Astronomical interpretations

Common threads in the traditions about the Daughter of the Sun are (a) her association with the Twin Horsemen, and (b) rivalry for her hand, which sometimes leads to vicissitudes: she is given to someone other than she was originally promised to, or the wedding feast is interrupted, or she is abducted afterwards. In the Indian and Baltic traditions the Moon is implicated in these contretemps, in the latter also the Morning Star. We have the sense that the stories are romantic interpretations of astronomical phenomena. At times when Venus or the moon is visible at dawn, their positions change from day to day, and an intrigue might easily be read into their movements.

The Baltic and Slavonic songsters are particularly given to putting the heavenly luminaries in personal and domestic relationships. The Morning and Evening Stars are the Moon's horses (Jonval nos. 280 f.). In Slovak fancy the Zori, or morning and evening twilights, daughters of God, with the Morning Star, serve the Sun and harness his white horses.126 In Lithuanian songs the Morning Star lights the fire for the Sun, daughter of God, and the

124 KBo iii. 38 recto 3'; H. Otten, Eine althethitische Erzählung um die Stadt Zalpa (Studien zu den Bogazköy-Texten 17; Wiesbaden 1973), 37; Vafpriiönismal 47, Gylf. 53; M. Lambertz, Albane-sische Märchen (Sitz.-Ber. Wien. Ak., Linguistische Abteilung 12, 1922), 77; id. (1973), 471 f., 486 f.

125 Sikojev (1985), 110-28, 187-9; cf. 184, 202-5, 286 f.

126 Mannhardt (1875), 305.

Evening Star prepares her bed. The Moon married the Sun in the first springtime, but wandered off and fell in love with the Morning Star; Perkunas was angry, and clove him with his sword.127

But what does the Daughter of the Sun represent? In some of the Baltic songs she alternates in different versions with Saule herself, though in other songs they are separate individuals. In one Lithuanian song the Morning Star (Ausrine, fem.) is called daughter of the Sun.128 But this is clearly not a fixed equation. It is impossible in Latvian, where the Morning Star is masculine.

One Vedic passage suggests Surya's identification with the Dawn,129 but otherwise there is no overlap between what is said about the one, the daughter of Suarya, and the other, the daughter of Dyaus. She seems nevertheless to have a connection with the solar glow or glare. A post-Vedic sys-tematizer says of Surya's wife, 'they call her Usas before sunrise, Surya when midday reigns, but Vreakapayi at the setting of the sun' (Brhaddevata 2. 9-10, cf. 7. 120 f.). Such a formula is inapplicable to the Vedic material, but it implies a sense that Surya signified something like the sun's effulgence.

As a creature of surpassing beauty the Sun's daughter naturally aroused desire among the celestials. But we cannot attach any exact astronomical meaning to her liaisons, any more than we can to the journeyings of the Asvins, whose chariot she joins, or of the Dioskouroi. The twin brothers have sometimes been identified with the Morning and Evening Stars.130 But these can never appear at the same time, or on the same day, or even in the same month.

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