Re: [tied] Re: Pramantha/Prometheus: a false etymology?

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 16979
Date: 2002-12-02

----- Original Message -----
From: "tgpedersen" <tgpedersen@...>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, December 02, 2002 12:20 PM
Subject: [tied] Re: Pramantha/Prometheus: a false etymology?

> 1) Did the "stick"/"stir" word survive in Greek?

It did, according to Pokorny, who assigns Gk. motHos 'battle turmoil' and a few similar words to the same root. I have my doubts about them, since the Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian evidence clearly requires the reconstruction *menth2-, which is hard to reconcile with <motHos>.

> 2) If not, how can one be sure that the Greek Prometheus is not a
folk etymology of a forgotten meaningless word (and Epimetheus added
for systematic completeness)?

It's matter of probability and partly of formal difficulties (for one thing, neither *menth2- nor *mn.th2- could yield Gk. -me:tH-). It's methodologically preferable to derive <prome:tHeus> from a known Greek source without any formal problems rather than force an identification with an Indo-Aryan noun that, to my knowledge, isn't associated with any mythological figure comparable to Prometheus. The root {manth-} in Sanskrit plays an important role in the famous ocean-churning episode, but not in any fire stories. Before anyone asks, the names of Manthu and Pramanthu (who are not Titan-like beings or fire-stealers but ordinary mortals) are attested _much_ later than Prometheus. The Bhagavatapurana was composed about the 10th c., i.e. some fourteen or fifteen centuries after Aeschylus (let alone Hesiod), and though one could reasonably claim that its core matter (which, however, doesn't necessarily include Pramanthu) must be much older, the same could be said of Greek Prometheus. If we compare like with like, priority goes to the Greeks.


Yahoo! Groups Sponsor

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.