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Doric Zeus is the Rising Sun: Accentuation, Morphology and Proto-Indo-European Root *telh2-

Domenico Muscianisi

Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University

The aim of this paper is to explain sun-god Talos, Zeus Tallaios, Mounts Tallaia (Crete), Zeus Taletitas and peak Taleton of Mount Taygeton (Sparta) as heritage of solar cults. All forms show an inherited etymology from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *telh2- ‘to raise’, and they phraseologically and comparatively concern the sunrise.

In Hellenistic Crete, city-states used to swear on Zeus Tallaios for their treaties (Chaniotis 1996 n° 7, 54, 55 A–B, 60 A–B, 61 A). Sparta worshipped Zeus Taletitas (IG V.1 363, 1st c. CE), whose divine epithet (DE) comes from Taleton, seat of an ancient cult of the Sun (Paus. 3.20.4). Hesychius (Hsch.) adds further information: τ 79 Ταλαιός· ὁ Ζεὺς ἐν Κρήτῃ and τ 87 ταλῶς· ὁ ἥλιος.

Scholars have long recognised the connection between all the forms mentioned above, interpreting them as fertility cults (Zeus:1.728–730, 2/2.948n1). However, there has been no attempt at an etymology.

Hsch. τ 79 Ταλαιός shows an oxytone, which seems the preferable form. The Tallaia range and the DE Tallaios are reconstructed as properispomena: (ὄρη) Ταλλαῖα and (Zeus) Ταλλαῖος (see Zeus:1.728–730 and Anth.Pal.App. 1.237.2 = SEG 33:736.2, 2nd c. CE). Hsch. τ 79 and Zeus Tallaios (attested only in inscriptions, so without accentuation) can match if an oxytone Ταλλαιός is assumed. The variation of -λλ- and -λ- is common in onomastics, cf. Ἀχιλλεύς ~ Ἀχιλεύς (Nikolaev 2007:166), and in epigraphy (see Threatte 1980:513–534).

(1) The Ταλλ-αῖα range matches with Hsch. τ 87 ταλῶς· ὁ ἥλιος, Cretan Τάλ-ως, Laconian Ταλ-ετόν and Zeus Ταλετ-ίτᾱς. All of them show a Doric stem. *ταλ(λ)- ‘sun’ from PIE *telh2- ‘to raise’, cf. Gr. (ἀνα)τέλλω ‘rise (sun)’ :: ἀνατολή ‘rising (sun), East’. Phraseologically PIE *telh2- is used in Greek to express the sunrise, as Soph. El. 699 ἡλίου τέλλοντος, Soph. OC 1244–1245 ἀπ’ ἡλίου […] ἀνατέλλοντος, Hdt. 1.204.1 πρὸς ἠῶ τε καὶ ἥλιον ἀνατέλλοντα (cf. morphology in Chadwick 1976:70, Nussbaum 1986:56, Harðarson 1993:184).

(2) DE Ταλ(λ)αιός is morphologically close to δηναιός ‘long-lived’ (Hom.+) and κραταιός ‘strong’ (Hom.+), as ancient compounds: respectively PGr. *du̯ān-ai̯u̯-ó- ‘having a long life’ (DELG2 263) and *kr̥t-ai̯u̯-ó- ‘having impetuous vital force’ (Beek 2013:148–149). So, DE Ταλ(λ)αιός is the outcome of PGr. *tal(l)-ai̯u̯-ó- ‘having a rising force / the force of the sun’. Gr. αἰῶν is frequently connected to ψυχή (LfgrE 1.402) and, thus, to the words concerning “force, strength” (μένος, βία); a parallel can be found with the Homeric name Ταλαι-μένης (Il. 2.866) ‘having a rising force / the force of the sun’, cf. μένος ἡελίοιο ‘strength / heat of the sun’ (Hom.+) and the name Ἡλο-κράτης (IMM 5.7, Magnesia, 3rd c. BCE).

In conclusion, Doric Zeus (stem *ταλ(λ)-) is heir of some Indo-European solar features, especially connected to the dawn as it can be also found in R̥gveda 1.115 and 1.50 (hymns to Sūrya ‘Sun’ in his morning rise).

Session/Panel Title

Greek and Latin Linguistics

Session/Paper Number

8.3

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