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Re: [tied] Re: Pliny's "Guthalus"

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  • x99lynx@aol.com
    George wrote:
    Message 1 of 15 , Sep 30, 2002
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      George wrote:
      <<The river list of Historia Naturalis IV.100 roughly parallels the people
      list of IV.99, so we must seek the "Guthalus" in the land of the "Vandili".
      Only the Oder fits....Even those investigators who thought that "Guthalus"
      might be "Goet(a)lv" looked
      for it on the southern shores of the Baltic, usually opting for the
      Oder.******>>

      Hardly compelling. The Guthalvs is on the wrong side of the Vistula if we are
      going to try to be objective. And Pliny doesn't even say these rivers are
      major rivers, so we don't even have his criteria for picking the rivers he
      did.
      As for the ivory-towered landlubbers who thought it was the Oder, their
      guesses are as inconsequential as ours are.
      The fact is that if you are going to see the mouths of rivers, you are going
      to see them from the water. That would suggest that Pliny's list came from
      mariners. The only way into the Baltic by sea from the south of Europe is
      thru the Kattegat. And the first and only big river basin you would pass for
      many miles along that singular narrow channel entrance to the Baltic would be
      the Go:te A:lv. It is the seventh largest river in all Europe in water flow
      and I believe today Go:teborg is Europe's #1 port in tonnage. The Go:ta
      river mouth is extraordinary in that its outflow is not dictated by tidal
      currents. It is rich in archaeology going back to the stone age and a rather
      early (400BC) iron age. It was early on the major outlet and stopover for
      traders coming into and out of the Baltic. It would have been the most
      important outlet for mined iron north of the Alps.

      Pliny was talking about river mouths and not whole rivers -- he did not
      describe their courses, he only talks about them emptying into the Ocean.
      This suggests he was getting a Mariners report and repeating a Mariner's list
      and no Mariner would have considered the Go:te river an unimportant river. If
      the "clarity" of this limited list of rivers refers to being shoal free and
      therefore navigable to some degree, then the Go:te A:lv might qualify more
      than the Oder.

      This is not to downplay what may have been going on at the mouth of the Oder
      at the time. But the Go:te river would logically have seemed more important
      to ships and sailors coming from the direction of the Mediterranean.

      <<And do not forget Solinus (a 3rd c. source) with his west-->east continuum
      of "amnes clarissimi": Alba-Guthalus-Vistula.>>

      And that puts the Go:te river right where it should be on a route from the
      North Sea to the Vistula. You can't get from the Elbe to the Vistula without
      passing close by it -- and again is a big river with a powerful current and
      an excellent landing site. Of course, if Solinus was not merely copying but
      correcting Pliny (who hasn't?) then maybe he shifted the name down to the
      mouth of the Oder. The exploration of the New World proves that -- even with
      charts, sextants and compasses -- the names of rivers can move. And the
      lesson in all of this is that we really don't know with any certainty what
      river Pliny was talking about, what its "real" name was and what the
      etymology of that supposed original name was.

      Regards,
      Steve Long
    • george knysh
      ... *****GK(new): It definitely is! And I argued as much on another list. Pliny s information about the land and rivers east of the Elbe was confused and
      Message 2 of 15 , Oct 1, 2002
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        --- x99lynx@... wrote:
        > George wrote:
        > <<The river list of Historia Naturalis IV.100
        > roughly parallels the people
        > list of IV.99, so we must seek the "Guthalus" in the
        > land of the "Vandili".
        > Only the Oder fits....Even those investigators who
        > thought that "Guthalus"
        > might be "Goet(a)lv" looked
        > for it on the southern shores of the Baltic, usually
        > opting for the
        > Oder.******>>
        >
        > Hardly compelling. The Guthalvs is on the wrong side
        > of the Vistula if we are
        > going to try to be objective.

        *****GK(new): It definitely is! And I argued as much
        on another list. Pliny's information about the land
        and rivers east of the Elbe was confused and
        fragmentary. He had heard something about the recent
        exploits of the Goths (we know from archaeology that
        they were expanding their territory noticeably in the
        years subsequent to ca, 50 AD) and wrongly included
        them among the "Vandals" whose lands the Goths had
        just captured. He heard something about the "Guthalus"
        and probably concluded that it must have something to
        do with the Goths, shifting it east of the Vistula
        because of the sound similarity and because the Goths
        were the easternmost of the "Vandili" to his mind. But
        I don't think his information came from mariners,
        basically. Rather (as did Tacitus') it came from
        people involved in the amber trade (which he describes
        a bit later on). And again, meager as his information
        was about the south shores and adjacent interior areas
        of the Baltic (absolute zilch about the areas Tacitus
        called "Aestian" and Ptolemy called "Venedic" for
        instance), it was still infinitely more than he knew
        about the Scandinavian lands to the north. And the
        situation wasn't much better for Tacitus or
        Ptolemy.****



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      • Piotr Gasiorowski
        Names of major rivers are often etymologically equivalent to the River , the Water , the Stream , etc. Simple epithets like Mighty , Running , Winding ,
        Message 3 of 15 , Oct 4, 2002
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          Names of major rivers are often etymologically equivalent to "the River", "the Water", "the Stream", etc. Simple epithets like "Mighty", "Running", "Winding", "White" or "Black" are also popular. This monotony is precisely the reason why patterns like "Old European hydronymy" are so homogeneous despite their wide geographical range. Microhydronymy is a different thing. Even the locals need to distinguish a number of brooks and rivulets. I know of a few interesting cases when an incredibly old name for a mere brook survives locally despite being unknown to official cartography. Near the place where I lived as a child there is a rather inconsopicuous stream known as the Mrówka to everybody who is familiar with it (the name means 'ant' in Polish). On all maps that are sufficiently detailed to show it, the name is Zimna Woda 'Cold Water', unknown locally. It was only when I became interested in etymology that I discovered that Mrówka was a folk-etymological distortion of Nrówka (initial <nr-> does not occur in any modern Polish morpheme): it flows into a larger river once called the Nrowa (now Utrata, of purely Polish origin) < *norwa, an ancient name without a Slavic etymology (but with Baltic connections).
           
          Piotr
           
           
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Friday, October 04, 2002 8:13 PM
          Subject: [tied] Re: Pliny's "Guthalus"

          The locals don't really need a name for their river; it is very much
          just 'the river'.  (For example, I don't think I have ever _heard_
          the name of the river that runs through the town I live in!)  However
          traders, and any others who use various waterways, would need a name,
          and may therefore be the effective namers.  One may even need a name
          to discuss fords.  Trading goes back a very long way - Mesolithic at
          least!  What relatively static locals call the river is largely
          irrelevant.

          The one exception to the pronciple of naming that I can think of is
          an overwhelmingly dominant river.  For that, a phrase such as 'the
          main river' might suffice.  After all, in English we don't really
          have a single name for our planet!  (Is it Earth?  Is it Terra?)
        • tgpedersen
          ... River , the Water , the Stream , etc. Simple epithets like Mighty , Running , Winding , White or Black are also popular. This monotony is
          Message 4 of 15 , Oct 5, 2002
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            --- In cybalist@y..., Piotr Gasiorowski <piotr.gasiorowski@i...>
            wrote:
            > Names of major rivers are often etymologically equivalent to "the
            River", "the Water", "the Stream", etc. Simple epithets
            like "Mighty", "Running", "Winding", "White" or "Black" are also
            popular. This monotony is precisely the reason why patterns like "Old
            European hydronymy" are so homogeneous despite their wide
            geographical range. Microhydronymy is a different thing. Even the
            locals need to distinguish a number of brooks and rivulets. I know of
            a few interesting cases when an incredibly old name for a mere brook
            survives locally despite being unknown to official cartography. Near
            the place where I lived as a child there is a rather inconsopicuous
            stream known as the Mrówka to everybody who is familiar with it (the
            name means 'ant' in Polish). On all maps that are sufficiently
            detailed to show it, the name is Zimna Woda 'Cold Water', unknown
            locally. It was only when I became interested in etymology that I
            discovered that Mrówka was a folk-etymological distortion of Nrówka
            (initial <nr-> does not occur in any modern Polish morpheme): it
            flows into a larger river once called the Nrowa (now Utrata, of
            purely Polish origin) < *norwa, an ancient name without a Slavic
            etymology (but with Baltic connections).
            >
            > Piotr
            >
            >

            Are you thinking of the Narva river? It has Germanic connections
            also, Danish /nor/ "inlet, lagoon". Any connection with the Neuri
            (talking of river peoples)?

            Torsten
          • Piotr Gasiorowski
            ... From: tgpedersen To: cybalist@yahoogroups.com Sent: Saturday, October 05, 2002 1:40 PM Subject: [tied] Re: Pliny s Guthalus ... No, the name Nrowa is no
            Message 5 of 15 , Oct 5, 2002
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              ----- Original Message -----
              Sent: Saturday, October 05, 2002 1:40 PM
              Subject: [tied] Re: Pliny's "Guthalus"

              > Are you thinking of the Narva river? It has Germanic connections also, Danish /nor/ "inlet, lagoon". Any connection with the Neuri (talking of river peoples)?
              No, the name Nrowa is no longer used (I think it was replaced by Utrata about the 18th century), and only the diminutive Nrówka > Mrówka has survived as the tributary's name. The Utrata empties into the Bzura, which in turn is a western tributary to the Vistula. But the name Nrowa appears to be related to that of the Narew (a major eastern tributary of the Vistula system; the name, Old Polish <Nari> = Nary <-- *Naru:s was borrowed from West Baltic during the Middle Ages). There are other *nar(u)- hydronyms in the Baltic area, e.g. lith. Narupe, OPr. Narus. Nrowa < *norwa < *norwa: might very well be the same name (only borrowed much earlier) with the regular feminine ending added to *noru-. Any connection with the Neuri (*nerw-oi?) could only be proposed with extreme speculativeness. Is the Danish word related to West Germanic, *narw-a- 'narrow'? The latter can also mean the narrow part of a river, strait, etc.
               
              Piotr
            • george knysh
              ... ******GK: Some historians have indeed speculated (as Piotr intimates)about some sort of relationship between Heodotus Neuroi and the current (and
              Message 6 of 15 , Oct 5, 2002
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                --- tgpedersen <tgpedersen@...> wrote:
                > Are you thinking of the Narva river? It has Germanic
                > connections
                > also, Danish /nor/ "inlet, lagoon". Any connection
                > with the Neuri
                > (talking of river peoples)?
                >
                > Torsten


                ******GK: Some historians have indeed speculated (as
                Piotr intimates)about some sort of relationship
                between Heodotus "Neuroi" and the current (and
                probably ancient) river names as Narva, Narev et
                sim... I don't know how effective the linguistic link
                would be or what it would mean ("river people"??). The
                main reason for exploring a link is the fact that
                Herodotus locates the Neuroi in the area where you
                would expect to find Baltic populations at that time.
                Or Balto-Slavic (but with the latter still so close as
                to be easily confused with the former). This has
                probably nothing to do with the issue, but it might be
                mentioned that one of the theories (I don't favour it
                myself) for the origin of the term "Slav" suggests a
                derivation from a Baltic word meaning "slowly flowing
                river" or something close to this (Sergejus?), hence
                also "river people".*******
                >
                >
                >


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              • tgpedersen
                ... also, Danish /nor/ inlet, lagoon . Any connection with the Neuri (talking of river peoples)? ... Utrata about the 18th century), and only the diminutive
                Message 7 of 15 , Oct 7, 2002
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                  --- In cybalist@y..., Piotr Gasiorowski <piotr.gasiorowski@i...>
                  wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > > Are you thinking of the Narva river? It has Germanic connections
                  also, Danish /nor/ "inlet, lagoon". Any connection with the Neuri
                  (talking of river peoples)?
                  >
                  > No, the name Nrowa is no longer used (I think it was replaced by
                  Utrata about the 18th century), and only the diminutive Nrówka >
                  Mrówka has survived as the tributary's name. The Utrata empties into
                  the Bzura, which in turn is a western tributary to the Vistula. But
                  the name Nrowa appears to be related to that of the Narew (a major
                  eastern tributary of the Vistula system; the name, Old Polish <Nari>
                  = Nary <-- *Naru:s was borrowed from West Baltic during the Middle
                  Ages). There are other *nar(u)- hydronyms in the Baltic area, e.g.
                  lith. Narupe, OPr. Narus. Nrowa < *norwa < *norwa: might very well be
                  the same name (only borrowed much earlier) with the regular feminine
                  ending added to *noru-. Any connection with the Neuri (*nerw-oi?)
                  could only be proposed with extreme speculativeness.

                  Are we talking about the same Narva? I was thinking of the one
                  dividing Estonia from Russia (and border town of same name).


                  Is the Danish word related to West Germanic, *narw-a- 'narrow'? The
                  latter can also mean the narrow part of a river, strait, etc.
                  >
                  Yes. It's used mainly in place names, of lagoons with a narrow access
                  from the sea, eg Korsør Nor on the Great Belt. Cf. the ON "arrow"
                  word.

                  > Piotr

                  Torsten
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