On Chariots and at Sea: Indo-European Gods of Mobility— Old Norse Njǫrðr, Vedic Sanskrit Nā́satya-, and Proto-Indo-European *nes-ḗt-/-ét- ‘returning (safely home), arriving (at the desired goal)’

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Abstract

The paper proposes a common etymology for Old Norse Njǫrðr, the name of a Norse god associated with travel and wealth, and Vedic Sanskrit Nā́satya-, a byname of the Indic “Divine Horse Twins,” the Aśvins. The current analysis of Njǫrðr as a cognate of the theonym Nerthus attested in Tacitus’s Germania is rejected as a pseudo-equation (Scheingleichung); Njǫrðr may rather be traced back to a Proto- Germanic formation *nezēþ- (whose acc. sg. *nezēþ-un would have regularly developed into the acc. sg. Njǫrð), the expected reflex of Proto- Indo-European *nes-ḗt-/-ét- ‘(entity or act of) returning (safely home), arriving (at the desired goal)’. PIE *nes-ḗt-/-ét- may ultimately underlie Vedic Nā́satya- as well, as the reflex of a substantivized lengthened-grade -i̯ó- derivative *nēset-i̯ó- ‘pertaining to the (entity or act of) returning (safely home), arriving (at the desired goal)’. The etymological connection between Njǫrðr and Nā́satya- is supported by phraseological and mythological correspondences (some already noticed by Dumézil) between the characterizations of Njǫrðr, the Aśvins, and other related IE characters (the Greek Dioskouroi and the Latvian “Sons of Dievs”), allowing for the reconstruction of an inherited mythological figure associated with—among other things—the idea of ‘returning safely home’ and/or ‘arriving at the desired goal’.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteProceedings of the 32nd Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference.
Pagine105-124
Numero di pagine20
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2022
EventoAnnual UCLA Indo-European Conference - University of California, Los Angeles
Durata: 5 nov 20217 nov 2021

Convegno

ConvegnoAnnual UCLA Indo-European Conference
CittàUniversity of California, Los Angeles
Periodo5/11/217/11/21

Keywords

  • Indoeuropeo, norreno, sanscrito vedico, etimologia, mitologia comparata
  • Indo-European, Old Norse, Vedic Sanskrit, Etymology, Comparative Mythology

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