Aeolic Greek

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Aeolic Greek
Region Boeotia, Thessaly, Aeolis
Era c. 800 – 300 BC
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguist list
grc-aeo
{{{mapalt}}}
Distribution of Greek dialects in the classical period.[1]
Western group: Central group:
  Aeolic
Eastern group:
  Attic
  Ionic

In linguistics, Aeolic Greek (/ˈɒlɪk/; also Aeolian /ˈliən/, Lesbian or Lesbic dialect) is the set of dialects of Ancient Greek spoken mainly in Boeotia (a region in Central Greece), Thessaly, in the Aegean island of Lesbos, and the Greek colonies of Asia Minor (Aeolis).

The Aeolic dialect shows many archaisms in comparison to the other Ancient Greek dialects (Attic-Ionic, Doric, Northwestern and Arcadocypriot), as well as many innovations.

Aeolic Greek is most widely known for being the language of the writings of Sappho and Alcaeus of Mytilene. Aeolic poetry, the most famous example of which being the works of Sappho, mostly uses four classical meters known as the Aeolics, which are: Glyconic (the most basic form of Aeolic line), hendecasyllabic verse, Sapphic stanza and Alcaic stanza (the latter two so named after Sappho and Alcaeus respectively).

In Plato's Protagoras (dialogue), Prodicus labelled the Aeolic dialect of Pittacus of Mytilene as barbarian (barbaros),[2] because of its difference from the Attic literary style:[3]

he didn't know to distinguish the words correctly, being from Lesbos, and having been raised with a barbarian dialect

Phonology[edit]

Consonants[edit]

Labiovelars[edit]

Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Greek * changed to Aeolic p everywhere. By contrast, PIE * changed to Attic-Ionic, Arcadocypriot, and Doric t before e and i.

  • PIE *etwores → Lesbian písures, Boeotian péttares ~ Attic téttares, Ionic tésseres, Doric tétores "four"

Labiovelars were treated the same way in the P-Celtic languages and the Sabellic languages.

Sonorant clusters[edit]

A Proto-Greek consonant cluster with h (from Indo-European *s) and a sonorant (r, l, n, m, w, y) changed to a double sonorant in Aeolic (rr, ll, nn, mm, ww, yy) by assimilation. In Attic-Ionic and Doric, the h assimilated to the vowel before the consonant cluster, causing the vowel to lengthen by compensatory lengthening.

PIE VsR or VRs → Attic-Ionic-Doric VVR.
VsR or VRs → Aeolic VRR.[4]
  • PIE *h₁ésmi → Proto-Greek *ehmi → Aeolic emmi ~ Attic-Ionic ēmi (= εἰμί) "I am"

Loss of h[edit]

Lesbian Aeolic lost in initial h- (psilosis "stripping") from Proto-Indo-European s- or y-. By contrast, Ionic sometimes retains it, and Attic always retains it.

  • PIE *seh₂u̯elios → Proto-Greek *hāwelios → Lesbian āélios, Ionic ēélios ~ Attic hēlios "sun"

Retention of w[edit]

In Thessalian and Boeotian (sub-dialects of Aeolic) and Doric, the Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Greek semi-vowel w (digamma) was retained at the beginning of a word.

  • PIE wekʷ-es- → Boeotian, Doric wépos ~ Attic-Ionic épos "word", "epic" (compare Latin vōx "voice")

Vowels[edit]

Long a[edit]

In Aeolic and Doric, Proto-Greek long ā remains. By contrast, in Attic, long ā changes to long ē in most cases; in Ionic, it changes everywhere.[5]

  • PIE *meh₂ter- → Aeolic, Doric mātēr ~ Attic-Ionic mētēr "mother"

Boeotian[edit]

In Boeotian, the vowel-system was, in many cases, changed in a way reminiscent of the modern Greek pronunciation.

  • Attic-Ionic αι /ai/ ~ Boeotian η /eː/ ~ Modern Greek αι /e/
  • Attic-Ionic ει /eː/ ~ Boeotian ει /iː/ ~ Modern Greek ει /i/
  • Attic-Ionic οι /oi/ ~ Boeotian υ /yː/ ~ Mediaeval Greek and Old Athenaean οι /yː/ ~ Modern Greek οι /i/

Accent[edit]

In Lesbian Aeolic, the accent of all words is recessive (barytonesis), as is typical only in the verbs of other dialects.[6]

  • Attic-Ionic potamós ~ Lesbian pótamos "river"

Morphology[edit]

Contracted or vowel-stem verbs that are thematic in Attic-Ionic are often athematic (-mi) in Aeolic.[7]

  • Ionic philéō, Attic philô ~ Aeolic phílēmi "I love"

The same is also found in Irish, where this selection has been generalized, i.e. -im.


Aeolic athematic infinitive active ends in -men or (Lesbian) -menai. ~ Attic-Ionic has -enai.

  • Lesbian émmen, émmenai; Thessalian, Boeotian eîmen ~ Attic-Ionic eînai (spurious diphthong) "to be"

In the Lesbian dialect this ending also extends to the thematic conjugation, where Attic-Ionic has -ein. All three of these Aeolic endings occur in Homer.


Proto-Greek -ans and -ons-ais and -ois (first- and second declension accusative plural). ~ Attic-Ionic -ās and -ōs (= -ους).[8][9]

Dative plural -aisi and -oisi. ~ Attic-Ionic -ais and -ois.

The participle has ois and ais for Attic ōs (= ους), ās.[10]

Glossary[edit]

Aeolian[edit]

  • ἀέλιος āélios "sun" Doric also (Attic hēlios; Cretan abelios; Laconian bela; Pamphylian babelios) ( PIE *sawel- )
  • ἄγωνος ágōnos "struggle" (Attic ἀγῶν agōn; Elean dat. pl. agōnois for agōsi)
  • ἀθρήματα athrḗmata gifts sent by kin to Lesbian brides (Sappho fr.) (compare Homeric hedna, eedna)
  • Αἰολίωνες Aiolíōnes "Aeolians" (Attic Αἰολεῖς Aioleîs)(aiolizō "speak Aeolic, compose in the Aeolian mode , trick out with false words" Sophocles Fr.912 ) (aioleō vary,adorn,diversify (aiolos quick-moving,glittering,shifty)
  • ἀκλάδες aklades (unpruned vineyards) (Attic akladeutoi ampeloi)
  • ἀκόντιον akontion (part of troops) (Attic spear) (Macedonian rhachis,spine or backbone,anything ridged like the backbone)
  • ἀμένης -τος amenēs -tos (Attic ὑμήν humēn) thin skin, membrane.
  • ἀμώνες amōnes (Attic ἀνεμώνες anemones
  • ἄορος aoros (Attic ἄϋπνος ahypnos, without sleep) Μηθυμναῖοι
  • ἄρπυς arpys (Attic ἔρως Eros,Love) attested in Crinagoras, ἁρπάζειν harpazein to snatch. Homeric harpaleos attractive,devouring
  • ἄσφε asphe to them (Attic sphe, sphi)
  • βακχόα bakchoa (Attic βόθρος bothros sacred dungeon, pit)
  • βάλλα balla threshold ( Attic βῆλος bēlos ) ( Doric balos )
  • βελφιν belphin dolphin ( Attic delphis ) and Βέλφοι Belphoi Delphi
  • βᾶμα bama Doric also (Attic βῆμα bema walking,step)
  • βλῆρ blēr incitement (Attic delear) τὸ δὲ αὐτὸ καὶ αἶθμα. παρὰ Ἀλκαίῳ ἡ λέξις
  • βραδανίζω bradanizō brandish,shake off. ( Cf.Elean bratana Common rhatane )
  • βραδινός bradinos slender,soft (Attic rhadinos) Sapph.90,104.
  • βράιδιον braidion (Attic ῥάιδιον rhaidion easy)
  • βράκειν brakein to understand (dysbrakanon imprehensible)
  • βράκος brakos long robe, Sapph.70 Homeric ῥάκος ϝράκος rhakos wrakos
  • βρίζα briza root (Attic rhiza)
  • βρόδον brodon (Attic ῥόδον rhodon, rose) and vagina metaphorically in Erotic Glossary.
  • βροδόπαχυς brodopachus with pink,rosy forearms (Attic rhodopuches) (βροδόπαχυν brodopachun Sappho) and brododaktulos with rosy fingers
  • βροχέως brocheos or βρουκέων broukeon (Attic βραχύ brachy short) (Sapph.fr. 2,7)
  • δράσειν drasein (Attic θύειν to sacrifice)
  • δνόφος dnophos darkness Ionic also (Attic ζόφος zophos) (akin to knephas)
  • εἴδη eide (Attic ὕλη, forest) (εἴδη Ionian also)
  • Ἐννησιάδες Ennesiades Lesbian Nymphs
  • ἐπιάλτης epialtēs and epialēs nightmare (Attic ephialtēs) (wiki Ephialtes)
  • ζάδηλον zadelon with holes in it,open (Attic diadelon obvious) (Alcaeus 30 D 148P)
  • ἴμβηρις imbēris eel (Attic ἔγχελυς enchelys) Μηθυμναῖοι
  • ἴρον iron holy (Attic ἱερόν hierón ) (Doric hiarón) (Ionic hirón)
  • Ἰσσα Issa old name of Lesbos Island Cf. Antissa
  • ἴσσασθαι issasthai (Attic κληροῦσθαι klerousthai to take sth by lot)
  • καγκύλη kankulē (Attic κηκῖς kēkis wet,vapour, mordant dyeing)
  • κάμμαρψις kammarpsis dry Measure (Attic ἡμιμέδιμνον hemimedimnon half of Medimnos)
  • καραβίδες karabides (Attic γρᾶες graes ) Μηθυμναῖοι
  • καυαλέον kaualeon Hsch (Attic αἶθος aithos fire, burning heat) (Cf.kaiō burn)
  • κλᾷδες klaides Doric also (Attic kleides bars, bolts, keys)
  • Mεσοστροφώνια Mesostrophonia Lesbian festival
  • μέσσυϊ messui (Attic ἐν μέσῳ in the middle)
  • μόλσος molsos (Attic δημός, fat)
  • ξέννος xennos foreigner,guest-friend,strange (Attic xenos) (Ionic xeinos)
  • ξίμβα ximba (Attic ῥοιά rhoia pomegranate-tree) (Boeotian sida)
  • ὄθματα othmata (Attic ommata eyes)
  • ὄν ónὄνα óna (Attic ἀνά aná) upon,through,again (Arcadocypriot also)
  • πασσύριον passyrion (Attic passydia totally,all together,with the whole army)
  • πεδαμείβω pedameivō (Attic metameivo exchange) (πεδέχω pedecho μετέχω metecho), pedoikos metoikos peda for meta
  • πέμπε pempe five (Attic πέντε pente, Pamphylian πέδε pede ) ( πεμπάσσειν pempassein to count per five) (Attic pempe imp. of pempō send)
  • Πέῤῥαμος Perrhamos Priamus (Alcaeus 74D,111P (it means also king)
  • πέσδος pésdos pedestrian,infantry) (Attic πεζός pezós)
  • πέσσον pesson plain (Attic πεδίον pedion)
  • πέσσυρες pessyres four (Lesbian πίσυρες pisyres) (Boeotian πέτταρες pettares) (Attic τέσσαρες tessares) (Doric tetores)
  • σάωμι saōmi save (Attic σῴζω sōizō ) (Homeric σαόω saoō)
  • σίγλαι siglai ear-rings (Attic enōtia, Laconian exōbadia)
  • σκίφος skiphos Attic xiphos sword (skiptō, given as etym. of skiphos and xiphos, Sch.Il.1.220; cf. skipei: nussei, it pricks,pierces)
  • σπόλα spóla(Attic στολή stolē) equipment,garment (spaleis, the sent one, for staleis)
  • στρότος strótos (Attic stratós) army
  • συρξ syrx (Attic σάρξ flesh) (dative plural σύρκεσιν syrkesi Attic σαρξίν sarxin)
  • τενεκοῦντι tenekounti (Attic enoikounti dative singular of ἐνοικῶν enoikōn inhabiting)
  • τράγαις tragais you break, grow rough and hoarse and smell like a goat
  • τῦδε tude tudai and tuide here) (Ionic tēde)
  • ὔσδος usdos (Attic ozos twig,branch)
  • φαυόφορος phauophoros priestess (Attic ἱέρεια hiereia) (light-keeper) (Aeolic phauō for Homeric phaō shine) (Homeric phaos light, Attic phōs and phōtophoros)
  • φηρία phēria (Attic θηρία thēria beasts)
  • Ψάπφω Psapphō, (Attic Σαπφώ Sapphō)

Boeotian[edit]

  • ἄας aas ἀεστητόν aestēton tomorrow (Attic αὔριον aurion) (Cf.Attic ēōs dawn)
  • ἀμίλλακας amillakas wine Theban (Attic oinos)
  • ἀνωδόρκας anōdorkas a fish βρίγκος ὁ ἰχθῦς, ὑπὸ Θηβαίων
  • βαιδύμην baidumēn (Attic ἀροτριᾶν arotrian to plough)
  • βανά bana (βαλάρα balara) woman ( Attic gunē ) (βανῆκες, banēkes βάττικες battikes women ( Attic gunaikes )
  • βάστραξ bastrax or bastax (Attic τράχηλος trachēlos neck) pl.bastraches
  • βλεερεῖ bleerei (Attic οἰκτείρει he feels pity) Cf. eleairei
  • γάδου gadou (ϝάδου wadou) (Attic ἡδύ hēdú) (Corinna.17)
  • Δεύς Deus instead of Zeus. Attested also in Laconian and Rhodian.
  • ἐμπυρία empyria divination (Attic manteia) (Hsch. public oath, Koine ordeal by fire)
  • ζεκελτίδες zekeltides gourds [11] Amerias zakeltides (Phrygian zelkia vegetables)
  • ἴδηφιν idephin sweet-voiced Hsch. <ἴδηφιν>· ἴδαις· Βοιωτοί. [καὶ ὁ ἡδυλάλος διὰ τῆς διφθόγγου] (Attic hēduphōnon) ( Aeolic wad-, ad- )
  • ἰστάκη istake scythe (Attic δρέπανον drepanon)
  • ἰυγοδρομεῖν iugodromein (Attic ἐκβοηθεῖν, ekboēthein, and boēdromein, run to help) (<Ἰύγγυϊ> Dionysus <ἰυγή>· voice,scream (Soph. Phil. 752))(Iungios Thessalian month)
  • ἰώ and hiōn (Attic ἐγώ egō, I) (hiōnga iōga for egōge)
  • Καραιός Karaios Boeotian epithet for Zeus meaning tall,head. Boeotian eponym Karaidas[12]
  • κᾶρουξ karoux[13] (Attic kēryx herald)
  • κριδδέμεν kriddemen (Attic γελᾶν gelan to laugh) (Strattis fr. 47) Cf. (Cf.Attic krizō creak,screech)
  • κόριλλα korilla little girl (Koine korasion from Attic korasis girl) (Aetolian korudion)
  • μηλάτας mēlatas (Attic ποιμήν poimen shepherd) (homeric μῆλον mēlon sheep) (Attic mēlon apple, Aeolic-Doric malon)
  • μνάριον mnarion (Attic κάλλυντρον kallyntron broom, brush)
  • ὀπισθοτίλα opisthotila (Attic σηπία sēpia cuttlefish) (Strattis. fr. 47,3) (squirts its liquor from behind)
  • ὀπίττομαι opittomai (homeric opizomai I care,respect) (Laconian opiddomai)
  • ὀφρυγνᾷ ophrygnai (Attic ὀφρυάζειophryazei he winks raising the eyebrow,to be haughty)
  • σεῖα seia I persecuted (Attic ἐδίωξα edioxa) (Cf.Homeric seuō move quickly,chase)
  • συοβοιωτοί syoboiōtoi Hog-Boeotians (Cratinus.310)
  • τρίπεζα tripeza (Attic trapeza,table)(from tetrapeza four-footed) (tripeza three-footed) (in Aeolic it would-be tripesda)
  • ψώσματα psōsmata Boeotian word acc. Aristonymus

Thessalian[edit]

  • ἀβρεμής abremēs (Attic ἀβλεπής ablepēs ἀνάξιος του βλέπεσθαι unworthy seeing, despicable (Cypriotic also) (Hes.text ἀβλεπής Κύπριοι καὶ <Θεττ>αλοί
  • ἀγορά agora (Attic λιμήν limen port,harbour) (Hes.text Θετταλοὶ δὲ καὶ τὸν λιμένα ἀγορὰν καλοῦσιν <Κρῆτες δὲ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν
  • ἀλφινία alphinia white poplar (PIE *albho- 'white') (Attic leukē, PIE *leuk- 'bright,light') (Macedonian aliza)
  • Ἄπλουν Aploun Apollo (Attic Ἀπόλλων Apollōn) (Doric,Pamphylian Ἀπέλο̄ν Apelon)
  • ἀσπάλεια aspaleia safeness (Attic asphaleia)[14]
  • ἀστραλός astralos (Attic ψάρ -ος psar Starling)
  • βεβυκῶσθαι bebukousthai to be swollen (Homeric βυκτάων buktaon blowing)
  • βουσία bousia (Attic γογγυλίδι gongylidi turnip)
  • δάμοσσος dámossos public (Attic dēmósios) opp. ἰδδιούστικος iddioûstikos privative (Attic idiōtikós)[15][16]
  • δάρατος daratos Thessalian bread (Macedonian dramis) (Athamanian dramix) (PIE *der- cut,split)
  • δέσποινα despoina woman (Attic gunē, Doric guna) (fem. of despotes)
  • ἔνορμος enormos (agora,assembly,market and chōra[disambiguation needed]) (Attic enormeō get in a harbour, hormos bay,anchorage
  • ἐρέας ereas children (Hsch.Attic τέκνα tekna) (Homeric ernos young sprout,scion) (Neo-Phrygian eiroi children)
  • θεανῶσται theanoustai (Attic ξυστῆρες xysters[disambiguation needed])
  • ἰθείη itheiē (Attic ἁμαξιτός hamaxitos chariot-road) (Homeric ἰθεῖα ὀρθή Ψ 580) (Attic ithys,eytheia straight line)
  • ἴμψας impsas past participle of impto (Attic ζεύξας zeuxas zeugnymi join together)(Ἴμψιος Impsios Ποσειδῶν ὁ ζύγιος Poseidon Zygius on horses)
  • κάλαφος kalaphos (Attic ἀσκάλαφος, Ascalaphus a bird (Magnesian)
  • καπάνη kapanē chariot (Attic ἀπήνη apēnē) also, a helmet(kapanikos plenteous
  • κίς kis who, anyone (Attic tis) (Laconian tir) (Arcadocypriot sis)
  • καρπαία karpaia Thessalo-Macedonian mimic military dance (see also Carpaea) Homeric karpalimos swift (for foot) eager,ravenous.
  • κῦῤῥος kyrrhos or kyrros sir,master (Attic kyrios)
  • Μακετοὺν Maketoun[17] 'Macedonian man' (Attic Μακεδών Makedōn) (Thessalian -ουν-oun suffix for Attic ων ōn in both nominative and genitive of participles,pronouns and nouns.
  • ματτύη mattuē a meat-dessert of Macedonian or Thessalian origin (Athenaeus)[18](Macedonian mattuēs a kind of bird)
  • ναελεῖς naeleis new-comers, newly caught ones (Cf.nealeis,neēludes)
  • νεβεύω[19] nebeuō pray (Macedonian neuō) (Attic euchomai, neuō wink)
  • ὀνάλα onala, ὀνάλουμα onalouma (Attic analōma expense cost) ( on- in the place of Attic prefix ana-, ongrapsantas SEG 27:202
  • Πέτθαλος Pétthalos and Πεθθάλειος (Boeotian Φέτταλος Phéttalos) (Attic Θετταλός Thettalós) (Ionic, Koine Θεσσαλός Thessalós) 'Thesalian man' (Πετθαλια Petthalia Thessalia) (Petthaloi Thessalians) (Koine thessalisti the thessalian way) ( Attic ἐντεθετταλίζομαι entethettalizomai become a Thessalian, i.e. wear the large Thessalian cloak ( Thettalika ptera feathers' ), Eupolis.201. )
  • ταγεύω tageuō to be tagos archon in Thessaly ταγευόντουν τοῦμ Πετθαλοῦν

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roger D. Woodard (2008), "Greek dialects", in: The Ancient Languages of Europe, ed. R. D. Woodard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 51.
  2. ^ Protagoras by Plato - Greek text
  3. ^ James A. Towle, Commentary on Plato: Protagoras 341c
  4. ^ V = vowel, R = sonorant, s is itself. VV = long vowel, RR = doubled or long sonorant.
  5. ^ Smyth, Greek Grammar, par. 30 and note, 31: Attic long e, long a
  6. ^ Smyth, par. 162 note: (Lesbian) Aeolic recessive accent
  7. ^ Smyth, Greek Grammar, par. 656: contract verbs in Aeolic
  8. ^ Smyth, par. 214 note 9: first declension in dialects
  9. ^ Smyth, par. 230 note: second declension in dialects
  10. ^ Smyth, par. 305 note
  11. ^ Athenaeus Deipnosophists -9.369
  12. ^ Boiotia —Anthedon
  13. ^ Boiotia — Orchomenos — early 1st century BC
  14. ^ Krannon — c. 250 - 215 BC SEG 23:437, 7
  15. ^ Selected Papers in Greek and Near Eastern History [1] by David Malcolm Lewis, Peter John Rhodes
  16. ^ Skotoussa — 197-185 BC SEG 43:311
  17. ^ Thessalia — Larisa — 220-210 BC - SEG 27:202
  18. ^ Deipnosophists 14.663-4(pp.1059-1062)
  19. ^ MagnesiaDemetrias — late 2nd century BC [2]