Cook, Arthur B.
Zeus: a study in ancient religion (Band 1): Zeus god of the bright sky — Cambridge, 1914

Page: 1
DOI Page: Citation link:
License: Creative Commons - Attribution - ShareAlike Use / Order
1 cm



§ I. Zeus and the Daylight.
(a) Zeus the Sky.

The supreme deity of the ancient Greeks, during their historical
period at least, was Zeus. His name, referable to a root that
means ' to shine,' may be rendered ' the Bright One1.' And, since
a whole series of related words in the various languages of the
Indo-Europaean family is used to denote 'day' or 'sky2,' it can
be safely inferred that Zeus was called ' the Bright One' as being
the god of the bright or day-light sky3. Indeed a presumption

1 K. Brugmann Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen
Sprachen'2 Strassburg 1897 i. 204, 210, 263, 276 f., 307, 527, 797, 1906 ii. 1. 133 f.,
id. Kurze vergleichende Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen Strassburg 1904
p. 312, Schrader Reallex. p. 670, h. Hirt Die Indogermanen Strassburg 1907 ii. 506.
The Greek Zeus and the Old Indian Dyaiis represent an Indo-Europaean *dieu-s from
the root di : die: deia, 'to shine.'

2 This series as collected by Walde Lat. etym. Worterb. s.vv. deus, dies, and Hirt
op. cit. ii. 734 f. includes the following forms : Greek eV&os ' at mid-day,' evdia ' clear
sky'; Latin sub divo 'under the open sky,' dies 'day'; Welsh diw dyw dydd 'day,'
Breton dez 'day,' Cornish det 'day,' Irish indiu 'to-day'; Gothic sin-teins 'daily';
Lithuanian diena, ' day,' Slavonic dini ' day '; Albanian dit? ' day'; Armenian tiv ' day ';
Old Indian diva 'on the day,' divdm, ' day, sky.'

3 Two misleading explanations may here be noted. (1) E. H. Meyer Germanische
Mythologie Berlin 1891 pp. 182, 220 holds that Zeus denotes properly the 'hurler' or
'discharger' of rays (cp. h. Grassmann Worterbuch zum Rig-veda Leipzig 1873—1875
p. 600 s. v. div.) and infers that he must have been the lightning-god, not as is com-
monly supposed the god of bright day-light. But the frequent use of the word dyaus in
the Rig-veda for 'sky' or 'day' (A. A. Macdonell Vedic Mythology Strassburg 1897
p. 21, P. von Bradke Dyaus Asura Halle 1885 p. no) and the existence of the forms
recorded in the foregoing note are conclusive in favour of the common view.

(2) Frazer Golden Bough1 ii. 369, ib.2 iii. 456 f.. suggested that Zeus was named
' Bright' as being the oak-god, i.e. god of the tree whose wood was used in fire-making.
Against this view I protested in the Class. Rev. 1902 xvi. 372, as did Gruppe Gr. Myth.
Rel. p. 1100 n. 2. And Frazer op. cit? ii. 358 n. 1 admits that he 'was disposed to set
aside much too summarily what may be called the meteorological side of Zeus and
Jupiter,' though he still regards the oak-tree as the primary, not a secondary, element in
their composite nature (ib. ii. 373 ff.). I now hold, and shall hope in vol. ii of the
present work to show, that the oak was originally the tree of the earth-mother rather
than the tree of the sky-father, and that the latter acquired it in the first instance through
association with the former.


loading ...