Re: [tied] Re: Greek wanax and basileus: A final solution finally?

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 7464
Date: 2001-06-04

Just my twopenceworth before I'm able to answer in more detail. Before "basileus" came to be applied to kings (including those of Persia) and emperors, it had been a much humbler term. In Mycenaean Greek it referred to a low-level "chief person" -- someone like a village headman or (at least sometimes) the head of a guild of artisans, certainly not a ruler or a military leader. One should take this into account when attempting to etymologise the word.
----- Original Message -----
From: ehlsmith@...
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2001 4:40 AM
Subject: [tied] Re: Greek wanax and basileus: A final solution finally? :P

When I wrote to Glen with my speculations, my thoughts were pretty
much the same as MrCaws'. I hadn't considered the possiblity of
earlier contact in the Balkans- but I do find Glen's thoughts on the
derivation of "basileus" very intriguing. It would be interesting,
but hardly unique, if the same word entered another language by two
routes, in two different guises. [Just as it would be interesting,
but hardly unique, if my original idea re wanax is completely wrong,
but Glen's subsequent idea re basileus sparked by it is correct  :-) ]

To continue with my speculations- IMHO a word formed from "ruler of
the realm" implies a more complex level of socio-political
organization than is necessarily implied by one formed from "ruler of
the people" [the "people" can be anything from a small band to the
population of China; but "realm" suggests not only a settled society,
but one covering more than the immediate neighborhood]. If a more
complex entity arose in Central Anatolia before similar ones arose in
western Anatolia then it might be plausible that a word needed to
describe the leader of such an entity would be borrowed as the
neighboring societies to the west evolved toward a similar level.

I realize of course that this is all conjecture, and that the
possible cognates in other IE languages suggested by Piotr may
invalidate it completely.

Ned Smith