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71214Re: Sanskrit cakra = Osco-Umbrian poplo = 'army'?

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  • dgkilday57
    May 20, 2013
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      --- In cybalist@yahoogroups.com, "Francesco Brighenti" <frabrig@...> wrote:
      >
      > In the Amarakosha, a thesaurus of Sanskrit darting from the 5th-6th century CE, the word cakra 'wheel' is explicitly stated to also mean `an army'. Monier-Williams' Sanskrit-English dictionary, too, says cakra is attested with the meaning `troop of soldiers, army, host' in the Mahabharata. Note I am here talking of the *uncompounded* word cakra, not of the compound cakravyUha `circular array of troops', which famously occurs in the Mahabharata.
      >
      > This lexical equation cakra = army leads me to speculate a bit. Could this specialized meaning of the word cakra be traced back to Indo-European times? Let us see if the semantics of PIE *kWekWlo- can suggest some reply to this question.
      >
      > The nominal stem *kWe-kWl-o- `wheel' (lit. `turn-turning', an iterative or reduplicated word-formation), derived from the PIE root *kWelh1- `to turn, revolve, move round, dwell round, go around or back and forth', and possibly also suggesting the cyclic, wandering movements attributed to pastoralists, may have existed in the protolanguage with meanings other than `wheel' -- for instance, with the meanings `circle, circumference' and `(the folk) wandering around / dwelling round'. Linguist Raimo Anttila (see his "Note on Umbrian poplo" at http://tinyurl.com/d32fsv3 ) puts forward the hypothesis that one of the variant meanings of *kWekWlo- may have been `group of people in arms' in the sense of `troop of people going/travelling around'. In some daughter branches of IE the root *kWelh1- is central in conveying all kinds of going around, e.g. as servants, shepherds, etc. This linguistic hypothesis is based on the etymologizing of Osco-Umbrian poplo- ~ puplu- as a derivative of Proto-Italic *poplo- `army, group of people/citizens in arms', in turn, supposedly a reflex of PIE *kWekWlo-. Latin populus (earliest attested form: poplos) `human community, people' is considered by a number of linguists and philologists to be a loan from Osco-Umbrian (probably Sabine) poplo- `citizens in arms'. Similarly, the Latin deponent verb populari `to devastate, ravage, plunder' can be understood as a specialized military sense of `travel around', that is, `to have an army pass through'. Although Latin is a "Q-Italic" language (i.e., its reflex of PIE *kW is *k), it appears to have borrowed a number of basic words from neighboring "P-Italic" languages (i.e., languages in which the reflex of PIE *kW is *p like in Proto-Italic itself) such as Sabine and Oscan; among such likely borrowings, let me recall bos `ox', lupus `wolf', and popina `cook-house'.
      >
      > With this in the background, let us now come back to Sanskrit cakra. Could not the specialized meaning `army' of this word be a reflex of PIE *kWekWlo-, just like Osco-Umbrian poplo `group of people in arms'? (Cf. Hartmut Scharfe's footnote 213 on p. 52 at http://tinyurl.com/cf4hyht )

      Despite what some authors have written, the sense of P-Italic *poplo- is 'people' not 'army'. This is made clear by VIb:61-2 of the Iguvine Tables:

      fututo foner pacrer pase uestra pople totar iiouinar tote iiouine ero nerus sihitir ans^ihitir iouies hostatir anostatir ero nomne erar nomne

      'Be favorable and propitious with your peace to the people of the state of Iguvium, to the state of Iguvium, to their chief citizens in office and not in office, to their young men under arms and not under arms, to their name, to the name of the state.' (Tr. by J.W. Poultney, _The Bronze Tables of Iguvium_, Baltimore 1959, p. 280.)

      Clearly the army, the 'juvenes hastati', is not considered identical to the 'populus civitatis Iguvinae'. Therefore, the sense 'army' of *kWe-kWl(h1)o- cannot be reconstructed to PIE. That sense of _cakra-_ (with the king as the 'hub' of the 'wheel', as mentioned by Scharfe) probably originated as a metaphor within Sanskrit.

      In the earlier Tables we find P-Itc. *popliko- used as an epithet of the god Pomonus (e.g. gen. _puemunes pupr^ikes_ IV:11). Like Latin _Po:mo:na_, connected with _po:mum_ 'fruit', this god is evidently associated with the harvest. Moreover Etruscan _Fufluns_ 'Liber, Dionysus' has the same formation as _Nethuns_ 'Neptune', obviously borrowed from Umbrian *Nehtuns. This points to a (non-Iguvine) Umbrian *Poplons or *Popluns 'Liber', and suggests a P-Itc. sense-development for *poplo- similar to that of PIE *h1leudH- in German _Leute_ usw.

      Given Latin _poples_ 'kneecap' and _popula:ri_ 'to circulate' (in a specialized sense), one cannot resist the inference that P-Itc. *poplo- also means 'wheel'. The question now is whether this is historically the same word as *poplo- 'people'. Explaining the latter as 'those who dwell round', by the development *kWelh1- 'turn round' > 'dwell round' is forced and fails to cover the agricultural sense of *popliko- and Fufluns. Another angle is that *kWelh1- may have signified 'turn out, develop, grow', giving *kWe-kWl(h1)o- an additional sense 'product of growth', vegetable or human. At this point I am more inclined to regard *poplo- 'people', tentatively of course, as derived from a different root (perhaps *kWelh2- 'to ripen, mature, grow to maturity' against *kWelh1- 'to turn').

      Some authors who (wrongly in my view) not only take _populus_ as meaning 'army', but of Etruscan origin, bring in Populonia (Etr. Pupluna), supposedly 'Army-Station' or the like. I think Gino Bottiglioni hit the nail on the head, understanding the Ligurian mountain Boplo (Sent. Minuc.) as an appellative 'prominent elevated place' vel sim., with Lig. *boplo: being Etruscanized as *Puplu, then with the common Etr. suffix -na, leading to *Pupluna 'City on the Prominence' vel sim. At any rate I see no connection between Populonia and _populus_.

      DGK
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