Friday, December 26, 2003
The seven-day week.
Will Shetterly helps answer a question I've had since I was a young Tolkien fan, busy concocting my own universe with its own economies, languages, myths, and cultures. (I made it to chapter six as a fourteen-year-old novelist — the real fun for me was making up the maps and alphabets and lineages and names — but then I got bored of fantasy and became fascinated by politics. Will remains fascinated by both!) I wanted to know where the seven-day week came from (Genesis providing a less-than-satisfactory answer). I thought a five-day week made more sense, and made up a calendar accordingly. But Will has been exploring the Sumerian origins of our seven-day system. On Tuesday, Will explained the origins of the day named for martial gods, and brought together the mythical and the political:
What, this isn't Marzizday? It's Tuesday? That's because the names were translated again when the Roman week came to England. Mars, who had replaced the Babylonian god Nergal, was in turn replaced by the Saxon god Tiu, the lawgiver, because Nergal, Mars and Tiu were all known as gods of battle—but calling them "gods of battle" is a gross simplification. I like to think of them as gods that represent the need to struggle for what's right.
So do something for goodness's sake!
Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 26 December 2003 at 2:48 PM