Folk Etymologies: Useless and Uneducated in Homer

Homer, Od. 8.176-177

“Thus, you have a conspicuous appearance, but no god
could make you different: your mind is useless.”

ὡς καὶ σοὶ εἶδος μὲν ἀριπρεπές, οὐδέ κεν ἄλλως
οὐδὲ θεὸς τεύξειε, νόον δ’ ἀποφώλιός ἐσσι

Schol. ad Od. 8.177.12-14

Apopholios properly means someone who is not worthy to be numbered among men as a complete person, one who is lacking the use of words or deeds for the proper occasions. They also call schools phôleoi. Therefore, someone who has not gone to school is called useless, i.e. unschooled”

καὶ ἔστι κυρίως ἀποφώλιος ὁ μὴ ἄξιος συναριθμεῖσθαι ἀνδρῶν ὁλότητι ἐν φωτὶ, ἤγουν ἐν καιρῷ ἔργων ἢ λόγων δεομένῳ. φωλεοὺς λέγουσι τὰ παιδευτήρια. ὁ γοῦν μὴ φοιτῶν εἰς τὰ παιδευτήρια λέγεται ἀποφώλιος. E.

Schol. ad. Od. 5.182

Apophôlia: uneducated things. For phôleoi are schools. Or, they are things which someone shouldn’t declare because they are ineloquent or lack understanding”

ἀποφώλια] ἀπαίδευτα. φωλεοὶ γὰρ τὰ παιδευτήρια. ἢ ἃ οὐκ ἄν τις ἀποφήναιτο ὡς ἄρρητα ἢ ἀσύνετα. P.V.

Hesychius

Apophôlios: empty, unesteemed, simple. Or, uneducated.”

†ἀποφώλιος· μάταιος. ἀδόκιμος, εὐτελής. ἢ ἀπαίδευτος (θ 177) p

Etymologicum Genuinum 

….“this comes from phôleon: for schools are called phôleoi because people linger and spend time in them. Therefore they call uneducated people apophôlioi.”

γέγονε δὲ παρὰ τὸν φωλεόν· φωλεοὶ γὰρ λέγονται τὰ παιδευτήρια παρὰ τὸ ἐν αὐτοῖς φωλεύειν καὶ διατρίβειν. τοὺς οὖν ἀδιδάκτους ἀποφωλίους ἐκάλουν.

  LSJ

φωλεύεω, “to lurk in a hole or a den”….“to lie hidden”

 

More Etymologies: Notes (from Perseus)

[177] ἀποφώλιος. The derivation of this word is most uncertain; it is commonly compounded of “ἀπὸ-ὄφελος” [from ophellos, “use”], while others refer it to a root “φα”, ‘to blow,’ or to “ἀπάφεσθαι”, ‘to cheat.’ Autenrieth proposes to refer the latter part of the word to the same root as “φύω” and “φώς”, so as to mean, ‘grown out of shape.’

Thirsty as A Wolf: How Lykia Got Its Name

BNJ 769 F 2 Antoninos Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 35

“Cowherds: Menekrates the Xanthian reports in his Lykian Matters and Nicander does as well. Once she gave birth to Apollo and Artemis on the island Asteria, Leto went to Lykia carrying the children to the baths of Xanthus. And as soon she she appeared in the land, she went to the Melitean spring where she wanted her children to drink before they went to the Xanthus.

But when some cowherds drove her away, so that their cattle might drink from the spring, Leto retreated, abandoning the Melitê, and wolves came to meet her, and they gave her directions and led her right up to the Xanthus itself while wagging their tails. She drank the water, bathed her children and made the Xanthus sacred to Apollo. She also changed the land’s name to Lykia—it was called Tremilis before—after the wolves who led her there.

Then she went again to the spring to bring punishment to the cowherds who drove her off. At they time they were washing their cattle near the spring. After she changed them all into frogs and struck their backs and shoulders with rough stones, she threw them all into the spring and granted them  life in the water. In our time still, they shout out along the rivers and ponds.”

Βουκόλοι. ἱστορεῖ Μενεκράτης Ξάνθιος Λυκιακοῖς καὶ Νίκανδρος. Λητὼ ἐπεὶ ἔτεκεν ᾽Απόλλωνα καὶ ῎Αρτεμιν ἐν ᾽Αστερίαι τῆι νήσωι, ἀφίκετο εἰς Λυκίαν ἐπιφερομένη τοὺς παῖδας ἐπὶ τὰ λουτρὰ τοῦ Ξάνθου  καὶ ἐπεὶ τάχιστα ἐγένετο ἐν τῆι γῆι ταύτηι, ἐνέτυχε πρῶτα Μελίτηι κρήνηι, καὶ προεθυμεῖτο πρὶν ἐπὶ τὸν Ξάνθον ἐλθεῖν ἐνταυθοῖ τοὺς παῖδας ἀπολοῦσαι. (2) ἐπεὶ δὲ αὐτὴν ἐξήλασαν ἄνδρες βουκόλοι, ὅπως ἂν αὐτοῖς οἱ βόες ἐκ τῆς κρήνης πίωσιν, ἀπαλλάττεται καταλιποῦσα τὴν Μελίτην ἡ Λητώ, λύκοι δὲ συναντόμενοι καὶ σήναντες ὑφηγήσαντο τῆς ὁδοῦ, καὶ ἀπήγαγον ἄχρι πρὸς τὸν ποταμὸν αὐτὴν τὸν Ξάνθον. (3) ἡ δὲ πιοῦσα τοῦ ὕδατος καὶ ἀπολούσασα τοὺς παῖδας τὸν μὲν Ξάνθον ἱερὸν ἀπέδειξεν ᾽Απόλλωνος, τὴν δὲ γῆν Τρεμιλίδα λεγομένην Λυκίαν μετωνόμασεν ἀπὸ τῶν καθηγησαμένων λύκων. (4) ἐπὶ δὲ τὴν κρήνην αὖτις ἐξίκετο δίκην ἐπιβαλοῦσα τοῖς ἀπελάσασιν αὐτὴν βουκόλοις. καὶ οἱ μὲν ἀπέλουον τότε παρὰ τὴν κρήνην τοὺς βοῦς, Λητὼ δὲ μεταβαλοῦσα πάντας ἐποίησε βατράχους, καὶ λίθωι τραχεῖ τύπτουσα τὰ νῶτα καὶ τοὺς ὤμους κατέβαλε πάντας εἰς τὴν κρήνην, καὶ βίον ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καθ᾽ ὓδατος · οἱ δὲ ἄχρι νῦν παρὰ ποταμοὺς βοῶσι καὶ λίμνας.

Lycian rock cut tombs of Dalyan
Tombs in Lykia (AlexanderShap at en.wikipedia)

Folk Etymologies: Useless and Uneducated in Homer

Homer, Od. 8.176-177

“Thus, you have a conspicuous appearance, but no god
could make you different: your mind is useless.”

ὡς καὶ σοὶ εἶδος μὲν ἀριπρεπές, οὐδέ κεν ἄλλως
οὐδὲ θεὸς τεύξειε, νόον δ’ ἀποφώλιός ἐσσι

Schol. ad Od. 8.177.12-14

Apopholios properly means someone who is not worthy to be numbered among men as a complete person, one who is lacking the use of words or deeds for the proper occasions. They also call schools phôleoi. Therefore, someone who has not gone to school is called useless, i.e. unschooled”

καὶ ἔστι κυρίως ἀποφώλιος ὁ μὴ ἄξιος συναριθμεῖσθαι ἀνδρῶν ὁλότητι ἐν φωτὶ, ἤγουν ἐν καιρῷ ἔργων ἢ λόγων δεομένῳ. φωλεοὺς λέγουσι τὰ παιδευτήρια. ὁ γοῦν μὴ φοιτῶν εἰς τὰ παιδευτήρια λέγεται ἀποφώλιος. E.

Schol. ad. Od. 5.182

Apophôlia: uneducated things. For phôleoi are schools. Or, they are things which someone shouldn’t declare because they are ineloquent or lack understanding”

ἀποφώλια] ἀπαίδευτα. φωλεοὶ γὰρ τὰ παιδευτήρια. ἢ ἃ οὐκ ἄν τις ἀποφήναιτο ὡς ἄρρητα ἢ ἀσύνετα. P.V.

Hesychius

Apophôlios: empty, unesteemed, simple. Or, uneducated.”

†ἀποφώλιος· μάταιος. ἀδόκιμος, εὐτελής. ἢ ἀπαίδευτος (θ 177) p

Etymologicum Genuinum 

….“this comes from phôleon: for schools are called phôleoi because people linger and spend time in them. Therefore they call uneducated people apophôlioi.”

γέγονε δὲ παρὰ τὸν φωλεόν· φωλεοὶ γὰρ λέγονται τὰ παιδευτήρια παρὰ τὸ ἐν αὐτοῖς φωλεύειν καὶ διατρίβειν. τοὺς οὖν ἀδιδάκτους ἀποφωλίους ἐκάλουν.

  LSJ

φωλεύεω, “to lurk in a hole or a den”….“to lie hidden”

 

More Etymologies: Notes (from Perseus)

[177] ἀποφώλιος. The derivation of this word is most uncertain; it is commonly compounded of “ἀπὸ-ὄφελος” [from ophellos, “use”], while others refer it to a root “φα”, ‘to blow,’ or to “ἀπάφεσθαι”, ‘to cheat.’ Autenrieth proposes to refer the latter part of the word to the same root as “φύω” and “φώς”, so as to mean, ‘grown out of shape.’

Image result for ancient greek vase fool

Do You Hate Absurd Etymologies?

Kallierges, Etymologicum Magnum 615

“The name Odysseus has been explained through the following story. For they claim that when Antikleia, Odysseus’ mother, was pregnant she was travelling [hodeuousan] on Mt. Neritos in Ithaka, and it began to rain [husantos] terribly Because of her labor and fear she collapsed and gave birth to Odysseus there. So, he obtained is name in this way, since Zeus, on the road [hodon] rained [hûsen].”

᾿Οδυσσεύς: Εἴρηται ἀπὸ ἱστορίας. ᾿Αντίκλειαν γάρ φασι τὴν ᾿Οδυσσέως μητέρα ἐγκύμονα ὁδεύουσαν τὸ Νήριτον τῆς ᾿Ιθάκης ὄρος, ὕσαντος πολὺ τοῦ Διὸς, ὑπὸ ἀγωνίας τε καὶ φόβου καταπεσοῦσαν ἀποτεκεῖν τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα. Οὕτω ταύτης τῆς ὀνομασίας ἔτυχεν, ἐπειδὴ κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ὗσεν ὁ Ζεύς.

It is more typical to derive Odysseus’ name from the verb odussomai, which means something like “being hateful, being hated”.  Autolykos, Odysseus’ maternal grandfather, is reported to have named him in the Odyssey (19.407–409).

“I have come to this point hated [odussamenos] by many—
Both men and women over the man-nourishing earth.
So let his name be Ody[s]seus…”

πολλοῖσιν γὰρ ἐγώ γε ὀδυσσάμενος τόδ’ ἱκάνω,
ἀνδράσιν ἠδὲ γυναιξὶν ἀνὰ χθόνα βωτιάνειραν·
τῷ δ’ ᾿Οδυσεὺς ὄνομ’ ἔστω ἐπώνυμον…

Even in antiquity there was debate about how to interpret odussamenos. A scholion offers three explanations: “[someone] who is hated. Or who has rage. Or has harmed [someone]” (ὀδυσσάμενος] μισηθείς· ἢ ὀργὴν ἀγαγών· ἢ βλάψας.)

And many have seen playing with this name-verb accord earlier in the epic when Athena asks Zeus (1.60-62)

“…Didn’t Odysseus please you
By making sacrifices along the ships of the Argives
In broad Troy? Why are you so hateful [ôdusao] to him, Zeus?”

… οὔ νύ τ’ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς
᾿Αργείων παρὰ νηυσὶ χαρίζετο ἱερὰ ῥέζων
Τροίῃ ἐν εὐρείῃ; τί νύ οἱ τόσον ὠδύσαο, Ζεῦ;”

Sophocles gets in on this (Fr. 965):

“I am called Odysseus for evil deeds correctly:
For many who have been my enemy hate [ôdusanto] me.”

ὀρθῶς δ’ ᾿Οδυσσεύς εἰμ’ ἐπώνυμος κακῶν•
πολλοὶ γὰρ ὠδύσαντο δυσμενεῖς ἐμοί

Modern scholars get in on the game too Marót in Acta Antiqua 8 (1960) 1-6 suggests that the name is developed from the scar (οὐλή=oulê) by which Odysseus is recognized, thus explaining in part the Latin (and Etruscan) variant Ulysses.

Image result for Odysseus ancient Greek

For a succinct discussion, see Norman Austin 2009, 92-93 from his essay “Name Magic in the Odyssey” in Lillian Doherty’s Oxford Readings in Classical Studies: Homer’s Odyssey (originally printed in California Studies in Classical Antiquity 5 (1972) 1-19, available through JSTOR). See also W. B. Stanford’s “The Homeric Etymology of the Name Odysseus.” Classical Philology 47 (1952) 209-213.

More Preposterous Etymologies: “Lipless” Achilles

While most Homerists (I think) accept the argument advanced by L. R. Palmer and Gregory Nagy that Achilles’ name (Akhilleus) derives from akhos (“woe”, “grief”) and laos (“host, people, army”), some ancient authors had different ideas.

Apollodorus. 3.172.4-5

“After Thetis gave birth to a child with Peleus, she wanted to make him immortal—without Peleus knowing, she used to cover him in fire at night to destroy his mortal inheritance from his father, and at day she rubbed him down with ambrosia. After Peleus discovered this and saw his son struggling in the fire, he cried out. And Thetis, prevented from completing her plan, abandoned her child and went to the daughters of Nereus. But Peleus took his child to Kheiron. Kheiron accepted him and fed him the innards of lions wild boars and with the marrow of bears. And he named him Achilles, because his lips (kheile) never touched [her] breasts. Previously, his name was Ligurôn.”

So the explanation here, is that his name is ‘alpha-privative’, meaning something like “Lipless”

ὡς δὲ ἐγέννησε Θέτις ἐκ Πηλέως βρέφος, ἀθάνατον θέλουσα ποιῆσαι τοῦτο, κρύφα Πηλέως εἰς τὸ πῦρ ἐγκρύβουσα τῆς νυκτὸς ἔφθειρεν ὃ ἦν αὐτῷ θνητὸν πατρῷον, μεθ’ ἡμέραν δὲ ἔχριεν ἀμβροσίᾳ. Πηλεὺς δὲ ἐπιτηρήσας καὶ σπαίροντα τὸν παῖδα ἰδὼν ἐπὶ τοῦ πυρὸς ἐβόησε·  καὶ Θέτις κωλυθεῖσα τὴν προαίρεσιν τελειῶσαι, νήπιον τὸν παῖδα ἀπολιποῦσα πρὸς Νηρηίδας ᾤχετο. κομίζει δὲ τὸν παῖδα πρὸς Χείρωνα Πηλεύς. ὁ δὲ λαβὼν αὐτὸν ἔτρεφε σπλάγχνοις λεόντων καὶ συῶν ἀγρίων καὶ ἄρκτων μυελοῖς, καὶ ὠνόμασεν ᾿Αχιλλέα (πρότερον δὲ ἦν ὄνομα ὠνόμασεν ᾿Αχιλλέα (πρότερον δὲ ἦν ὄνομα αὐτῷ Λιγύρων) ὅτι τὰ χείλη μαστοῖς οὐ προσήνεγκε.

Kallierges, Etymologicum Magnum 182

“Akhilleus: [this name comes from] lessening grief, for Achilles was a doctor. Or it is because of the woe, which is pain, he brought to his mother and the Trojans. Or it is from not touching his lips to food [khilê]. For he had no serving of milk at all, but was fed with stag-marrow by Kheiron. This is why he was hailed by the Myrmidons in the following way, according to Euphoriôn:

He came to Phthia without ever tasting any food
This is why the Myrmidons named him Achilles.”

᾿Αχιλλεύς: Παρὰ τὸ ἄχος λύειν· ἰατρὸς γὰρ ἦν. ῍Η διὰ τὸ ἄχος (ὅ ἐστι λύπην) ἐπενεγκεῖν τῇ μητρὶ καὶ τοῖς ᾿Ιλιεῦσιν. ῍Η διὰ τὸ μὴ θίγειν χείλεσι χιλῆς, ὅ ἐστι τροφῆς· ὅλως γὰρ οὐ μετέσχε γάλακτος, ἀλλὰ μυελοῖς ἐλάφων ἐτράφη ὑπὸ Χείρωνος. ῞Οτι ὑπὸ Μυρμιδόνων ἐκλήθη, καθά φησιν Εὐφορίων,

᾿Ες Φθίην χιλοῖο κατήϊε πάμπαν ἄπαστος.
τοὔνεκα Μυρμιδόνες μιν ᾿Αχιλέα φημίξαντο.

Image result for achilles and chiron

Folk Etymologies for Artemis from Plato

Angry goddess with projectile weapon.
Angry goddess with projectile weapon.

Like many ancient divine names, the etymology of Artemis is unclear (whether it is proto-Greek or non-Greek, etc.). When it comes to etymology in general, I have a fondness for ancient folk etymologies because, even if they make dubious claims, they do tell us something about what the Greeks thought of the deity and how they were approaching their own language. Wikipedia, as one might expect, cites many of the different etymologies for Artemis, but skimps on some of the depth and play available in folk etymology.

The most illustrative example is from Plato (Cratylus 406b) where Socrates proposes multiple spurious origins for the name but then concludes they might all work in concert.

“Artemis seems to be named due to her safe/healthy (artemés) and orderly character, and due to her love of maidenhood. Perhaps, instead, the one who named her named her because she is knowledgeable about virtue ([aretê + manthanô “to learn, know”?]) or, also possibly, because she hates the plowing of a man into a women ([aroton +misê, “to hate”]). Or, the man who gave this name to the goddess named her for all of these reasons.”

“῎Αρτεμις” δὲ <διὰ> τὸ ἀρτεμὲς φαίνεται καὶ τὸ κόσμιον, διὰ τὴν τῆς παρθενίας ἐπιθυμίαν• ἴσως δὲ ἀρετῆς ἵστορα τὴν θεὸν ἐκάλεσεν ὁ καλέσας, τάχα δ’ ἂν καὶ ὡς τὸν ἄροτον μισησάσης τὸν ἀνδρὸς ἐν γυναικί• ἢ διὰ τούτων τι ἢ διὰ πάντα ταῦτα τὸ ὄνομα τοῦτο ὁ τιθέμενος ἔθετο τῇ θεῷ.

I like this passage because it indicates—even if indirectly—the distance between what modern historical linguists do in isolating viable etymologies and how origins of words are engaged with culture and narrative in living traditions. Plato’s characters take what they know about Artemis (she protects virgins, kills some people in horrendous fashion etc.) and what they think they know about language to make reasonable (if historical impossible) proposals. And, more importantly, Socrates, here at least, is reluctant to be reductive: words can mean multiple things at the same time and in this may share their semantic origins with non-cognate roots.

The Doric spelling of the goddess’ name was ῎Αρταμις (Artamis) which is part of what likely led the LSJ to list ἄρταμος (artamos, “butcher”) as a more likely etymological connection than Plato’s indicated ἀρτεμής (artamês, “safe”). But, let’s be honest, everyone likes to argue with Plato (Aristotle especially); and we know that the LSJ is not a result of perfect judgment and absolute science.