Linear B wo-wo/wo-wi-ja
Michael F. Lane Pasiphae. Rivista di filologia e antichità egee VI (2012): 117-183.
Περίληψη (στα Αγγλικά)
In the present article I test the prevailing translation of Linear B Greek wo-wo and wo-wi-ja as ‘border’, ‘limit’ or sometimes ‘boundary stone(s)’, words thought to be cognate with alphabetic Greek (h)óros, (h)órion and dialectal reflexes thereof, and I offer an alternative translation, one I think is more satisfactory for many reasons. After introducing the contexts in which wo-wo and wo-wi-ja are used, I argue that this translation makes poor sense both in comparison with later alphabetic Greek usage, as well as in the context of Linear B records. Furthermore, I argue that the widely accepted etymology of the Linear B term does not account well for the phonetic features of wo-wo and its various possible derivatives. I proceed to suggesting that wo-wo may be related etymologically to the verb stem *ureú- or *uéru-, which are evident in Linear B and would connect it with Greek and other Indo-European words connoting ‘protection’ or ‘defence’. I argue that wo-wo or wo-wi-ja may mean ‘(a) guarding’, ‘thing being guarded’ or ‘place for guard(s)’. I explore the implications of my interpretation of wo-wo/wo-wi-ja and likely derivatives thereof in certain texts thought to pertain to military arrangements and land tenure during the Mycenaean Era of the late bronze age at Pylos in Messenia, south-western Greece. I then compare the further interpretation of these texts to the evidence of later Greek literary and epigraphical contexts concerning military matters, particularly Byzantine and Ottoman Imperial arrangements. I also make reference to the ephebia in several ancient Greek polities. I finish by considering how the new interpretation affects our understanding of the late bronze-age landscape and settlement pattern and how archaeological investigation of defensible or fortified late bronze-age sites in Messenia might in turn examine my text-based thesis.