Sky father

Jupiter, Ancient Roman sky deity, and his relative Thetis

In comparative mythology, sky father is a term for a recurring concept of a sky god who is addressed as a "father", often the father of a pantheon. The concept of "sky father" may also be taken to include Sun gods with similar characteristics. The concept is complementary to an "earth mother".

"Sky Father" is a direct translation of the Vedic Dyaus Pita, etymologically descended from the same Proto-Indo-European deity name as the Greek Zeus Pater and Roman Jupiter, all of which are reflexes of the same Proto-Indo-European deity's name, *Dyēus Ph₂tḗr.[1] While there are numerous parallels adduced from outside of Indo-European mythology, the concept is far from universal (e.g. Egyptian mythology has a "Heavenly Mother").

"Sky Father" in historical mythology

"Nomadic" hypothesis

In late 19th century opinions on comparative religion, in a line of thinking that begins with Friedrich Engels and J. J. Bachofen, and which received major literary promotion in The Golden Bough by James G. Frazer, it was believed that worship of a sky father was characteristic of nomadic peoples, and that worship of an earth mother similarly characterised farming peoples.

This view was stylized as reflecting not only a conflict of nomadism vs. agriculturalism but of "patriarchy" vs. "matriarchy", and has blossomed into a late ideological in certain currents of feminist spirituality and feminist archaeology in the 1970s.

Reception in modern culture

The theory about earth goddesses, sky father, and patriarchal invaders was a stirring tale that fired various imaginations. The story was important in literature, and was referred to in various ways by important poets and novelists, including T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and most influentially, Robert Graves.

See also


  1. dyaus in Vedic still retained the meaning "sky", while the Greek Zeus had become a proper name exclusively.
  2. Judson, Katherine Berry (April 30, 2009). Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest. BiblioLife. pp. 5–7. ISBN 0-559-06288-5.
  3. Paul Herrmann, Michael Bullock (1954). Conquest by Man. Harper & Brothers. pp. 186. OCLC 41501509.
  4. Trask, L. The History of Basque (1997) Routledge ISBN 0-415-13116-2
  5. Jose M. de Barandiaran Mitologia Vasca (1996) Txertoa ISBN 84-7148-117-0
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