Tag Archive: archaic



Progressive Linear B Grammar: Verbs/Derived (D) Infinitives: A = 24

Beginning with this post, we shall be constructing a Lexicon of Derived (D) Infinitives in Mycenaean Linear B. This post lists all 24 derived verbs I have selected classed under A. The methodology whereby we reconstruct derived verbs, not attested (A) anywhere on any Linear B tablets, is termed retrogressive extrapolation, by which I mean that we draw each entry in alphabetical order from an ancient Greek dictionary, accounting for throwbacks to archaic East Greek, since that is what the Mycenaean dialect is. The dictionary we are using is the Pocket Oxford Classical Greek Dictionary. Since the entries in the classical dictionary are in Attic Greek, they frequently require readjustment to reflect their much earlier orthography in archaic Greek. I have also taken the liberty of selecting only those verbs of which the spelling is identical or very close to what would have been their orthography in Mycenaean Greek. This is because Mycenaean orthography is often problematic, insofar as it frequently omits a consonant preceding the consonant which follows it. Additionally, since Mycenaean Greek is represented by a syllabary, in which each syllable must end in a vowel, it is impossible for the spelling of a great many words (let alone verbs) to accurately correspond to the orthography of the same words in later ancient Greek dialects. So I have decided to omit such verbs for the sake of simplicity. Finally, since there are so many verbs under each letter of the Greek alphabet, I have had to be very selective in choosing the verbs I have decided to include in this Lexicon, omitting scores of verbs which would have qualified just as well for inclusion as the verbs I have chosen.

a-derived-infinitives-620

 

 


Linear B tablet Sd 4401 from the Knossos “Armoury”, a fully assembled chariot:

Knossos tablet SD 4401

Apart from the very first tablet on chariots we posted this month, namely, Linear B tablet Kn 894 N v 01, here:

Link to Knossos tablet Kn 894 N v 01

This is one of the most detailed of the Linear B tablets from the Knossos “Armoury”, zeroing in on more parts of a Mycenaean chariot than can be found on any of the other tablets we have already translated on the same subject, apart from Linear B tablet Kn 894 N v 01. There are a couple of peculiarities in the Linear B text of this detailed tablet which require clarification. The first is that the ideogram for chariot on the right side of the tablet is right truncated; so we do not know whether or not the chariot is equipped with a set of wheels. But common sense tells us that it is almost certain that this is a chariot equipped with wheels on axle, since the scribe explicitly states that the chariot is fully assembled. Secondly, the word for chariot on the second line = - iqiya – is feminine, which is quite strange, given that all of the modifying attributes following this word are in the masculine. This leads me to confidently conclude that the scribe meant to inscribe – iqiyo - = a double chariot, i.e. a chariot for two drivers, rather than – iqiya -. Otherwise, the grammatical constructs on the second line do not jibe.

As we have already noted in our translations of at least a few of the other chariot tablets, the scribes are prone to make errors, usually in case agreement or in orthography. But that is nothing unusual, given that writers past and present are prone to the same liability. After all, we are only human.


Linear B tablet K 04.5 from the Knossos Armoury: the redoubtable challenges for translation

04.5 iqiya piriniyo opoqo keryapi opiiyapi

 Linear B tablet K 04.5 from the Knossos Armoury: the redoubtable challenges for translation

While some of the military tablets from the Knossos Armoury dealing with the construction and design of chariots pose a few problems in the translation of certain words which yield at least two or possibly even three different possible meanings, others are much more of a challenge to the translator. Some vocabulary in the more challenging tablets proves to be much more fractious. There are several reasons for this phenomenon when we are dealing with Mycenaean Greek vocabulary, let alone that of any truly archaic ancient language, such as Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics. These are:

1 Some words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Homeric Greek or Classical Greek, conveying the same or a similar meaning. Such is the case with – wanax – = “king” in Mycenaean Greek.
2 Some of the words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Homeric Greek, and yet not convey precisely the same meaning or might even mean something more remotely associated, such as – qasireu – , which does not mean the same thing as “basileus” = “king” in Homeric Greek. A – qasireu – in Mycenaean Greek is merely a local leader of a town, citadel, redoubt or similar small centre and nothing more.   A king in Mycenaean Greek is a – wanax – , for which there is an almost exact match in Homer’s Iliad.  
3 Some words in Mycenaean Greek may look like variants of later Homeric or Classic Greek words, although they are spelled in a fashion alien to the latter, never appearing in them. 
4 Some of the words in Mycenaean Greek may closely or somewhat resemble their later counterparts in Classical Ionic or Attic Greek, and yet convey an entirely different meaning.
5 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may be archaic Greek which later fell entirely out of use even prior to Homeric Greek, in which case it may be next to impossible to confirm that such words are even archaic Greek at all.
6 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may possibly be proto-Greek or even more ancient proto Indo-European, but we can never be certain of this at all.
7 Some vocabulary in Mycenaean Greek may possibly or even likely be Minoan or of Minoan origin. Such is the case with the word – kidapa – on tablet KN 894 N v 01, the very first tablet I translated in this series of tablets on chariots. L.R. Palmer assumes this word refers to a kind of wood, and I agree. This assumption is based on the fact that two other kinds of wood are referenced on the same tablet, i.e. elm and willow. With this evidence in hand, I have gone even further than L. R. Palmer and have taken the calculated risk to identify this word as meaning “ash (wood)”, a wood which Homer uses for weapons.
8 Just as is the case with Classical Greek, in which a few thousand words are not of Indo-European origin, Mycenaean Greek contains a fair proportion of such vocabulary. Words such as – sasama –  (sesame) & – serino –  (celery) come to mind.

This is the scenario which confronts us in the translation of at least two of the words on this tablet, namely, – piriniyo – and – mano –, both of which are certainly open to more than one possible interpretation. The first word - piriniyo – meets the criteria outlined in 1 & 3 above. It probably means “an ivory worker”, but we cannot be sure of this. Since the latter – mano – may not have any relation to later Homeric or Classical Greek at all, it is a crap shoot to try and translate it. This word meets the criteria in 1,2 and 4 above. But I took the chance (as I always do), on the assumption, however fanciful, that – mano – may be related to the Classical Greek word – manos – , meaning “thin”, as defined in Liddell & Scott.

And what applies to Mycenaean vocabulary on this and all other tablets dealing with chariots, whether or not they originate from Knossos, equally applies to all of the vocabulary on each and every tablet in the military sector of the Mycenaean economy. By extension, this principle must also apply to all of the vocabulary on Linear B tablets, regardless of provenance (Knossos, Pylos, Mycenae, Thebes etc.) and regardless of the sector of the Mycenaean economy with which they are concerned. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. In short, the 8 criteria outlined above must be applied on an equal footing, through the procedure of cross-comparative extrapolation, to all of the vocabulary of Mycenaean Greek.

We shall return to this phenomenon in our article on chariot construction and design, which is to appear on my

 account under the auspices of Koryvantes, the Association of Historical Studies (Athens):

Koryvantes Association of Historical Studies Athens Category Linear B & the Iliad
sometime later this winter.


Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) as a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design

KN 894 An1910_211_o.jpg wheel ZE

In spite of my hard gained experience in translating Linear B tablets, the translation of this tablet on chariot construction and design posed considerable challenges. At the outset, several of the words descriptive of Mycenaean chariot design eluded my initial attempts at an accurate translation. By accurate I not only mean that problematic words must make sense in the total context of the descriptive text outlining Mycenaean chariot construction and design, but that the vocabulary entire must faithfully reconstruct the design of Mycenaean chariots as they actually appeared in their day and age. In other words, could I come up with a translation reflective of the actual construction and design of Mycenaean chariots, not as we fancifully envision them in the twenty-first century, but as the Mycenaeans themselves manufactured them to be battle worthy?

It is transparent to me that the Mycenaean military, just as that of any other great ancient civilization, such as those of Egypt in the Bronze Age, of the Hittite Empire, and later on, in the Iron Age, of Athens and Sparta and, later still, of the Roman Empire, must have gone to great lengths to ensure the durability, tensile strength and battle worthiness of their military apparatus in its entirety (let alone chariots). It goes without saying that, regardless of the techniques of chariot construction employed by the various great civilizations of the ancient world, each civilization strove to manufacture military apparatus to the highest standards practicable within the limits of the technology then available to them.

It is incontestable that progress in chariot construction and design must have made major advances in all of the great civilizations from the early to the late Bronze Age. Any flaws or faults in chariot construction would have been and were rooted out and eliminated as each civilization perceptibly moved forward, step by arduous step, to perfect the manufacture of chariots in their military. In the case of the  Mycenaeans contemporaneous with the Egyptians, this was the late Bronze Age. My point is strictly this. Any translation of any part of a chariot must fully take into account the practicable appropriateness of each and every word in the vocabulary of that technology, to ensure that the entire vocabulary of chariot construction will fit together as seamlessly as possible in order to ultimately achieve as solid a coherence as conceivably possible. 

Thus, if a practicably working translation of any single technical term for the manufacture of chariots detracts rather than contributes to the structural integrity, sturdiness and battle worthiness of the chariot, that term must be seriously called into question. Past translators of the vocabulary of chariot construction and design who have not fully taken into account the appropriateness of any particular term descriptive of the solidity and tensile strength of the chariot required to make it battle worthy have occasionally fallen short of truly convincing translations of the whole (meaning here, the chariot), translations which unify and synthesize its entire vocabulary such that all of its moving and immobile parts alike actually “translate” into a credible reconstruction of a Bronze Age (Mycenaean) chariot as it must have realistically appeared and actually operated. Even the most prestigious of translators of Mycenaean Linear B, most notably L.R. Palmer himself, have not always succeeded in formulating translations of certain words or terms convincing enough in the sense that I have just delineated. All this is not to say that I too will not fall into the same trap, because I most certainly will. Yet as we say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.      

And what applies to the terminology for the construction and design of chariots in any ancient language, let alone Mycenaean Linear B, equally applies to the vocabulary of absolutely any animate subject, such as human beings and livestock, and to any inanimate object in the context of each and every sector of the economy of the society in question, whether this be in the agricultural, industrial, military, textiles, household or pottery sector.

Again, if any single word detracts rather than contributes to the actual appearance, manufacturing technique and utility of said object in its entire context, linguistic as well as technical, then that term must be seriously called into question. 

When it comes down to brass tacks, the likelihood of achieving such translations is a tall order to fill. But try we must.

A convincing practicable working vocabulary of Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean):

While much of the vocabulary on this tablet is relatively straightforward, a good deal is not. How then was I to devise an approach to its translation which could conceivably meet Mycenaean standards in around 1400-1200 BCE? I had little or no reference point to start from. The natural thing to do was to run a search on Google images to determine whether or not the results would, as it were, measure up to Mycenaean standards. Unfortunately, some of the most convincing images I downloaded were in several particulars at odds with one another, especially in the depiction of wheel construction. That actually came as no surprise. So what was I to do? I had to choose one or two images of chariots which appeared to me at least to be accurate renditions of actual Mycenaean chariot design. But how could I do that without being arbitrary in my choice of images determining terminology? Again a tough call. Yet there was a way through this apparent impasse. Faced with the decision of having to choose between twenty-first century illustrations of Mycenaean chariot design - these being the most often at odds with one another - and ancient depictions on frescoes, kraters and vases, I chose the latter route as my starting point. 

But here again I was faced with images which appeared to conflict on specific points of chariot construction. The depictions of Mycenaean chariots appearing on frescoes, kraters and vases unfortunately did not mirror one another as accurately as I had first supposed they would. Still, this should come as no real surprise to anyone familiar with the design of military vehicles ancient or modern. Take the modern tank for instance. The designs of American, British, German and Russian tanks in the Second World War were substantially different. And even within the military of Britain, America and Germany, there were different types of tanks serving particular uses dependent on specific terrain. So it stands to reason that there were at least some observable variations in Mycenaean chariot design, let alone of the construction of any chariots in any ancient civilization, be it Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece throughout its long history, or Rome, among others.

So faced with the choice of narrowing down alternative likenesses, I finally opted for one fresco which provided the most detail. I refer to the fresco from Tiryns (ca 1200 BCE) depicting two female charioteers.


This fresco would go a long way to resolving issues related in particular to the manufacture and design of wheels, which are the major sticking point in translating the vocabulary for Mycenaean chariots.

Turning now to my translation, I sincerely hope I have been able to resolve most of these difficulties, at least to my own satisfaction if to not to that of others, although here again a word of caution to the wise. My translation is merely my own visual interpretation of what is in front of me on this fresco from Tiryns. Try as we might, there is simply no escaping the fact that we, in the twenty-first century, are bound to impose our own preconceptions on ancient images, whatever they depict. As historiography has it, and I cite directly from Wikipedia:      

Questions regarding historicity concern not just the issue of "what really happened," but also the issue of how modern observers can come to know "what really happened."[6] This second issue is closely tied to historical research practices and methodologies for analyzing the reliability of primary sources and other evidence. Because various methodologies categorize historicity differently, it's not possible to reduce historicity to a single structure to be represented. Some methodologies (for example historicism), can make historicity subject to constructions of history based on submerged value commitments. 

wikipedia historicity
The sticking point is those pesky “submerged value commitments”. To illustrate even further, allow me to cite another source, Approaching History: Bias:

approaching history

The problem for methodology is unconscious bias: the importing of assumptions and expectations, or the asking of one question rather than another, by someone who is trying to act in good faith with the past. 

Yet the problem inherent to any modern approach is that it is simply impossible for any historian or historical linguist today to avoid imposing not only his or her own innate unconscious preconceived values but also the values of his own national, social background and civilization, let alone those of the entire age in which he or she lives. “Now” is the twenty-first century and “then” was any particular civilization with its own social, national and political values set against the diverse values of other civilizations contemporaneous with it, regardless of historical era.

If all this seems painfully obvious to the professional historian or linguist, it is more than likely not be to the non-specialist or lay reader, which is why I have taken the trouble to address the issue in the first place.  

How then can any historian or historical linguist in the twenty-first century possibly and indeed realistically be expected to place him— or herself in the sandals, so to speak, of any contemporaneous Bronze Age Minoan, Mycenaean, Egyptian, Assyrian or oriental civilizations such as China, and so on, without unconsciously imposing the entire baggage of his— or -her own civilization, Occidental, Oriental or otherwise? It simply cannot be done.

However, not to despair. Focusing our magnifying glass on the shadowy mists of history, we can only see through a glass darkly. But that is no reason to give up. Otherwise, there would be no way of interpreting history and no historiography to speak of. So we might as well let sleeping dogs lie, and get on with the task before us, which in this case is the intricate art of translation of an object particular not only to its own civilization, remote as it is, but specifically to the military sector of that society, being in this case, the Mycenaean.

So the question now is, what can we read out of the Tiryns fresco with respect to Mycenaean chariot construction and design, without reading too much of our own unconscious personal, social and civilized biases into it? As precarious and as fraught with problems as our endeavour is, let us simply sail on ahead and see how far our little voyage can take us towards at least a credible translation of the Tiryns chariot with its lovely belles at the reins, with the proviso that this fresco depicts only one variation on the design of Mycenaean chariots, itself at odds on some points with other depictions on other frescoes. Here you see the fresco with my explanatory notes on the chariot parts:

Mycenaean-Fresco-Mycenae-women-charioteers

as related to the text and context of the facsimile of the original tablet in Linear B, Linear B Latinized and archaic Greek, here:

Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 original text Latinized and in archaic Greek
   
This is followed by my meticulous notes on the construction and design of the various parts of the Mycenaean chariot as illustrated here:

Notes on Knossos tablet 894 N v 01 Wheel ZE

and by The Geometry of chariot parts in Mycenaean Linear B, to drive home my interpretations of both – amota - = - (on) axle – and – temidweta - = the circumference or the rim of the wheel, referencing the – radius – in the second syllable of – temidweta - ,i.e. - dweta - , where radius = 1/2 (second syllable) of – temidweta – and is thus equivalent to one spoke, as illustrated here:

The only other historian of Linear B who has grasped the full significance of the supersyllabogram (SSYL) is Salimbeti, 

The Greek Age of Bronze chariots


whose site is the one and only on the entire Internet which explores the construction and design of bronze age chariots in great detail. I strongly urge you to read his entire study in order to clarify the full import of my translation of – temidweta – as the rim of the wheel. The only problem remaining with my translation is whether or not the word – temidweta – describes the rim on the side of the wheel or the rim on its outer surface directly contacting the ground. The difficulty with the latter translation is whether or not elm wood is of sufficient tensile strength to withstand the beating the tire rim had to endure over time (at least a month or two at minimum) on the rough terrain, often littered with stones and rocks, over which Mycenaean chariots must surely have had to negotiate.  

As for the meaning of the supersyllabogram (SSYL)TE oncharged directly onto the top of the ideogram for wheel, it cannot mean anything other than – temidweta -, in other words the circumference, being the wheel rim, further clarified here:

wheel rim illustration

Hence my translation here:

Translation of Knossos tablet KN 984 N v 01 Wheel ZE

Note that I have translated the unknown word **** – kidapa – as – ash (wood). My reasons for this are twofold. First of all, the hardwood ash has excellent tensile strength and shock resistance, where toughness and resiliency against impact are important factors. Secondly, it just so happens that ash is predominant in Homer’s Iliad as a vital component in the construction of warships and of weapons, especially spears. So there is a real likelihood that in fact – kidapa – means ash, which L.R. Palmer also maintains. Like many so-called unknown words found in Mycenaean Greek texts, this word may well be Minoan. Based on the assumption that many of these so-called unknown words may be Minoan, we can establish a kicking-off point for possible translations of these putative Minoan words. Such translations should be rigorously checked against the vocabulary of the extant corpus of Minoan Linear A, as found in John G. Younger’s database, here:

Linear A texts in transciption

I did just that and came up empty-handed. But that does not at all imply that the word is not Minoan, given that the extant lexicon of Linear A words is so limited, being as it is incomplete.

While all of this might seem a little overwhelming at first sight, once we have taken duly into account the most convincing translation of each and every one of the words on this tablet in its textual and real-world context, I believe we can attain such a translation, however constrained we are by our our twenty-first century unconscious assumptions. As for conscious assumptions, they simply will not do. 

In conclusion, Knossos tablet KN 894 N v 01 (Ashmolean) serves as exemplary a guide to Mycenaean chariot construction and design as any other substantive intact Linear B tablet in the same vein from Knossos. It is my intention to carry my observations and my conclusions on the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design much further in an article I shall be publishing on academia.edu sometime in 2016. In it I shall conduct a thorough-going cross-comparative analysis of the chariot terminology on this tablet with that of several other tablets dealing specifically with chariots. This cross-comparative study is to result in a comprehensive lexicon of the vocabulary of Mycenaean chariot construction and design, fully taking into account Chris Tselentis’ Linear B Lexicon and L.R. Palmer’s extremely comprehensive Glossary of military terms relative to chariot construction and design on pp. 403-466 in his classic foundational masterpiece, The Interpretation of Mycenaean Texts.

So stay posted. 



Rita Robert’s translation of tablet K 04-01-07 / 04-01 N a 01 from the Knossos Armoury:
To ENLARGE this image or any other image or photo posted on this blog, RIGHT CLICK on it, select VIEW and then SAVE it to your computer:  

Knossos 04 01 N a 01


Rita Robert’s commentary on this tablet:
  
Line 1 - araruya  aniyapi = equipped with bridles -  wirinijo opoqo = with leather blinkers – kerajapi opiiyapi =  with horn bits -   ideogram 

Line 2 -  iqiyo = chariot – ayameno erepate = decorated with ivory -

araromotemeno = fully assembled – ponikijo = painted crimson.

Due to the truncation on the right hand side of this Linear B tablet it is impossible to state whether there is only one or more chariots listed.

TRANSLATION:
one chariot ?  fully assembled equipped with bridles with leather blinkers and horn bits decorated with ivory inlays and painted crimson.

A dual chariot depicted on this fresco from Pylos. LH lllA/B date around 1340 BCE

Chariot fresco from Pylos

Mycenaean Chariot fresco

Chariot harnessing fro Mycenae

Richard’s comments:

Apart from a single error Rita made in line 2 of this tablet, having misread the second syllabogram as -mu- instead of -qi-, consequently misinterpreting -iqiyo- as -Imuyo- ( a person’s name) instead of – iqiyo - = a chariot, her translation is convincing and elegant, as is to be expected from a Linear B translator of her advanced skills. That error has been corrected in the translation above.

It goes without saying that the right-truncated ideogram for -chariot- to the right of the tablet between lines 1 and 2 must mean a chariot with wheels, as  a chariot without wheels cannot conceivably be fully assembled, equipped and decorated.

While the archaic Greek may appear somewhat difficult or abstruse to linguists who specialize in Classical Greek, it is really not so bizarre after all, since we find many parallels in Homer’s Iliad, especially in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II. Notice that the gender of the word for chariot is fluid, i.e. not yet fixed in Mycenaean Greek. Moreover, this word is archaic in the extreme, having disappeared completely from Homeric and Classical Greek. Nevertheless, its meaning is clear from the context of all tablets on which it appears, since on most of them it is juxtaposed with the ideogram for chariot.

In my notes on the archaic Greek, you will notice that the (second) aspirated a in the Greek for – kerayapi – is aspirated in the archaic Greek. This orthography does not correspond to the spelling on this tablet, but in Chris Tselentis’ excellent Linear B Lexicon the alternate spelling – kerahapi – is  attested as an alternate standard. 

Richard


Just added to my academia.edu page, Translation of the Introduction to Book II of the Iliad, and its Profound Implications in the Regressive-Progressive Reconstruction of Unattested, Derived (D) Mycenaean Greek Vocabulary and Grammar, here:

The Iliad of Homer in academia edu Richard Vallance
This is the first of a series of several papers I shall be publishing this year and next (2016) on my hypothesis underpinning the theoretical and proposed actual links between the archaic Greek of Book II of the Iliad by Homer, and in particular of the Catalogue of Ships (lines 459-815). These papers are of extreme significance to the methodology, process and procedure of regressive extrapolation of Mycenaean Greek vocabulary or grammatical constructs derived from the most archaic Greek in the Iliad, considered by many researchers to be an in)direct offshoot of Mycenaean Greek itself. Vocabulary or grammatical constructs thus derived are then progressively applied to reconstruct parallel elements missing from any attested Linear B sources regardless.

I cannot stress too much the extreme significance of this particular line of research I am pursuing in the reconstruction of numerous elements (possibly even into the hundreds) of Mycenaean Greek derived from these sections alone of the Iliad.

Richard


Surprise, surprise! What rôle does Formulaic Language play in Linear B Tablets, and does it have anything to do with Homer’s archaic  Greek?  

Does that surprise you, if you are a Linear B translator? It surprised my translator colleague, Rita  Roberts, and myself, for quite some time – well over a year. But not any more. There are two inescapable reasons why we have been able to come to the conclusions we have reached. These are:
(a) that the Linear B scribes very frequently used what Rita and I call supersyllabograms, a term which describes a peculiar phenomenon common to only a subset of syllabograms which have defied decipherment for the past 63 years since 1952. We shall be deciphering almost all of the 31 supersyllabograms, a substantial subset of the full set of 61 syllabograms (over 50 %). Only a very few supersyllabograms still defy decipherment, at least for us, but someone in the near future may find the keys to even those ones. Enough of that for now. We will be publishing our complete peer-reviewed research paper later on this year. So folks will just have to wait.
(b) that the Linear B scribes very often left unsaid (i.e. omitted) from their tablets what was perfectly obvious to them (see my Comments on Knossos tablet M 10 E x 233 below for the full text), since they all assiduously followed the same strict guidelines for transcribing accounts and inventories, and all used the same formulaic language for their transcriptions. To visualize how all this directly influences Rita Roberts’ methodical and accurate translation of Knossos Tablet M 10 E x 233, click on this image of the tablet to ENLARGE it:

KN M 10 E x 233 fragmenrt  one Ram

From the red outline to the right, you can see that I have filled in the rest of the missing section of this Linear B tablet. I am confident that the tablet in its entirely did in fact look almost exactly as you see here, because there is only 1 ideogram (for ram) only partially missing, while the word, SURI on the second line is clearly the Mycenaean place name, SURIMO, or in Greek, Syrimos. Since this tablet is clearly all about an offering TO the god Dikataro (dative!) or Zeus, and no one in their right mind would sacrifice more than one ram or animal to any of the gods, livestock being indispensable to their livelihood, it follows that one ram and one ram only was sacrificed to the god. Ergo, there cannot possibly be much more on the truncated right side of this fragment than the outline in red I have tacked on to its end.      

Does Formulaic Language in Mycenaean Linear B Tablets Have Anything to do with Formulaic Archaic Greek in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey?

Surprise, surprise. It does. And so does Arcado-Cypriot in its alphabet or in Linear C.

My Hypothesis runs as follows.

If this premise does not hold water for some translators of Linear B, recall that Homer also heavily relied on formulaic phrases. He appears to have picked up that habit, not only from the Mycenaean Greek scribes who preceded him by 400-600 years, but also from the Arcado-Cypriot scribes, who wrote in the Linear C syllabary and in the Arcado-Cypriot Greek alphabet at the very same time as he was composing the Iliad – a fact that all too many historians and linguists completely overlook. 

Recall that Linear C had already evolved from the almost exclusively accounting and inventorial syllabary (Linear B ) to a literary one, with many of their tablets simultaneously composed in both Linear C and in alphabetic Arcado-Cypriot Greek. The lengthy legal document, the famous Idalion tablet, ca. 400 BCE, was one such tablet, written in both Linear C and alphabetic Greek. But Linear C had been in constant use from ca. 1100 BCE (long before Homer!) non-stop all the way through to ca. 400 BCE, when the Arcado-Cypriots finally abandoned it in favour of the Greek alphabet alone. 

My point is simply this: I for one cannot believe that Homer was not even remotely familiar with documents in the Arcado-Cypriot alphabet or possibly even in Linear C, because there were plenty of them around at the time he wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey (if he did). So even if he was not at all familiar with Mycenaean Linear B, he certainly must have known about, and may very well have read documents in Arcado-Cypriot. But that is not all. In spite of the fact that he almost certainly did not know Linear B, being familiar as he most likely was with the vocabulary and grammar of Arcado-Cypriot meant that he automatically had some inkling of Mycenaean Greek. Why so? - simply because of all the ancient Greek dialects (archaic or not), no two were more closely related than Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot, not even Ionic and Attic Greek – not by a long shot. This alone implies that even if Homer consciously knew nothing about Mycenaean Greek, its vocabulary and grammar, unconsciously he did, because every time he borrowed formulaic language from Arcado-Cypriot, he was in effect borrowing almost exactly the same vocabulary and phrases from Mycenaean Greek.

But there is more – much more – to this than superficially meets the eye. Homer was in fact very familiar with Mycenaean society, and with Mycenaean warfare, because he mentions both so often in the Iliad, especially in The Catalogue of Ships in Book II, and even occasionally in the Odyssey, that is obvious to all but the most recalcitrant translators of ancient Greek that he frequently resorts to Mycenaean vocabulary, phrases and even grammar (especially for the genitive and dative cases), even if he is not conscious of it. It stares us in the face. To illustrate my point, allow me to draw your attention to the numerous instance Mycenaean & Arcado-Cypriot vocabulary and grammar in just one of the serial passages of Book II of the Iliad I have already meticulously translated into twenty-first century English. Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad II Catalogue of Ships 565-610 Linear B Linear C

Now if you compare my scholia on the word, thalassa, on line 614 with the Linear B tablet below from Knossos, you can instantly see they are one and the same word! Since Linear B had no L+vowel series of syllabograms, the scribes had to substitute the R+vowel syllabograms for Mycenaean words which would have otherwise begun with L. Also, Linear B never repeats consonants, as that is impossible in a syllabary. Similarly, Linear B was unable to distinguish between variants of consonants, such as we find T & TH in the Greek alphabet. So the Mycenaean tarasa is in fact equivalent to the Homeric thalassa, given that on Linear B fragment KN 201 X a 26:

Knossos fragment KN 201 X TARASA the SEA

t = th, r = l & s = ss, hence tarasa = thalassa, down to the last letter.  

Anyway, for the time being, I rest my case. But with respect to the relationship between formulaic language in Mycenaean Linear B and Arcado-Cypriot, whether in Linear C or alphabetic on the one hand, and Homer’s use of formulaic language on the other, there is more to come on our blog this year – much more. It is highly advisable for all of you who are experienced translators of either or both Mycenaean Linear B and Homeric Greek to read all of my translations in series of the entire Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad, wherein he uses the most archaic Greek in all of the Iliad. Otherwise, you may experience some difficulty following my thesis on formulaic language and the hypotheses upon which it is based.

As for the rest of you folks, who are not translators, but who frequently read the posts on our blog, just enjoy and assimilate the essentials, and forget the rest, because all of the technical stuff I delve so deeply into doesn’t matter anyway unless you are a translator. Still, you may be asking, why delve into so much detail in the first place? Great question. It is all for the benefit of our fellow translators and decipherers, to whom we absolutely must address so many of the posts on our pointedly technical blog. Nevertheless, our blog is open to all to enjoy and read, as far as each of you wishes to take yourself. As I said just now, keep what you like and leave the rest. You will always learn at least something truly valuable to yourself. Otherwise, why would you be a regular visitor to our blog in the first place?           

Keep posted.

Richard


Why anachronistic translations of Homer's Iliad scare people off, Versus my modern translation of the Iliad, Book II, “The Catalogue of Ships”, lines 581-604

Here is my translation: Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad 2 The Catalogue of Ships  Lines 581-604
& here is the 1924 translation, which is even worse than the one of the previous post (lines 546-580). I have underlined the grossest anachronisms. Click to ENLARGE:

Iliad 2 581-604 Translation 1924

Richard


 

First and Second Persons Singular of Athematic Verbs Fully Restored in Mycenaean Linear B!

While sitting out on my patio sipping tea this afternoon for the first time this spring, I was astonished to discover that the archaic second person singular of Athematic verbs ended in in “si”, while the third person singular ended in “ti”, in other words, in a syllable, the second person singular ending having precisely the same value as the Linear B syllabogram SI  & the third person singular ending having precisely the same value as the Linear B syllabogram TI, as illustrated here (Click to ENLARGE):

Linear B Athematic Verbs Present Future Imperfect Restored

To my mind, this is a significant step forward in the genesis of a comprehensive Mycenaean Greek grammar, lending further weight to my hypothesis that archaic Greek conjugations seem to be virtually identical to their Mycenaean forerunners. But there is even more to this than first meets the eye. This is no mere happenstance. It confirms almost beyond a shadow of a doubt that certain verb conjugations and adjectival/nominal declensions in archaic (or Homeric) Greek were (almost) exactly the same as their predecessors in Mycenaean Greek some 400-700 years earlier. And the more archaic the alphabetic Greek grammatical form, the more likely it is that it will be (almost) identical to its Mycenaean “ancestor”.

This raises the appurtenant question whether Mycenaean Greek is all that different from archaic Greek, and even whether they are one and the same dialect, the latter being a later avatar of the former.  A striking parallel is found in the proximity of Ionic Greek with Attic, even though the former dates to ca. 800 – 700 BCE, somewhat earlier the latter, ca. 600 BCE – 450 BCE. One could possibly even make a case for a historical (quasi-) linear continuity right on through from the Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriot dialects, to the early Ionic Greek we find in Homer, to Attic, Hellenic and, finally the “koine” Greek of the New Testament. In other words, the timeline from Mycenaean Greek to the “koine” Greek of the New Testament may indeed constitute a continuum in the evolution of the Greek language. Given that modern Greek is the “terminus post quem” of “koine” Greek, one might even hypothesize that modern Greek is  the “final” stage in the evolution of East Greek dialects from Mycenaean Greek to the present (ca. 1500 BCE – 2014 AD), i.e. some  3,500 years. Of course, while all this is, at least tentatively, pure speculation on my part, you have to wonder why the conjugation of “didomi” in Mycenaean Greek is so astonishingly similar to the “koine” conjugation of the New Testament, some 1,600 years in the future (Click to ENLARGE):

DIDOMI Linear B Archaic & New Testament
      
If confirmed, my hypothesis would be a real revelation! It would at least appear that Mycenaean Greek grammar changed very little over the 400 years after the fall of Mycenae itself in 1200 BCE to the first appearance of archaic alphabetical Greek around 800 BCE. If this is the case, it follows that we will be able to reconstruct a good deal more Mycenaean Greek grammar in Linear B than I had first imagined possible. However, a word of warning! I must test this hypothesis over and over with practical applications (paradigms) for as many categories of Mycenaean grammar as I can possibly survey and reconstruct, including above all else verb conjugations and nominal and adjectival declensions. If the results turn out to be as I presently project them in my busy-bee mind, the implications and ramifications for a truly comprehensive reconstructed grammar will be enormous, if not revolutionary. If nothing else, we may discover that there is a far greater affinity between grammar behind the Linear B syllabary and and that of archaic alphabetical Greek than we ever imagined to date.

On the other hand, the affinity may be weaker than I imagine, hence, probably invalid.

It will take me at least a year to carry this hypothesis to its “logical” outcome. In the meantime, I shall have to completely revise the complete conjugational tables for Athematic Verbs (present, future, imperfect, first & second aorist and perfect) I previously posted.  These necessary revisions will affect both the Athematic conjugational tables and at least some of the text of that post.

Richard



 


CRITICAL POST: The Present and Imperfect Tenses of Reduplicating – MI – Verbs in Linear B [Click to ENLARGE):

linear b mi verbs present and imperfect tense
NOTE: If you are a researcher in Linear B, it is highly advisable that you read and thoroughly digest this post in its entirety, as it constitutes a major milestone in the exegesis of my Theory of Regressive Linear B Grammar & Vocabulary.  Failure to read this post may result in an inability to further confirm or reject, either in whole or in part, the premises upon which my entire theory rests.
 
Athematic – MI –verbs are shared in large part by Greek and and Sanskrit, respectively the Occidental & Oriental agnates or close/near descendents of the same extremely ancient (proto-) Indo-European class.  All verbs of this athematic class invariably share the standard ending –  mi –  in the 1st. person sing. of the present tense.

Ancient Greek and Indic (Sanskrit) are similar in many respects, which may strike some as surprising since they cross the hypothetical “satem/centum” line, which the Occidental sub-class (all ancient Greek dialects & Latin & its dialects) treats the Proto IE gutturals as hard (Gr.e9kato/n Lat. centum = 100,) as against Sanscrit, chatam, and Old Persian, satem. But there are so many structural affinities, from parallel verb forms down to musical pitches, that some special connections must have existed between and prior to these two groups, which appear to have almost certainly sprung from the same Proto IE ancestral language. On the other hand, while Sanskrit is normally considered solidly IE, less than 40% of Greek vocabulary and grammar appears to derive directly from Proto IE roots, giving rise to the hypothesis that other extra-structural factors are surely involved in the evolution of ancient Greek. This phenomenon, peculiar to Greek alone, may also have significant implications for the eventual decipherment of Linear A. But this is mere speculation on my part.  Still... you never know. At any rate, I intend eventually to follow this avenue of approach, my small contribution to the eventual decipherment of at least a tiny substrate (superstrate?) of Linear A sometime in 2016.

Seminal Characteristics of Athematic MI Verbs:

Athematic MI verbs are characterized, for the most part, by their own unique set of endings, although the 2nd. and 3rd. plurals are virtually the same as those of the Thematic so-called “regular” verbs in ancient Greek. It would appear, then, that “regular” verbs retained the athematic 2nd. and 3rd. plurals of their ancestors, the athematic Mi verbs, while casting all other athematic endings aside.

Reduplication in the Present Tense:

The most striking phenomenon of MI verbs is reduplication in the present tense, which is restricted to perfect formations of “regular” thematic verbs in ancient Greek. This state of affairs raises two critical questions in my mind: [1] are so-called “regular” verbs in ancient Greek derived from the more ancient athematic  MI verbs, or did they simply borrow the athematic endings of the athematic 2nd. and 3rd. plurals the ancestral MI verbs? Later this year, I shall demonstrate the apparent yet quite possibly significant link between the SI endings of the present indicative and san endings of the perfect indicative in both classes of verbs, thematic and athematic. Another truly striking similarity between the more archaic and early “regular” forms in Homeric Greek is the sharing of the SI ending in the dative plural. I am highly inclined to stress the statistically probable significance of these endings, in both their verbal and nominal forms, shared by their more ancestral and and early “regular” forms in both Mycenaean and Homeric Greek.

This phenomenon will re-appear frequently in both the attested [A] and derivative [D] forms of the 3rd. person plural of all verbs, thematic or athematic regardless and in the SI ending of the dative plural, not only in Homeric, but also in Mycenaean Linear B, which attests to their extreme antiquity in ancient Greek. The fact that these forms were already fully developed in Mycenaean Greek strongly points to the likelihood that they arose from the earliest ancestral (proto-) Greek of Mycenaean and Homeric Greek alike (above all in the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad). All of these grammatical constructs are already firmly rooted in Mycenaean and Homeric Greek, giving rise to my hypothesis that it is not only possible, but highly feasible to regressively reconstruct huge chunks of Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary from their (quasi-direct) descendent, the Homeric Greek of (the Catalogue of Ships) of the second Book of the Iliad.

All of this raises another hypothetical question in my mind: did there exist ancestral forms of thematic verbs in ancient Greek which shared all or most of their endings, in all tenses, with their (apparently) more ancient MI counterparts, giving rise to the hypothesis that both athematic and thematic verbs were derived from even more ancient verbal constructs, in which all remotely ancient (proto-) Greek verbs were in fact athematic? That this is possible, and even probable, is reinforced by the uncontested fact that in Sanskrit both MI and O verbs alike share reduplication, meaning there is no marked distinction between “thematic” and “athematic” verbs in Sanskrit, in other words, they are of one and the same class. This phenomenon then reappears in a restricted number of Latin perfects, like tutudi from tundo "beat", old tetuli from thw stem tul- which supplements the forms of Latin. fero (Gr.fe/rw ). Since Latin developed in parallel with ancient Greek, but independently from the latter, this then raises the question yet again, how on earth can it be that such reduplication occurs in Latin but not in Greek, unless there is a possibility (however remote) that reduplication occurred in both thematic and athematic verbs of their proto-Greek and proto-Latin ancestors?

If indeed that is the case, then it would appear that proto-Greek and proto-Latin shared this seminal characteristic with not only Sanskrit, but proto-Sanskrit, and hence, by inference, with the proto IE ancestor of all three of these languages. If this is that case, it necessarily follows that both the thematic O endings and athematic MI endings share one and the same singular ancestor, which must have been neither thematic nor athematic, but one and the very same root of both classes. So I have to wonder out loud whether thematic O and athematic MI verbs in Sanskrit, Mycenaean Greek and Homeric Greek alike all derive from a single class of verbs, embodying the characteristics of both of these classes of verbs. If that is even remotely a possibility, then we cannot afford to ignore it, since it allows us to regressivly reconstruct, to some degree at least, even some of the tenses of the Proto-IE ancestor of all of these languages. Wouldn't that be a revelation? Of course, all this is speculation on my part, but I love to indulge in speculative hypotheses, if there is even a remote chance that someday some of them may prove to be sound.

Only time and future refinements in the science of linguistics may lend some credence to the hypotheses I am making here. If anything, computational linguistics and the great leaps in the application of artificial intelligence to linguistic theory (-ies) are likely to give rise to even more speculative hypotheses, hypotheses which may yet prove to rest on a much more solid foundation in applied linguistics than we can hope to approach at present. We shall see.

In other words, the foundation of my theory of the Regressive Reconstruction of Mycenaean Linear B grammar and vocabulary rests firmly on the regressive extrapolation of all such forms from he Homeric Greek of (the Catalogue of Ships) of the second Book of the Iliad or from any of the following dialects, Cypriot Linear C (above all others), Aeolic, Arcadian and early Ionic Greek, all of which appear to have been (quasi-) direct descendents of Mycenaean Greek. Doric Greek does not properly enter into the equation.

Conclusions:

On thing, however, is certain: the athematic – mi – verbs, in all tenses & moods, and in the all-pervasive participial constructions in ancient Homeric Greek must have been already firmly entrenched in Mycenaean Greek, from the simple observation of the facts, namely, that at least some these forms of all tenses, moods and participles are already almost all attested [A] on Mycenaean Linear B tablets. And even where some forms of all tenses, moods and participles in verbs are not to be found on any Linear B tablets, enough of them are attested for us to be able to reasonably reconstruct them in their entirety or at least in part from the attested forms.

And what applies to verbs, applies also to all other parts of speech in Mycenaean Linear B (nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and even formulaic phrases shared with Homeric Greek). These happily fortuitous antecedents in Linear B to their later counterparts in Homeric Greek recur quite frequently enough for me to be able to regressively reconstitute the Linear B forms from their subsequent Homeric forms. This, in a nutshell, is the entire premise of the Theory of Regressive Linear B as I intend to clearly demonstrate in the reconstruction of large chunks of ancestral Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary, both attributed [A] and derivative [D] from its direct descent, Homeric Greek, and in particular the frequent occurrences of archaic Greek in Book II of the Iliad, in which in turn even more archaic forms frequently recur in the Catalogue of Ships (lines 484-789), the most reliable source for ancestral Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary in the entire Iliad. Concomitantly, and once again happily, any of the following dialects, Cypriot Linear C (above all others), Aeolic, Arcadian and early Ionic Greek also well serve the purpose as direct and indirect descendents of Mycenaean Greek, from which it is feasible to regressively extrapolate grammatical and terminological constructs in Linear B.  Doric Greek, however, does not enter into the equation, since the Dorian invasion transpired after the fall of Mycenaean civilization.

Richard 

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