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Eos by Evelyn de Morgan (1895) (Eos is the Greek version of *H₂éusōs)

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman.

Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs or Ausōs (PIE *h₂éwsōs, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.

Etymology and cognates[edit]

The name *h₂éwsōs is derived from a root *h₂ews- "to glow, shine" (usually translated as "to become light or red (esp. in the morning), to dawn; dawn; east"), thus translating to "the glowing, shining one". Both the English word east and the Latin auster "south wind, south" are from a root cognate adjective *h₂ews-t(e)ro-. Also related is aurum "gold", from *h₂e-h₂us-o-m. The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

Derivatives of *h₂éwsōs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ἠώς (Ēōs) and Latin Aurōra, as well as Baltic *Aušrā ("dawn", cf. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrǭ is from an extended stem *h₂ews-t(e)ro-,[1] although it could also be etymologically identical with Lithuanian aušra ~ dial. auštra, Latvian austra (both "dawn") and Proto-Slavic *utro ~ *ustro ("morning"), the -t- in Balto-Slavic clearly being secondary and due to epenthesis.

The Italic goddess Mater Matuta "Mother Morning" has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.[2]


Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *h₂éwsōs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wénh₁os[3] (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas "loveliness; desire", used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir. The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess.[citation needed]

The love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The name of Aphrodite Άφροδίτη may still preserve her role as a dawn goddess, etymologized as "she who shines from the foam [ocean]" (from aphros "foam" and deato "to shine").[4] J.P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams (1997)[5] have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from *h₂ebʰor- "very" and *dʰey- "to shine". Other epithets include Ἠριγόνη Erigone "early-born" in Greek.


The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the new year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mallory (1997:148—149).
  2. ^ West (2007:226).
  3. ^ De Vaan 2008
  4. ^ Janda (2010), p. 65
  5. ^ Mallory, J.P. and D.Q. Adams. Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishing, 1997.
  6. ^ The view of Ushas and the surrounding Rigvedic ritual as a New Year celebration was first suggested by Hillebrandt in the 1920s. The proposal was at the time rejected by critics, but has since become the mainstream view, following a learned defense by Kuiper (1960). See West (2007), p. 225.