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Ionian Sea

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Ionian Sea

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:53 pm

Why is the Ionian Sea called Ionian? There were no Ionians around I know about, why not call it the Dorian Sea or something? What is the origin of this name?
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Scribo » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:49 pm

Ostensibly after Io, who swam across it. However, anthropology has shown time and time again that eponymous heroes are often invented post facto and in practice the origins of the name are debated.

Probably unrelated to the ethnic marker "Ionian" in terms of those descended from the hero Ion e.g the Iones/Ionies. Actually as an ethnic marker this is at least as early as the bronze age where we find people often referred to as I-ja-wo-ne (so probably Iawones), so at least we know in this case the "founder" came after.

I guess they do sound the same though.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:09 pm

Eponymous heroes are of course no explanation.

You really think it's probably unrelated to the Ionians of the Aegean? Strange things happen to names. For example, the Finnish word for the Baltic Sea is "Itämeri", the "eastern sea". That's not a very good name, if you look at the map. But the reason is that it's a direct translation of the Swedish name.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Scribo » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:36 pm

That's actually fascinating, and of course brings up the other possibility - one that I'm often uncomfortable about raising due to lack of evidence - that it could be from another language, other than Greek. This often happens with toponyms anyway, Korinthos, Knosos ktl so it is ofc possible but..no idea.

For it to be linked to our other Ionians, I don't know, do any Greek texts mention such a link? I take the idea that its such an obvious link to make that if there's such an absence its probably marked.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:47 pm

I've no idea, I tried to find an answer some time ago but couldn't find it (I didn't search very far though). I was thinking something along the line that it could be for example that "Ionian", at some time in some people's mouth, had a larger application than it had later on, and thus "Ionian Sea" originally meant "Greek Sea", or something. Think about all the names there are for Germany - Allemagne, Deutschland, Saksa (the Finnish name) etc.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Scribo » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:50 pm

Yeah that sort of stuff sounds quite plausible to be honest, its not unheard of with geography elsewhere. I suspect even beginning to investigate would involve opening Strabon or something though and...well...better you than me. :lol:
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby mwh » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:30 pm

Don't see how it can be related to Ionians, or isn't the Ιων-/Ιον- distinction original? Anyone have a commentary on the PV (840) handy?

If Icarian from Icarus, why not from Io? ("Why do I mention Io?") Forgive the naivety.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Scribo » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:47 pm

mwh wrote:Don't see how it can be related to Ionians, or isn't the Ιων-/Ιον- distinction original? Anyone have a commentary on the PV (840) handy?

If Icarian from Icarus, why not from Io? ("Why do I mention Io?") Forgive the naivety.


I don't know, as I said the tablets do give us i-ja-wo-ne so we can probably voice that as /iawones/ there's no real evidence of vowel quantity there but I'm willing to bet the o is short and that we get a long vowel produced by the loss of w and the collision between a and o. This is the source of all the tribal stuff in the East I'd wager. But you're right, the o in Ionian Sea is short.

I see what you mean and certainly the Greeks thought like that but there does seem to be a worldwide trend for heroes to be made ex post facto rather than the other way around, despite how local traditions present them. This is the problem with myth and history :( despite the Greeks explanation the truth could be anything, most likely unrecoverable.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby mwh » Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:41 am

Agreed on Ιωνες ⟨ Ιαονες—which must accordingly be irrelevant to Ιονιος, no? The iotas are respectively short and long too aren't they? (which raises the possibility of quantitative metathesis? but please not let's go there.) Also agreed on ex post facto myths and all that. But I'm willing to buy into Io > Ιονιος until and unless there's a better explanation. Now where Io comes from I can't say.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Scribo » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:20 pm

Sorry, I wasn't clear and we've been talking cross ways. I also meant that I agree Io > Ionian just that, likewise, no idea what that means or where from. I guess I was just more focused on pointing out the difference between the eastern tribes.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:16 pm

Ok, I must accept that they are two different words. I guess I haven't encountered the name Ionian Sea in Greek writing very often, so I wasn't aware of the short o. When two such quite common words are translitterated exactly the same, you sort of assume the Greek word has the same form too.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby mwh » Fri Dec 13, 2013 10:04 pm

It's a forgiveable mistake, when they're identical in English! We can't read everything in Greek, after all.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Dec 17, 2013 7:26 pm

Funny thing, I actually accidentally ran into a related discussion. This is from Deborah Steiner's commentary on Odyssey 17-18, a note on line 18.246, which goes:
εἰ πάντες σε ἴδοιεν ἀν' Ἴασον Ἄργος Ἀχαιοί

The note goes:
Ἴασον Αργος: "lonian (?) Argos", an expression used uniquely here. Ancient commentators affirm that the phrase describes the Peloponnese, so called because of its legendary king lasos. According to the scholia, lasos was the son of Ιο (although Apollodorus 2.1.3 and Pausanias 2.16.1 identify him as her father). Since Ιο was considered the originator of the lonian race, Ἴασος and Ἰόνιος might have come to signify the same thing. Some commentators object that there is no linguistic connection between the two terms, and the use of Ἴασος as an adj. remains odd, but there is good evidence for the presence of lonian communities in Argos or the Peloponnese at an early date and Pausanias (2.37.3) states that the inhabitants of Argos and Athens once spoke the same language (cf. Hdt. 7.94). For the view that a branch of the Mycenaean ruling class living in the Peloponnese would have called themselves lonians' or *Iᾱϝονες, see Chadwick 1964: 117-18 and Janko at Il. 13.685-8.


There seems to be some confusion here between Ἰόνιος (the sea) and the Ionians with ω, if you are right in distinguishing between Ionian with ω and ο. I checked Chantraine, for him Ἰόνιος is a problematic word and he doesn't seem to have an explanation, I guess his reasoning is along the same line as yours. Beekes's etymological dictionary on the other hand listed Ἰόνιος as a derivative of/related to Ιωνες, but I couldn't see any explanation.

I checked Janko's note, but I couldn't find any support there for the idea that there were Ionians on the Peloponnese. Anyway, if the idea that Ionians lived on the Peloponnese is correct, that would give a reason for the sea to have to have a related name. I'm not saying I believe this, I'm just pointing this out to you. What do you think?
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby mwh » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:53 pm

Sorry, neither time nor resources to look anything up right now, but it's news to me that "Ιο was considered the originator of the lonian race." Is Ion meant? That's certainly the version canonized in Hes.Cat. As for Io, the standard version has her as daughter of Inachus (PV & Hdt.1 come to mind, and Soph.Inachus), not of Iasus, which latter is on the face of it a genealogy invented specifically to tie this Homeric Iason into established Argive myth/history (while Io d. of Inachus does much the same).

The question is, is *Iᾱϝονες>Ιωνες etymologically related to Ιονιος? Despite superficial similarity, it doesn't look likely from a historical linguistics point of view. I probably shouldn't rule it out altogether, though. I imagine the long iota of Io and Ionios could be secondary, and maybe it's conceivable that ᾱϝο somehow got shortened still further. And Greek etymologizations don't have to accord with historical ones, so it's perhaps surprising that the two were not linked by Greeks (unless in fact they are).

As to the geographic/ethnic question, on the other hand, wasn't it thought that Ionians settled there before the Achaean invasion?
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Scribo » Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:52 pm

You could argue that it's a Greek folk etymology, which is very interesting. And, obviously, Greeks could have used this folk etymology when constructing these fictive genealogical relationships - that stuff is cocaine to me. But obviously that's different from actual derivation, which seems unlikely to be true. Very improbable.

Actually I agree with everything MWH says so I don't know why I'm posting this? force of habit and the excuse to say cocaine on textkit?

Oh and as for Beekes' lexicon...just...trust Chantraine on this and in fact generally over Beekes. You know, comp phil has came a long way but that lexicon isn't representative, its really awful. I can see why its handy but all the mental stuff about pre-Greek annoys me, as if we know. Sigh I wish any forceful statements people made had to be backed up with proof. Generally I'm not sure how good that series is, a friend of mine who basically does pure linguistics and nothing else now says its not very good. I've only flicked through Greek and Latin and, some reason, the Armenian one despite not knowing Armenian. Use with care.

Also, merry Christmas. I'm almost done packing and I'm offfffffff. Unfortunately this means that in between applications and dixws bibliotheka I can't really answer any interesting questions. :(
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:33 pm

I'm certainly siding with you two and Chantraine - which means I'm in excellent company! Actually I did so before I made that last post, but I thought maybe you had some ideas, which you did. And it also showed that I wasn't the only one who's confused with this, which is some consolation. :)

Btw, what is PV short for?
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Scribo » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:50 pm

Prometheus Vinctus by Ps-Aeschylus. Really ought to read that, man.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Cambrinus » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:46 pm

For the quantity, see Catullus 84. We do seem to be dealing with two different roots here.
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Re: Ionian Sea

Postby Cambrinus » Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:02 pm

For the quantity, see Catullus 84. We do seem to be dealing with two different roots here.
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