The mighty infant the typical weapon

A god, like a hero, grows up with extraordinary rapidity: both estates are defined by competence, and helpless infancy does not suit them.99 Indra was a warrior as soon as he was born (RV 1. 102. 8; 3. 51. 8); heaven and earth trembled, and all the gods were afraid (1. 61. 14; 4. 17. 2, 22. 4; 5. 30. 5); he put his opponents to flight, and looked for further deeds of heroism (10. 113. 4). Hesiod (Th. 492-6) relates how the baby Zeus' body and strength grew swiftly, and within a year he was able to overthrow his father Kronos. In the Homeric Hymns (3. 127-34; 4. 17 f.) we read how Apollo, as soon as he had had a feed of nectar and ambrosia, burst out of his swaddling, announced what sort of a god he was going to be, and began walking; and how Hermes on the first day of his life invented the lyre and stole Apollo's cattle. Nordic

96 'Hesiod', fr. 60; Gylf. 38; cf. Grimm (1883-8), 147, 671, 1333. For the raven's association with Apollo cf. Hdt. 4. 15. 2; Ael. HA 1. 48. There are Gaulish monuments representing a god and goddess with birds (doves or ravens?) on their shoulders, their beaks facing inwards as if speaking into their ears: Duval (1957), 51; de Vries (1961), 166 f.

97 Cf. de Vries (1961), 54; Davidson (1988), 90 f.; B. Sergent, Lug et Apollon (Brussels 1995).

99 Grimm (1883-8), 320 f. We shall examine the motif in relation to heroes in Chapter 11.

neonates are no less precocious. Vali avenges Baldr at one day old (Voluspa 32; Baldrs draumar 11). When Thor is pinned down by the leg of a giant he has felled, his son Magni, three nights old, is the only one of the gods strong enough to shift it off him (Skaldsk. 17).

The newborn Indra at once reached for his bow and asked who were his rivals (RV 8. 45. 4). Apollo's first words are 'May the lyre be dear to me, and the crooked bow'. Certain gods are firmly associated with a particular weapon, and are imagined with it in their hand. Indra is frequently called vajrahasta- or vajrabahu-, 'vajra-handed, vajra-forearmed'; the vajra- is his characteristic thunderbolt-weapon. In one passage (RV 10. 103. 2) he is isuhasta-, 'arrow-handed'. Rudra-Siva in the Mahabharata and elsewhere is salapani-, 'lance-handed'. These compounds have a parallel, though a less than obvious one, in Artemis' ancient formulaic epithet in Greek epic, loxeaipa. Its first element, lo's 'arrow', is the same word as Vedic isu-; its second element was anciently understood as being from x'pour out', but the formation is anomalous, and most modern scholars derive it from *-khesaria < *khesr-ia, the root being *ghesr- (> xeip) 'hand'. The Vedic hastais from a by-form *ghesto-.100 Artemis was accordingly, like Indra, 'arrow-handed'. She is also called ro£oj>opos 'bow-carrying', as is her brother Apollo. There are other formulaic epithets in Homer that refer to characteristic objects that gods carry, such as Hermes xpuooppanis 'of the gold rod', Apollo xpuoaopos 'of the gold sword', Artemis xpvoyAaKaros 'of the gold distaff'.

While on the subject of gods' special weapons, we may notice that the Irish Dagda wielded a great club (lorg mor) which had 'a smooth end and a rough end: the one end kills the living and the other end brings to life the dead'.101 We cannot but recall the rod that Hermes carries in his hands (Il. 24. 343-5 = Od. 5. 47-9), 'with which he charms (to sleep) the eyes of men, those he wishes to, and wakes others from sleep'.

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