The allseeing allknowing god

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Another Homeric epithet of Zeus is evpvona, since antiquity often interpreted as 'with far-reaching voice', but originally probably 'with wide vision', referring to his ability to survey the world from his lofty station. Hesiod warns unjust rulers that 'the eye of Zeus sees everything and notices everything'. 'Thrice countless are they on the rich-pastured earth, Zeus' immortal watchers of mortal men, who watch over judgments and wickedness, clothed in darkness, travelling about the land on every road.' In the Iliad it is the Sun who 'oversees everything and overhears everything', and for that reason he is invoked, together with Zeus, as a witness to oaths. But in tragedy it is more often Zeus who is called 'all-seeing'.20

These appear to be fragmented survivals of an Indo-European complex of ideas. The Indic Dyaus is 'all-knowing' (AV 1. 32. 4 visvavedas-, cf. RV 6. 70. 6), and this is doubtless because of his celestial nature. As Raffaele Pettazzoni showed in a wide-ranging study,21 omniscience is not an automatic privilege of gods. It is predicated primarily of sky and astral deities, because they are in a position to see all that happens on earth. In India it is another god of celestial nature, Varuna, or the pair Mitra-Varuna, that supervises justice,

19 W. Euler in Meid (1987), 38 f., 54 n. 27, citing H. Biezais, 'Baltische Religion' in C. M. Schroder, Die Religionen der Menschheit, 19.1 (Stuttgart 1975), 323.

20 Hes. Op. 267-9, 249-55; Il. 3. 276 f., 19. 258 f.; Aesch. Supp. 139, Cho. 985 (986 is interpolated), Eum. 1045; Soph. Ant. 184, El. 175 (cf. 659), OC 1085; Eur. El. 1177; Achaeus TrGF 20 F 53; Trag. adesp. 485; cf. Ar. Ach. 435; Usener (1896), 59, 196 f. We shall return in the next chapter to the topic of oaths by the Sun.

21 Pettazzoni (1955).

oaths, and contracts. Varuna too is visvavedas- (RV 8. 42. 1) and wide of eye (urucaksas-, 1. 25. 5, al.). He has watchers who 'come hither from heaven; with a thousand eyes they watch over the earth'.22 The all-seeing Sun is sometimes identified as the eye of Varuna or of Mitra-Varuna.23

In the Gathas Varuna's place is taken by Ahura Mazda. He too is addressed as 'wide of eye' (vourucasane, Y. 33. 13). He witnesses everything, watchful with his eye's beam (31. 13); 'he is not to be deceived, the Lord who observes all' (45. 4). In the Younger Avesta the sun is called his eye. At the same time Mithra, who corresponds to the Indian Mitra, emerges in a parallel role. He has ten thousand spies (or in other passages a thousand ears and ten thousand eyes), he is all-knowing, and he cannot be deceived.24

How does all this hang together? The eye, the wide vision, and the myriad spies that the Greeks ascribe to Zeus are ascribed in the Indo-Iranian tradition not to Dyaus25 but to Mitra and Varuna, or in Zoroastrian doctrine to Mithra and Ahura Mazdaa. The critical factor is the allocation of responsibility for the supervision of justice and righteousness. Whichever god assumes this function is furnished with the appropriate apparatus of eyes or spies.

It is hard to say which was original. Mitra-Varuna are certainly an old-established firm, already attested in the fourteenth-century treaty between Hatti and Mitanni. It would not be difficult to suppose that as Zeus grew in importance among the Greeks he took over the supervision of justice from another celestial god or gods who faded out of sight. On the other hand the deified Sky, *Dyeus, was from the beginning suited to serve at least as a witness to oaths and treaties. He appears in the role at Rome under the name of Dius Fidius (Dias < *Dyeus); this god's temple on the Quirinal had an opening in the roof, because oaths had to be taken under the open sky (sub Ioue). The Luwians had a Tiwaz of the Oath, hirutallis dUTU-waza: this is the Sun-god, but the name, as we have noted, is a derivative of *Diw-. We see how easily Heaven and its dazzling focal point, the Sun, can take on similar functions.

The commonest Greek form of asseveration is 'by Zeus', v- Aia, or in a negative sentence ¡d Aia. A more emphatic expression is i'orw Zevs, 'let Zeus know it', that is, let him take note of my affirmation and hold me

22 AV 4. 16. 4, cf. RV 1. 25. 13; 6. 67. 5; 7. 34. 10, 61. 3, 87. 3; 10. 10. 8; Schmitt (1967), 157-9.

24 Yt. 10. 7, 24, 35, 82, 91; Nyayisn 1. 6, 2. 10; Gah 1. 2, al.; Pettazzoni (1956), 132-6.

25 The sun and moon, however, are called the eyes of Dyaus, RV 1. 72. 10; cf. AV 10. 7. 33; 11. 3. 2; SB 7. 1. 2. 7. The dual phrase used in the Rigveda passage, Divo . . . ahs^ corresponds etymologically, though not semantically, to Aios oooe in Il. 14. 286, and in part; to the Latvian Dieva actiya 'the eye of God' (LD 8682 var. 5).

responsible for it. It is as the all-seeing one that he is thus invoked: Soph. Ant. 184 i'arw Zevs o ndvff opMv aei, 'let Zeus know it, he who sees all things at all times'.26 There is perhaps a Germanic parallel in the Hildebrandslied (30), where Hiltibrant begins a speech with the words wettu Irmingot obana ab heuene. One of the more attractive of many interpretations proposed for wettu is that it is an old third-person imperative (< *wetidu), so that the sense would be 'let Irmingot know it from above in heaven'.27

A Germanic reflex of the god *Dyeus is not readily identified, since (as already noted) the Nordic Tyr and his continental cognates seem to derive their names from the generic title *deiwos and do not resemble *Dyeus in character. It is possible, however, that Wodan-Odin (proto-Germanic *Wo5anaz), while not being a direct continuation of *Dyeus, took over certain of his features. In Lombardic myth as retailed by Paulus Diaconus (1. 8), Wodan was imagined habitually surveying the earth from his window, beginning at sunrise. This corresponds to the position of Odin in the Eddas. He has the highest seat among the gods, and from it he surveys all the worlds, rather as Zeus, sitting on the peak of Mt Ida, can survey not only the Troad but Thrace and Scythia too.28 Odin also has the distinctive title of Father. In the poems he is called Alfgdr, 'All-father'. Snorri uses of him the phrase fadir allra godanna ok manna, 'father of all gods and men', just as Zeus is nar^p dvSprnv re demv re, though here we may perhaps suspect the influence of Classical learning, for example from Virgil's hominum sator atque deorum.29

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