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a root as, to be sharp and cutting; and we find in Greek dákpu, tear, being evidently derived from a root DAS, to biter. Are we to believe that these two words have nothing in common, and that they do not owe their origin to a common metaphorical concept, namely of sharp and biting, and therefore to a common creative act? Both roots, AS and DAS, exist and have proved prolific in different Aryan languages. From AS, to be sharp (in every sense of the word), we have in Sanskrit a sra and asri, point, edge, in Latin ucus, âcer, in Greek škpos and åkpis. As acidus, from meaning sharp, comes to mean bitter and sour, asru in Sanskrit and Zend, aszara in Lituanian, came to mean a bitter tear.
From DAS, to bite (bitter comes from to bite, Sk. bhid, Lat. findo), we have in Greek dákov, in Lat. lacruma, in Gothic tagr, in English tear, and who can doubt that all these words mean originally the biting tear ? Of course, we can doubt anything, and as it always looks much more learned to doubt than to accept, the temptation to shake one's head is very great. But for that very reason this cheap scepticism deserves a sharp rebuke, such as Professor Pott, for instance, has lately administered to a learned colleague. 'Naturally,' he writes, the determined tone of the professor's veto, when he says “the comparison of asru with dasru is as little justified as that of a han with day,” signifies nothing 2.'
But even those scholars who maintain that the root
1 Fick goes much further, and derives, for instance, agni, fire, from the root DAH; Holtzmann points out that the goddess Danàyu in the Mahâbhârata appears as Anâyu in the Harivamsa ; see Holtzmann, Agni, p. 34.
Pott, Etymologische Forschungen, vol. ii. 4, p. 510.
AH is in no way connected with the root DAH, cannot deny that Dahan â would be a perfectly legitimate derivation of the root DAH, which root has given us the names for day in the Teutonic languages. That root DAH presupposes a root DHAGH, and belongs to a whole class of roots in which, according to Grassmann's observation, an initial and final aspirate are necessarily represented in Gothic by initial and final media.
As the final h in the root DAH may represent an original gh or bh, we get two possible varieties, DAGH and DABH. DAGH exists in Sanskrit nidâgha, heat; DABH would in Greek appear as dad. From this dad the Greek by a most regular process could have derived dap-vn !, and the meaning of that name would have been the same as that of A hanâ in Sanskrit, namely the burning one, the bright, the brilliant. By the side of Aáovn we have the Thessalian form Aaúxun, with the guttural final of DAH, and Hesychios mentions davxmov as a name of the wood of the laurel-tree, because it burns easily (εύκαυστον).
If then we know that Phoebos meant the sun, and few scholars will deny that, and that Daphne may have meant the dawn, we shall probably not look very far for an explanation of the Greek saying, that the Dawn fled before the Sun, and vanished when he wished to embrace her. But why, it may be asked, was Daphne supposed
have been changed into a laurel-tree? Ethnopsychological mythologists will tell us that in Samoa, Sarawak, and other savage countries, men and women are supposed to be capable of turning into plants, and that, as the Greeks were savages once, they no doubt believed the same, and we need therefore inquire no further. Now, with all possible respect for Ethno-psychologists, or as they are sometimes called, Folk-lorists, I cannot think that this would be much more than explaining ignotum per ignotius. The question that everybody would ask is, Why then did the Samoans and Sarawakians and other savages believe that men and women turned into trees ? Neither Totemism, surely, nor Fetishism, nor Tabuism, would help them to that belief. Then why should not the classical scholar be allowed to look for a key nearer home, and when he finds that the laurel, being a wood that burns easily, was therefore called dáovn?, or fire-wood, why should he not be allowed to say that the legend of Daphne, the dawn, being changed into daphne, the laurel-tree, may have been due to the influence of language on thought, to some self-forgetfulness of language-in fact, to the same influence which induced people to adopt an ox passing a ford as the arms of Oxford ?
1 M. M., Comparative Mythology, 1856 ; Selected Essays, i. p. 398.
Warum in die Ferne schweifen ?
Sieh, das Gute liegt so nah!' Whether cases of identity of name, like that of Daphne and daphne, are likewise at the bottom of the Samoan and Sarawakian belief that men and women can be turned into plants, is a far more difficult question to answer, and before we generalise on such matters, it is far better to inquire into a number of single cases, such as those, for instance, of Hya
| Cf. Lectures on the Science of Language, ii. 548 ; Selected Essays, i. 399 ; δαχμών εύκαυστον ξύλον δάφνης, Ηesych. 1. c.
cinthus, Narcissus, and others in Greece and elsewhere. We shall find, I believe, here as elsewhere, that the same effect is not always due to the same cause, but unless we find some kind of cause, Comparative Mythology might indeed be called a collection of rubbish, and not a museum of antiquities. To say that 'a legend of a woman being changed into a tree is explained when we have shown that it is natural to a race which believes in woman being changed into trees,' is surely not saying very much.
Professor Gruppe has a curious way of dealing with these mythological etymologies. He asks whether they can be true, and then leaves the matter alone. · Are we allowed,' he writes (p. 90), 'to declare Daphne, the laurel, the beloved of Aapvnpópos, to be the dawn, because this name, by no means clear as yet, corresponds perhaps to Sk. dahanâ, which is said to be identical with a hanâ, an adjective of the dawn ? This is a combination which ignores the atoning and purifying power ascribed to the laurel not by the Greeks only. What can be gained by such remarks ? Daphne, the dawn, was called Daphne on account of her blazing light, and not because she was originally a laurel-tree. The laurel-tree was called dáovn, because, if used as fire-wood, it blazes up quickly. These were two quite distinct acts of naming, and their synonymy produced, as often, a later legend. We might as well reject the identification of Dyaus and Zeus, because it ignores the moral character of Zeùs Éévios !
Benfey's Theory of Athene.
But although nothing really important could be brought forward against my equation Ahanâ= Athene, the fact that another scholar had propounded another etymology seemed to offer a great opportunity to those who imagine that by simply declaring themselves incompetent to decide between two opinions, they can prove both to be wrong. Now Benfey's etymologyl of Athene is certainly extremely learned, ingenious, and carefully worked out; yet whoever will take the trouble to examine its phonetic foundation, will be bound in common honesty to confess that it is untenable. We are dealing here with facts that admit of almost mathematical precision, though, as in mathematics, a certain knowledge of addition and subtraction is certainly indispensable for taking part in the discussion. I speak of the phonetic difficulties only, for if they should prove unsurmountable we need not inquire any further.
Benfey (p. 21) places his equation before us, as
Thrâetânô athwyânô Tpītwvis 'Adáva.
Thraêtaonô âthwyânò. Leaving aside the etymology of Trâtonia, which may be right, quite independently of that of Athene, we have to consider whether 'Adáva or 'AOńvn or ’A0nvain can be the same word as the Zend athwyâ nô. And here, though willing to make every allowance for local and dialectic irregularities, I must say decidedly, No.
Âthwyâ nô is a peculiarly Zend modification which presupposes a Sanskrit âptyânâ. This is therefore the
1 Tritonia Athunu, Femininum des Zenulischen Thriietuna cthuyána. Göttingen, 1868.