wanax: vN-h2eg'-t- ?

From: Dieter A. Bachmann
Message: 7490
Date: 2001-06-07

I apologize for posting this so late in the discussion. I used
to be an on & off lurker on this list, and now that I
wanted to have a say (because coincidentally I just had
a few discussions about wanax myself recently) I first had
to shove my way through yahoo registration...


[Piotr Gasiorowsk, #7468:]
>When we discussed it [wanax] for the first time, I
>mentioned Anttila's suggestion that *wanakt- < *wn-h2ag^-t-,
>supposedly meaning 'folk-leader'. The problem with it is
>that *wen- 'folk' (extracted from derivatives like
>*wen-eto-) is otherwise unattested as a root noun;

i was not able to find the 'first discussion' referred to,
I assume this must have been on an earlier list?

however, I have recently come across a pamphlet by Ivo Hajnal
("Mykenisches und homerisches Lexikon", Innsbruck 1998)
where he discusses the word wanakt- and suggests a similar etymology

I find it very credible to suggest an indoeuropean origin of the word,
especially because it appears to be a sacral parallel to the worldly lawagetas

the etymology proposed is vN-h2ag'-t- where the first member is from
verbal *ven
(Pokorny p.1146) 'desire, win' that appears in Venus, ved. vanas.

Hajnal compares vedic 'vaNij' that already in RV ordinarily means
('one who makes profit') but exactly once in the vedas, in AV 3.15.1,
Indra himself
is addressed as a vanij. a meaning 'the one who provides goods [for the people]
[from the gods]' seems not too far fetched here, and if you take a glance
at vedic religion, this is exactly what a priest does. so this would hormonize
beautifully with the apparently religious function of the mycenaean wanax.

right, there are formal difficulties, e.g. why is it hom. wanax rather
than wanags
but still the explanation strikes me as rather plausible

-- however, I had not been aware of the proposed toch. cognates (post
7461) &
I'll try to check out how they fit into this

regarding basileus (myc. qa-si-re-u), to support the semantic shift from
just a 'boss
of some village or workshop' in myc. to 'king' in alphabetic greek,
Hajnal quotes
Odyssee 1.394f "in Ithaka are many Basileus of the Achaians, both young
and old" seems
to retain the older meaning. And he goes on to suggest that after the
burning of
the myc. palaces, the hour of the basileo_n had come to grasp for power...

best regards,

Dieter Bachmann (Zurich)