Greek Gods - The Sanskrit Connection
The myths of Greece and Rome have inspired the people and literature of the West from time immemorial. Though the Gods are originally Greek, their latin (Roman) names have been used more frequently in art and poetry. For example:
Roman name Greek name
Also it is now widely accepted that the classical languages Latin, Greek and Sanskrit have a common source in a much older language, which is extinct today. To illustrate this point it is customary to demonstrate the similarity of the most common words. For example, the word "father" is:
Sanskrit, pitri Latin, pater
Gothic, vader Greek, pätair
Thousands of such words are there.
Mythologies of ancient India and Greece have some similarities here and there. Some of the vedic gods have counterparts in Greek mythology. Thus Uranus in Greek mythology is Varuna in the vedic literature. Mars is Marut in Indian mythology. But what is not generally known is the astonishing fact that the names of Greek gods and heroes have in a great measure been found to correspond with Sanskrit names of physical things! It is important to emphasize the fact that some of these names are not related to gods or heroes in Indian mythology itself, but merely names of just physical things, though Dyaus is the Vedic creator and sky god and father of Surya the sun god and Agni the god of fire.
A simple list follows:
Greek God/Hero Sanskrit word meaning
Zeus dyu, Dyaus shine, sky, day; sky god
Hera soar bright sky
Uranus var conceal, cover
Daphne Dahana dawn
Ixion Akshanah one bound to a wheel
Paris Panis night demons
Athene ahana the light of daybreak
Prometheus Pramanthas Stick used to kindle Fire(Agni) (More)
These are some obvious connections. An expert in the field will be able to find many more.
Why this is not known?
Though many linguists have accepted the common origin of Indo-European Languages (Sanskrit, Greek, Latin) when it comes to Indo-European race we find less agreements (rightly so). Also Indo-Greek connection has been a less explored area than the general Indo-European language link. One reason the Greek-Sansrit connection was under-explored is because of the political prominence of the Roman Empire in the later European and Christian history. Even the Greek Gods were better known by their Roman names.
Once the Romans took political control, Greek Mythology never got the status which Vedic Mythology got in India. "The role of the Mysteries is hard to define since much of their ritual was secret, and at a later date information about them was suppressed by Roman and Christian alike, but we do know that the Mysteries proliferated and dominated Hellas spiritually for more than a millennium , and were the most effective mass religious cult in the Greco-Roman world."
The Greek Link to India, though accepted, has been sidelined by the later Western Researchers. Internet is giving valuable information in this regard. "Perhaps it was not there in the first place, perhaps a basic folk-memory encompassing historical data ranging back some thousands of years was recast in Greece in the mould of myths which had emanated from India along with a handful of the Indo-European sky god personalities. There may even have been other influences from India early in the first millennium BC. ,which we are not aware of, just as there were later influences from India bearing on the philosopher, and the appearance, in the generation of Socrates if not before, of "Aesopicß tales", which are obviously recast from the materials of the Sanskrit Hitopadeça and Pançatantra."
Some Proofs emerging
In this internet era, more information is out there for public eyes. It's impossible to hide anything now. So recently I came across (2002 Jan) some information underlying what I wrote almost five years ago. But the following was in fact written 125 years ago, though not known to many people!
Alexander Murray, Manual of Mythology (London, 1874), 326-40.
For example, many names unintelligible in Greek are at once explained by the meaning of their Sanscrit equivalents. Thus, the name of the chief Greek god, Zeus, conveys no meaning in itself. But the Greek sky-god Zeus evidently corresponds to the Hindu sky-god Dyaus, and this word is derived from a root dyu meaning "to shine." Zeus then, the Greek theos, and the Latin deus, meant originally "the glistening ether." Similarly other Greek names are explained by their counterparts, or cognate words in Sanscrit. Thus the name of Zeus's wife, Hera, belongs to a Sanscrit root svar, and originally meant the bright sky: the goddess herself being primarily the bright air. Athene is referred to Sanscrit names meaning the light of dawn, and Erinys is explained by the Sanscrit Saranyn.
. . . . .
DYAUS was, as we have already indicated, the god of the bright sky, his name being connected with that of Zeus through the root dyu. As such Dyaus was the Hindoo rain-god, i.e., primarily, the sky from which the rain fell. That the god-name and the sky-name were thus interchangeable is evident from such classical expressions as that "Zeus rains" (i.e., the sky rains), and meaning a damp atmosphere. In such expressions there is hardly any mythological suggestion: and the meaning of the name Dyaus, — like those of the names Ouranos and Kronos in Greek, — always remained too transparent for it to become the nucleus of a myth. Dyaus, however, was occasionally spoken of as an overruling spirit. The epithet, Dyaus pitar, is simply Zeus pater — Zeus the father; or, as it is spelled in Latin, Jupiter. Another of his names, Janita, is the Sanscrit for genetor, a title of Zeus as the father or producer. Dyaus finally gave place to his son Indra.
Even the question whether Sanskrit is the mother of all languages (Indo-Euroepan) has been speculated, but negatived by the same author.
In the Sanscrit language the myths common to the Aryan nations are presented in, perhaps, their simplest form. Hence the special value of Hindoo myths in a study of Comparative Mythology. But it would be an error to suppose that the myths of the Greeks, Latins, Slavonians, Norsemen, old Germans, and Celts were derived from those of the Hindoos. For the myths, like the languages, of all these various races, of the Hindoos included, are derived from one common source. Greek, Latin, Sanscrit, etc., are but modifications of a primitive Aryan language that was spoken by the early "Aryans" before they branched away from their original home in Central Asia, to form new nationalities in India, Greece, Northern Europe, Central Europe, etc.
The Sanscrit language is thus not the mother, but the elder sister of Greek and the kindred tongues: and Sanscrit or Hindoo mythology is, in like manner, only the elder sister of the other Aryan mythologies. It is by reason of the discovery of this common origin of these languages that scholars have been enabled to treat mythology scientifically.