a) Etymology

In the inscriptions, her name is generally written Sirona, but in Mâlain (Côte d’Or) it is spelt with TH (Thirona) and in Trier, Ihn and St-Avaud (Germany) with a crossed D (Ðirona). TH and Đ account for the sounds ts, ds or st in the Celtic language.2156 Her name is thus to be read [tsi:rona] or [sti:rona]. As regards the meaning of her name, which remains uncertain, three etymologies have been suggested. Stokes, De Vries, Lambert and Delamarre derive it from an Old Celtic root *ster- meaning ‘star’, which gave in Gaulish stir-, sir-, đir-, in Old Irish ser, in Welsh ser and in Breton ster, sterenn.2157 Sirona would thus signify and personify the ‘Star’. Yet, apart from being partnered with the sun god Apollo, she is never represented with stellar symbols or images in the iconography. Being generally worshipped in the context of healing waters, Lacroix proposes to relate her name to an IE radical *sti- designating ‘an accumulation of water’ or ‘a concentration of drops’, which he compares to Latin stilla, ‘drop’ and stiria, ‘frozen drop’, and to Breton ster, ‘river’, ‘basin’ or ‘washtub’.2158 As for Olmsted, he argues that Sirona may have been venerated in heifer shape, for her name can be derived from an IE root *ster- meaning ‘barren cow’.2159 Sirona (‘the Heifer’) would thus fall into the same category of water-goddesses in cow shape as the Irish river-goddess Bóinn (‘the Cow-White (Goddess)’), the British river-goddess Verbeia (‘She of the Cattle’?), and the Gaulish spring-goddesses Damona (‘the Cow (Goddess)’) and Borvoboendoa (‘the Seething White Cow’) we considered above.


Robert, 1879-1880, p. 137 ; Evans, 1967, pp. 410-419 ; De Vries, 1963, p. 143 ; Lambert, 1995, pp. 43-44 ; Sterckx, 1996, pp. 53-54.


Stokes, 1894, p. 313 ; De Vries, 1963, pp. 82, 143 ; Lambert, 1995, pp. 44 ; Delamarre, 2003, p. 281 ; Vendryes, 1997, p. 43 ; Koch, 2006, p. 1614.


Lacroix, 2007, p. 177.


Olmsted, 1994, pp. 356-357.