Hinduism equivalentDanu
Indo-European equivalentDeh₂nu
Celtic equivalentDanu

Donbettyr (Ossetian: Донбеттыр) is the god of all waters, and the protector of fish and fishermen in Ossetian mythology.[1][2][3] He is related to a Scythian deity of the same name.[4] His name is possibly derived from don, meaning 'river', derived from danu, meaning 'to flow', as a prefix for the name Peter ("Bettyr"), possibly in reference to Saint Peter.[5][6] He is the Ossetian equivalent of the Greek Poseidon.[7]


His beautiful daughters are the Ossetian equivalent of sea nymphs.[7] Through them, he is the ancestor of many of the heroes of the epic Nart saga of the north Caucasus, including Uryzmaeg, Satanaya, Xaemyts, and Batraz.[8][9]

Donbettyr's golden-haired daughter Dzerassae was the mother of Uryzmaeg, Satanaya, and Xaemyts.[8]

Donbettyr is also the maternal grandfather of the Nart hero Batraz, through the marriage of the hunter Xaemyts to an unnamed daughter of Donbettyr.[10] In the story of their marriage, Xaemyts is chasing a white rabbit and shooting at it. It dies, but returns to life three times, before escaping to the coast where it dives into the sea. Donbettyr rises from the water and declares that the hare was actually his daughter and that Xaemyts must marry her.[8] Xaemyts agrees, only to be told that his wife will appear on earth during the day in the form of a tortoise. Only at night will she take the form of the beautiful woman he married.[8][11]

When Uryzmaeg had a son, Donbettyr took it upon himself to raise the boy, deep beneath the sea.[12] While sometimes this boy is nameless, in some versions he is the Caucasian culture hero Amirani. Generally raised on land, in this Ossetic variation, Amirani is thrown into the sea and raised by Donbettyr and his daughters, eventually rising from the sea on the back of a bull.[13]


  1. ^ Walter, Philippe (2008-01-01). La Fée Mélusine : Le serpent et l'oiseau (in French). Editions Imago. ISBN 9782849524565.
  2. ^ Vernadsky, George (1959). The Origins of Russia. Clarendon Press.
  3. ^ The Caucasus. Language and Communication Research Center, Columbia University. 1956.
  4. ^ Peoples, International Conference on the Bronze Age and Iron Age; Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania University Museum of Archaeology and (May 1998). The Bronze Age and early Iron Age peoples of Eastern Central Asia. Institute for the Study of Man. ISBN 9780941694636.
  5. ^ "Journal of Ancient History". Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  6. ^ Foltz, Richard (30 December 2021). The Ossetes: Modern-Day Scythians of the Caucasus. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-7556-1846-0. Retrieved 29 August 2022. "bettyr", a corruption of (St) Peter.
  7. ^ a b Petrosyan, Armen (2002). The Indo-european and ancient Near Eastern sources of the Armenian epic: myth and history. Institute for the Study of Man. ISBN 9780941694810.
  8. ^ a b c d Tuite, Kevin (1998). "Achilles and the Caucasus" (PDF). Journal of Indo-European Studies. 26 (3): 26–27.
  9. ^ Woodard 2013, p. 217.
  10. ^ Woodard, Roger D. (2013-01-28). Myth, Ritual, and the Warrior in Roman and Indo-European Antiquity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139851725.
  11. ^ Soviet Anthropology and Archeology. International Arts and Sciences Press. 1985.
  12. ^ Littleton, C. Scott; Malcor, Linda A. (2013-10-23). From Scythia to Camelot: A Radical Reassessment of the Legends of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the Holy Grail. Routledge. ISBN 9781317777700.
  13. ^ Abrahamian, Levon (2007). "The Chained Hero: The Cave and the Labyrinth". Iran & the Caucasus. 11 (1): 96. doi:10.1163/157338407X224923. JSTOR 25597317.