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Greece, languages

(649 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] Before the arrival of the Greeks (beginning of the 2nd millennium BC) and the consequent spread of the Greek language in Greece (mainland, Peloponnese, Aegean) already in the Mycenaean period, other  pre-Greek languages were spoken; they have left traces especially in the vocabulary and  onomatology and they co-existed with the Greek language in conditions that varied from region to region until the classical period. Written materials of the second millennium are limited to a hieroglyphic-pictographic script (Crete, end of the third millennium…


(528 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] Records of Thessalian in the Archaic and Classical Periods are rare (exception: the inscription of Sotaerus from Thetonium in western Thessaly, 5th cent. BC). They only become more numerous from the end of the 3rd cent. BC (sites: Larisa [3], Atrax, Crannon, Pherae, Scotussa; Cierium, Pharsalus; Metropolis [4]; Phalanna). In addition, there are c. 100 extant Thessalian glosses. Thessalian is relatively homogeneous. The sources are insufficient to allow for a secure distinction between East and West Thessalian (e.g. gen. sing. -οι(ο)/ -oi(o), inf. -εμεν/ -emen in …


(537 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] Arcadian is documented through inscriptions (most important sites: Mantinea, Orchomenos, Tegea), which since the middle of the 4th cent. BC show traces of the influence of supradialectic official languages; in official documents in Achaean-Dor. koina (from the second half of the 3rd cent. BC) Arcadian appears only seldom; the Hellenistic koine prevailed toward the end of the 1st cent. BC. Glosses also provide reliable material (see below). Arcadian is relatively unified but not without local variations, and it demonstrates in addition to similari…

Gods, names of

(1,452 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] A. Greek and Italian names of gods ─ subsidiary tradition Although important Greek gods or heroes were adopted in Italy (including Etruria), the Italian names of gods are as a rule different from the Greek ones, cf. Ἄρης :  Mārs (Etruscan Laran); Ἀφροδίτη :  Venus (Etruscan Turan); Ἑρμῆς :  Mercurius (Etruscan Turms), whose traits have a parallel in Vedic Pūṣán- [8]; or Ἥφαιστος :  Vulcānus (Etruscan Śeθlans). There are formal correspondences or similarities only in the case of the subsidiary tradition of Greek names of gods or heroes in Ita…


(702 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] Boeotian is known from inscriptions from, i.a., Lebadea, Orchomenus, Tanagra, Thebes, Thespiae (unified alphabet since the 1st half of the 4th cent.), as also from  Corinna, whose text mirrors the spelling on the inscriptions from Tanagra ( Greek literary languages). Notwithstanding the influence of Attic and koinḗ, Boeotian survives in inscriptions into the first half of the 2nd cent. BC. Especially characteristic is the development of the vowel system (monophthongization of diphthongs, stressing of * ē and * e,* o), which had been evident since the 5th ce…

Ethnic names

(654 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] Ethnic names of all kinds (e.g. Κρῆτες, Κορίνθιοι, Campānī, Ligurēs) have been passed down to us in abundance from Graeco-Roman antiquity, as have ktetika to describe objects or abstract concepts (κρητικός, κορινθιακός, campānicus, ligustīnus). Ethnic names (EN) can act as place names (Λοκροί, Tarquiniī) and as personal names (Mycenaean dat. i-ja-wo-ne /Iāwonei/). As in the case of place names, progenitors were also invented in antiquity for EN (Ἕλλην, Δῶρος, Αἴολος, Ἰταλός;  Aeolus [1],  Dorus,  Hellen,  Italus). Among the ethnic…

Pre-Greek languages

(1,293 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] I. General remarks The pre-Greek languages (PGL, cf. Greece, Languages) that were spoken on Greek soil prior to the settlement of the Greeks did not leave behind any comprehensible text: The language of Linear A, as well as Lemnian, Eteo-Cretan and Eteo-Cyprian remain undeciphered. It has not proved possible to link the autochthonous ethnic names that were documented in the ancient world with any known language, and archeological finds are of little help for a linguistic assessment. …

Geographical names

(1,938 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] A. Types: place names and vocabulary In antiquity, the different types of place names (esp. names of regions and cities or settlements, also names of mountains, lakes, rivers, islands, fields, and roads) are thoroughly documented and transmitted in Greek and Latin, however, there are many variations in form, e.g. Πιθηκοῦσσα : Aenāria (today Ischia). If a place name cannot be interpreted from within the vocabulary of the language in which it is documented, it usually goes back to the language(s) of prehistorical populations. On the o…


(224 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] Dialect (Greek διάλεκτος; diálektos) is defined as a geographical variation of a linguistic continuum whose spatial extent can be classified in a variety of ways. For example, the  Arcadian or  Thessalian dialects of Greek are themselves differentiated by a number of local variations. Isoglosses (common features, esp. phonological, morphological, and lexical ones) result in a dialect geography. The earliest levels of a dialect structure of the Greek language, beginning in the 2nd millennium BC, and, linked with that, the homelands and m…

Aeolic (Lesbian).

(595 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] Lesbian (called ‘Aeolian’ in antiquity) is documented in inscriptions from Lesbos (locations: Mytilene, Methymna, Eresus), Aeolis (Aegae, Cyme) and Troas (Assus), also, sometimes reliably, in the lyric poets ( Alcaeus [4],  Sappho,  Iulia Balbilla). Aside from a Mytilenian contract from the 5th cent. BC, the more important inscriptions originate primarily in the 4th and 3rd cents.: but they already contain Attic and κοινή forms, as well as mixed forms, especially the official documents; toward the end of the 2nd …


(603 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne)
[German version] To date, Pamphylian (the Greek dialect of Pamphylia) is very sparsely attested: epigraphical evidence at Sillyum (1st half of 4th cent. BC: only parts of sentences decipherable); brief funerary inscriptions from the early Hellenistic period onward, most with personal names (most important finds at Aspendus); coin legends; furthermore, 27 glosses which survive with indications of origin [1. 141-143]. Pamphylian, which was spoken in a frontier region inhabited by various Greek and non-Greek tribes (Πάμφυλοι/ Pámphyloi: lit. 'all-men' or Doric for 'phyle'…

Greek dialects

(3,003 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne) | Binder, Vera (Gießen)
I. Ancient Greek dialects [German version] A. Dialect and standard language Greek is attested in dialectal form from the first texts in  Linear B onwards. Local dialects are used in every city or region from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period (in competition with the  Koinḗ and regional Koinaí). In the Imperial period some dialects (e.g.  Aeolic [Lesbian], Laconian ( Doric/Northwest Greek, Tsakonian) are used in a rather archaizing manner. Variants of the old dialects still survive today in Laconia (Tsa…

Doric/Northwest Greek

(2,516 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne) | Binder, Vera (Gießen)
[German version] A. Spread The Doric dialects in the broader sense are well documented since the pre-classical period (see map): in central and northwest Greece (Phocis: 1, with Delphi, Western and Eastern Locris: 2 and 3), Peloponnese and Isthmus (only Elis: 15, Laconia: 13, Argolis: 11-12, Corinthia: 10, Megaris: 9), Crete (16) and the Doric Islands (Thera: 17c, Rhodos: 17a, etc.: 17), and since the classical period also in Cos (17b), Cyrene and in the Doric colonies of  Magna Graecia (above all  …


(1,585 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne) | Binder, Vera (Gießen)
[German version] I. Pre-classical period to the Koine Beginning in the pre-classical period, Ionic is attested in three main regions, from where it spread in the course of the second  colonization to the end of the Pontus and to Hispania: (1) West Ionic: Euboea (and Oropus) with colonies in Chalcidice (Olynthus), Lower Italy (Cyme, Pithekussa), and Sicily, (2) Ionic of the Cyclades: i.a. Ceos, Delos, Paros (and Thasos), Naxos (and Amorgos), (3) East Ionic: (Ionia and the offshore islands of Chios and Sa…


(1,430 words)

Author(s): García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne) | Binder, Gerhard (Bochum)
[German version] A. Attic of the older era (until the 5th/4th cents.) Attic, which occupies a paramount position in literature, is verifiable since the end of the 7th cent. through a plethora of inscriptions: private inscriptions, official proclamations, and also inscriptions on vases and ostraca as well as curse tablets (4th-3rd cents.), which in some cases reflect ‘Vulgar Attic’. Since the foundation of the 1st  Delian League (478/7) and during the time when Athens stood at the centre of Greek politics, …

Personal names

(4,094 words)

Author(s): Rix, Helmut (Freiburg) | García-Ramón, José Luis (Cologne) | Streck, Michael P. (Munich) | Haas, Volkert (Berlin)
I. General [German version] A. Function The PN is an individual, generally valid sign for naming a person. The need to use a PN exists when a  social contact group is too large to name its members after their role (e.g. mother) and exists in all historically tangible languages. The PN is a universal. Rix, Helmut (Freiburg) [German version] B. Creation of names In antiquity as also today, the PN is usually given soon after birth and kept later; yet it could also be supplemented or replaced by a new name (pseudonyms!). In developed languages, the possibility …