Were danu and domnu [perhaps] the same person?

Discussion in 'Celtic Mythology' started by Alejandro, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    In Irish mythology the Tuatha Dé Danann were the "Tribe/People of the Goddess Danu," as in the children/descendants of this earth-mother-goddess. Similarly the mother-goddess of the Fomoiré (Fomorians), the traditional enemies of the Tuatha Dé Danann, was a certain Domnu, who, like her people, was said to have emerged from the sea.

    Considering the close relationship which the two groups had—such as the fact that the parents and ancestors of the most prominent Tuatha Dé were actually Fomoiré—is it likely that Domnu was merely an alias of Danu, and that Domnu was merely a grimmer/darker version of Danu? Or maybe it's like on one website I came across which claims that they are sisters[?]... And if they are that, who are their parents? (Also, isn't the pronunciation of their names in Old Irish curiously similar? I actually don't speak any Irish, Old or modern, so I'm just guessing wildly here...)
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  2. Caburus

    Caburus Active Member

    Domnu is older than Danu, at least the history of their tribes would suggest that. Danu is a water goddess - thought to share her name with the river Danube. It implies fresh runny water. Domnu means abyss or watery expanse, and suggests the deep ocean or the waters that lie beneath the earth. Her waters are deep and still, if not stagnant. Perhaps that is reflected in the character of the people, and thier portrayal by the victors (ie the Fomoire were old and stale and defeated by the fresh new Tuatha). Domu and Danu serve a similar purpose to Don in Welsh mythology, who may be Danu. Ran is the sea goddess in Norse.
    LegendofJoe likes this.
  3. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    Ah, I think I see what you're saying: Like as in because the Fomoiré are older than the Tuatha Dé Danann, the age-difference similarly applies to their respective ancestor-goddesses, with the Fomor ancestress being older than the Danann one? I like the analysis of the two as different kinds of waters, but what d'you make of the fact that in most versions of the mythology the Tuatha Dé share such an uncannily close kinship with the Fomoiré, as in where they are common descendants of the shadowy war-god Néit (who himself seems more akin to the Fomoiré than anything else), or in the version where An Dagda, Lir and Oġma, three of the most prominent of the Tuatha Dé, are the sons of Elatha, king of the Fomoiré, by his own sister Ethniu(!!)? In the latter case, what is it that makes those three gods Tuatha Dé at all? Is the assumption that they merely defected from their own people and joined the rival tribe?

    And is Néit likewise supposed to be a descendant of either of the two goddesses?
  4. Caburus

    Caburus Active Member

    Could it be a bit like with the Aesir, Vanir and Jotun in Norse myth, where once they appear in the same stories and intermarry, the distinction between how they are classed can become a bit blurred?
    The Tuath De Danann were invaders who first defeated the Fir Bolg, but then seem to have tried to unite with the Fomorians through marriage and joint rule, which eventually failed and led to the defeat of the Fomorians too. How far back is this decent from Neit and Danu/Dom? Perhaps there are attempts here to maryy/foster opposing families together. The Tuatha, the Fir Bolg, and the earlier Nemedians and followers of Partholon were all members of the same family (descendants of Japheth, from Scythia or Greece), each successively invading Ireland and encountering the already present Fomorians.
    How the Irish characters relate to each other seems to alter with each seperate account. Ethniu is the sister of Elatha, but also the daughter of Balor; Neit is the grandfather of Balor, yet his wife is a descendant of Ogma, the grandson of Balor; Ethniu is the mother of Lug (presumably her first born due to her father's fears of a grandson killing him), who was a young boy at the time of Nuada, King of the Tuath, yet the Dagda, Ogma and Lir, also sons of Ethniu, are adults at the time of Bres the king who preceeded Nuada. It seems that some accounts are so garbled as to make no chronological sense, even if they still retain some sense of a story line. Stories may have been twisted to suit predetermined agendas or be based on little understood stories that had multiple interpretations.
    Alejandro likes this.

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