Subsequent Comments On Sky Father Theonymy – The Baltic And Luwian Situations Briefly Considered

One of the more … frequently referred to articles we’ve got up upon the site is the piece discussing that lamentably frequently recurrent claim about Tyr somehow being the ‘original’ Germanic Sky Father, displaced subsequently by Odin.

You can take a read of that here:

Now, a few days ago we had a comment on that article, which I shall reproduce below in full; from a ‘ByronTheFyrnsidere’:

“There are two points that seem to counter your argument that Tiw can’t be the sky father because it’s descends from *deywos. The first is the Baltic sky father, Dievas, also descends from the same root as Tiwaz.

The second is the Luwian deity Tiwaz, which also descends from *deywos. While he wasn’t the king of the gods in the Luwian mythology, he still had a clear connection to the sky (he was the sun god) and the oldest referenced to him revert to him as “Father Tiwaz”. He is also associated with oaths, like Tyr is.

I’m just curious how you feel these gods fit into your argument here. I look forward to hearing back from you!”

Me being me this … lead to a rather lengthy reply. Which we may as well reproduce for a broader audience.


I should perhaps clarify what I was getting at with this piece.

The argument we have frequently encountered all over the place is that Tyr “has to be” the “real” Germanic Sky Father – because people think that the Sky Father should have a ‘Dyaus’ style theonym.

The idea that the Sky Father should have a ‘Dyaus’ [or, more properly, PIE *Dyews descended] theonymic is not un-understandable. It’s very prominent as applies Zeus (Pater) and Jupiter, after all, and certainly occurs viz. Dyaus Pitar in the Vedas. Although it is ‘missing something’ insofar as people often appear to presume that in the *absence* of a ‘Dyaus’ labelling … that there is no Dyaus present.

By which I mean, if a deific turns up that bears various key hallmarks of being a Sky Father deific expression, if there isn’t a ‘Dyaus’ theonymic directly attached, people may be disinclined to accept that this is, in fact, a Sky Father facing. Which gets rather problematic – because oddly enough, in the well-attested Indo-European religious canons we have available to us (and that’s uh .. well, that’s not many, to be honest) … it’s only the Greeks & Romans that really have very prominent *Dyews theonymics for the figure in question.

In the Vedic sphere .. it’s there , but really quite rare … and we more frequently encounter ‘Rudra’ – and various Roudran theonymics instead. See my recent works here –

In Search Of Shiva As Dyaus In Subsequent Scripture

and here –

for interest.

But I digress.

The point with my etymological chart and other such commentary elements in the piece you’ve commented on is quite different.

The claim is that Tyr “has to be” “the real” Germanic Sky Father, because of the theonym. This rests upon the presumption that the theonym is in fact a *Dyews derivative, a Dyaus / Zeus / Ju(piter) cognate. And therefore – Same God, Same Name, in loka-lized format.

Except as we can see … Tyr isn’t a *Dyews derivative. It isn’t cognate with Dyaus / Zeus / (Ju)piter.

It’s instead a *Deywos derivative, cognate with Deva, Deus, etc. – and also utilized as part of theonymics for Odin, Thor, etc., and in plural (Tivar).

Therefore, in reply to your point about Dievas … the situation is quite simple:

A Sky Father deific can be referred to as a God (*Deywos / Deva / Deus / (-)Tyr , etc.) … of course He can. That’s what He Is. Albeit we usually see some qualifiers – Shiva is Mahadeva, rather than usually being referred to as simply ‘Deva’, to take one example. Although liturgy may differ – because it’s usually a lot clearer due to context just Whom one is intending to refer (and offer) to.

Yet it proves nothing about the figure being the Sky Father to hail Him using a title that is, ultimately, the generic term for ‘(a) God’.

That was what I was getting at.

Now, the situation viz. Dievas / Dievs (if we are speaking Lithuanian or Latvian respectively) is basically this but the other way around.

Insofar as there’s a generic term for (a) God being utilized as a shorthand for the Sky Father deific. Which is … curious, because the same words are also used, as I say, for … well, just exactly that – generic terms for (a) God. It even comes in plural formulations – Dievi and Dievai , respectively. [The Old Prussian, in case one was wondering – is ‘Deiws’ in the singular, ‘Deiwai’ ]

We would suggest that this is likely the result of the actual nuance and complexity of the religion being steadily eroded over time, perhaps under Christian influence (hence ‘God’ becomes .. well, the way to speak about the Sky Father – just as , in a loose analogy, the Christian God is often thought of as a ‘Father’ in the Sky. Indeed, the Catholics quite literally do this viz. Deus Pater (not to be confused with, well, Dyaus Pater … or, for that matter, Dis Pater)).

There may also be some .. curious linguistics going on as applies the Dieva Deli / Dievo Suneliai relative to the Divo Napata / Dioscuri … because ‘Dieva’ shouldn’t be the relevant term; and we should instead have a *Dyews style element in the front particle.

Either somehow *Dyews and *Deywos in the Baltic sphere have wound up with ‘congruent evolution’ to the point of indistinguishability … or a re-dubbing of the Baltic iteration of *Dyews as a *Deywos as a major term of address has lead to a consequent re-formulation for the accompanying Twin Sons.

This is the trouble when many of our major sources (such as they are) for this sphere are basically folk-songs (and other such impressions) recorded during the Romantic era by people with a … lot of enthusiasm and often some ‘ideas about how things should be’ that things then get wedged into .

However, rather instructive for our purposes is another means to refer to the Baltic Sky Father deific – Debess Tevs.

Now, somewaht … surprisingly, whilst this does translate (broadly) as ‘Sky Father’ … it has no etymological relationship to ‘Dyaus Pitar’ – and instead (and this is the surprising bit), the ‘Debess’ is from, if i recall correctly, PIE *Nebh (a term for clouds, etc. and moisture relating to – c.f ‘Nebula’, ‘Nebel’, etc.) … which Pokorny suggests may have acquired its unexpected ‘D-‘ due to influence from a *Dhengh-1 derivative, ‘Dangus’ (or its predicate) which refers to ‘covering’. ‘Tevs’, meanwhile, is a term for ‘Father’ – in fact, I do believe it may be from the same *Tata (c.f ‘Dada’ – viz. T => D sound-shift) that produces Luwian ‘Tatis’ [or, rather, in a similar fashion to ‘Ma’ / ‘MaMa’, ‘Da’ / ‘DaDa’ … a reduplication occurs viz. Tatis etc. that is not in evidence viz. Tevs] .

Why do I mention that?

Because the Luwian Tiwaz that you cite – more properly speaking, as you note, would be ‘Father Tiwaz’ (Tatis Tiwaz).

Phrased another way … we do not find, unless I am mistaken, ‘Father’ terminology associated with the figure of Tyr. (Odin, however …); and this broader ‘contextual’ view for a term is rather important. If we are looking for a Sky Father – it helps to have the ‘Father’ component, particularly in those scenarios wherein, for some reason, the *Dyews proper has somehow ‘fallen away’.

Now, as applies Luwian Tiwaz … I’m actually, having just briefly re-examined it again, rather skeptical about this being a *Deywos derivative directly.

Liberian’s Hittite-English Dictionary has the relevant terminology, it should seem (and yeah, it’s a Hittite dictionary but includes other Anatolian comparanda, including Luwian) , coming from PIE *Dieu (she appears to be using the Pokorny style reconstruction) – that is to say *Dyew(s). She lists Sanskrit Dyut as a direct cognate for the relevant formulation. Which is, needless to say, a rather different specimine to *Deywos. Same ultimate origin, of course – viz. ‘Heavens’, ‘Bright / Shining Sky’ (as one ought expect for the Sun), but from something other than the *Deywos branch. Whether that’s a *Dyews , or perhaps more likely *Dyew directly (although it would be interesting to see where that ‘-az’ might have come from .. ) … well, i’d have to look into that further.

We would question what you’ve probably encountered as ‘King of the Gods’ in Luwian perspective – as I’m assuming this was Tarhunz / Tarhunt … and in that case, that’s, upon cursory inspection ,a Striker/Thunderer deific, akin to Indra, etc. So a very prominent and popular and important God, yes. But in terms of a ‘King’ … well, I would have to do more research in that particular direction; but i would suspect off-hand a situation akin to Indra – wherein somebody’s basically misunderstood a few things about titles and prominence, and gone ‘Thunder = Ruler Over All’ (without pausing to ponder whether other Gods might also wield Thunder , or certain other factors that may prove pertinent …) (basically, rather like why people keep trying to claim that Indra is somehow Zeus) ; or, alternatively, it might be a Mesopotamian (or other non-IE) influence viz. what happened with the Hittites. I digress.

As applies Oaths – this is not a Sky Father exclusive domain. You can find in the Roman sphere, for example, Hercules having such a role (it gets .. complex rather quickly, and we shall averr on the side of … restraint and not go into it for now).

In any case, I have gone on far too long and have been up since yesterday – so there’ a lot of cogency probably missing here; and I do also apologize for the fact it’s taken me a little over a week to get back to you on this matter.

Let us know if there are further queries etc. resulting from the above; or if things were unclear in amidst all of that wild tangentialism.

And thank you for both reading and writing in.


One thought on “Subsequent Comments On Sky Father Theonymy – The Baltic And Luwian Situations Briefly Considered

  1. Pingback: Subsequent Comments On Sky Father Theonymy – The Baltic And Luwian Situations Briefly Considered – Glyn Hnutu-healh: History, Alchemy, and Me

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s