Skt. bháya, a god of the Vedic pantheon, Av. baga, which became the Slavic word for god, bogu]; also becoming a Phrygian epithet of Zeus [Phryg. Bagaîos], but still retaining its root meaning in Tocharian [Toch B pāke, "share, part"].

The thundergod is indicated by *perkʷunos, which is reflected through Fjǫrgyn, mother of the Norse thunder god Thor, the Lithuanian thunder god Perkūnas (Lith. is the most conservative), and the Old Russian thunder god Perúnû.
Identifying him as a Proto Indo-European deity, rather than a specifically North-Western IE one, depends on whether or not the Sanskrit Parjánya, a weather god, is also cognate (which would have a root akin to *pergʷenyo-).
The PIE wargod is problematic to reconstruct as well; *māwort-, [Lat. Mārs, Skt. Marutás, the companions of wargod Indra].
The amount of irregular sound change needed to justify this prompts linguists not to be adamant in affirming relations between various gods.

However problematic the gods may be, the ancestor of humans is not problematic for reconstruction; *manu-, as reflected by Germanic Mannus, the mythological ancestor of the Germans, and the Indic ancestor of humanity, Skt. Mánu. Another word among the field of gods and men is the questionable *h₄(e)l̥bh-, which is probably the source of [OE ælf, Skt. r̥bhú, "artisan deity"].
Another word, *dhroughós, is the reconstruction for "phantom" [OIr airdrech, "phantom", ON draugr]; this personalized form is limited to the Northwest, but is cognate with Skt. drógha- "deceiving", and derives from *dhreugh-, "deceive", (which is also the source of "dream", [*dʰrowgʰ-mos, *draugmaz, *draumaz]).
The regional terms are relatively little in amount. From the northwest there is a possible *dhwes-, "spirit", derived from the verb *dhwes-, "breathe", [Gaul. durios, "type of demon", MHG. getwās, "phantom", Lith. dvasià, "spirit"].
From the West-Central region of the Indo-European world there is [OIr. trīath, "sea"], which phonetically close and seemingly semantically similar to the name of the Greek sea god Trī́tōn, the son of Poseidon, although the source form [*trihₐtōn, "watery (one)", remains speculative. A similar proposal is a link between [Lat. lemūres, night spirits who devour the dead] and [Grk. lámia, female flesh-eating mythological creature used to scare children], where perhaps some *lem- [(night) spirit] is the root.
Greek-Aryan isoglosses give several possible links between gods and their roles. The root péh₂usōn, "pastoral god", from peh₂- "feed, protect cattle", is thought to be the source of the Greek Pā́n and Sanskrit Pūšā́; corresponding soundly as both are indeed pastoral gods. Likewise, the word ḱérberos, "spotted", corresponds to the Greek hellhound Kérberos and the Sanskrit Śárvara, one of the dogs of Yama, god of the dead.
The fury Erīnū́s and sunwife Saraṇyū do not have much in common in respect to their mythological roles, but their names could both easily be derived from the root
*seren(y)uhₓs.

Reconstructing words dealing with the sacred give the challenge of deciphering their complex meaning. In PIE terms, the idea of the sacred has to do with rite that sets apart people and things from the secular world, or, the sacred may be associated with being complete infused with heavenly power. PIE *sakris has [Lat. sacer, sacerdos] and [Toch B sākre-, "happy"], with a cognate in the Hittite [saklāi, "rite, custom"]. The root seems to indicate that something is made sacred by a rite of being set apart, as *sakros may come from the verbal root *sek- ‘cut’, cut off from the world.

The reflexes of *weik-, "consecrate" can be both nominal, like the Latin victima, or verbal, as the Aryan suggest that it involves the process of setting someone apart. Gothic has"weihs", holy, and weihan "consecrate", but Skt. [vinákti, "select out"].
In a similar manner, the western descendants of *wōtis, "divinely inspired", are nominal, like [OIr fāith, "prophet", ON Ōðinn], while Sanskrit has api-vat, "inspires".
Both of the words *ḱwen(to), "holy", [Lith. šveñtas, OCS svęntû, Av. spənta, "holy" in all three]
and *noibhos, "holy" [OIr noīb, OPers naiba-, both "holy"] are from verbal roots; *ḱwen(to) comes from *ḱeu(h₁)-, "swell", which led to "swollen (with some form of
sacred force)", and *noibhos from *nei-, "to be excited", filled with sacred animation.
The root *ḱeu(h₁)- also gives the basis for *ḱouh₁ros, "powerful", but derivatives usually describe heros and not gods, [OIr cona(i)d, Skt. śū́ra, Thr. Soura].
The division between physical and spiritual strength is blurred in hₐeuges, "strength"; Skt. ójas can refer to both. In Latin, the semantics are mostly dealing with the sacred [Lat. augustus, "sacred", augur, "priest, seer"].
Only the Umbrian supa and Hittite suppa- provide evidence for PIE *seup-, "pure", but both indicate "the viscera of a sacrificed animal", something barred for humans, while Hittite supp-i is "pure". This lacks cognates, but it has a solid phonological correspondence.

There are at least three candidates for the PIE for "priest". The first is *kouh₁ēi(s), as found in [Grk. kōés, Lyd. kaweś, Skt. kaví, "seer"], from *(s)keuh₁-, "perceive".
A Latin-Messapic-Aryan isogloss [Lat. flāmen, Mess. blamini, "priest", OPers brazman, "appropriate form, appearance", Skt. brahmán, "priest"] shows a possibility for *bhlaǵhmēn, "priest", problematic as the -ǵh- is not in the Latin or any other IE langauge.
Similar to this is the case of *pent-*dheh₁/*kʷer-, a compound of *pent, "path", and "dheh₁, "put, establish", [Lat. ponti-fex] or *kʷer-, "make" [Skt. pathi-kṛ́t], which made for "path-maker", "one who makes a path to the gods", and an Indic title for priests.
The root *bher-, "carry", is the basis of another weakly attested word for priest, *bhertōr, "one who bears (offerings)", which is found in the Umbrian as ars-fetur, "priest", and Aryan, [Skt. prá-bhartar, "one who brings]. The exact relation with Proto Indo-European remains uncertain as the Aryan langauges use a different preposition to the Western langauges, pro-.
The semantic sphere of *d(h₃)eu-, "be favorable to", (probably from *deh₃-, "give") may extend to the religious idea of worship, [Skt. dúvas, "worship", duvasyáti, "honors"]. Western cognates have the meaning "strong" or "good" [OIr de(i)n, "strong, good", Lat. bonus, from OLat. duenos].
Nearing the end, we have a Germanic-Hittite isogloss to support an unclear *hₓolu~*alu-, "spell", more or less. The Hittite alwanzatar means "sorcery, spell", while the Germanic forms [Runic *alu, "spell"(?)] could mean spell; the Germanic forms are strongly associated with the supernatural. There is also a Celtic-Germanic isogloss that gives *soito/ehₐ~seyt, "sorcery", [Wels. hud, ON seið, both "magic"], and a Slavic-Greek [OCS čudo, "wonder", Grk. kûdos, "renown"] both from *keudes- "magic force". There are several Greek-Aryan isoglosses; a root *yaǵ, "honor, worship", is the source of the Sanskrit yājati, "he worships", the Grk. házomai, "dread", and hágios, "holy". The Greek describes the fear one feels in the presence of the gods, and both Greek and Indic reflexes of *tyegʷ, "give away, pull back oneself (in awe), further show verbs of worship originating from verbs of fear and awe, [Grk. sébomai, "worship, honor", sobéō, "frigthen off, drive away", Skt. tyájati, "stands back from something".

Sacred might, *ish₁ros, is shown by a series of cognates in both Greek [Grk. hierós, "sacred, powerful", Skt. iṣirá, "powerful"]. The Greek expression hieròn ménos is cognate to the Sanskrit iṣirēra mánasa; "sacred strength." H₁est.
 
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Bitmap

Civis Illustris
In both Iranian and Slavic, the word means "demon" [Av. daēva, Slv. *divъ], a result of a religious reformation that denounced the old Indic gods as demons and gave way to the new religion of Zarathustra.
Haha, losers.

It's kind of interesting, though, that you can reconstruct PIE to a certain degree not only on the basis of languages that developed differently, but also on the basis of religious beliefs and concepts.

You should have a look at a deity like Hephaistos/ Vulcanus if you can. I found it rather curious that in our culture, we have similar associations with the devil as the Greeks and Romans did with Hephaistos. For example, Lucifer in Paradise Lost fell for a number of days (I don't remember how many :)), just like Hephaistos did after Zeus tossed him up a bit ... and there's also the idea that Hephaistos was limping -- and what else is "Ich biete meinen besten Gruß dem Ritter mit dem Pferdefuß" if not a reflex of that ancient idea of a partially lame deity?
 

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
Haha, losers.
:(

It's kind of interesting, though, that you can reconstruct PIE to a certain degree not only on the basis of languages that developed differently, but also on the basis of religious beliefs and concepts.
Definitely. Although the IE religions are pretty darn divergent, they're an essential piece of the puzzle.


With the usual syncretism of Greek mythology, I wager that maybe Hephaistos has something to do with the Canaanite Kothar-wa-Khasis.
 

Bestiola

Speculatrix
Staff member
The main word for the moon, reconstructed as *méh₁-ot or *meh₁-n[é|s-] (meh₁nés), is of the root *meh₁-, to measure. As the concept of the month and its marker were so close, in daughter languages it is reflected as moon, month, or both; [OIr mī, Lat. mēnsis, Lith. mėnuo, Grk. mén, Skt. mās "moon, month", OCS mêsęcî "moon, month", Alb. mauj, "month", Arm. amis, "month", Avestan må, "moon, month"].
(The Hittite is armas, and the Tocharian B form is meñe.)
The other noun for moon, *(s)kand [Alb. hënë, "moon", Skt. cándra, "moon", Lat. candeo "to shine"] comes from the root verb *(s)kand-, "to shine".

So two views of the Moon can be deduced; one of practical importance, and one of sight, and beauty.
We were told that the moon aka mensis, the measure of time, was later called luna, aka the shiny, beautiful one, to appease it since it was something scary to the ancients...but I couldn't find any references to that claim.
 

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
Well, it's true to say that if you mean from PIE to Proto-Italic to Latin, it went from meh₁nés to luna. I've never heard of the idea of it scaring ancients, although that is interesting. I thought it was perhaps just a poetic synonym.
 

Bestiola

Speculatrix
Staff member
Yeah, the idea is that what was scary is less scary if you give it a pretty name, aka avoiding taboos. There is another analogy - in Slavic languages bear, a scary animal is "someone who eats honey", therefore someone less scary - proto slavic *medvědь.

This is from Wiktionary, so I'm not taking all these reconstructions as 100% correct:

From earlier *medu-ēdis, equivalent to *medъ (“honey”) +‎ *(j)ěsti (“to eat”), hence literally the epithet "honey-eater". Cognate with Sanskrit मध्वद् (madhuv-ád-, “eating sweetness”) (RV I 164,22). Presumably came into use as taboo avoidance of an earlier word, possibly something like *rьstъ (compare Lithuanian irštvà (“bear's den”), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ŕ̥tḱos). Similar proposed examples of linguistic taboo for 'bear' are Proto-Germanic *berô (“the brown one”), Latvian lācis (“stomper, pounder”), Old Irish math (“the good one”).


Although it seems others agree:

"Because bears were so bad, you didn’t want to talk about them directly, so you referred to them in an oblique way”; I just wish I'd find something about the moon in the same taboo - avoiding sense.
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
a religious reformation that denounced the old Indic gods as demons and gave way to the new religion of Zarathustra.
Christians took the same attitude toward the old pagan gods. In many early and medieval Christian authors, the pagan gods, rather than being said not to exist at all, are said to be demons. Milton follows that tradition in Paradise Lost when, listing the most prominent of the angels who fell with Satan, he identifies them with pagan gods:

Forthwith from every Squadron and each Band
The Heads and Leaders thither hast where stood
Thir great Commander; Godlike shapes and forms
Excelling human, Princely Dignities,
And Powers that earst in Heaven sat on Thrones; [ 360 ]
Though of thir Names in heav'nly Records now
Be no memorial blotted out and ras'd
By thir Rebellion, from the Books of Life.
Nor had they yet among the Sons of Eve
Got them new Names, till wandring ore the Earth, [ 365 ]
Through Gods high sufferance for the tryal of man,
By falsities and lyes the greatest part
Of Mankind they corrupted to forsake
God thir Creator, and th' invisible
Glory of him that made them, to transform [ 370 ]
Oft to the Image of a Brute, adorn'd
With gay Religions full of Pomp and Gold,
And Devils to adore for Deities:
Then were they known to men by various Names,
And various Idols through the Heathen World. [ 375 ]
Say, Muse, thir Names then known, who first, who last,
Rous'd from the slumber, on that fiery Couch,
At thir great Emperors call, as next in worth
Came singly where he stood on the bare strand,
While the promiscuous croud stood yet aloof? [ 380 ]
The chief were those who from the Pit of Hell
Roaming to seek thir prey on earth, durst fix
Thir Seats long after next the Seat of God,
Thir Altars by his Altar, Gods ador'd
Among the Nations round, and durst abide [ 385 ]
Jehovah thundring out of Sion, thron'd
Between the Cherubim; yea, often plac'd
Within his Sanctuary it self thir Shrines,
Abominations; and with cursed things
His holy Rites, and solemn Feasts profan'd, [ 390 ]
And with thir darkness durst affront his light.
First Moloch, horrid King besmear'd with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents tears,
Though for the noyse of Drums and Timbrels loud
Thir childrens cries unheard, that past through fire [ 395 ]
To his grim Idol. Him the Ammonite
Worshipt in Rabba and her watry Plain,
In Argob and in Basan, to the stream
Of utmost Arnon. Nor content with such
Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart [ 400 ]
Of Solomon he led by fraud to build
His Temple right against the Temple of God
On that opprobrious Hill, and made his Grove
The pleasant Vally of Hinnom, Tophet thence
And black Gehenna call'd, the Type of Hell. [ 405 ]
Next Chemos, th' obscene dread of Moabs Sons,
From Aroar to Nebo, and the wild
Of Southmost Abarim; in Hesebon
And Horonaim, Seons Realm, beyond
The flowry Dale of Sibma clad with Vines, [ 410 ]
And Eleale to th' Asphaltick Pool.
Peor his other Name, when he entic'd
Israel in Sittim on thir march from Nile
To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe.
Yet thence his lustful Orgies he enlarg'd [ 415 ]
Even to that Hill of scandal, by the Grove
Of Moloch homicide, lust hard by hate;
Till good Josiah drove them thence to Hell.
With these came they, who from the bordring flood
Of old Euphrates to the Brook that parts [ 420 ]
Egypt from Syrian ground, had general Names
Of Baalim and Ashtaroth, those male,
These Feminine. For Spirits when they please
Can either Sex assume, or both; so soft
And uncompounded is thir Essence pure, [ 425 ]
Not ti'd or manacl'd with joynt or limb,
Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,
Like cumbrous flesh; but in what shape they choose
Dilated or condens't, bright or obscure,
Can execute thir aerie purposes, [ 430 ]
And works of love or enmity fulfill.
For those the Race of Israel oft forsook
Thir living strength, and unfrequented left
His righteous Altar, bowing lowly down
To bestial Gods; for which thir heads as low [ 435 ]
Bow'd down in Battel, sunk before the Spear
Of despicable foes. With these in troop
Came Astoreth, whom the Phoenicians call'd
Astarte, Queen of Heav'n, with crescent Horns;
To whose bright Image nightly by the Moon [ 440 ]
Sidonian Virgins paid thir Vows and Songs,
In Sion also not unsung, where stood
Her Temple on th' offensive Mountain, built
By that uxorious King, whose heart though large,
Beguil'd by fair Idolatresses, fell [ 445 ]
To Idols foul. Thammuz came next behind,
Whose annual wound in Lebanon allur'd
The Syrian Damsels to lament his fate
In amorous dittyes all a Summers day,
While smooth Adonis from his native Rock [ 450 ]
Ran purple to the Sea, suppos'd with blood
Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the Love-tale
Infected Sions daughters with like heat,
Whose wanton passions in the sacred Porch
Ezekiel saw, when by the Vision led [ 455 ]
His eye survay'd the dark Idolatries
Of alienated Judah. Next came one
Who mourn'd in earnest, when the Captive Ark
Maim'd his brute Image, head and hands lopt off
In his own Temple, on the grunsel edge, [ 460 ]
Where he fell flat, and sham'd his Worshipers:
Dagon his Name, Sea Monster, upward Man
And downward Fish: yet had his Temple high
Rear'd in Azotus, dreaded through the Coast
Of Palestine, in Gath and Ascalon [ 465 ]
And Accaron and Gaza's frontier bounds.
Him follow'd Rimmon, whose delightful Seat
Was fair Damascus, on the fertil Banks
Of Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams.
He also against the house of God was bold: [ 470 ]
A Leper once he lost and gain'd a King,
Ahaz his sottish Conquerour, whom he drew
Gods Altar to disparage and displace
For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
His odious off'rings, and adore the Gods [ 475 ]
Whom he had vanquisht. After these appear'd
A crew who under Names of old Renown,
Osiris, Isis, Orus and their Train
With monstrous shapes and sorceries abus'd
Fanatic Egypt and her Priests, to seek [ 480 ]
Thir wandring Gods disguis'd in brutish forms
Rather then human. Nor did Israel scape
Th' infection when thir borrow'd Gold compos'd
The Calf in Oreb: and the Rebel King
Doubl'd that sin in Bethel and in Dan, [ 485 ]
Lik'ning his Maker to the Grazed Ox,
Jehovah, who in one Night when he pass'd
From Egypt marching, equal'd with one stroke
Both her first born and all her bleating Gods.
Belial came last, then whom a Spirit more lewd [ 490 ]
Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for it self: To him no Temple stood
Or Altar smoak'd; yet who more oft then hee
In Temples and at Altars, when the Priest
Turns Atheist, as did Ely's Sons, who fill'd [ 495 ]
With lust and violence the house of God.
In Courts and Palaces he also Reigns
And in luxurious Cities, where the noyse
Of riot ascends above thir loftiest Towrs,
And injury and outrage: And when Night [ 500 ]
Darkens the Streets, then wander forth the Sons
Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.
Witness the Streets of Sodom, and that night
In Gibeah, when the hospitable door
Expos'd a Matron to avoid worse rape. [ 505 ]
These were the prime in order and in might;
The rest were long to tell, though far renown'd,
Th' Ionian Gods, of Javans Issue held
Gods, yet confest later then Heav'n and Earth
Thir boasted Parents; Titan Heav'ns first born [ 510 ]
With his enormous brood, and birthright seis'd
By younger Saturn, he from mightier Jove
His own and Rhea's Son like measure found;
So Jove usurping reign'd: these first in Creet
And Ida known, thence on the Snowy top [ 515 ]
Of cold Olympus rul'd the middle Air
Thir highest Heav'n; or on the Delphian Cliff,
Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds
Of Doric Land; or who with Saturn old
Fled over Adria to th' Hesperian Fields, [ 520 ]
And ore the Celtic roam'd the utmost Isles.

"Bleating gods" makes me chuckle each time.
I love that word.
[Lat. augustus, "sacred", augur, "priest, seer"]
I hadn't even realized those two words were related. :rolleyes1:
Yeah, the idea is that what was scary it's less scary if you give it a pretty name, aka avoiding taboos. There is another analogy - in Slavic languages bear, a scary animal is "someone who eats honey", therefore someone less scary - proto slavic *medvědь.

This is from Wiktionary, so I'm not taking all these reconstructions as 100% correct:

From earlier *medu-ēdis, equivalent to *medъ (“honey”) +‎ *(j)ěsti (“to eat”), hence literally the epithet "honey-eater". Cognate with Sanskrit मध्वद् (madhuv-ád-, “eating sweetness”) (RV I 164,22). Presumably came into use as taboo avoidance of an earlier word, possibly something like *rьstъ (compare Lithuanian irštvà (“bear's den”), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂ŕ̥tḱos). Similar proposed examples of linguistic taboo for 'bear' are Proto-Germanic *berô (“the brown one”), Latvian lācis (“stomper, pounder”), Old Irish math (“the good one”).


Although it seems others agree:

"Because bears were so bad, you didn’t want to talk about them directly, so you referred to them in an oblique way”; I just wish I'd find something about the moon in the same taboo - avoiding sense.
That was precisely discussed a few days ago in Sub Rosa.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
"Because bears were so bad, you didn’t want to talk about them directly, so you referred to them in an oblique way”; I just wish I'd find something about the moon in the same taboo - avoiding sense.
That was precisely discussed a few days ago in Sub Rosa.
It sounds rather made up or speculative, though, doesn't it? I mean, the honey badger is pretty bad-ass, too, but it mainly got its name from the mistaken belief that it eats honey. Such simple descriptive wordings would sound to me like the most logical explanation in the case of bears, too, rather than any abstract speculation over religious fear or the like.
 

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
Actually, I was going to mention that last night, but my hands were burning from writing.

The Germanic berô can be soundly derived from *ǵʰwḗr- ~ *ǵʰwér, "wild animal", *ǵʰwér-ō, to berô (this also gave Lat. ferōx, [PIE *ǵʰweroh₃kʷs]).

The fear of dangerous animals is not necessarily religious at all. In non-euphemism languages [Lat. ursus, Grk. arktos], the word for bear comes from h₂ŕ̥tḱos, itself a nominalization of *h₂r̥tḱós, "destroying".

The PIE word for wolf, *wĺ̥kʷos, is a nominalization of the adjective *wl̥kʷós, "dangerous".

Whether to say they were euphemisms or poetic synonyms is rather dubious, but I think it's safe to say that some IE cultures did have euphemistic intention, while others had their own innovations.
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
The Germanic berô can be soundly derived from *ǵʰwḗr- ~ *ǵʰwér, "wild animal", *ǵʰwér-ō, to berô (this also gave Lat. ferōx, [PIE *ǵʰweroh₃kʷs]).
Etymoline mentions both a possible derivation from a word meaning "brown" and a possible relation to ferus (ergo to ferox, too).

 

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
Precisely.
 

Issacus Divus

H₃rḗǵs h₁n̥dʰéri diwsú
Christians took the same attitude toward the old pagan gods. In many early and medieval Christian authors, the pagan gods, rather than being said not to exist at all, are said to be demons.
Indeed, the New Testament demon Beelzebub is a demonized version of the Philistine god Beelzebul.
 

Hemo Rusticus

Lounge Lizard
Bestiola dixit:
I just wish I'd find something about the moon in the same taboo - avoiding sense.
I think Frazer & Gimbutas treat this matter, that the moon's celebrants were menstruating women, thought of as magical timekeepers. Hence the Indo-European witch, spinning at night, conjuring under a full moon: the sacred virginal moon-goddess Diana-Artemis, to see whom naked is to be transformed into a dead man, etc. There's also this, which though interesting is suspect. I don't know what special prerogative Queerists & Trans-scholars have in the realm of comparative myth.

Then again, in Balto-Slavic & Germanic myth the moon is an hombre, so maybe the Finnic peoples had a hand in it.
 
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