• Proto-Indo-European Religion
• Indo-European Languages
• Proto-Indo-European Goddesses
• Proto-Indo-European Myths
• Proto-Indo-European Rituals
• Festivals, Food and Farming
Pleto, whose name might
better be written *Pleto, with an asterisk to indicate that this is the
reconstructed form, is one of the Great Goddesses of the Indo-Europeans. Her
name is formally reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European by Mallory and Adams as
*pltH2wiH2 meaning ‘Plenty’ (p. 267, Oxford
Introduction). Many western linguists have understood the meaning of this
as ‘flat (land)’ apparently in the belief that all female deities are “earth”
deities, but in fact she is deified as a Goddess of wide flat rivers that
meander across the land. Her name is formed from the basic Indo-European root
*pleu- ‘to flow’ with forms like ‘flow, Pluto’ etc., in various languages, (p.
2043, American Heritage Dictionary). As is usual among the Indo-European deities, she has both male and female forms.
Sanskrit and Persian forms
She also appears in the form Leda, a Goddess who was the mother of various sets of famous twins, born from eggs, also with the assistance of a swan. Leda is a word that means “woman, wife, lady” in Lycian, a language spoken in Anatolia. And she appears in a native Greek form as Plataia according to Walter Burkert, although he considers her an ‘Earth Goddess’ (see p. 17, Greek Religion). However, Plataia is the nymph of a spring.
And finally she appears in Greek in a masculinized form as the God Ploutos. This might not seem related but Ploutos was thought to be the God who caused water to form springs that come up out of the ground. Many people in ancient times did know that water seeping down from mountain tops, especially snow-covered peaks, formed springs at the lower levels, but it nevertheless seemed like a miracle that water could appear in otherwise dry countryside, often continuing to flow even during the times of summer drought. The Greek God Ploutos (his name means “Plenty”) was borrowed into Latin as Pluto, and he was later demonized by Christians as a God of “hell,” because they thought everyone had to have one. However Ploutos was considered a beneficent God by the Pagans who knew that ground water was essential for the life of plants, on which they depended directly and indirectly.
Other Language Groups
This Goddess often gives her name to wide flat rivers and their sources which are naturally her domain (from northern England to Lebanon to Ukraine), and she was often thought of as taking the form of a swan because swans prefer such rivers, where they can rest on the water and not be bothered by predators. There are a number of myths connected to her that have a swan transformation, and she is often associated with the constellation Cygnus, though the mythology isn’t clear.
Rivers were universally worshiped by the Indo-European-speaking people, probably on a daily basis, since most people did not have water piped into their houses and for thousands of years they had to go to a spring, river or well for their daily needs. There were also temples for this Goddess in many countries and a number of towns are named after her where she is the dominant, or favorite deity.
This article was published at pierce.yolasite.com/pleto but Yola was hacked in Nov. 2011 and they could not salvage their data storage, so it has been migrated here.
© 2007, last updated 4/10/2011, at piereligion.org/pleto.html