Attributes imagery

Even more than the Sun, the Dawn was a deity not so much to be propitiated and appealed to as simply admired and celebrated in poetic images. The imagery is very similar in Vedic and Greek, and implies a common tradition at least from the Graeco-Aryan era.

The appearance of dawn is sometimes represented as a birth. (This really implies that each day's dawn is a different one, and in fact the Vedic poets speak indifferently of Dawn or of the Dawns as an indefinite series.)

s'ukra krsnad ajanista svitici.

The shining one has been born bright-beaming from the dark. (RV 1. 123. 9)

avantu mam usaso jayamanah.

81 Grimm (1883-8), 290 f., cf. 1371 f.; de Vries (1956), i. 357; D. H. Green (1998), 352 f. A contrary view in J. Knobloch, Die Sprache 5 (1959), 27-45.

82 Lasicius in Mannhardt (1936), 356. If the report is accurate, Ausra had taken possession of sunset as well as dawn, but more probably the Polish writer has got things a bit wrong.

83 Campanile (1990b), 130-5.

The Asvins are asked to come with the chariot yásya yóge duhita j^yate Diváh, 'at whose harnessing the daughter of Dyaus is born' (10. 39. 12). As noted in the last chapter, 'daughter of Dyaus' (or if one prefers, 'of Heaven') is a frequent and distinctive title of Usas, paralleled by Lithuanian Dievo dukrytè as a title of the Sun-goddess and in pre-Homeric Greek, quite probably, by Diwós thugáter as a title of *Hawos. All that remains in Homer of Eos' relationship to Zeus is her formulaic epithet Sîa.84 All that remains of her being 'born' is her epithet ypiyeVeia 'early-born'. But a welcome parallel from the West is supplied by the story of the birth of St Brigit, related above.

Though born and reborn, Dawn never dies. She partakes of the general divine condition of being unageing and immortal: ajára amrta (RV 1. 113. 13); ámartiya (1. 30. 20; 3. 61. 2). The cognate dp poros is used of her by Bacchylides (17. 42) and an anonymous epic poet (Choerilus fr. °23. 12 Bernabé = SH 904. 12).

Her most obvious characteristic is that she gives light. In Od. 14. 502 fide 8e xPv°ódpovos Hœs (and also in Hesychius fi 146 fidvra- Áápnovra) we have an old root verb whose Vedic cognate bha is regularly used of Usas or the Usasah: RV 3. 6. 7 Usó vibhafír ánu bhasi pûrvïh 'you shine in accord with the many shining Dawns'; 3. 61. 2 ví bhahi 'shine forth'; 6. 65. 2 bhanty Usásah 'the Dawns shine', etc. Similarly in Avestan, Vd. 19. 28 usi.. . bamya 'shining dawn'; hence Manichaean Middle Persian 'wsyUm, Pahlavi usbam 'daybreak, morning'.85 Various adjectives derived from this root are applied to Dawn in Greek: fiaetvy, fiaivóÁis, fiaeaíp poros, etc.

In one of the Homeric Hymns (31. 2) an otherwise unknown Euryphaessa appears as the mother of the Dawn, the Moon, and the Sun. As Campanile has pointed out, the name may reflect an old poetic formula, for in RV 1. 92. 9 (cf. 6. 64. 2) it is said of Usas that she urviya ví bhati, 'shines out widely': here we have the same lexical elements as in evpv fia-. Campanile postulates a pre-Homeric formula * Aœs evpvfiáaaaa (< *bheh2-nt-h), from which Euryphaassa or -phaessa became an independent name in the same way as Erigeneia does. The Dawn could be said to be mother of the Sun, as in RV 7. 78. 3 Usáso vibhàtïh I ájljanan SÚriyam, 'the shining Dawns have given birth to Surya'.86 But then, we must suppose, it was forgotten that Euryphaessa was Dawn, and she became her mother too.

Hesiod (Th. 451, cf. 755) uses the phrase fiaos noÁvSepKeos Hovs, 'the

84 The corresponding Vedic word is used of Night and Dawn together when they are called yósane diviyéor divyéyósane, 'the two heavenly maidens' (RV 7. 2. 6; 10. 110. 6). Because oftheir equal alternation they are often treated as sisters (1. 113. 3, 124. 8; 7. 71. 1, etc.), although Night would not be called daughter of Dyaus.

85 Gershevitch (1959), 291.

86 E. Campanile, Études Indo-Européennes 6 (1987), 17-24.

light of much-seeing Dawn'. The adjective may mean that Dawn herself sees far and wide, like the Sun-god, or that she enables much seeing to be done. In the Rigveda the root dre, the cognate of Greek SepK-, is often used in connection with Dawn. She herself is darsata, a sight to behold (5. 80. 2; 6. 64. 5; 7. 75. 3). She is beheld when she appears: drsana, 1. 92. 12; prâty adarsi, 1. 113. 7, cf. 124. 3; 4. 52. 1, etc. She displays herself for seeing, drsé kâm, 1. 123. 11, 124. 6, cf. 5. 80. 5.

Every reader of Homer is delighted by the formula poSoSaKrvAos Hœs, 'rose-fingered Dawn'. It refers, of course, to her spreading rays of reddish light. The 'rose' part is probably a Greek refinement. But the spread hand as an image of the sun's rays may be inherited from older poetic tradition. The Vedic suanguri- 'with good fingers' is a complimentary epithet of goddesses, but when it is applied to the solar god Savitr (RV 4. 54. 4) it is surely to be understood in terms of rays. In other hymns he is called 'golden-handed' (hiranyapàm-, hiranyahasta-) and 'broad-handed' (prthupam-). In a Latvian song the gold on the Sun's fingers is made into rings:

Saule, ma marraine, tendait la main au-dessus du fleuve;

les doigts de ses deux mains étaient couverts d'anneaux d'or en spirale.

(LD 33932 = Jonval no. 159, cf. 33933-4 = 158, 157.) Large spread hands, attached to human figures or on their own, are a recurrent motif in the rock art of Bronze Age Scandinavia, where they have been suspected of embodying solar symbolism.87

A variant on 'rose-fingered' is 'rose-armed', poSonnxus, applied to Dawn by Sappho (58. 19 poSônaxw Avœv) and in a Homeric Hymn (31. 6). In the Hesiodic corpus this compound is used more generally as an ornamental epithet for nymphs and mortal women, but in relation to Dawn we naturally interpret the rosiness with reference to the glow of the sky.

Likewise with Bacchylides' 'gold-armed Dawn' (5. 40). Savitr too has golden arms, hiranyâyà bahu (RV 6. 71. 1, 5; 7. 45. 2; bahuh = nnxus); and to his arms the light of the Dawns is compared (7. 79. 2). Usas herself is hiranya-varna, 'gold-coloured' (3. 61. 2; 7. 77. 2). Ovid calls the personified Aurora flaua, 'the golden-yellow one' (Amores 1. 13. 2). The Latvian Sun-goddess Saule or her daughter can be called a zelta jumpraviya, 'golden maid' (LD 33971 var. 6, 33989 var. 6 = Jonval nos. 309, 176).

Other passages refer not to Dawn's skin but to her dress. She is clothed in light, jyotir vâsana (1. 124. 3); she wears a bright shining garment (7. 77. 2,

87 Gelling-Davidson (1969), 56-8; M. Green (1991), 50-2.

cf. 1. 113. 7); the Dawns spread out their lovely garments to the wind (1. 134. 4). In Homer Dawn is called KpoKonenXos, 'saffron-robed', and in a later poet ¿avnfiopos, 'wearing fine raiment' (Antimachus fr. 152 Matthews). In the Latvian songs Saule and her daughter(s) are dressed in fabrics of silk, silver, or gold.88 Saule also wears shoes of gold (LD 33951, 33992 = Jonval nos. 226, 155), which parallels Sappho's xpuaoneSiXos Avws, 'goldsandalled Dawn' (fr. 103. 10, 123).

Usas is not shy of displaying her beauty. She comes before men like a girl with no brothers, like one who goes on stage, and she uncovers her bosom like a courtesan (RV 1. 124. 7, cf. 92. 4; 5. 80. 6; 6. 64. 2).

Like a girl proud of her body you go, goddess, to the god who desires (you);89 a smiling (eamemdyamana) young woman, shining forth from the east you bare your breasts.

Good-looking, like a young woman adorned by her mother, you bare your body for beholding. (1. 123. 10 f.)

The verb smayate 'smiles' is used of her also at 1. 92. 6, and of 'the two Usasaa' (i.e. Usas and her sister, = Dawn and Night) at 3. 4. 6. In the former passage, as in 1. 123. 10, the smile is clearly erotic, enticing. It has been suspected that this seductive smiling was once a feature of the Greek Dawn goddess too, and that Aphrodite took over from her the epithet $iXo//eiSrfs, as she may have taken over the title AOs 6vyarnp.90 The Greek /eiSiaw is from the same root as the Vedic smi.

Usas throws on embroidered garments nrtir iva, like a dancer (RV 1. 92. 4). Eos lias xopoi, dancing-places, in the east where she has her house and where the sun rises (Od. 12. 4). This must allude to dance performances witnessed by mankind. Saule is described dancing in her gilded shoes on a silver hill.91

Eos' house (oKia, neuter plural) may be put beside the mythical eastern mountain of the Avesta called Usidam-, 'Dawn-house' (Yt. 1. 28, 31; 19. 2,

88 Jonval nos. 137, 157, 298, 307, 349 = LD 33783, 33934, 33866, 33948, 33891; compared with the Homeric Hws KpoKonenXos by Mannhardt (1875), 219. The counterpart of Dawn's bright garment is Night's dark mantle (RV 4. 13. 4, cf. 1. 115. 4; Eur. Ion 1150), sometimes pictured as embroidered with the stars (AV 19. 49. 8, reading ndkeatrany with Whitney; [Aesch.] Prom. 24). Cf. West (1997), 579 f.

89 This is the Sun, cf. 1. 69. 1, 9, 92. 11, 115. 2; 4. 5. 13; 7. 9. 1, 10. 1, 75. 5, 76. 3; 10. 3. 3.

90 D. D. Boedeker, Aphrodite's Entry into Greek Epic (Leiden 1974), 23-6, 30-42; cf. W. Sonne, ZVS 10 (1861), 351, 361 n. 1. Perhaps the strange 'golden Aphrodite' (xpva-q) is to be explained on the same lines; cf. above on Dawn's golden colouring, and Boedeker, 22 f. In Homeric formula Eos is xp"ao6povos, 'gold-throned'. It is conceivable that this originally meant 'gold-patterned' (from 6pova), referring to Dawn's robe, and that after reinterpretation as 'gold-throned' the epithet was then extended to other goddesses such as Hera. Saule and her daughter wear shawls woven with gold thread (LD 33790 = Jonval no. 513).

91 LD 33992 = Jonval no. 155. These comparisons were drawn by Mannhardt (1875), 99.

66). Saule too has a house; by its doors may be seen the horses of the Son(s) of God, who court Saule's daughter (LD 33801, 34000 = Jonval nos. 351, 350). Saule is urged to hurry and open the door to the suitors (34014 = J. 138 var. 1). In other versions 'the house of Saule' is replaced by 'the house of God' (Dievs) (33799 f. = J. 139, 352). As already mentioned in the last chapter, the verse 'by the doors of the house of God', pie Dieviya namdurem or nama durlm, is lexically comparable with the Vedic dvá.rau Diváh, 'doors of Heaven', which Usas opens with her light (RV 1. 48. 15, cf. 113. 4). Later Classical poets also have Dawn opening heavenly doors or gates.92

In another hymn the Dawns are said to have opened the doors of the cow-pen of darkness (4. 51. 2). Dawn and Night in the Rigveda are sisters (n. 84), and the poets celebrate their alternation (1. 62. 8, 95. 1, 96. 5). Dawn drives her sister away (1. 92. 11, cf. 123. 7; 10. 172. 4); Night in turn does likewise (10. 127. 3).

Bright with bright calf the white one has come; the black one has vacated her seats for her.

Cognate, immortal, consecutive, Day and Night, alternating colour, move on. The same road is the sisters', endless: in turn they travel it by divine ordinance. They collide not, stay not, well-regulated, Night and Dawn, of one mind but divergent hue. (1. 113. 2; cf. 124. 8)

Hesiod has a strikingly similar passage about the house of Night, where Night and Day approaching greet one another as they cross the great threshold of bronze: the one goes in, the other comes out, and never the house holds both of them within, but always one of them outside the house is ranging over the earth, while the other inside the house waits until the time comes for her to go, the one carrying far-seeing light ($áos noÁvSepKes) for men on earth, the other with Sleep in her arms, the brother of Death— Night the baleful, shrouded in clouds of mist. (Th. 748-57)

Parmenides claims personally to have journeyed out from the house of Night, riding in a chariot driven by the Daughters of the Sun (HAuíSes Kovpai, B 1. 9). As they left the house of Night they pushed the veils back from their faces, like Usas uncovering her bosom. 'There stand the gates of the paths of Night and Day, kept apart by a lintel and a stone threshold . .. Dike of the many atonements holds their keys of exchange.' As a further parallel for this imagery we may recall again the Irish story of St Brigit, born as her mother

92 Ov. Met. 2. 112-14; Quint. Smyrn. 2. 666. Some earlier Greek source may lie behind these.

stood in the doorway of the house at sunrise with one foot on either side of the threshold. As for the two sisters who never meet, they reappear in similar guise in a Latvian riddle: 'Two sisters who are at odds; one appears, the other runs away; one is white, the other black'.93

The idea of the Sun's horses and chariot was easily transferred to Dawn, his harbinger who goes before him. Her steeds and chariot(s) are referred to several times in the Rigveda (1. 48. 7, 113. 14, 123. 7; 4. 14. 3; 7. 75. 6). In 7. 77. 3 she commands a fine-looking white horse. In the one Avestan passage where she is personified, Gäh 5. 5, she has the epithets ranjat.aspa-, ravat.aspa-, both explained by Bartholomae as 'making her horses run nimbly'; at any rate they mean something to do with horses. In the Odyssey (23. 246) Eos appears once as a charioteer, with two swift horses named Lampos and Phaethon. Bacchylides (fr. 20c. 22) calls her XevKinnos Aws, 'white-horsed Dawn', and tragedians use the similar phrase AevKonwAos y^epa, 'white-colt Day' (Aesch. Pers. 386, Soph. Aj. 673). Night, by contrast, has dark horses and a dark chariot (Aesch. fr. 69, Cho. 660 f.). In Norse myth we hear of two horses called Skinfaxi (Shine-mane) and Hrimfaxi (Soot-mane), who draw the cars of Day and Night respectively (Vafprudnismal 11-14; Gylf. 10, Skaldsk. 58).

The Dawns 'awaken the sleeper, two-legged and four-legged living things to go forth' (RV 4. 51. 5; cf. 1. 48. 5, 49. 3, 92. 9, 113. 4-6, 124. 12). Dawn comes 'rousing the people, making the roads easy to travel' (5. 80. 2, cf. 6. 64. 1; 7. 75. 1, 79. 1). Zarathushtra sings of 'morning, noon, and night, which prompt the prudent man to his endeavour' (Y. 44. 5). The obscure compounds framan.nar-, framon.narO.vlra- applied to Usä in Gäh 5. 5 probably meant something of the same sort. Again we find something curiously similar in Hesiod, this time in the Works and Days (579-81):

Dawn forwards the journey, forwards the task; Dawn, whose appearing puts many a man on the road, and sets the yoke on many an ox.

Mannhardt adduced a Russian riddle about Night and Day: 'The black cow has laid everyone low; the white cow has brought them back to life'.94

Usas too yokes oxen or cows (RV 1. 92. 2, 124. 11), but these are specified as red ones, and are certainly not our farm animals but pictorial metaphors for the red clouds or rays seen at morning light. Elsewhere the Dawns themselves are likened to cows (4. 51. 8, 52. 5; cf. also 1. 92. 4, 12). The sense may well be

93 A. J. G. Bielenstein, 1000 lettische Rätsel (Mitau 1881), no. 138.

94 Mannhardt (1875), 308 n. 1 (with others from Ukraine and Slovakia); cf. Müller (1897), 98, 761-4; Aarne (1918-20), i. 147. The Vedic and Hesiodic passages are compared by Boedeker (as n. 90), 75.

the same when it is said that 'Suarya with his rays has driven forth the cattle' (7. 36. 1, cf. 81. 2), though it could be read either way.

This bovine imagery is clearly very ancient. The Hittite Storm-god drives a chariot drawn by bulls named Day and Night.95 In the Gathas we find the poetic expression uxsano asncim 'bulls of days', which apparently means 'new dawns'.96 The immortal cattle of the Sun in the Odyssey, 350 cows and 350 sheep, herded by two daughters of Helios, Phaethousa and Lampetie, must originally have represented the days and nights of the year.97 Day and Night are symbolized by black and white cows in the Russian riddle quoted above.

I have cited a Vedic passage in which Usas arrays herself like a dancer (RV 1. 92. 4). The verse then takes a turn that we might not consider tasteful: 'she uncovers her breast as a cow her udder'. In other hymns we read that 'Dawn and Night are as a cow good for milking: in the course of one day I measure out my song, in different-coloured milk at that (one) udder', that is, in light and darkness (1. 186. 4); 'where mother and daughter, the two milch cows, together feed (their calf)' (3. 55. 12);98 'may the Dawns ever shine for us . .. being milked of ghee' (7. 41. 7). The archaic phrase vvktos dpoxywi 'at the milking(-time) of night', which in Homer seems to mean no more than 'in the dark of night' (Il. 11. 173, 15. 324, al.), must once have conveyed some more definite notion based on the idea of Night and Day as cows.

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