Dʰéǵʰōm

*Dʰéǵʰōm (Proto-Indo-European: *dʰéǵʰōm or *dʰǵʰōm; lit. 'earth'),[1][2] or *Pleth₂wih₁ (PIE: *pleth₂wih₁, lit. the 'Broad One'),[3][4] is the reconstructed name of the Earth-goddess in the Proto-Indo-European mythology.

The Mother Earth (*Dʰéǵʰōm Méh₂tēr) is generally portrayed as the vast (*pleth₂wih₁) and dark (*dʰengwo-) abode of mortals, the one who bears all things and creatures. She is often paired with Dyēus, the daylight sky and seat of the never-dying and heavenly gods, in a relationship of contrast and union, since the fructifying rains of Dyēus might bring nourishment and prosperity to local communities through formulaic invocations. Dʰéǵʰōm is thus commonly associated in Indo-European traditions with fertility, growth, and death, and is conceived as the origin and final dwelling of human beings.

Name and etymologyEdit

The Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word for 'earth', *dʰ(é)ǵʰōm (acc. dʰǵʰ-ém-m, gen. *dʰǵʰ-mós), is among the most widely attested words in Indo-European languages (cf. Hitt. tēkan, tagān; Skt kṣám; Grk khthṓn; Lat. humus; Av. zam; Toch. tkaṃ; OIr. , Lith. žẽmė; Slav. zemlja; Alb. dhe), which makes it one of the most securely reconstructed PIE terms.[1] On the other hand, the linguistic evidence for the ritualization of the name *dʰéǵʰōm is not systematically spread across the inherited traditions, as she also appears under other names and epithets, principally *Pleth₂-wih₁ (the 'Broad One').[3]

If the PIE Earth-goddess is reliably reconstructed under the name *Dʰéǵʰōm, with *Pleth₂-wih₁ being one of her epithets, she was most likely the Earth herself conceived as a divine entity, rather than a goddess of the earth,[5] Proto-Indo-European mythology still relying on a strong animistic substrate.[6]

EpithetsEdit

Based on comparative analysis of textual and epigraphic evidence, historical linguists and philologists have been able to reconstruct with a comfortable level of certainty several epithets and expressions that were associated with *Dʰéǵʰōm in Proto-Indo-European times: *Pléth₂wih₁ (the 'Broad One'), *Dʰéǵʰōm Méh₂tēr ('Mother-Earth'), and, in this form or a similar one, *Dʰéǵʰōm Dʰengwo- ('Dark Earth').[4][7]

The Broad OneEdit

The commonest epithet applied to the earth in Indo-European poetic traditions is *Pléth₂wih₁ (the 'Broad One'), which is the feminine form of *pléth₂-us, meaning 'flat, vast, broad'. A group of cognates appear in various divine names, including the Vedic earth-goddess Pṛthvī, the Greek nymph Plataia, and the Gaulish goddess Litavī.[4][8] The epithet is also attested in nearly identical poetic expressions associating *dʰéǵʰōm and *pléth₂wih₁: Avestan ząm pərəθβīm ('broad earth'), Sanskrit kṣā́m ... pṛthivī́m ('broad earth'), and Old Hittite palḫiš ... dagan(-zipaš) ('broad ... earth[-genius]').[7][9][10]

Another similar epithet is the 'All-Bearing One', the one who bears all things and creatures.[11] She was also referred to as 'much-nourishing' or 'rich-pastured' in Vedic, Greek, and Old Norse ritual expressions sharing the root *plh₁u- ('much').[3]

In the Proto-Indo-European cosmology, the earth Dʰéǵʰōm was likely perceived as a vast, flat and circular continent surrounded by waters ('The Ocean').[8]

Mother EarthEdit

The Earth-goddess was widely celebrated with the title of 'mother' (méh₂tēr), and often paired with *Dyḗus ph2tḗr, the 'sky-father'. She is called annas Dagan-zipas ('Mother Earth-genius') in Hittite liturgy, and paired with the Storm-god of heaven, as well as Mat' Syra Zemlya ('Mother Moist Earth') in the Russian epic poems.[a] To the Vedic goddess of the earth Prithvi is often attached the epithet Mata ('mother') in the Rigveda, especially when she is mentioned together with Dyaus, the sky-father.[13]

úpa sarpa mātáram Bhū́mim etā́m uruvyácasam Pṛthivī́ṃ suśevām
Slip in to this Mother Earth, the wide-extending Broad One, the friendly...

— 10.18.10, in The Rigveda, translated by M. L. West.[14]

The Baltic earth-goddess Zemyna is likewise associated with the epithets 'Mother of the Fields' and 'Mother of the Forests'.[15] She is also treated respectfully as mother of humans.[b] Similarly, the cult of the "Earth Mother" in old Slavic religion and traditions associated the earth with the progenetrix's role.[c][d][19] In a legend from Smolensk, it is told that a human has three mothers: a birth mother (rodna) and two great (velikih) mothers, Mother Moist Earth and the Mother of God.[20] Additionally, the Anglo-Saxon goddess Erce (possibly meaning 'bright, pure') is called the 'mother of Earth' (eorþan modor) and likely identified with Mother Earth herself in a ritual to be performed on an unfruitful plough-land.[13] She is also called Fīra Mōdor ('Mother of men') in Old English poetry.[5]

A similar epithet, Mother of All (Μητηρ Παντων), is ascribed to the Greek earth-goddess Gaia, as recorded for instance in Aeschylus' Prometheus Unbound (παμμῆτόρ τε γῆ; "Oh! universal mother Earth"),[21] and in The Libation Bearers (ἰὼ γαῖα μαῖα; Mother Gaia).[22] Likewise, some Orphic hymns attach the epithet 'mother' to Earth (γαῖα θεὰ μήτηρ).[23] In a Samaveda hymn dedicated to the Vedic fire god Agni, he is described as "rapidly ... [moving] along his mother earth".[24] In an Atharveda Hymn (12.1) (Pṛthvī Sūkta, or Bhūmī Sūkta), the celebrant invokes Prithvi as his Mother, because he is "a son of Earth".[25] The word bhūmi is also used as an epithet of Prithvi meaning 'soil' and in reference to a threefold division of the universe into heavens, sky, and earth.[26][27][28] On her own, Bhūmi is another Vedic deity with Mother-Earth attributes.[29][30][31]

The Greek goddess of the harvest and agriculture Demeter could also be a cognate, possibly deriving from an Illyrian root dā- (from *dʰǵʰ(e)m-) attached to māter ('mother'), although this proposition remains controversial in scholarship.[13] The Roman evidence for the idea of Earth as a mother is doubtful, as it is usually associated with the name Terra rather than Tellus (the pre-Imperial earth-goddess), and the attested tradition may have been influenced by Greek motifs.[32]

Dark EarthEdit

Another Proto-Indo-European epithet, *dʰéǵʰōm dʰengwo- or *dʰéǵʰōm dʰṇgu- ('dark earth'), can be reconstructed from the Hittite formulae dankuiš dagan-zipaš ('dark genius of the earth') and dankuš tēkan, which were frequently used to name the underworld, but sometimes also the earth's surface, and partially from the Albanian and Slavonic expressions dhe të zi ('black earth') and *črnā(yā) zemyā ('dark earth'), which have retained the term *dʰéǵʰōm.[33][11][7] Other reflexes can be found in Greek Gaia Melaina (γαîα μέλαινα; 'black earth'), or in Old Irish domun donn ('brown earth').[11][34] A Lithuanian expression takes the form "may the black earth not support me".[35]

ištamašta=an=ma palḫiš dankuiš daganzipaš
...the broad dark earth heard him...

— 4.4 Rs. 12ff, in Keilschrifturkunden aus Boghazköi [de], translated by J. L. García Ramón.[7]

In Latvian dainas about plant fertility, the color black symbolized a good and abundant harvest, and the black soil was considered the most fertile.[36] In a Russian fairy tale, the maiden is buried "under a blanket of black earth".[37] Another expression with similar meaning, "черна земя" ('black earth'), is also attested in Bulgarian folk verses.[38] The formula of the dark earth seems to be related to invocation or oaths, where the announcer summons the Earth as an observer or witness, as seen by Solon's elegiac Fragment 36.[39] The Slavic deity 'Moist Earth' (Syra Zemlya) was similarly invoked during oaths and called to witness in land disputes.[40]

RoleEdit

Mating with the Sky FatherEdit

The Earth goddess was conceived as the dark dwelling of mortals, in contrast with Dyēus, the bright diurnal sky and the seat of the gods.[11][e] Both deities often appear as a pair, the Sky Father (*Dyḗws Ph₂tḗr) uniting with Mother Earth (*Dʰéǵʰōm Méh₂tēr) to bring fertility and growth.[14][42] The Earth is thus often portrayed as the giver of good things: she is exhorted to become pregnant in an Old English prayer, and Slavic peasants described Zemlja as a prophetess that shall offer favourable harvest to the community.[5][43] The unions of Zeus with Semele and Demeter is similarly associated with fertility and growth in Greek mythology.[43] According to Jackson, however, Dʰéǵʰōm is "a more fitting partner of Perkwunos than of Dyēus", since the former is commonly associated with fructifying rains as a weather god.[3]

The Earth–Heaven couple was probably not at the origin of the other heavenly gods. The Divine Twins and H2éwsōs seem to have been conceived by Dyēus alone,[44] since they are mentioned through the formulaic expressions *Diwós Népoth1e ('Descendants of Dyēus') and *Diwós Dhuǵh2tḗr ('Daughter of Dyēus), respectively.[45]

AnatolianEdit

In Hittite mythology, the Storm God of Heaven, one of the most important in the Hittite pantheon,[46] has been syncretized with local Anatolian or Hattian deities, merging with a local storm god with terrestrial characteristics. At a later point, the Storm God of Heaven was paired with local goddess Wurulemu, with chthonic traits.[47]

Indo-AryanEdit

In the Vedic texts, Prithvi the mother is usually paired with Dyaus the father,[48][14] as shown for instance in Samaveda hymns.[49][50] Due to their complementary relationship, they are celebrated as universal parents.[51] However, other texts of sacred literature attribute different partners to the Earth goddess: in an Atharveda Hymn (12.1), Prithvi is coupled with Parjanya (Sanskrit: पर्जन्य, parjánya), a deity of rain and fertilizer of earth.[52][53] In the same hymn, verse 6 (12.1.6), Indra, another Vedic deity of thunder and rain, is described as "consort" and protector of Earth.[54]

According to Herodotus, the Scythians considered Earth to be the wife of Zeus.[43]

Graeco-RomanEdit

Zeus is associated with Semele, a possible descendant of Dʰéǵʰōm, but also with Demeter, which could be another cognate stemming from the Mother Earth.[43][5] In the Danaids, Aeschylus describes how Ouranos and Chthôn are seized by a mutual desire for sexual intercourse: the rain falls, then Earth conceives and brings forth pasture, cereal crops, and foliage.[43] Likewise, "Heaven and Earth" regularly appear as a duo among deities invoked as witnesses to Hittite treaties, and the Roman Tellus Mater is paired with Jupiter in Macrobius's Saturnalia.[14]

The mating of Zeus and female characters with chthonic elements (Démeter) or associated with earth (such as Semele, Plataia and Themis) may be a remnant of the Sky/Earth coupling.[43] Other religious expressions and formulas in Greek cultic practice attest to a wedding or union between a sky-god and an earth-mother: the Homeric Hymn to Gaia calls her "Wife of Starry Ouranos";[55] weddings in Athens were dedicated to both Ouranos and Gaia;[56] an Orphic hymn tells that the cultist is both "a child of Earth and starry Sky";[57] in Athens, there was a statue of Gaia on the Acropolis depicting her beseeching Zeus for rain;[58][f] Zeus Chthonios and Gê Chthonia form a cultic pair in Mykonos;[60][61] Zeus is invoked with an Earth Mother partner by their priestesses in Dodona;[62][63] a funerary epigram of one Lycophron of Pherai, son of Philiskos, states he shall live "among the stars uplifted by his father" (Zeus), while his body "occupies mother earth".[64]

In the cosmogony of Pherecydes of Syros, male deity Zas (identified with Zeus and the celestial/heavenly heights) unites with female character Chthonie (associated with the earth and the subterranean depths) in sacred rites of marriage, a union that appears to hark back to "the theology of the rites of fertility-fecundity"[65] and lays the foundation of the cosmos;[66]

Ancient Roman scholar Varro, in his book De re rustica, listed five divine pairs, among which Juppiter, "father", and Tellus, "the Earth mother", both responsible for the fruitfulness of agriculture.[67]

NorseEdit

In Norse Mythology, the goddess Jörd, a jötunn (giantess) whose name means 'earth' (from Proto-Germanic *erþō-, 'earth, soil, land'), begets the thunder-god Thor (Donar) with Odinn–not a sky-god, although a chief god of the Norse pantheon.[68] A line in the Gylfaginning by Norse poet Snorri Sturluson mentions that the Earth is both daughter and wife ("Jörðin var dóttir hans ok kona hans") of the All-Father,[69] identified as Odinn.

SlavicEdit

Russian scholar O. G. Radchenko points that remnants of the coupling exist in East Slavic riddles, incantations and herb charms.[41] As pointed by scholarship, Croatian historian Natko Nodilo saw an occurrence of the Masculine Heavens and Feminine Earth in the riddle Visok tata, plosna mama, bunovit zet, manita devojka ("Tall father, fat mother, rebellious son-in-law, frenzied maiden"), about the components of the world, and whose answer is "Sky, Earth, Wind and Fog".[70] In a Russian incantation (Beschwörungsformel), heaven and earth are referred to as a father/mother pair: Ty nebo otec; ty zemlja mat'. ("You Heaven are father; you Earth are mother").[71][g] A folk expression "plaskófka matka, vysoki tatka" refers to "the low, flat earth" in contrast with "the highest sky".[73]

Polish scholarship also indicates some holdover of the idea exists in the folklore of Poland, for instance, in folk riddle Matka nisko, ojciec wysoko, córka ślepa, syn szalony ("A mother low down, a father high up, a blind daughter and a mad son"), whose answer is "earth, heaven, night, wind".[74][h]

In a charm collected in Arkhangelsky and published in 1878 by historian Alexandra Efimenko (ru), the announcer invokes "Mother-Earth" (Земля мать) and "Father Heaven" (небо отец).[76] According to researcher Natalya Polyakova, there was among the Slavs an old belief that earth was fertilized by the heavenly rains and that it was a sin to profane her. If this happened, the heavenly father would no longer send her rains, and thus would cause drought.[77]

BalticEdit

Baltic scholarship recognizes in ancient Baltic beliefs a division of the world into a heavenly half, with masculine and dynamic attributes and associated with light and celestial bodies, and an earthly half, feminine and static, related to plants and waters.[78]

According to Nijole Laurinkiene, in Baltic tradition, it was said that the earth closed off (as in "sleeping" or "hibernating") near the end of autumn/beginning of winter, and "opened up" with the coming of the spring - a season when the first rains begin to fall. For this reason, it was believed that Baltic thunder god Perkūnas acted as the "opener" of the earth with his rains, making the grass grow and bringing life anew. In later tradition, it seems this deity was replaced by Saint George (Jurgis, Yurja, Sveti Juraj), who, in folksongs, was described as opening the earth in the spring with a key.[79][i]

Final dwelling of mortalsEdit

Dʰéǵʰōm had a connection with both death and life: the deceased are made from her and shall eventually return to her, but the crop also grows from her moist soil fertilized by the rain of Dyēus.[82] This points to a hierarchical conception of the status of mankind regarding the heavenly gods, confirmed by the widespread use of the term 'mortal' as a synonym of 'human' rather than 'living species' in Indo-European traditions.[83] In a Hittite military oath, the earth is said to drink the blood of the fallen ("This not wine, it is your blood, and as the earth has swallowed this..."), as in Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes (736) and in the Indian Mahabharata ("... the earth shall drink today the blood of their king").[84]

The word for 'earth' underlies the many formations for designating humans, because they are seen as 'earthly' or fashioned from the earth itself.[85] It is attested in the derivative forms *dʰǵʰ(e)-mōn and *dʰǵʰom-yos, which underwent a semantic shift from 'earthling' to 'human': Sanskrit jmán ('from the earth') and kṣámyaḥ ('earthly'), Latin homō ('man'), Gothic guma ('man'), Old Lithuanian žmuõ ('man') and Old Prussian smoy ('man'), Old Irish duine ('man'), and Gaulish -xtonio (*gdonios 'man'?).[86] The Neo-Phrygian term zemelōs (ζεµελως) is interpreted as meaning 'men', or 'terrestrial' as opposed to 'heavenly'.[87][88] In the words of linguist Antoine Meillet, those metaphors go back to a time when it was "natural to designate 'humans' by the distinctive features that distinguish them from the gods: mortality, life on earth".[89]

GreekEdit

In a religious context, Chthôn (Χθών) was conceived as the nether land of the underworld deities and the dead (Iliad 6,411; 8,14; Theogony 119; etc.), and often as the world itself as opposed to the sky.[87]

Another reflex of Dʰéǵʰōm as the mother of mortals and their final resting place may also be found in Demetrioi ('of Demeter'), an Athenian designation for the dead,[90] and in Aeschylus's verses in Choephori 127: "Yea, summon Earth, who brings all things to life, / And rears and takes again into her womb."[62][91] In addition, Demeter was worshipped in some Greek cities in relation to her connection to the Underworld (cf. epithet Chthonia, 'of the earth, underworld'), besides her typical association with grains and crops.[92][93] Demeter was also associated with the role of ward[94] or mother of the dead:[95] according to Plutarch's On the Face in the Moon's Orb, Demeter, who rules over the earth and all earthly things, separates the soul from the body after a human dies.[96]

A similar imagery is described by poet Euripides, in his play The Suppliants, lines 530-536: "Let the dead now be buried in the earth, / and each element return to the place from where it came to the body, / (...) the body to the ground; / for in no way did we get it / for our own, but to live our life in, and after that its mother earth must take it back again".[97][98] A funerary epigram of one Lycophron of Pherai, son of Philiskos, states his body, given by mother, now "occupies mother earth" (μητέρα γἥν).[99]

BalticEdit

Moreover, historical sources on Baltic mythology, specially on Lithuanian and Latvian religions and practices, describe the dual role of goddesses Zemyna and Zemes Mate: while they were connected to the fertility of the land, they were also associated with receiving the dead and acting as their ruler and guardian.[100][j]

In Latvian dainas, Zemes Mate is associated with fellow Mahte ("Mothers") Velu Mate ('Mother of Dead Souls') and Kari Mate ('Mother of Graves'). According to researcher Elza Kokare, Zemes Mate and Kari Mate act as the resting places of the dead, guarding its body and holding the key to their graves.[102] As an individual character, Zemes mate is invoked as a person's final resting place.[k][l][m] Pieces of Lithuanian folklore also make references to Earth as mother of humans and their final abode after death.[108][n][o][p]

Funeral lamentations, such as some collected in Veliouna in the 19th and 20th centuries, attest the expression "sierą žemelę" as the destination of the deceased to whom the lament is dedicated.[112][113][114][115] In a later military death lament, the "sierą žemelę" is said to drink the blood of the fallen soldier, after being shot.[116] An issue of Lithuanian newspaper Draugas published a dainas wherein the person invokes the earth as "žeme, žeme, siera žemele", and asks it to take her, a maiden, having already taken father and mother ("Atėmei tėvą ir motinėlę"), but the earth scolds her.[117]

SlavicEdit

Old Slavic beliefs seem to attest some awareness of this ambivalent nature of the Earth: it was considered men's cradle and nurturer during one's lifetime, and, when the time of death came, it would open up to receive their bones, as if it were a "return to the womb".[118][q][r][s][t][u][v]

In Polish curses, the malediction is aimed towards "the Holy Earth" (święta ziemia) not receiving the remains of the person cursed (as in, Bodaj cię święta ziemia nie przyjęła! and Oby cię święta ziemia nie przyjęła!).[125] Researcher Anna Engelking cited that scholar Boris Uspensky wrote "a comprehensive analysis of the mythical trope of holy earth: the mother of humankind, which gives birth to people and accepts their bodies after death".[126] Similarly, the imagery appears in "funeral hymns and speeches", e.g., Powracasz w ziemię, co twą matką była,/ Teraz cię strawi, niedawno żywiła ("You return to earth that has been your mother,/ She has fed you so far, now you’ll be devoured").[127]

The imagery of the terre humide ("moist earth") also appears in funeral lamentations either as a geographical feature (as in Lithuanian and Ukrainian lamentations)[128] or invoked as Mère-Terre humide ("Mother Moist Earth").[129][130][w][x][y][z][aa] The imagery and expression of "Mother Moist Earth" seem to have persisted well into the 21st century, although divorced from its sacral aspect.[ab]

In a Ukrainian lamentation, the mourner invokes earth as his "damp mother" ("Земле ж моя земле, мать сирая"), and asks it to take him, the mourner ("a young one"), since it has already taken father ("отця") and mother ("неньку", endearing or diminutive form of "не́ня").[140]

In Belarusian folk songs, the earth is invoked as "syroj ziamli-matušcy" ('damp earth-mother'), and even referred to as the resting place of the mourner's loved one ("Žoŭcieńki piasok, syraja ziamlia, Tut pachavana milaja maja"; English: 'Yellow sand, damp earth: here my dear is buried').[141] In addition, phraseological studies by linguist Olga A. Lyashchynskaya (be) recognize the incidence of the expression in Belarusian: expression "спаць у сырой зямлі" ('to sleep in the damp earth') is a metaphor for death;[142] expression "ляжаць у сырой зямлі/зямельцы" ("to lie in the damp earth/ground") denotes a burial ("to be interred");[143] "ажаніцца з <сырою> зямлёй" ("to marry the [moist] earth") means "to die".[144]

Serbian idiomatic expressions also associate the earth with the grave, and the formula "dark earth" ("crna zemlja") appears in reference to the resting place of the dead.[145]

Mat' Syra Zemlya is also invoked in wedding songs by the orphan bride for her parents to bless her journey to the new household.[146]

Indo-AryanEdit

In Book 10 of the Rigveda, Hymn XVIII (a funeral hymn), verses 10-13, the earth is invoked to receive the body of the departed and to cover him gently, as a mother does a child: "10. Betake thee to the lap of Earth the Mother, of Earth far-spreading, very kind and gracious. (...) 11. Heave thyself, Earth, nor press thee downward heavily: afford him easy access, gently tending him. Cover him, as a mother wraps her skirt about her child, O Earth."[147][148][149] A second hymn in Vedic sacred literature requests Earth to open up and explicitly receive the dead, while also mentioning the "two kings", Yama and Varuna: "Open thy arms, o Earth, receive the dead/ With gentle pressure and with loving welcome / Embrace him tenderly, e'en as a mother / Folds her soft vestment round the child she loves. / Soul of the dead, depart (...)".[150][51]

In the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa, written by Vedic sage Yajnavalkya, there is reference to a ritual of the placement of the bones of the deceased in the earth after cremation.[151] According to the Kanda XIII,8,3,3, the text says that "May Savitri deposit thy bones in the mother's lap [māturupastha].' Savitri thus deposits his bones in the lap of the mother [māturupastha], this earth [pṛthivyai]; 'O Earth, be thou propitious unto him!'".[152]

EvidenceEdit

*DʰéǵʰōmEdit

Cognates stemming from *dʰéǵʰōm are attested in the following mythologies:

Two parallel terms meaning 'human, earthling' are also attested as derivatives of the stem *dʰ(é)ǵʰ-:

Additionally, remnants of the noun *dʰéǵʰōm can be found in formulaic phrases and religious epithets:[aj]

  • Vedic: the compound Dyāvākṣamā, ('heaven and earth'), with kṣamā associated with the earth goddess Prithvi (the 'Broad One').[40]
  • Greek: the epithets χαμύνη (khamyne (de), 'of the land'), in reference to Deméter[ak] (in Pausanias 6.21.1),[206][207][208] and Χαμοναῖα (khamynaia, 'on the ground').[209][210] A designation Χαμοναῖος (khamonaïos, 'of the ground'; 'of the earth') in reference to Zeus, is also attested.[211][212] These epithets are considered cognates to χαμαί (khamaí, 'pertaining, belonging to the earth').[206][213][214]

Possible reflexesEdit

Other mythologies may show the presence of characters and expressions that are etymologically cognate to *Dheghom. However, these cognates are less secured:

  • Anatolian:
    • Lydian: references to a cult of Men Tiamou ('of Tiamos') led scholars to believe Tiamou is an epithet that means 'of the Earth' or 'of the Netherworld', possibly connected to Luwian tiyamm(i) 'earth'.[215] This expression would be equivalent to a common epithet of Men: καταχθονιος ('of the Underworld'; 'subterranean').[216][217][218]
  • Hellenic:
    • Doric: linguist Krzysztof Witczak suggests the dialectal Doric word "δηγῆ" dēgê, in the expression "δηγῆ και σιωπᾷ" ("earth and keeps silence"), is a possibly ancient loanword from Proto-Albanian.[219]
    • Greek: Damia, one of the Horae, a minor deity related to spring, growth and vegetation, and usually paired with fellow Horae Auxesia.[220][221] Ancient literature suggests it might have been another name for Demeter.[222][223]
  • Iranian:
    • Khotanese: evidence suggests that the Khotanese preserved some relics of an Indo-Iranian worship of the earth, as seen in the Saka roots ysam- and ysama-, both meaning 'earth' and cognate to Avestan zam-.[224] The word is also attested in the personal name Ysamotika,[225] and in the religious expression ysamaśśandaā, meaning 'world'.[226][227][228]
  • Tocharian: the expression tkamñkät (Tocharian A) and keṃ-ñäkte (Tocharian B) are used in religious Buddhist texts written in the Tocharian languages, where it denotes the earth or an 'earth-god' of some sort.[229][230][231]
  • Italic:
    • Hunte, an Umbrian deity, possibly stemming from *ǵʰom-to- 'who is below'.[2]
    • Semonia, obscure deity associated with crops and sowing,[232] of possible Roman or Sabine origin and worship, usually attested with the epithet Salus Semonia.[233] A possible male counterpart is Semo Sancus,[234] god of Sabine provenance whose traits merged with Dius Fidius's. Semonia and Sancus appear with other agricultural/crop deities Seia and Segetia.[235]
  • Celtic:
    • Old Irish: goddess Dana, taken by some Indo-Europeanist scholars to be an Irish earth goddess.[236][237]
    • Welsh mythology: linguist John T. Koch interprets the family known as Children of Dôn (Plant Dôn) as "Children of the Earth", since the name of their matriach, Dôn, would derive from Celtic *ghdhonos ('the earth', gen.).[238]
  • Baltic:
    • Lithuanian: Žemėpatis[239][240] ('Earth Spouse')[241] and Žemininkas,[242] male deities associated with cattle, agriculture and the fertility of the land.[243] Their names are present in historical records of the Lithuanian non-Christian faith by foreign missionaries.[244] A male divinity with the name Zemeluks, Zamoluksei,[245] Zameluks or Ziameluks[246][247] is also said to be attested. An account tells he is a DEUS TERRAE ('earth god'),[248] while in other he is "a lord or god of earth who was buried in the earth" by the Prussians.[249]
  • Unclassified Indo-European languages:

*Pleth₂wih₁Edit

Cognates stemming from the epithet *Pleth₂wih₁ (the 'Broad One') are attested in the following traditions:

  • Old Hittite: palḫiš dankuiš daganzipaš, 'broad dark earth-genius',[7]
  • Indo-Iranian: *pṛtH-uiH-,[263]
    • Vedic: Pṛithvī Mātā (पृथ्वी) ('Mother Earth, the Vast One'), the most frequent Vedic word for both the earth and the Earth-goddess;[5][4] and the poetic formula kṣā́m ... pṛthivī́m ('broad earth'),[7][10] cf. also Prithu (Sanskrit: पृथु, Pṛthu), a mythological sovereign who chases the goddess Prthvi, shapeshifted as a cow; his name means 'far, wide, broad'.[264][265]
    • Young Avestan: ząm pərəθβīm, 'broad earth',[9][7][10]
  • Greek: Plátaia (Πλάταια), a naiad described as consort of Zeus and the daughter of the river Asopos; also the name given to the city of Plataea in Beotia,[4]
  • Celtic: Litavī, probably an earth-goddess; also the divine name given to the peninsula of Brittany in medieval Celtic languages,[4][266]

The word also survived in common terms for 'land, field':

Other cognates are less secured:

ParallelsEdit

Although not considered a cognate to either Dʰéǵʰōm or Pleth₂wih₁, deity Spenta Armaiti, of Zoroastrism religion, is associated with the earth,[288][289] with fertility[290] and farmers[ap][aq] as well as the dead.[293]

A counterpart exists in pre-Christian Armenian mythology, named Spandaramet or Sandaramet, whose role is connected to earth and the underworld.[294] Namely, she was the "Armenian earth-goddess" of vineyards,[295] but also ruled over "'those that are asleep', i.e. the dead".[296] She is considered to have been developed from her Zoroastrian counterpart, Spenta Armaiti, a female being in that tradition. Spandaremet was transformed into a male god of the Underworld in later Armenian tradition,[297] and, under Christian influence, lent her name to an underworld realm where evil spirits are said to dwell.[295][298]

Both deities are seen, in their respective religions, as the wife or companion of a sky-god, Ahura Mazda[299][300][301][ar] or Aramazd. He, in turn, is said to be the deity of rains in some accounts.[303]

See alsoEdit

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Professor Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba states the character of "Mother Moist Earth" was worshipped by the Eastern Slavs, while a deity called Holy Earth was venerated by the Western Slavs.[12]
  2. ^ "According to Lithuanian myths, the god Perkunas is the brilliant son of Zemyna, Mother Earth (Zeme in Lithuanian is 'Earth'). She is the beginning of all: waters come from her depths, plants are rooted in her, animals have their existence, their lives and their support from her; men, too, call her their mother. 'Whoever hits earth with a stick, hits his own mother.'."[16]
  3. ^ "(...) In Ancient Russia, as V. L. Komarovic has convincingly demonstrated, the cult of the Earth, Mother Earth, was very narrowly linked to the cult of the ancestors, of the clan ('rod'). The earth was the mother of the family and of the clan. She was seen as a motherly body that brings forth and nurtures children. Sometimes, she is described as a person: stones were her body, roots her bones; trees and grass her hair. (...) Both for the Slavs and for the Varangians, she was the source of fertility and prosperity, and of political authority. (...)"[17]
  4. ^ "[Mother Earth] was also the maternal breast and womb; the black and fruitful soil. As such she was thought to carry the family, the village, and the nation, which she nurtured and protected - and ruled - like a mother.
    'Mother Earth,' wrote Fedotov, 'becomes clearer to us against the background of the gens religion.' Through her the individual and the tribal ancestors were united and made whole; she conferred identity upon each person: 'The sacred motherhood of the earth is intimately akin to the worship of the parents. (...)' She was also the genetrix of the family and the clan."[18]
  5. ^ According to Gritsay, Russian scholars E. V. Antonova and O. G. Radchenko mention that the sky is associated with a paternal figure and the elements of light and fire (e.g, epithet "свет-батюшка" 'luminous father'), in contrast with a Mother-type character, associated with water (moisture) and earth, and also called "темная” and “черная" ('dark', 'black').[41]
  6. ^ On that note, the epithet ὀμβροχαρής ('delighting in rain') - a Hapax legomenon - is attached to the Earth in an Orphic hymn.[59]
  7. ^ "Some remnants of fertilizing rites still point in the direction that there might have been a marriage between earth and heaven in the primitive mythology of Eastern Slavs".[72]
  8. ^ "In folk cosmogonic myths, the male sky fertilises the earth (SSSL 1(2): 17–56), the act being described as “the sacred union (hierogamy) between the Sky-God and the Earth-Mother” (Eliade 1961, after Cummings n.d.). (...) Echoes of the hierogamy can be found in a Polish folk riddle: “Father shoots but doesn't kill; mother eats, though it has no mouth”, which stands for the heaven–rain–earth complex. In peasant poems, heaven embraces the earth with love: at the crossroads, where Christ dies, heaven embraces the earth and presents the Mother of Bread with a herb-and-wheat wreath."[75]
  9. ^ The worship of Saint George with the coming of springtime also occurs in South Slavic tradition.[80][81]
  10. ^ "Zemyna (otherwise Zemlja or Perkunatelé) is the earth-goddess and psychopomp of the dead."[101]
  11. ^ Best exemplified by mythologist Lotte Motz: "The chthonic goddess zemes mate (Mother Earth) receives the dead within her realm. In dainas addressed to her, she provides the eternal resting place: "Rock me mother, hold me mother! / Short is the time spent at your breast. / Mother Earth will hold me longer, / beneath her turf, a welcome guest." (J1209)".[103] She also stated that "In Latvian society ... Mother Earth - zemes mate - is chiefly the resting place of the departed, ..."[104]
  12. ^ "In the next quatrain folksong it concerns about death, the sleeping (slumbering) in the grave. The Mother Earth is the goddess, from whom are coming all living beings and to whom after death they go back: (25) Ar Dieviņu, mâmulïte, / Labvakar, zemes mate!/ Labvakar, zemes mate, / Vai büs laba dusesanal [Good bye, Mother, / Good evening, Mother Earth! / Good evening, Mother Earth, / Shall I slumber well?]".[105]
  13. ^ "Ar Dieviņu, tēvs, māmiņa,/ Labvakaru, Zemes māte (x2)/ Glabā manu augumiņu". [Farewell, father and mother, / Good evening, Earth mother (x2) / Take my body in your keeping].[106][107]
  14. ^ "Archeological findings witness that the most ancient phase of Lithuanian culture was definitely Zemyna's culture. The distinguishing factor in these findings was the burial rites. In the oldest cultural phase, the dead were buried - given back to Zemyna, Mother Earth."[109]
  15. ^ Researcher Nijole Laurinkiene, at the end of her book on Zemyna, writes thus: "Žemyna was also imagined as the giver and supporter of human life, because like flora and fauna, humanity is a part of nature. (...) The newborn would immediately be laid down on Mother Earth as if she were its biological mother, so that she could ‘accept’ and ‘embrace’ the infant as her own earthly creation and give it vegetative power and vitality on a cosmic plane. (...)".[110]
  16. ^ "Žeme, motina mano, aš iš tavęs esu, tu mane šeri, tu mane nešioji, tu mane po smerčio pakavosi" [Earth, my mother, I am from you, you feed me, you support me, you embrace me after death].[111]
  17. ^ For instance: "the Russian peasant envisioned the underworld of the ancestors as a house heated against the dampness of Mother Moist Earth by a pech [pečʹ, 'stove'].";[18] "Among the peasantry in Vladimir Province, as in other places, it was customary for the dying to ask earth permission to reenter her body with the ritual invocation: 'Mother Moist Earth, forgive me and take me'."[119]
  18. ^ "The peasant child who died left its natal mother and went back to 'mother earth'. (...) That Russians did (and still do) personify the earth as a mother is well known. The peasant topos 'mother moist earth' ('mat' syra zemlia') refers to the mother specifically as a place one goes after dying, or in order to die (as opposed to a fertile place which gives birth to a harvest - for which there are other topoi). Ransel speaks of peasant beliefs about the earth pulling the child back to itself, inviting death. (...) To resist death too much is to resist 'mother moist earth'."[120]
  19. ^ "According to a Polish legend, “God ordered the Earth: ‘You will give birth to people and you will devour them; whatever you give birth to, you will eat, as it is yours’” (Szyjewski 211, 130).".[121]
  20. ^ "Mother Earth stands at the core of the Eastern Slavic religiosity. In her converge the most secret and profound religious feelings. With awe, the people venerate the black, moist depths - the womb which is the source of all fertilized powers, the nourishing breast of nature, the definitive resting place of all in death. Mother Earth is covered by a veil of grass, flowers, forests, trees, vegetables and grain. Thus both beauty and fertility are her choice virtues and powers. As a mother who nourishes living human beings, the earth is the embodiment of kindness and mercy; she also embraces them for rest after death."[122]
  21. ^ "Symbolically, funeral rites provide the belief that the deceased will return to mother earth to live a new life in a new abode (the coffin and grave). According to Russian folk belief, the deceased no longer lives in its former home but continues a liminal existence in a new “dwelling-place,” that is the coffin, which in some parts of Russia even had windows (Vostochnoslavianskaia 348). (...) In this context, the motif of life in the funeral lament is similar to the archetypal figure of the Moist Mother Earth (Mati syra zemlia) in its representation of rebirth. In these laments, the deceased is portrayed as being returned to the Moist Mother Earth, but before settling in her “permanent nest” it is carried into its new room—the coffin. С попом—отцом духовныим / Да с петьем божьим церковныим! / Как схороним тебя, белая лебедушка, / Во матушку сыру землю / И во буеву холодную могилушку, / В вековечну, бесконечну тебя жирушку, / Закроем тебя матушкой сырой землей, / Замуравим тебя травонькой шелковою! (Chistov 237) [With a priest, with a spiritual father / And with the swimming of God's Church / How will we bury you, little white swan / In the Damp Mother Earth / In the cold little grave / In the eternal, heavenly home / We will cover you with the Damp Mother Earth / We will cover you with silk grass]. (...) Funeral rituals, thus, reinforced the link between the living and the departed while allowing the deceased to rest permanently in its new domicile—the cosmic womb that is the Moist Mother Earth."[123]
  22. ^ "East Slavic paganism was the product of a landlocked agricultural empire. Gods of sun, moon, stars, and wind did exist, but prayers were directed down to the life-giving black soil rather than up to celestial deities. Bodies did not “rise” after death but were reabsorbed into the womb of Mat'-syra-zemlya, Moist Mother Earth".[124]
  23. ^ For example: "The maiden fair is dead (...) Split open, damp Mother Earth! / Fly asunder, ye coffin planks!";[131] "A young sergeant prayed to God, / Weeping the while, as a river flows,/ For the recent death of the Emperor, / The Emperor, Peter the First. / And thus amid his sobs he spake, - / 'Split asunder, O damp mother Earth / On all four sides - / Open, ye coffin planks (...)'";[132] "All on my father's grave / A star has fallen, has fallen from heaven ... / Split open, O dart of the thunder, The moist mother Earth!";[133] "I will take my dear children [and see], / Whether moist Mother Earth will not split open. / If moist Mother Earth splits open, / Straightway will I and my children bury ourselves in it (...) Split open, moist Mother Earth, / And be thou open, O new coffin-planks (...) (a widow's lament)";[134] "Arise, O ye wild winds, from all sides! Be ye borne, O winds, into the Church of God! Sweep open the moist earth! Strike, O wild winds, on the great bell! Will not its sounds and mine awaken words of kindness" (an orphan's lament).[134]
  24. ^ The expression is also mentioned in a saying from Olonets: the master of the house invites his ghostly visitor to warm itself by the fire of the pech, since it must have been cold for him staying "in the moist earth".[135]
  25. ^ In an adjuration by a Raskol, the supplicant invokes her to forgive them: "Forgive me, O Lord; forgive me, O holy Mother of God; (...) forgive, O damp-mother-earth; (...)".[136]
  26. ^ In a funeral lament collected in the Olonets region by scholar Barsov, the mourner cries for a man struck by lightning sent by "thunderous" Saint Ilya, when said man was supposed to perform his Christian duties: "They lit candles of bright wax, / They prayed to God diligently, / They bowed low to moist mother earth / (...) The sinful soul departed without repentance/ (...)/ [His body] will not be committed to moist mother earth."[137]
  27. ^ "Were you not afraid, had you no fear of entering mother-moist-earth? For it is cold there, and there is hunger there.".[138]
  28. ^ Professors Elizabeth Warner and Svetlana Adonyeva published in 2021 a book with the results of a joint research on funeral laments in modern Russian rural places. Their findings show that the laments still contained the poetical expression. For instance: "(...) Well, I know myself, little orphan girl, / Where you are going, all dressed up,/ You are on your way into mother-moist-earth..."; "(...) Break asunder, mother-moist-earth./ (...)/Stand up, my darling child. / Hear me, your grieving mother, (...)".[139]
  29. ^ Sometimes Zam is paired with other Zoroastrian deity, Armaiti, another being associated with the Earth,[163] thus forming a compound Zam-Armaiti or Zam-Armatay.[164]
  30. ^ The word sierà means the color 'gray' in Lithuanian, and scholarship suggests it is phonetically - not semantically - close to Russian syra 'wet, moist'. However, it is also acknowledged that the expression "gray earth" may still indicate the fertility of the land by referring to a combination of the elements of earth and water (humidity). Works that contain this expression have been collected from eastern and southern Lithuania.[173] On the other hand, historian Rainer Eckert claimed the word sierà 'damp' is a borrowing from East Slavic syra.[174]
  31. ^ A common epithet that accompanies 'earth' in Slavic languages is syra 'moist, damp'. Claire Le Feuvre suggests that the word is etymologically related to Old Icelandic saurr and Greek language 'eúroeis', used to describe the Underworld and the burial place of mortals, and all three words derive from a Proto-Indo-European poetical expression that means "damp earth".[176]
  32. ^ Invoked as the celebrant's mother: Syraja zemlja, - ty ž maty moja ("Moist Earth, you are my mother").[180] The original text is thus: "Сира земля — то ж мати моя. / То ж то мати моя мене прийняла".[181]
  33. ^ Professor Małgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba stated that Polish and Russian languages refer to the earth and the rivers with this feminine epithet "little mother".[183]
  34. ^ According to Russian scholarship, Bulgarian folkloric tradition uses the adjective "сура" (syra) "as a permanent epithet" of "земя" (earth).[185]
  35. ^ The idiom is "drunken as mother Earth", speculated to be of Proto-Slavic origin and presumed to relate to Earth as a passive element, that receives the frutifying rains of Heaven.[191]
  36. ^ As an aside, Serbian philogist Aleksandar Loma once suggested that the Slavic name for the Verbascum, divizna (cs), is a dvandva compound of "*div" 'sky' and "*zma" (> zna) 'earth', harking back to the sacred mythological Sky-Earth pair.[204]
  37. ^ Another possibility is that Khamyne was herself, in fact, a separate deity who was syncrethized with Demeter in later times. Her temple was discovered in 2006, 150 metres away from the main stadium.[205]
  38. ^ Etymological connections of "Thraco-Phrygian" Semele with Žemele and Žemyna have been noted.[253] Thus, according to Borissoff, "she could be an important link bridging the ancient Thracian and Slavonic cults (...)".[241]
  39. ^ Ivan Duridanov pointed out that the Phrygian word zemelō also meant "Mother Earth".[254]
  40. ^ The epithet also appears associated with minor deity Iacchus, as in the expression Semeleios Iakchus plutodotas ("Son of Semele, Iakchus, wealth-giver").[261]
  41. ^ Another Germanic reflex of "fold" is present in compound Feldgeister ('spirits of the fields'), creatures of Germanic folklore.
  42. ^ She is "the Old Iranian goddess of cultivated land, vegetation and fertility, having a link with the rite of inhumation (...)" and to whom "the material earth belongs".[291]
  43. ^ "In the realm of the material world, Spenta Armaiti is the guardian spirit of the earth (Vendidad 3.35), the symbol of bountifulness (...) as well as the protector of herdsmen and farmers. Frequently, however, she is spoken of as the earth itself rather than as the genius of the earth (Yasna 16.10; Yasht 24.50; Vendidad 2.10, 2.14, 2.18, 18.51, 18.64). ... in the physical realm she represents, and later becomes, the earth."[292]
  44. ^ In Ahura Mazda's case, he is described as creator (or father) of Armaiti.[302]

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BibliographyEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Bodewitz, Henk (2019). "The Waters in Vedic Cosmic Classifications". Vedic Cosmology and Ethics. Vol. 19. Brill. pp. 37–45. ISBN 9789004398641. JSTOR 10.1163/j.ctvrxk42v.9.
  • Burrow, T. (1959). "On the Phonological History of Sanskrit kṣám- 'Earth,' ṛ́kṣa- 'Bear' and likṣá̄ 'Nit'". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 79 (2): 85–90. doi:10.2307/595849. JSTOR 595849.
  • Dundulienė, Pranė (1976). "Žemė lietuvių tikėjimuose ir liaudies mene. In: Istorija 16.1: 129-153.
  • Hamp, Eric P. (1990). "Albanian dhē 'earth'". Historische Sprachforschung. 103 (2): 289–292. JSTOR 40848998.
  • Hamp, Eric P. "On the Paradigm of OIr. dú". In: Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 44, no. 1 (1991): 76-78. https://doi.org/10.1515/zcph.1991.44.1.76
  • Kretschmer, Paul (1931). "Χθών". Glotta. 20 (1/2): 65–67. JSTOR 40265301.
  • Meier-Brügger, Michael (1977). "Lateinisch humī und domī". Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachforschung. 91 (1): 159–165. JSTOR 40848521.
  • Oettinger, Norbert. "Die 'dunkle Erde' Im Hethitischen Und Griechischen: Alfred Heubeck Zum Gedächtnis (20.7. 1914–24.5. 1987)". In: Die Welt Des Orients 20/21 (1989): 83-98. Accessed April 27, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25683330.
  • Rico, Christophe. "L'équivalence χθών: sk. kşám. Nouvelle approche d'un vieux débat". In: Indogermanische Forschungen 109, issue 2004 (2004): 61-111. https://doi.org/10.1515/16130405.61
  • Steer, Thomas. "Uridg. *dh(e)ǵhōm 'Erde' und *ǵʰ(e)i̯ōm 'Winter'". In: Indogermanische Forschungen 118, no. 2013 (2013): 55-92. https://doi.org/10.1515/indo.2013.118.2013.55
  • Toporov, Vladimir N. "К реконструкции балто-славянского мифологического образа Земли-Матери *Zemi̯a & *Mātē (Mati)" [Towards a reconstruction of the Balto-Slavic mythological image of Earth Mother *Zemia & *Mate (Mati)]. In: Балто-славянские исследования. 1998–1999. ХIV. Москва: 2010 [2000]. pp. 241–371. ISBN 978-5-9551-0388-4
  • Willi, Andreas (2007). "Demeter, Gê, and the Indo-European word(s) for 'earth'". Historische Sprachforschung. 120: 169–194. doi:10.13109/hisp.2007.120.1.169. ISSN 0935-3518. JSTOR 40849297.