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851Re: _Asëa_ and _athelas_

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  • Arden R. Smith
    Nov 13, 2005
      On Nov 13, 2005, at 3:20 PM, F. Ström wrote:

      > The translation 'leaf of kings' does not seem to be
      > attested.

      Strictly speaking, that's true. It's really just an extrapolation,
      based on the gloss of _athelas_ as 'kingsfoil' and the transparent
      meaning of _aranion_ 'of kings'.

      > "Christopher Tolkien and I have had an ongoing discussion about the
      > origins of this word. It plainly contains -las 'leaf'. It is possible
      > (but entirely speculative) that what Tolkien had in mind at that time
      > (1938-39) was the Old English word aethele 'noble, royal.' This
      > would translate 'kingsfoil,' near enough. At any rate, a very late
      > note (1970 or later) says that Asea (cf. Aragorn, 'asea aranion') was
      > the name in Quenya, regularly adapted and compounded with -las
      > in Sindarin. The plant was known to the medical loremasters of the
      > Noldor. The root is *ATHAYA, 'helpful, kindly, beneficial.' "

      Interesting. I was unaware of this. The unpublished etymology that I
      cited derives _athelas_ and _asea_ from a similar form (though spelling
      TH with thorn), but unfortunately leaves it unglossed. This etymology,
      incidentally, is considerably earlier than that mentioned by Bill
      Hicklin, dating from sometime between the publication of the first
      edition (1954-55) and the publication of the second edition (1965).

      Arden R. Smith erilaz@...

      Perilme metto aimaktur perperienta.
      --Elvish proverb

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