Tag Archive: Potnia



Linear B tablet KN 702 M b 11, “to all the gods” by Rita Roberts

Knossos tablet KN 702 M b 11

This is one of the most significant of all Linear B tablets, as it refers “to all the gods” . But who are all of these gods in Mycenaean Greek? Beneath the translation all of the Mycenaean gods are listed. We notice that whereas many of them survived into archaic and classical Greek (those tagged with an asterisk * after them), some did not. They simply disappeared after the fall of Mycenae ca. 1200 BCE. However, this does not mean that most of them were not (highly) significant to the Mycenaeans. We cite in particular Potnia or Potnia Theron = Mistress (of the Wild Beasts), Emaha2 (Emahai), Manassa, Presphaion, Qerasiya (Kerasiya) and Tiriseroe.


The co-dependent supersyllabograms KI = kitimena kotona & O = onaton in Linear B:

Knossos tablet KN 930 G a 302 & the supersyllabograms KI & O

The two supersyllabograms KI = kitimena kotona & O = onaton in Linear B are very frequently concatenated on Linear B tablets in the agricultural sector of the Minoan/Mycenaean economy. This combination of supersyllabograms KI + O occurs on scores of tablets from Knossos alone. These two supersyllabograms always precede the ideogram they modify, and this ideogram is always either the one for “rams” (most often) or “ewes” and occasionally for “sheep” (the generic ideogram).  When linked together in this fashion they always mean “a usufruct lease field which is a plot of land”, in other words “a usufruct leased plot of land” within the context of a larger “lease field” of which this plot of land is one among several. How many we cannot say, because we were not there when the Minoan/Mycenaean overlords parcelled out their fields to be leased as smaller plots of land to their tenants.

The number of leased plots per lease field may have been as few as 4 or as many as 10 or 20. If the number were to have run to the latter end of the spectrum, that would have meant that the lease fields themselves, which were to have been sub-parcelled into leased plots must have been quite large, even if the size of the separate leased plots might have been as small as approx. 1 hectare. In that scenario, a lease field with 20 leased plots of approx. 1 hectare would be about 20 hectares in size. It is to be clearly understood that we have no yardstick or should I say metric stick by which to determine exactly or even approximately the Minoans at Knossos or Phaistos or the Mycenaeans at Mycenae, Pylos and elsewhere actually measured the size of their fields. The hectare is just an approximation, nothing more. But it will do as well as any measure.

On another count, we note that on this tablet, the land tenant is Siadyweis. He is not the land owner because he is clearly leasing a plot of land on a much larger lease field owned by the overseer.  Also, we note that the person connected with the Minoan Goddess, Potnia, must be her priest, because it is in the masculine. This seems a rather odd arrangement to me, since in almost all other instances where this famous Minoan goddess is mentioned, it is with reference to her Priestess(es) and not her Priest(s). The Minoan religion was substantively matriarchal, not patriarchal. That said, this tablet clearly defines her attendant as her Priest.

Several illustrations of the the Minoan goddess, Potnia:

Potnia Theron Minoan Snake goddess and Artemis

 


CONTEST QUIZ & LOVELY BOOK PRIZES! Are these statuettes of the Mistress of the Hunt, Zeus & the Priestess of the Winds? Click to ENLARGE:

Potnia Theron Diwo Anemoieriya
NOTE that this POST is classified under the heading MEDIA at the top of this blog. If you click on MEDIA, you will find it much faster than if you simply try scrolling through the hundreds of posts on our blog.

It is quite possible that these 3 statuettes are, from left to right, (a) Potnia Theron (Mistress of the Hunt), (b) DIWO (in Mycenaean Greek) or ZEUS & (c) ANEMOIYEREA (The Minoan Mycenaean Priestess of the Winds). For more on the Priestess of the Winds, click on this BANNER:
 
POST Anemoiyerea
But they may not be. Who is to say, if not you yourself? So why not tell us, and we will let you know if you are right. Moreover, if you get the answer EXACTLY right, you will win FIRST PRIZE of a fine edition of W. Ceram’s Gods, Graves and Scholars, and if you get the closest answer to the FIRST PRIZE winning answer, your SECOND PRIZE is another fine book on The Minoans. See below for details.

HOW TO ENTER THE CONTEST: It is simple. Answer any of questions (a) to (d) below as you see fit.

To reply with your answer, you may either:
(a) leave your reply in the Comments section for this post; or
(b) send me your answer to either of my e-mail accounts:

vallance22@gmail.com

OR

vallance22@gmx.com

(Since I must protect myself from spammers, these e-mail links are not live in this post.
You must add my e-mail address to your address book.)

THIS CONTEST QUIZ IS OPEN UNTIL JULY 1 2015.

Good luck!  

HOW I FOUND THESE AMAZING STATUETTES!     

While watching a truly fascinating TV program this morning, I happened to see these three statuettes, which I instantly recognized as quite possibly being dated anywhere from the late Bronze Age to the early Iron Age (ca. 1300-800 BCE). Just one look at them, and you can see for yourselves that they could easily date from within these five centuries. But the question is, do they, and if they do not, what are they? Do not kid yourself, this is an extremely tricky quiz question, because, unless you have actually seen the program yourself and you recognized them flash across the screen, then you cannot possibly know the answer. However, to be fair, I shall give everyone out there, whether or not you are an expert in ancient Greek archaeology, an historian of ancient Greece, or an aficionado of all things ancient, more than an even break to guess the right answer... and there is only one. 

THIS QUIZ IS SO DIFFICULT IT IS OPEN TO EVERYONE, EVEN MY CO-RESIDENT BLOGGER, RITA ROBERTS.

Answer these questions as you see fit:
(a) Are these statuettes genuine ancient Greek artifacts, Minoan, Mycenaean or early Iron Age? OR
(b) If not, are statuettes from another ancient civilization, and if, so, which one? OR
(c) Are these statuettes fake? AND
(d) If they are fake, precisely what are they? If you believe (c) to be true, then you must answer (d) precisely, i.e. you must identify exactly what these statuettes are and the actual name of the program from which they are derived. The only way anyone can get this last option (d) correct is if you have actually seen the program in question, and even then, I my be leading you astray. In other words, either (a) or (b) may be the right answer, or on the other hand (c) and (d). YOU DECIDE.

There are two beautiful prizes to be won:
FIRST PRIZE: for the person who tells me precisely what they are, down to the very last detail, providing the actual names of each statute in turn, AND the name of the TV program where I found them, this magnificent volume:

Ceram, C.W. Gods, Graves, and Scholars: the Story of Archaeology. London: the Folio Society, © 1999. xxx, 528 pp. Illustrated with full colour and black & white plates. Bound in full buckram, printed on Inveresk Wove paper by the Bath Press.
Approximate Value: $80

Ceram Gods Graves and Scholars Folio
 
SECOND PRIZE: for the person who tells me gets the closest to the answer for the first PRIZE, down to the very last detail, providing the actual names of each statute in turn, but missing out on only one or two details, this splendid book: 

Fitton, J. Lesley. The Minoans. London: the Folio Society, © 2004. xix, 392 pp. Illustrated with full colour and black & white plates. Bound in full cloth, printed on Abbey Wove paper by Cambridge University Press. Approximate Value: $65

Fitton Minoans Folio

NOTE: IF YOU STILL HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR ARE IN ANY WAY UNSURE HOW TO ANSWER THE QUESTION, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME IN COMMENTS HERE ON THE BLOG OR BY E-MAIL.


Richard


Pylos Tablet PY cc 665: The Shepherd, Fresh Penis, Offers to Goddess Potnia... Click to ENLARGE (the Tablet, I mean, not the Shepherd’s Tool)

Pylos Tablet PY cc 665 translation
When my esteemed colleague, Rita Roberts, sent me her latest translation of an extant Linear B tablet from Pylos, PY cc 665, little did she suspect, indeed, even less did I suspect what we were in for. Rita’s translation is the most commonsensical one a translator could come up with. The word NEWOPEO is almost certainly the name of the suppliant making an offering of 100 sheep and 190 pigs to the goddess, Potnia, one of the major Mycenaean deities, almost all of whom were feminine anyway. Potnia, otherwise called, “Potnia Theron” or Mistress of the Wild Beasts, has often been associated with Artemis, the ancient Greek goddess of the hunt, but she may also be linked with Demeter Ceres, goddess of the grain harvest, as appears to be the case with the Mycenaean fresco in this collage: click to ENLARGE

Potnia Theron Minoan Snake Goddess Artemisa
Certainly the Minoans and Mycenaeans both relied heavily on their grain harvest, as did all Greek societies and city states, Crete, Cyprus, Athens, all the Athenian colonial cities, Corinth, Macedonian Pella, Syracuse etc., right on down through the Classical and Hellenic Eras, as indeed did Egypt and all other major ancient civilizations, including Rome, of course.
 
Apparently, the Minoan hierarchy of goddess and gods was matriarchal rather than patriarchal, although whether this was the case for the Mycenaean pantheon of gods we cannot say for sure. However, that being said, we can see right away that Rita Robert’s translation does great justice to the apparent significance of this important tablet as a religious votary, by translating NEWOPEO as the suppliant’s name. So far, so good.

But when I happened to take a closer look at the fellow’s name, I noticed at once that the first two syllables were the Linear B word for “new”, a very common word in Mycenaean Greek. So then, of course, the question is, what do the last two syllables mean? I was already suspicious of what the result would be even before I looked up a Greek word that would fill the bill, and sure enough my suspicions were confirmed, to a T. It meant what I thought it meant. Not only that, it cannot mean anything else in Classical Greek, if spelled the way it is in this fellow’s name in Linear B. The Mycenaean Greek word and its Classical Greek equivalent are one and the same. No doubt about it. “Penis”.

But is this so very surprising, given the Greeks’ obsession with the beauty of the male anatomy in all its parts, apparently, it seems, right on down from the Mycenaeans to the Hellenic Age and beyond? There is one splendid Minoan fresco of a fisherboy from Akrotiri (Late Cycladic 1, Late Minoan 1A) which does show a fellow nude. Sadly, however, his lovely penis has been effaced by the ravages of time.  Here is this exquisite fresco: Click to ENLARGE

Therafrescofisherboy

As for the ancient Greeks themselves (by whom I mean those from ca. 700 BCE to 100 BCE and beyond), they were utterly obsessed with the all-too prominent aspects of the male physique, given that to them, i.e. the Greeks, the male physiognomy of the gods and of their heroes held a supremely religious value, even beyond the equally enticing virtues of the female physique, divine (athanatos) or mortal (thanatos). 

Onomastics & Personal Names:

Yet what about nomenclature? Would the ancient Greeks have been so daring as to give their men names like this? Certainly. Why not?  Their pagan religion was saturated with imagery and images alike of fertility and sensuality, with a marked emphasis on the former, as were the religions of practically every ancient civilization right up to the Roman. No big surprise there to anyone.

Still, I will have to buttress this claim of mine with actual examples of racy Greek names, if I expect our readers to actually believe me. We needn’t look very far. Among the Greek deities, some of the most prominent bear names with distinctly sensual overtones: Pan, Greek name derived from the word pa-on, meaning "herdsman". In mythology, this is the name of a god of shepherds and flocks, who had the horns, hindquarters and legs of a goat; Herpes, god of prostitutes & cunning; Himeros, god of sexual desire (Himeros can be translated as “love or lust attack”); Eros, god of love and sexual desire;  Pothos, god of sexual desire and longing; Ganymede, Priapus etc.  And among mortals, Arsenios (Virile), Beelzeboul (Lord of Dung), Dioskouroi (Zeus’ boys!), Pythias (rotting!), Seilinos (moving back and forth in a wine trough), Zoroastres (he whose camels are angry) etc.

As for the plays of Aristophanes, they are riddled with obscene names, most of which of course are meant as parodies, but nevertheless...

Compare Rita Robert’s translation of this tablet (Pylos PY cc 665) to my own: Click to ENLARGE:

PY CC 665 2 alternatives Richard
My version, which requires considerable knowledge of ancient Greek grammar in numerous dialects, relies on translating NEWOPEO in an entirely different manner, and in two different versions, (a) the first rendering this word as the present participle active of the Greek verb “to bring” & (b) the second referencing bringing tribute to Potnia by ship. The problem with my interpretations is that they overlooked the obvious, which Rita did not. Which of these three versions carries the most weight I leave entirely in your hands.  Or perhaps all three of them have something going for them. One thing is certain: it is extremely unwise to fall into the trap of believing that there can only be one “right” translation for so many Linear B tablets, given that adequate context to clinch the matter is sorely lacking in the vast majority of them. I have mentioned this often on our blog, and shall continue to raise the point for the simple reason that a great many Linear B tablets admit of more than one interpretation, and often of more than two. In such instances, each translation has its own merits and weaknesses, which are subject to rigorous critical analysis by Linear B scholars worldwide... as indeed they should be, without exception.

Richard


2 Plausible Alternative Decipherments of Pylos Tablet cc 665. Be sure to read the entire text and the accompanying notes to the Linear B tablet Pylos cc 665, in which I have transcribed the scribe's Linear B into the Linear B font for clarity, & translated into Greek & into English. (Click to ENLARGE):

2-alternative-translations-of-pylos-tablet-cc-665

Come to think of it, the second translation is actually absurd (and uproariously funny, since there is no way in heaven or on earth the Mycenaeans could cram that many rams and pigs into one of their little ships, without displacing all of the rowers and sinking the ship, unless of course they brought them to Potnia in a small armada, (kind of like they sent off to the Trojan war), which she would certainly would have appreciated! The Table above is entirely self-explanatory, but it is even easier to interpret in light of the previous 2 posts, An Analysis of the Archaic Greek in the Iliad: Book II (Lines 1-34) & The Extreme Significance of the Archaic Greek of the Catalogue of Ships in Book II of the Iliad in the Reconstruction of Mycenaean Greek grammar and vocabulary, which is the fundamental thesis of this blog. You may wish to go back and re-read those posts to get an even clearer perspective on the decipherments I propose here. Criticism and comments are welcome, especially from our new friends at our brand-new sister blog, Konoso, which I am delighted to have discovered. You can jump immediately to the Konoso blog by clicking on the Link to it in Friends & Links at the bottom of this page. Enjoy!     

Richard
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