In his recent Classical Inquiries posting, Gregory Nagy focuses on Iliad rhapsody 8 and shares a sampling of selected comments with his readers.
tagging: terpikeraunos ‘he whose bolt strikes’
occurrences of terpikeraunos ‘he whose bolt strikes’: I.01.419, I.02.478, I.02.781, I.08.002, I.11.773, I.12.252, I.16.232, I.24.529
anchor comment at I.08.002: terpikeraunos ‘he whose bolt strikes’
This compound noun terpi-kéraunos, interpreted here as ‘he whose bolt strikes’, is an epithet that applies exclusively to Zeus: a parallel epithet, also applied exclusively to Zeus, is the compound noun argi-kéraunosat Ι.19.121, I.20.016, I.22.178, which can be interpreted to mean ‘he whose bolt shines’ (GMP 195). Both epithets fit Zeus in his role as a thunder-god. The second part of both compounds terpi-kéraunos and argi-kéraunos is clearly derived from keraunós ‘thunder’, and the first part of argi-kéraunos is clearly related toarg‑ós (earlier *argr‑ós) ‘shining, speeding’, but the first part of terpi-kéraunos seems at first unclear. Related forms in other Indo-European languages, however, help elucidate the meaning of terpi‑ as combined withkeraunós. In the case of keraunós, we find in the Baltic and Slavic branches of Indo-European the parallel forms perkūnas and perunŭ respectively, both of which are nouns meaning ‘thunder’ and/or ‘god of thunder’. Although the Greek and the Baltic/Slavic roots here, *kerh₂(u̯)‑ and *per(kʷ)‑ respectively, are different in form, they are parallel in meaning, ‘strike’, and the morphology of their suffixation is also parallel. (GMP 194–195). As for the terpi‑ of terpi‑kéraunos, we find a comparable form in the Italic branch of Indo-European: it is the Latin noun quercus, meaning ‘oak tree’. This form, it can be argued, refers to the defining sacred moment when a thunderbolt strikes an oak tree: here the root of the u-stem noun quercus, from *perkʷu‑, is *perkʷ‑, meaning ‘strike’ (GMP 186). So, terpi‑kéraunos can be derived from *kʷerpi–kéraunos via metathesis from *perkʷi–kéraunos. [[GN 2016.08.16 via GMP 181–201; see also Nagy 2010:337.]]
During the past few weeks, Gregory Nagy has shared samplings of his commentary on rhapsodies 1 through 8 of the Iliad. By focusing on these rhapsodies and experimenting with a variety of features in his comments, Professor Nagy offers a preview of the larger, forthcoming project: A Homer commentary in progress.
For more on this evolving project, be sure to check out these other postings on Classical Inquiries:
- A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 7
- A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 6
- A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 5
- A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 4
- A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 3
- A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 2
- A sampling of comments on Iliad Rhapsody 1