Luke

Here you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Latin, and more.
Post Reply
User avatar
Lucus Eques
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2019
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 12:52 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Contact:

Luke

Post by Lucus Eques » Fri Jun 10, 2005 5:44 pm

Saluete!

So, here's a question that's been bugging me all my life. My real name is Luke, and my father, who knows Italian, named me thus under the impression that it meant "light," since the Italian for "light" is luce. I believed as much for many years. But with access to the internet, I was able to look up the etymology of my name, and came to learn how Lucas comes from from the Greek Loukas, the name of the follower of Christ in the Koine New Testament. Loukas' name came from the fact that he was from Lucania, a region of southern Italy between the toe and the heal of the boot (the "ankle," if you will). And most attribute the name of Lucania to the Latin lucus, meaning a "grove" or "sacred wood," for Lucania was abundant in rich forests.

The name "Luke" in English also comes from the Roman name Lucius, a nomen which is ultimately derived from lux, "light." In this way, my father was never wrong in his belief of my name's origin, and since he's not particularly religious and would prefer to avoid the religious connotation, so much the better.

But since both lux and lucus are of Latin origin, with the first three letters of both words identical (since lux is really just lucs with an abbreviating x), is there the possibilty for some common root, some philological connection which links these words in the distant past? Since sacredness and light are two concepts that have always been intertwined, ought there not to be some affiliation between lux and lucus?

Gratias ut semper multas.
L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

ingrid70
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 394
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 6:29 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Post by ingrid70 » Fri Jun 10, 2005 6:26 pm

According to my dictionary, lucus is derived from luceo, and originally meant 'light spot', 'open spot in the woods'.

Ingrid

User avatar
Lucus Eques
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2019
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 12:52 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Contact:

Post by Lucus Eques » Fri Jun 10, 2005 6:35 pm

Yay! quam mirum! Well that's great; I'm glad there is a connection. Tibi tantissimas ago gratias.

What dictionary is that? Is luceo ancient Latin?
L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

Cyborg
Textkit Member
Posts: 192
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 3:56 am

Post by Cyborg » Fri Jun 10, 2005 6:58 pm

Here's exactly what my dictionary says about "lucus":

Lucus, luc-i, masculine substantive, sacred grove. Derived from lux, through the verb lucare = to open a light spot in the woods. The primitive form was loukos.

User avatar
Maximus
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 6:42 pm
Contact:

Post by Maximus » Fri Jun 10, 2005 7:09 pm

Similarly, the german word for 'glade' is <i>Lichtung</i>, while <i>Licht</i> means 'light'. Thought you might find this interesting.

User avatar
benissimus
Global Moderator
Posts: 2733
Joined: Mon May 12, 2003 4:32 am
Location: Berkeley, California
Contact:

Post by benissimus » Sat Jun 11, 2005 1:01 am

The etymological connection between Latin lucus and lux is certainly not agreed upon (and I think looked down upon), so much that the statement by a certain Roman grammarian saying that it is called "lucus a non lucendo" is used as a name for a certain type of logical fallacy. A grove after all is not necessarily a lighted place, merely a wood where the ground is clear and to name it after that which it is not would probably be fallacious. I am not saying that the words cannot be connected, but extending the meaning from "light" to "open" may need some corroboration.

On a side note, he also said "bellum a nulla re bella" :lol:
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae

User avatar
Lucus Eques
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2019
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 12:52 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Contact:

Post by Lucus Eques » Sat Jun 11, 2005 1:32 am

Fantastic! thank you, Cyborg.

Und dass stimmt, Maxime! ich hab dass schon vergessen. Danke schön!

Wow! lucus a non lucendo, that's pretty severe. Still, the corroboration of the etymology twice separately as seen in the above is more than convincing enough for me. And considering the obvious connection of sunlight with a grove, it only makes sense.
L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

adz000
Textkit Member
Posts: 162
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 9:45 pm
Location: Cantabrigiae Massachusettensium
Contact:

Post by adz000 » Sat Jun 11, 2005 12:15 pm

I don't know the first thing about the derivation of the Greek name Luke, but I am surprised to learn that it derives from an apparently Oscan adjective Louka[n]s. Is this well established?

Also the connection of Lucania to lucus/lux smells suspiciously easy. Place-names are rarely so transparent. Why would an Oscan ethnic adjective denoting a 5th century BC Sabellian tribe become a popular Greek name, especially when that region of Basilicata already had an adequate Greek name (Oenotria)? Is there any parallel for barbarian ethnic terms becoming personal names in Greek, especially given the notorious Hellenic xenophobia?

It seems easier to connect the Greek Loukas with the word for wolf, lukos (cognate with Latin lupus) with a bit of dialectical coloring.

User avatar
Lucus Eques
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2019
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 12:52 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Contact:

Post by Lucus Eques » Sat Jun 11, 2005 2:58 pm

It's not a matter of insisting upon a Greek origin of the name. The fact of Luke's history (whether true or not) is recorded as his coming from Lucania, and thus his name has always been attributed:

http://www.behindthename.com/php/search ... perator=or

It is very well established indeed.

As for the name's popularity, it may have been a really stupid name in that time period, perhaps one as ridiculous as the often-mocked "Duwane" or "LaFawnduh," only achieving such fame through the Bible.

As for "adequate Greek name," you notice how the Romans preferred renaming more than one part of Graecia Magna with Latin instead of retaining the Greek. Besides, Oenotria was only the costal part of what historically has been Lucania.
L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

User avatar
Lucus Eques
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2019
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 12:52 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Contact:

Post by Lucus Eques » Sat Jun 11, 2005 3:14 pm

As for Honoratus Maurus, his concept of etymology was that things are sometimes named for the opposite of what they are, what they lack, what they desire. Hence bellum a nulla re bella, that war is called "beautiful" because it is not. And thus lucus a non lucendo, he is saying that a grove is called "light" because there is no light in a grove.

Except that there is light in a grove. I don't understand how Honoratus could be so clueless, but the grove is the lightest and most beautiful part of the forest, where the lack of underbrush allows all the filtered light through the trees to collect and form brilliant patterns of dappled light on the ground:

Image

Sacred indeed.
He was probably just some Roman city-boy, and had never really seen one. :-P
L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

User avatar
Lucus Eques
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2019
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 12:52 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Contact:

Post by Lucus Eques » Sat Jun 11, 2005 3:36 pm

Here is a quote from a very lovely page found here:
http://www.hellefors.se/kommun/glentor/Openingpage.htm
Next to open forest spaces that were created by man, there were of course also open spaces created by nature. There are several indications that these open spaces were invested with spiritual meaning in the early religions. The Latin word for a holy forest, “lucus”, originally meant “open space”. It is kin to the verb “luceo”, to shine, and to “lux”, which is light. Just like in the French “clairière”, the English word “clearing” and the German word “Lichtung”, this etymology points our attention to the fact that the casting of sunlight was an essential part of the experiential value of the open spaces in forests.
Personally, I couldn't agree more.
L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

ingrid70
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 394
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 6:29 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Post by ingrid70 » Sat Jun 11, 2005 8:26 pm

Lucus Eques wrote:Yay! quam mirum! Well that's great; I'm glad there is a connection. Tibi tantissimas ago gratias.

What dictionary is that? Is luceo ancient Latin?
It was: http://www.latijnnederlands.nl/, not much use to you, I'm afraid. It's also in my other paper Latin-Dutch dictionary.

Ingrid

amans
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 360
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:12 pm

Post by amans » Sat Jun 11, 2005 8:41 pm

Hi Ingrid,

Dutch is, I think, not too hard, though. Here is the introduction from the site:

Welkom op de webversie van het Woordenboek Latijn/Nederlands. Deze tweede editie van het Woordenboek Latijn/Nederlands bestaat naast deze webversie uit een woordenboek en een cd-rom. Zowel het woordenboek in combinatie met de cd-rom als de aparte cd-rom zijn verkrijgbaar via de boekhandel. U kunt deze ook on-line bestellen.

Here my tentative translation:

Welcome to the web version of the Latin-Dutch dictionary. This second edition of the Latin-Dutch dictionary consists of ... this web version of the dictionary and a CD-rom. The dictionary in combination with the CD-rom as well the CD-rom alone can be obtained from the book store. You can also order these online.

Sorry for interrupting... back to Luke ;)

User avatar
Lucus Eques
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2019
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2004 12:52 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Contact:

Post by Lucus Eques » Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:13 am

It was: http://www.latijnnederlands.nl/, not much use to you, I'm afraid. It's also in my other paper Latin-Dutch dictionary.

Ingrid
Actually, knowing German and English is more than enough to understand Dutch; thanks! that's good to know. Dank u zeer!
L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

ingrid70
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 394
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 6:29 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Post by ingrid70 » Sun Jun 12, 2005 10:25 am

Well done, amans :).
The word 'naast' means next to, apart from in this context. So, next to the website there's the dictionary and CD-Rom. I'm the proud owner of the CD-Rom version :).

Knowing German certainly does help with Dutch, my first lesson of German in high school consisted of reading 2 pages of German text, to show the similarities.

Ingrid

Post Reply