the origin of the word Greek

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the origin of the word Greek

Post by egodimi » Sat Nov 12, 2005 10:28 pm

I would appreciate it if someone had any information on the origin of the word Greek. I know in Greek the Greeks refer to themselves as elenes (Hellenes) and being the word Greek goes back to ancient times what made the Hellenes Greeks?
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the origin of the word Greek

Post by haro » Sun Nov 13, 2005 1:23 am

Dimi, good question but no simple answer. The origin is blurred by myths, as is most everything in early Greek history. Mythology says that Graikos was the son of Thessalos and grandson of Jason and Medea (Jason was the leader of the Argonauts - remember?), possibly born in Iolkos, Jason's residence, now a suburb of the City of Volos in Thessaly. But like most of those prehistoric heroes, Graikos may just be sort of an eponymous figure standing for a tribe of that area.

The word 'graikos,' according to W. Pape's Wörterbuch der griechischen Eigennamen (= Glossary of Greek proper names), 3rd ed., Brunswick, 1870, may have meant something like 'freeman,' 'valley dweller' or even 'shaggy-haired person.' Choose whatever you like. My Ancient Greek dictionary doesn't list it.

Some sources say the first people called Graikoi (that's the plural) were those of Dodona in Epiros, other sources say it was the name of Greek settlers in the area of Cumae and Neapolis (now Napoli, English Naples) in southern Italy, given to them by the early Romans and based on the name of an area in Euboea (Greek Euboia) in the Aegean Sea, where the (equally mythical) founder of Cumae was born.

Greeks only rarely used the term, and I've never heard it in Modern Greek although I lived almost two years in Greece. The term Hellenes has a mythical origin too, by the way. In Greece everything is mythical even these days, for instance the financial state of the nation or the number of unlicensed taxi drivers in Athens.

By the way, am I right in concluding that your first name is a short form of Dimitris, thus of Greek origin too?
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the origin of the word Greek

Post by egodimi » Sun Nov 13, 2005 3:25 am

Haro,
Many thanks you've pointed me in several interesting directions, but nonetheless directions. Thank you again. As my 'handle' must have indicated to you ego eme Thimitra! LOL
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the origin of the word Greek

Post by haro » Sun Nov 13, 2005 12:34 pm

Dimi, kalws hrthes sto foro mas. Eimaste mia parea arketa trellh, alla ti na kanoume; H zoh einai trellh epishs. An theleis na dhs tous desmous mou sthn Ellada, mporeis na brhs tis leptomereies edw: http://www.alonisos.net.tc .

By the way, I did not even touch the interesting and somewhat strange fact that yet another term Greeks use to name themselves is 'Romaioi,' which, crazy enough, means 'Romans.' It is not heard very often, though, but 'romaiosini' is still the normal word for what could be roughly translated as Greek self-esteem and mentality, sort of 'Greekdom' or 'Greekhood,' so to say. Considering the historical context, just imagine Iraqi people calling themselves 'Americans'....
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the origin of the word Greek

Post by Andrew Dalby » Sun Nov 13, 2005 4:32 pm

Haro, would you and your sources agree with the following? The first known people to use the word Graikoi/Graeci as a handle to designate Greek people as a whole was the Romans. It often happens that the name of the nearest relevant tribe, or one of the first tribes encountered -- which as far as the Romans are concerned might possibly have been those people in Epirus, north west Greece, in the direction of Italy -- is adopted by foreigners as the name for a whole people. Would that work as an explanation?

Romaioi: Greeks called themselves this commonly in medieval times, and, as you say, some still do. The original logic, I take it, was that they were the people of the Roman Empire, which became what we call the Byzantine Empire but was still to its inhabitants the Roman Empire.
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the origin of the word Greek

Post by haro » Mon Nov 14, 2005 12:38 am

Andrew, what my sources say is that the word 'Graikoi' existed many centuries before the rise of Rome from a one-horse town to an empire. They don't say, however, when and by whom the term was first used for Greek people as a whole. Your argumentation sounds plausible, and it may be underpinned by the fact that Graikoi had already migrated from Boeotia to Italy before the legend of Romulus and Remos was even invented. There are many theories around but only little evidence, though.

As for the Romaioi - of course you are right. The term became popular because the Eastern Roman Empire, including Greece, survived its Western counterpart by a millenium. I called it strange because Greeks never could get over the fact that their nation had been conquered by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Most of them remained proud and stout Greek patriots also under the Roman and Ottoman sway. So it is amazing they adopted that disparaging name.
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the origin of the word Greek

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Nov 14, 2005 5:53 am

When in Rome...
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the origin of the word Greek

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Mon Nov 14, 2005 7:39 am

Use Morse Code?
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the origin of the word Greek

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Nov 14, 2005 8:32 am

I assume you mean MORSE --> ROME'S ?
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the origin of the word Greek

Post by river » Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:16 pm

Greeks in Ancient History
In Latin literature, Græci (or Greeks, in English) is the name by which Hellenes are known.

Aristotle and Apollodorus first write about Graikoi, who seem to be the same people as Selloi from Epirus. The name becomes known to Latins with the colonization of Italy from Greek settlers. While Greeks call themselves Hellenes, the Romans begin to call them Græci, the name of the specific Greek colonists.

During the Roman era, and especially after Christianity became the official religion of the empire, the name Hellene came to be associated with the pre-Christian religion, and fell out of use. The Greeks, who were now citizens of the Roman Empire, called themselves Roman, or Rhomaioi. This usage has remained into modern times as a familiar word for Greek.

After the fall of the West Roman Empire in 395 AD and the beginning of the Middle Ages in Western Europe the Latin term for the Greeks is used broadly. In East Roman Empire a change takes place. While in general the citizens of the Byzantine Empire are called Romans, the Greeks assume the name Græco to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Byzantines. After the Schism the name Græco meant orthodox and Latin meant Catholic. After a while the two terms assumed a national character as well.

After the independence of the modern Greek state from the Ottoman Empire the term Græco or Greek was abandoned totally by the Greeks themselves. The new country was officially named "Hellenic republic" (or Hellas) and the people "Hellenes". In many countries the modern Hellenes are called Greeks and their country Greece, while in other countries, especially in Asia, they are called Yunan and their country Yunanistan, from the Turkish word Yunan, derived from the Greek geographical term Ionia. In Turkey, Greeks from Greece are called Yunan, but ethnic Greeks in Turkey are called Rum, from Greek Rhomaioi. (wordiq.com)
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the origin of the word Greek

Post by river » Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:30 pm

Greek

The OE. Crécas pl., corresponds to OHG. Chrêch, Chriech (MHG. Kriech), Goth. Krêks:---*Krêko-z, an early Teut. adoption of L. Græcus, pl. Græci (see below), the name applied by the Romans to the people called by themselves #904;#955;#955;#951;#957;#949;#962;. The substitution of k for g is commonly accounted for by the supposition that the Teut. initial g, when the word was adopted, still retained its original pronunciation, so that k would be the Teut. sound nearest to the Latin g. In all the Teut. langs. the word was ultimately refashioned after Latin, with change of k into g; hence OE. Grécas pl. beside Crécas, MDu. Grieke (Du. Griek), mod.Ger. Grieche, ON. Grikkir pl. In branch II the n. is an absolute use of Greek a.
The L. Græci is ad. Gr. #915;#961;#945;#953;#954;#959;#943;, said by Aristotle (Meteor. i. xiv) to have been the prehistoric name of the Hellenes in their original seats in Epirus. The word is app. an adjectival derivative of Graius, which is used in Latin as a poetical synonym of Græcus. Recent scholars think the name may have been brought to Italy by colonists from Euboea, where there is some evidence of its having existed: see Busolt Gr. Gesch. I.2 198.]

OED
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