The gods assembly

The gods are imagined as meeting and debating in assembly. The motif, familiar from the Homeric poems, was very well established in the Semitic

100 v. Pisani, Crestomazia Indeuropea (2nd edn., Turin 1947), 142; A. Heubeck, Beitr├Ąge zur Namenforschung 7 (1956), 275-9 = Kl. Sehr. 275-9; Schmitt (1967), 177-81. J. Puhvel, however, HS 105 (1992), 4-6, defends the traditional etymology, 'arrow-shedding'.

101 Mesca Ulad 623-38; Yellow Book of Leinster 789, ed. O. Bergin in Medieval Studies in Memory of Gertrude Schoepperle Loomis (New York 1927), 402-6.

literatures of the Near East.102 But it also appears in a number of other Indo-European traditions. In the Mahabharata the gods assemble for debate on the mythical Mt Meru (1. 15. 5-10), which is where they dwell (3. 160. 16, cf. 247. 8). On other occasions they meet on Himalaya (3. 40. 31), or on Mt Kailasa (3. 140. 10). When Indra joins them, they stand up for him (3. 89. 2), just as the Olympians do for Zeus in the Iliad (1. 533-5). Similarly in a Hittite fragment all the gods stand up before Ea.103

That the gods are located on the highest and most inaccessible mountains is typical. The Homeric gods live and meet on Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. In Caucasian story the gods live on the summit of Wiriwsh Yiqimghwa, on Mt Elbruz; in Albanian folk-tale, on Mt Tomor(r), near Berat in south Albania.104

The Norse gods have their stronghold of Asgar5, which means 'god-enclosure'. In the Eddic poems they meet to deliberate on weighty matters.

M gengo regin oll a ropcstola, ginnheilog go5, oc um ^at gsttuz.

Then all the Governors went to the destiny seats, the most holy gods, and took counsel about it.

Senn voro ssir allir a ^ingi oc asynior allar a mali.

All the gods were together at assembly, and all the goddesses at the debate.

(Prymskvida 14 = Baldrs draumar 1; cf. Voluspa 48. 4.) According to another passage they meet every day at Yggdrasil's Ash (Grimnismal 30). An Irish saga tells of the De Danann meeting in council to judge a woman taken in sin.105

The reference in the Vgluspa to the gods' individual seats recalls the ┬┐'Sea from which the Olympians spring up when Zeus arrives. In Gylfaginning (14, cf. 17) it is related that after Asgar5 was made, the gods built the hall that their seats (sxti) stand in, twelve of them plus a high seat (hasxti) for Odin. They set themselves up on their seats and made their decisions (rettu doma sina).106

103 See West (1997), 354, where a second-millennium Babylonian parallel is also cited.

104 Colarusso (2002), 266; Lambertz (1973), 504.

105 Echtrae Airt meic Cuinn 3 in R. I. Best, Eriu 3 (1907), 150.

106 The Babylonian and Ugaritic gods also sit on seats in their assemblies: West (1997), 179.

0 0

Post a comment