Some of the connections are quite obvious in the English language. For example, Sunday is named for the Day of the Sun, Monday is the Day of the Moon, and Saturday is short for the Day of Saturn. The remaining names are a bit less obvious in English, but if we look at their Latin names, the connections become more clear.
The names of the planets we still use today are based on names given by the ancient Greeks, who named the planets for their greatest gods. Since the Latin-speaking Romans utilized the same pantheon of gods, they merely substituted the names of their gods in place of the Greek mythology. The romance languages of southern Europe (French, Italian, Spanish), still call the days of the week by names based on these Latin origins. The Germanic peoples of northern Europe also employed the same traditions in naming the days of the week, but instead substituted many of their own roughly equivalent gods in place of the Roman names. Let's take a closer look at each day.
The original name for the first day of the week comes from the Greek hemera heliou, or "day of the sun" named in honor of the Greek sun god Helios. The Romans substituted their own sun god, Sol, and named the day dies solis, meaning "sun's day," in Latin. Once Christianity had taken hold in Rome and sun worship had lost favor, the day became known as dies Dominica, Latin for the "day of God." However, the "day of the sun" continued to be honored in northern Europe, as exemplified by the Germanic sunnon-dagaz and Anglo-Saxon sunnandæg. The name evolved in Middle English as sonenday to soneday to sunnenday and finally to Sunday.
|Day of the Sun|
|Greek:||hemera heliou||Latin:||dies solis||Anglo-Saxon:||sunnandæg|
The second day of the week was sacred to the goddess of the Moon, called Selene in Greek, and named hemera selenes for "day of the moon." The Romans named the day dies lunae in honor of their moon goddess Luna. The English word can be traced to the Anglo-Saxon monandæg, or "moon's day," which evolved to mondæg, monenday, moneday, and eventually to Monday.
|Day of the Moon|
|Greek:||hemera selenes||Latin:||dies lunae||Anglo-Saxon:||monandæg|
This day was first named for the Greek god of war Ares, or hemera Areos, and later for the Roman god of war Mars, dies Martis. Mars was associated with the fourth planet because of its reddish hue. The English name comes from the Anglo-Saxon tiwesdæg, or "Tiw's day." Tiw (or Tiu, Twia) was the Germanic god of war and the sky based on the Norse god of war Tyr (or Tir). The word changed over time from tiwesday to tewesday to Tuesday.
|Day of Mars|
|Greek:||hemera Areos||Latin:||dies Martis||Anglo-Saxon:||tiwesdæg|
The planet that moves most quickly across the night sky is that closest to the sun, so the ancient Greeks named it in honor of the swift messenger god Hermes. The "day of Hermes," or hemera Hermu, was also dedicated to him. The Latin name for this day was dies Mercurii, named for the Roman messenger god Mercury. The Anglo-Saxons named the day wodnesdæg for Woden, the god of the wild hunt. Woden was based on the Norse god Odin. "Woden's day" evolved to wodnesday, wednesdai, and the modern English word Wednesday.
|Day of Mercury|
|Greek:||hemera Hermu||Latin:||dies Mercurii||Anglo-Saxon:||wodnesdæg|
The Greek hemera Dios, or "day of Zeus," was named for the supreme god of the heavens Zeus. The Romans likewise named the day dies Jovis, or "Jove's day," in honor of Jove, which is another name for Jupiter. Jupiter, the fifth planet, was the chief god of Roman religion who hurled lightning bolts from Mount Olympus. Jupiter's counterpart in Norse mythology was Thor, the god of strength and thunder. The Old Norse thorsdagr, or "Thor's day," was named in his honor. The Anglo-Saxon equivalent was thursdæg or thunresdæg, for "thunder's day." The Middle English thuresday evolved into Thursday.
|Day of Jupiter|
|Greek:||hemera Dios||Latin:||dies Jovis||Anglo-Saxon:||thursdæg|
Both this day and the second planet were dedicated to the goddess of love--the Greek Aphrodite, hemera Aphrodites, and Roman Venus, dies Veneris. The English word is derived from the Germanic frije-dagaz for "Frigg's day" or "Freya's day." Frigg and Freya (Fria) were both goddesses of Germanic and Norse mythology associated with love, beauty, and procreation. The modern word Friday is based on the Middle English fridai.
|Day of Venus|
|Greek:||hemera Aphrodites||Latin:||dies Veneris||Anglo-Saxon:||frigedæg|
The final day of the week was called hemera Khronu by the Greeks in honor of the god Cronus (or Kronos) who ruled the universe until dethroned by his son Zeus. The Romans named the day dies Saturni for the god Saturn, counterpart to Cronus and also the god of agriculture, who was associated with the sixth planet. The Anglo-Saxon sæternesdæg and sæterdæg, or "Saturn's day," evolved to saterday and is the root of the English word.
|Day of Saturn|
|Greek:||hemera Khronu||Latin:||dies Saturni||Anglo-Saxon:||sæterdæg|
In summary, most historians agree that our week is made up of seven days because of the seven primary celestial
objects observed by ancient astronomers--the Sun, Moon, and five planets observable with the naked eye. In most
European languages, particularly those more closely based on Latin, these days are named for the same ancient gods
as those seven bodies of the Solar system.
- answer by Joe Yoon, 15 June 2003
Read More Articles:
|Aircraft | Design | Ask Us | Shop | Search|
|About Us | Contact Us | Copyright © 1997-2012|