Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2011.10.51

R. W. V. Catling, F. Marchand (ed.), Onomatologos: Studies in Greek Personal Names Presented to Elaine Matthews.   Oxford:  Oxbow Books, 2010.  Pp. xxxii, 681.  ISBN 9781842179826.  $180.00.  

Reviewed by Clive Cheesman, College of Arms (

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review]

Fifty-five papers in honour of the late Elaine Matthews, editor of the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names (LGPN) from 1992 until her retirement in 2008, constitute a hefty volume. Though she was still alive when it was compiled and published, it now does sad but effective duty as a memorial to a much respected member of the Oxford and wider classics world. Indeed, one of the things that seem to this reviewer (who did not know her) to mark it out from many another Festschrift is the understated but unmistakable sense of warmth and gratitude that each contribution conveys for the honorand. The absorbing nature of the resulting book is one reason why this review has taken so long to get to press—for which the reviewer sincerely apologises to contributors and readers alike.

After an opening appreciation by Alan Bowman, the papers are grouped by region. It is impossible to do them all justice in a review like this, but some contributions deserve attention, as do certain recurrent themes. One such theme, emphasized by the book’s structure, is the link between onomastics and place. Schuler and Özlem-Aytaçlar offer broad regional surveys of different kinds. Hitchman, Matthaiou and Catling examine bodies of names recorded in one location but displaying enough geographical associations to justify theories of a historic link with another. In like manner Marchand reascribes a Theban list of men described as Philippeis from Macedonian Philippi to Euromus in Caria (briefly renamed Philippi). In such enterprises the resources of LGPN itself are essential. Others publish data: Ferrary lists names from the unpublished memorials of 2nd-century AD choral delegations from Chios; Lajtar’s first edition of a list of office-holders from Ptolemais in Cyrenaica is of great interest (including a pair of brothers called Sphairos and Diskos); and Kinns offers the first proper catalogue of the coinage of Leukai, the names on which prompt questions about the city’s relationship with its Hermaic Gulf neighbour, Klazomenai.

Learned or famous Greeks travelled, and their patris might be forgotten or disputed; for Avram and Knoepfler, names and name-elements offer hope of resolving these (often ancient) disputes. But a name can travel too, being taken up far from its patris for a variety of reasons—some explored by Habicht in an earlier volume edited by Elaine Matthews herself, and revisited in this one by Oliver. It might follow in the wake of other imports—as Nigdelis argues for the Greek name Kalendion—but diffusion can itself shape names. Dana examines the case of Sebastianos, a simple but spectacular remotivation of the theophoric name Sebazianos (= *Sabazianos), popular in Thrace and widely propagated beyond that region only when the cult of St Sebastian spread across Christendom. Van Bremen proposes that Adrastos arose from a Lydian name subjected to similar popular etymology, though I wonder if it is not a case of two independent names, one Lydian and one Greek, collapsing together on contact. Another good (though inconclusive) read is Sekunda’s article on Kaineus; it may have been typical of Atrax in Thessaly.

There is much on by-names. In Ricl’s survey of Lydian examples, the majority are not signposted by standard formulae such as ho kai or (ho) (epi)kaloumenos, but placed in simple apposition to the name. She does not consider the significance or origins of this practice, once thought a reflection of the Roman cognomen. That might perhaps be relevant in Sicily, where (as Manganaro’s note shows) unsignposted by- names recur amongst the local elite, not just in Latin sources—Cicero’s Eubulidas Grosphus and Apollodorus Lapiro—but also in Greek inscriptions set up locally. In Hellenistic Lydia it seems an unlikely explanation; Ricl’s views would have been interesting. She does however address the motives for adopting by-names generally, accepting with most who write on the subject that they usually served to distinguish between homonyms. But other evidence suggests this is really only part of the story; by-names might in fact associate rather than dissociate, and (it can seem) to a potentially confusing degree. Thus Ferrary’s Chiote choristers include two brothers recorded as Prytanis ho kaloumenos Eros and Eros ho kaloumenos Prytanis. (Their father and khoregos was Eros son of Prytanis.) Evidently, whatever people were called, there were ways of telling them apart.

Several papers investigate the formal and thematic features of Greek names. Dubois’s treatment of masculine and feminine forms in -ous will have great lasting value. Arnaoutoglou presents interesting findings on the onomastic theme -dikos / -dike. But it is Oulhen’s contribution that perhaps offers most here. Despite an unassuming title, it alone addresses an important, slightly submerged issue in Greek onomastics: the continuing desire to see dithematic names as having ‘sense’, notwithstanding the late Olivier Masson’s clear demonstration that combinative Greek name formation created compounds that not only ignored sense but could be repugnant to it. Even Peter Thonemann’s important article ‘Neilomandros’, in Chiron 2006, cited by Oulhen and several others, is not untouched by lingering difficulties on this point. Oulhen by contrast offers an explicit, if tentative, attempt at an accommodation.

Lambert seeks to illustrate the help afforded by large onomastic datasets such as LGPN to epigraphy with a few observations on name use in Athens: names might rise and fall from fashion, but names identical to Attic demotics were always avoided (except forSounieus, recorded once); and for sons to have the same name as their fathers was common after the late second century BC, but rare earlier, when instead they much more frequently shared single themes rather than entire compound forms. These observations are held to provide guidance for restoring lacunose names in inscriptions—and of course they do provide cautionary guidance: it is indeed wrong to restore a patronymic in SEG 26.155.77 (332/1 BC) as Polystratos Poly[stratou]. However, one cannot help feeling that it was wrong anyway, even without knowledge of Lambert’s statistics; there are many names in Poly- and homonymy between father and son can surely never be assumed. What business, in short, does an editor have restoring any name in a case such as this?

Unsurprisingly, cultural, ethnic and linguistic interactions are a recurrent theme. Hatzopoulos attempts to use the proportion of ‘epichoric’ and ‘Panhellenic’ names in three Macedonian datasets to measure the different rates at which town and country were incorporated into the Greek world. In reality his samples, though interesting, are too small to provide reliable independent support for his pre-existing (if perfectly acceptable) account of the Hellenization process. Wilkes finds that Greek and local indigenous names subsisted longer in ‘Latin’ Dalmatia than would be expected in other parts of the Roman world, and that Greek names do not appear to be the preserve of any particular rank (such as slaves, liberti and their children) or indicative of a particular geographical origin—a conclusion that may still (slightly depressingly) need emphasizing. But the most thought-provoking contributions on this topic are by Corsten and Millar. Corsten writes on the onomastic suffix -ianos in Asia Minor, clearly of Latin derivation but applied locally to Greek and even indigenous non-Greek themes; sometimes it is used to create a patronymic (e.g. the son of Atalos called Asklepiades Atalianos), but often it forms a new personal name that might or might not derive from another name in use in the family, including the father’s. Both usages are found amongst Roman citizens and non-citizens. Evidently the former practice does not represent any Roman custom (links with Roman adoptive cognomina in -ianus are rightly rejected), while the latter is widespread in the Greek East. Corsten recognises that the Asiatic deployment of -ianos is not Romanization in the straightforward sense (explicitly citing Woolf’s concept of ‘Becoming Roman, staying Greek’); but classic notions of acculturation still intrude. Surely it is better to accept that this suffix, for all its Latin origins, was now a productive item in local onomastics with, in some cases, a specifically patronymic force. There was nothing ‘Romanized’ about its use; in fact it is a good onomastic example of the sort of Woolfian artefact that, semantically lightweight in itself, can only have any significance for cultural alignment as part of a much fuller range of material.

Millar, unusually, takes us not only into Late Antiquity but beyond the jurisdiction of LGPN, into the Ancient Near East. His list of bishops and other clerics from Near Eastern dioceses at the Council of Chalkedon in 451 shows that although they represented areas where Greek is seen by some as a colonial import, never deeply rooted beyond the administrative classes, the great majority have standard Greek or Hellenized Latin names; a few derive from Hebrew scripture, and only slightly more originate in other Semitic tongues—presumably early phases of the Aramaic-Syriac koine viewed by Millar’s opponents as the region’s true communicative medium. Even if one agrees with Millar, though, one may doubt whether these names much assist his argument. These men (even the elected bishops) represented the administrative context where the embedded status of Greek cannot be in doubt. And of course the source language of a name does not tell you the language of its bearer, or reflect any necessary linguistic or cultural context. Though Millar refers to Maurice Sartre’s paper in the 2007 LGPN colloquium volume he does so without acknowledging Sartre’s point that inhabitants of Graeco-Roman Syria probably did not subdivide their onomastic repertory into ‘Greek’ and ‘indigenous’ categories. Many originally Greek names will have been completely naturalized and felt as familiar to Aramaic speakers with a smattering of Greek as to Greeks with a smattering of Aramaic.

Some of the most distinguished contributors have not really written about names at all: Osborne’s paper is a short, dense work of chronographic expertise; Bowie on Simonides, Hornblower on Praxandros, the legendary oikist of Lapethos in Cyprus, Habicht on Thessalian phratries, and Crawford on an interesting group of Italic bronze tablets cite name evidence in support of essentially non-onomastic arguments. Braund’s fascinating piece on Herakles as a sort of proto-Scyth touches on names vanishingly briefly.

In general, however, the volume is permeated by the worthy commitment of those associated with the LGPN project to Letronne’s call, long ago, to do “l‘histoire par les noms” (distinct from “l‘histoire des noms”). But this is easier said than done. The clinching example of names’ ability to enlighten us used to be his reconstruction of a forgotten god Mandros from names in mandro-. ‘Mandros’ appears to have been returned to oblivion by Thonemann’s 2006 article referred to above. Maybe Letronne’s general ambition, and what it would mean to achieve it, should also be re-assessed. Much of this volume shows how difficult it is to do history by names and how meagre the fruits can be. When names seem to reconstruct history, they are often really being inserted into a pre-existing framework (often a ‘common sense’ structure), and acquiring sense thereby rather than reinforcing it. This scarcely does justice to the huge labour that has gone into LGPN. Possibly in reality “histoire par les noms” can only be attempted after, or at any rate in tandem with, “histoire des noms”. Though tedious for historians who are not actually interested in names themselves, this is a broad subject covering not just etymology but the history of name usage in Greece, viewed statistically, legally, anthropologically, even comparatively, and a frank evaluation of what names can really tell us securely and independently—which may be less than we hope. For this, though, the resources offered by LGPN will be indispensable; indeed that will be the greatest and most fitting realization of its massive potential.

So I think this enthralling volume does not yet exemplify where thinking about Greek names will be in a few years’ time, when the great riches ofLGPN have really transformed the subject. However, it does offer a very fine selection of current scholarship, of which I have been able to indicate merely a part, and—what is more—stands as a lasting monument to Peter Fraser’s agathe sunergatis (to quote from the verses of Robert Parker that preface it).

Contributors and Contributions

1. Elaine Matthews: an appreciation. Alan Bowman (1-3)
2. Simonides of Eretria (redivivus?). Ewen Bowie (6-14)
3. Phaistos Sybritas: an unpublished inscription from the Idaean Cave and personal names deriving from ethnics. Angelos Chaniotis (15-21)
4. L'apport des mémoriaux de Claros à l'onomastique de Chios. Jean-Louis Ferrary (23-44)
5. Carian names and Crete. Richard Hitchman, with an appendix by N. V. Sekunda (45-64)
6. Ménédème de Pyrrha, proxène de Delphes: contribution épigraphique à l'histoire d'un philosophe et de sa cité. Denis Knoepfler (65-81)
7. Lykophron's Alexandra and the Cypriote name Praxandros. Simon Hornblower (84-90)
8. Sur quelques noms nouveaux de Cyrénaïque. Catherine Dobias-Lalou (92-101)
9. A catalogue of officials of an assocation (?) in a newly discovered inscription from Ptolemais in Cyrenaica. Adam Lajtar (102-18)
10. A new inscription from Ptolemais in Libya. Joyce Reynolds (119-20)
11. Some people in third-century Athenian decrees. Sean G. Byrne (122-31)
12. Revising Athenian propertied families: progress and problems. John Davies (132-42)
13. LGPN and the epigraphy and history of Attica. S. D. Lambert (143-52)
14. A new edition of IG II² 2391: exiles from Ionia? Angelos P. Matthaiou (153-7)
15. Foreign names, inter-marriage and citizenship in Hellenistic Athens. Graham Oliver (158-67)
16. Sarapion, son of Sarapion, of Melite, an inadvertent chronographer. Michael Osborne (168-72)
17. La famiglia di Damonikos di Messene. D. Baldassarra (172-82)
18. Becoming Roman: à propos de deux générations parentes de néo-citoyens romains à Sparte et à Athènes. J.- S. Balzat and A. J. S. Spawforth (183-94)
19. Sparta's friends at Ephesos: the onomastic evidence. R. W. V. Catling (195-237)
20. New personal names from Argos. Charalambos B. Kritzas (238-43)
21. Corinthians in exile 146-44 BC. B. Millis (244-57)
22. IG V (1) 229 revisited. Heikki Solin (258-62)
23. The Peloponnesian officials responsible for the second-century BC bronze coinage of the Achaian koinon. J. A. W. Warren (263-9)
24. Nomi femminili nella Sicilia di lingua ed epoca greca. Federica Cordano (272-5)
25. Onomastics and the administration of Italia/víteliú? Michael H. Crawford (276-9)
26. Lamina bronzea iscritta da Leontinoi: note onomastiche. Maria Letizia Lazzarini (280-4)
27. Soprannomi nella Sicilia ellenistica: osservazioni e aggiunte. Giacomo Manganaro (285-7)
28. Greek personal names in Latin Dalmatia. John Wilkes (290 -310)
29. Τυννίχα. Per Elaine: un ‘piccolo’ contributo. C. Antonetti , D. Baldassara, E. Cavalli and F. Crema (311-19)
30. Remarques sur l'onomastique des cités de la Tripolis de Perrhébie. Jean-Claude Decourt (320-6)
31. Zum Problem thessalischer Phratrien. Christian Habicht (327-31)
32. The Philippeis of IG VII 2433. Fabienne Marchand (332-43)
33. Kaineus. N. V. Sekunda (344-54)
34. Échantillons onomastiques de l'arrière-pays macédonien au IIIe siècle av. J-C. M. B. Hatzopoulos (356-65)
35. Sur quelques noms d'Apollonia du Pont. Alexandru Avram (368-80)
36. Teutaros, the Scythian teacher of Herakles. David Braund (381-89)
37. La préhistoire du nom de Saint Sébastien: onomastiques en contact. Dan Dana (390-7)
38. Des anthroponymes en -ους. Laurent Dubois (398-421)
39. New lead plaques with Greek inscriptions from East Crimea, Bosporos. Sergey Saprykin and Nikolai Fedoseev (422-34)
40. Asalatos at Kyme in Aiolis. R. H. J. Ashton and N. V. Sekunda (436-9)
41. Adrastos at Aphrodisias. R. van Bremen (440-55)
42. Names in -ιανος in Asia Minor: a preliminary study. Thomas Corsten (456-63)
43. CIG 2017: a phantom Thracian name and a false Corcyraean provenance. Charles V. Crowther (464- 9)
44. Trading families? Alan W. Johnston (470-8)
45. The coinage of Leukai. Philip Kinns (479-505)
46. An onomastic survey of the indigenous population of north-western Asia Minor. Pınar Özlem-Aytaçlar (506- 29)
47. A new inscription from the Cayster valley and the question of supernomina in Hellenistic and Roman Lydia. Marijana Ricl (530-51)
48. Griechische Personennamen in Lykien: einige Fallstudien. Christof Schuler (552-66)
49. Bishops and their sees at the sixth session of the Council of Chalkedon: the Near Eastern provinces. Fergus Millar (568-77)
50. An unnoticed Macedonian name from Dura Europos. Argyro B. Tataki (578-80)
51. Onomastics and law: dike and -dike names. Ilias N. Arnaoutoglou (582-600)
52. Four intriguing names. Jaime Curbera (601-5)
53. Onomastic research then and now: an example from the Greek novel. Nikoletta Kanavou (606-15)
54. The Roman calendar and its diffusion in the Greco-Roman east: the evidence of the personal name Kalandion. Pantelis M. Nigdelis (617-27)
55. Ἡρόπυθος: une pousse printanière pour Elaine Matthews? Jacques Oulhen (628-45)
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