Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Phrygians

On the advice of the same very generous person who gave me a copy of Fortson's book on IE language and culture, I've been looking at what F. has to say about the Phrygians, and some points of comparison between their language and Greek.

The arrival of the Phrygians in Anatolia was previously thought to coincide with the fall of the Hittite empire, and perhaps even to have caused it, but most scholars now think they came two or three centuries later, according to Fortson. They are thought to have come from the Balkans, and Herodotus says their homeland was in Macedonia (see below); it has been claimed that they were related to the Thracians and the Armenians. They established a state after moving farther inland, and joined a loose confederation, called the Muski in Assyrian records, which was the primary force in Anatolia until the 8th century. Late in that century the seat of power shifted westward under King Midas, and in the next century his kingdom was overtaken by Cimmerian invaders from the north, who sacked Gordion, the Phrygian capital.

Although there seems to be no reason to doubt their Balkan origins, according to F., the first clear evidence for the Phrygians comes from central Anatolia in the 8th century. There are about 80 inscriptions in Old Phrygian between that time and the middle of the 5th century, which are written in an alphabetic script that seems to be derived from an early Greek alphabet used in Asia Minor (Fortson). Much later, in the first two centuries AD, there are New Phrygian inscriptions in the Greek alphabet.

Ancient writers, including Hesychius, preserve Phrygian glosses, some of which are known also from inscriptions. Phrygian has more in common with Greek than any other IE language, according to Fortson, and also with Armenian and Indo-Iranian. These include: the fact that before consonants, word-initial laryngeals were vocalized as vowels; the use of (at least) five cases; examples of consonant stems, thematic nouns, i-stems, u-stems, and feminine a-stems, which resemble the Greek forms; the possible existence of an s-future; a past-tense e-augment; third person imperative forms; and the extremely similar perfect middle participles with -meno- plus reduplication, such as tetikmenos (accursed?) and protuss[e]stamenan (set up, established).

Herodotus (7.73) mentions the Φρύγες, who migrated from Europe to Asia (with translation by A.D. Godley):

οἱ δὲ Φρύγες, ὡς Μακεδόνες λέγουσι, ἐκαλέοντο Βρίγες χρόνον ὅσον Εὐρωπήιοι ἐόντες σύνοικοι ἦσαν Μακεδόσι, μεταβάντες δὲ ἐς τὴν Ἀσίην ἅμα τῇ χώρῃ καὶ τὸ οὔνομα μετέβαλον ἐς Φρύγας. Ἀρμένιοι δὲ κατά περ Φρύγες ἐσεσάχατο, ἐόντες Φρυγῶν ἄποικοι. τούτων συναμφοτέρων ἦρχε Ἀρτόχμης Δαρείου ἔχων θυγατέρα.

[As the Macedonians say, these Phrygians were called Briges as long as they dwelt in Europe, where they were neighbors of the Macedonians; but when they changed their home to Asia, they changed their name also and were called Phrygians. The Armenians, who are settlers from Phrygia, were armed like the Phrygians. Both these together had as their commander Artochmes, who had married a daughter of Darius.]

He writes about them again (2.2) in a famous story about the Egyptian King Psammetichos, and his plan to determine the oldest nation on earth (with translation by A.D. Godley):

οἱ δὲ Αἰγύπτιοι, πρὶν μὲν ἢ Ψαμμήτιχον σφέων βασιλεῦσαι, ἐνόμιζον ἑωυτοὺς πρώτους γενέσθαι πάντων ἀνθρώπων: ἐπειδὴ δὲ Ψαμμήτιχος βασιλεύσας ἠθέλησε εἰδέναι οἵτινες γενοίατο πρῶτοι, ἀπὸ τούτου νομίζουσι Φρύγας προτέρους γενέσθαι ἑωυτῶν, τῶν δὲ ἄλλων ἑωυτούς. Ψαμμήτιχος δὲ ὡς οὐκ ἐδύνατο πυνθανόμενος πόρον οὐδένα τούτου ἀνευρεῖν, οἳ γενοίατο πρῶτοι ἀνθρώπων, ἐπιτεχνᾶται τοιόνδε. παιδία δύο νεογνὰ ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἐπιτυχόντων δίδωσι ποιμένι τρέφειν ἐς τὰ ποίμνια τροφήν τινα τοιήνδε, ἐντειλάμενος μηδένα ἀντίον αὐτῶν μηδεμίαν φωνὴν ἱέναι, ἐν στέγῃ δὲ ἐρήμῃ ἐπ᾽ ἑωυτῶν κέεσθαι αὐτά, καὶ τὴν ὥρην ἐπαγινέειν σφι αἶγας, πλήσαντα δὲ γάλακτος τἆλλα διαπρήσσεσθαι: ταῦτα δὲ ἐποίεέ τε καὶ ἐνετέλλετο Ψαμμήτιχος θέλων ἀκοῦσαι τῶν παιδίων, ἀπαλλαχθέντων τῶν ἀσήμων κνυζημάτων, ἥντινα φωνὴν ῥήξουσι πρώτην: τά περ ὦν καὶ ἐγένετο. ὡς γὰρ διέτης χρόνος ἐγεγόνεε ταῦτα τῷ ποιμένι πρήσσοντι, ἀνοίγοντι τὴν θύρην καὶ ἐσιόντι τὰ παιδία ἀμφότερα προσπίπτοντα βεκὸς ἐφώνεον, ὀρέγοντα τὰς χεῖρας. τὰ μὲν δὴ πρῶτα ἀκούσας ἥσυχος ἦν ὁ ποιμήν: ὡς δὲ πολλάκις φοιτέοντι καὶ ἐπιμελομένῳ πολλὸν ἦν τοῦτο τὸ ἔπος, οὕτω δὴ σημήνας τῷ δεσπότῃ ἤγαγε τὰ παιδία κελεύσαντος ἐς ὄψιν τὴν ἐκείνου. ἀκούσας δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ Ψαμμήτιχος ἐπυνθάνετο οἵτινες ἀνθρώπων βεκός τι καλέουσι, πυνθανόμενος δὲ εὕρισκε Φρύγας καλέοντας τὸν ἄρτον. οὕτω συνεχώρησαν Αἰγύπτιοι καὶ τοιούτῳ σταθμησάμενοι πρήγματι τοὺς Φρύγας πρεσβυτέρους εἶναι ἑωυτῶν. ὧδε μὲν γενέσθαι τῶν ἱρέων τοῦ Ἡφαίστου τοῦ ἐν Μέμφι ἤκουον: Ἕλληνες δὲ λέγουσι ἄλλα τε μάταια πολλὰ καὶ ὡς γυναικῶν τὰς γλώσσας ὁ Ψαμμήτιχος ἐκταμὼν τὴν δίαιταν οὕτω ἐποιήσατο τῶν παίδων παρὰ ταύτῃσι τῇσι γυναιξί.

[Now before Psammetichus became king of Egypt, the Egyptians believed that they were the oldest people on earth. But ever since Psammetichus became king and wished to find out which people were the oldest, they have believed that the Phrygians were older than they, and they than everybody else. Psammetichus, when he was in no way able to learn by inquiry which people had first come into being, devised a plan by which he took two newborn children of the common people and gave them to a shepherd to bring up among his flocks. He gave instructions that no one was to speak a word in their hearing; they were to stay by themselves in a lonely hut, and in due time the shepherd was to bring goats and give the children their milk and do everything else necessary. Psammetichus did this, and gave these instructions, because he wanted to hear what speech would first come from the children, when they were past the age of indistinct babbling. And he had his wish; for one day, when the shepherd had done as he was told for two years, both children ran to him stretching out their hands and calling “Bekos!” as he opened the door and entered. When he first heard this, he kept quiet about it; but when, coming often and paying careful attention, he kept hearing this same word, he told his master at last and brought the children into the king's presence as required. Psammetichus then heard them himself, and asked to what language the word “Bekos” belonged; he found it to be a Phrygian word, signifying bread. Reasoning from this, the Egyptians acknowledged that the Phrygians were older than they. This is the story which I heard from the priests of Hephaestus' temple at Memphis; the Greeks say among many foolish things that Psammetichus had the children reared by women whose tongues he had cut out.]

In their commentary to Herodotus, How and Wells write: "Frederick II of Germany and James IV of Scotland are said to have repeated the experiment of Psammetichus, and to have proved by it that Hebrew was the speech of Paradise."

The Phrygians also appear in Homer (Iliad 3.184-187) when Priam tells Helen about his journey to their land:
ἤδη καὶ Φρυγίην εἰσήλυθον ἀμπελόεσσαν,
ἔνθα ἴδον πλείστους Φρύγας ἀνέρας αἰολοπώλους
λαοὺς Ὀτρῆος καὶ Μυγδόνος ἀντιθέοιο,
οἵ ῥα τότ᾽ ἐστρατόωντο παρ᾽ ὄχθας Σαγγαρίοιο

[Previously, I went into vine-rich Phrygia, where I saw many Phrygian men with fast horses, the people of Otreos and godlike Mugdonos, who were then encamped on the banks of the Sangarios.]

But according to Kirk's commentary, "they are a different people from those later called Phruges who swept down into Asia Minor from Thrace (cf. Herodotus 7.73) some time after the fall of Troy." (I wish he had explained this more thoroughly.) Kirk also points out that αἰολοπώλους occurs only here in Homer, but is used of the Phrygians again at line 137 of the Hymn to Aphrodite, perhaps echoing this passage. And he says: "Otreus and Mugdon are otherwise unknown; the latter's non-Greek name suggests that he may not be entirely fictitious."


Blogger Μιχάλης Καρδαμάκης said...

Originally, "αἰολος" meant "motley" or "medley", not "fast". The meaning of the word changed gradually, as current events toggled into historical facts, on to legends, on to myths. On the distant ultimacy of the Mycenaean world, on the Lipari Islands, a renowned house of anactae, the members of which where usually called "Aἰολος", or most likely "Aἰολεύς", came to be regarded as a single personality, the god of the winds!
Stretching across the Aegean Sea, dwelled the "Αιολείς". The Aeolian tribe, actually was a mix of Greeks with Lelegians. Indeed a "motley" community, if one recollects the hatred for the Lelegians, reserved by the rest of the nations (Greeks, Pelasgians, Cretans, Telkhines and Danaoi), as is indicated for example by the vengeful crusade, launched by Cephalos & Amphitryon (father of Hercules Junior)against the lelegian tribes of the Taphians & the Teleboans.
I dare say that the Lelegians were looked down upon, in a similar way that the native Americans were in more recent times. Anyway, it can be said that at the beginning, an "aeolos polos" could have meant a "motley-colored colt", like the ones used by Indians in old western movies.
By the way, back in those days as recorded in palace archives throughout the Orient, Greeks called themselves something sounding like "Αχαιοί". Actually something more like "A-kha-ι-vί"...
Originally from Macedonia, the Phrygians chose a continental path. Yet, although they kept moving inland into Asia, and steadily became alienated to their southern kin that roamed the Aegean, mixed with mariner-nations and gradually became Greeks, the Phrygian people also must have used a similar name for themselves. Remote descendants of the Phrygians, the Armenians still call themselves with something sounding like: "Khaikhu"!

12:59 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home