Some Western goddesses

We have seen that the gods were celebrated as givers of good things, these being denoted in Indo-Iranian with the word vdsu-, vaghu- (*wesu-). Combined with *poti- it gives vdsupati- 'lord of good things', which occurs some fifteen times in the Rigveda as an attribute of Indra or other gods. There is also a class of deities, headed by Indra, known as the Vasus (Vdsavah), the Good Ones. One might say that just as certain neuter singulars turn into gods

79 Cf. von Schroeder (1914-16), i. 500-2; J. de Vries, Cahiers du Sud 36 (1952), 18-27; id. (1956), ii. 14-16; Puhvel in Cardona et al. (1970), 382 n. 26. On the sources for the Irminsul see Grimm (1883-8), 115-19; Clemen (1928), 48, 54, 61, 67-9; de Vries (1956), ii. 386.

by being given the masculine (or animate) form, here the neuter plural vasvmi that the gods bestow are transformed into the masculine plural Vasavah, representing the active principle of good-giving: instead of benefits, Benefactors.

The *wesu- stem is attested in central Europe by personal names such as the Illyrian Vescleves and the Gaulish Bellovesus. It is almost certainly to be recognized in the name of the Italo-Celtic goddess who appears in central Italy as Vesuna, at Perigueux as Vesunna, and perhaps at Baden-Baden as Visuna.80 She is surely the 'Mistress of good things', with the familiar nasal suffix. She stands in the same relationship to the Vedic vasupati- as the Lithuanian Earth goddess Zemyna to the male Zemepatis. She probably owes her sex to the European substrate that favoured goddesses. She might have replaced an Indo-European *Wesunos, though there is no necessity to postulate one. Given the continued productivity of the -no- suffix, a *Wesupotis or *Wesus would have been a sufficient model.

Our Fridays are named after an old goddess Frig, corresponding to Norse Frigg, Old Saxon Fri, Old High German Frija, who was taken for calendrical purposes as the northern equivalent of Venus. A Langobardic form Frea appears in Paulus Diaconus' Historia Langobardorum (1. 8). The pro to-Germanic form is reconstructed as *Friy5, and it is from Indo-European *priya 'dear, loved, own'.81 In RV 1. 46. 1 the beautiful Dawn goddess is called priya Divah, 'the beloved (daughter) of Dyaus'. The Germanic goddess was the adulterous wife of Odin/Woden.

Was there an Indo-European goddess *Priya, or was *Friyo a local creation from an epithet which, as the Vedic evidence shows, could be applied to goddesses? That she had a wider currency than the Germanic lands might follow if an alleged Old Czech Prije = Aphrodite were better accredited.82 It is equally doubtful whether she can be recognized in Wanassa(?) Preiia, named on early coins of Perge in Pamphylia, as that must be the city goddess elsewhere called (Artemis) Pergaia.

It is generally accepted that the Greek Hestia, eponymous goddess of the hearth, is cognate with the Roman Vesta, despite the absence of an initial

80 S. Weinstock, RE viiiA. 1798 f.; F. Heichelheim, ibid. 1800 f.; Meid (1957), 106-8; Olmsted (1994), 429.

81 Lorenz (1984), 177; Meid (1991), 28. On the Germanic deity see de Vries (1956), ii. 302-7. From the fact that in part of Germany Fridays are particularly favoured for weddings he infers that she was originally the goddess of marriage. In view of her mythical infidelity as a wife it might be preferable to say love and marriage.

82 Grimm (1883-8), 303, probably from the Mater verborum of the notorious forger Vaclav Hanka. The *priy- root is well represented in Slavonic words for friend, pleasant, agreeable, etc.

digamma in dialect inscriptions where it would be expected.83 The name may relate to a root *wes 'burn', seen in Old High German wasal 'fire'. In India and Iran the sacred hearth-flame falls in the province of the god Fire (Agni, Atar: Chapter 6). The Greek and Roman hearth cults must have contained elements going back to Indo-European times. But the specialized goddess was a regional creation of south central Europe.

One of the local titles under which Dionysus was worshipped was Eleuthereus. It does not mean 'liberating' (from social constraint, psychological repression, sin, etc.), it means 'of (the town) Eleutherai'. Like other old Greek towns that have a feminine plural form—Athenai, Plataiai, Potniai, and, it may be conjectured, others such as Mykenai, Kleonai, Thebai, Thes-piai—Eleutherai will have had its name from a local goddess or group of goddesses. It points to an ancient goddess Eleuthera.84 She would correspond etymologically to the Roman couple Liber (Pater) and Libera. There was also a Jupiter Liber, matching Oscan Iúveís Lúvfreís (genitive; inscr. 5 Rix). Liber and Libera, at least, had to do with agrarian and human fertility; Varro attests phallic processions pro eventibus seminum. If the Greek *Eleuthera had a similar character, it is not surprising that she should have been replaced by Dionysus, or that his local cult should have retained some distinctive features that caused him to be titled after Eleuthera's town.

Greek ¿Xevdepos and Latin líber both mean 'free'. Why should a god or goddess or divine couple be so designated? Perhaps it is necessary to dig deeper into the word's past. According to current opinion it is a derivative from the old word for 'people' seen in Old High German liut, Old English leod, Lithuanian liáudis, Russian grog, etc., related to a root *h¡leudh 'increase'.85 For a divinity concerned with increase of produce and people, this makes good enough sense.

With Liber-Libera and Vesta we are clearly not dealing with Greek deities transferred to Italy under the influence of Greek culture, like Apollo and Bacchus. They are old established Italic gods. The parallelism with Greek divinities is to be explained by common tradition from a time when the ancestors of both Italics and Greeks lived in central Europe and the north Balkans.

Another case where a male god of classical Greece has a title that may be taken over from an earlier goddess is that of Poseidon Hippios, 'Poseidon god of horses'. The Pylos tablets attest a po-]ti-ni-ya i-qe-ya = Potnia Ikkweia,

83 See Ernout-Meillet (1959), 1288; Chantraine (1968-80), 379.

84 Usener (1896), 233 f. Eleuthera appears in a late source as a title of Artemis in Lycia, but this may be unconnected.

'Mistress of horses'.86 This figure may be directly compared with the well-known Celtic horse-goddess Epona: epo- = Latin equus, Greek iWos, and -na, as we have seen before, is equivalent to a *poti- compound.

Naturally it is impossible to prove that the Mycenaean-Celtic parallel rests on a historical continuity rather than independent development among peoples for whom the horse was important. But they have to be seen against a wider Indo-European background of divinities linked with the horse. In the Rigveda the compound asvapati-, which contains the same elements as Potnia Ikkweia, is an epithet of Indra. The same word, as a divine name, perhaps underlies the Irish Echaid, a title of the god known as the Dagda.87 The twin sons of *Dyeus (pp. 186-91) in their Indic, Greek, and Baltic manifestations have a strong association with horses, and their Indian name is the Asvins, which means 'having horses'. There was also an Illyrian god Menzanas, formed with the -no- suffix from mendyo-, denoting a type of small horse.88

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