Chapter 7. Thunder and the Birth of Humankind

In the myth making traditions of a wide variety of societies, there is a convergent pattern of thought concerning the origin of fire: that a stroke of thunder can deposit fire into trees or rocks and that this fire of thunder is extracted whenever friction is applied to these materials. [1] Oftentimes the god of the thunderbolt is pictured as being actually incarnated within the material. [2] There are also numerous occurrences of a related line of thought, equating the friction of making fire with the friction of making love. Besides the ample documentation of this equation in the lore of diverse societies, [3] we may consider the formulation of the philosopher Gaston Bachelard, who views the metaphorical syntax of sexual arousal as the inspiration, as it were, for Man’s discovery of how to make fire by friction. [4] Theories aside, it can he argued that the infusion of fire into wood and stone is a sexual and anthropogonic theme in the logic of myth. What follows is an attempt to present such an argument, with special reference to the anthropogonic traditions of the Greeks. In the course of examining the pertinent myths, we shall see that the stroke of the thunderbolt may be viewed as not only destructive but also pro-creative. Furthermore, the concept of procreation can presuppose that of creation itself. [5] {181|182}
Two key words in this presentation will be Baltic (Lithuanian) perkū́nas and Slavic perunǔ, both meaning ‘thunderbolt’. [6] In examining the formal and semantic connections between these two words, we shall discover a pervasive association of the concept of “thunderbolt” with traditional lore about two particular kinds of material that attract the thunderbolt, that is, wood and stone. We shall further discover that the very forms of these nouns, perkū́nas and perunŭ, are related to the forms of other nouns that actually designate wood, especially oak wood, and stone—not to mention still other nouns designating elevated places that attract the thunderbolt, such as mountains, boulders, or wooded hilltops. Even further, we shall see the emergence of a neat pattern of parallelism linking myths about thunderbolts and oaks with myths about thunderbolts and rocks. Finally, we shall consider another dimension of this parallelism, that is, in myths about the creation of humankind. Such myths, as we shall see, are reflected by a Greek proverb that refers to ancient myths of anthropogony with a distancing attitude of indifference, as if humans had originated from either oaks or rocks. When Penelope challenges the disguised Odysseus to reveal his hidden identity by revealing his lineage (xix 162), she adds the following words:
οὐ γὰρ ἀπὸ δρυὸς ἐσσὶ παλαιφάτου οὐδ’ ἀπὸ πέτρης
Odyssey xix 163
For surely you are not from an oak, as in the old stories, or from a rock.
To begin at the very beginnings is to begin with the oak and the rock, at least in the logic of the proverb, and it is for this reason, as we shall see, that the persona of Hesiod, reproaching himself for lingering too long at the beginning of beginnings in the Theogony, finally declares, with impatience:
ἀλλὰ τίη μοι ταῦτα περὶ δρῦν ἢ περὶ πέτρην;
Hesiod Theogony 35
But why do I have these things about the oak or about the rock?
In the interest of making our own beginning, let us without further delay proceed to the Baltic and the Slavic evidence. {182|183}
In Slavic, perunŭ designates both ‘thunderbolt’ and ‘thunder-god’. [7] By “thunder” I mean both thunder and lightning, in the spirit of the older expression “thunderstruck” as opposed to the newer “struck by lightning.” In the case of the Slavic form perunŭ, the meaning ‘thunderbolt’ is basic in the attested Slavic languages (Russian perun, Czech perun, Polish piorun, and so on), while the meaning ‘thunder-god’ is residual. The second meaning is least obscure in the Russian evidence, where the word perun ‘thunderbolt’ survives also as one of the names constituting the native heathen pantheon. The Old Russian Chronicles [8] tell of wooden idols in the image of the god Perun, set up on hills overlooking Kiev and Novgorod. They also tell how the people of Kiev wept as the Christianized Prince Vladimir had the idol of Perun east down into the Dnepr River. At Novgorod, too, the god was toppled. And yet, as his idol was floating downstream in the Volxov River, Perun took revenge: people believed that he hurled his mace at a bridge, hurting some and frightening the others. [9] The Perun figure has survived also in the folklore of Byelorussia. [10] He is Piarun, who lives on mountain-tops and smites the Serpent. [11] He even made the first fire ever: it happened accidentally, when he struck a tree in which the Demon was hiding. [12]
In the Baltic languages there is a word that seems formally similar to the Slavic perunŭ and that likewise means both ‘thunderbolt’ and ‘thunder-god’. In Baltic languages, unlike Slavic, however, we cannot immediately arrive at a common Baltic form. In Lithuanian the word is perkū́nas, in Latvian it is pērkōns (standard spelling for pḕrkuons). For the Old Prussian forms we have the testimony of the Elbing Glossary: the entry percunis is glossed as ‘thunder’. Formal problems aside, there are striking thematic parallelisms between the Baltic and Slavic figures. Like Slavic Perun, the Latvian Pērkōns hurls a mace. [13] Like the Slavic Perun, the Baltic Perkū́nas of Lithuanian folklore dwells on lofty mountaintops: such places are called Perkūnkalnis ‘summit of Perkūnas’, and brazen idols of the god are sure to be there. [14] Also, Perkūnas strikes oak trees, which have fire stored up inside. [15] {183|184}
The personification of perkū́nas, as we have just seen, is closely associated with the oak tree. Moreover, while the derivative noun perkū́nija means ‘thunderstorm’, as Perkū́nija it can also designate the name of a place where a great oak stood; underneath this oak was an idol of Perkūnas. [16] The diction of Lithuanian folklore frequently yields the expression Perkūno ąžuolas ‘oak of Perkūnas,’ [17] which is matched by Latvian Pērkōna ōzōls ‘oak of Pērkōns’. [18] From story to story, the stroke of Perkūnas either seeks out oak trees or specifically avoids them. [19] Either way, the point remains that there is a thematic link between oaks and the stroke of Perkūnas. There even exist accounts of old Lithuanian rituals involving Perkūnas and oak trees. [20] Finally, Simon Grunau’s description of Old Prussian customs (written in the early sixteenth century) tells of a sacred oak with a hollow containing an idol of Perkūnas. [21]
Likewise in Slavic lore, Perun is associated with the oak. Besides the old Russian expression Perunov dub ‘oak of Perun’, [22] there is the additional evidence of a frequently attested Byelorussian folk theme, with Piarun violently striking oak trees. [23]
From both the Baltic and the Slavic evidence, it is clear that the god of the thunderbolt is associated with rocks as well as oaks. In Lithuanian folklore, for example, we find instances where Perkūnas is associated {184|185} with striking rocks instead of oaks. [24] Also, in a late seventeenth-century account of a heathen Lithuanian ritual involving Perkūnas, the sacral site features a rock and an oak situated five paces apart, [25] Similarly, the Byelorussian Perun (Piarun) goes about smiting not only oaks but also rocks. [26]
Obviously, all this thematic evidence makes it tempting to trace the Baltic and Slavic words for ‘thunder’/’thunder-god’ to a common formal source. The task is forbidding, however, as we may see from the skepticism recorded in the standard etymological dictionary of Russian. [27] The received opinion here is that perunŭ has the common Slavic agent suffix –unŭ and is probably derived from the verb *per- as in old Church Slavonic perǫ/pĭrati ‘strike’. [28] While the Slavic perunŭ looks like a deverbative meaning ‘the striker’, the form of Lithuanian perkū́nas looks like a denominative. On the basis of such formations as Latin Portūnus (from *portūnos), derived from the u-stem noun portus, Lithuanian perkū́nas has been reconstructed as *perkwūnos, derived from *perkwus. [29] Such a u-stem noun *perkwus is actually attested in Latin quercus ‘oak’. [30] Even without the comparative evidence, it seems that perkū́nas is a denominative. Other attested Lithuanian nouns with the suffix -ū́nas are known to be derived from u-stem nouns; [31] only nouns with the suffix -ūnas may be derived from verbs. [32]
Despite such internal evidence for the derivation of perkū́nas from *perkwu-, we find skepticism in the standard etymological dictionary of Lithuanian, [33] where perkū́nas is linked with the verb per̃-ti ‘strike’, cognate with Old Church Slavonic perǫ/pǐrati ‘strike’. It is argued that Lithuanian could have preserved a radical variation of *per- (as in per̃-ti) and *per-kw- (as in perkū́nas, with extension of the root by *-kw-). [34] We may compare the radical variation of *per- and *per-g- as attested within the conjugation of an Armenian verb meaning ‘strike’, hari (aorist) vs. {185|186} harkanem (present). [35] The form *per-g- also survives in Indic Parjánya-, which serves as the Rig-Vedic name for the god of the thunderstorm. [36] Also, the internal evidence of Indic suggests that the formation of Parjánya- is deverbative. [37]
In short, the comparative evidence is ambivalent about the etymology of Lithuanian perkū́nas. Forms like Latin Portūnus suggest that perkū́nas is derived from a noun *perkwu- as in Latin quercus ‘oak’. Forms like Slavic perunŭ and Indic parjánya-, on the other hand, imply that the root *per-kw- of perkū́nas is a variant of *per-/*per-g-, meaning ‘strike’. The solution, as Roman Jakobson saw, is that *perkwu- had not always meant ‘oak’. [38] Rather, the noun *perkwu- is derived from a verb *per-kw-’strike’. The oak is named *perkwu-, as in Latin quercus, because it is the tree consecrated to the god who strikes with the thunderbolt. [39] The thematic association of Baltic Perkū́nas and Slavic Perunŭ with the oak serves as corroboration. [40]
The form *perkwu- is also attested in the Old Norse name Fjǫrgyn (feminine), by way of the intermediate form *perkwunī-; the ‘son’ of Fjǫrgyn is Thor the thunder-god (Vǫluspá 56.10, etc.). [41] Considering the thematic associations of the thunder-god Perkūnas with mountaintops, we must also compare the Gothic form fairguni, to be reconstructed as *perkwuni̯o- ‘mountain, mountain-range’. [42] Its form is matched by a {186|187} Celtic name transliterated as Ἑρκυνιο-. [43] Strabo uses the expression Ἑρκύνιος δρυμός ‘Hercynian woodlands’ in referring to the central mountain-range of Germany (4.6.9 C207; 7.1.3, 5 C290, 292). There is also a celebrated reference by Caesar to the Hercynia silva (Bellum Gallicum 6.24.2, 25). The semantic common denominator for the reconstruction *perkwuni̯o- (and feminine *perkwunī/*perkwuni̯ā-) seems to be ‘wooded mountain’. As in the case of oak trees in particular, we may suspect that wooded mountains were likewise consecrated to the god of the thunderbolt. There is also a suggestive morphological parallel, as V. V. Ivanov saw, [44] between *perkwuni̯o- and *meldhuni̯o-: this second formation survives as Old Norse mjǫllnir, the name of Thor’s Hammer. [45]
Roman Jakobson has argued convincingly for another parallel to the Celtic and Germanic reflexes of *perkwuni̯o -, in the Slavic word for ‘wooded hill’, *pergynja from *pergwūni̯ā. [46] We see reflexes in Old Church Slavonic pregynja ‘wooded hill’ and Old Russian peregynja (and various tabu-deformations) ‘wooded hill’, as well as in the Polish and Ukrainian toponomastic evidence. [47] Most important of all, we have it on record in East Slavic documents that Christian churchmen took pains to condemn the actual worship of wooded hills. [48] We may compare the Lithuanian toponym Perkū́nija, designating a spot where a great oak stood and where an idol of Perkūnas was venerated. [49] Besides the thematic parallelism between the Baltic and Slavic words, there is a formal parallelism as well. Both Baltic perkū́nija and Slavic *pergynja have *-ūn- in the suffix and both feature an extension of the root *per-’strike’. The important difference is that the radical extension is *-kw- in Baltic (*per-kw-ūn-) and *-gw-in Slavic (*per-gw-ūn-).
In the Old Russian Chronicles there is an interesting Slavic word closely parallel to the reconstructed *pergynja namely, perynja, along with two variants, реrynǐ and perunǐ; all three are attested in the locative {187|188} expressions na perunĕ, na peryni, na peruni respectively. [50] The usage of these expressions in the chronicles reveals a highly suggestive context: they refer to a hill overlooking Novgorod, on top of which was a sanctuary that harbored, as the chronicles tell us, the idol of Perun himself. [51] Archaeologists have actually found this sanctuary (1951): it is four kilometers south of Novgorod, situated on top of a hill surrounded by the Volxov River, its tributary, and a swamp. [52]
With this much contextual evidence, we can safely follow Roman Jakobson and V. V. Ivanov in linking the Slavic formations perunŭ, perynja/perynĭ/perunĭ, and *pergynja. I should add that we may abandon the notion that perunŭ is a deverbative agent noun. A variation like perynĭ/perunĭ strongly suggests the prehistoric existence of a *perynŭ matching perunŭ. [53] It also suggests, in my opinion, that we are dealing with denominative rather than deverbative forms, built directly from a u-stem noun. [54] We may compare the Latvian variation pḕrkūns/pḕrkuons/pḕrkauns ‘thunderbolt’, [55] The variation pḕrkūns/pḕrkuons in {188|189} Baltic (Latvian) corresponds to the variation perynǐ/perunǐ in Slavic, which in turn implies a variant *perynŭ for perunŭ. [56] In sum, we may reconstruct an underlying noun *peru-/*pergwu- in Slavic, and *perkwu- in Baltic.
The chain of derivation that I have posited for Slavic, verb *per- to noun *peru- to noun *perōuno-, has a close parallel in Hittite: verb tarḫ- to noun tarḫu- to noun tarḫuna-. [57] The verb tarḫ- ‘conquer, overpower, overcome’, comparable in meaning to *per- ‘strike’, has a u-stem derivative tarḫu-, as attested in the derivative tarḫuili- ‘heroic’. [58] The u-stem noun is also attested as Tarḫu-, the name of the Storm-God, who is head of the Luvian pantheon. [59] Moreover, the name Tarḫu- has a derivative, with the same meaning, shaped Tarḫuna. [60]
The derivation of tarḫu- from verb tarḫ- follows a familiar Hittite pattern: we may compare parku- ‘elevated’ from verb park- ‘lift’, ḫuišu- ‘alive’ from verb ḫuiš- ‘live’, and so on. [61] As for the derivation of Tarḫuna- from Tarḫu-, we may compare the form peruna- ‘rock’, derived from peru-’rock’; [62] both forms are used with the prefixed Sumerogram NA4, which also designates ‘rock’ or ‘stone’. The declension of Hittite peru- ‘rock’, {189|190} as we see from dative/locative peruni, reveals an r/n-stem added to the u-stem. [63] Hittite peru- ‘rock’ is cognate with Indic párvan- ‘joint [e.g. of sacrificial animal], knot [in plant]’. [64] The Indic noun can be explained as a derivative of the verb-root *per- ‘go to the end point, go over to the other side, arrive at the other side’, [65] with special reference tο the successful piercing through or cutting through of the body ‘s joints in the context of sacrifice. [66] We may compare the Greek verb peírō, which can mean either ‘pierce’ when the object is the body of a victim or ‘cross over’ when the object is a body of water (as reflected in such derivative nouns as póros). [67] These meanings are pertinent to the semantics of the Hittite verb tarḫ- ‘conquer, overpower, overcome’, from which the name of Tarḫu- the Storm-God is derived: the Indo-European root *terh2- underlying this Hittite verb also carries the meaning ‘cross over’ as in the Indic ap-túr- ‘crossing over the water’, [68] and this meaning applies also in specific contexts of immortalization, as in the Greek nék-tar. [69] Given the parallelism between the sense of ‘cross over’ in the verb-root *terh2- and the sense of ‘go to the end point, go over to the other side, arrive at the other side’ in the verb-root *per-, we arrive at a better understanding of the etymology of Greek Ēlúsion, designating both the place where a thunderbolt has struck and the place of immortalization, ‘Elysium’: [70] this noun-formation is derived from -ḗlutho-, from the conjugation ἔρχομαι/ἐλεύσομαι in the sense of ‘arrive’. [71] Also, given the parallelism between the Hittite forms Tarḫu-/Tarḫuna-, designating the Storm-God, and peru-/peruna-, meaning ‘rock’, we may be ready to connect Hittite peruna- ‘rock’ with Slavic perunŭ ‘(god of) thunderbolt’, just as we have connected Latin quercus ‘oak’ with Baltic (Lithuanian) perkū́nas ‘(god of) thunderbolt’. As we have already seen, rocks as well as oaks were sacred to the god of the thunderbolt. [72]
The cognate of Hittite peru- ‘rock’, to repeat, is Indic párvan- ‘joint [e.g. of sacrificial animal], knot [in plant]’, derived from the verb-root *per- meaning ‘go to the end point, go over to the other side, arrive at {190|191} the other side’, with special reference to the successful piercing through or cutting through of the body’s joints in the context of sacrifice. Given the implication of sacred violence in this meaning, we may be justified in identifying this verb-root *per- with the verb-root *per- that we have been defining up to now simply as ‘strike’, attested in the Baltic and the Slavic verbs that yield the words for ‘(god of) thunderbolt’ in these languages. Although I know of no verb shaped *per- in Hittite, we may still cite parḫ-’chase, drive, make (a horse) gallop’. Justas tarḫ- ‘conquer, overpower, overcome’ is traced back to the root *terh2-, so also parḫ- might stem from *perh2-, with radical extension *-h2- added to the *per- which hypothetically survives as peru- ‘rock’. The attested meanings of parḫ- might be secondary to a primary meaning ‘strike’; we may compare the semantics of Lithuanian gìn-ti ‘chase, drive (cattle) to pasture’, [73] cognate with Indic hánti ‘strike, kill’, Hittite kwenzi (same meaning), and so on.
In further support of the derivation of Hittite peruna- from a verb-root *per- ‘strike’, we may consider the Hittite epithet kunkunuizi- (with prefixed Sumerogram NA4 designating ‘rock’ or ‘stone’) as applied to the megalithic monster Ullikummi, who was himself born of a huge piruna- (= peruna-) ‘rock’. [74] The form kunkunuzzi- is an instrument-noun derived from the verb kwenzi ‘strike, kill’. [75] In the Indic Rig-Veda the cognate verb hánti ‘strike, kill’ regularly denotes the action of the thunderbolt. [76] For the reduplication in kun-kun-uzzi-, we may compare a South Slavic form related to perunŭ, per-per-una, which is a name for a virgin chosen to dance for rain: [77] “nude and draped with flowers she whirls ecstatically in the middle of a ring, invoking in song the sky or Elijah to moisten and fructify the earth.” [78] To repeat; kun-kun-uzzi- is an instrument-noun; [79] accordingly, we might have expected the word to designate a weapon—maybe even a projectile at that. Instead, it designates an animated boulder that is destined to be smitten by the Storm-God. [80]
There is a comparable ambiguity in Old Norse: hamarr may mean ‘rock, boulder, cliff’ as well as ‘hammer’; the former meaning is attested {191|192} in toponyms like Hammerfest. Conversely, Lithuanian akmuõ ‘rock, stone’ is cognate with Greek ákmōn, which means not ‘hammer’ but ‘anvil’. To complicate matters further, there are traces of the meaning ‘thunderbolt’ in the usage of ákmōn in Homeric and Hesiodic diction. [81] We even hear of a god Akmōn, father of Ouranós ‘Sky’ (Alcman PMG 61). Also, in a sixteenth-century account of pagan Lithuanian practices, there is a god (mentioned alongside Perkūnas himself) who is named Akmo and who is described as saxum grandius. [82] Amidst all this complicated evidence, we must keep in mind the basic ambiguity, namely, that the word for the thunder-weapon is being applied to the thunder-target itself; also, that the meaning may become simplified to the extent of designating merely the weapon or the target, without any overt message about the thunderstroke itself.
As further illustration of the weapon/target ambiguity, we may consider the Indic noun áśman-, cognate of Greek ákmōn and Lithuanian akmuõ. This word is used in the Rig-Veda to designate the weapon of Indra (2.30.5, 4.22.1, 7.104.19). The activities of Indra, this national war-god, are as a rule described in a specialized language that is so highly stylized that it tends to blur the naturalistic aspects of his background as thunder-god, more visible in his counterpart Parjánya-. [83] Nevertheless, the basic naturalistic attributes of Indra persist in the Rig-Veda: he gives rain (4.26.2, etc.), lightning comes from him (2.13.7), he is likened to a thundering cloud-driver (6.44.12), and he is specifically described as equal to Parjanya at raintime (8.6.1). Indra’s weapon is predominantly called the vájra-, which, in keeping with the stylistic specialization of his descriptions, has become Indra’s personal distinguishing feature in the diction of the Rig-Veda. Like its owner, however, the vájra-, too, has natural attributes that persist: it thunders (1.100.13) and roars (2.11.10). With this vájra- of his, Indra conventionally strikes boulders and thereby releases water or light—a theme so common that any listing of the attestations would be superfluous. [84] Suffice it to note here that one of the words for ‘boulder’ in the Rig-Veda is áśman- (1.130.3, etc.), the same word that can also designate Indra’s weapon (again, 2.30.5, etc.). [85] {192|193}
In addition, we should consider a far more common word for ‘boulder’ in the Rig-Veda, a word that is actually derived from párvan-, the Indic cognate of Hittite peru- ‘rock’. [86] The word in question is párvata-’boulder’. The párvata- that Indra strikes with his vájra- is often a metaphorical substitute for ‘cloud’. [87] In the diction of the Rig-Veda, the description of streams that burst forth from a smashed boulder is conventionally made parallel to the description of rain flowing from clouds. [88] In the description of rain, the expression ā́divó br̥hatáh ‘from the high Heaven’ is parallel to parvátādā́ ‘from the Boulder’ (5.43.11). [89] Indra conventionally smites (verb hánti) the Serpent on the párvata- (1.32.1, etc.), which in such contexts İs traditionally rendered as ‘mountain’. [90] In fact, párvata- is frequently in apposition to the noun girí- ‘mountain’ (1.37.7, etc.). Alternatively, it is the Demon called Vr̥tra whom Indra smites (verb hánti) on the párvata-; in the process, Indra İs also described as smashing the párvata- directly and thus bringing water (1.32.1, 1.57.6). [91]
The mighty Indra not only smashes the párvata-: at times he is actually likened to it, as in the expression
párvato dharúṇeṣu ácyutaḥ
Rig-Veda 1.52.2
like a párvata-, unshakable in his fortifications
There is also a personified Parvata, who is Indra’s alter ego (Rig-Veda 1.32.6, etc.) or his antagonist (8.3.19). Finally, párvata- may refer to Indra’s weapon itself: {193|194}
abhí jahi rakṣásah párvatena
Rig-Veda 7.104.19
smite [verb hán-] the demons with your párvata- [92]
As Louis Renou remarks in his study (with Emile Benveniste) of Vr̥tra and Vr̥trahan in the Rig-Veda, there is a curious fact about the attributes proper to Indra the Vr̥trahan or ‘Vr̥tra-killer’: these same attributes are also proper to his arch-antagonist, V̥rtra. [93] I would add, from a distinct set of myths, the case of párvata-, a word that stands for either Indra’s target (‘rock, boulder, mountain’) or his weapon [94] and which is also suitable for comparison with the very likeness of the fulminating Almighty in the myths of the Indic peoples. [95]
No survey of forms related to Baltic (Lithuanian) perkū́nas and Slavic perunŭ can be definitive without mention of the Greek form keraunós, which likewise designates not only the thunderbolt but also the god of the thunderbolt. At Mantineia in ancient Arcadia, for example, Keraunós was the epithet of Zeus himself (IG V 2.288). From not only the functional but also the formal point of view, it has been observed, keraunós seems parallel to Slavic perunŭ. [96] One explanation that has been offered is to reconstruct perunŭ as *peraunos, to which keraunós would correspond as a tabu rhyme-word of the type Donnerledder for Donnerwetter. [97] According to this scheme, keraunós consists of root *ker- as in keraízō ‘destroy, ravage’ plus the suffix *-aunos, which is patterned to rhyme with the *-aunos of *per-aunos; [98] the earlier suffixal pattern, the argument goes, is *ker-u- as in Indic śáru- ‘missile, arrow’. [99]
I see at least two disadvantages to this explanation. First, the reconstruction *au in *per-aunos is puzzling from the standpoint of Indo-European morphology. Second, we can account for the *au of keraunós {194|195} more easily in terms of the Greek language itself. The noun keraunós may be formed from the base *kerau̯- as attested in the Homeric verb keraízō ‘destroy, ravage’. [100] The base *kerau̯- (from *kerh2u-) contains the root *kerh2-, [101] clearly visible in the Indic verb śr̥ṇā́ti ‘shatter’ (from *kr̥-n-eh2-ṷ). [102] In Rig-Veda 3.30.17, this verb actually denotes the action of Indra’s bolt against his adversaries, described in metaphorical language that pictures them as trees rather than men. Finally, we may note the apparent formal parallelism between Greek keraunós (from *kerh2-ṷ-) and Hittite tarḫuna- (from *terh2-u̯-).
Even if keraunós may not be formally connected with Baltic perkū́nas and Slavic perunŭ, perhaps teipikéraunos can. Like Homeric argikeraunós ‘he whose thunderbolt shines’ (Iliad XX 16, XXII 178), terpikeraunós too seizes exclusively as an epithet of Zeus himself (VIII 2, XII 252, etc.). In fact, the two epithets are formulaic variants. We may note, too, the synchronic morphological parallelism between terpi- and argi- (from *h2ergi-; cf. Hittite ḫarki- ‘bright’). If we set up a reconstruction *kwerpi- for terpi-, then we may recover an earlier *perkwi- by way of metathesis. [103] If argikéraunos means ‘he whose bolt shines’, perhaps terpikéraunos means ‘he whose bolt strikes’. [104]
The time has come to ask why oaks and rocks should be singled out for a sacral affinity with the thunderbolt to such an extent that their designations are interchangeable in various Indo-European languages. From our own secular standpoint, it is obvious that rocks, boulders, trees, hills, or mountains are targets of lightning by virtue of their elevation or prominence. But there are other factors as well in attracting the stroke of lightning. I would be out of my field in attempting a strictly scientific discussion about these other factors, but they can be in any case easily intuited even by the unscientific mind. For example, it is an observable fact that different kinds of trees have significantly different degrees of susceptibility to being struck by lightning. In a quaint experiment conducted by the Lippe-Detmold’sche Forstverwaltung over the years 1879 to 1890, the following statistics emerge for the susceptibility, {195|196} in a given forest, of certain species of tree to lightning strikes:
  % of all trees in forest number of lightening strikes
oak 11% 56
beech 70% 0
spruce 13% 3 or 4
fir 6% 20 or 21
We may observe especially the dramatic contrast between oaks and beeches—a contrast that was already observed ages earlier through the medium of folklore. In Nordic mythology, for example, Thor the thunder-god smites the giants when they hide under an oak, but he has no power over them when they hide under a beech. [105]
In the logic of myth there is an inference built into the known attraction of oaks to the thunderbolt. There must have been something intrinsic in oak trees that is like the thunderbolt and that therefore attracts it. Also, rocks must have some kindred quality. This quality, I suggest, is potential fire. The Lithuanian thunder-god Perkūnas, for instance, was believed to strike oak trees that have fire stored up inside. [106] Or again, the prime material for the heathen German Notfeuer, equivalent of English willfire, which may be produced only by friction, was oak wood. [107] As for rocks, we may consider again the Byelorussian tradition that pictures Piarun (Perun) rubbing two gigantic millstones together, thus producing thunder and lightning. [108] Indra too brings forth fire áśmanor antár ‘between two rocks’ (Rig-Veda 2.12.3). [109] In sum, those earthbound things that we use to kindle fire and that also attract the thunderbolt must tell us something, by dint of their celestial affinity, about how the fire of the thunderbolt comes about. Conversely, the fact that we can rub fire out of wood and rock suggests that these materials were once infused, perhaps even impregnated, with the stroke of some thunderbolt. [110]
As we shall now see, the infusion of thunder-fire into wood and stone is a sexual and anthropogonic theme. Let us begin with instances of overtly creative themes associated with the thunderbolt. In Indic {196|197} mythology, for example, Indra’s vájra-, his stylized thunderbolt, is not only destructive but also procreative. [111] The Iranian cognate, vazra-, forms a derivative vazraka-, which means ‘endowed with generative power’ in Old Persian. [112] The radical *u̯eg- of vájra/vazra- recurs in the Rig-Vedic word vā́ja- ‘generative power residing in vegetation, cattle, etc.’. [113] It also recurs in Latin uigeō ‘thrive’ and uegeō ‘quicken, arouse’. [114] We may note in this connection the Old Norse lore about Thor’s Hammer, which hallows the laps of brides and has the power of bringing his dead goats back to life. [115] Or we may note a Lithuanian belief, reported by the cleric Matthäus Praetorius (late seventeenth century), that lightning could beget human children in the vicinity where it strikes. [116] Or again, if lightning strikes in the daytime as a child is being born, he will thrive; if it strikes at night, the child will die. [117] If a man is struck down in a thunderstorm that is heading west, he dies as a favorite of God; if the thunderstorm was heading east, he has died on account of his sins. [118] Within the framework of this presentation, however, I cannot do justice to the vast subject of the thunderbolt’s destructive/creative ambivalence in Indo-European lore. [119] My main purpose instead is to explore specifically the Indo-European traditions concerning the association of the thunderbolt with trees and rocks, and how the action of a thunderstroke on these materials was believed to be sacral and, more than that, creative.
A belief in the creative and even anthropogonic powers of trees or rocks is indirectly attested in a Greek proverb: surely you or I or anyone else today, the saying has it, were not created either from oaks or from rocks (e.g. {197|198} Plato Apology 34d, Republic 544d; Plutarch Consolation to his Wife 608c; Philostratus Images 2.3.1). By implication, as we shall see, earlier humans had just such origins.
Let us return to our starting point, the passage in the Odyssey where Penelope challenges the disguised Odysseus to reveal his hidden identity by revealing his lineage (xix 162). She adds the following words:
οὐ γὰρ ἀπὸ δρυὸς ἐσσὶ παλαιφάτου οὐδ’ ἀπὸ πέτρης
Odyssey xix 163
For surely you are not from an oak, as in the old stories, or from a rock.
The context of Penelope’s utterance reveals a detached attitude, on her own part, toward an old myth. The narrative that frames Penelope’s words is itself merely alluding to a theme, without going into details that seem inappropriate to an epic situation. The epithet palaíphatos ‘spoken of a long time ago’, which may be interpreted as referring to both ‘oak’ and ‘rock’, is a self-conscious poetic allusion to a genre other than epic. Elsewhere in Homeric diction, the adjective palaíphato- is used exclusively to describe thésphata, which may be defined as ‘words of a mántis [seer] or of one who functions as a mántis’. [120]
In Hesiodic poetry as well, there is a fastidious attitude toward treating the theme of oaks and rocks with any references that would go beyond mere allusion. There is a passage in the Theogony (31-34) where the poet has just told how the Muses infused in him the power to sing about {198|199} past and future things, and about the origins of the gods; also, to start and end the song by singing of the Muses themselves. The poet then breaks off with these words:
ἀλλὰ τίη μοι ταῦτα περὶ δρῦv ἢ περὶ πέτρην;
Hesiod Theogony 35
But why do I have these things about the oak or about the rock?
With this utterance, the narration is pausing to take a self-conscious look at the point that has been reached so far in the composition of the Theogony. In the next verse, the break is followed up with Μουσάων ἀρχώμεθα ‘let us start with the Muses’, the same expression that had inaugurated the Theogony at verse 1. Thus the narration has come full circle from Theogony 1 to 36, and Hesiod “has to make a fresh start on the same lines as before.” [121] Verse 35 actually anticipates that Hesiod is about to make this fresh start with verses 36 and following. For Hesiod to ask in verse 35 why he has “these things about [= going around] [122] the oak or about the rock” is the equivalent of asking why he has lingered at the beginning of beginnings. “Why am I still going around, as it were, the proverbial oak or rock? Let me proceed at last by starting out again!”
Finally, we may consider the passage in Iliad XXII where Hektor is deliberating whether he should throw himself at the mercy of Achilles. He then decides against taking this course of action, saying to himself:
ἀλλά τίη μοι ταῦτα φίλος διελέξατο θυμός;
Iliad XXII 122
But why do I have these things to talk about with my spirit [thūmós]?
Hektor recognizes that Achilles will be merciless and will surely kill him (XXII 123-125). At this point, Hektor expresses his loss of hope in terms of the proverb:
οὐ μέν πως νῦν ἔστιν ἀπὸ δρυὸς οὐδ’ ἀπὸ πέτρης {199|200}
τῷ ὀαριζέμεναι
Iliad XXII 126-127
It is by now impossible to converse with him, starting from the oak or from the rock. [123]
In other words, it is no use to begin at the beginning with Achilles. There is no more time to make a fresh start of things.
In these three poetic contexts the proverbial oak or rock connotes not only temporal but also cultural remoteness. In all three instances elaboration on the theme is studiously avoided as if it were inappropriate, perhaps even too primitive. The theme is indeed “primitive,” in the sense that we can find it commonly attested in the widest spectrum of societies. In the mythmaking traditions of many peoples of the world, it is a recurrent theme that humankind originated from trees or rocks. [124] A comparable theme can be reconstructed in the traditions of Indo-European languages as well. [125] From the Germanic evidence, we may note in particular the following reflexes of the root *perkw-: Old Norse fjǫr ‘life’; Old English feorh ‘life, soul’ and fíras ‘men’; and so on. [126] From the Celtic, there are such examples as the Old Irish name Macc Daro ‘son of oak’, Mace Cairthin (also the Ogam genitive Maqi Cairatini) ‘son of rowan-tree’, Macc Ibair ‘son of yew’, and so on. [127] There is also a wealth of further evidence, such as the testimony of Lithuanian folk songs. [128]
Instead of going further with illustrations, however, I simply return to the cenital point lo be made. We have observed an ambivalence in the application of Indo-European *per(kw)u- to oaks in some languages {200|201} (Latin quercus) and to rocks in others (Hittite peru). This etymological ambivalence, we now see, is matched by the thematic ambivalence in the obsolescent ancient Greek proverb alluding to the myth that humankind originated either from oaks or from rocks—whichever of the two. The unifying theme that resolves these two cases of ambivalence, I am suggesting, is the creative action of the Indo-European thunder-god, whose very name is formed from the derivatives of *per(kw)u- in Baltic (Perkū́nas) and Slavic (Perunǔ). {201|202}


[ back ] 1. Frazer 1930.224-225; also 90, 92, 151, 155 (trees) and 106, 131, 187-188 (rocks/stones).
[ back ] 2. Frazer p. 90.
[ back ] 3. Cf. Frazer pp. 220-221.
[ back ] 4. Bachelard 1949, esp. pp. 45-47.
[ back ] 5. Cf. Dworak 1938, esp. p. 1.
[ back ] 6. For the difficult task of establishing the etymological links between these words, I cite the parthfinding work of Ivanov 1958 and Ivanov and Toporov 1970, folloing Jakobson 1950, 1955; cf. Watkins 1966.33-34, 1970.350, 1974.107. Book-length treatment in Ivanov and Toporov 1974.
[ back ] 7. Cf. REW s.v. perún.
[ back ] 8. The testimonia have beeen assembled by Gimbutas 1967.741-742.
[ back ] 9. Cf. Darkevič 1961.91-102.
[ back ] 10. Cf. Ivanov and Toporov 1968, 1970.
[ back ] 11. Ivanov and Toporov 1970.1182.
[ back ] 12. Seržputovski 1930.26 (I no. 268); cf. Ivanov and Toporov p. 1194.
[ back ] 13. Cf. the expression Pērkōns męt savu milnu ‘Pērkōns throws his mace’ (Ivanov and Toporov p. 1195). Note that milna ‘mace’ is related to Old Norse mjǫllnir, the word for the hammer of Thor the thunder-god. Note, too, that Thor’s mother is Fjǫrgyn (from *perkunī). On these forms: Ivanov 1958.104.
[ back ] 14. Balys 1937.163 nos. 233-236; also p. 149 nos. 4-5. Cf. Ivanov Toporov p. 1182.
[ back ] 15. For an attestation of this believ, see the first-person account of the cleric Matthäus Praetorius (late seventeenth century) of his encounter with some Lithuanian woodcutters, as reprinted in Mannhardt 1936.533-535. For the relative reliability of Praetorius, see Mannhardt pp.519-520.
[ back ] 16. Balys 1937.163 no. 246; cf. Ivanov and Toporov p. 1184.
[ back ] 17. Balys p. 163 no. 241; cf. Ivanov and Toporov p. 1184
[ back ] 18. Šmits 1940.1401; cf. Ivanov and Toporov p. 1184
[ back ] 19. Balys 1937.158 no. 141 and p. 197 no. 802; cf. Ivanov and Toporov pp. 1193-1194.
[ back ] 20. For a detailed account by Matthäus Praetorius, see Mannhardt 1936.539-540 (cf. Ivanov and Toporov p. 1189). Perkūnas was venerated with perpetual fires fueled by ‘oak wood (for documentation, see Mannhardt pp. 196, 335, 435, 535, etc.). When Christian zealots extinguished such perpetual fires, the natives believed that Perkūnas would freeze (Mannhardt p. 436).
[ back ] 21. Mannhardt p. 196; cf. Ivanov and Toporov p. 1187. For a balanced account of Grunau’s basic reliability, see Krollmann 1927.14-17. Without reading Krollmann, we would be prone to overinterpret the severe judgment of Jaskiewicz 1952.92-93, who was primarily concerned with the unreliability of a later writer, Jan Lasicki (late sixteenth century). Krollmann argues cogently the unlikelihood of Grunau’s having "invented" a Prussian system of gods modeled on a Nordic scheme. It strains credulity to imagine that this wandering beggar-monk (who even spoke Prussian himself) would have created a pastiche based on Adam of Bremen (Krollmann pp. 15-17). Krollmann’s inference, however, that the Prussian religious practices described by Grunau were borrowed from Nordic culture (p. 17) is gratuitous, As for Jaskiewicz, I find in his brief discussion of Grunau no facts to support his contention that Grunau’s account of Perkūnas and the ‘oak is mere phantasmagoria (pp. 92-93). For a balanced evaluation of Grunau’s reliability, see Puhvel 1974.
[ back ] 22. Ivanov and Toporov pp. 1183-1184.
[ back ] 23. Seržputovski 1930.9 no. 49; cf. also p. 8 nos. 37-48. Cf. also Ivanov and Toporov pp.1193-1194.
[ back ] 24. Balys 137.159 nos. 155-164; cf. Ivanov and Toporov p. 1194.
[ back ] 25. Mannhardt 1936.539-540.
[ back ] 26. Ivanov and Toporov p. 1193.
[ back ] 27. REW s.v. perún.
[ back ] 28. Also Russian peru/prat’, Czech peru/prati, etc.; cf. Lithuanian per̃-ti ‘strike’. For a typical example of the agent-suffix -unŭ, cf. Russian begún ‘runner’ from begat’ ‘run’.
[ back ] 29. Schulze 1929.287. Cf. also Latin tribūnus from tribus, lacūna from lacus, and so on.
[ back ] 30. DELL, s.v. For a survey of Germanic cognates meaning ‘oak’ or ‘fir’, see the discussion of Friedrich 1970.136-137. For the semantic shift from ‘oak’ to ‘fir’, see Friedrich p. 13Gn30; also Vendryes 1927.314-315 and Güntert 1914.214.
[ back ] 31. Specht 1932.215: e.g. karaliū́nas ‘prince’ from karãlius ‘king’.
[ back ] 32. Otrębski 1965.206; the suffix -ūnas too may be denominative (Otrębski p. 207), but the point remains that -ū́nas cannot be deverbative.
[ back ] 33. LEW s.v.
[ back ] 34. LEW s.v.; cf. Meillet 1926.171.
[ back ] 35. Meillet p. 171 and LEW s.v. For the derivative orot ‘thunder’, see Lidén 1906.88ff.
[ back ] 36. Meillet p. 171 and KEWA s.v.
[ back ] 37. We may note that -áni- is a deverbative formant of abstract nouns and adjectives, suchas śar-áṇi- ‘malice’ from śr̥- ‘destroy’ and sakṣ-áni- ‘overpowering’ from sah- ‘overpower’.For more examples, see Wackernagel and Debrunner 1954.207, where it is pointed out that abstract nouns in *eni- arc also a productive category in Germanic. (The type -áni- becomes infinitival in Indic, and some nouns in -ani- seem to be formed by way of infinitives in -áni-: see Renou 1937, esp. pp. 73-78.) There are two especially interesting examples: -áni- ‘thunderbolt’ and ar-áṇi- ‘wood for obtaining fire by friction’ (on which see p. 156). In neither case has the respective verb of these derivatives even survived in Indic. Sometimes the suffix -áni- is found with the accentuation -aní-, as in kṣip-aní- ‘stroke of the whip’ from kṣip- ‘hurl’ and dyot-aní- ‘brightness’ from dyut- ‘shine’. The point is, the suffixes -anyà- (= -anía-) and -ánya- seem to be derivatives of -aní- and -áni- respectively. (For the derivation of i̯o-stems from i-stems, cf. Wackernagel and Debrunner pp. 778, 804, 816-817; also Benveniste 1935.73-74.) For examples of the suffix -anya-, we may adduce nabh-anya- ‘bursting forth’ from nabh- ‘burst’ and abhy-ava--nyà- ‘apportioning’ from abhy-ava-dhā- ‘apportion’; cf. Wackernagel and Debrunner p. 212. In sum, I interpret parj-ánya- as ‘striking, the striker’, from *perg- ‘strike’.
[ back ] 38. Jakobson 1955.
[ back ] 39. Jakobson 1955. LEW 574 also connects the following words containing the root *per-: Lithuanian pérgas ‘Einbaum, Fischerkahn’, Old English fercal ‘bolt’, Latin реrgula ‘projection from an edifice’. We may perhaps add Czech prkno ‘board’. For the semantics, cf. Trautmann 1906. On Indic parkatī, see KEWA s.v.
[ back ] 40. Here we have the central point of Ivanov and Toporov 1970.
[ back ] 41. Meid 1957.126; Ivanov 1958.105; Güntert 1914.213.
[ back ] 42. Ivanov 1958.104-104, 107; for a discussion of related forms in Germanic, see Feist 1939 s.vv. fairguni and fairhvus; I draw attention to the delabialization of *kw to *k: *perkwun- to *perkun-.
[ back ] 43. Ivanov 1958.104-105, 107; Watkins 1966.33-34; Meid 195.284-285.
[ back ] 44. Ivanov 1958.104.
[ back ] 45. Cf. p. 183n13. The formal type *perkwŭ-ni̯o- is worth contrasting with the type *perkwū-no- as in Lithuanian perkū́nas, where the derivation from *perkwu- is accompanied by lengthening of the *-u-. The same kind of lengthening, as we have already noted, occurs in Latin: Роrt-ūnus from portus, trib-ūnus from tribus, and so on. A comparable kind of non-lengthening pattern as in *perkwŭ-ni̯o- is evident in Indic: árjuna- ‘bright’ (cf. Greek árgǔ-ros, árgǔ-phos); cf. also the inner-lndic derivative patterns śmaśrǔ-- ‘bearded’ from śmaśrǔ-’beard’, dārú-na-’sturdy’ from dā́ru- ‘wood’, etc. (cf. Wackernagel and Debrunner 1954.485-486, 734; Meid 1956.270, 280).
[ back ] 46. Jakobson 1955; cf. also Ivanov 1958.107-108, pace Vaillant 1948.
[ back ] 47. Jakobson 1955.
[ back ] 48. Mansikka 1922.305; Jakobson 1955.616.
[ back ] 49. See p. 184.
[ back ] 50. Ivanov 1958.107.
[ back ] 51. Mansikka 1922.65, 380; Ivanov p. 107.
[ back ] 52. Jakobson 1955.615, Gimbutas1967.742.
[ back ] 53. Ivanov 1958.106-107. We may compare the variation in the Slavic word for ‘wormwood’, *pelynŭ/pelunŭ, as attested in Old Church Slavonic pelynŭ, Polish piołyn/piołun, Czech pelyn/pelun, and so on. Cf. Būga 1959 [1921].332; cf. also Meid 1956.273-274.
[ back ] 54. I reconstruct Slavic -ynŭ/-unŭ as *-ūnos/*-ōunos, on the basis of comparative evidence from Baltic, especially Latvian. For the clearest example available, I note that the Latvian u-stem noun vìrsus ‘summit’ has the variant derivatives vìrsūne and vìrsuone, both likewise meaning ‘summit’ (LDW 4:616). We may compare Lithuanian viršū́ne ‘summit’, from viršùs ‘summit’. Such an alternation -ūn-/-uon- clearly suggests an earlier *-ūn-/-ōun- (Endzelin 1923.235, 240; cf. Meid 1956.276 on the type υἱύς/υἱωνός; the negative arguments of Schmeja 1963.40-41 are based mainly on the relative dearth of positive evidence in Greek). Latvian also shows a third variant, vìrsaune (LDW 4:610-611), which is significant because inherited *ōu has a bivalent reflex in Baltic, au as well as uo (Stang 1966.47-48, 75-76). We see the ū/uo/au alternation not only in derivatives of u-stems such as vìrsūne/vìrsuone/vìrsaune but also in the actual declension of both Lithuanian and Latvian u-stems (Slang pp. 75-76). And it so happens that we find the same ū/uo/au alternation in the attested Latvian variants of the word for ‘thunderbolt’, pḕrkūns/pḕrkuons/pḕrkauns (LDW 3:208-209); besides these o-stems, we also find the i̯о-stems pę̄ rkūnis/pę̄rkuonis/pę̄rkaunis (LDW 3:208-209).
[ back ] 55. See the previous note. Of these three formations, it is pḕrkuons that prevails in the standard language (spelled pērkōns), largely because agent-nouns in -uons are a productive category in Latvian (the suffix -uonis is likewise productive in Latvian; cf. Lithuanian -uonis, which is produtive, whereas -uonas, cognate of Latvian -uons, is not). Specht I932 (240-241, 259, 264-265, etc.) has demonstrated that the suffix -uons of such agent-nouns is derived ultimately from *-ōn- (as in Greek -ων); the *-ōn- is clearly attested in older Lithuanian –; the replacement pattern that prevailed in this language is not the o-stem -uonas but the i̯o-stem -uonis (unlike Latvian, where -uons and -uonis coexist). Specht’s demonstration, however, need not lead to the inference that Latvian pḕrkuons, as distinct from pḕrkūns, is not an inherited form. It is simply a matter of phonological ambiguity in Baltic (both *ōu and *ō yield uo), which has led to a morphological reinterpretation. The variant pḕrkuons prevails over pḕrkūns because its suffix -uons, which I reconstruct as *-ōunos, now has the same familiar shape as the productive formant of agent-nouns, -uons as derived from *-ōnos. Let us contrast a situation where we find no such inherent parallelism, as in the case of vìrsūne/vìrsuone/virsaune, discussed in the previous note: bere the form that prevails is vìrsaune, not vìrsuone (for all the forms, see LOW 4:610-611). In considering the displacement of pḕrkūns by pḕrkuons in Latvian, we should note, too, that this language does not have a productive category of agent-nouns in -ūns. Conversely. Lithuanian perkū́nas can prevail over perkuonas because the language has no productive category of agent-nouns in -uonas (from *-ōnos); rather, the productive suffixes are -uonis and –ūnas. For vestiges of perkuonas (and viršuone) in Old Lithuanian, see Specht p. 265.
[ back ] 56. Just as Latvian pḕrkuons prevails over pḕrkūns because of the productive agent-suffix -uons (see previous note), so also we may say that Slavic perunŭ prevails over *perynŭ because its suffix -unŭ, which I reconstruct as *-ōunos, is shaped like an agent-suffix that is productive in Slavic, -unŭ. In this case, I prefer to reconstruct the deverbative agent-suffix also as *-ōunos, the same suffix that is derived from u-stem nouns. In other words, deverbative -unŭ was once denominative (cf. Specht 1932.268). We may compare Lithuanian -ūnas and -uonis, which are still denominative as well as deverbative, as distinct from -ū́nas, which is formally marked for an exclusively denominative category (cf. Specht pp. 240-241; also Meid 1956.268-270).
[ back ] 57. This is not to say that e.g. *terh2u- cannot be a verb-formation (cf. Hittite tarḫuzzi, Indic tárute, tū́rvati, etc.).
[ back ] 58. Laroche 1958.90. Also Watkins 1990.
[ back ] 59. Laroche pp. 91-95; on Tarḫunt- and the thunderbolt, see Laroche p. 95. Cf. Watkins 1974.107. Cf. also p. 131.
[ back ] 60. Laroche pp. 93, 94.
[ back ] 61. Laroche p. 90. As for the vocalism of tarḫ-, etc., Kuryłowicz 1958.228 observes that roots ending in –erC tend to generalize the zero-grade in Hittite (-R̥C> -arC, where R = r, l, m, n and C = other consant).
[ back ] 62. Laroche p. 90. Also spelled piruna- and piru-.
[ back ] 63. Hoffmann 1975 [1974].332,336.
[ back ] 64. Hoffmann pp. 332, 336.
[ back ] 65. Bergren 1975.62-101, esp. p. 95.
[ back ] 66. Bergren pp. 67-78, esp. pp. 68-69 on Rig-Veda 1.61.12, where Indra hurls his thunderbold at Vr̥tra in order to sever his joints (noun párvan), much as the joints of an ox are severed; cf. also Hoffmann 1975 [1974].332.
[ back ] 67. Cf. DELG 871. Detailed discussion of the semantics in Bergren pp. 95-101.
[ back ] 68. See p. 139.
[ back ] 69. See p. 139. Cf. aso. p. 156n49 on Indic taráni- in the sense of ‘ship’.
[ back ] 70. See p. 140.
[ back ] 71. On the level of form, this derivation of Ēlúsion is corroborated by DELG 411; my interpretation of the meaning, however, differs from that of DELG.
[ back ] 72. See pp. 184ff.
[ back ] 73. Cf. also the derivative naktì-gonis ‘night-herder of horses’: LEW 152.
[ back ] 74. For the Ullikummi texts, see Güterbock 1952, esp. pp. 37, 146-147.
[ back ] 75. Ivanov 1958.110, Ivanov and Toporov 1970.1196-1197.
[ back ] 76. Grassmann 1873 s.v. han-, the attestations labeled "1."
[ back ] 77. Jakobson 1955.616, with a list of tabu-variants.
[ back ] 78. Jakobson 1950.1026.
[ back ] 79. For another example of Hittite instrument-noun in –uzzi-: išḫuzzi- ‘belt’, vs verb išḫiya- ‘bind’.
[ back ] 80. Sec Güterbock 1952.6. The Storm-God is written with the Sumerogram dU, but the Ullikummi texts (as well as others) reveal the Hittite ending -unaš; сf. Güterbock p. 4n14. The full form is probably Tarḫunaš (Laroche 1958.94-95).
[ back ] 81. Whitman 1970, esp. pp. 39-40.
[ back ] 82. Rostowski’s history of the Jesuit Order in Lithuania (1538): see Mannhardt 1936.435 and Reichelt 1913.26. On the related subject of Iuppiter Lapis, see Schwenck 1859.393-394. Cf. also the Laconian cult stone known as Zeùs Kappṓtās (Pausanias 3.22.1).
[ back ] 83. On this figure, see p. 180. For a balanced discussion of the naturalism surrounding the Parjánya- figure, see Lommel 1939.38—44. For a contrast of the naturalistic/nonnaturalistic descriptions of Parjanya/lndra, see Oldenberg 1917.137. The relative dearth of naturalism in descriptions of Indra results from intense stylistic elaboration and evolution, not shared by the far less developed Parjanya figure.
[ back ] 84. For a survey, see Rechelt 1913.34-37.
[ back ] 85. In Rig-Veda 2.12.3, Indra brings forth fire áśmanor antár ‘between two rocks’. Ivanov and Toporov 1970.1195-119 compare the Byelorussian theme where Perun (piarun) rubs two gigantic millstones together, thus producing thunder and lightning.
[ back ] 86. See pp. 189ff.
[ back ] 87. See again Lommel 1939.42-43. In a few passages, áśman- allows the interpretation‘sky’ (e.g. Rig-Veda 7.88.2; but see Geldner 1951 2:259 and Kniper 1964.111n80). Reichelt1913 has argued that áśman- could be used with the meaning ‘sky’ as well as ‘stone’ becausethe sky was thought to have a stone vault once upon a time. We may compare especiallyAvestan asan-/asman -’rack, stone, sky’ (Bartholomae 1904.207-208). For typological parallels from Africa, see Baumann 1936.146-147. Although Reichelt’s presentation is persuasive, there is another way to explain the meaning ‘sky’. If ‘rock’ equals ‘cloud’ by way of metaphor, the notion of ‘cloud’ could easily evolve into ‘sky’. We may compare Hittite nepiš ‘sky’ and Slavic nebo ‘sky’ vs. Indic nábhas ‘cloud’ and Greek néphos ‘cloud’; cf. alsoMiddle English sky ‘cloud’ or ‘sky’.
[ back ] 88. For Slavic parallels: Ivanov and Toporov 1970.1193. For typological parallels in African myth and ritual: Hocart 1936.56.
[ back ] 89. Lommel 1939.42-43.
[ back ] 90. See Geldner 1951 1:36, etc.
[ back ] 91. See Benveniste and Renou 1934.147n1.
[ back ] 92. In the same stanza, Indra’s weapon is called áśman-: see Reichelt 1913.44-45. Cf. also Rig-Veda 2.30.5, 4.22.1. On the Germanie theme οf the whetstone as a symbol of authority, see Mitchell 1985.
[ back ] 93. Benveniste and Renou 1934.138.
[ back ] 94. For Slavic parallels, see Ivanov and Toporov 1970.1193-1195.
[ back ] 95. Ivanov 1958.110 adduces the name of the Anatolian deity Pirwa- (on whom see Otten 1951), deriving it from *peru̯-o-. We may note too the Hittite collocation ḫé-kur -ir-wa (cf. Goetze 1954.356n54), with the ḫé-kur preceded by the Sumerogramd, which designates ‘rock’ or ‘stone’, and will) -ir-wa once preceded by the Sumerogramd; the noun ḫekur means ‘summit, mountain’.
[ back ] 96. Güntert 1914.215-216.
[ back ] 97. Güntert pp. 215-216, 221.
[ back ] 98. Güntert p. 216. Outside of keraunós, we find no instance of suffixal –aunos in Greek. The word púraunos (Pollux 6.88, 10.104) must be a compound formed with the verb aúō (on this word see Borthwick 1969).
[ back ] 99. Güntert p. 216.
[ back ] 100. DELG 519. From the evidence of such pairs as daíō (from *dau̯i̯ō) vs. daízō, we may expect an earlier form *kerau̯i̯ō: cf. GEW 822.
[ back ] 101. For reflexes of *h2u̯- as au in Greek roots, cf. both GEW and DELG s.v. kaíō (cf. also the discussion of Schmeja 1963.29-32).
[ back ] 102. See KEWA s.v. śr̥nā́ti.
[ back ] 103. Cf. artkópos ‘baker’ from *artokwopos, by metathesis from *artopokwos (on which see DELG 118)
[ back ] 104. Alternatively, terpikéraunos may be explained as the reflex of an expressive reduplication *kwerpi-ker(p)aunos, with the dissimilation of *kw…*kw to *kw…k, from an earlier form *kwer(p)aunos, which in turn would be a tabu-metathesis of *per(kw)aunos (cf. Watkins 1970.350).
[ back ] 105. Grimm 187 3:64. For a survey of connections between the oak and Thor (as well as other Germanic equivalents), see Wagler 1891 2:43-46.
[ back ] 106. See p.183.
[ back ] 107. Kuhn I886, with a discussion of the evidence collected by J. Grimm.
[ back ] 108. See pp. 192-193n85; Ivanov and Toporov 1970.1195-1196.
[ back ] 109. Ivanov and Toporov pp. 1195-1196.
[ back ] 110. In the case of wood, we have just noted a pattern of preference for oak wood as the sacral material for rubbing fire, a pattern that can be correlated with the observably stronger attraction of oak trees to lightning.
[ back ] 111. Survey of relevant passages in Gonda 1954.32-55, esp. pp. 36-37.
[ back ] 112. Liebert 1962.127, who also refutes the reinterpretation as vazarka- (e.g. Bartholomae 1904.1389-1390).
[ back ] 113. Gonda 1954.43ff; Liebert p. 145. Otherwise Watkins 1986.325 and 327, with the· references at n10.
[ back ] 114. Gonda pp. 43ff. For the vocalisms uig-/ueg-, see Watkins I973a.
[ back ] 115. Davidson 1965.11-14.
[ back ] 116. Reprinted in Mannhardt 1936.538.
[ back ] 117. Mannhardt p. 538.
[ back ] 118. Mannhardt p. 538.
[ back ] 119. More on this subject in Gonda 1954.36-37. Also, we may note that the derivation of neuter śárīra- ‘body’ from the root *kerh2- of śr̥nā́ti ‘shatter’ is accepted as plausible in KEWA s.v. śárīra- (on the associations of the verb śr̥nā́ti ‘shatter’ with the thunderbolt at Rig-Veda 3.30.17, see p. 195). We may compare the etymological explanation of Latin corpus as if derived, albeit indirectly, from the root *per-kw- (see Vendryes 1927.315). It may be possible to link the verb śr̥nā́ti not only with śárīra- ‘body’ but also with śáru- ‘missile, arrow’ (on which see p. 194), a word used for comparisons with the thunderbolt in the Rig-Veda (1.172.2, etc.). Perhaps also with śará- ‘reed’ and śáras- ‘ashes’ (cf. KEWA s.v.). In view of the latter meaning, ‘ashes’, it may be pertinent to cite the reflex of the root *perkw- in Lithuanian pir̃kšnys ‘glowing ashes’ (cf. LEW s.v. pir̃kšnys) and possibly also in Old Irish richis ‘glowing coals, live ember’.
[ back ] 120. See Odyssey ix 507, xiii 172. For the mantic connotations of thésphata, see especially ix 507, xi 151. In connection with the mantic concept, we may note the form of the place-name, Perkṓtē, as attested at Iliad II 835. A mántis ‘seer’ by the name of Mérops is identified as Perkṓsios ‘from Perkṓtē̕ at Iliad 831-832 (Μέροπος Περκωσίου, ὃς περὶ πάντων | ᾔδεε μαντοσύνας). The form Perkṓtē perhaps be reconstructed as *perkō[u]tā (for the phonology, cf. Vine 1982.42-43 on Greek plōtḗr), to be derived from an earlier u-stem noun *perku- (from *perkwu-) ‘oak’, We may note too that méropes is a common Homeric epithet for ánthrōpoi ‘humans’ (cf. Koller 1968) and that the sons of Mérops Perkṓsios are said to hold sway over a place called Pitúeia, at Iliad II 829. The latter name is surely derived from the noun pítus ‘pine’. We may perhaps compare the semantic oscillation between ‘oak’ and ‘fir’, on which see p. 185n30. What we see in these associations are perhaps traces of an ancient local myth that equated the First Man with the First Mántis ‘Seer’. On the anthropogonic theme of First Man as First Sacrificer, cf. pp. 110 and following. Given the anthropogonic themes inherent in the possible etymology of ánthrōpos as ‘he who has the looks of embers’ (p. 151n30), we may consider the possible etymology of mérops as ‘he who has glowing looks’; cf. Merópē as the name of a star at Hesiod F 169.3 MW. I suggest that Μαῖα, the name of another star mentioned in Hesiod F I69.3, be emended to Μαῖρα = Maîra, from root *mer- as in marmaírō ‘glow, flash’; cf. maī́rlē ‘embers of charcoal’. The proposed explanation of mérops as ‘he who has glowing looks’ may be pertinent to the discussion of Indic márya- at p. 250.
[ back ] 121. West 1966.170.
[ back ] 122. West p. 169 argues that περί + accusative regularly conveys a positional (‘around’) rather than a conceptual (‘about’) sense in early poetic diction. Perhaps such a formulation is too restrictive: the second sense can he a metaphorical derivative of the first.
[ back ] 123. What follows at Iliad XXII 127-128 is a description of sweet-talk between unmarried lovers, as if such a pair would take their conversation all the way back to the oak and the rock.
[ back ] 124. There is a multiude of African examples collected by Baumann 1936.224-235 (trees), 219-220 (rocks). For a survey οf European examples, cf. Vadé 1977. For traces in Semitic myth: Dirlmeier 1955.25-26. For a convenient bibliography on the general theme of Petra Genitrix, see Eliade 1962.208.
[ back ] 125. Specht 1944. Cf. also Lincold 1985.188n29, with emphasis on parallelisms between cosmogonic and sociogonic themes, especially in Germanic traditions.
[ back ] 126. See also Vendryes 1927.
[ back ] 127. Cf. Loth 1920.122.
[ back ] 128. Cf. Meulen 1907.55-72, 121-169. For a useful statement on tree animism, see esp. his p. 127. For a discussion of myths where humankind originates from the ash tree, see Shannon 1975.44—48, 57, 70. Shannon’s book shows convincingly that such myths are linked to the theme of Achilles’ ash spear in the Iliad. He also points out that, in the Hesiodic Work and Days, it is the gods in general who create the first and second generations of humankind (109-110, 127-128), but it is Zeus in particular who creates the third generation, and this third creation emerges specifically out of ash trees (143-145). Such an association of Zeus himself with the process of creation out of ash trees is significant in view of his epithets keraunós, terpikéraunos, and argikéraunos, as discussed at pp. 194-195.