Francine Nicholson wrote:
> there was some discussion on the list as to what the early Irish
> scribes called the "gods" as opposed to the Christian "God."
I just happened to notice that Strachan, in his glossary
in _Old-Irish Paradigms and Glosses_, allots a separate
entry for "dea - a pagan divinity", as opposed to "Día".
DIL lumps them both under "día Also dea." Yet DIA also
has three separate headings for "Dea" as a proper name
element, including items such as "Tuath Dea". Thurneysen
says (GOI, p. 36): "As an intermediate form between 'é'
and 'ía' archaic texts sometimes have 'ea', e.g. 'Druim
Leas'... for later 'D. Lías'. This spelling is still
retained in Sg. [St. Gall glosses] and later sources for
the word 'dea' "god" when it means "idol, false god".
The gloss that Strachan cites, by the way, is:
in tan labratar ind fhilid a persin inna ndea, do-gniat
primam 7 secundam in illis (possunt tamen etiam in prima
inueniri persona et secunda per poetarum prosôpopoiías)
= "when the poets speak in the persona of the gods..."
There is no question that early writers use "día" to
name both the Christian deity and various "heathen" ones.
But the scope of "dea" in the latter sense -- and the felt
need for the distinciton -- might be an interesting study,
if it's not already wrapped up in an article somewhere.