Thunderbolt

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Zeus' head and thunderbolt on a coin from Epirus, 234 BC. Epirus234bc.jpg
Zeus' head and thunderbolt on a coin from Epirus, 234 BC.
The thunderbolt pattern with an eagle on a coin from Olympia, Greece, 432-c.421 BC. Greek Silver Stater of Olympia (Elis).jpg
The thunderbolt pattern with an eagle on a coin from Olympia, Greece, 432-c.421 BC.
Zeus' head and thunderbolt on a coin from Capua, Campania, 216-211 BC. Capua AE Quadrunx 670058.jpg
Zeus' head and thunderbolt on a coin from Capua, Campania, 216-211 BC.
Ptolemaic coin showing the Eagle of Zeus, holding a thunderbolt Pt eagle.png
Ptolemaic coin showing the Eagle of Zeus, holding a thunderbolt

A thunderbolt or lightning bolt is a symbolic representation of lightning when accompanied by a loud thunderclap. In Indo-European mythology, the thunderbolt was identified with the 'Sky Father'; this association is also found in later Hellenic representations of Zeus and Vedic descriptions of the vajra wielded by the god Indra. It may have been a symbol of cosmic order, as expressed in the fragment from Heraclitus describing "the Thunderbolt that steers the course of all things". [1]

Contents

In its original usage the word may also have been a description of the consequences of a close approach between two planetary cosmic bodies, as Plato suggested in Timaeus , [2] or, according to Victor Clube, meteors, [3] though this is not currently the case. As a divine manifestation the thunderbolt has been a powerful symbol throughout history, and has appeared in many mythologies. Drawing from this powerful association, the thunderbolt is often found in military symbolism and semiotic representations of electricity.

In religion and mythology

Neo-Attic bas-relief sculpture of Jupiter, holding a thunderbolt in his right hand; detail from the Moncloa Puteal (Roman, 2nd century), National Archaeological Museum, Madrid Puteal de la Moncloa (M.A.N. Madrid) 03.jpg
Neo-Attic bas-relief sculpture of Jupiter, holding a thunderbolt in his right hand; detail from the Moncloa Puteal (Roman, 2nd century), National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

Lightning plays a role in many mythologies, often as the weapon of a sky god and weather god. As such, it is an unsurpassed method of dramatic instantaneous retributive destruction: thunderbolts as divine weapons can be found in many mythologies.

Thunderstones

The name "thunderbolt" or "thunderstone" has also been traditionally applied to the fossilised rostra of belemnoids. The origin of these bullet-shaped stones was not understood, and thus a mythological explanation of stones created where a lightning struck has arisen. [6]

In the modern world

The thunderbolt or lightning bolt continues into the modern world as a prominent symbol; it has entered modern heraldry and military iconography.

In iconography

In fiction

As a mascot

Cranston High School East in Cranston, Rhode Island.

Mica Mountain High School in Vail, Arizona.


It is also the mascot of Northmont High School, in Clayton Ohio.

See also

Related Research Articles

Cyclopes Member of a primordial race of giants in Greek mythology and later Roman mythology

In Greek mythology and later Roman mythology, the Cyclopes are giant one-eyed creatures. Three groups of Cyclopes can be distinguished. In Hesiod's Theogony, the Cyclopes are the three brothers Brontes, Steropes, and Arges, who made for Zeus his weapon the thunderbolt. In Homer's Odyssey, they are an uncivilized group of shepherds, the brethren of Polyphemus encountered by Odysseus. Cyclopes were also famous as the builders of the Cyclopean walls of Mycenae and Tiryns.

Ukko God of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder in Finnish mythology

Ukko, Äijä[ˈæi̯jæ] or Äijö[ˈæi̯jø], parallel to Uku in Estonian mythology, is the god of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder in Finnish mythology.

Mjölnir Hammer of the god Thor in Norse mythology

Mjölnir is the hammer of the thunder god Thor in Norse mythology, used both as a devastating weapon and as a divine instrument to provide blessings. The hammer is attested in numerous sources, including 11th century runic Kvinneby amulet, and the Poetic Edda, a collection of eddic poetry compiled in the 13th century, and the Prose Edda, a collection of prose and poetry compiled in the 13th century. The hammer was commonly worn as a pendant during the Viking Age in the Scandinavian cultural sphere, and Thor and his hammer occur depicted on a variety of objects from the archaeological record. Today the symbol appears in a wide variety of media and is again worn as a pendant by various groups, including adherents of modern Heathenry.

Vajra Weapon and/or symbol of pure, irresistible spiritual power in Dharmic religions

A vajra is a ritual weapon symbolizing the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt.

Thor Hammer-wielding Germanic god associated with thunder

In Germanic mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with lightning, thunder, storms, sacred groves and trees, strength, the protection of mankind, hallowing, and fertility. Besides Old Norse Þórr, the deity occurs in Old English as Þunor, in Old Frisian as Thuner, in Old Saxon as Thunar, and in Old High German as Donar, all ultimately stemming from the Proto-Germanic theonym *Þun(a)raz, meaning 'Thunder'.

Zeus (Marvel Comics) Fictional character in Marvel Comics

Zeus is a fictional character, a god appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is based on the god Zeus in Greek mythology.

Perkūnas was the common Baltic god of thunder, and the second most important deity in the Baltic pantheon after Dievas. In both Lithuanian and Latvian mythology, he is documented as the god of sky, thunder, lightning, storms, rain, fire, war, law, order, fertility, mountains, and oak trees.

Perëndi is the Albanian word for God, the sky and heaven. Perëndi is thought to have been a sky and thunder god in the Albanian pagan mythology, and to have been worshiped by the Illyrians in antiquity. His name has been retained in the Albanian language—along with the names Zot and Hyj —to refer to the Supreme Being after the spread of Christianity. Another archaic Albanian divine name of the sky and thunder god is Zojz, from PIE Dyeus (Daylight-Sky-God). In some of his attributes, Perëndi could be related to the weather and storm gods Shurdh and Verbt, and to the mythological demigod drangue.

Ukonvasara

Ukonvasara, or Ukonkirves, is the symbol and magical weapon of the Finnish thunder god Ukko, similar to Thor's Mjölnir. Ukonvasara means hammer of Ukko; similarly, Ukonkirves means axe of Ukko. It was said that Ukko created lightning with Ukonvasara.

Perkwunos is the reconstructed name of the weather god in Proto-Indo-European mythology. The deity was connected with fructifying rains, and his name probably invoked in times of drought. In a widespread Indo-European myth, the thunder-deity fights a multi-headed water-serpent during an epic battle, in order to release torrents of water that had previously been pent up. The name of his weapon, *meld-n-, which denoted both 'lightning' and 'hammer', can be reconstructed from the attested traditions.

King of the gods

As polytheistic systems evolve, there is a tendency for one deity, usually male, to achieve preeminence as king of the gods. This tendency can parallel the growth of hierarchical systems of political power in which a monarch eventually comes to assume ultimate authority for human affairs. Other gods come to serve in a Divine Council or pantheon – such subsidiary courtier-deities are usually linked by family ties from the union of a single husband or wife, or else from an androgynous divinity who is responsible for the creation.

Weather god Deity associated with thunder, rains and storms

A weather god, also frequently known as a storm god, is a deity in mythology associated with weather phenomena such as thunder, lightning, rain, wind, storms, tornados, and hurricanes. Should they only be in charge of one feature of a storm, they will be called after that attribute, such as a rain god or a lightning/thunder god. This singular attribute might then be emphasized more than the generic, all-encompassing term "storm god", though with thunder/lightning gods, the two terms seem interchangeable. They feature commonly in polytheistic religions.

Bident Two-pronged implement resembling a pitchfork

A bident is a two-pronged implement resembling a pitchfork. In classical mythology, the bident is a weapon associated with Hades (Pluto), the ruler of the underworld.

Perun Slavic supreme god of the sky and war

In Slavic mythology, Perun is the highest god of the pantheon and the god of sky, thunder, lightning, storms, rain, law, war, fertility and oak trees. His other attributes were fire, mountains, wind, iris, eagle, firmament, horses and carts, weapons, and war. He was first associated with weapons made of stone and later with those of metal.

The presence of lightning in religion is an historically existing and currently existing cultural aspect where-by the phenomenon of lightning has and is viewed as part of a deity, or a deity in and of itself.

Trident of Poseidon

The trident of Poseidon and his Roman equivalent, Neptune, has been their traditional divine attribute featured in many ancient depictions. Poseidon's trident was crafted by the Cyclopes.

Astrape and Bronte are, in Greek mythology, the twin goddesses of lightning and thunder. As members of Zeus' entourage, they were his shield bearers, given the task of carrying his thunderbolts along with Pegasus.

References

  1. DK B64.
  2. Plato (2008). Timaeus. 1st World Publishing. p. 15, paragraph 22C-D in original. ISBN   9781421893945 . Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  3. Clube, Victor; Napier, Bill (1982). The cosmic serpent: a catastrophist view of earth history . Universe Books. p.  173ff. ISBN   9780876633793.
  4. "Lightning Bolt- Symbol And Meaning". My Myth Stories. Retrieved 2021-11-16.
  5. Dictionary of Roman Coins
  6. Vendetti, Jan (2006). "The Cephalopoda: Squids, octopuses, nautilus, and ammonites". UC Berkeley. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  7. Geoffrey Peckham. "On Graphical Symbols". Compliance Engineering. Archived from the original on December 16, 2011. Retrieved August 3, 2012.