KOINONIA Greek Forum Login To Start Posting!
KOINONIA - Greek Forum
Profile | Active Topics | Latest Topics | Latest Replies | Popular
RSS Feed | Partners | Search | AFQ

» Forgot your Password?

 All Communities
 History, Culture, Society
 Greece before Christ
 Etymology of the name of Greece
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
Registration is closed. The Forum remains available only as a source of published information.


Previous Page
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic
Page: of 2


23 Posts

Posted - 18 Feb 2006 :  00:24:39  


In your second post, you state:

"Sel- and hel- are connected as in selas and helios (sun), they have to do with illumination. Besides this (and regardless of any etymology) the whole historical information that we have, confirms the connection of the race called Hellenes with Selloi, priests of Dodona in Epirus."

Ancient genealogies are mythological, not historical. (The very concept of "historical" arose after Herodotus' "Research." The ancient myths were understood to be true accounts... before the age of philosophy and of Herodotus. They are not necessarily false, but they do not constitute evidence.) Etymological detection is the best we can achieve. Considering its difficulties, the results are often at best probable.

You connect the "hel-" of either "HellEn" or "Hellas" with Helios, but here you are supposing that HellEn consists of two etyms (hel + lEn) or that there is no important difference between one L and two Ls. Whoever originated this etymology probably thought of

Ilios [or Ilion], on which Ilias/Iliados is based, the latter referring to the territory or region of Ilios [or, for that matter, of the Ilieis, the Trojans).

By analogy, somebody thought:
Hellas/Hellados < Helios [=the sun].

NO; a valid analogy (that is, probable in value) would be:
Hellas < Hellios (or Hellion)
BUT Hellios or Hellion is NOT an attested word. Unlike the phonologists, I would not re-construct this word to suit my purposes. Furthermore, an attested word we have is HellEn/HellEnes. So:

By analogy with "Ilieis", one would obtain HellEneia or HellEneias. We may not diregard the possibility that "Hellas" is the ancient contraction of "HellEneias." However, even if this is so, we have not reached the meaning of the word, which has nothing to do with Helios [with one L], namely The Sun.

The nut has not been cracked.

Etymologist Semerano, who is excellent in many cases, traces both "Hellas" and "Latium" (the land of the Latin speakers) to the Akkadian word ILLATUM or ELLATUM, which signifies a kinship group or a confederation (as of cities). He refers to the linguistic process called apheresis, whereby a word loses its initial part (or an initial doubling of a syllable).

Now, it may be true that LATium comes from ilLATum (and referred to the confederation of 53 cities) but obviously does not apply to "helLAS" /"helLADos," since "hellas" does not have an initial truncation. Furthermore, the two varieties of the Akkadian word indicate to me that the initial e was a sharp or short sound (like epsilon) and, therefore -- as it happened in many other language cases -- the sound is further sharpened and appears as an i. The aspirated e of Hellas does not lend itself to the shift to i. Therefore, I suggest that the e's of the ellatum and hellas are not identical to begin with; they merely resemble each other. (Besides, the maritime leagues or confederations of the Greeks are not what occasioned the land to be called Hellas.)

So, the meaning of "Hellas" and "Hellene" still eludes me.
I have read the "social history" of "hellene" in Wikepedia and I must say that it is impossible to reach any conclusion about the meaning and the widespread usage of "Hellen" for the collection of Greek-speaking peoples.
I will re-post my speculation about "hellespontos" without drawing any implications about either Hellas or the Hellenes:

We all recognize that "hellEspontos" consists of two ingredients:
hellEs + pontos, and we know that pontos means sea, or the open sea, or
it was historically used to denote a sea outside the Aegean, or as the
proper name of the Black Sea. Now, "hellEs" is akin to "hellEn" and
related words. So, one may suspect that that it could mean "hellenic
sea," but the name of that sea is HellEspontos, not HellEnikopontos or
HellEnopontos, conceivably contracted to "HellEpontos. " The presence
of the s in
"hellEspontus" gave me a problem I could not easily solve; it just does
not make any sense. So, I don't think that HellEn and HellEspontos have
the same etym at all.

During my search this afternoon, I was inspired by some words like
"ellimenizO" (I am or arrive at the port/harbor), and I wished the word
were "hellimenizO). Well, the lexikon points out the formation of this
"en + limen +..." So, I thought that the "hellEs" of HellEspontos may
be a compound! The process of assimilation exists in Greek. Another
example: the
assimilation of N to M (the beginning of the main etym)
in words like "emmeleia," namely "en + melEs" -- a noun formed from en
and the adjective melEs (melodic). An emmeleia was a melody played with
an auolos (oboe) which accompanied a dance. So, emmeleia =
immelodization (or "melody accompaniment" or harmonization).

hellEspontos = hellEs + pontos
helles = hen + lEs
hen = one; unique; the only
lEs < * leios = smooth, tranquil, devoid of [used with "reefs" by
hellEspontos < *hen-leios-pontos = (the) only tranquil sea [that is,
not roaring; or the unencumbered sea, without rocks].

Another speculation can be made by another contraction:

hellEspontos <* hen-helos-pontos (a swamp sea), since the northern
part, opposite to the Troad shore, was actually swampy; so, people from
that region could have called that sea "a swamp." ("hellospontos" was
equally feasible.)

Result: uncertain.

Following the hypothesis of
hellE(n) = hen + lE(n):

lE(n) could be a contraction of "leios" or something else such as

laos'; Attic: le'Os = people [a People, not a Demos or politically organized population]:

hen le'Os > ** helle'Os > ** hellE'os [as in, "we are ONE PEOPLE."]
hellE'os > **hellE'onikos > *hellE'nikos = pertaining to the one people (such as the language or an army)
hellE'nikos > * he'llEn/hellEnos = a Hellene (a member of the one people or ethnic culture; a connational or compatriot: of the same country)
hellE'os > *Hella's/Hados (the territory of the Hellenic people).

All that is in the realm of possibility; nothing is certain.
Support would be provided for this etymology if any of the hypothesized words [with the prefixed **] were ATTESTED in some document with archaic, or non-commonplace classical, Greek.

I have found that there is an alternative (obviously obsolete) term for HellEn, namely Hellan. This opens a different set of possibilities:

hen + laos' > ** hellaos (= one people)
**hellaos' > *Hellas
**hellas > *hellan (=one of the People; a connational); *hellEn
hellEn > hellEnikos.

Still looking for a written attestation of either hellE'os or hellaos'.

Go to Top of Page


23 Posts

Posted - 18 Feb 2006 :  21:24:30  


-- The Giants --

In "Philo and the Incarnation of the logos," I pointed in no uncertain terms that there is a duality of creators in the Bible: (1) The Elohim (then reduced to El) of Arabo-Semitic provenance -- part of the religion and language brought into the Levant in prehistoric times); and (2) Yahweh (of Levantine, agrarian, pre-Semitic provenance). The Hebrews never had a language or a religion which was indigenous to them; they, a pastoral people, inherited two gods, two languages, and indeed two biological ethnicities.

At one time or other, the Hebrews or Israelites adopted other gods, but the official or ecclesiastical religion was that of Yahwel (officially identifiel with El). But in the Biblical or official stories, there is a God (El) mentioned in passing and without explanations, except that He had sons, the Nephilim or Giants (Genesis-6), who interacted with human females. The name seems to be Arabesque [Semitic]. The story seems to be connected with the Elohim of Genesis-1 and was recorded by a scribe's mistake, since the Hebrew El was not supposed to have a wife and children, as in Canaanite pantheon. At any rate, the ministers of the Canaanite El will be interpreted by the Hebrews as archangels, although these were never generated or created by El, and one of them will be cast down from heaven. The presence of the Nephilim and of the archangels in the Bible is consistent with the Canaanite pantheon. With respect to Yahweh, the Bible has at least one creature, the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, who was never generated and fashioined by the Garden God. Are there other remnants of Levantine (non-Semitic) mthology in the Bible?

The Nephilim remind us of the Giants and Titans in Greek mythology. (In my estimate, the Middle East, centering in Mesopotamia, was the primordial place whence people of Ethiopian origins migrated west -- into Europe, north, and east, while some populations remained and developed there.) There is one giant in particular, Iapetos, son of Ouranos and Gaia, and father of Prometheus, that attracts my linguistic attention. In the Bible, the name -- obviously a Levantine name -- appears not as the name of a Nephilim, but as the name of one of the three sons of Noah: Japheth (Yapheth or Yepheth, in transcriptions; Yapet or Yepet, in "Tiberian" Hebrew transcriptions). But obviously Iapet(os) and Yapet are theophoric name, as they carry "YA" (Yah). In Hesiod's theology (relatively recent), which delineates the ancestry of the Olympian pantheon, there is no Yah or Yahweh; Iapetos is a Giant, a son of Sky and Earth. In Biblical theology, Yaphet is a hero, the grandfather of many peoples after the Flood (which Yahweh caused out of disappointment with men).

Josephus took the Bible as a historical record and tried to identify the known peoples according to the names of the sons of Japheth. For example, Madai is the founder of the Medes; Javan [YAwan] is the founder of Ionians; and so forth. Like others, Josephus never suspected that the Bible genealogists wrote history backwards: They were familiar with various peoples and, therefore, invented a head or founder of a phylum or tribe with a suitable name. So, it happens that the name "YAvan" reflects a historical name. And thus we learn that the Book of Genesis was COMPOSED [no matter when it was written down] at a time when Medes and Ionians, and many other named "nations," were thriving on the face of the earth. (The Ionians the Bible refers to were a people or a population that existed or had existed anywhere from the Euphrates to the shores of historical Ionia in western Anatolia). The earliest Hebrew writing of "yahweh" is on the stele of Mesha in the 9th century B.C. Probably the first full writing of the oral tradition was done as recently as 650 B.C. in Babylonia, and we do not know how much was interpolated at that time.

We know that

I'Ones < Ia'ones (ATTESTED).
[IA = YA] So, Iaon(es) = Yavan (Yawan).
[Their god, in the Levant, was Yah, the same god as the Latins' or Romans'. (See my "Greek and Mideastern and European Languages.)]

I'On, king of Athens = Ia'on (= Biblical Yawan).
I'On = an Ionian; plural: I'Ones (= Ionians).

I'Onia; I'OniE = Ionia.
Adjective: IOnikO's.

Iapetos and IaXos are two Greek residues of the religion of Yah from (pre-Semitic) Levantine agriculturists.

Go to Top of Page


3 Posts

Posted - 22 Sep 2006 :  21:54:33  


To Alex,
I totally agree with your argument. It makes much more sense and the facts I've learnt about in my ancient greek studies seem summarized in what your saying.
My family comes from Ipirus and my grandparents have also told me some of the things you have talked about like Dodona and the priests.
Thanks for the information you've given me.
Chris Macheras

Go to Top of Page

Page: of 2 Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
Previous Page
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
Jump To:

Promote Greek Learning

Use Elpenor's Libraries and Greek Language departments to stimulate your thinking. To refer to a text there published, just copy its url and paste it in your post. ||| Get updates of all Ellopos sites by e-mail. ||| Download Shortcuts for easy access to the Communities - or drag this icon and drop it in the Links bar of your browser :ELPENOR

Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/koinonia/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=56© Elpenor