Heteronymous homologues

It remains to ask whether we can find gods in different countries who, while not having names that hint at any relationship, nevertheless overlap sufficiently in their functions to suggest that they share some common heritage.

Of course, many of the purposes for which people require gods are universal. If we find a god of healing here, there, and everywhere, we cannot assume them to be historically connected unless they show more distinctive identifying features. Nor is it remarkable if many peoples have a god of war to help them to victory or defend them against defeat; war is a critical event, and success must depend on divine support as well as military prowess. We find war-gods, for instance, among the Indians (Indra), Greeks (Enyalios, Ares), Scythians ('Ares', Herodotus 4. 62), Romans (Mars), Gauls ('Mars', Caes. Bell. Gall. 6. 17. 2-5), Germans ('Mars', Tac. Germ. 9. 1, Ann. 13. 57, Hist. 4. 64), and Goths ('Mars', Jordanes, Getica 41). Perhaps it is more noteworthy when the war-god is also an agrarian deity, a protector of the fields, as is the case with the Roman Mars, the Celtic 'Mars' Teutates, and the Slavonic Svetovit.92 Enemy action is of course one thing that the fields need to be saved from, but

90 Cf. Macdonell (1898), 28; Puhvel (1987), 49; enlarged stem varu- as in varutf 'protector', vdrutham 'protection', cf. Greek epvpai.

91 On Ullr cf. de Vries (1956), ii. 153-63; Puhvel (1987), 208.

these gods are also concerned with successful harvests and with protection from blight.

As for healing gods, they do occur everywhere, but again there are sometimes other coincident features. The Greek Apollo, a rather complex figure, has probably taken over the characteristics of more than one older divinity, including the healer Paiawon (Paieon, Paion, Paian). He has points of contact on the one hand with the Indian Rudra, on the other with Celtic and Germanic deities. His power over sickness and health is dramatically portrayed in the first book of the Iliad, where he first shoots his arrows to bring plague upon cattle and men, and then relieves it in response to prayer. The image has striking parallels in Ugaritic and the Old Testament.93 But Rudra too is pictured in the Veda as an archer whose missiles send disease and death upon humans, cattle, and horses. Prayers are directed to him imploring him to spare his worshippers and their animals. He is said to have a thousand remedies at his disposal, and a healing hand.94

Caesar (Bell. Gall. 6. 17. 2) reports that the Gauls had an 'Apollo' who dispelled diseases. In fact, as the later inscriptions indicate, they had many local healing gods, the more important of whom will have been identified with Apollo. The Celtic divine healer who shows the strongest point of contact with him is Dian Cecht, who appears in Irish legend as the healer of the Tuatha De Danann, that is, of the gods. In the Cath Maige Tuired (lines 133-46 Gray), after Nriadu's hand has been cut off in battle, Dian Cecht provides him with an artificial silver hand that works just as well. But Dian's son Miach improves on this by re-attaching Nriadu's original hand. Dian is indignant and hurls a sword at his son's head four times. The first three wounds Miach is able to heal, but the fourth penetrates his brain and he dies. The story recalls that of Apollo's son Asclepius, whom Zeus (not Apollo) killed with the thunderbolt for being too expert a healer and raising men from the dead.

In the Greek myth Apollo reacts by killing the makers of the thunderbolt, the Cyclopes, and is punished by being exiled from the gods for a year, or nine years, and being forced to serve a mortal man, Admetus. In this he can be compared with Odin, of whom Saxo Grammaticus tells that he was exiled from the gods and reduced to servile estate for nine years.95 In itself this would not count for much, especially as the transfer of a motif from Classical myth cannot be ruled out. But OdinlWoden has other links with Apollo, not so much qua healer—though it is he who cures Baldr's lamed horse in the

94 References in Macdonell (1898), 75 f.; cf. Puhvel in Cardona et al. (1970), 372 f.; id. (1987), 58, 134 f.

Merseburg spell (pp. 336 f.)—but rather as a kind of shamanic figure. He presides over the poetic art, and he is associated with the wolf and the raven. Just as Apollo's raven reports to him the lovemaking of Ischys and Coronis, so Odin's two ravens fly about the world all day and then return to perch on his shoulders and speak into his ears of all they have seen or heard.96

The affinity between the two gods extends to the Celtic Lugus, Irish Lug. He, like Odin, is a chief among gods, a leader in battle who fights with a great spear, a master of poetry and magic; he has two ravens who warn him when the enemy Fomoire are approaching.97 Neither deity does much healing, but Lug heals his wounded son Cri Chulainn and Odin heals the Danish prince Sivard.98

However, to the extent that these gods have significant points in common with Apollo, I should be inclined to ascribe them not to (Indo-)European inheritance but to the diffusion of shamanistic motifs from the Finno-Ugric peoples, from the east to Scandinavia and from the north, across Scythia and Thrace, to the Greeks.

0 0

Post a comment