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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 24, 2018

Mycenaean e-pi-ko-wo and alphabetic Greek ἐπίκουρος revisited

  • Kyle Mahoney EMAIL logo
From the journal Kadmos


This paper revisits the etymology of Greek ἐπίκουρος, which for over a century has been analyzed as a compound of ἐπί and an otherwise non-extant verbal root *κορσο-, from an Indo-European root familiar in Latin currō ‘run’. After reviewing the linguistic, epigraphic, and philological evidence, I conclude that this etymology is untenable. From here I turn to the Linear B data and demonstrate that the e-pi-ko-wo of the Pylian o-ka texts (ca. 1200 B.C.) should be interpreted as /epikor woi/; this presents us with the linguistic antecedent of ἐπί- κουρος, which should be etymologized as a prepositional Rektionskompositum, where ἐπί governs κόρϝος (‘he who is in close proximity to the κόρϝος (warrior)’ / ‘he who is attached to/accompanying the warriors’). Early in the Archaic period, this older Mycenaean term was replaced by a new coinage - σύμμαχος - which more appropriately described a military relationship binding one Greek polis to another. These conclusions are supported by early epic usage, historical linguistic analysis, and a full study of the Linear B texts in question. This new etymology has stimulating archaeological correlates and exemplifies the importance and broad applications of the Linear B texts for the reconstruction of Greek prehistory and society and our understanding of the epic tradition

Published Online: 2018-07-24
Published in Print: 2017-07-01

© 2018 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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