Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


1 January 2018

Hermes a-re-ja (PY Tn 316): a new interpretation

José Marcos Macedo Kadmos 55.1-2 (2017): 67-82

A long-standing consensus among Mycenaean scholars is that a-re-ja, an epithet of Hermes in the Pylos tablet Tn 316, must be somehow related to Ares, the war god. Hermes Areiās would be either a derivative in *-ās of Ares or, according to a recent suggestion, an abbreviated compound in the first member of which Ares would figure. The present paper argues for a different solution, taking a-re-ja (dat.) /aleii̯āi/ as an apposed noun epithet of the root *h2leu̯- ‘to ward off’. Nouns in apposition to divine names are not uncommon in 1st millennium Greek (type Artemis Εὐλοχία ‘Good Delivery’), and Hermes Aleia ‘(active) Protection’ or ‘Defense’ fits neatly with Hermes’ character as a helping deity and a god of boundaries, as shown both in the myths related to him and in several of his epicleses in alphabetic Greek. Aleiă is best taken as a feminine verbal derivative in *-ih2: this type is the source of other action nouns that are either personified or have a religious background, such as αἶσα ‘destiny’ and μοῖρα ‘fate’. Furthermore, Aleia can be viewed as an independent testimony of the *-u̯i̯- > *-i̯i̯- development in Mycenaean (type i-je-re-ja ‘priestess’).


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