Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The days of the week in several Indian languages are named after the same planets/gods as the Graeco-Roman days of the week.

Did these arise from some common source predating both (PIE?), or was the Graeco-Roman week imported into India at some later point in time?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

One look at that chart you link to makes clear that the author is deficient in understanding Norse mythology:

  • Woden (or Odin) is the Norse King of the Gods and thus equivalent to Jupiter/Zeus and not to Mercury/Hermes;
  • Both Thor and Tyr/Tiw were Gods of War (Who guessed that the Norse were warlike), so identifying either one of them as equivalent to Mars/Ares I arbitrary. Thor is definitely not equivalent to Jupiter or Zeus.
  • Freya and Freyr are twins, so Friday must be thought of as named after both of them. If one simply must choose Freya, however, she is a Goddess of battle and war as much as love, so Diana is perhaps a better equivalence than Venus/Aphrodite.

That's three of the seven days with a serious issue on the claimed equivalence. The Sun and Moon are often seen as celestial book-ends, so putting them at the start and end of the week may simply be an extension of that. I don't see any need to invoke more human rationalization for the other claimed equivalences.

share|improve this answer
I have a follow-on question. Were the Norse gods, the deities of all Scandinavian peoples? –  David DelMonte Dec 16 '13 at 2:25
The Finns are Scandinavian but not Norse, and had different gods. The Germanic peoples had a very similar pantheon to the Norse (eg German Woden instead of Norse Odin), but I have not researched the exact dimensions of the similarities and differences. –  Pieter Geerkens Dec 16 '13 at 3:25
Interesting, but how is that relevant? The question wasn't about the Norse names. The fact remains that (except in Sanskrit) the Indian days are named after the same celestial bodies as the corresponding Graeco-Roman days, even if the gods associated with those bodies are not perfectly equivalent. –  Anubhav Chattoraj Dec 16 '13 at 5:06
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.