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I.-Concerning the Influence of Greek on Vulgar Latin



There are many lines of relationship between the two classical languages. Aside from the words inherited from primitive Indo-European, both Greek and Latin contain many words borrowed along with the Mediterranean civilization from the earlier languages of Greece and Italy. These terms had spread from one or more centers over a considerable territory and had changed their form more or less in the process, after the usual manner of loan words. Hence, when we meet the same word in our Greek and in our Latin sources, the identity is often not quite obvious. There is little doubt that plumbum and μόλυβδος, vaccinium and ὑάκινθος, rosa and ῥόδον, ficus and σύκον are thus to be identified.

One source from which Latin received Mediterranean words was Etruscan, and along with them it received some words which the Etruscans had borrowed from Greek before the migration to Italy. The Latin oath hercle is to be identified with Etruscan Hercle "Hercules," and mehercle is probably Etruscan mi Hercle "ille Hercules." Since 'Hpakλns has a transparent Greek etymology, the Etruscan word was probably borrowed from that language. Latin persona comes from Etruscan persu, which means "mask" or possibly "masked actor." Friedländer suggests that persu is from Greek

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1 On this whole topic see Meillet, M. S. L. xv, 161-164.

2 So Deecke, Etruskische Forschungen und Studien, VI, p. 47, and Skutsch, Arch. f. lat. Lex. xv, 145 Kleine Schriften, p. 327 f. Friedländer's article


πрóσшπоV. Schulze3 is pretty certainly correct in his suggestion that the cognomen Cocles is akin with the Latinized Etruscan name Coclius and, more distantly, with Etruscan Cuclnies, whence Latin Coculnius, Cuculnius. We cannot, however, follow Schulze's tentative rejection of the ancient testimony that Cocles meant "one-eyed"; 4 Latin Cocles is to be derived from kúkλw through the Etruscan.

As our knowledge of Etruscan increases we shall probably be able to trace other words along the same route, but great caution will always be necessary; for many words which show similar forms in Greek, Latin, and Etruscan were original in Etruscan and the related Aegean languages and borrowed from these by Greek and Latin independently.5 Such are oîvos and vinum beside Etruscan vinu(m); rúpois and turris beside the base of the names Tupo-nvoi, Tus-ci, Umbrian Turskum, and E-trus-ci; Túpavvos and the personal name Turanius beside Etruscan Turan "Venus." Another probable example is the name of the god Bacchus. The Greeks usually called him by his Thracian name, Atóvvoos, and it is difficult to understand how the Romans should have chosen the rare name in place of the common one, if they got the cult from Greece. Since the Lydian inscriptions call the god Bakis, some name or names similar to Bacchus must have been applied to him in the Aegean lands before the introduction of the Thracian name. Therefore the Romans probably borrowed the Bacchic cult from their Aegean neighbors, the Etruscans.


To distinguish words of these various kinds from those which the Romans borrowed directly from the Greeks is not always possible. In general such words will not have a satisfactory Greek etymology, and yet a word borrowed from a Medi

appeared in Glotta 11, 164–168. Lattes, ibid. 270, finds Friedländer's argument unconvincing.

3 Zur Geschichte Lateinischer Eigennamen, p. 288.

4 E.g. Plaut. Curc. 393 f.: De Coclitum prosapia te esse arbitror; nam hi sunt unoculi.

5 Cf. Class. Week. XVII, 25-28, 33-36.

6 See Language, 1, 77 f.

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