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Noun as divine epithet in Greek and Indo-European religious language


In Greek religious language, there is a pattern of divine epithet use consisting in the apposition of a noun - and not an adjective - to the deity's name. A few examples: Aphrodite Psithuros 'Whisper', Demeter Homonoia 'Concord', Artemis Eupraxia 'Welfare', Athena Nike 'Victory', Zeus Keraunos 'Lightning Bolt', Apollo šKoruthos 'elm'. This type of noun apposition is of Indo-European age, as is shown both by Vedic Sanskrit, where is fairly common to find words such as vrshabhá- 'bull', ketú- 'banner', ánika- 'face' in apposition to the god's name, and by Latin, e.g. Jupiter Libertas 'Liberty', Jupiter Juuentus 'Youth', Jupiter Fulmen 'Lightning'. I shall try to show that this type of concrete and abstract noun apposition may be compared to another two noun apposition types, both of them with Indo-European parallels: (i) generic appelatives such as Gk. theos, Skt. devá-, Lat. Deus 'god'; (ii) divine names used as epiclesis, e.g. Artemis Eileithyia, Zeus Ares, Aphrodite Hera, Rigvedic Agni Brhaspati, Oscan Jupiter Liber (iúveís lúvfreís). This project aims to give an exhaustive account of all Greek examples (from Mycenaean to Hellenistic Greek) and compare them with the relevant material drawn from the major Indo-European traditions (Indo-Iranian, Italic, Anatolian). In addition to this, I shall put forward a unified linguistic explanation (in semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic terms) for the three types of noun apposition under consideration, drawing upon the most recent linguistic theories on the issue. (AU)

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