Attributes the allseeing god

In Vedic and Greek poetry the Sun, like Dyaus/Zeus, has the epithet 'great': RV 2. 23. 2 Sariyo . .. maho, 3. 2. 7 suvar mahat, Hes. Th. 19 and 371 HeXiov re piyav. He is also 'swift': AV 13. 2. 2 asum . .. Saryam; Mimnermus fr. 11a. 1 and 14. 11 wKeos HeXloio.11 In both cases the Vedic and Greek adjectives are cognate. And as Savitr in the early morning raises up his banner jyotir visvasmai bhuvanaya kmvan, 'making light for all creatures' (RV 4. 14. 2), so Helios goes up into thcecsky 'to shine for the immortals and for mortal men' (Od. 3. 1-3, cf. 12. 385 f.).

The most widely noted attribute of the Sun-god is that he (or she, as the case may be) surveys the whole world and sees everything that goes on. Surya is urucaksas-, 'wide of vision' (RV 7. 35. 8, 63. 4), and indeed visvacaksas-, 'all-seeing' (1. 50. 2; 7. 63. 1), just as Helios nivTe^apai (Il. 3. 277, Od. 11. 109) and is nav(r)onrris ([Aesch.] Prom. 91, fr. 192. 5). The Indian Sun is also nrcaksas-, 'men-watching' (1. 22. 7; 7. 60. 2): he sees rju martesu vrjina ca, '(what is) straight among mortals and crooked' (4. 1. 17; 6. 51. 2; 7. 60. 2). Sometimes he is identified as the eye of the god or gods who supervise justice: of Varuna (1. 50. 6), of Mitra-Varuna (1. 115. 1; 6. 51. 1; 7. 63. 1; 10. 37. 1), or in the Younger Avesta of Ahura Mazda (Y. 1. 11, 3. 13, 7. 13, al.). In other passages he is just 'the eye of the gods' (RV 7. 76. 1, 77. 3).

He is the spy or watcher of all that lives and moves (spas- visvasya jagatah, RV 4. 13. 3, cf. AV 7. 81. 1). In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (62) Helios is demv aKonos ySe Kal dvSprnv, 'watcher of gods and men', where aKonos has the same root as spas-, the word used in the Vedic verse.12 Derivatives of it are similarly used in connection with the Sun at Od. 8. 302 HeXios yap oi aKonirjv exev 'for Helios had been keeping watch on his behalf', and Pindar, Pae. 9. 1 (A1. 1 Rutherford) dKrls AeXlov, rl noXvaKon epyaao; 'Ray of the Sun, what, O far-sighted one, have you done?'13

12 First noted by Kuhn (1859), 103; cf. Schmitt (1967), 163.

13 noXvoKono; may be an old compound; cf. the Avestan noun pouruspaxsti- 'extensive vision' (Yt. 9. 1, 10. 11, al.), implying the adjective *pouruspas-.

We need not confine ourselves entirely to Graeco-Aryan. In the Old English poem Phoenix (210 f.) the sun 'performs its appointed task and woruld geondwlite5, 'surveys the world'. The Latvian Sun-goddess Saule is represented as seeing all that happens in different parts of the earth (LD 33830, 33901, 33991 = Jonval nos. 252-4). In a Scots Gaelic song to the Sun recorded from old men in the Western Isles in the nineteenth century the luminary is addressed as suil Dhe mhoir, 'eye of great God', where suil is (probably) the same word as the MIE word for 'sun', and the name of God, though actually from *deiwos, here in effect covers the Sky-god *Dyeus, one of whose oldest epithets was 'great'.14

The analogy of sun and eye finds various expression in Indo-European languages. Greek dramatists call the sun 'eyelid of golden day', 'this holy eye of the lamp', 'the tireless eye of the air'. In Ovid the Sun-god calls himself 'the eye of the world'. Macrobius says that 'antiquity' called the sun Iouis oculus.15 Vedic poets refer to Surya's own eye, and Firdawsi too speaks of 'the eye of the sun'.16 The Armenian aregakn 'sun' means literally 'eye of the sun', a compound of the genitive of arew 'sun' with akn 'eye'.

Contrariwise, the human eye is sometimes seen as an analogue of the sun. Euripides in Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazousai (13-18) propounds a cosmo-gonic theory by which the divine Aither created living creatures, and to endow them with sight contrived the eye in imitation of 'the wheel of the sun'. In the old Armenian mythological verses about the birth of the hero Vahagn his eyes are described as 'little suns'. In Norse skaldic verse 'suns of the forehead' (ennis solir) is a kenning for the eyes, and in Old Irish, as we have seen, suil (feminine) is the word for 'eye'.

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