The Baltic and Slavonic evidence

The Daughter of the Sun, Lithuanian Saules dukrytè, Latvian Saules meita ('Sun's girl', presumably for older *Saules dukte), is a figure who appears in many of the Baltic songs. In some cases she is just a variant of the personified (female) Sun herself. Sometimes there are two, three, or more Saules meitas. But there are never any sons of Saule.

Saules meita wears fine clothes and ornaments. She herds cows (LD 33971 = Jonval no. 309 var. 2), which may make us think of the motif of solar cattle, but this is only one of many homely activities which she is pictured as performing after the fashion of a domesticated young woman on earth. She is in fact a paragon, as illustrated by a Lithuanian saying recorded in the eighteenth century, applicable to someone who finds fault with everything: 'he wouldn't even be satisfied with the daughter of the Sun'.106

She is in constant relationship with the Sons of God (Jonval nos. 369-417) in a way that strikingly parallels Surya's relationship with the Asvins, the Divo nâpûta. On occasion they are at odds (370-4, 416), but more often they are on friendly terms (375 ff.). They greet her on Midsummer Day (404). She rides on a sleigh behind the Son of God's horse (417). She heats the bath for the two Sons of God, who arrive on sweating horses (381).

They are her suitors (405, 410-13; cf. 120, where her place is taken by the Virgin Mary). The Son of God is seen saddling his horse and riding to find a wife (128). The suit is associated with sunrise:

Les coqs d'argent chantent au bord de la rivière d'or.

Ils faisaient lever les Fils de Dieu, prétendants de la Fille de Saule. (LD 34008 = Jonval no. 405)

Dieu a deux fils, prétendants de la Fille de Saule.

Saule elle-même, mère des filles à marier, pare la chambre de ses filles, chaque matin en se levant,

éparpillant les fleurs. (LD 33766 = Jonval no. 413)

Saule's daughter is indeed much sought after in marriage. Her suitors or bridegrooms in different songs include God, Menesis (the Moon), Menesis' son, Perkons (the thunder-god), Perkons' son, Auseklis (the Morning Star),

106 Jakob Brodowski's manuscript Lithuanian-German dictionary (early eighteenth century) in Mannhardt (1936), 614, nei Saules dukte negal jam intikti.

and Auseklis' son. The Sons of God appear in particular rivalry with Menesis or with Auseklis. In one song (346) Auseklis, or in a variant Menesis, has risen early, before Saule, wanting her daughter, and Saule is urged to get up herself and deny her to him. In another song (415) we read that the Sons of God and the Daughters of Saule were celebrating their wedding-feast in mid-air, when Menesis (or Auseklis) ran up and switched the rings. In another, Saule promised her daughter to the Son of God, but then gave her to Menesis instead.107

The wedding apparently takes place at the beginning of summer:

Aujourd'hui Saule court chaudement plus que tous les autres jours.

Aujourd'hui on emmène la Fille de Saule de la Daugava en Allemagne. (LD 33996 = Jonval no. 356)

It is attended by Perkons, whose thunder shatters the golden oak-tree (J. 128, 359, cf. 349, 361; Schleicher (1857), 216 no. 4).

As in India, songs about the Sun's daughter were sung at weddings.108 The celestial nuptials were evidently seen as a cosmic paradigm of terrestrial ones. Similarly, songs about the wedding of the Sun and the Morning Star were sung at weddings among the southern Slavs.109 The Daughter of the Sun does not seem to have maintained her distinct identity in the Slavonic area, though I have found one reference to a Russian story about a daughter of the Sun and Moon who asks to be ferried over the water.110 Her place appears to be partly taken by 'the sister of the Sun', who was sometimes identified with the Morning Star or the Dawn. Her limbs were golden-yellow, and she was referred to as a paradigm of beauty: 'as beautiful as the Sun's sister'.111

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