The Birth Of Athena – On The Indo-European Genesis Of Tritogeneia

Earlier this week I encountered something which has, by now, become regrettably familiar to me – although this did not dull my rage at its ridiculous (re-)appearance. Somebody proclaiming that Athena – in amidst a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of the Greek pantheon – was part of a clade of “certain mythological stories or deities that seem to have no parallels in the mythologies of other Indo-European peoples”, as part of yet another attempt to push the notion that much of Greek language and evidently religion is not actually Indo-European. 

Perish the thought. 

I have earlier covered various particular points pertaining to Athena which show quite the contrary – in specia, Her role assisting Herakles and Iolaos in the Hydra-Slaying (which is a direct resonancy for Vak Saraswati, Indra, and Trita Aptya respectively in Their efforts in the Vedic mythic and ritual-religious sphere), and the investiture of the Furor quality (known as ‘Menos’ in the Greek, Ugra in one Vedic encounter, and Odr in Old Norse … and presided over as an investiture by Athena and Vak Devi, respectively, with a strong potential parallel viz. Freyja in the Ynglina Saga for the Nordic; see my earlier work ‘Furor Teutonicus And Furor Poeticus – The Furious Goddess-Given Power Of Both Barbarian And Brahmin Alike’, for instance; as well as a provision of ‘nectar and ambrosia’ to Achilles, resonating with Vak’s role in the production of the Soma), elements pertaining to the Gorgoneion (as covered in ‘Ghora – Gorgos – Yggr – The Terrifying Face of Thunder’), Her ‘unlocking’ of the Thunderbolt (‘On Athena Storm-Bringer And The Thunderbolt Also Of Zeus’), and various other attributes and elements besides. 

However, there is one element which deserves heightened attention – namely, the Birth of Athena. And to that, we shall now turn in earnest.

The oldest Greek textual account which we can reliably draw from for this is contained in Hesiod’s Theogony. There, he states:

“But Zeus himself gave birth from his own head to bright-eyed Tritogeneia, the awful, the strife-stirring, the host-leader, the unwearying, the queen, who delights in tumults and wars and battles. But Hera without union with Zeus — for she was very angry and quarrelled with her mate — bare famous Hephaestus, who is skilled in crafts more than all the sons of Heaven.

But Hera was very angry and quarrelled with her mate. And because of this strife she bare without union with Zeus who holds the aegis a glorious son, Hephaestus, who excelled all the sons of Heaven in crafts. But Zeus lay with the fair-cheeked daughter of Ocean and Tethys apart from Hera…deceiving Metis (Thought) although she was full wise. But he seized her with his hands and put her in his belly, for fear that she might bring forth something stronger than his thunderbolt: therefore did Zeus, who sits on high and dwells in the aether, swallow her down suddenly. But she straightway conceived Pallas Athene: and the father of men and gods gave her birth by way of his head on the banks of the river Trito. And she remained hidden beneath the inward parts of Zeus, even Metis, Athena’s mother, worker of righteousness, who was wiser than gods and mortal men. There the goddess (Athena) received that whereby she excelled in strength all the deathless ones who dwell in Olympus, she who made the host-scaring weapon of Athena. And with it (Zeus) gave her birth, arrayed in arms of war.”

This fundamentally agrees with the account given in the Homeric Hymns, which are of slightly more recent provenancy: 

“I begin to sing of Pallas Athena, the glorious goddess, bright-eyed, inventive, unbending of heart, pure virgin, saviour of cities, courageous, Tritogeneia.
Wise Zeus himself bare her from his awful head, arrayed in warlike arms of flashing gold, and awe seized all the gods as they gazed.
But Athena sprang quickly from the immortal head and stood before Zeus who holds the aegis, shaking a sharp spear: great Olympus began to reel horribly at the might of the bright-eyed goddess, and earth round about cried fearfully, and the sea was moved and tossed with dark waves, while foam burst forth suddenly: the bright Son of Hyperion stopped his swift-footed horses a long while, until the maiden Pallas Athena had stripped the heavenly armour from her immortal shoulders.
And wise Zeus was glad.
And so hail to you, daughter of Zeus who holds the aegis! Now I will remember you and another song as well.”

And, several centuries more recent again, we have Pindar in his Odes:

“Disturbances of the mind lead astray even a wise man. Tlepolemus went and sought the god’s oracle. To him the golden-haired god spoke, from his fragrant sanctuary, of a voyage by ship from the shore of Lerna straight to the pasture land with sea all around it, where once the great king of the gods showered the city with golden snow, when, by the skills of Hephaestus with the bronze-forged hatchet, Athena leapt from the top of her father’s head and cried aloud with a mighty shout. The Sky and mother Earth shuddered before her. Then even the god that brings light to mortals, son of Hyperion, enjoined his dear children to observe the obligation that was soon to be due: that they should be the first to build for the goddess an altar visible to all men, and by founding a sacred burnt-offering warm the spirit of the father and of the daughter who thunders with her spear. She who casts excellence and joys into men is the daughter of Forethought, Reverence.”

Now, I have set all of these out in front of you, because I want to demonstrate that these are fairly consistent understandings within the Greek mythology – they are not some isolated thing which crept in later, nor were considered especially strange, foreign, nor outlandish. They are also in, as I have said, quite foundational agreement upon certain key elements which are either directly or inferentially present in these accounts. 

These include both traits pertaining to Athena Herself (e.g. the Spear-Wielding, martial disposition, and great (indeed, greatest) strength (i.e. surpassing that of other Deities), with a certain Roar being attested also), as well as details pertaining to the Birth itself (such as the quaking terror of the Worlds and Deities and need to placate Her through offerings so that She might remove Her ‘war-facing’ and thus become less terrific [in the sense of begetting terror] … and also, of course, Her emergence out of the Head of Her Father, Zeus – reported to be in rather a state of discomfort at the time!). 

So, the question becomes … is there some other Indo-European culture which preserves something similar to this within the annals of their own scripture? And is it an independent – insofar as these things ever are within the Indo-European sphere – preservation, rather than being attributable to cross-cultural transmission, a la Minerva / Menrva of the Romans / Etruscans respectively. 

It shall surprise precisely no-one to find that the answer is a most resounding Yes. 

For within the Vedas – specifically the Shatapatha Brahmana ritual manual – we find unmistakably presented this exact same archaic Indo-European mytheme. 

I shall quote: 

“6 And as to why he performs the Satarudriya offering. When Pragâpati had become disjointed, the deities departed from him. Only one god did not leave him, to wit, Manyu (wrath): extended he remained within. He (Pragâpati) cried, and the tears of him that fell down settled on Manyu. He became the hundred-headed, thousand-eyed, hundred-quivered Rudra. And the other drops that fell down, spread over these worlds in countless numbers, by thousands; and inasmuch as they originated from crying (rud), they were called Rudras (roarers). That hundred-headed, thousand-eyed, hundred-quivered Rudra, with his bow strung, and his arrow fitted to the string, was inspiring fear, being in quest of food. The gods were afraid of him.

7 They spake unto Pragâpati ‘We are afraid of this one, lest he should hurt us!’ He spake, ‘Gather food for him, and appease him therewith!’ They gathered for him that food, the Satarudriya (offering), and thereby appeased him; and inasmuch as they thereby appeased (sam) the hundred-headed (satasîrsha) Rudra, it is called Satasîrsharudrasamanîya,–and satasîrsharudrasamanîya, doubtless, is what they mystically call Satarudriya, for the gods love the mystic. And in like manner does this (Sacrificer) now gather for him that food, the Satarudriya, and appease him thereby.”

The phrasing is somewhat occluding, and in requiring of commentary to make proper sense of (fortunate that you have me here, then, isn’t it) – yet I believe it is reasonably clear just how closely this concords with the typology for the mythic Genesis of Athena which we have earlier aforesketched. 

We have a great god that might be rendered as ‘Allfather’ (a .. somewhat useful translation for ‘Prajapati’), we have the ’emanation’ or ‘releasing’ of the specific deity of interest to us from the head of this Father associated with a Roaring sound (and note Pindar’s ‘Roaring’ description for Athena, along with Hesiod’s ‘Tumultuous’ descriptor, whilst the Homeric Hymn has generalized ‘roaring’ round about from the Earth as a storm whips the waters of the Sea), we have the terror which this inspires in the rest of the Pantheon, and we have the placation of this Deity via sacrifice so as to bid the Deific to become what in Sanskrit we should term ‘Aghora’ – literally ‘Non-Terrifying’ [and it is no coincidence that the Gorgoneion ‘War-Facing’ of Athena is derived from this exact same PIE root which gives us ‘Ghora’ – Terrifying – in Sanskrit]. Who is this deific? Well, in the SataRudriya conceptry aforementioned it is, of course, Rudra – the Roarer – better known today as Shiva, or in this particular context, as The Manyu. 

This Manyu is perhaps describable as amidst the foremost of the Vedic War Gods – so mighty that, as we have seen, even the entire rest of the Pantheon is affeared of He. 

One of His RigVedic Hymnals makes for stirring reading:

RV X 84:

1 Borne on with Thee, O Manyu girt by Maruts, let our brave men, impetuous, bursting forward,
March on, like flames of fire in form, exulting, with pointed arrows, sharpening their weapons.
2 Flashing like fire, be Thou, O conquering Manyu, invoked, O Victor, as our army’s leader.
Slay Thou our foes, distribute their possessions: show forth Thy vigour, scatter those who hate us.
3 O Manyu, overcome Thou our assailant on! breaking, slaying, crushing down the foemen.
They have not hindered Thine impetuous vigour: Mighty, Sole born! Thou makest them Thy subjects.
4 Alone or many Thou art worshipped, Manyu: sharpen the spirit of each clan for battle.
With Thee to aid, O Thou of perfect splendour, we will uplift the glorious shout for conquest.
5 Unyielding bringing victory like Indra, O Manyu, be Thou here our Sovran Ruler.
To Thy dear name, O Victor, we sing praises: we know the spring from which Thou art come hither.
6 Twin-born with power, destructive bolt of thunder, the highest conquering might is Thine, Subduer!
Be friendly to its in thy spirit, Manyu, O Much-invoked, in shock of mighty battle.
7 For spoil let Varuṇa and Manyu give us the wealth of both sides gathered and collected;
And let our enemies with stricken spirits, o’erwhelmed with terror, slink away defeated.”

It is not hard to see how this resonates with, to quote Hesiod – “the awful, the strife-stirring, the host-leader, the unwearying, the queen, who delights in tumults and wars and battles”, a wielder of the “host-scarring weapon”; and elsewhere stated to be Αρεια (Areia – Warlike), Λειτις (Leitis – Distributor of War-Booty), Πολεμηδοκος (Polemodocus – ‘War’ (in the sense of an Assault, based around the potential PIE etymology and post-PIE cognates) plus ‘Main Beam’ (as in, of a House – so ‘Supporter’, ‘Anchoring Point’; interestingly the same term also can refer to a Meteor), effectively ‘Supporter [in/of] War’, or the major shaft to the spear-thrust of a charge), Σαλπινξ (Salpinx – ‘War-Trumpet’), Νικη (Nike – Victory), Σθενιας (Sthenias – Strength / Strong), ἀλκή (Alke – ‘Force’ , ‘Prowess’ , ‘Combat’ , Protect(ress) – interestingly, a near phonetic doublet for another Ancient Greek term for an Elk, which may be worth exploring at some other time due to the role of an antlered deer in Goddess worship … but I digress), Ζωστηρια (Zosteria – Armourer, Girder), Ερυμα (Eruma – ‘Protect(ress)’ / ‘Defender’, and interestingly also ‘Fortress’ – c.f my earlier work pertaining to ‘Durga’, especially in ‘Bharat Mata And The Indo-European Deific Of National Identity’), and quite an array of other such terms besides. As applies Athena it is also necessary to emphasize that the ‘generalship’ dimension is ever present – with the precise means via which the foe is to be broken not only including direct martial application of force by Her or Her Chosen … but through cunning and genius as well – Μαχανιτις (Makhanitis, from similar root to ‘Mechanism’) and Απατουρια (Apaturia – ostensibly ‘Deceiver’) are both terms deployed to refer to ‘strategy’ and ‘generalship’ in the Ancient Greek world-view. 

We do most certainly find active battlefield prayer to Athena within the Classical corpus – consider the words of Diomedes in Book V of the Iliad: 

“Hear me, child of Zeus that beareth the aegis, unwearied one! If ever with kindly thought thou stoodest by my father’s side amid the fury of battle, even so do thou now be likewise kind to me, Athene. Grant that I may slay this man, and that he come within the cast of my spear, that hath smitten me or ever I was ware of him, and boasteth over me, and declareth that not for long shall I behold the bright light of the sun.”

In terms of one of the other points of interest identified in said RigVedic hymnal – Wielder of the “Destructive Bolt of Thunder” – the term deployed for this in the original Vedic Sanskrit is, of course, Vajra. And whilst often associated in the popular imagination with Indra (and quite rightly so!), we also find other figures making use of this weapon: Rudra, for instance, in RV II 33 3; or, as we have just seen, that form of Rudra known as The Manyu. Particularly in later Hindu iconographic representation and accompanying theology, we may also find the Vajra referred to as being ‘equivalent’ to or embodied in the form of other weaponry carried by He (or, for that matter, His Wife), including His Spear – the Trishula.

Pindar saw no issue describing Athena as “Thundering” with Her Spear, and the iconographic representations of Zeus’ Thunderbolt from the Classical age are often less a smashy club (as seen with the weapon of Herakles – Himself the major Classical ‘Striker/Thunderer’, even if a wooden club or a metallic Harpe is less overtly the mystical Thunder-Hammer akin to Thor’s Mjolnir or the Vajra of Indra Himself that we have come to expect ; see, for instance, my recent ‘On Herakles As Thunderer – The Recollection Of The Weapon In The Classical Conceptual Sphere’), but rather a thrown weapon more akin to a javelin – part of a general typology of the Spear-Wielding Sky Father (as we considered at some length across multiple Indo-European mythocultures and multiple occurrences within the Classical / Greek sphere specifically, in last year’s ‘On The World-Spear of the Sky Father – Trishula, Gungnir, Pinaka’). Intriguingly, there are even coins hailing from across the Hellenic(-influenced) world depicting the Weapon of Athena as a Thunderbolt – various of these supposedly in reference to a particular Athena statue (we should say ‘Murti’ in the Hindu understanding) of Her at the Macedonian capital of Pella. 

Now, I could go on at quite some length here – however I suspect it has come time to address the necessary ‘elephant in the room’ (and by this I do not refer to some very, very cool Central Asian coinage which alerted me to some of the above, wherein Athena is depicted riding a quadriga [four-horse chariot] pulled by elephants). 

It cannot have escaped the notice of even the most unperspicacious and unfamiliar-with-the-field of readers that for all of these clear and evident coterminities of Athena with this Manyu Rudra … that there is one very, very big difference, as well. In fact, two of them, foundationally interlinked. 

The first and most obvious concerns the sex of each deific. Athena is female – a Goddess ; Manyu Rudra is quite definitely male – a God. The second concerns the fact that Rudra is hailed elsewhere in the Vedas as Dyaus Pitar – that is to say, Zeus Pater … which introduces an obvious point of further difficulty for reconciling the scenario herein. 

Now, to address the latter matter first, it is my belief that the birth myth of Zeus is also running off the same foundational PIE mytheme occurrent in the SataRudriya explication for the Birth/Emanation of Rudra – which interestingly posits Prajapati as Kronos in that scenario. I have detailed my thoughts upon this but briefly elsewhere, and may look at this in greater depth of detail in a future work. Suffice to say, if this is true – then it suggests that the original PIE form of the myth should have a male deific resultant from the situation in question – and there is some further, tangential support for this via the occurrence of Hephaestus wielding an axe in some of the Athena-birth recountings … perhaps resonating with the occurrence of Axe-Wielding Rudra ‘gainst Prajapati in a situation featuring the latter’s daughter, Saraswati. Another potential proof would be to be found in the curious epithet of ‘Tritogeneia’ – which either means ‘Born of the Head’ in a perhaps somewhat questionable ancient ‘folk-etymology’, ‘Born of the Trito[nis]’ (a particular body of water on the fringes of the world), … or ‘Of Three Progenitors’. I consider the last of these of fascinating potential probative value, as it is also utilized for Orion (Whom we have previously linked to Rudra), and would form an elegant cognate of meaning for the prominent Roudran epithet/theonym ‘Tryambakam’ (‘of the Three Mothers’ – although see my sustained discussion of this in ‘Tryambaka Triophthalmos Triformis – The Three Eyes Of The Indo-European Sky Father As Seen Through Vedic & Hellenic Perspective’ for some of the other potential saliencies for ‘Tryambaka’ etc. ). But, as I say – more upon all of  that, perhaps, some other time. 

The repeated and quite pointed emphases in various Classical texts for Athena as having some level of equivalency with Zeus may additionally support such a claim. This occurs both inferentially, in terms of shared attributes (such as the Gorgoneion capaciously aforementioned – which is, itself, an identifying Sky Father element when considered in light of other IE evidence – see my earlier ‘Ghora – Gorgos – Yggr – The Terrifying Face of Thunder’), yet also directly. And beyond those occurrences in the three Greek sources quoted at length above, I should also like to introduce the following excerpt from Quintus Smyrnaeus’ ‘Fall of Troy’:

“She donned the stormy Aigis flashing far, adamantine, massy, a marvel to the Gods, whereon was wrought Medusa’s ghastly head, fearful: strong serpents breathing forth the blast of ravening fire were on the face thereof. Crashed on the Queen’s breast all the Aigis-links, as after lightning crashes the firmament. Then grasped She Her father’s weapons, which no God save Zeus can lift, and wide Olympos shook. Then swept She clouds and mist together on high; night over earth was poured, haze o’er the sea. Zeus watched, and was right glad as broad heaven’s floor rocked ‘neath the Goddess’s feet, and crashed the sky, as though invincible Zeus rushed forth to war.”

As we can see, a reasonably direct equivalency in quite important elements to our understanding and the Classical perception(s) of Her. 

Now, before I go any further – it is necessary to clarify that I am NOT endeavouring to suggest that the dominant Classical view of the birth of Athena is somehow “wrong” or “false” merely because the gender of the figure produced via the comparable process in the Vedic understanding, and plausibly also the Proto-Indo-European one … is the opposite to that of Athena’s. Nor am I seeking to suggest any of this is ‘false’ because there may be a ‘double-up’ with the mythic origin / birth of Zeus. 

In Hindu understanding, we find the same general concept – the same general typology – also made use of to explicate an array of mythic occurrences. I looked at these in far grander depth of detail in ‘MahaShivRatri And The Mytholinguistics Of War [Part 3] – The Mind, The Mania, The Manyu’. In essence, we see both Lord Shiva and Lady Parvati / Durga emanating out truly formidable Avenger/Destroyer/Warrior Forms of Themselves via Their Third Eyes, etc. (indeed, Veerabhadra, in the Vishnu and Vayu Puranas, is said to be an emanation of Devi’s Wrath, through Rudra’s ‘active expression’). Now, we have already demonstrated that the idea of Zeus Himself possessing a faculty analogous to the Third Eye … was both literally known in the Classical realm (see my work on Zeus Triophthalmos), as well as inferentially there in a manner which gels foundationally with what we are explicating here, when we consider the coterminity about His Forehead in light of certain other Greek materials (again, c.f the Third Mytholinguistics of War (A)Arti-cle just aforecited).

Especially in light of the strong conceptual coterminity clearly exhibited elsewhere between Hellenic Athena (and Roman Minerva, etc.) with Vedic Vak Saraswati (again, please see my previous works upon this subject, which also observe Vak Saraswati to be quite the formidable, indeed all-conquering and war-commanding Goddess) – I do not think that observing the close comparison between the Birth of Athena and the Emanation of the Manyu invalidates either Deific. 

Nor should the ongoing observation that there are various important qualities ‘shared’ between Athena and Zeus, or more broadly Athena and the Sky Father deific complex. Instead of the implication that Athena might be some sort of ‘misremembering’ of said (male) Sky Father, it is better to consider that the notion of ‘Female Counterpart / Equivalent’ is quite a well-known Hindu understanding – Rudra and RudraKali, for instance … or, at the arguable apex of the phenomenon, Ardhanarishvara – a ‘Joint Aspect’ of Lord Shiva and Devi Who is simultaneously Both at Once. 

Yet let us return to our main stream. 

As applies ‘Manyu’ itself, this term hails ultimately from PIE ‘Men’ – meaning ‘Mind’ (also from the same root, as potentially is ‘Man’/’Men’), ‘Active Spirit’, and ‘Mental Activity’. In Sanskrit, this particular term has acquired a fantastic spread of meaning – with the ‘Man’ stem occurrent in quite a number of terms pertaining to ‘mental activity’ or the enactors of same (including, as it happens, a term which most of us are instantly familiar with through cultural transmission and consequent, seeming-inevitable dilution – ‘Mantra’; and if we are looking for ‘wisdom’ or ‘wise advice’ or ‘understanding’, then ‘Mantu’ ( मन्तु ) should be our port of call); although ‘Manyu’ ( मन्यु ) remains a particular favourite. It means not only ‘Mind’ or ‘Spirit’ in the sense of our locus of mentally active being, but ‘Spirit’ in the sense of ‘Esprit de Corps’ as well (as in, the morale and ‘spirit’ of an army – something prayed to be imparted into the war-host, as we have seen) – and, in terms of further ‘active expressions’ of the mind and mental enactment, we find it used to mean “Anger”, “Passion”, “Zeal”, “Wrath”, “Ardour”, “Enthusiasm”, “Exuberancy”, and interestingly also “Distress”, “Grief” or “Sorrow” (which resonates with an underlying yet under-spoken of characterization to Rudra – see my earlier recent ‘On The Rudraksha – Tears of Rudra’, which observes that the mythology and PIE etymology for ‘Rudra’ (PIE: ‘Hrewdh’, a term linked to strong outpourings of emotion – ‘Weeping’, indeed) support such a resonant reading). It occurs in the Shatapatha Brahmana presentation aforementioned as a descriptor also for the state of Prajapati – that is to say, Prajapati is in a state of quite ‘active’ strong emotion and discomfort (hence the shedding of tears) prior to the externalization of the Manyu from His Head … in a manner quite potentially concordant with the great headache suffered by Zeus (to the point of Hephaestus being deployed with an axe to relieve the symptomatology in a rather … drastic approach) prior to the Birth of Athena. Or, should we say – Jupiter prior to the Birth of Minerva : for Minerva, to what should not be anybody’s especial surprise by now, is quite cognate with “Manyu” both mythically but also directly linguistically speaking. 

Of additional interest for our purposes is the manner in which that veer-y same PIE ‘Men’ has informed the Ancient Greek ‘Menos’ ( μένος ) and ‘Menis’ ( μῆνῐς ); the former of which, particularly in its prominent Iliad occurrence for Athena’s empowerment of Her Chosen, Diomedes (Who interestingly, gains the ability to ‘see things as they actually are’, with a fiery gaze, shrug off mortal impediments like being shot, and fight even Gods in this state) – is a very strong cognate in terms of meaning for Sanskrit ‘Manyu’ – although with additional emphatic upon a purpose, a force, and violence; the latter, meanwhile, more narrowly focused upon “Wrath”, especially “of the Gods” (hence, the sheer potency of Achilles’ Menis – so much so that it is in the evocatively descriptive first few lines of the Iliad as a standout element for the entire poem – is effectively being implicitly compared to, well, the Wrath of the Gods in its intensity and destructive capability … as well it should be, for Athena had granted Achilles ‘Nectar and Ambrosia’ in order to empower the legendary warrior in its course). Now, I have observed elsewhere in my work that all of these terms – Menos , Menis , and Manyu – are decent enough methods via which the Indo-European understanding of ‘Furor’ is communicated in their respective archaic languages and scriptural canons. In Old Norse, we would find this as ‘Odr’ and other such terminology – unsurprisingly linked to “Odin”, which is likewise from PIE ‘Weht’ [‘to become excited’]. Not only, therefore, is it logical that just as Ugra is both the Furor imparted by Vak Devi to Her Chosen (in RV X 125 5) yet also one of the names for Her Husband, the God Rudra, that Manyu is likewise a Roudran epithet and Odr associated with Frejya and implicitly with Odin in terms of name … but so, too, do we find the Goddess in the Classical realm Who imparts such, and Who is also simultaneously rather directly resonant with this male deific, whilst – in Roman or Etruscan understanding at least – bearing a theonym which is from that same PIE ‘Men’ root. 

As a side note, that Ancient Greek term, ‘Menis’ has been argued by Beekes – a well-known purveyor of the farcical notion that seemingly everything which isn’t nailed down securely (and a rather depressing swathe of what is in fact most firmly affixed within the broader IE comparanda) is the result of some imaginary “Pre-Greek” non-Indo-European substrate to that Hellenic language and culture – to be a ‘religious term’ of non-Indo-European origins likewise. A moment’s consideration should reveal the fairly obvious problem with this – as there is a quite clear Proto-Indo-European root, which informs very closely comparable usage for a direct cognate in a different Indo-European linguistic and religious corpus (and I only say “very closely” rather than “downright identical”, because ‘Manyu’ is, strictly speaking, rather broader than ‘Menis’ in imputation – even though ‘Manyu’ as “Wrath”, specifically “most formidable Wrath of the Gods” is most definitely in keeping with the Vedic term’s definitional and functional-applicational ambit), and which also has informed another close cognate in Ancient Greek Herself (i.e. Menos) … it becomes apparent that in order for ‘Menis’ to be non-IE ‘Pre-Greek’, as Beekes would have us believe, that this would require this ‘non-IE substrate’ of his to just so happen to have virtually the exact same term in terms of both sound and meaning to an already-extant Ancient Greek word of slightly broader definitional ambit, but also clearly resonant in both dimensions to Sanskrit’s Manyu and Meni ( मेनि – another fascinating term which at once refers to Wrath, but also Speech, and a Thunderbolt or other such projectile weapon). It should truly be a most remarkable coincidence were all that to prove to be the case – although as there’s literally no actual evidence to support such a contention, I suggest that it is far more likely that ‘Menis’ is, as it appears to be, a PIE ‘Men’ derivative matching closely these other PIE ‘Men’ derivatives in a number of Indo-European languages, with no extraneous non-IE influence required. 

The same can most assuredly be stated for Athena. 

The fact that we can identifiably determine that the Greek accountings for the Birth of Athena hail from the exact same source as the Vedic understanding of the Emanation of the Manyu Rudra – simply shows that these are Both irreducibly Indo-European, indeed Proto-Indo-European figures. 

There are most definitely an array of eminently intriguing questions to be considered as to Athena and Her situation – where She fits in – within the post-PIE mytho-religious sphere. However, “how a non-IE figure wound up in the Ancient Greek pantheon” is, most assuredly, NOT one of them! 

Jai Mata DI ! 

One thought on “The Birth Of Athena – On The Indo-European Genesis Of Tritogeneia

  1. Pingback: The Birth Of Athena – On The Indo-European Genesis Of Tritogeneia – Glyn Hnutu-healh: History, Alchemy, and Me

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