Question on Greek-Latin crossover

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Question on Greek-Latin crossover

Postby Curio Agelastus on Fri May 28, 2004 11:24 pm

Salvete omnes,

I have continued reading my history of Byzantium, and reached the Armenian dynasty, and the rise of Romanus II. Now John Julius Norwich mentions that Romanus, as the father-in-law of the puppet Armenian on the throne at the time, awarded himself the title of Basileopator, or father of the Basileus. Now obviously in Latin Pater is father. My question is this: where does the root word come from? Was it a Greek word adopted by the Romans? A Latin words adopted by the Greeks? Or did they both adopt it from an earlier source?

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sat May 29, 2004 8:56 am

Salve Curio,

Both stem from the Indo-European root "p@ter" ('@' standing for schwa), leading to "pater", "father", "Vater", "père", "padre" etc., including even the Sanskrit "pita".

Perhaps it is also worth mentioning that the Greek Zeus and the Roman Jupiter also derive from one root, "dyeus pater" ("bright father"), the Greek retaining only the first half, Latin merging them.

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sat May 29, 2004 5:21 pm

Quintus Pomponius Atticus wrote:Both stem from the Indo-European root "p@ter" ('@' standing for schwa), leading to "pater", "father", "Vater", "père", "padre" etc., including even the Sanskrit "pita".


Indeed, although not all linguists agree that Proto-Indo-European had a schwa. :P

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Postby Curio Agelastus on Mon May 31, 2004 4:00 am

Salvete Attice et Draco,

Many thanks, I hadn't realised that the original Indo-European root had survived in so many modern languages. The point about Zeus and Jupiter is fascinating as well. Does this indicate an original God known as Dyeus Pater, or perhaps an Indo-European deity known affectionately as the bright father, in the same way that Cronos became associated with Old Father Time?

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Mon May 31, 2004 1:34 pm

Salve Curio

Many cultures have associated the daylight with gods and nighttime with goddesses. Who knows why? Maybe some woman could lend us an insight to that dark mystery? That is more the meaning of Bright Father, for Djeus-piter can also be translated as Sky Father or Heavenly Father, and a remnant may be the distinction made between Jupiter and Summanus. Many cultures also associate the sky with a god and the earth with a goddess, Egypt being one exception. It is perplexing how different cultures have similar ideas and even some of the same myths, where cultural transmission cannot explain it. For example there are some Polynesian myths that parallel Greek myths. In the past these unexplained similarities have lead to all sorts of strange theories. "Lost Tribes" of Israel and such. Or how about the one of the Mandan Indians whose native language seemed to contain Welsh words and the theory that they descended from one of King Arthur's knights? Odd that of all the tribes they alone had blue eyes.

Anyway, to answer your question, I don't think one can really reconstruct an original IE religion, or what may have been an original IE culture as there are too many factors that were involved, preventing us from pinpointing what IE's even were. The earliest identifiable IE language is found among the Hittites. You can draw some parallels among them with Rome that are not found among other IE speaking cultures. There is one theory that the original IE's who came into Europe were central Asian horsemen, a theory most promoted by Gimbutas to contrast with her theories about an "Old Europe" agriculturalist society. But then there are more common terms related to agriculture and animal husbandry than there are related to horses. And theories of geneticists seem to support the idea that an IE culture originated with agriculturalists in northern Syria. Animal husbandry spread into Europe further than did agriculture at first, and with it some IE language. Language alone does not determine culture, and so what we have with IE language is many different ethnic groups and different cultures adopting IE as a language at different stages of their development, to where no one has any idea of what may have been the culture or ethnic group in which IE language first developed.
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Mon May 31, 2004 3:12 pm

M Moravi Horati Piscine wrote:Language alone does not determine culture, and so what we have with IE language is many different ethnic groups and different cultures adopting IE as a language at different stages of their development, to where no one has any idea of what may have been the culture or ethnic group in which IE language first developed.


I agree. Before the Indo-European peoples spread across Europe, there were other cultures there as well which we don't know much about. For example the Germanic peoples are actually a merger of the Indo-Europeans and another people that was sea-faring and had a society that was structured along the lines of matriarchy. These are things that can be traced clearly through language history. My idea is that even the earliest Indo-European tribes were mergers of other peoples or may have had differing sub-groups that are impossible to trace now.

With regards to ethnicity, however, genetics may offer some solutions (such as in the case of the Indians you mention). Genetics was able to discard the myth that Neanderthal humans and the modern homo sapiens sapiens interbred or that the Neanderthals disappeared because of interbreeding.

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Mon May 31, 2004 3:36 pm

Salvete Draco aliique,

My idea is that even the earliest Indo-European tribes were mergers of other peoples or may have had differing sub-groups that are impossible to trace now.


Then, may I ask, what is your evidence or indication for that assertion, mi Draco :wink: ?

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Mon May 31, 2004 3:44 pm

Salve Attice,

I cannot offer evidence for what cannot be proven, but there are nearly no peoples on the earth that are not mergers of different peoples/races, underwent deep influences from other peoples or have important subcultures.

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Postby Curio Agelastus on Tue Jun 01, 2004 12:39 am

Salvete omnes,

Piscinus: Polynesian myths that parallel Greek myths? That's bizarre... I was looking at similarities between Germanic and Mediterranean myths recently, I hadn't realised mythical and religious similiarities went so far afield. Do you know any good books on the subject? Yes, I've heard about the Central Asian theory for the origins of the Indo-Europeans. It seems to me that Central Asia is the source of all human life :wink: after all, IIRC the Huns, Avars, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Magyars, Visigoths, Mongols, Turkic peoples, Slavs, and just about every other people seem to have originated there... More seriously, I had been under the impression that Palestine was the likely source for the first agrarian-based system (and hence the first that was not entirely nomadic) to spread into Europe.

Draco: How are we aware of this matriarchal sea-faring society? What do we know of them?

Incidentally, it was mentioned that current thinking is that the first signs of the Indo-Europeans are to be found in Syria, whereas I had thought that the Black Sea was where we had traced them to? Have their been new developments, or am I just entirely wrong? :roll:

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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Tue Jun 01, 2004 1:55 am

Salvete,

Draco: How are we aware of this matriarchal sea-faring society? What do we know of them?


Yes, I'm interested in this as well, don't tell me we're dealing with the infamous Hyksos here ! :D

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Tue Jun 01, 2004 8:32 am

Yes, I've heard about the Central Asian theory for the origins of the Indo-Europeans. It seems to me that Central Asia is the source of all human life after all, IIRC the Huns, Avars, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Magyars, Visigoths, Mongols, Turkic peoples, Slavs, and just about every other people seem to have originated there...


Perhaps archaeologists should begin to look for a geyser spitting out humans :lol:

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Tue Jun 01, 2004 1:12 pm

Curio and then Lupus wrote:
Draco: How are we aware of this matriarchal sea-faring society? What do we know of them?


Yes, I'm interested in this as well, don't tell me we're dealing with the infamous Hyksos here !


Well, we know this because all Germanic languages share certain basic words for naval and maritime items, or have distinct words for female kinship (some of them have now disappeared though or became interchangeable) not found in and not related to Indo-European languages. I should browse through my Introduction to the Germanic Languages course again to give more details.

I've heard the name or term "Hyksos" before but I'm not sure what it means. What does it mean?

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Tue Jun 01, 2004 1:53 pm

Salve Draco,

The Hyksos were foreign invaders, mainly Semites either from Canaan or from Syria, who established a dynasty in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. They took control over Memphis in 1674 BC and founded the 15th Dynasty (1674-1567 BC) which ran parallel to the 16th, a dynasty of vassal chiefs under Hyksos control. Their capital was Avaris or Tell (mound) Daba in the northeastern part of the Delta.

In the history of Ancient Greece the Hyksos are used as a sort of passe-partout to 'solve' problems scholars can get no grip on. E.g., to explain the rise of Mycenaean civilisation around 1600 BCE, historians have suggested that the Hyksos invaded the Greek mainland and established a new dynasty there, or that the sudden wealth of the Mycenaeans was the result of gifts from the Egyptians as a thanks for their help in chasing away the Hyksos.

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Postby Aulus Dionysius Mencius on Tue Jun 01, 2004 1:59 pm

Salve Gnae et Attice.

More information on their rule in Egypt can be found at
ancientneareast.tripod.com/Hyksos.html
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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Tue Jun 01, 2004 11:46 pm

Salvete,

Piscinus scripsit :

Many cultures also associate the sky with a god and the earth with a goddess, Egypt being one exception. It is perplexing how different cultures have similar ideas and even some of the same myths, where cultural transmission cannot explain it.


For those who have read (I've only read small bits and pieces), isn't there something about this in "The Golden Bough" by Frazer, concerning all mythologies having a mother-earth-goddess ? I think he used the myth of Attis and Cybele as an example.

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Wed Jun 02, 2004 1:06 pm

Salvete,

Piscinus scripsit :

It is perplexing how different cultures have similar ideas and even some of the same myths, where cultural transmission cannot explain it.


The best known explanation for this is still, I think, Lévi-Strauss'. He answers this question not by the content of myths, but by their structure. To make this argument he insists that myth is a language because myth has to be told in order to exist. A myth is almost always set some time long ago, with a timeless story. He says myth is actually on a more complex level than language. Myth shares with language the following characteristics:

1. It's made of units that are put together according to certain rules.
2. These units form relationships with each other, based on opposites which provide the basis of the structure.

He concludes that the structural method of myth analysis brings order out of a mess. It provides a means to account for widespread variations on a basic myth structure, and is logical and scientific. This was important for the scientist in Levi-Strauss. He says that repetition, in myth as in oral literature, is necessary to reveal the structure of the myth. Because of this need for repetition, the myth is told in layer after layer. However, the layers aren't the same, and it's eventually shown that the myth "grows" as it is told, but the structure of the myth does not grow. Source.

Personally, I don't know if this theory is valid. I know far too little on the subject to proclaim any well-founded judgment on it. I do however think that in every culture human beings simply experience similar challenges, cares, problems etc. that can basically only be reacted to in a relatively limited number of ways.

Lupus scripsit :

For those who have read (I've only read small bits and pieces), isn't there something about this in "The Golden Bough" by Frazer, concerning all mythologies having a mother-earth-goddess ? I think he used the myth of Attis and Cybele as an example.


I haven't read it yet, but in the index of my copy I find a chapter "XLVI : The corn-mother in many lands". That should be it, nonne ? If you want me to look up anything, drop me a note.

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Postby Curio Agelastus on Wed Jun 02, 2004 1:49 pm

Salve Draco,

You said: Well, we know this because all Germanic languages share certain basic words for naval and maritime items, or have distinct words for female kinship (some of them have now disappeared though or became interchangeable) not found in and not related to Indo-European languages. I should browse through my Introduction to the Germanic Languages course again to give more details.

Could these not just be Indo-European words? After all, if the Indo-Europeans did originally live in the Black Sea area, then that would explain the maritime similarities. Equally can we be sure that originally Indo-European society wasn't matriarchal?

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Wed Jun 02, 2004 2:11 pm

Equally can we be sure that originally Indo-European society wasn't matriarchal?


Based on IE mythology and the values reflected in it, there is I think universal consensus that the Indo-Europeans were a strongly patriarchical society.

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Wed Jun 02, 2004 4:08 pm

Salve!

Marcus Scribonius Curio wrote:Could these not just be Indo-European words? After all, if the Indo-Europeans did originally live in the Black Sea area, then that would explain the maritime similarities.


Unlikely, because it would need attested correspondences between these words in say, Proto-Germanic and Latin, and as far as I know there aren't any (with regards to this maritime terminology).

Marcus Scribonius Curio wrote:Equally can we be sure that originally Indo-European society wasn't matriarchal?


It's very unlikely it was a matriarchal society. In written culture there are no traces of any ancient IE matriarchal society I know of, and family names/terminology in IE languages have the tendency to stress male rather than female kinship (e.g. Ajax, son of Telamon or Leif Erikson).

Vale!
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Thu Jun 03, 2004 2:51 pm

Salvete Attice et sodales omnes

Quintus Pomponius Atticus wrote: Myth shares with language the following characteristics:

1. It's made of units that are put together according to certain rules.
2. These units form relationships with each other, based on opposites which provide the basis of the structure.


I find this interesting and can attest to its validity with regard to my family's tradition. As a very small child I was taught our tradition through the veglia. The veglia is made up of a number of myths and fairytales, or really units of myths and fairytales, strung together with stories from history and family history, as well as adages, morales and some practical knowledge such as weather lore. Every time a story was told it was different because parts of various myths would be placed together, and the characters in the tales were usually family members, or some historical person, which allowed digressions into other things. One story for example had a distant relative being executed by Nero, which is really quite a common tale. The story of the half-boy is a common Italian fairytale, only with us it was made into a part of family history by always changing who the boy was. In the story two women visit the garden of a witch, the one who is pregnant is caught by the witch and has to agree to give up half of her unborn child before she is released. There is much to how this comes about, but in one version the witch catches the woman after she buries herself, all except her ear so she can hear when the women approach. The "witch's ear" is the name of a mushroom, which offered a digression on a particular mushroom and how to use it. When the boy reaches a certain age the witch catches him and takes her half. The boy then hops home on his one remaining foot, telling his mother "Look what that old witch did to me!" Then the boy has many adventures, everytime different adventures, whereby he becomes whole again. That allowed for his tale to be interwoven with any sort of other tales, so that in the telling, the story could be made to fit any situation or teach any lesson that the story teller wanted to present.
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