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buber.net > Basque > Folklore > Basque Mythology: Ortzi
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Basque Mythology: Ortzi

The following was translated from an article originally in Spanish at the Encyclopedia Auñamendi.

Ortzi is the firmament, the clarity of the sky. This name makes up parts of words whose equivalent word in Indo-European contains the name of a divinity, the personification of the blue sky or firmament. Examples include those of lightning and thunder. If the Indo-European terms contain the name of a diety, it is believed that, in translating them, the Basques did so while conserving their own religious sense. Thus, the Basques dedicated Thursday to the sky (ostegun: day of the sky) in the same way the Indo-Europeans did: if the Indo-Europeans used these names because, for them, the sky was a diety, the Basques probably did so as well for the same reason. Certain names of the lightning bolt, such as oneztarri or ozkarri 'stone of lightning' and the belief that this stone falls to the earth, buries itself seven levels deep inside of it, and then rises one level each eyar until it arrives at the surface in the seventh year is the myth of the hammer of Thor and of the arrows of Jupiter, steroetyped in the Basques names of the thunderbolt. It is, therefore, probably that Urtzi was the heavenly diety of the Basques. In addition, in the XII century, Aymeric Picaud reported that the Basques «Deum vocant Urcia» (called God Urcia), which confirms our hypothesis.

J. M. of B.

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