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. [5]

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

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

See also

Related Research Articles

Zeus Greek god of the sky and king of the gods

Zeus is the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who rules as king of the gods of Mount Olympus. His name is cognate with the first element of his Roman equivalent Jupiter. His mythology and powers are similar, though not identical, to those of Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perkūnas, Perun, Indra, Dyaus and Thor.

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, they are the brothers Brontes, Steropes, and Arges, who provided Zeus with 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, or Äijä or Äijö, parallel to Uku in Estonian mythology, is the god of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder in Finnish mythology. Ukkonen, the Finnish word for thunder is the diminutive form of the name Ukko. Some researchers believe that Ilmarinen, another Finnic sky god, is the origin of Ukko, while some others believe that Ukko's original name was Baltic Perkele. Ukko is held the most significant god of Finnish mythology, although it is disputed by scholars whether this is accountable to later Christian influence. In the folk poems and prayers he is also given the epithet Ylijumala, probably in reference to his status as the most highly regarded god and on the other hand his traditional domain in the heavens. Other names for Ukko include Pitkänen, Isäinen, Isoinen. Although portrayed active in myth, Ukko makes all his appearances in legend solely by natural phenomena when appealed to. According to Martti Haavio, the name Ukko was sometimes used as a common noun or generalised epithet for multiple deities instead of denoting a specific god.

Mjölnir Hammer of the god Thor in Norse mythology

Mjölnir is the hammer of Thor, the Norse god associated with thunder. Mjölnir is depicted in Norse mythology as one of the most fearsome and powerful weapons in existence, capable of leveling mountains. The Prose Edda relates how the hammer's characteristically short handle was due to a mistake during its manufacture.

Vajra Weapon &/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 and is the Sanskrit word having both meanings.

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 and also hallowing and fertility. Besides Old Norse Þórr, extensions of the god occur in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar. All forms of the deity stem from a Common Germanic *Þunraz.

Zeus (Marvel Comics)

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

Perkūnas

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.

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.

A thunderstone is a flint tool or fossil turned up by farmer's plow that was thought to have fallen from the sky. They were often thought to be thunderbolts. It was not until travelers returned from far-away places where these implements were in use among primitive cultures that the origins of these objects became known. Even then, these travelers' tales received little popular credence.

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

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. Likewise, the three-pronged trident is the implement of his brother Poseidon (Neptune), god of the seas and earthquakes, and the lightning bolt, which superficially looks as if it has one prong, is a symbol of Zeus.

Perun Slavic god

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.

Sharur (mythological weapon)

Sharur, which means "smasher of thousands" is the weapon and symbol of the god Ninurta. Sumerian mythic sources describe it as an enchanted talking mace. It has been suggested as a possible precursor for similar objects in other mythology such as Arthurian lore.

Lightning in cultures has been viewed as part of a deity or a deity in of itself.

Trident of Poseidon weapon used by Poseidon/Neptune

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 goddessess 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. Dictionary of Roman Coins
  5. Vendetti, Jan (2006). "The Cephalopoda: Squids, octopuses, nautilus, and ammonites". UC Berkeley. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
  6. Geoffrey Peckham. "On Graphical Symbols". Compliance Engineering. Archived from the original on December 16, 2011. Retrieved August 3, 2012.