Thursday, September 23, 2021


Matters Anthropological

Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990), The Greek Islands (London: Faber and Faber, 1980), p. 26:
Among the most venerable words still extant you will come across words like 'man' — anthropos means 'he who looks upwards'.
This seems to correspond to etymology number 4 in Hjalmar Frisk, Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, Bd. I (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1960), p. 111, s.v. ἄνθρωπος:
4. Verbalnomen zu ἀνατρέπω 'der Aufrechte' (G. Meyer Gr.3 210).
The reference is to Gustav Meyer, Griechische Grammatik, 3. Aufl. (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1896), but I don't see ἄνθρωπος there at p. 210 or § 210 or in the index. However I do see the following in Gustav Meyer, Griechische Grammatik, 2. Aufl. (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1886), p. 210 (§ 207):
Für ἄνθρωπος steht auf der kret. Inschrift von Gortyn 10, 25. 11, 23 ἄντρωπος und auf der pamphyl. von Sillyon COLL. 1267, 7 ἀτρόποισι = ἀντρώποισι, was an eine Herleitung des vielumstrittenen Wortes aus ἀνα-τρέπω (vgl. τρωπάω) »der Emporgewendete« (vgl. Ovid. Met. 1, 84ff.) denken lässt.
This appears (in abbreviated form) in Meyer's 3rd edition, p. 284 (§ 207).

Meyer's proposal isn't mentioned in Pierre Chantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque, I (Paris: Klincksieck, 1968), p. 91, who calls the origin of the word unknown, or in Robert Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Vol. 1 (Leiden: Brill, 2009), p. 106, and I'm unqualified to judge whether it has any merit. I don't know where Durrell came across the etymology.

Here is Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.84-86, cited by Meyer, as translated by Frank Justus Miller:
And, though all other animals are prone, and fix their gaze upon the earth, he gave to man an uplifted face and bade him stand erect and turn his eyes to heaven.

pronaque cum spectent animalia cetera terram,
os homini sublime dedit caelumque videre
iussit et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus.

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