Lives Journal 4

Davorin Trstenjak

 

KERONS AND GER

(national deities of the old Carinthians)

 

The name of the province of Carinthia appears in medieval documents in the following forms: Carantanum, Caruntum, Karantana, Charanta, Charantania, Charentania, Charintania, Charentoriche (riche = reich), Regio Karintana etc. (Ankershofen, Handbuch der Gesch. des Herzogthums Kärnthen, volume II, pg. 336); therefore, always with the consonant k, never with g. As far as I know, the Slovenes in Carinthia always says: Koratan, Koroshko, Koroshec, and never: Gorotan, Goroshko, Goroshec; this means that Goratan is in fact spelt incorrectly. The name Karantan = Korôtan means rocky soil – karato, regio saxosa.

The words kar, ker, kor mean crag1 (saxum) and the word is still used in the hills of Solchava (Solchava pri Mozirju). The Carniolans say: cher (saxum) because they soften the k sound into ch. In Sanskrit too k becomes ch – e.g.: kash and chash, fererere, scindere, occidere, in Slovene: cheh, chehati, chehniti. I found the words kar and ker, meaning saxum, only in Solchava; but on the Pohorje plateau there are many toponyms and names of people living on or near this rocky land such as: Kran, Kores, Kernuzhnik, Kernik. The root is: kar – findere, scindere, in Serbian krniti, diffindere, therefore kar, ker = mons scissus,2 Armenian: kel findere = Slovene kal from kar, in Sanskrit: çar, spalten, durchbohren. From the root kar comes the Greek κουρις in Latin quiris, Spies, in Sanskrit çaru, Lanze, therefore: Quirites, Spiessträger, Spiessbürger, Gothic: hairus, gladius, Old Scandinavian: hër, gladius, Old Norse: kordis, Polish: kordek, Slovene: kordezh – chorda, pugio.

The following toponyms can be derived from this root: Kernuz, Krn, Krnski grad, Korska planina, and the historical names: Karat, Karast, Karento (in Serbian documents from 837; see Shafaøik, Geschichte der Südslaw. Liter. III. B. I. Abth. pg. 147). The former strong form was karant, like the ant forms, in Sanskrit açavant, in Latin ent, e.g.: violent, torrent, parent, in Greek αντ, (ιμαντ), οντ, (όδοντ) εντ, (χαριεντ) etc. (see Bopp, Vergleich. Gramm. V. Theil, pg. 1405, §. 957; Ebel in Kuhn's, Zeitschrift IV. 322).

This strong form has been preserved in the Slovene names: Marant, Bregant, Kobant, Porent, Tobant, Trabant etc. When we add the suffix an to Karant, Korant we get: Karantan, Korant,3 Old Slovene: karontan, korontan. Nestor writes: Xorutani, Chorutani.

The old Slovenes pronounced on like an; this is confirmed by the names: Andrica from ondra, voda, Lankovice etc.

When the vowel an or on stands at the beginning of a word it often acquires a v – e.g.: vozhe, vogelj, voza = Old Slovene: onzhe, ongelj, onza.

From korant we get the New Slovene: korôt, korotski, ts = sh: koroshki, e.g.: horvatski and horvashki. In Kranjska Gora I heard: Koroha, i.e. Kärntnerin.

As we find the living forms: kar, ker, kor = Old Bulgarian кръ, e.g.: крънъ mutilare, Sanskrit: karn, findere, linguists find it hard to decide whether to call r a vowel or not. Let us compare the Old Bulgarian кръмнло and the New Slovene kormilo. Even the people in Styria widely use the following expressions: smart, marzel, kart, the Poles too: targ, targovisko, litav. tirgus, Marktplatz – e.g.: Tergeste = Tergeshte. Also at the beginning of words we have ръ (e.g. the Old Bulgarian рътъ, apex) = ar, and sounds like: art, artich, arja, ardechi etc. Like the name Karantan, this means the names: Karn, Karnia, Karni, Karnsko also change following metathesis: Kran, Krania, Krani, Kransko. As the Romans wrote Karni and the name of the deity is Kerons, it is clear that ръ was not a vowel for the Old Slovenes of Noricum but was a pure consonant. New Slovene likes metatheses: vrata, Hrovat, vrabelj, prase etc; the Polabian Slavs spoke even more purely: vorta, vorbelj, gard, porse, parse = porcus, valditi = vladati, likewise the old Carinthians, as their duke was called: Valdunch = Vladuh with an ordinary rhinesm. I had to explain all this before moving on to explain the deity known as Kerons.

A monument honouring this deity was unearthed near Gornja Bela in Melska dolina (Mölltal); according to Lazi, the inscription reads:

 

CHAERON·TI. AVG.

N. DISP. RAT. COP. COP. EXPED.

FEL. II. ET. III, GERM.

 

(Lazius in Comment. reip. rom pg. 1211)

 

I am not confident enough to explain the whole inscription and what it means; I think the commander of the Roman military divisions (copiarum), i.e. of the first and second Germanic divisions (II. et III. german.), had this monument erected in honour of the god Kerons in order to secure a fortunate (fel.) expedition (exped.). It is obvious that Kerons was a prominent god judging by the surname augustus, which appeared on Roman inscriptions only in connection with the most superior deities.

From the Latin dative seen here: Chaeronti, the nominative must have been: Chärons, and the Romans declined the name like: pons, pontis, mons, montis etc.

Chärons = Kerons corresponds to the Lithuanian-Latvian forms: Perkhons for Perkonas, Létowens for Letowenas, pons for ponas, as the learned Pott explains: »vor auslautendem s wird der Vocal gerne ausgestossen.« The suffix onas is the Old Church Slavonic onz = Sanskrit unas, e.g. Ardzhunas, the New Slovene on in the names: Korchon, Balon and un; e.g.: vohun, gerdun, lizun.

The Slovenes of Noricum still used this suffix as shown by the Latinised names Mogursus = Mogurs – Moguras or Moguris, Devsus = Devas or Devis. Relations of the Devs still live in Kranjska Gora. The following Slovene names belong to this group: Klaps, Reps, Skerbs, Jers, Kars, Bors, Mors = Klapas, Repas, Skerbas, Jeras, Karas, Moras, Boras; compare: ovs = ovas – oves.

The root of the name Kerons is kar, ker, findere, diffindere, lacerare, Slovene: karati: Scharten machen, (skaran nozh; i.e. blunted knife); in the figurative sense: έριζειν, rixari, streiten, zanken; Kerons, therefore, originally meant: Deus findens, in the second sense: riscans, pugnans, and corresponds to the Polabian Karovit, monuments to whom can be found in Retra, as Masch writes – “Götterthron”, that is the pedestal or small column on which stood a depiction of Karovit.

The runic inscription reads: Chok Karovit(ov)-varja i riosniki. culumna Karoviti – praecedit severos.

Tree trunk in German is Stock, Pfeiler, in Serbian chokot, Weinstock, varjati; praecedere, riosnik = resnik, the form of the Polabian language in which jat = io, e.g.: lios, miora, stiona = lìs; mìra, stìna. (See Shafaøik. Slav. Alterth. II, 622).

Kerons was, therefore, worshipped as a god of war and helped only those who fought for a true and justified cause. Fragments of the Roman inscription also testify that the monument in honour of Kerons was erected to bring good fortune upon the leadership of military divisions.

It is unusual to discover that the Slovenes of Noricum had the names of deities in as simple forms as the Indians of the Vedic period, e.g.: Atrans, Belin, Beleshte etc. Later Indians (in the time of the epics) had the suffixes: deva = Deus, like: Mahadeva,4 Apadeva, Suradeva, and like the north Slav names from the IX and X centuries: Belbog, Lutibog, Ctibog, Dazhdbog, Svetovit, Karovit, Rugevit.

Only Old Russian names of deities are also simple and straightforward: Sim, Rgl, Mokosh, Volos, Hers etc.

Judging by his name and characteristics, the northern Slav Karovit was the sun god; this is shown by his two attributes: a bull’s head and cock. In Slav mythology the sun god is also the god of war.

In Sanskrit, Kerons would be Çarunas; in Indian mythology there is no deity with this name but the Indian Rama = Raduh, Radolj, as the sun god Kershna = Slovene: Kres, Kresnik, is also called Çura, and his name means the same as Kerons – scindens, findens, lacerans.

Just as a ploughman cuts the earth with the ploughshare and coulter, the sun loosens the earth with its rays; and that is why sun gods have ploughs and elements of ploughs as attributes to show that they are the guardians and promoters of farming; therefore Radogost and the Indian Rama, which is also: Halabhart, Pflugträger, the Sorbian hol, Pflug, e.g. the Slovene Holobor, person’s name, and the name of the ploughman in the Carnival who is also known as: Korant, Korent, Kurent. The Indian Rama – Kershna – Çura therefore corresponds to the Slovene Radogost – Kresnik – Kurent – and the Polabian Karovit.

The time of the year when the land was again prepared for sowing was a time of joy for the old Slovenes because the sun god defeated the dragon of winter – the shade, so they celebrated with dancing, with music, with songs and offerings, and they called the sun at that time of year: Radogost and Kurent, Korant,5 Korent, the deity which cleaves the earth – findit, scindit, that is why in Lithuanian we find: kurti, bauen, agrum colere.

Later these festivities grew out of hand; we find that Kurent has a Bacchanalian nature and Kurent strongly resembles the younger Dionysus and the Indian Rama – Prijamadhus = friend of honey – Freund berauschender Getränke.

Lenten ploughmen too resemble the worship of Rama – Çura – Radogost – Kurent; their ploughman, a handsome, well-dressed young man is called Korant, Kurent, Holobar; the ploughmen are accompanied by Mastnjak, who makes people drunk, wears a fur coat the wrong way, with a cow’s tail attached at the back and horns on his helmet.

In Old Church Slavonic, mast means humour, and in this way Mastnjak is similar to Dionysus’ drunken foster father Σειλενα – Silenus; compare the Sanskrit: sira, humor, Lithuanian: sele, Slovene: slina, and the Indian Prijamadhus, in whom the Indians also worshipped the earth’s preserving energy (Jones Asiat. Abhandl. I, 219.)

Çura, Kerons, Korant, Karovit are therefore originally sun gods with dual characteristics: guardians of acts of art and peace, as well as guardians and defenders in times of war, in a very natural way for the sun, which has both a benevolent and a destructive side.

The name Kerons, therefore, harbours the original meaning of κέραυνος, der Spalter, and the figurative meaning: rixator, der Streiter, and it is probably not just the surname of the sun god but also of the god of thunder and lightning, for he too cleaves mountains and trees, that is why Zeus is called: κεραυνιος, and Indra: Bidhiras, cleaver.

As we have persuaded ourselves that the root kar kor is Slovene, therefore, no-one should write Gorotan, Gorotanija – but Korotan, Korotania, and also th in the German »Kärnthen« is unnecessary. The Germans could quite simply write Karnten, Karntner. The forms Karintania – Karintana are a reminder of the transformation of the vowels a and e into i. This is confirmed to us by the forms: Vand, Vend and Vind. I will show in a separate article that Vand, Vend, Vind are also Slovene roots.

Another Slovene deity of the old Carinthians was called: Ger or Gerus. A monument to this deity was found in Goriche (Görtschach) in Upper Carinthia. The whole inscription reads:

 

GEROAVG. SACR.

 

Julius Verecundus et G. Julius Mercator et G. Julia, Juliana et G. Julius Secundus.

(Eichhorn, Beiträge II. 3., Muchar, Das Römische Noricum. I, 253) 

The Polabian Slavs also knew about the god Ger. The biographer of St. Otto (Vita et Ottonis III. cap. 7. pg. 502) writes: “Clericus Dietrichus nesciens, quo diverteret, audacter fanum ipsum erupit, et videns aureum clypeum parieti affixum Gero-Vito, qui Deus militiae eorum fuit, consecratum, quem contingere apud eos illicitum erat« etc.

The root is gar. In Sanskrit, ghar means lucere, splendere, urere; gharna, color. However, as in Sanskrit gh softens to h, we find: hari, haris,6 the name of the sun and sun horse.

Our great learned Mikloshich compares the Sanskrit ghr with goreti, ardere gorek, πικρος gorup (bitter). In Slav languages, more precisely in Serbian, we have: gar, color fuligineus; after the transition of the sound g to zh: zheravka, glühende Kohle. Gar is therefore the first stage, har (e.g. hariti, brühen) the second and zhar, zar the third.

According to Pictet, Celtic dialects have retained the following words: Irish: grian, the sun, Kimersk: graian, the sun; Old Celtic: grann, gryn, the sun; that is why inscriptions such as Apollini Granno, Apollini Gryneo show that Ger is not a Celtic form.

The learned Sonne writes very truthfully: »Der Begriff des lebhaften blendenden Lichtes (ghar) geht in den der Wärme über (compare Sanskrit: gharna, calor, Slovene: greti, gorek) oder der Hitze; aber auch Regungen des Gemüthes, die sich wie Freude, Zorn, Spott, Scham durch Verfärben, Erröthen und Erglühen äussern, werden mit dieser Wurzel bezeichnet« (compare Sanskrit: gharna, Wärme, Mitleid, Gemüthswärme, ghar – har, zürnen, haras, Zorn, Greek: χολο, Galle, Slovene: gorchina, amarities, gorek, amareus – also zholch, Galle is from this root: zarja, zora, zhar etc.

Gerus augustus is therefore the same as the Polabian Gerovit (according to the learned Kuhn, vit is the remnant of the ancient Aryan word: »rita«, Deus), the Indian Hari and the Celtic Grann, and the name Ger is as Slovene as the names: Svetved, Samuko, Kumo, Bonjata, Serb, Spora, Blendo, Kondol, Babur, Babec, Jentumar, Tapur, Lutumar, Recomar etc, which we can read on Roman stones in Carinthia.7

 

 

Prof. Dr. Biedermann (in his outstanding essay Slawenüberreste in Tyrol in volumes I and II of the beautiful Slavische Blätter) is surprised to find Slav settlements all over Tirol; I have found them even further in Helvetia (Switzerland), where nowadays they lead a miserable existence in the canton of Valais (Wallis). That is where branches of the Slovenes from Noricum were probably chased to, when at the beginning of the 4th century BC, Celts began invading the provinces of Noricum. But more on this in a separate article.

 

 

1 The word kar, which means rocky mountain, was borrowed from the Slovenes by the Germans of Carinthia and Salzburg, e.g.: Hochkar (the name of a mountain).

2 Benfey too explains that: aus çarkar ist sansk. çiri, Fels, von der Bedeutung, gespalten.

3 E.g. the name of a farmer in the parish of Vitanje: Korotanchnik.

4 Maha means the same as mnog; see many names on Slovene-Roman monuments: Mogurs, Mogir, Mogit, Mogimar etc.

5 I hereby correct my previous opinion, set out in Novice, where I wrote that Korant-Kurent was the god of rocky crags.

6 In Slovene: zelenko, feuerfarbenes Ross, Eisenschimmel; see my article about the horse »Zelenko« in Glasnik.

7 Besides the deities Kerons and Ger, a monument to Belin has also been found in Carinthia and a monument to the god Beleshte on the Carinthian border; I have already discussed these two in Novice. Besides, Carinthia has many depictions, especially of sun gods, on its Roman monuments.

 

Slovenski glasnik, Klagenfurt, 1865 (pp. 183-188)

 

 

 

Kerons and Ger is the lengthiest in a series of short essays by Davorin Trstenjak which were together entitled Mythologichne drobtine [Mythological crumbs] and were published in separate issues of Slovenski glasnik (»Lepoznansko-poduchen list«, edited and published by Anton Janezhich; issued in Klagenfurt 1858-1868). Every article focussed on a particular example from ancient Slav mythology, setting under the humble title of »crumbs« nothing less than the foundations of Slovene linguistic mythology as that branch of etymology, which explores the archetypal depths of myth-generating appellation in the light of contemporary linguistic-anthropological-archaeological connections (compare with C. Lévi-Strauss: the key importance of linguistics). The above essay is also important because it deals with one of the elementary Indo-European (perhaps even pre-Indo-European) roots (Trstenjak’s term: korenika), the generally monosyllabic: kar, ker, kor – gar, ger, gor – ghar, gher, ghor (variants of the inflectional ablaut; e.g.: Slovene: kor-en, Latin: cor, English: gore, Albanian: gur = stone, gurrë = source, karpë = rock etc.). Trstenjak discussed a related phenomenon in the essay O bozhanstvu Hersu (i.e. the sun god Hers, Hors, Hars, Harsh) in the same year of publication of SG.

Particularly noteworthy in the above essay is Trstenjak's mention of the legendary Retra (also known as Rethra, Rhetra, Riedegost, Radogost) and its monuments to Karovit. Retra was an ancient Slav political centre and sanctuary; its location is not clearly defined but probably corresponds to the archaeological site with remains of Slav pre-Christian wooden deities near the present-day lake Tollensesee in northeast Germany near the city of Neubrandenburg (River Tollense, state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern); many surrounding toponyms including Berlin show their Slav origin (Tollense: e.g. dolenska, dolin/c/a; Brandenburg – the Slav Branibor, the roots bran-, brenn- »marshland, obstacle«; similarly Berlin – Slav root: berl-, birl- »marshland«; e.g. Pletershnik, SNS: brlin – der Schwachsichtige; i.e. poor sighted, brljav, hazy – in a marshy environment; e.g. Russian: burlit' – to rustle; Polish: bry³a – piece of ice; German »counter-explanation« for Berlin: from »Bär« – bear).

(Note by editor I. A.)

 

 

Translated from Slovenian by Marko Petrovich

 

 

 

Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)