Aelius Herodianus, On Unique Words


1 Introduction

[cf. god lists]

2 Translation of book 1, chapters 1–13

(Introduction) [I omit the introduction, at least for now, except for this transitional sentence:] And first, let the god be present with us. For it is just to make the beginning from him, as the man of Soli said when he began: “Out of Zeus let us begin.”

(1.1) Zeús. Words ending in eus always have over one syllable in the nominative: aristeús (‘valorous one’), basileús (‘king’), Perseús, Portheús, Prōteús, halieús (‘fisher’), Oineús (Oeneus), Lynkeús (Lynceus), Akhilleús (Achilles), Tēreús, Thēseús, Odysseús, Pēleús, Briseús, Atreús.

So, Zeús, in being monosyllabic and avoiding the number of syllables characteristic of –eus, is unique. For:

  • Neús, (a name) applied to a river, as Phileas says, is foreign (or ‘outlandish’);
  • theús, a synalepha (from theós, ‘god’), is purely poetic;
  • seús is formed only by analogy (from the genitive seós to replace the common nominative sḗs, ‘moth’);
  • Phleús, (a name) applied to Dionysus, as we find among his bynames (epiklḗsis), is used in accordance with a myth (historía).
  • (Dneús – as in) “lest Dneús […] the chimaera, you incur something wild” – is an ethnic term (apparently for a Lydian city where the chimaera grew up; but the quotation/proverb is very obscure).

We give the reason why Zeús is monosyllabic in On Verbal Nouns [a work now unfortunately lost].

But that the god was named in various ways by the ancients, I am not unaware; for he is also (called) Dís, Zḗn, Dḗn and Zás; Zḗs by Pherecydes, following his personal inclination; and Deús or Dán by the Boeotians.

(1.2) (‘Earth’). […]

(1.3) Ouranós (‘Heaven’). […]

(1.4) Athēnâ. […]

(1.5) Moîra (‘Fate’). […]

(1.6) Ártemis. […]

(1.7) Parthénos (Virgin). […]

(1.8) Poseidôn. […]

(1.9) Nêsos (‘Island’). […]

(1.10) Kállos (‘Beauty’). […]

(1.11) Apóllōn. […]

(1.12) Pŷr (‘Fire’). […]

(1.13) Moûsa (‘Muse’). […]

[I omit the rest of book 1, although there are one or two nouns later which could be taken as theonyms.]

3 A chapter from book 2

(2.XX) Khthṓn (‘Earth’). […]