Ionian Sea

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Paul Derouda
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Ionian Sea

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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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