ἄλοχος

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Yes

Last modification

Sun, 08/01/2021 - 10:46

Word-form

ἀλέξω

Transliteration (Word)

alexō

English translation (word)

to ward off

Transliteration (Etymon)

alokhos

English translation (etymon)

wife

Author

Porphyrius

Century

3 AD

Source

Idem

Ref.

Quaestionum Homericarum ad Iliadem pertinentium reliquiae, 11, 155

Ed.

H. Schrader, Porphyrii quaestionum Homericarum ad Iliadem pertinentium reliquiae, Leipzig: Teubner

Quotation

…ὥσπερ κυρίως ἀλεξῆσαι τὸ ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀλόχων βοηθῆσαι

Translation (En)

[…] as alexēsai "to ward off" means properly to defend the wives (alokhōn)

Comment

This delightful etymology relies formally on the well known alternation between [e] and [o]. As a matter of fact, the consonant structure is identical in alokhos and alexō, as Greek grammarians were well aware of the neutralisation of the voicing opposition before [s]. It relies on a topos of traditional phraseology, such as found in Il. 17.222-223 (ἀλλ’ ἵνα μοι Τρώων ἀλόχους καὶ νήπια τέκνα | προφρονέως ῥύοισθε φιλοπτολέμων ὑπ’ Ἀχαιῶν "so that you save the wives and children of the Trojans from the war-loving Achaeans")

Parallels

Etym. Genuinum, alpha 418 (Ἀλεξῶ· παρὰ τὴν ἄλοχον· κυρίως τὸ γυναικὶ βοηθῆσαι, καταχρηστικῶς δὲ καὶ τὸ ὁπωσδήποτε. ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀλκῶ ἀλξῶ καὶ πλεονασμῷ τοῦ ε ἀλεξῶ, ὅπερ εἰς ἐνεστῶτα ἀναχθὲν βαρύνεται ὑπὸ τῶν Ἀττικῶν); Etym. Gudianum Additamenta, alpha, p. 85 (Ἀλεξῶ· τὸ βοηθῶ· παρὰ τὴν ἄλοχον. κυρίως τὸ γυναικὶ βοηθῆσαι, καταχρηστικῶς δὲ καὶ τὸ ὅπως δήποτε. <ἢ> ἀπὸ τοῦ ἄλκω ἄλξω καὶ πλεονασμῷ τοῦ ε ἀλέξω, ὅπερ εἰς ἐνεστῶτα ἀναχθὲν βαρύνεται ὑπὸ Ἀττικῶν); Etym. Magnum, Kallierges, p. 59 (idem); Etym. Symeonis, vol. 1, p. 166; Ps.-Zonaras, Lexicon, alpha, p. 135 (Ἀλέξω. κυρίως παρὰ τὸ τῇ ἀλόχῳ γυναικὶ βοηθῆσαι)

Modern etymology

Ἀλέξω is cognate with ἀλκή, ἀλκί "strength", and is an old derivative of the PIE root *h2elk-, matching Vedic rákṣati "he protects" (Beekes, EDG)

Persistence in Modern Greek

The verb is lost in Modern Greek. However, there are still compounds with αλεξι- such as αλεξικέραυνο, αλεξίσφαιρο, αλεξίπτωτο, most of which are calques (Triandafyllidis, Dict. of MG)

Entry By

Le Feuvre