ἐθέλω

Validation

Yes

Word-form

ἄεθλον

Transliteration (Word)

āthlon

English translation (word)

prize of contest

Transliteration (Etymon)

ethelō

English translation (etymon)

to be willing

Author

Etym. Genuinum

Century

9 AD

Source

Idem

Ref.

Etym. Genuinum alpha 95

Ed.

F. Lasserre and N. Livadaras, Etymologicum magnum genuinum. Symeonis etymologicum una cum magna grammatica. Etymologicum magnum auctum, vol. 1, Rome: Ateneo, 1976

Quotation

Ἄεθλον· ἀπὸ τοῦ ἐθέλω, ἐθέλον τι· ἔστι μετὰ τοῦ ἐπιτατικοῦ α ἀέθελον, [τὸ πάνυ θελητόν], καὶ συγκοπῇ ἄεθλον καὶ κράσει τοῦ αε ἆθλον, καὶ ἆθλος τὸ ἀρσενικόν

Translation (En)

Prize of contest (aethlon) is from ethelō "to be willing", as a kind of *willing (ethelon), it is from the intensive alpha, [that which is very desirable], and through syncope aethlon, then contraction of [ae] athlon, and athlos "contest" is the masculine

Comment

The word is analyzed as a compound of ἐθέλω with the intensive alpha: this etymology starts from the older, uncontracted form ἄεθλον. The notation on the contraction of ἄεθλον into ἆθλον is correct. This etymology implies that "will" must have a passive meaning, that which is wanted, as in the verbal adjective θελητός introduced as a gloss. Ancient lexicographers never mention the fact that this etymology is incompatible with the meaning of the derivative ἄθλιος "wretched", except Eustathius (see Parallels)

Parallels

Etym. Magnum, Kallierges p. 25 (Ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἐθέλω, ἔθελον· καὶ μετὰ τοῦ ἐπιτατικοῦ α, ἀέθελον, τὸ πάνυ ζητούμενον· καὶ κατὰ κρᾶσιν τοῦ α καὶ ε, ἆθλον· καὶ ἆθλος τὸ ἀρσενικόν· διὸ καὶ περισπῶνται); Eustathius, Comm. Il. 4, 722 (γίνεται δὲ ἡ λέξις κατὰ τοὺς παλαιοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ ἐθέλειν. αἱρετὸν γὰρ καὶ 
θελητὸν καὶ ὁ ἄεθλος καὶ τὸ ἄεθλον).

Eustathius, Comm. Il. 2, 675, on ἄθλιος (Τὸ δὲ ἀέθλια παράγωγόν ἐστιν ἐκ τοῦ ἄεθλον, ὡς ἐκ τοῦ ἴχνος τὰ ἴχνια. Ἐνταῦθα δὲ θεωρητέον ὡς, εἰ καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ἄεθλον κέκραται τὸ ἆθλον, ὅθεν καὶ ὁ ἀθλοφόρος, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἤδη καὶ ἐκ τοῦ παραγώγου ἀεθλίου ὡσαύτως ἐστὶ τὸ ἄθλιον. Αὐτὸ γὰρ ἐπὶ δυστυχίας μόνης κεῖται, ἵν’ ᾖ ἄθλιος ὁ δυσάεθλος κατὰ τὸν Ὁμηρικὸν Ὀδυσσέα, ὃς οὐδ’ ἐν τῷ νόστῳ πεφυγμένος ἦεν ἀέθλων)

Bibliography

On the modern etymology, see G.-J. Pinault, "Compétition poétique et poétique de la compétition" in G.-J. Pinault, D. Petit (eds), La langue poétique indo-européenne, Louvain - Paris, Peeters, 2006, 367-411

Modern etymology

The older form is ἄϝεθλον. Beekes (EDG) reconstructs a root *h2wedh-, but it may be better to reconstruct with Pinault 2006 a derivative *h2wh1-dhlo-

Persistence in modern Greek

Αθλος is still used in the meaning "exploit, task"