Geoff would appear to be in a huff because I don't take everything he
says at face value... Oh well, a chaqu'un son gout. It doesn't mean
that I'm not listening.
>The astronomical argument is rather long, I'll save that for another
>posting. It hasn't escaped my attention that the bull word, Taurus,
>etc, is shared between IE and AfroAsiatic only. Was it borrowed at
>the same time as the star-word, as the name of the zodiacal bull?
It would seem that *Tawru- and *`aTtar- are reconstructed for Proto-Semitic.
Since Proto-Semitic must surely have occured some time before the appearance
of Assyrian, it is reasonable to conclude that the transfer of these
mythological themes across the Middle-East was well underway even in
I don't doubt that there continued to be successive spreads of new themes
from different directions however even earlier Sumerian mythology has some
themes that exist in other traditions in the north. I'm not one to think
everything originated with the Proto-Sumerians however. Rather it would seem
that the Eastern Mediterranean was a large centre of trade in the neolithic
and the real source for this common mythology.
As far as I know, the bull was a symbol associated originally with the moon
since bull horns look like a crescent moon in both shape and colour (with
the sometimes-accompanying "double axe" being the sun). Later we read of
"The Bull of Heaven" in Sumerian mythology and there become many deities in
other traditions that are associated with horns (like Egyptian Hathor).
As for the origin of the word, I feel that Semitic *Tawru- is a word
from elsewhere. I've suggested that it came from Proto-Hattic *Launu
(Hattic /taru/ "storm god") with an initial lateral fricative, providing the
seed for the "lion" word as well.
I feel that the word *`aTtar- was adopted a little later (c.5000 BCE)
via Tyrrhenian *xastora which was in turn borrowed from Late Mid
IndoEuropean *x�h�st�r� (> *xst�:r) before syncope took place. The word
is derived from *x�h- (> *xah-) "to burn, glow". The word would have
originally signified both Venus (the morning/evening star) and the
goddess herself. A subsequent semantic shift caused IE *xst�:r to mean
simply any "star". I suspect that the Egyptian name of Hathor is also the
product of borrowing via Tyrrhenian but it then would appear that it has
been cleverly reanalysed in native terms as "Horus' house".
Is this satisfactory?
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