Robert S. P. Beekes

Robert Stephen Paul Beekes (Dutch: [ˈbeːkəs]; 2 September 1937 – 21 September 2017),[1] latterly emeritus professor of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics at Leiden University, was the author of many monographs on the Proto-Indo-European language.

Robert S. P. Beekes
Robert Stephen Paul Beekes

September 2, 1937
DiedSeptember 21, 2017 (aged 80)
EducationPh.D., 1969
Known forContributions to Indo-European studies
Reconstructing Pre-Greek phonology
Indo-European Etymological Dictionary
Etymological Dictionary of Greek
Scientific career
FieldsIndo-European linguistics
InstitutionsLeiden University

Scholarly work

One of his most well-known books is Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction, a standard handbook on Proto-Indo-European that treats the area of linguistic reconstruction thoroughly but also features cultural reconstruction and comparative linguistic methods in general.

Beekes was also a co-author, with L. Bouke van der Meer, of De Etrusken spreken (1991). He advocated the Asia Minor theory to explain the Etruscans' origin.[2] In 1993, he was elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[3]

He also did work on Pre-Greek, the (non-Indo-European) language that was spoken in Greece before Greek, possibly around 2000 BC. Since this language was not written, Beekes obtained his information from some words in Classical Greek that show a non-Greek structure and development.[4]

Publications (selection)


  • The Development of the Proto-Indo-European Laryngeals in Greek. The Hague–Paris: Mouton, 1969.
  • The Origins of the Indo-European Nominal Inflection. Innsbruck: IBS, 1985.
  • A Grammar of Gatha-Avestan. Leiden: Brill, 1988.
  • Vergelijkende taalwetenschap. Een inleiding in de vergelijkende Indo-europese taalwetenschap. Amsterdam: Het Spectrum, 1990.
    • English translation: Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction, trans. UvA Vertalers & Paul Gabriner. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1995; second edition revised and corrected by Michiel de Vaan, 2011.
  • with L. Bouke van der Meer, De Etrusken spreken. Muiderberg: Coutinho, 1991.
  • The Origin of the Etruscans. Amsterdam: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2003.
  • Etymological Dictionary of Greek, 2 vols. Leiden: Brill, 2009.
  • Pre-Greek: Phonology, Morphology, Lexicon, Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Edited volumes

  • Rekonstruktion und relative Chronologie. Akten der VIII. Fachtagung der Indogermanischen Gesellschaft, Leiden, 31. August – 4. September 1987, ed. Robert S. P. Beekes. Innsbruck: 1992.


  • "Mṓnukhes híppoi", Orbis 20 (1971): 138–142.
  • "H2O", Die Sprache 18 (1972): 11–31.
  • "The nominative of the hysterodynamic noun-inflection", Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 86 (1972): 30–63.
  • "The proterodynamic perfect", Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 87 (1973): 86–98.
  • "Two notes on PIE stems in dentals", Historische Grammatik des Griechischen: Laut- und Formenlehre, ed. Helmut Rix. Darmstadt: 1975, pp. 9–14.
  • "Intervocalic laryngeal in Gatha-Avestan", Bono Homini Donum: Essays in Historical Linguistics, in Memory of J. Alexander Kerns, eds. Yoël L. Arbeitman & Allan R. Bomhard. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1981, pp. 47–64.
  • "The disyllabic reduplication of the Sanskrit intensives", Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 40 (1981): 19–25.
  • "The subjunctive endings of Indo-Iranian", Indo-Iranian Journal 23 (1981): 21–27
  • "GAv. , the PIE word for 'moon, month', and the perfect participle", Journal of Indo-European Studies 10 (1982): 53–64.
  • "On laryngeals and pronouns", Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 96 (1983): 200–232.
  • "PIE 'sun'", Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 43 (1984): 5–8.
  • "On Indo-European 'wine'", Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 80 (1987): 21–6.
  • "The origin of the PIE pronominal inflection", A Festschrift in honour of E. C. Polomé, eds. M. A. Jazayery & W. Winter. NY: de Gruyter, 1987, pp. 73–88.
  • "The word for 'four' in PIE", Journal of Indo-European Studies 15 (1987): 215–19.
  • "Laryngeal developments: A survey", Die Laryngaltheorie und die Rekonstruktion des indogermanischen Laut- und Formensystems, ed. Alfred Bammesberger. Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1988, pp. 59–105.
  • "PIE RHC – in Greek and other languages", Indogermanische Forschungen 93 (1988): 22–45.
  • "The genitive singular of the pronoun in Germanic and Indo-European", Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur 110 (1988): 1–5.
  • "The nature of the PIE laryngeals", The New Sound of Indo-European: Essays in Phonological Reconstruction, ed. Theo Vennemann. Berlin/NY: de Gruyter, 1989, pp. 23–33.
  • "Bloem en blad", 100 jaar etymologisch woordenboek van het Nederlands, eds. A. Moerdijk et al. The Hague: 1990, pp. 375–382.
  • "De verwantschap van het Etruskisch", Lampas 23 (1990): 5–18.
  • "The genitive in *-osio", Folia linguistica historica 11 (1990): 21–6.
  • "The historical grammar of Greek", Linguistic Change and Reconstruction Methodology, ed. P. Baldi. Berlin–NY: de Gruyter, 1990, pp. 305–329.
  • "Wackernagel's explanation of the lengthened grade", Sprachwissenschaft und Philologie, eds. H. Eichner & Helmut Rix. Wiesbaden: 1990, pp. 33–53
  • "Who were the laryngeals?", In honorem Holger Pedersen: Kolloquium der indogermanischen Gesellschaft vom 25. bis 28. März 1993 in Kopenhagen, ed. J. Rasmussen. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag 1994, pp. 449–454.
  • "Hades and Elysion", Mír Curad. Studies in honor of Calvert Watkins, ed. Jay Jasanoff. Innsbruck: 1998, pp. 17–28.
  • "European substratum words in Greek", 125 Jahre Indogermanistik in Graz, eds. Michaela Ofitsch & Christian Zinko. Graz: 2000, pp. 21–31.
  • “Indo-European or substrate? φάτνη and κῆρυξ”, Languages in Prehistoric Europe, eds. Alfred Bammesberger & Theo Vennemann. Heidelberg: 2003, pp. 109–116.
  • “Armenian gišer and the Indo-European word for ‘evening’”, Per aspera ad asteriscos: Studia Indogermanica in honorem Iens Elmegård Rasmussen sexagenarii. Idibus Martiis anno MMIV, eds. Adam Hyllested et al. Innsbruck: 2004, pp. 59–61.
  • “Palatalized consonants in Pre-Greek”, Evidence and counter-evidence: essays in honour of Frederik Kortlandt, eds. Alexander Lubotsky et al. Amsterdam: 2008, pp. 45–56.
  • Supervisor with Alexander Lubotsky of the Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, 1991 ff.


  1. ^ NRC Handelsblad, 23 September 2017.
  2. ^ The Origin of the Etruscans
  3. ^ "R.S.P. Beekes". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  4. ^ Pre-Greek: The Pre-Greek loans in Greek Archived 2014-05-02 at the Wayback Machine
Achaeans (Homer)

The Achaeans (; Ancient Greek: Ἀχαιοί Akhaioí, "the Achaeans" or "of Achaea") constitute one of the collective names for the Greeks in Homer's Iliad (used 598 times) and Odyssey. The other common names are Danaans (; Δαναοί Danaoi; used 138 times in the Iliad) and Argives (; Ἀργεῖοι Argeioi; used 182 times in the Iliad) while Panhellenes (Πανέλληνες Panhellenes, "All of the Greeks") and Hellenes (; Ἕλληνες Hellenes) both appear only once; all of the aforementioned terms were used synonymously to denote a common Greek civilizational identity. In the historical period, the Achaeans were the inhabitants of the region of Achaea, a region in the north-central part of the Peloponnese. The city-states of this region later formed a confederation known as the Achaean League, which was influential during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.

Achaeans (tribe)

The Achaeans (; Greek: Ἀχαιοί, Akhaioi) were one of the four major tribes into which the people of Classical Greece divided themselves (along with the Aeolians, Ionians and Dorians). According to the foundation myth formalized by Hesiod, their name comes from Achaeus, the mythical founder of the Achaean tribe, who was supposedly one of the sons of Xuthus, and brother of Ion, the founder of the Ionian tribe. Xuthus was in turn the son of Hellen, the mythical patriarch of the Greek (Hellenic) nation.Historically, the members of the Achaean tribe inhabited the region of Achaea in the northern Peloponnese. The Achaeans played an active role in the Greek colonization of southern Italy, founding the city of Kroton (Κρότων) in 710 BC. The city was to gain fame later as the place where the Pythagorean School was founded. Unlike the other major tribes (Ionians, Dorians and Aeolians), the Achaeans did not have a separate dialect in the Classical period, instead using a form of Doric.


In Greek mythology, Achilles or Achilleus ( ə-KIL-eez; Greek: Ἀχιλλεύς, Achilleus [a.kʰil.'leu̯s]) was a hero of the Trojan War, the greatest of all the Greek warriors, and is the central character of Homer's Iliad. He was the son of the Nereid Thetis and Peleus, king of Phthia.

Achilles' most notable feat during the Trojan War was the slaying of the Trojan prince Hector outside the gates of Troy. Although the death of Achilles is not presented in the Iliad, other sources concur that he was killed near the end of the Trojan War by Paris, who shot him in the heel with an arrow. Later legends (beginning with Statius' unfinished epic Achilleid, written in the 1st century AD) state that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel because, when his mother Thetis dipped him in the river Styx as an infant, she held him by one of his heels. Alluding to these legends, the term "Achilles' heel" has come to mean a point of weakness, especially in someone or something with an otherwise strong constitution. The Achilles tendon is also named after him due to these legends.


In Greek mythology, Gaia ( or ; from Ancient Greek Γαῖα, a poetical form of Γῆ Gē, "land" or "earth"), also spelled Gaea (), is the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities. Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life: the primal Mother Earth goddess. She is the immediate parent of Uranus (the sky), from whose sexual union she bore the Titans (themselves parents of many of the Olympian gods) and the Giants, and of Pontus (the sea), from whose union she bore the primordial sea gods. Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon was Terra.


Giresun (pronounced [ɟiˈɾesun]), formerly Cerasus (Κερασοῦς), is the provincial capital of Giresun Province in the Black Sea Region of northeastern Turkey, about 175 km (109 mi) west of the city of Trabzon.

Glottalic theory

The glottalic theory is that Proto-Indo-European had ejective stops, *pʼ *tʼ *kʼ, instead of the plain voiced ones, *b *d *ɡ as hypothesized by the usual Proto-Indo-European phonological reconstructions.

A forerunner of the theory was proposed by the Danish linguist Holger Pedersen in 1951, but he did not involve glottalized sounds. While early linguists such as André Martinet and Morris Swadesh had seen the potential of substituting glottalic sounds for the supposed plain voiced stops of Proto-Indo-European, the proposal remained speculative until it was fully fleshed out simultaneously but independently in theories in 1973 by Paul Hopper of the United States in the journal Glossa and by Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav Ivanov of the Soviet Union in the journal Phonetica in 1972.

The glottalic theory "enjoyed a not insignificant following for a time, but it has been rejected by most Indo-Europeanists." The most recent publication supporting it is Allan R. Bomhard (2008 and 2011) in a discussion of the controversial Nostratic hypothesis, and its most vocal proponents today are historical linguists at the University of Leiden. An earlier supporter, Theo Vennemann, has abandoned the glottalic theory because of incompatibilities between it and his theory of the Semitic origins of Germanic and Celtic languages (Vennemann 2006). However, Martin Kümmel (2012), although rejecting the ejective hypothesis as implausible, argues for a re-interpretation of these stops as implosive, comparable to the Leiden interpretation as pre-glottalized stops.


The griffin, griffon, or gryphon (Greek: γρύφων, grýphōn, or γρύπων, grýpōn, early form γρύψ, grýps; Latin: gryphus) is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and sometimes an eagle's talons as its front feet. Because the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle the king of birds by the Middle Ages the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. Since classical antiquity, Griffins were known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions.In Greek and Roman texts, griffins and Arimaspians were associated with gold deposits of Central Asia. Indeed, as Pliny the Elder wrote, "griffins were said to lay eggs in burrows on the ground and these nests contained gold nuggets."In medieval heraldry, the Griffin became a Christian symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.


A hydronym (from Greek: ὕδωρ, hydor, "water" and ὄνομα, onoma, "name") is a proper name of a body of water. Hydronymy, a subset of toponymy, the taxonomic study of place-names, is the study of the names of bodies of water, the origins of those names, and how they are transmitted through history. Hydronyms may include the names of rivers (potamonyms), lakes, and even oceanic elements.

Compared to most other toponyms, hydronyms are very conservative linguistically, and people who move to an area often retain the existing name of a body of water rather than rename it in their own language. For example, the Rhine in Germany bears a Celtic name, not a German name.

The Mississippi River in the United States bears an Anishinaabe name, not a French or English one. The names of large rivers are even more conservative than the local names of small streams.

Therefore, hydronomy may be a tool used to reconstruct past cultural interactions, population movements, religious conversions, or older languages. For example, history professor Kenneth H. Jackson identified a river-name pattern against which to fit the story of the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain and pockets of surviving native British culture. His river map of Britain divided the island into three principal areas of English settlement: the river valleys draining eastward in which surviving British names are limited to the largest rivers and Saxon settlement was early and dense; the highland spine; and a third region whose British hydronyms apply even to the smaller streams.

Often a given body of water will have several entirely different names given to it by different peoples living along its shores. For example, Tibetan: ་, Wylie: rDza chu, ZYPY: Za qu and Thai: แม่น้ำโขง [mɛ̂ː náːm kʰǒːŋ] are the Tibetan and Thai names, respectively, for the same river, the Mekong in southeast Asia. And the Tibetan term Za Qu (rdza chu) refers to three other rivers as well.

Hydronyms from various languages may all share a common etymology. For example, the Danube, Don, Dniester, Dnieper, and Donets rivers all contain the Scythian name for "river" (cf. don, "river, water" in modern Ossetic). A similar suggestion is that the Yarden, Yarkon, and Yarmouk (and possibly, with distortion, Yabbok and/or Arnon) rivers in the Israel/Jordan area contain the Egyptian word for river (itrw, transliterated in the Bible as ye'or).

It is also possible for a toponym to become a hydronym: for example, the River Liffey takes its name from the plain on which it stands, called Liphe or Life; the river originally was called An Ruirthech. An unusual example is the River Cam, which originally was called the Granta, but when the town of Grantebrycge became Cambridge, the river's name changed to match the toponym.

Indo-European languages

The Indo-European languages are a language family of several hundred related languages and dialects.

There are about 445 living Indo-European languages, according to the estimate by Ethnologue, with over two thirds (313) of them belonging to the Indo-Iranian branch. The Indo-European languages with the greatest numbers of native speakers are Spanish, English, Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu), Portuguese, Bengali, Punjabi, and Russian, each with over 100 million speakers, with German, French, Marathi, Italian, and Persian also having more than 50 million. Today, nearly 42% of the world's population (3.2 billion) speaks an Indo-European language as a first language, by far the highest of any language family.

The Indo-European family includes most of the modern languages of Europe; notable exceptions include Hungarian, Turkish, Finnish, Georgian, Estonian, Basque, Maltese, and Sami. The Indo-European family is also represented in Asia with the exception of East and Southeast Asia. It was prominent (alongside non- Indo-European languages) in ancient Anatolia (present-day Turkey), the ancient Tarim Basin (present-day Northwest China) and most of Central Asia until the medieval Turkic and Mongol invasions. Outside Eurasia, Indo-European languages are dominant in the Americas and much of Oceania and Africa, having reached there during the Age of Discovery and later periods. Indo-European languages are also most commonly present as minority languages or second languages in countries where other families are dominant.

With written evidence appearing from the Bronze Age in the form of Mycenaean Greek and the Anatolian languages Hittite and Luwian, the Indo-European family is significant to the field of historical linguistics as possessing the second-longest recorded history, after the Afroasiatic family in the form of the Egyptian language and the Semitic languages of the Near East. In addition, certain extinct language isolates of the Near East and Anatolia, such as Sumerian, Elamite, Hurrian, Hattian, Gutian and Kassite are also recorded earlier than any Indo-European tongue.

All Indo-European languages are descendants of a single prehistoric language, reconstructed as Proto-Indo-European, spoken sometime in the Neolithic era. Although no written records remain, aspects of the culture and religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans can also be reconstructed from the related cultures of ancient and modern Indo-European speakers who continue to live in areas to where the Proto-Indo-Europeans migrated from their original homeland. Several disputed proposals link Indo-European to other major language families. Although they are written in the Semitic Old Assyrian language and with the use of the Cuneiform script of Mesopotamia, the Hittite words and names found in the texts of the Assyrian colony of Kültepe in eastern Anatolia are the oldest record of any Indo-European language.During the nineteenth century, the linguistic concept of Indo-European languages was frequently used interchangeably with the racial concepts of Aryan and Japhetite.

Michiel de Vaan

Michiel Arnoud Cor de Vaan (born 1973) is a Dutch linguist and Indo-Europeanist. He taught comparative Indo-European linguistics, historical linguistics and dialectology at the University of Leiden until 2014, when he moved to the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. De Vaan had been at the University of Leiden since 1991, first as a student and later as a teacher.He has published extensively on Limburgian, Dutch, Germanic, Albanian, Indo-Iranian and Indo-European linguistics and philology. He has published more than 100 papers, has written several books and has edited conference proceedings and a handbook of Indo-European. He wrote the etymological dictionary of Latin and other Italic languages as a contributor to the Leiden-based Indo-European Etymological Dictionary project.


Oceanus (; Greek: Ὠκεανός Ōkeanós, pronounced [ɔːkeanós]), also known as Ogenus (Ὤγενος Ōgenos or Ὠγηνός Ōgēnos) or Ogen (Ὠγήν Ōgēn), was a divine figure in classical antiquity, believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the divine personification of the ocean, which the Ancient Greeks perceived as an enormous river encircling the world.


Odysseus (; Greek: Ὀδυσσεύς, Ὀδυσεύς, Ὀdysseús [odysse͜ús]), also known by the Latin variant Ulysses (US: , UK: ; Latin: Ulyssēs, Ulixēs), is a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in that same epic cycle.

Son of Laërtes and Anticlea, husband of Penelope and father of Telemachus and Acusilaus. Odysseus is renowned for his intellectual brilliance, guile, and versatility (polytropos), and is thus known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning (Greek: μῆτις or mētis, "cunning intelligence"). He is most famous for his nostos or "homecoming", which took him ten eventful years after the decade-long Trojan War.


In Homer's Odyssey, Penelope ( pə-NEL-ə-pee; Greek: Πηνελόπεια, Pēnelópeia, or Greek: Πηνελόπη, Pēnelópē) is the wife of Odysseus, who is known for her fidelity to Odysseus while he was absent, despite having many suitors. Her name has therefore been traditionally associated with marital fidelity.

Peter Schrijver

Peter Schrijver (born 1963 in Delft), is a Dutch linguist and a professor of Celtic languages (Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx and Continental Celtic) at Utrecht University and a researcher of ancient Indo-European linguistics. He worked previously at Leiden University and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.He has published four books and a large number of articles on the history and linguistics of Indo-European languages, particularly the description, reconstruction and syntax of the Celtic languages, and lately researching language change and language contact in ancient Europe.

Pre-Greek substrate

The Pre-Greek substrate (or Pre-Greek substratum) consists of the unknown language or languages spoken in prehistoric ancient Greece before the settlement of Proto-Hellenic speakers in the area. It is possible that Greek took over some thousand words and proper names from such a language (or languages), because some of its vocabulary cannot be satisfactorily explained as deriving from the Proto-Greek language.

Rhaetian language

Rhaetian or Rhaetic (Raetic) was a language spoken in the ancient region of Rhaetia in the Eastern Alps in pre-Roman and Roman times. It is documented by a limited number of short inscriptions (found through Northern Italy, Southern Germany, Eastern Switzerland, Slovenia and Western Austria) in two variants of the Etruscan alphabet.

The ancient Rhaetic language is not the same as one of the modern Romance languages of the same Alpine region, known as Rhaeto-Romance, but both are sometimes referred to as "Rhaetian".

Siren (mythology)

In Greek mythology, the Sirens (Greek singular: Σειρήν Seirēn; Greek plural: Σειρῆνες Seirēnes) were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and singing voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on some small islands called Sirenum scopuli. In some later, rationalized traditions, the literal geography of the "flowery" island of Anthemoessa, or Anthemusa, is fixed: sometimes on Cape Pelorum and at others in the islands known as the Sirenuse, near Paestum, or in Capreae. All such locations were surrounded by cliffs and rocks.

The Greek philosopher Plato says there were three kinds of sirens- the celestial, the generative, and the cathartic. The first were under the government of Zeus, the second under that of Poseidon, and the third of Hades. (A parallel might be intended here between the three planets, and the deities of the same name.) When the soul is in heaven the sirens seek, by harmonic motion, to unite it to the divine life of the celestial host; and when in Hades, to conform the soul to eternal infernal regimen; but when on earth their only job to "produce generation, of which the sea is emblematic".

Uranus (mythology)

Uranus (; Ancient Greek Οὐρανός, Ouranos [oːranós] meaning "sky" or "heaven") was the primal Greek god personifying the sky and one of the Greek primordial deities. Uranus is associated with the Roman god Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth. According to Hesiod's Theogony, Uranus was conceived by Gaia alone, but other sources cite Aether as his father. Uranus and Gaia were the parents of the first generation of Titans, and the ancestors of most of the Greek gods, but no cult addressed directly to Uranus survived into Classical times, and Uranus does not appear among the usual themes of Greek painted pottery. Elemental Earth, Sky, and Styx might be joined, however, in a solemn invocation in Homeric epic.

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