Thanatos and Vanth

From: Glen Gordon
Message: 7528
Date: 2001-06-10

>The trivial certainty that <vanth> comes from *somewhere* does not >mean
>that its source is or will ever be identifiable to us.

I have a lot to say to your counterarguement. The battle has begun

You are correct in saying the above, but your immediate dismissal
of the possibility of Vanth from a Tyrrhenian *wenakte without
knowing a more certain etymology does not mean that I must be
wrong either.

As I say, an intermediate is *necessary*. If we take Hattic
/wurun-katti/ itself to try to directly explain Myc. /wanax/, it
doesn't work without the assumption that the person who first
borrowed the term was very hard of hearing :) Even using my
reconstruction of PHattic *wunun-kWati to explain this as a
direct Hattic-Hellenic borrowing is truely absurd and doesn't
work. If you meant what you said, and you are willing to accept
a serious discussion about a Hattic origin of /wanax/,
we *NEED* a linguistic intermediary here to keep within the realm
of sanity.

Tyrrhenian, as the ancestor of Rhaetic, Etruscan & Lemnian, is the likeliest
intermediary because it would have to be situated in the
precise area that Hellenic eventually treaded upon AND at the
correct time. How can we honestly work Hattic into this location
at such a late time without working against archaeology and
early history?

Again, if Hattic was ever in the area of Greece, it would have
to be at a date much earlier than Hellenic, negating any theories
about *direct* loans to explain /wanax/. I see no logical

In terms of phonetics, my Hattic-Tyrrhenian-Hellenic game of
telephone makes sense. For instance, I agree now with your
suggestion that Semitic *`ATtar- could ultimately be of
IndoEuropean origin (from *xste:r "star" < *xe:s- "to burn").
However, this mini-idea ultimately takes us down a specific
logical road towards many other mini-ideas that end up making a
larger grander idea, if we unchain our deductive reasoning.
Upon concluding an IE origin, the first fact that we may identify
is that IE could never have *directly* affected Semitic in any

Here again, an intermediary is a logical necessity and Tyrrhenian
supplies this need via an equally necessary reconstruction of
*Xastor. In this way, the loan transfer may be fulfilled in a
likelier manner via a middle language closer to Palestine as

Late MidIE *Xster- -> Tyr. *Xastor -> Semitic *`ATtar-

Luckily, *Xastor with accent on the second syllable is attested in
Etruscan as Turan (this -(a)n suffix is seen also in other names
Tin, Vulchan, Sethlan, etc). All larygeals were lost medially
and sometimes initially in Etruscan, before *a, such as /avil/
"year" (< Tyr *xaiu-). The Late EtruscoLemnian form of Tyrrhenian *Xastor
must then be *Attur, showing the change of sibilant +
stop into geminate stop. The geminate is shown in the name with a
t- (and not aspirate th-).

If sibilant + stop can change to geminate stop in EtruscoLemnian,
certainly Tyrrhenian *-kt- can change to *-tt-, eventually
producing *wenatte. In Etruscan, final vowels were being dropped
and the resultant final stops didn't distinguish aspiration.
So Vanth is absolutely expected as a reflex of EL *wenatte. Phonetically, it
works like clockwork.

The more important contention you have with my theory is that
Vanth seems to a carbon copy of Thanatos in terms of function and would be
appear to no longer be a wanax as it should, nor to be
of the same sex that a wanax is expected to be.

First, speaking of sex, we know of the liberal views of Etruscans, allowing
women to have a high place in society more so than
amongst the Greeks. Also, gods seem to change sex all the time, especially
around the Mediterranean because of a variety of mythologies coming together
in one place with varying sexual
attributes given to the same god. Therefore, the "sex change"
that Vanth appears to have undergone is not unique nor a
serious arguement against the possibility that Vanth was once

Vanth, as the goddess of death, truely is a "ruler of the realm".
What other realm besides a physical one is there except the
otherworld, the world of the gods and deceased. She has eyes on
her wings showing off her omniscience. I don't know about you, but
I think knowledge is power, and if you see all, you have a
considerable amount of power and authority over the physical
world if not the beyond as well. Odin saw everything. Odin was
powerful. Odin was in a position of authority. I rest my case.
And the transfer of function from a deity of war to one of death
is an understandable development.

Again, high status women were commonplace in Etruscan society.
Why must a wanax, a position surely tied intricately to religion,
be assumed to be an exclusively masculine role despite the
prominant female involvement in the religious art of the Eastern
Mediterranean from whence we can reasonably conclude the Etruscans

As I have said, Thanatos could very well have merged with a
pre-existing Vanth with new functions attributed to him/her as is
the case with a large amount of Greek and Roman gods
(Aphrodite-Venus, Mars-Ares, yadayadayadayada). Claiming that
the very name of Vanth is somehow derived from Hellenic
*tHwanatos seems a little phonetically weak. If Vanth were a Greek
loan, we'd expect Etruscan *Thantu, similar to Apollo versus Aplu.
How can you possibly explain the missing initial dental? Should we
not expect final -u as in Aplu?

gLeNny gEe
...wEbDeVEr gOne bEsErK!

email: glengordon01@...

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