Dyeus (“daylight-sky-god”), also Dyḗus ph₂tḗr (“father daylight-sky-god”), is the reconstructed name of the daylight-sky god in Proto-Indo-European mythology. Dyēus was the bright sky of the day conceived as a divine entity and as the seat of the gods, the deywṓs. Associated with the vast diurnal sky and with the fertile rains, Dyēus was often paired with Dhéǵhōm, the Earth Mother, in a relationship of union and contrast.

While its existence is not directly attested by archaeological or written materials, Dyēus is considered by scholars the most securely reconstructed deity of the Indo-European pantheon, as identical formulas referring to him can be found among the subsequent Indo-European languages and myths of the Vedic Indo-Aryans, Latins, Greeks, Phrygians, Thracians, Illyrians, Albanians, and Hittites.



The divine name Dyēus stems from the root dyeu-, denoting the “diurnal sky” or the “brightness of the day” (in contrast to the darkness of the night), ultimately deriving from di or dei– (“to shine, be bright”). Cognates in Indo-European languages revolving around the concepts of “day”, “sky” and “deity” and sharing the root dyeu as an etymon suggest that Dyēus was the vast and bright sky of the day conceived as a divine entity.

A vṛddhi-derivative appears in deywós (“celestial”), the common word for “god” in Proto-Indo-European. In classic Indo-European, associated with the late Khvalynsk culture (900–500), Dyēus also had the meaning of “Heaven”, whereas it denoted “god” in general (or the Sun-god in particular) in the Anatolian tradition. The suffix-derivative *diwyós (“divine”) is also attested in Latin, Greek and Sanskrit.

The root *deynos (“day”), interpreted as a back-formation of *deywós, has descendant cognates in Vedic Sanskrit divé-dive (“day by day”), Latin diēs (“day”) and Dies, goddess of the day and counterpart to Greek Hemera, Hittite siwat (“day”), Palaic Tīyat- (“Sun, day”), Ancient Greek endios (“midday”), Old Armenian tiw (տիւ, “bright day”), Old Irish noenden (“nine-day period”), Welsh heddyw (“today”), or Slavic Poludnitsa (“Lady Midday”).

While the Greek goddess Pandeia or Pandia (Greek: Πανδία, Πανδεία, “all brightness”) may have been another name for the Moon Goddess Selene, her name still preserves the root di-/dei-, meaning “to shine, be bright”.

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The most constant epithet associated with Dyēus is “father” (ph₂tḗr). The vocable “Father Dyēus” was inherited in the Vedic Dyáuṣ Pitṛ́, Greek Zeus Patēr, Illyrian Dei-pátrous, Roman Jupiter (Djous patēr), even in the form of “dad” or “papa” in the Scythian Papaios for Zeus, or the Palaic expression Tiyaz papaz. The epithet Ph₂tḗr Ǵenh₁-tōr (“Father Procreator”) is also attested in the Vedic, Iranian, Greek, and perhaps the Roman ritual traditions.


Dyēus was the Sky or Day conceived as a divine entity, and thus the dwelling of the gods, the Heaven. As the gateway to the deities and the father of both the Divine Twins and the goddess of the Dawn (Hausōs), Dyēus was a prominent deity in the Proto-Indo-European pantheon. He was however likely not their ruler or the holder of the supreme power like Zeus and Jupiter.

Dyēus was associated with the bright and vast sky, but also to the cloudy weather in the Vedic and Greek formulas *Dyēus’ rain. Although several reflexes of Dyēus are storm deities, such as Zeus and Jupiter, this is thought to be a late development exclusive to Mediterranean traditions, probably derived from syncretism with Canaanite deities and the Proto-Indo-European god Perkwunos.

Due to his celestial nature, Dyēus is often described as “all-seeing” or “with wide vision” in Indo-European myths. It is unlikely however that he was in charge of the supervision of justice and righteousness, as it was the case for the Zeus or the Indo-Iranian Mithra–Varuna duo; but he was suited to serve at least as a witness to oaths and treaties. Proto-Indo-Europeans also visualized the sun as the “lamp of Dyēus” or the “eye of Dyēus”, as seen in various reflexes: “the god’s lamp” in Euripides’ Medes, “heaven’s candle” in Beowulf, “the land of Hatti’s torch” (the Sun-goddess of Arinna) in a Hittite prayer, Helios as the eye of Zeus, Hvare-khshaeta as the eye of Ahura Mazda, and the sun as “God’s eye” in Romanian folklore.


Dyēus is often paired with Dʰéǵʰōm, the Earth goddess, and described as uniting with her to ensure the growth and sustenance of terrestrial life; the earth becomes pregnant as the rain falls from the sky. The relationship between Father Sky (Dyēus Ph₂tḗr) and Mother Earth (*Dʰéǵʰōm Méhₐtēr) is also of contrast: the latter is portrayed as the vast and dark dwelling of mortals, located below the bright seat of the gods. According to Jackson however, as the thunder-god is frequently associated with the fructifying rains, she may be a more fitting partner of Perkwunos than of Dyēus.

While Hausos and the Divine Twins are generally considered the offsprings of Dyēus alone, some scholars have proposed a spouse-goddess reconstructed as Diwōnā or Diuōneh₂, with a possible descendant in Zeus’s consort Dione. A thematic echo occurs in the Vedic tradition as Indra’s wife Indrānī displays a similar jealous and quarrelsome disposition under provocation. A second descendant may be found in Dia, a mortal said to unite with Zeus in a Greek myth. The story leads ultimately to the birth of the Centaurs after the mating of Dia’s husband Ixion with the phantom of Hera, the spouse of Zeus. Another female name derived from *Dyeus may be found in the Mycenaean Greek Diwia, attested in the second part of the nd millennium BC and which may have survived in the Pamphylian dialect of Asia Minor. The reconstruction is however only based upon the Greek–and to a lesser extent the Vedic–tradition, and it remains therefore not secured.

If the female goddesses Hera, Juno, Frigg and Shakti share a common association with marriage and fertility, Mallory and Adams note however that “these functions are much too generic to support the supposition of a distinct PIE ‘consort goddess’ and many of the ‘consorts’ probably represent assimilations of earlier goddesses who may have had nothing to do with marriage.”


Cognates stemming either from the root dyeu (“daylight, bright sky”), the epithet Dyēus Ph₂ter (“Father Sky”), the vṛddhi-derivative deiwós (“celestial”, a “god”), the derivative diwyós (“divine”), or the back-formation *deynos (a “day”) are among the most widely attested in Indo-European languages.

  • PIE: *dyēus, the daylight-sky god,
    • Indo-Iranian: *dyaus,
      • Sanskrit: Dyáuṣ (द्यौष्), the god of Heaven, and dyú (द्यु), the common word for “heaven”,
      • Old Avestan: dyaoš, “heaven”, mentioned in a single verse of the Avesta, and Young Avestan: diiaoš, “hell”, as a result of the Zoroastrian religious reformation,
    • Mycenaean Greek: di-we (diwei), dative case of an otherwise scarcely attested name,
      • Cypriot Syllabary: ti-wo, interpreted as pertaining to Zeus and the possible genitive Diwoi.
        • Greek: Zeus (Ζεύς), the god of the Sky, also Boeotian Lac., Corinth., Rhod. Deús (Δεύς),
    • Italic: *djous (dious),
      • Old Latin: Dioue or loue,
        • Latin: Jove (Iove), the god of the Sky, and Diūs (Fidius), the god of oaths,
      • Oscan: Diúvei (Διουϝει), genitive singular,
      • Umbrian: Di or Dei (Grabouie/Graboue), attested in the Iguvine Tablets,
      • Paelignian: Ioviois (Pvclois) and Ioveis (Pvcles), interpreted as a calque of the Greek theonym Diós-kouroi,
    • Anatolian: *diéu-, *diu-, a “god”,
      • Hittite: šīuš, a “god” or the Sun-God,
      • Palaic: tiuna, “divine”, a “god”,
      • Lydian: ciw-, a “god”,
    • Illyrian: dei- or -dí, meaning “heaven” or “God”, as in Dei-pátrous, the “sky-father”,
    • Proto-Messapic: *dyēs,
      • Messapic: Zis or Dis, the sky-god,
    • Albanian: Zojz, a sky and lightning god, and Perën-di, a sky and thunder god (the suffix -di is attached to per-en-, an extension of PIE *per- “to strike”),
    • Thracian: Zi-, Diu-, or Dias– (in personal names),
    • Phrygian: Tiy-.
    • Lydian: Lefs or Lévs, the Lydian Zeus.
    • Bithynia: Tiyes and Anatolian city Tium (Τιεῖον).

Sky-Father epithet

Ritual and formulaic expressions stemming from the vocable *Dyēus Ph₂ter (“Father Dyēus“) were inherited in the following liturgic and poetic traditions:

  • PIE*Dyēus Ph₂ter, “Father Sky”,
    • Greek: Zeus Pater (Ζεῦ πάτερ),
    • Vedic: Dyáuṣ-pitṛ́ (द्यौष्पितृ),
    • Italic: *Djous-patēr,
      • Latin: Jupiter (Iūpiter), along with the archaic forms Diespiter and Iovispater,
      • Oscan: Dípatír, Umbrian: Iupater (or Iuve patre), South Picene: (Toutiks) dipater,
    • Illyrian: Dei-pátrous, recorded by Hesychius as Δειπάτυροϛ (“Deipáturos”), a god worshiped in Tymphaea.

Other reflexes are variants that have retained both descendants of the root dyeu (“sky”) and the original structure “Father God”. Some traditions have replaced the epithet ph₂ter with the nursery word papa (“dad, daddy”):

  • Luwian: Tātis tiwaz, “Daddy Tiwaz”, the Sun-god,
  • Palaic: Tiyaz papaz, “Papa Tiyaz”, the Sun-god,
  • Scythian: Papaios (Papa Zios), “father Zeus”, the god of the Sky,
  • Old Irish: in Dagdae Oll-athair, “Great Father the Dagda” (from the Proto-Celtic formula *sindos dago-dēwos ollo fātir, “Great Father the Good God”).

Other variants are less secured:

  • Hittite: attas Isanus, “Father Sun-god”; the name of the sky-god was replaced with a Hattic sun-god loan, but the original structure of the formula left intact,
  • Latvian: Debess tēvs, “Father of Heaven”,
  • Old Norse: Óðinn Alföðr, “Odin, All-Father” or “Odin Father of All”,
  • Russian: Stribogŭ, “Father God”,
  • Albanian: Zot, “lord” or “God”, epithet of Zojz, the sky-father (generally thought to be derived from Proto-Albanian *dźie̅u ̊ a(t)t-, “heavenly father”; although the etymology *w(i)tš- pati-, “lord of the house”, has also been proposed).

“Celestial” derivations

The Germanic god Týr, 1895.

The Germanic god Týr, 1895.

Cognates stemming from *deywós, a vṛddhi-derivation of *dyēus (the sky-god) are attested in the following traditions:

  • PIE: *deywós (lit. skyling, pl. *deywṓs), meaning “celestial, heavenly one”, hence a “god”,
    • Indo-Iranian: *daivá (daiua), a “god”,
      • Sanskrit: devá (देव), meaning “heavenly, divine, anything of excellence”, and devi, female title meaning “goddess”;
      • Avestan: daēva (daēuua), a term for “demons” in Zoroastrianism, as a result of a religious reformation that degraded the status of prior deities,
        • Old Persian: daiva meaning “false deities, demons”,
    • Balto-Slavic: *deiwas,
      • Baltic: *deivas,
        • Lithuanian: Diēvas (Old Lithuanian deivas), Old Prussian: Deywis (or Dìews), Latvian: Dievs, supreme god of the sky; and the Baltic Dievaitis (“Little God” or “Prince”), a name used to refer to the Thunder God Perkūnas, or to the Moon God Mėnuo.
    • Germanic: *tīwaz (pl. *tīwōz), a word for “god”, although specifically associated with a Germanic god whose name was supplanted by the title “God”, *Tīwaz,
      • Old Norse: Týr, associated with justice; the plural tívar survived as a poetic word for ‘the gods’, and týr appears in kennings for Odin and Thor, such as in the Odin’s names Sigtýr (“victory-god”), Gautatýr (“god of the Geats”), Fimbultýr (“powerful god”), or Hertýr (“army-god”),
      • Old English: Tīw (or Tīg), Old High German: Zio (or *Ziu), a god,
      • Gothic: *Teiws, and the associated rune ᛏ (Tyz),
      • The word ‘Tuesday’ in ON Týs-dagr, OE Tīwes-dæg and OHG Zies-tag, a calque of Latin dies Martis; interpreted as a remnant of the sky and war functions of *Tīwaz by G. Kroonen, although M. L. West views it as unlikely,
    • Italic: *deiwos, a “god, a deity”,
      • Old Latin: deivos (deiuos), the “gods”,
        • Latin: deus, common name for a “god, a deity”; and Dea (“goddess”), a title assigned to various Roman goddesses like Dea TacitaBona Dea or Dea Dia (“Goddess of the Daylight” or “Bright Goddess”).
          • Vulgar Latin: Deus, the god of Christianity in the Vetus Latina and the Vulgate,
      • Oscan: deivas, Venetic: deivos, “gods”,
      • Volscian: deue Decluna, attested in an inscription from Velitrae, possibly from the rd century BC.
    • Celtic: *dēwos, a “god, a deity”, and *dago-dēwos, the “good god”, old name of the Dagda,
      • Celtiberian: teiuo, a “god”,
      • Gaulish: dēuos, a “god”,
        • Gaulish: Devona (/deuona/) or Divona (/diuona/), a deity of sacred waters springs and rivers whose name means “Divine”,
      • Old Welsh: Dubr Duiu (“Water of the Divinity”), evolving into Mod. Welsh Dyfrdwy (River Dee, Wales). The form devadiva (“goddess”) likewise appears in Celtic river names throughout Western Europe, such as in the Scottish rivers Dēoúa (modern-day Dee, Galloway), and Dēouana (Δηουανα; modern-day Don, Aberdeenshire),
      • Old Irish: día, a “god”, and An Dag-da, the druid-god of wisdom,
        • Irish: Dhe (“god”), attested in the modern Sùil Dhé mhóir prayer (“The eye of the great God”, in reference to the Sun), featured in Carmina Gadelica.
    • Messapic: deivadīva, “goddess”,
    • Phrygian: devos.

Other cognates are less secured:

  • Slavic: *diva (> *dîvo), perhaps a word for a “good deity” which progressively took the meaning of “miracle”, hence “evil being”,
    • Old Church Slavonic: divo, Old Polish: dziwo, Russian: dívo, Serbo-Croatian: dîvo, “miracle(s)”,
    • OCS: divŭ, “demon”, South Slavic: div, “giant, demonic being”, Czech: divo-žena, “sorceress, witch”, Slovak: divo, “monster”, although the Proto-Slavic root *divŭ(jĭ) (“wild”) has also been proposed,
  • Lusitanian: Reo, an unknown deity.
    • Lusitanian: Deiba and Deibo, attested in votive inscriptions of altars; taken to mean the “local” or “indigenous” pronunciations of Deae and Deo.

Other cognates deriving from the word diwyós (dyeu “sky” + yós, a thematic suffix) are attested in the following traditions:

  • PIE: *diwyós, meaning “divine, heavenly”,
    • Mycenaean Greek: di-wi-jo (/diwjos/), di-wi-ja (/diwja/),
      • Greek: dîos (δῖος), “belonging to heaven, godlike”, also “belonging to Zeus” in tragedies,
      • Greek: Día (Δῖα < *Díw-ya), a goddess venerated in classical times at Phlius and Sicyon, and possibly identified with Hebe, the cup-bearer of the gods,
    • Sanskrit: divyá, “heavenly”,
    • Avestan: daeuuiia, “devilish, diabolic”,
    • Latin: dīus, “godlike”,
      • Latin: Diāna (from an older Dīāna), goddess of the moon and the countryside.
      • Latin: Dīs Pater, from dīves (‘wealthy, rich’), probably derived from dīus via the intermediate form *deiu-(o/e)t- (“who is like the gods, protected by the gods”).


As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to Proto-Indo-European religion evolved, attributes of Dyēus seem to have been redistributed to other deities. In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyēus was the chief god, while the etymological continuant of Dyēus became a very abstract god in Vedic mythology, and his original prominence over other gods largely diluted.

In non-Indo-European traditions

Various loanwords of *deiwós were introduced in non-Indo-European languages, such as Estonian taevas or Finnish taivas (“sky”), borrowed from Proto-Indo-Iranian. In Turkic mythology, Tengri is portrayed as the Heavenly-Father, and Mircea Eliade notes that “morphologically and in its general outlines, the Indo-European religion resembles that of the Turko-Tatars—supremacy of the celestial God, absence or minor importance of goddesses, cult of fire, and so on.”

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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