Thanatos and Vanth

From: Glen Gordon
Message: 7606
Date: 2001-06-13

Piotr on my suggestion of the origin of Etruscan Vanth from
*wenakte (> Myc. /wanax/):
>Understandable, perhaps. But where's the evidence? A semantic >sequence
>like "ruler" -> "powerful deity" -> "deity of war" -> "deity of death" is
>no doubt imaginable -- that's hardly a problem. In fact, any number of
>similar chains could be imagined.
>The real problem is how to constrain the imagination, so that it
>will not produce mirages.

Yes, indeed. How might we constrain the imagination, so that it
does not produce mirages like *gWmti- in /basileus/ :) I'm sure
you realise that I could turn your words against you and ask
_you_ where the evidence of your interpretation is.
There isn't an issue with the first half *gWmti-, nor with the
second half since they both are found in other IE languages as
you say, however you are still exercising much freedom too.

We don't see this particular compound outside of Hellenic and
syllabic *m isn't really attested but rather implied from -a-.
Any underlying IE form could just as well have a syllabic *n,
*a or *x (*H2).

>She has absolutely no royal or military attributes -- nothing to
>suggest that her original function was that of a "ruler" or "chief".

Alright, alright. I'll give it some thought.

>The final -u in <Aplu> reflects Greek -o:(n). Gk. -os, like Lat.
>-us, would have become -e in classical Etruscan, and given the >variability
>of Greek-to-Etruscan orthographic correspondences [...] as well as inner
>Etruscan variation [...] one would expect >anything like *Tvante, *Thvante
>or *Tvanthe for Thw´┐Żnatos (with
>the etymological digamma still there!).

Or even *Pvante, *Phvance, *Catha or *Niphu, perhaps. Uh-hmm...
shouldn't you be heeding your words above. I still don't see any
initial dental of any kind in the name Vanth, nor could it be
accomplished by any process I know of in Etruscan or pre-Etruscan
but I suppose the following fix is supposed to explain that...

>My scenario is as follows: since the final -e was characteristic of
>masculine names, the change of sex that the deity underwent in >Etruscan
>produced "genderless" *Tvanth, while the initial cluster -- presumably felt
>to be "foreign" in terms of Etruscan >phonotactics -- was simplified to v-.

Something tells me that /thui/ or /thuves/ might be relevant.
I presume you are speaking of a reconstructable pre-Etruscan.
If there was any such constraint in pre-Etruscan, one should
still expect *Tuvanth or even *Tanth, if labial phonemes truely
made early Etruscan ears bleed so much. There is still no process
aside from mythical analogy that could have caused an abnormal
loss of *t-, nor is there another case of such a phenomenon
(or is there?). Second of all, is Vanth even spelled any other
way such as *Vanath, *Vanathe, or the like? While you are
(as I am) positing a missing second *a and final vowel
without direct evidence, the missing *t really throws this all
over the edge.

In all, I think this means that your *Tvanth is just as weak and
unsubstantiable as my Tyrrhenian *wenakte and that you are
committing all the evil sins that I am :P Gives a whole new
meaning to Devil's Advocate.

- gLeN

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