restricted access Chapter 16: Semantic Clusters: Warfare, Hunting and Shipping

From: Black Athena

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380 BLACK ATHENA SEMANTIC CLUSTERS: WARFARE, HUNTING AND SHIPPING CHAPTER 16 I n the late nineteenth century, Heinrich Lewy discarded abstract and broad-ranging nouns, adjectives and verbs from his list of Semitic loans into Greek. In Chapter 7 I discussed Michel Masson’s approval of this step.1 To remedy the gap left by this self-denying ordinance , in the next two chapters, I shall concentrate on Greek borrowings from both Egyptian and Semitic in precisely the semantic fields ruled out by earlier scholars. These include weapons, warfare, hunting, shipping , society, law, politics and philosophy and religion. In this chapter I focus on the first three. In each section, I shall separate the two source languages, and, as mentioned in the introduction, the ordering of each will follow the conventions of the two disciplines. Egyptian in the Egyptological sequence listed in earlier chapters, starting with /Å/ and ending with the dentals and a final /d/. With Semitic, I simply follow the order of the Hebrew (Canaanite) alphabet, with h° following h≥. WEAPONS, WARFARE AND HUNTING Introduction Weapons, warfare and hunting are areas of potentially great historical significance. In French, for instance, the basic vocabulary of which is [CH. 16] WARFARE, HUNTING AND SHIPPING 381 overwhelmingly Romance, but among the extremely few words of Germanic origin, one finds canif, “small knife”; flèche, “arrow”; galant “warlike man”: hache, “ax”; hâte, “haste, violence”; harpon, “grappling iron”; heaume, “helmet”; héraut, “herald”; maréchal, “officer in charge of horses”; meutrir, “murder”; and guerre, “war” itself. These words confirm the military nature of Frankish rule over what later became France. On the other hand, much of the military vocabulary in English— corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major, colonel, general etc.—came from French not because of the Norman Conquest but as a result of the organizational prestige of later French armies. Thus, although the introduction of military terminology can be the result of conquest, it is not necessarily so. In this case the number of Egyptian and Semitic terms for weapons, warfare and hunting could come from supposed Hyksos settlements and dominance in parts of Greece. They could also have been acquired by Greek-speaking mercenaries in Late Bronze Age Egypt or from encounters with Egyptian or Canaanite forces or possibly from deliberate remodeling —or at least renaming—of Hellenic social and military organization. The clearest example of this comes from Sparta and will be discussed in Chapter 21. Whatever the route by which words in these semantic areas were introduced their social and political importance gives them special significance. Egyptian vocabulary Åbw Demotic Åb, ˆÅb, ňbe, wňbe “brand” was written with fire l(Q7) or became “mutilate” when written with a knife f (T30) of slaves or cattle. It provides a plausible etymology for lwvbh (H) “outrage, violence , mutilation and subject of shame, or leper.” Chantraine accepts the conventional relationship with Baltic words, a supposed labiovelar and an initial s-, such as the Lithuanian slogà “scourge,” etc. The semantic parallels of this connection are plausibly but the phonetics are cumbersome . Chantraine reasonably links lwvbhx “vulture” to lo\be\. Åbh° “burn” has the extended sense of “ardor, fervor” providing a plausible etymology for the cluster around λα:βρος (H) “violent, impetuous,” for which, apart from the parallel Latin rabes, neither Frisk nor Chantraine has any Indo-European explanation. 382 BLACK ATHENA ˆwÅ “longhorned cattle” a[or (H), aor—pronounced as a mono-, di- or even trisyllabic word—is normally translated as “sword.” Its meaning, however, was extended to many types of weapon or, even, equipment. The conceptual link between horns and weapons is quite tight. Take for example the French défenses “tusks.” Chantraine’s attempt to link aor to ajeivrw “suspend” because a sword can be suspended by a leather band is not very convincing. It may be that aor did not merely mean sword and may have retained an original meaning of “horn.” Its use to describe a rhinoceros’ horn is late (3CE), but Crusavoro" “golden aor” an epithet applied to Apollo, Demeter, and Artemis is generally translated “golden sword.”2 Hesiod is specific that the “golden aor” is a “sword” held in the hand.3 Against this interpretation is the relative lateness of swords and the fact that no iconographic evidence shows gods or goddesses with swords. They prefer more ancient bows, clubs or spears. On the other hand, many Greek divinities are represented as horned. “Golden horned” makes much more sense as a translation. Other bovine images include, most famously, bo...


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