Upper and lower gods

The *deiwfs, as we have seen, were originally and by etymology the celestial ones. When the gods are spoken of in a general way, they tend to be located in

8 The Hittites recognized 'twelve gods of the crossroads': Gurney (1977), 23, 41. Hesiod lists twelve Titans, and 'the Twelve (Olympian) Gods' had a cult at Olympia and other places (O. Weinreich in Roscher, vi. 764-848; D. Wachsmuth in Der Kleine Pauly, v. 1567-9), but they were never central to Greek religious thought. They have their counterparts in the twelve Di Consentes at Rome. Snorri (Gylf. 14, 20, 55) speaks of twelve ruler gods under Odin; cf. Gering-Sijmons (1927-31), i. 390 f.; A. Faulkes, Snorri Sturluson, Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning (Oxford 1982), 62 f.; Lorenz (1984), 213. Jocelin of Furness in his Life of St. Patrick (6. 50 p. 552D) gives a similar picture of the great oracular god Keancroithi, caput omnium deorum, encircled by twelve deiculi aerei (Zwicker (1934-6), 161 f., cf. 213).

9 KN Fp 1 + 31. 7 et al. pa-si-te-oi (= niivot Beothi); Usener (1896), 344 f.; Durante (1976), 91. Sometimes, as mentioned in the last chapter, it is expanded to 'all gods and all goddesses'.

10 Hes. Th. 624, Op. 725, fr. 75. 19 f.; Il. 2. 49, 3. 298, 308, etc.

heaven. Indra is said to be prathame viyomani, devanam sadane, 'in the foremost heaven, the seat of the gods' (RV 8. 13. 2). Only the gods' lowest seats (sadamsi, plural of sadas-) are said to be visible to us.11 The same expression, 'seat of the gods', 6ewv or ddavarwv e'Sos, is used in Hesiod of the heaven (ovpavos) and in Homer of Olympus.12 eSos and sadas- are the same word, while sadanam and sadman- show the same root with different suffixes. It appears also in Irish sid, literally 'seat', the term used for the hills or mounds within which the old pagan gods were imagined to be dwelling.

Heaven, however, could not be thought of as the home of all the supernatural powers whose activity impinges on our awareness. Some belong on the earth, or under it. If one makes a distinction between the pure heaven above the clouds and the lower air, there are clearly powers whose sphere of operation is the latter. So it is not surprising if a division is made between upper and lower gods.

In Hittite treaties the lengthy lists of divine witnesses often conclude with 'the gods of heaven and the gods of the earth'.13 The same dichotomy can be found in Greek, for example in Aeschylus, Supp. 24 vnaroi re deol Kal apvri^oi xdovioi d^Kas Karexovres, 'both highest gods and chthonian ones of heavy office who occupy tombs'; Ag. 90 vmirwv, xOoviwv; Euripides, Hec. 146 6eovs rovs r OvpaviSas (v.l. ovpaviovs) rovs 6 vno yaias, 'both the heavenly gods and those below the earth'. Likewise in Latin, Livius Andronicus refictus fr. 3 Courtney (rendering Od. 10. 64 ris roi KaKos ┬┐xpae Sai^wv) inferus an superus tibi fert deus funera, Vlixes?, Pacuvius Trag. 212 quis deos infernos quibus caelestis dignet decorare hostiis?; CIL i.2 2525 di superi et inferi; Livy 24. 38. 8 as quoted above; and by implication in the Oscan inscription no. 19. 7 Buck, nip huntruis nip supruis aisusis 'nec inferis nec superis sacrifices' (where hun- is related to Greek x6ov-). In the first line of the Gaulish defixio from Chamalieres, andedion . .. diiiuion risunartiu appears to mean 'by the virtue of the Lower Gods'; these gods are referred to again in line 3 anderon 'inferorum', ander- being etymologically identical with Latin infer-(< *ndher-).

The Indians made a threefold division. The most exact statement in the Rigveda is at 1. 139. 11, where the gods addressed are said to be eleven in heaven (divi), eleven on the earth (prthiviyam adhi), and eleven dwelling in the waters (apsuksitah). Several other hymns mention the tally of thirty-three

11 RV 3. 54. 5. For the divine seat cf. also 9. 83. 5 mahi sadma daiviyam; 10. 96. 2 diviyam . . . sadah.

12 Hes. Th. 128; Il. 5. 360, 367, 868, cf. 24. 144; Od. 6. 42; Hymn. Ap. 109, cf. Hymn. Dem. 341, Hymn. Hom. 15. 7; Pind. Nem. 6. 3 f.

gods (3. 6. 9; 8. 28. 1, 35. 3) or the three cohorts (6. 51. 2, 52. 15; 7. 35. 11; 10. 49. 2, 63. 2, 65. 9). In the Atharvaveda the three groups have their 'seats' in heaven, in the lower air (antariksam, literally the in-between domicile), and on the earth:

ye devil divisado, I antariksasadasca ye, I ye ceme bhdmiyam adhi. The gods who are heaven-seated, and those who are interzone-seated, and these who are on the earth.

(10. 9. 12, cf. 11. 6. 12.) The same classification is given by the early Vedic commentator Yaska (Nirukta 7. 5) and in TS 2. 4. 8. 2. The gods of the antariksam are alternatively described as madhyamasthana-, of the middle station. We might be tempted to compare Plautus, Cistellaria 512, where Alcesimarchus exclaims at ita me di deaeque, superi atque inferi et medioxumi, except that this has all the appearance of a comic invention. In the solemn prayer reported by Livy 1. 32. 10 we find a threefold division that does not correspond to the Indian: audi Iuppiter et tu Iane Quirine diique omnes caelestes uosque terrestres uosque inferni.

The Indo-Europeans perhaps had no clear-cut doctrine of a division of gods between two or three levels of the cosmos. But in certain circumstances it was natural to draw such distinctions, and they may have been drawn informally and inconsistently to suit the occasion.

Angel Ascendancy

Angel Ascendancy

Be Prepared To See Massive Changes In Your Destiny Guided By The Archangels. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Guide To Communicate With Archangels For Life.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment