Proper Nouns

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129. Proper names in Greek are generally compounds; the exceptions are chiefly names of gods, as Ζεύς, Ἥρη, Ἀθήνη, etc., and of certain heroes, as Πάρις, Πρίαμος, Aἴας, Τεῦκρος, etc. Note that the gods whose names are compound, as Διό-νυσος, Δη-μήτηρ, Περσε-φόνεια, are less prominent in Homer.

The second part of a proper name is liable to a peculiar shortening.

Πάτρο-κλο-ς, Φέρε-κλος, for Πατρο-κλέης, Φερε-κλέης

Σθένε-λος for Σθενέ-λαο-ς

Αἴγι-σθος for Αἰγι-σθένης

Μενεσθεύς for Mενε-σθένης

Cp. Εὐρυμίδης (Od. 9.509), patronymic of Εὐρυμέδων. In these names the shorter form has (or had originally) the character of a "nickname," or pet name.

In general, however, the pet name is formed by dropping one of the two sems altogether, the other stem taking a suffix in its place.1
Thus we have in Homer the names

In -το-ς

Ἕκα-τος (for ἑκατη-βόλος)
Eὔρυ-τος (Eὐρυ-βάτης, Eὐρύ-αλος, etc.)
Ἴφι-τος
Ἔχε-τος
Λήϊ-τος

In -τωρ

Ἄκ-τωρ (for Ἀγέ-λαος or some other name beginning Ἀγε-)
Ἕκ-τωρ (Ἐχε-)
Μἐν-τωρ (Mενε-)
Καλή-τωρ
Ἀμόν-τωρ, etc.

In -τη-ς

Θερσί-της (cp. Θερσί-λογος, etc.)
Πολί-της
Ὀρέσ-της
Θυέσ-της
Μέν-της (cp. Mέν-τωρ)

In -ων

Δόλ-ων
Ἀγάθ-ων (cp. Λάκων = Λακεδαιμόνιος)

In -ευ-ς

Περσ-εύς (from Περσε-φόνος)
Oἰν-εύς (cp. Οἰνό-μαος, etc.)
Πρωτ-εύς
Λεοντ-εύς, etc.

In -ιος

Δολ-ίος (Δόλ-οψ, etc.)
Ὁδ-ίος
Τυχ-ίος
Φήμ-ιος
Καλήσ-ιος, and many more.

In -ια-s, -εια-ς

Πελ-ίης
Τειρεσ-ίας
Ἑρμείας
Αἰνείας
Αὐγείας

In these names the suffix is not used with its proper force, but merely in imitation of the corresponding groups of common nouns. This is evident from the fact that so many of these words are inexplicable as simple nouns. Note especially the names in -το-ς and -ων from adjectives, as Eὔρυ-το-ς, Ἴφι-το-ς, Ἀγάθ-ων; and those in -ευ-ς from nouns of the consonantal declension (§ 118), as Λεοντ-εύ-ς, Aἰγ-εύ-ς, and even from verbs, as Περσ-εύ-ς.2

The first part of the compound has probably been dropped in Κλυμένη (cp. Περι-κλύμενος), Θόων (cp. Ἱππο-θόων), etc.

  • 1Aug. Fick, Die grieschischen Personennamen nach ihrer Bildung erklärt, Göttingen, 1874.
  • 2ibid.

Suggested Citation

D.B. Monro, A Grammar of the Homeric Dialect. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7. https://dcc.dickinson.edu/index.php/grammar/monro/proper-nouns