It’s Friday – Devi’s Day
And so, therefore, a fine sculpted depiction from the series of Classically inspired works by Karl Heinrich Möller that adorn the Schlossbrücke in Berlin.
In this case, ‘Athena Arms The Warrior’ (‘Athena bewaffnet den Krieger’) – which we would consider to be an expression of a typology prominent not only in the Hellenic sphere (and I can think of several exemplars found within the Iliad alone) … but also of much broader and archaic (as well as (more) contemporary) Indo-European saliency.
You all know what’s coming next.
RV X 125 6 –
अहं रुद्राय धनुरा तनोमि ब्रह्मद्विषे शरवे हन्तवा उ ।
अहं जनाय समदं कृणोम्यहं द्यावापृथिवी आ विवेश ॥
aham rudraaya dhanur aa tanomi brahmadvise sharave hantavaa u | aham janaaya samadam krnomy aham dyaavaaprthivii aa vivesha ||
Or, phrased in a language more of us can understand:
“I Bend (or Stretch) the Bow for Rudra, that the hater of pious invocation His Arrow may Slay
I, for the People, Make War ; Heaven and Earth I have Pervaded”
Now, that ‘Samadam’ ( समदं ) is doing something rather interesting there – and we intend to return to examine it more closely in the future. Suffice to say, for now, one potential etymology for ‘Samad’ – as in ‘Battle’, ‘Conflict’, ‘Strife’ – is, in fact, ‘Sa(m)-‘ plus ‘-Mad’ (मद् – ‘Rage’, ‘Furor’, ‘Passion’) … as in ‘Raging Together’.
We mention this due to, of course, my favourite RigVedic Verse – RV X 125 5 – the immediately preceding line, wherein the ‘Ugra’ potency of Furor is that which She bestows to Her Chosen …
But I digress somewhat.
In terms of the bestowal of more literal weapons … we would point immediately toward that most famous of occurrences – the story of the King that is given a mythic Sword by the Divinity of the Waters in order to accomplish a truly mighty deed for his folk.
By which I mean both King Arthur receiving Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake … and also, of course (and much more recently), ShivaJi of the Marathas receiving the Bhavani Tulwar from Devi (Whose Home is in the Waters, per RV X 125 7 ).
We are also reminded of the situation wherein the Striker/Thunderer God (and His Comrade) are empowered and up-armed with insight and the most mighty weapon to bring to bear against a seemingly implacable dragon-of-the-waters Foe.
By which I mean both Athena bestowing the vital insight to Herakles and Iolaos to utilize fire against the Hydra … and the salient contribution of Vak Saraswati to the victory of Indra and Trita Aptya against Vritra and/or Trisiras (c.f RV VIII 100 ; RV X 8 8 , respectively).
In that latter context, we would suggest that the Fire and the ‘Sung Weapons of the Ancestors’ salient are, of course, those of pious invocation. Fitting, for reasons that ought prove readily apparent.
Now, as we say, there are a great many exemplars we might draw into our writing here to further furnish the expression of the essence on show here. But we have looked at various of those previously, or intend to do so in the near future – and so shall instead try for something we haven’t looked at recently.
In Nonnus’ Dionysiaca we find something quite interesting:
In amidst the (Wolfish, assumedly) Cap of Hades that bestows Invisibility [also donned by Athena in Book V of the Iliad, rather uncoincidentally], and those Winged enhancements of Hermes, we find that Perseus is wielding a Harpe of Pallas [ ‘ Παλλάδος ἅρπην ‘].
This is as we ought expect. The Harpe is recurrently a ‘Thunderbolt’ in the broader Indo-European typology, per our research in these dimensions – and, after all, Athena ‘unlocks’ the Thunder-weapon, per that memorable verse of Aeschylus in his Eumenides that I am often citing alongside the essential role of Devi in bestowing the Vajra.
We would additionally draw attention to the following circumstance from the XXXth Chapter of the Dionysiaca (although for now, we shall leave largely unremarked upon both its clear resemblances to the aforementioned RigVedic suite of conceptry, as well as those enjoinments and enhancements bestowed to Diomedes afore Ilium’s Walls, etc.):
“But Athena came down from Heaven; for Zeus Ruling on High sent Her, on the errand to change the mind of Her Brother, now a fugitive in dread of Hera, and to bring Him back to the Battle. She stood behind Him, and caught Bacchos by His Yellow Hair, seen by Him alone, that Grim Goddess: from Her Face the Eyes Flashed a Fiery Gleam, and Breathing Sparks of Good Sense upon Lyaios She Spoke Angrily in Warlike Tones of Rebuke:
” Whither do You Flee, Dionysos? Why Flight instead of Fight? Where is Your Mighty Thyrsus and Your Arrows of Vine? What Word shall I Tell of you to my Cronion? Have I seen the Indian king dead on the battlefield? No — Deriades lives, Morrheus fights on!
” What have You shown of inborn Heavenly Prowess? Have you set foot in Libya? ‘ Have You had the task of Perseus? Have You seen the eye of Sthenno which turns all to stone, or the bellowing invincible throat of Euryale herself? Have You seen the tresses of viperhair Medusa, and have the open mouths of her tangled serpents run round You?
No Fighter was Semele’s Son; Acrisios’s Daughter bore the Gorgonslayer, a Son worthy of My Zeus, for winged Perseus did not throw down My Sickle, and He thanked Hermeias for lending His Shoes. I have a witness ready here, the monster of the deep turned to stone; pray ask Cepheus, what the Sickle of Perseus did. Ask the East, and ask the West; for Both Know — the Nereids tremble before Andromeda’s Husband, the Hesperids Sing Him who cut down Medusa.
” Aiacos was not affrighted, he was not like Bacchos, he did not run from Deriades, he did not shrink from the Indian battle! Did the Arab chief frighten You again yesterday? I am still ashamed to look at Ares, the furious father of Lycurgos, when He publishes abroad the cowardice of runaway Dionysos.
” Your Father and Mine Feared Not Battle, when the Titan Gods armed Themselves against Olympos. Where is Orsiboe — have You taken the Indian Queen? Rheia has not seen Cheirobie captive of Your Spear. Zeus forgive My Boast — but I will not call You Brother, when You run from Deriades and the unwarlike nation of India!
Come, take Your Thyrsus again and remember the Battle; Fight in the Van of the Army, and You will See Athena Well Armed and Fighting Beside the Armed Bacchants: She Will Lift Her Aegis-Cape, the Invincible Weapon of Olympos!”
Thus the Goddess Inspired Bromios with Strength. Then He took Courage and Fought Boldly Again, Entrusting All His Hope of Coming Victory to Tritogeneia.”
Sometimes, it would seem, Encouragement – and the surefire knowledge that one is not fighting alone – can present the greatest weapon to bestow, indeed.
Hail to the Goddess Who Grants Victory – And Bestows The Tools, Tactics, Strategy, Techniques Via Which This Shall Be Attained !
Jai Mata Di !