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Eastre & *Aus-

From:yl-ruil <yl-ruil@...>
Date:Thursday, April 27, 2000, 8:22
Raymond Brown wrote:

> At 7:51 pm +0100 24/4/00, yl-ruil wrote: > [....] > > > >"Easter" was quite a while back, it was the Vernal Equinox. > > By definition, it wasn't of course. The Vernal Equinox, as I'm sure > yl-ruil knows, is one of the factors used in determing the date of Easter, > the other being the date of the full moon.
I was being pagan there for a minute, we call our vernal equinox celebrations easter, too. Christians don't have a monopoly on the word. I was simply referring to "easter"'s original meaning.
> >Originally, > >Easter (OE. eastre, Old Frisian asteron, OHG ostarun) was the festival of > >Eostre (actually the WS form was Eastre, Eostre was Bede's Northumbrian > >form), the goddess of the dawn. > > This begs a few questions IMHO. Old English for Easter is 'éastre', with > initial _long_ e; like the modern German 'Ostern' it is clearly cognate > with the word for 'east', 'éast' in Old English; 'Ost' in modern German.
Obviously, I never said it wasn´t. OE éast, OF ást, OS óst, OHG óst, PG *austra-.
> >The Proto-Germanic was *Austron, based on > >*austra "east", from PIE *aus-, which also gave Latin aurora. > > Latin auro:ra (with long o) is derived quite regularly from earlier > *a:uso:sa which, in turn is from a root *a:uso:s (note long initial a). > The latter came into protoGreek as *a:uho:s --> *ha:wo:s, from which we > have, as expected - Homeric he:o:s (<-- *he:wo:s, with loss of [w] > 'digamma'), Corinthian ha:wo:s, Attic heo:s (with shortening of initial > vowel) and Ionic e:o:s.
Where has the long initial a come from? The Latin auro:ra comes from auso:sa:, with long _final_ a, cognate to Aeolian aúo:s. All this information is lifted from the Oxford Dictionary if English Etymology, who have a certain authority in such matters.
> I'm not so well versed on protoGermanic, but presumably we have to posit a > PIE *a:ws- which is comes into Gemanic with the extension -str- as
> meaning 'East' and into Greek & Latin with the extension -o:s(a), and > meaning 'dawn'. Is this stem attested in other IE languages, with or > without any extension? Indeed, do all IndoEuropeanists unreservedly > connect the Germanic, Latin & Greek forms? I think we have one or two > 'IndoEuropeanists' on the list who can, maybe, give us the answer :)
OK, I seem to have caused some confusion. When I gave all the forms, I neglected to add in diacritics, because they're a hassle to read for some people, but here goes: Old English: éastre, Old Frisian: ásteron, Old High German: óstarún, all from PG *austrôn-. This is related to "east", naturally. Note how the suffix -ôn is used to form the name of the goddess, similar to the Celtic process, whereby Welsh Mabon < *mapo:nos < mapos "son".
> The east, of course, long had a significant meaning for early Christians. > Churches were always built in medieval times with east/west orientation; > very often the exact orientation was determined by where the sun rose on > the feast day of the saint to whom the church was to be dedicated. All > maps were drawn with the east at the top - hence out use of the verb to > 'orientate'. The east & the dawn signify the coming of light. And Easter > ceremonies anciently began (as they still do) with the 'ceremony of
> > Hence I see no problem with a straigh connexion of Easter & East. > > We have IIRC only the Venerable Bede's authority to connecting 'éastre' > with the name of the goddess Eostre (or Eastre) whose name begins with a > short e. Do we have any independent accounts or evidence about this > goddess.
Yes, cognates are found in most of the Germanic languages. Éostre was the Northumbian form of Éastre. It did have a long initial e, AFAIK.
> Is here name really derived from the same root as East, Latin & > Greek words given above. If so, how do we account for the different > vocalization of éastre and Eastre?
We don't. There isn't a different vocalisation.
> Or has been got the goddess's name > wrong? Or is her name rather to be associated with the 'austr-' found in > Latin 'Auster' (south wind), [hence 'austra:lis' "southern" and the modern > Australia "the southern land"]? > > Do we have, indeed, independent evidence about this goddess - other than > what Bede tells us? What exactly was she goddess of? When was her > festival? Was it actually at the Vernal Equinox itself or was the moon > also used in calculating the exact date?
There is no way we can be sure, pre-literate Anglo-Saxons were not big on writing things down, and why would Christans preserve any more than minimal information on the faith they were trying to stamp out?
> These are genuine questions. I don't know the answers. But the older I > get, the more Bede's etymology seems to me like a perpetuation of 'folk > etymology' of his day. > > > > >BTW, is an oestrus cycle anything like a menstrual cycle, > > Quite similar - and one thing we can be certain of, Greek 'oistros' has > nothing to do with Easter (nor, I guess, with Eastre). > > Ray.
Dan ---- Bengesko niamso. Cursed German. ---- Dan Morrison (