Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/41

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The European Sky -God. 31

Labrandeus,^ etc., may have symbolised the lightning. More certain is the conception of him as a river-god or sea-god ; for the Boyne was called the fore-arm of Nuada's wife,2 Nuada being thus regarded as the husband of the river.^ Moreover, the Boyne was said to have burst forth from a sacred well once owned by a mythical being named Nechta or Nechtan."^ This name is related to the Irish nigini ' I wash,' negar ' he washes,' and other kindred forms such as the Anglo-Saxon m'cor, ' a water- monster' or 'crocodile,' and the German Nix, 'a sea- beast ' or ' sea-spirit.' ^ When, therefore, a monarch Nuada Necht is mentioned as an ancestor of the kings of Leinster in 110 E.G.,*" it becomes highly probable that Nuada the sky-god was identified with Nechta the water-spirit from whose well issued the Boyne.

Zeus and Jupiter were not only sky-gods and water- gods, but earth-gods as well. I do not know of any evidence to show that Nuada was ever specialised as an earth-god. But the world of waters in Celtic mythology largely corresponds to the chthonian realm of the Greeks and Romans^; and, if Nuada was a god of the waters,

^Classical Review xvii. 417. ^Rhys Hihbert Lectures p. 129.

^ Id. Celtic Britai7i p. 263.

'^ Id. Hibbert Lectures p. 122 f., Joyce Social History of Ancient Ireland i. 284, who state that the well, now called Trinity Well, is at the foot of Side Nechtain (Carbury Hill) in county Kildare.

^ Rhys Hibbert Lecttires p. 123 n. 2, Whitley Stokes Goidelica p. 133, A. Holder Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz s.v. Nect-a(g)nos, F. Kluge Etymolo- gisches Worterbtich der deiitschen Sprache s.v. Nix.

•^ O'Curry Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History p. 706, Alanners and Customs of the Ancient Irish ii. 53, Rhys Hibbert Lectures p. 122. In the Coir Anrnann 188 (Stokes and Windisch Irische Texte iii. 368 f. ) Nuada Necht is derived ' from nix, because Nuada Necht was as white as snow ' or 'from nox...iox Nuada was the first to plunder by night in Erin.' But the derivations propounded in the CSir Anrnann are frequently absurd (Stokes ib. p. 285).

Folk-lore xv. 274 ff. , xvi. 273.

® Squire Mythology of the British Islands pp. 48, 261, 270.