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Greek equivalentEos
Roman equivalentAurora
Latvian equivalentAuseklis
Vedic equivalentUshas

Aušrinė ("dawning", not to be confused with Aušra, "dawn") is a feminine deity of the Morning-Star (Venus) in the Lithuanian mythology. She is the antipode to "Vakarinė", the Evening-Star.

Her cult possibly stems from that of the Indo-European dawn goddess *Hausos and is related to Latvian Auseklis, Greek Eos, Roman Aurora, and Vedic Ushas.[1] Aušrinė is the goddess of beauty and youth. After the Christianization of Lithuania, the cult merged with Christian images and the symbolism of the Virgin Mary.[2]

Historical attestation[edit]

Aušrinė was first mentioned by 16th-century Polish historian Jan Łasicki as Ausca. Łasicki described as goddess of the rays of the sun that descend and rise above the horizon.[3]

Folkloric role[edit]

According to folklore, each morning Aušrinė and her servant Tarnaitis (possibly Mercury)[4] prepare the way for Saulė (the Sun). In the evening, Vakarinė prepares the bed for Saulė.[2] The relationship between Saulė and Aušrinė is complex. Sometimes Saulė is described as mother of Aušrinė, Vakarinė and other planets – Indraja (Jupiter), Sėlija (Saturn), Žiezdrė (Mars), Vaivora (Mercury), and even Žemyna (Earth).[5]

In Latvian folk-riddles, her name is the answer to a riddle about dew. In this riddle, a girl loses her keys (or spreads her pearl necklace), the Moon sees them, but the Sun takes them.[6]

Myth of the "celestial wedding"[edit]

A popular myth describes how Mėnulis (Moon) fell in love with beautiful Aušrinė, cheated on his wife Saulė, and received punishment from Perkūnas (thunder-god).[3] Different myths also depict rivalry between Saulė and Aušrinė as Saulė is jealous of Aušrinė's beauty and brightness (Venus is the third-brightest object in the sky after Sun and Moon).[3][5] Despite the adultery or rivalry, Aušrinė remains loyal and continues to serve Saulė in the mornings.[5]

Other roles[edit]

Another myth, Saulė Ir Vėjų Motina ("The Sun and the Mother of Winds"),[7] analyzed by Algirdas Julien Greimas in detail, tells a story of Joseph, who becomes fascinated with Aušrinė appearing in the sky and goes on a quest to find the "second sun."[8] After much adventure, he learns that it was not the second sun, but a maiden, who lives on an island in the sea and has the same hair as the Sun. With advice from the Northern Wind, Joseph reaches the island, avoids a guardian bull, and becomes the maiden's servant caring for her cattle.[8] In the tale, Aušrinė appeared in three forms: as a star in the sky, as a maiden on land, and as a mare in the sea. After a few years, Joseph puts a single hair of the maiden into an empty nutshell and throws it into the sea. A ray from the sea becomes reflected into the sky as the biggest star. Greimas concludes that this tale is a double origin myth: the story describes the origin of Tarnaitis and the ascent of Aušrinė herself into the sky.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

According to Jonas Vaiškūnas, Aušrine also gives its name to the Morning-Star in Lithuanian folkly astronomy: Aušrinė žvaigždė, Aušros žvaigždė, Aušràžvaigždė, Aušrinukė.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mallory, J. P.; Adams, Douglas Q. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 148. ISBN 1-884964-98-2.
  2. ^ a b Zinkus, Jonas; et al., eds. (1985–1988). "Aušrinė". Tarybų Lietuvos enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). Vol. I. Vilnius: Vyriausioji enciklopedijų redakcija. p. 143. LCC 86232954.
  3. ^ a b c Greimas, Algirdas Julien (1992). Of Gods and Men. Studies in Lithuanian Mythology. Indiana University Press. p. 77. ISBN 0-253-32652-4.
  4. ^ Vaiškūnas, Jonas. "3. Star Names in the Folklore and Ethnographic Compendiums". Lithuanian Ethnoastronomy (in Lithuanian). Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
  5. ^ a b c Andrews, Tamra (2004). Wonders of the Sky. Libraries Unlimited. pp. 71–73. ISBN 1-59158-104-4.
  6. ^ Vaitkevičienė, Daiva. "Baltic and East Slavic Charms". In: The Power of Words: Studies on Charms and Charming in Europe. Edited by Kapaló James, Pócs Éva, and Ryan William. Central European University Press, 2013. pp. 215-216. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  7. ^ Valiukaitė, Lina. "Unikalus stebuklinės pasakos užrašymas. Saulė ir vėjų motina (AT 516B)". Tautosakos darbai, [t.] XIX (XXVI). Vilnius, 2003, p. 66–76. ISSN 1392-2831 [1]
  8. ^ a b c Greimas, Algirdas Julien (1992). Of Gods and Men. Studies in Lithuanian Mythology. Indiana University Press. pp. 64–84. ISBN 0-253-32652-4.
  9. ^ Vaiškūnas, Jonas. "Žinios apie dangaus šviesulius Griškabūdžio apylinkėse" [Knowledge on celestial objects around Griškabūdis]. In: Liaudies kultūra Nr. 5 (2009), p. 20. ISSN 0236-0551.

Further reading[edit]

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