The Dawn Goddess is hypothesised to have been one of the most important deities to the Proto-Indo-Europeans, due to the consistency of her characterisation as well as the relevance of Ushas in the Rig Veda. Her attributes have not only been mixed with those of solar goddesses in some later traditions, but have subsequently expanded and influenced female deities in other mythologies.
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The reconstructed name of the dawn, *h₂éwsōs, is based on the verbal root *hₐewes-, which meant "shine, glow (red), flame" and also underlies the word for "gold", hₐeusom: Lat. aurum, OPrus. ausis.
A common epithet associated with the Dawn is *Diwós Dʰuǵhₐtḗr, the "Daughter of Dyēus", the Sky-god. Cognates stemming from the formulaic expression appear in three traditions: "Daughter of Heaven" in the Rigveda, as an epithet of Uṣas; "Daughter of Zeus", a Homeric title associated with Ēṓs; and "Daughter of Dievas", an epithet transferred to a Sun-goddess in the Lithuanian folklore.
The Dawn-goddess is pictured as unageing and immortal, and her coming is sometimes depicted as a birth: she is ἠριγένεια ("early-born", "born in the morning") in the Iliad, and the Rigveda states that from "[the Aśvins's] harnessing the daughter of Dyaus [Uṣas] is born". She is also seen as opening the gates of Heaven: the Baltic verse pie Dieviņa namdurēm ("by the doors of the house of God"), which Saulė (the Sun) is urged to open to the horses who pull his carriage through the sky, is lexically comparable with the Vedic dvā́rau Diváḥ ("doors of Heaven"), which Uṣas opens with her light.
Hausōs is generally associated with red or golden cloths: she is "clothed in light" in the Rigveda and "saffron-robed" for Homer; Saulė and her daughter(s) are also dressed of silk or gold in Latvian songs. She is described as dancing: Uṣas throws on embroidered garments "like a dancer"; Saulė is portrayed as dancing in her gilded shoes on a silver hill; and Ēṓs has "dancing-places" around her house in the East. The Avesta likewise refers to a mythical eastern mountain called Ušidam- ("Dawn-house").
She is portrayed as a reluctant bringer of light for which she is punished, or as a victim saved from peril in the eastern sea by the Divine Twins. This theme is found throughout Indo-European mythology: Eôs and Aurora are sometimes unwilling to leave her bed; Uṣas is punished by Indra for attempting to forestall the day; and Auseklis did not always rise in the morning.
Cognates from the root *h₂éwsōs are attested in the following mythologies:
- Indo-Iranian: *Hušā́s,
- Hellenic: *Auhṓs,
- Italic: *Ausōs,
- Balto-Slavic: *Auṣ(t)ro,
- Germanic: *Austrōn, the goddess of springtime, and the root of the word for Easter,
The formulaic expression "Daughter of Dyēus" (*Diwós Dʰuǵhₐtḗr) is attested as an epithet attached to a dawn goddess in several poetic traditions:
- Vedic: duhitā́r-diváh, "Daughter of Heaven", epithet of Uṣas,
- Homeric: thugátēr Diós, "Daughter of Zeus", epithet of Ēṓs,
- Lithuanian: dievo duktė, "Daughter of Dievas", epithet of the Sun-goddess which likely took the attributes of Hausōs.
Another instance of formulaic poetry can be found in the expression *hₐ(e)us-sḱeti ("it dawns"): Lith. aušta, Av. usaiti, Skt ucchāti. The word for the dawn as a meteorological event has also been preserved in numerous cognates: Welsh gwawr ("dawn"), Lith. aušrà ("dawn"), OCS za ustra ("in the morning"), OIrish fāir ("sunrise"), or Skt uṣar-búdh- ("waking at dawn"). A derivative adverb, *hₐeust(e)ro- ("eastern"), was also preserved the following words: Latv. àustrums ("east"), Aves. ušatara ("east"), Lat. auster ("south wind, south"), PGerm. *austera (Eng. east, MHG oster).
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- Media related to Hausos at Wikimedia Commons