Aryomen

One of those names, however, may have a cognate at the other end of the Indo-European world. Aryaman/Airyaman has long been equated with the Irish Eremon. All three names appear to go back to *Aryo-men-, nominative *-men, a masculine counterpart of neuter *aryo-men-, nominative *-mn, 'Aryan-ness', just as the god Brahma (< *-men) is the deified Prayer (brahma neuter, < *-mn). It is no longer politically correct to call the Indo-Europeans Aryans, but the name was conferred on them in the nineteenth century because it was a term that they, or at least their ruling classes, used of themselves. It is reflected in Sanskrit arya-, irya- 'trusty, honourable, worthy, Aryan' and Irish aire 'a noble, chief'; it has given its name to Iran and perhaps to Eire. A god *Aryomen might be expected to embody the social ideals of the people and its rulers.77

Aryaman is a god frequently mentioned in the Veda, usually in company with Mitra and Varuna, the gods of justice and order. He is rather lacking in distinctive profile, but he is associated with social and marital ties; as a common noun aryaman- means 'comrade'.78 His association with marriage comes to the fore in the Atharvaveda (2. 36. 2; 6. 60; 14. 1. 17, 34, 39, 50; 14. 2. 13, 40; cf. RV 10. 85. 23, 36, 43). He provides the girl with a husband and the man with a wife.

In the Gathas (Y. 32. 1, 33. 3-4, 46. 1, 49. 7) airyaman- stands in a hierarchy of social units, above xvactu- (family, clan) and varazana- (local community);

77 Cf. J. Puhvel in Cardona et al. (1970), 376-8; id. (1987), 49, 'the deified embodiment of social self-identification'; 182; Oberlies (1998), 183-5.

78 Macdonell (1898), 45; von Schroeder (1914-16), i. 384-8.

it seems to denote the wider tribal network or alliance. In a famous prayer that perhaps goes back to the prophet's time Airyaman is invoked as a god to the aid of Zarathushtra's men and women (Y. 27. 5 = 54. 1 = Vd. 20. 11). This prayer, regarded as a general defence against illness, magic, and evil (Y. 54. 2; Yt. 3. 5; Gah 1. 6; Vd. 20. 12, cf. 22. 6-20), has traditionally been used in the Zoroastrian marriage ritual, and perhaps was so from the start.

As for Eremon, he is not a god, indeed he was the man who drove the Tuatha De Danann, the people who stand for the old gods in Irish mythology, underground. He was the legendary first king of the sons of Mil, the Goidelic Celts, that is, in our terms, of the first Indo-Europeans in Ireland (unless the earlier Fir Bolg represent a prior settlement of 'Belgic' P-Celts). It is appropriate, therefore, that his name should mark him as the eponymous representative of Aryanness. No doubt he originally had divine status but, like the rest of the pagan pantheon, was euhemerized in Christian times. A trace of his old connection with marriage may survive in the story that he provided wives to the Cruithnig (Picts). Perhaps this means that he sanctioned a measure of intermarriage.

It has been conjectured that *Aryomen's name is further to be recognized in the Germanic *ermina- or *ermana- that appears as a name of Odin (igrmunr) and in a number of compounds in various languages: Gothic Ermanareiks 'Ermanaric'; Old Norse Igrmungandr, the world serpent, igrmungrund 'the whole vast earth'; Old English eormengrund, eormencyn 'mighty race', eormenpeod 'mighty people'; Old Saxon irminman, irminthiod; Irminsul, a pillar revered in Saxon cult; Old High German Irmingot, a god called to witness in the Hildebrandslied (30).79 It seems to have existed as a god's name, and in the compounds it appears to have a cosmic or universal connotation. One can see how this might relate to *Aryomen's sphere.

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