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Days of the week

How would you translate the days of the week ?

Monday is dies Lunae or literally "Day Moon" seem right ?

Are some of the day names based on Norse gods ? The Norse gods would not be know in Ancient times.

February 27, 2020



dies Lunae, dies Martis, dies Mercurii, dies Iovis, dies Veneris, dies Saturni, dies Solis

Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Sol (sun)

Norse gods? - I don't see any.


We see the traces of Norse gods in the English (< Germanic) names, which seem to be translations of the Latin names. Dies Lunae = day of the Moon = Monday; Dies Martis = day of Mars = Tuesday (and that's supposed to be the possessive form of a Norse god's name); Dies Mercurii = day of Mercury = Wednesday (and that's supposed to be the possessive form of Woden / Odin!), and so forth.


Thank you so much for the information! Yes, I haven't considered the origins of the English weekday names at all. I was only fixated on Latin. :)
A small addition:

I quote from my Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

Originally translated from the Latin for 'day of Mars' dies Marti and named after the Germanic god Tiw.
Originally translated from the Latin for 'day of Mercury' Mercurii dies and named after the Germanic god Odin.

(Sorry, my English is rather shaky. I'm German.)


Thank you! I'm sure I once saw that name of the Germanic god Tiw, but had forgotten it--it would be interesting to know what made people connect him and Mars, and Odin and Mercury.

I know nothing about Tiw, but one would have thought Jupiter made a better connection with Odin, right? (And Thursday = Thor's day; in Latin, dies Iovis, or Jupiter's day.)


Suzanne, I'm very sorry. Well, I wanted to answer you. Before that, I thought it would be good to look again in one of my books:
"Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte" by Richard M. Meyer For instance, there are 11 pages about the god Tyr (= Tiw or Tiu).
After reading I am completely confused. Conjectures, refutations, oontradictions, exceptions, limitations, objections... How dreadful!

Sorry, I have only compiled a list of links for this reason. I have chosen carefully. But if you don't like it, just ignore it, please!





Thank you, etymon! Excellent links! Have an upvote and a lingot! Well, mythology (and also the history of religion!) is a difficult and controversial terrain… :)


In addition to what etymon3 said, Sunday was also called diēs dominica (or dies dominicus), "the Lord's day," by Christians, espec. after the time of Constantine the Great. (Latin "diēs" could be either masculine or feminine, at times.) The feminine form is what gave French "dimanche," see Wiktionary and also this very informative discussion (found just now).

FWIW, in Latin from the Roman Republic (up to about 30 B.C.) and beyond you don't see mention of seven-day weeks or weekdays. I don't know why the Romans changed over to speaking about "weeks" but seem to recall reading that the names of some of the weekdays were found in graffiti from Pompey, so the change must have started by 79 A.D. . . . And this Wikipedia (or is it "Weekipedia"?) article has some good information about the Roman week; the whole "History" section, including before the link, is well worth reading, as is the article linked at the bottom, "Names of days of the week."


Great addition, slogger! - If it were possible, I would ask you: Could you teach me Latin, please? :))


Great addition . . .

Well, thanks! :)

If it were possible . . .

Very nice of you to say so, but you'd want a better teacher than I would make.

At level 17, have you finished the Duolingo Latin course? Are you planning to study more?

[Added] I don't mean to pry, so please do not hesitate to ignore my questions, of course.


Just a few remarks. - Latin here? This is just a warm-up for me. (Please, don't get me wrong, I'm not arrogant.) I study elsewhere too.
What do I want most of all? I want to read one by one: Sallust, Tacitus, Livius, Horace, Ovid, Catullus, Virgil, Christian Wolff (!)….
But I will certainly only read and stuy certain sections or poems thoroughly! (I have a few other things to do: first of all, I'm dealing with the history of science.)
Right now I'm reading Sallust's Bellum Iugurthinum. - I have to qualify that and say that I use a bilingual edition (Latin-German).

I'd like to ask you too: What are you interested in? What do you like to read? What are your goals? In conclusion, I would like to quote you: "I don't mean to pry, so please do not hesitate to ignore my questions, of course."


Thanks for your reply, etymon3. My apologies for responding so late. I did not see your comment right off.

If you are reading Sallust with any ease, your Latin is at least as good as mine. FWIW, of the Roman historians you mention, I'd take up Livy before Tacitus.

If you do not have a .pdf (or .djvu) file of the Wolff Ontologia, there are several copies of the edition you linked to on the Internet Archive, always a great source for such books. Or perhaps you have a copy in print?

History of science . . . There is so much in Latin concerning the sciences, of course, but the only outstanding work I've read is Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius, and that was several years ago.

What are you interested in? What do you like to read? What are your goals?

Well, it's nice of you to ask, and I'll attempt a reply.

Reading: In English, very little, as I read only about 20-25 pages a day of fiction (I read aloud to my wife for an hour every evening for recreation, as neither of us cares much for television). Fiction in Russian or French I also read (to myself), and occasionally Spanish, but Spanish for me requires more dictionary use and so moves more slowly. These books are seldom literary works, but rather science or historical fiction, etc. In a way I "fell out of love" with reading 25-30 years ago, but have not found much to replace it, other than language study.

Language goals? There are several. Long term I'd most like to become fluent in Attic Greek: that has been a goal of mine since I was a child. 25 years ago I could read Koiné (Biblical) Greek fairly well, and did read it for a few years, which was a good start, but never made the transition to Attic. After all this time I'll probably need to start ab initio. Being able to speak as well as read Attic Greek would be a definite plus, and it may be possible nowadays, given what is available on the Internet.

Another childhood goal was to learn Russian and Swedish, which languages my grandparents spoke. Russian I can read rather well, although I haven't spoken or written it for years. Swedish is yet to be mastered.

Actually, with Duolingo's facilities available, it is tempting to work through the German course, which should be sufficient for beginning to read easier material with a dictionary (I drew up a list a few years ago). Perhaps before finishing learning Swedish? It is a very tempting thought. German would be so useful for classical languages. I would have taken up study of German long ago if there were not these several other languages still only half learned.

However my main language goal right now is to learn to write (at least) and perhaps speak Latin adequately. Why Latin, when my other language skills are better, not to mention that for Latin the available resources for writing and speaking are far fewer than for the others? I don't know. But that's what I am doing, and it would be counter productive to abandon the attempt now. Not to mention that Latin is so fascinating.

You have become a fluent speaker (or certainly writer) of English. If you have suggestions for good methods to learn second-language writing and speaking, don't hesitate to share them, if you like!

. . . Well, reading this over I've written far too much, but I'll let it be.

I'd much rather hear about your interest In Latin. You've chosen a premier language for the study of the history of science, especially combined with German and English. Do you have a particular area of interest?


Do you really mean the German Christian Wolff, 17th century? Or did you make a mistake?


My understanding is that the days of the week sort of became a thing only after the introduction of Christianity. After all why would various non-Jewish peoples care about a 7 day cycle. It's not like their gods told them to rest on the 7th day and keep it holy. The actual term for this 7 day period came from the late latin "septimana" and survives in several forms in the romance languages (e.g. semana from Spanish and Portuguese).

My understanding is that in the romance speaking parts of Europe retained the roman god names for the weekdays at least while the Germanic parts of Europe grafted on their cultural equivalents. Sabado (in Spanish) comes from Hebrew but it seem the Anglo-Saxons preferred Saturn; while Sunday turned into "the Lord's Day" in the romance areas, while the Anglo-Saxons kept the sun in Sunday.

Does anybody know why the names for what we call the weekend changed?


I, too, always assumed that it was the rise of Christianity that gave the (originally) Jewish 7-day week to the world; but I think it's known--see the names of the days of the week, that our fellow students have been posting here about--that the ancients were able to view the close planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, etc.) and had named the days of the week for them. Are not these the divinities honored in the Roman Pantheon building? (I suspect that one of our learned readers will actually know how this works.)

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