Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, on the Greek mainland, Crete and Cyprus in Mycenaean Greece (16th to 12th centuries BC), before the hypothesised Dorian invasion, often cited as the terminus post quem for the coming of the Greek language to Greece. The language is preserved in inscriptions in Linear B, a script first attested on Crete before the 14th century. Most inscriptions are on clay tablets found in Knossos, in central Crete, as well as in Pylos, in the southwest of the Peloponnese. Other tablets have been found at Mycenae itself, Tiryns and Thebes and at Chania, in Western Crete. The language is named after Mycenae, one of the major centres of Mycenaean Greece.
The tablets long remained undeciphered, and many languages were suggested for them, until Michael Ventris deciphered the script in 1952.
The texts on the tablets are mostly lists and inventories. No prose narrative survives, much less myth or poetry. Still, much may be glimpsed from these records about the people who produced them and about Mycenaean Greece, the period before the so-called Greek Dark Ages.
|Era||16th–12th century BC|
The Mycenaean language is preserved in Linear B writing, which consists of about 200 syllabic signs and logograms. Since Linear B was derived from Linear A, the script of an undeciphered Minoan language, the sounds of Mycenaean are not fully represented. In essence, a limited number of syllabic signs must represent a much greater number of produced syllables that would be better represented phonetically by the letters of an alphabet.
In addition to the spelling rules, signs are not polyphonic (more than one sound), but sometimes are homophonic (a sound can be represented by more than one sign), which are not "true homophones" but are "overlapping values." Long words may omit a middle or final sign.
One archaic feature is the set of labiovelar consonants [ɡʷ, kʷ, kʷʰ], written ⟨q⟩, which split into /b, p, pʰ/, /d, t, tʰ/, or /g k kʰ/ in Ancient Greek, depending on the context and the dialect.
Another set is the semivowels /j w/ and the glottal fricative /h/ between vowels. All were lost in standard Attic Greek, but /w/ was preserved in some Greek dialects and written as digamma ⟨ϝ⟩ or beta ⟨β⟩.
It is unclear how the sound transcribed as ⟨z⟩ was pronounced. It may have been a voiced or voiceless affricate /dz/ or /ts/, marked with asterisks in the table above. It derives from [kʲ], [ɡʲ], [dʲ] and some initial [j] and was written as ζ in the Greek alphabet. In Attic, it may have been pronounced [zd] in many cases, but it is [z] in Modern Greek.
There were at least five vowels /a e i o u/, which could be both short and long.
As noted above, the syllabic Linear B script used to record Mycenaean is extremely defective and distinguishes only the semivowels ⟨j w⟩; the sonorants ⟨m n r⟩; the sibilant ⟨s⟩; the stops ⟨p t d k q z⟩; and (marginally) ⟨h⟩. Voiced, voiceless and aspirate occlusives are all written with the same symbols except that ⟨d⟩ stands for /d/ and ⟨t⟩ for both /t/ and /tʰ/). Both /r/ and /l/ are written ⟨r⟩; /h/ is unwritten unless followed by /a/.
The length of vowels and consonants is not notated. In most circumstances, the script is unable to notate a consonant not followed by a vowel. Either an extra vowel is inserted (often echoing the quality of the following vowel), or the consonant is omitted. (See above for more details.)
Thus, determining the actual pronunciation of written words is often difficult, and using of a combination of the PIE etymology of a word, its form in later Greek and variations in spelling is necessary. Even so, for some words the pronunciation is not known exactly especially when the meaning is unclear from context, or the word has no descendants in the later dialects.
Nouns likely decline for 7 cases: nominative, genitive, accusative, dative, vocative, instrumental and locative; 3 genders: masculine, feminine, neuter; and 3 numbers: singular, dual, plural. The last two cases had merged with other cases by Classical Greek. In Modern Greek, only nominative, accusative, genitive and vocative remain as separate cases with their own morphological markings. Adjectives agree with nouns in case, gender, and number.
Verbs probably conjugate for 3 tenses: past, present, future; 3 aspects: perfect, perfective, imperfective; 3 numbers: singular, dual, plural; 4 moods: indicative, imperative, subjunctive, optative; 3 voices: active, middle, passive; 3 persons: first, second, third; infinitives, and verbal adjectives.
The verbal augment is almost entirely absent from Mycenaean Greek with only one known exception, 𐀀𐀟𐀈𐀐, a-pe-do-ke (PY Fr 1184), but even that appears elsewhere without the augment, as 𐀀𐀢𐀈𐀐, a-pu-do-ke (KN Od 681). The augment is sometimes omitted in Homer.
Mycenaean had already undergone the following sound changes peculiar to the Greek language and so is considered to be Greek:
If it is genuine, the Kafkania pebble, dated to the 17th century BC, would be the oldest known Mycenean inscription, and hence the earliest preserved testimony of the Greek language, but it is likely a hoax.
While the use of Mycenaean Greek may have ceased with the fall of the Mycenaean civilization, some traces of it are found in the later Greek dialects. In particular, Arcadocypriot Greek is believed to be rather close to Mycenaean Greek. Arcadocypriot was an ancient Greek dialect spoken in Arcadia (central Peloponnese), and in Cyprus.
Ancient Pamphylian also shows some similarity to Arcadocypriot and to Mycenaean Greek.
While the Mycenaean dialect is relatively uniform at all the centres where it is found, there are also a few traces of dialectal variants:
Based on such variations, Ernst Risch (1966) postulated the existence of some dialects within Linear B. The "Normal Mycenaean" would have been the standardized language of the tablets, and the "Special Mycenaean" represented some local vernacular dialect (or dialects) of the particular scribes producing the tablets.
Thus, "a particular scribe, distinguished by his handwriting, reverted to the dialect of his everyday speech" and used the variant forms, such as the examples above.
It follows that after the collapse of Mycenaean Greece, while the standardized Mycenaean language was no longer used, the particular local dialects reflecting local vernacular speech would have continued, eventually producing the various Greek dialects of the historic period.
Such theories are also connected with the idea that the Mycenaean language constituted a type of a special koine representing the official language of the palace records and the ruling aristocracy. When the 'Mycenaean linguistic koine' fell into disuse after the fall of the palaces because the script was no longer used, the underlying dialects would have continued to develop in their own ways. That view was formulated by Antonin Bartonek. Other linguists like Leonard Robert Palmer (1980), and de:Yves Duhoux (1985) also support this view of the 'Mycenaean linguistic koine'. (The term 'Mycenaean koine' is also used by archaeologists to refer to the material culture of the region.) However, since the Linear B script does not indicate several possible dialectical features, such as the presence or absence of word-initial aspiration and the length of vowels, it is unsafe to extrapolate that Linear B texts were read as consistently as they were written.
The evidence for "Special Mycenaean" as a distinct dialect has, however, been challenged. Thompson argues that Risch's evidence does not meet the diagnostic criteria to reconstruct two dialects within Mycenaean. In particular, more recent paleographical study, not available to Risch, shows that no individual scribe consistently writes "Special Mycenaean" forms. This inconsistency makes the variation between "Normal Mycenaean" and "Special Mycenaean" unlikely to represent dialectical or sociolectical differences, as these would be expected to concentrate in individual speakers, which is not observed in the Linear B corpus.
Alexander is a male given name, and a less common surname. The most prominent bearer of the name is Alexander the Great, who created one of the largest empires in ancient history.Alexandra
Alexandra (Greek: Ἀλεξάνδρα) is the feminine form of the given name Alexander (Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros). Etymologically, the name is a compound of the Greek verb ἀλέξειν (alexein) "to defend" and ἀνήρ (anēr) "man" (GEN ἀνδρός andros). Thus it may be roughly translated as "defender of man" or "protector of man". The name was one of the titles or epithets given to the Greek goddess Hera and as such is usually taken to mean "one who comes to save warriors". The earliest attested form of the name is the Mycenaean Greek 𐀀𐀩𐀏𐀭𐀅𐀨, a-re-ka-sa-da-ra, written in the Linear B syllabic script.Allative case
Allative case (abbreviated ALL; from Latin allāt-, afferre "to bring to") is a type of locative case. The term allative is generally used for the lative case in the majority of languages that do not make finer distinctions.Anax
Anax (Greek: Ἄναξ; from earlier ϝάναξ, wánax) is an ancient Greek word for "tribal chief, lord, (military) leader". It is one of the two Greek titles traditionally translated as "king", the other being basileus, and is inherited from Mycenaean Greece, and is notably used in Homeric Greek, e.g. of Agamemnon. The feminine form is anassa, "queen" (ἄνασσα, from wánassa, itself from *wánakt-ja).Enyalius
Enyalius or Enyalios (Greek: Ἐνυάλιος) in Greek mythology is generally a son of Ares by Enyo and also a byname of Ares the god of war. Though Enyalius being a by-name of Ares is the most accepted version, in Mycenaean times Ares and Enyalius were differentiated as separate deities. Enyalius is often seen as the God of soldiers and warriors from Ares cult. On the Mycenaean Greek Linear B KN V 52 tablet, the name 𐀁𐀝𐀷𐀪𐀍, e-nu-wa-ri-jo, has been interpreted to refer to this same Enyalios.Enyalios is mentioned nine times in Homer's Iliad and in four of them it is in the same formula describing Meriones who is one of the leaders of warriors from Crete. Homer calls Ares by the epithet Enyalios in Iliad, book xx.
A scholiast on Homer declares that the poet Alcman sometimes identified Ares with Enyalius and sometimes differentiated him, and that Enyalius was sometimes made the son of Ares by Enyo and sometimes the son of Cronus and Rhea.Aristophanes (in Peace), envisages Ares and Enyalios as separate gods of war.
In Argonautica book III, lines 363-367, Jason sets the chthonic earthborn warriors fighting among themselves by hurling a boulder in their midst:
But Jason called to mind the counsels of Medea full of craft, and seized from the plain a huge round boulder, a terrible quoit of Ares Enyalius; four stalwart youths could not have raised it from the ground even a little.
The urbane Alexandrian author gives his old tale a touch of appropriate Homeric antiquity by using such an ancient epithet.
Plutarch, in Moralia (2nd century), tells of the bravery of the women of Argos, in the 5th century BC, who repulsed the attacks of kings of Sparta. The survivors erected a temple to Ares Enyalius by the road where they fell:
After the city was saved, they buried the women who had fallen in battle by the Argive road, and as a memorial to the achievements of the women who were spared they dedicated a temple to Ares Enyalius... Up to the present day they celebrate the Festival of Impudence (Hybristika) on the anniversary [of the battle], putting the women into men's tunics and cloaks and the men in women's dresses and head-coverings.
According to Pausanias (3.15.7) the Lacedaemonians believed that by chaining up Enyalius they would prevent the god from deserting Sparta. Pausanias also mentions at 3.14.9 and 3.20.2 that puppies were sacrificed to Enyalius in Sparta.
Polybius' history renders the Roman god Mars by Greek Ares but the Roman god Quirinus by Enyalius, and the same identifications are made by later writers such as Dionysius of Halicarnassus, perhaps only because it made sense that a Roman god who was sometimes confounded with Mars and sometimes differentiated should be represented in Greek by a name that was similarly sometimes equated with Ares (who definitely corresponded with Mars) and was sometimes differentiated.
Josephus in his Antiquities 4, (3) states after telling the story of the Tower of Babel:
But as to the plan of Shinar, in the country of Babylonia, Hestiaeus mentions it, when he says thus: "Such of the priests as were saved, took the sacred vessels of Zeus Enyalius, and came to Shinar of Babylonia."Greek numerals
Greek numerals, also known as Ionic, Ionian, Milesian, or Alexandrian numerals, are a system of writing numbers using the letters of the Greek alphabet. In modern Greece, they are still used for ordinal numbers and in contexts similar to those in which Roman numerals are still used elsewhere in the West. For ordinary cardinal numbers, however, Greece uses Arabic numerals.List of Mycenaean deities
This is an incomplete list of Mycenaean Greek deities and of the way their names, epithets, or titles are spelled and attested in Mycenaean Greek, written in the Linear B syllabary, along with some reconstructions and equivalent forms in later Greek.Michael Ventris
Michael George Francis Ventris, OBE (; 12 July 1922 – 6 September 1956) was an English architect, classicist and philologist who deciphered Linear B, the ancient Mycenaean Greek script. A student of languages, Ventris had pursued the decipherment as a personal vocation since his adolescence. After creating a new field of study, Ventris died in an automobile accident a few weeks before the publication, with John Chadwick, of Documents in Mycenaean Greek.Oil
An oil is any nonpolar chemical substance that is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures and is both hydrophobic (does not mix with water, literally "water fearing") and lipophilic (mixes with other oils, literally "fat loving"). Oils have a high carbon and hydrogen content and are usually flammable and surface active.
The general definition of oil includes classes of chemical compounds that may be otherwise unrelated in structure, properties, and uses. Oils may be animal, vegetable, or petrochemical in origin, and may be volatile or non-volatile. They are used for food (e.g., olive oil), fuel (e.g., heating oil), medical purposes (e.g., mineral oil), lubrication (e.g. motor oil), and the manufacture of many types of paints, plastics, and other materials. Specially prepared oils are used in some religious ceremonies and rituals as purifying agents.Paean
A paean () is a song or lyric poem expressing triumph or thanksgiving. In classical antiquity, it is usually performed by a chorus, but some examples seem intended for an individual voice (monody). It comes from the Greek παιάν (also παιήων or παιών), "song of triumph, any solemn song or chant." "Paeon" was also the name of a divine physician and an epithet of Apollo.Paean (god)
In Greek mythology, Paean (Ancient Greek: Παιάν), Paeëon or Paieon (Παιήων), or Paeon or Paion (Παιών) was the physician of the gods.Perseus
In Greek mythology, Perseus (; Greek: Περσεύς) is the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty. He beheaded the Gorgon Medusa for Polydectes and saved Andromeda from the sea monster Cetus. He was the son of Zeus and the mortal Danaë, as well as the half-brother and great-grandfather of Heracles.Proteus
In Greek mythology, Proteus (; Ancient Greek: Πρωτεύς) is an early prophetic sea-god or god of rivers and oceanic bodies of water, one of several deities whom Homer calls the "Old Man of the Sea" (halios gerôn). Some who ascribe to him a specific domain call him the god of "elusive sea change", which suggests the constantly changing nature of the sea or the liquid quality of water in general. He can foretell the future, but, in a mytheme familiar to several cultures, will change his shape to avoid having to; he will answer only to someone who is capable of capturing the beast. From this feature of Proteus comes the adjective protean, with the general meaning of "versatile", "mutable", "capable of assuming many forms". "Protean" has positive connotations of flexibility, versatility and adaptability.Rio, Greece
Rio (Greek: Ρίο, Río, formerly Ῥίον, Rhíon; Latin: Rhium) is a town in the suburbs of Patras and a former municipality in Achaea, West Greece, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Patras, of which it is a municipal unit. The municipal unit has an area of 98.983 km2. The municipal unit had a population of 14,622 in 2011. The campus of the University of Patras and the Casino Rio is located in Rio.Sun cross
A sun cross, solar cross, or wheel cross is a solar symbol consisting of an equilateral cross inside a circle.
The design is frequently found in the symbolism of prehistoric cultures, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods of European prehistory. The symbol's ubiquity and apparent importance in prehistoric religion have given rise to its interpretation as a solar symbol, whence the modern English term "sun cross" (a calque of German: Sonnenkreuz).
The same symbol is in use as a modern astronomical symbol representing the Earth rather than the Sun.
The symbol can be depicted using Unicode as U+1F728 🜨 ALCHEMICAL SYMBOL FOR VERDIGRIS. The characters U+2295 ⊕ CIRCLED PLUS and U+2A01 ⨁ N-ARY CIRCLED PLUS OPERATOR are similar in appearance but represent mathematical operators.Temenos
Temenos (Greek: τέμενος; plural: τεμένη, temene) is a piece of land cut off and assigned as an official domain, especially to kings and chiefs, or a piece of land marked off from common uses and dedicated to a god, a sanctuary, holy grove or holy precinct: the Pythian race-course is called a temenos, the sacred valley of the Nile is the Νείλοιο πῖον τέμενος Κρονίδα ("the rich temenos of Cronides by the Nile"), the Acropolis of Athens is the ἱερὸν τέμενος ("the holy temenos"; of Pallas). The word derives from the Greek verb τέμνω (temnō), "to cut". The earliest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek 𐀳𐀕𐀜, te-me-no, written in Linear B syllabic script. The Latin equivalent was the fanum.
The concept of temenos arose in classical antiquity as an area reserved for worship of the gods. Some authors have used the term to apply to a sacred grove of trees, isolated from everyday living spaces, while other usage points to areas within ancient urban development that are parts of sanctuaries.A temenos is often physically marked by a peribolos fence or wall (e.g. Delphi) as a structural boundary. Originally the peribolos was often just a set of marker stones demarcating the boundary, or a light fence, and the earliest sanctuaries appear to have begun as a peribolos around a sacred grove, spring, cave or other feature, with an altar but no temple or cult image. But as Greek sanctuaries became more elaborate large stone walls with gateways or gatehouses were built around important sanctuaries, though the most famous, the Athens Acropolis, was a palace and military citadel turned into a sanctuary.
A temenos enclosed a sacred space called a hieron; all things inside of this area belonged to the god. Greeks could find asylum within a sanctuary and be under the protection of the deity and could not be moved against their will.A large example of a Bronze Age Minoan temenos is at the Juktas Sanctuary of the palace of Knossos on ancient Crete in present-day Greece, the temple having a massive northern temenos. Another example is at Olympia, the temenos of Zeus. There were many temene of Apollo, as he was the patron god of settlers.
In religious discourse in English, temenos has also come to refer to a territory, plane, receptacle or field of deity or divinity.
C. G. Jung relates the temenos to the spellbinding or magic circle, which acts as a 'square space' or 'safe spot' where mental 'work' can take place. This temenos resembles among others a 'symmetrical rose garden with a fountain in the middle' (the 'squared circle') in which an encounter with the unconscious can be had and where these unconscious contents can safely be brought into the light of consciousness. In this manner one can meet one's own Shadow, Animus/Anima, Wise Old Wo/Man (Senex) and finally the Self, names that Jung gave to archetypal personifications of (unpersonal) unconscious contents which seem to span all cultures.Thersites
In Greek mythology, Thersites (Ancient Greek: Θερσίτης) was a soldier of the Greek army during the Trojan War.Tripod
A tripod is a portable three-legged frame or stand, used as a platform for supporting the weight and maintaining the stability of some other object. A tripod provides stability against downward forces and horizontal forces and movements about horizontal axes. The positioning of the three legs away from the vertical centre allows the tripod better leverage for resisting lateral forces.Xiphos
The xiphos ( KSEE-fohss; Greek: ξίφος) is a double-edged, one-handed Iron Age straight shortsword used by the ancient Greeks. It was a secondary battlefield weapon for the Greek armies after the dory or javelin. The classic blade was generally about 45–60 cm (18-24 in) long, although the Spartans supposedly started to use blades as short as 30 cm (11.8 in) around the era of the Greco-Persian Wars. The xiphos sometimes has a midrib, and is diamond or lenticular in cross-section. It was generally hung from a baldric under the left arm. The xiphos was generally used only when the spear was broken, taken by the enemy, or discarded for close combat. Very few xiphoi seem to have survived.
Stone's Glossary has the xiphos being a name used by Homer for a sword. The entry in the book says that the sword had a double-edged blade widest at about two-thirds of its length from the point, and ending in a very long point. The name xiphos apparently means something in the way of "penetrating light" according to researcher and swordsmith Peter Johnsson.The xiphos' leaf-shaped design lent itself to both cutting and thrusting. The design has most likely been in existence since the appearance of the first swords. Blades in bronze and iron are suitable for a leaf shape due to the softness of the metals in comparison to steel. Bronze swords are cast and are thus more easily formed into a leaf shape than iron swords, which need to be forged.
The early xiphos was a bronze sword, and in the classical period, would have been made of iron. The early Celtic La Tène short sword, contemporary with the xiphos, had a virtually identical blade design as the xiphos.The leaf-shaped short swords were not limited to Greece, as mentioned, but can be found throughout Europe in the late Bronze Age under various names. Bronze leaf-shaped swords from as early as the late second millennium still survive. The Urnfield culture is associated with the use of the leaf shaped bronze short sword. It is generally thought that iron swords had replaced bronze swords by the early La Tène culture about 500BC. During the Halstatt culture a mixture of bronze and iron swords seem to have existed side by side. Iron tends to become severely oxidized (rusted) over the years, and few iron swords have survived, in contrast to bronze swords that age very well. Thus, much is known regarding the
sword during the Bronze Age but less so in the early Iron Age. Bronze thrusting swords from the second millennium still exist in excellent condition.
The word is attested in Mycenaean Greek Linear B form as 𐀥𐀯𐀟𐀁, qi-si-pe-e. A relation to Arabic saifun and Egyptian sēfet has been suggested, although this does not explain the presence of a labiovelar in Mycenaean. One suggestion connects Ossetic äxsirf "sickle", which would point to a virtual Indo-European *kwsibhro-.
|Origin and genealogy|
|Promotion and study|
Ages of Greek