It is Thursday – more properly, Dies Iovis, the Day of Jupiter (in Vedic terms – Brihaspati is the figure hailed for this occasion). And therefore … a brief look at the likely Indo-European positioning for a lesser-known Roman figure – the deific known as ‘Vejovis’ (‘Veiovis’, sometimes ‘Veiove’ or ‘Vejove’) or ‘Vedius’ / ‘Vediovis’.
Now this is a rather obscure figure, sometimes speculated to be of Etruscan origins and seemingly so barely attested as to be almost entirely unrecoverable. And yet, I instead think that we have something rather familiar …
An Archer, seemingly (or at least closely associated with Arrows – and also with the Thunder), prayed to to avert misfortune and sacrificed to to turn back the sending forth of plague, yet also invoked in relation to ‘healing’ … a figure Whose etymology even in Classical times was linked in curious senses to ‘Madness’, or ‘Vehemence’ – and with name that seemingly suggests a sort of ‘darkened’, ‘baelful’ face to the Sky Father.
The name itself is comprised of ‘Ve-‘ plus either ‘Jovis’ [as in the ‘Ju-‘ of ‘Jupiter’ – ‘Dyu’ or ‘Dyaus’ in PIE terms], or ‘Dius’ / ‘Diovis’ that are similarly derived but more ‘adjectival’ in orientation and ‘Heavenly’.
This ‘Ve-‘ is conventionally presumed to mean a sort of ‘opposition’ or ‘counterpoint’ or even ‘lack’ – with the folk-etymology pointing towards its occurrence in ‘Vesanus’, ‘Vecors’, etc. to seemingly suggest that, and therefore producing an ‘Opposite to Heavenly’.
It would be tempting to read this as indicative of ‘Underworld’ saliency, especially in light of a relatively late direct statement of equivalency with Pluto or Dis (i.e. Dis-Pater – another quite clearly ‘Dyaus Pitar’ resonancy, just as Pluto is via the Triophthalmos conceptry we have often spoken of), and invocation also to ‘Manes’ in the same breath.
However, I think that another reading is useful – an additional one, rather than something which precludes the just-aforementioned.
The ‘Ve-‘ elements aforesaid, they are linked in Roman folk-etymology to concepts of both ‘force’ or ‘intensification’ and, as noted earlier, ‘madness’.
The supposition advanced by Aulus Gellius in his Noctes Atticæ is illuminating. For rather than constructing the relevant terms for ‘insanity’ (‘vesanus’ and ‘vecordes’) which he uses as a comparative to divine the meaning for the ‘Ve-‘ of ‘Vejovis’ / ‘Vediovis’ as being “Lack + Mind”, he appears instead to parse almost as if they are to mean “Very + Mind” (although more directly, he infers ‘Negative’/’Destructive’ + ‘Mind’)
This would fit most usefully with the general concept for ‘Odr’, ‘Furor’, ‘Manyu’, ‘Menos’ which we have previously beheld elsewhere in the Indo-European sphere – the notion of the ‘spirit’ of a man becoming heightened, raised up through divine agency to an ecstatic state; and which also tends to inform the theonymic epithet of the major divinity in question – a terrifying form of the Sky Father [c.f., again, The Manyu visage of Rudra, and quite literally Odin]
It should also resonate rather intriguingly with my own speculative theorizing around the meaning and intent of “Summanus”, both in terms of the obvious, and its saliency for the ‘Highest Spirit’ / ‘Highest Ghost’ … yet also for the ‘Nighttime Jupiter’ understanding for the deific in question. Something which upon its face seems somewhat oxymoronic – the ‘Ju-‘ of ‘Jupiter’ is, after all, the ‘Bright, Daylight Sky’; however, as we know, the Underworld in the archaic Indo-European conception was similarly to be found initially in the Sky, and thence became Chthonic and moved subterranean when the Night’s Sky moved also underground – with this daily and diurnal transition being forgotten with the passing aegis of Time.
Cast in this light, ‘Ve-‘ + ‘Iovis’, would perhaps refer to that very same Sky that is Daylit during the day … except evidently lacking that Day Sun. The Sky is the same, but its illumination is now ‘lacking’ – exactly what is conjectured to mean by ‘Ve-‘ in one of its potential permutations.
Another resonant potentiality concerns Latin ‘Vae’ – famed in the maxim ‘Vae Victis’ [‘Woe to the Conquered’]. Aulus Gellius pointedly declares that whereas Jupiter and the essential meaning of that theonym, pertains to a positive, ‘helping’, and life-giving facing to the deific … so, too, therefore, must ‘Ve-Iovis’ potentially mean the opposite: a deific Whose force and potency is to harm, to destroy.
‘Woe-Jupiter’ or ‘Woe-Jove’ should present an interesting and reasonably direct parallel to the Hindu understanding for the ‘Two Faces’ of Rudra-Shiva. Shiva as the Auspicious and beneficent life-giver; Rudra often being thought of (although vitally importantly – not exclusively) as the more overtly ‘Destructive’ Facing.
Why is this an instantly obvious connexion? Due to the extensive and repeated direct (as well as strongly inferential) references to Rudra as being Dyaus Pitar in the Vedas. Including, interestingly, as Father to the Asvins, the Divo Napata – known in the Classical sphere as the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux.
And Who is, of course, pointedly invoked as the Archer, a Healer, a sender of disease and destruction if not propitiated, Whose attentions can be warded ‘gainst with proper supplication, Who wields the Thunder and is even today regarded as the Highest, the Leader of the Ghosts. (The frequently encountered iconographic saliency for Shiva as beardless may also have some degree of resonancy with the pointedly beardless depiction for Veiovis in comparison to Jupiter – although this should perhaps be considered in the context of the broader Roman feeling about beards in general)
So, this notion of the Sky Father having both a ‘Bright’, Life-Giving facing – and yet also a ‘Dark’, Life-Taking, Death facing which also links to the Ghosts of the Dead and the Afterworld Realm … well, it is now quite abundantly evident on both a mythic and a linguistic basis (and, as ever with me, the two are irreducibly linked) that we have not only a Vedic attestation via Rudra – but an intriguingly archaic Italic one, likewise, via Vedius.
And once again – it is precisely due to the expansive preservation of the Vedic sphere that we are able to ‘unlock’ the likely truth of a cryptic matter even thousands of kilometers to the west in the ‘Europe’ portion of the greater, grander glorious Indo-European Sphere.