Thursday, April 09, 2009
As a part-timer Euripides must count as a trogloxene. St Jerome was another, and St Ninian, whose cave I've visited. Misanthropy and cave-dwelling go hand in hand. I wonder if 'troglodyte' and 'troll' are enough for 'tro-' to qualify as a bona fide phonaestheme....If the ascetic life is called for I think I'd prefer trees. David the Dendrite of Thessalonica managed three years in an almond tree, and Adolas even had a flap fitted in his hollowed plane tree to converse with visitors (Greek text of John Moschus in C. P. Charalampidis, The Dendrites in Pre-Christian and Christian Historical-Literary Tradition and Iconography, Studia Archaeologica 73 (Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 1995), p. 73 [Google books preview]). Maro the Dendrite was another but not of such a welcoming disposition as he used to shut the door of his tree whenever he heard people approach.A trogloxene is "an animal that spends occasional short periods in dark caves" (OED, s.v. troglo-), as opposed to a troglobite, "an animal living entirely in the dark parts of caves" (id.). A phonaestheme is "a phoneme or group of phonemes having recognizable semantic associations, as a result of appearing in a number of words of similar meaning" (OED, s.v., coined by J. Firth in 1930).
On dendrites, see also Michael Whitby, "Maro the Dendrite: An Anti-Social Holy Man," in Homo Viator: Classical Essays for John Bramble (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1987), pp. 309-317, and Kyle Smith, "Dendrites and Other Standers in the History of the Exploits of Bishop Paul of Qanetos and Priest John of Edessa" Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 12.1 (Winter 2009) 117-134. The OED doesn't recognize this meaning of dendrite (from Greek δένδρον = tree), but it seems sufficiently widespread in scholarly literature to deserve a dictionary definition, such as "an ascetic who lives in a tree" see Susan Ashbrook Harvey in G.W. Bowersock, ed., Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 407 (s.v. dendrites).