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

From: tgpedersen
Message: 16993
Date: 2002-12-03

--- In cybalist@..., Piotr Gasiorowski <piotr.gasiorowski@...>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "tgpedersen" <tgpedersen@...>
> To: <cybalist@...>
> 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
> > 2) If not, how can one be sure that the Greek Prometheus is not a
> folk etymology of a forgotten meaningless word (and Epimetheus
> 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.
> Torsten

Running the risk of being tedious, I have that stem too:


Note the AfroAsiatic connection.

As for the ocean-churning story, there may be no open fire, but as I
recall from a depiction of the myth at Angkor Wat a central mountain
is used exaxtly as you would a fire-stick; snakes wound around it and
the gods pulling alternately at them from either side to rotate it.
And Prometheus and Epimetheus were fathers of two surviviors of a
Greek flood.