Reflections on the Thracian Sea-Nymph Aba

 
Код статьиS032103910013373-3-1
DOI10.31857/S032103910013373-3
Тип публикации Статья
Статус публикации Одобрена к публикации
Авторы
Аффилиация: University of Lodz
Адрес: Łódź, Poland
Аннотация

Two Greek lexicographic sources mention the sea nymph Ἄβα as a mistress of Poseidon. She gave him a son who was called Ergiskos. According to a local etiological story, her son, Ergiskos, became an eponymic founder of the ancient town Ergiske (now Çatalca, Turkey), located in the East Thracia on the ridge between the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea. It is obvious that the proper name Ἄβα, denoting a local sea nymph, represents a Thracian ingredient in the Ancient Greek mythology. In my article I would like to demonstrate that the theonym Ἄβα derives from the appellative ἄβα denoting ‘a large sea-monster’, especially ‘a Mediterranean sea cow’, cf. the Hesychian gloss †ἄβα· τροχός, ἢ βοή.

Ключевые словаAelian, etiology, etymology, nymphs, sea mammals, theonymy, Thracian
Получено11.01.2021
Кол-во символов23596
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1. Introduction

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The nymph Ἄβα is a local sea divinity, mentioned by Harpocration, the lexicographer of the first or second century AD, as well as by the so-called Etymologicum Magnum (12th c. AD). Both lexicographic sources inform us that the nymph Ἄβα was one of numerous mistresses of Poseidon, the Greek god of sea and other waters. She gave him a son called Ergiskos.1

1. Benseler 1911, 1; Detschew 1957, 1; Adrados 1989, 2.
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The name of the sea nymph Ἄβα appears in Harpocration’s lexicon under the heading Ἐργίσκη:

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Ἐργίσκη· Αἰσχίνης κατὰ Κτησιφῶντος. καὶ ἡ Ἐργίσκη τῆς Θρᾴκης ἐστὶν, ὠνόμασται δὲ ἀπὸ Ἐργίσκου τοῦ Ποσειδῶνος καὶ Ἄβας νύμφης2Ergiskē: Aischines in the speech Against Ctesiphon. And Ergiske is the town in Thracia and bears a name after Ergiskos, the son of Poseidon and the nymph Aba”.

2. Dindorf 1853, 134; Detschew 1957, 1 & 170,
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The main part of the same information is repeated in Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. Ἐργίσκη, τῆς Θρᾴκης ἐστίν, ἀπὸ Ἐργίσκου τοῦ Ποσειδῶνος καὶ Ἄβας νύμφης3Ergiskē: it is located in Thracia and named after Ergiskos, the son of Poseidon and the nymph Aba”.

3. Sylburg 1816, 335; Gaisford 1974, 1061.
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Fig._1._Aba

Fig. 1. Aba, the female regent of Olbe (ca. 43–30 BC). Photo by Martincarpio1973. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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Both sources agree that Ergiskos, the son of Poseidon and the nymph Aba, was – according to a local etiological story – an eponymic hero of the ancient town Ergiskē (now Çatalca, Turkey), located in East Thracia on the ridge between the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea.4 It is obvious that the name Ἄβα, denoting a local sea nymph, represents a Thracian ingredient in the Ancient Greek mythology. Although the Thracian origin of the nymph is highly probable, the theonym Ἄβα is not explained from an etymological point of view.5 Also the original motivation of the proper name Ἄβα remains unclear. The most famous Aba, the daughter of Zenophanes, lived in the first century BC. She was a regent of the Cilician town Olbe in the times of the triumvir Marcus Antonius.6 It is uncertain, however, whether the Cilician female anthroponym Ἄβα was of Thracian origin or not.

4. Detschew 1957, 170.

5. See also the female personal name Ἄβα attested in Ancient Greek sources (Dornseiff, Hansen 1978, 7).

6. Strabo, Geogr. 14.5.10. See Toepffer 1893, 4; Benseler 1911, 1; Detschew 1957, 1; Roller 2018, 121-123.
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In my article I would like to demonstrate that the name of the Thracian sea-nymph Ἄβα derives from the Thracian appellative ἄβα denoting a large sea-monster living in ancient times in certain bays of the Thracian coast. This term of foreign (non-Greek) origin is only attested in the lexicon by Hesychius of Alexandria (5th century AD). Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to explain the gloss †ἄβα· τροχός, ἢ βοή without the use of Claudius Aelian’s testimony concerning mysterious sea-monsters called τροχοί (De natura animalium XIII 20). This is why I begin my considerations from discussing Aelian’s relation.

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2. Mysterious sea-monsters living near the Thracian coast

10 In his work De natura animalium Claudius Aelian describes not only sea monsters of the pelagic zone (NA 9.49),7 but also mysterious large animals living close to the coast (NA 13.20).8 The latter monsters were called τροχοί in Ancient Greek. Below I quote Aelian’s original chapter accompanied by an English translation: 7. See Kaczyńska, Witczak 2018, 43–56.

8. See Kaczyńska, Sadziński, Witczak 2019a, 7–18; 2019b, 1–13. An alternative version is suggested by Le Goïc, Cam, Ferrière 2020, 21–34.
11 NA 13.20: Τῶν δὲ κητῶν τὰ ὑπέρογκα ἄγαν καὶ τὸ μέγεθος ὑπερήφανα νήχεται μὲν ἐν τοῖς πελάγεσι μέσοις, ἤδη γε μὴν καὶ σκηπτοῖς βάλλεται. πρὸς τούτοις μὲν οὖν ἔστι καὶ ἕτερα ἐπάκτια τοιαῦτα, καὶ ὄνομα τροχὸς αὐτοῖς. καὶ νεῖ κατ᾿ ἀγέλας ταῦτα, μάλιστα μὲν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ Ἄθω τοῦ Θρᾳκίου, ἔν τε τοῖς κόλποις τῷ ἀπὸ Σιγείου πλέοντι, ἐντυχεῖν δέ ἐστιν αὐτοῖς καὶ κατὰ τὴν ἀντιπέρας ἤπειρον παρά τε τὸν Ἀρταχαίου καλούμενον τάφον καὶ τὸν Ἀκάνθιον ἰσθμόν, ἔνθα τοι καὶ ἡ τοῦ Πέρσου φαίνεται διατομή, ᾗ διέτεμε τὸν Ἄθω. τὰ κήτη δὲ ταῦτα, ἃ καλοῦσι τροχούς, ἄλκιμα μὲν οὔ φασιν εἶναι, λοφιὰν δὲ ὑποφαίνει καὶ ἀκάνθας ὑπερμήκεις, ὡς καὶ πολλάκις ὁρᾶσθαι ἐξάλους αὐτάς. ἀκούσαντα δὲ εἰρεσίας κτύπου περιστρέφεταί τε καὶ κατειλεῖται ὡς ὅτι κατωτάτω ἑαυτὰ ὠθοῦντα· ἔνθεν τοι καὶ τοῦδε τοῦ ὀνόματος μετείληχεν. ἀναπλεῖ δὲ ἀνελιχθέντα καὶ κυλιόμενα ἔμπαλιν.9 9. Scholfield 1959, 116; Maspero 1998, 776–778. See also García Valdés, Llera Fueyo, Rodríguez-Noriega Guillén 2009, 323–324.

1. Adrados, F. R. 1989: Diccionario griego-español. Vol. 1. Madrid.

2. Beekes, R. 2010: Etymological Dictionary of Greek. Vol. 1–2. Leiden–Boston.

3. Benseler, G. E. 1911: Wörterbuch der griechischen Eigennamen. 3. Aufl. Braunschweig.

4. Cooper, J. C. 1992: Symbolic and Mythological Animals. London.

5. Cunningham, I. C. 2018: Hesychii Alexandrini Lexicon. Vol. 1 (Α–Δ). Berlin–Boston.

6. Detschew, D. 1957: Die thrakischen Sprachreste. Wien.

7. Dindorf, G. (ed.). 1853: Harpocrationis Lexicon in decem oratores Atticos. Vol. 1. Oxonii.

8. Domning, D. P. 1972: Steller’s sea cow and the origin of North Pacific aboriginal whaling, Syesis 5, 187–189.

9. Dornseiff, F., Hansen, B. 1978: Reverse-Lexicon of Greek Proper-Names. Chicago.

10. Frisk, Hj. 1960: Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. Vol. 1. Heidelberg.

11. Gaisford, T. (ed.). 1974: Etymologicon Magnum, seu verius lexicon saepissime vocabulorum origines indagans ex pluribus lexicis scholiastis et grammaticis anonymi cuiusdam opera concinnatum. Amsterdam.

12. García Valdés, M., Llera Fueyo, L. A., Rodríguez-Noriega Guillén, L. (eds.). 2009: Claudius Aelianus, De natura animalium. Berolini – Novi Eboraci.

13. Kaczyńska, E., Sadziński, W., Witczak, K. T. 2019a: Ausgestorbene Meeresküstenungetüme τροχοί resp. rotae, Erga-Logoi 7 (2), 7–18..

14. Kaczyńska, E., Sadziński, W., Witczak, K. T. 2019b: Sirenen des Mittelmeerraums im Lichte der Überlieferung Aelianus’ (De natura animalium XIII 20, XVII 6, XVII 28), Živa Antika 69, 1–13.

15. Kaczyńska, E., Witczak, K. T. 2018: Greckie nazwy dużych zwierząt morskich w świetle relacji Klaudiusza Eliana (O naturze zwierząt IX 49) [Ancient Greek Names of Large Sea Animals in the Light of Aelian’s Testimony (De natura animalium IX 49)], Symbolae Philologorum Posnaniensium 28 (2), 43–56.

16. Latte, K. (ed.). 1953: Hesychii Alexandrini Lexicon. Vol. 1. Hauniae.

17. Le Goïc, J., Cam, M.-T., Ferrière, H. 2020: Deux animaux marins en quête d’identité: rota (Pline, Histoire naturelle 9 et 32) et τροχός (Élien, Personnalité des animaux 13.20). Anthropozoologica 55 (2), 21–34.

18. Liddell, H. G., Scott, R. 1996: A Greek-English Lexicon, with a revised supplement. Oxford.

19. Maspero, F. 1998: Claudio Eliano, La natura degli animali. Vol. 2. Traduzione e note di F. Maspero. Milano.

20. Montanari, F. 1999: Vocabolario della lingua greca. Torino.

21. Montanari, F. 2018: The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek. Leiden–Boston.

22. Papadopoulos, J. K., Ruscillo, D. 2002: A Ketos in Early Athens: An Archaeology of Whales and Sea Monsters in the Greek World, American Journal of Archaeology 106 (2), 187–227.

23. Pokorny, J. 1959: Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch. Bern–München.

24. Rychło, M. 2016: Can weep lure? An analysis of a controversial Slavico-Germanic pair of cognates, Beyond Philology 13, 103–124.

25. Roller, D. W. 2018: Cleopatra’s Daughter and Other Royal Women of the Augustan Era. Oxford–New York.

26. Schmidt, M. (ed.). 1858: Hesychii Alexandrini lexicon post Ioannem Albertum recensuit M. Schmidt. Vol. 1. Ienae.

27. Scholfield, A. F. 1959: Aelian, On the Characteristics of Animals, with an English translation by A. F. Scholfield. Vol. 3. London–Cambridge (MA).

28. Serafiński, W., Wielgus-Serafińska, E. 1988: Ssaki [Mammals]. Warszawa.

29. Specht, F. 1931: Beiträge zur griechischen Grammatik, Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiete der indogermanischen Sprachen 59 (1–2), 31–131.

30. Sorbi, S., Domning, D. P., Vaiani, S. C., Bianucci, G. 2012: Metaxytherium subapenninum (Bruno, 1839) (Mammalia, Dugongidae), the latest sirenian of the Mediterranean Basin, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32.3, 686–707.

31. Steller, G. W. 1751: De bestiis marinis. In: Novi Commentarii Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae 2 (ad annum 1749). Petropoli, 289–398, illustr. 14–16.

32. Steller, G. W. 1899: The Beasts of the Sea, translated by Walter Miller and Jennie E. Miller. – In: David S. Jordan et al. (eds.) The Fur Seals and the Fur-Seal Islands of the North Pacific Ocean. Part III. Special Papers Relating to the Fur Seals and to the Natural History of the Pribilof Islands. Washington, 179–218.

33. Sylburg, F. (ed.). 1816: Etymologikon Magnum. Lipsiae.

34. Toepffer, J. 1893: Aba 4. In: Wilhelm Kroll et al. (eds.). Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft. B. 1. Hb. 1, Stuttgart, 4.

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