ἀγή

Validation

Yes

Last modification

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 15:10

Word-form

ἀκμή

Transliteration (Word)

akmē

English translation (word)

highest point

Transliteration (Etymon)

agē

English translation (etymon)

driving

Author

Etym. Gudianum

Century

11 AD

Source

Idem

Ref.

Etym. Gudianum, alpha, p. 66

Ed.

E.L. de Stefani, Etymologicum Gudianum, fasc. 1 & 2, Leipzig: Teubner, 1:1909; 2:1920

Quotation

Ἀκμάζω· παρὰ τὸ ἀκμή, ὃ σημαίνει τὴν ἡλικίαν· τὸ δὲ ἀκμή παρὰ τὸ ἄγω ἀγή καὶ πλεονασμῷ τοῦ κ ἀκμή κατὰ μετάθεσιν.

Translation (En)

Akmazō "to be at one's peak" comes from akmē "highest point", which means "youth, flower of age". And akmē comes from agō "to drive, to lead", hence agē "driving", and through addition of the [k] one obtains akmē with metathesis.

Comment

This etymology is found only here. From ἄγω, the action noun ἀγή is indeed attested epigraphically, but is very rare, so maybe ἀγή here is only a mere abstract construction from ἄγω for the sake of derivation. The meaning would be that youth is the result of "driving, leading" toward adulthood – unless it must be understood as "gathering" of young people of the same generation (the epheboi in Athens). The formal aspect is difficult because of the formulation: what is added should be the [m], which is not mentioned. If it is not corrupt, the formulation means that from ἀγή one derived *ἀγκή (through addition of [k]), and as is known, ‹γ› before a velar stop is the regular spelling for a nasal (ἐμβάλλω / ἐγκαλέω), so that this *ἀγκή is equivalent to [aNkē], which can stand for [ankē] of [amkē] and can legitimately, if submitted to metathesis, become [akmē]. This is an instance of confusion between the graphic level and the phonological level. Ancient Greek etymology has many instances of such a confusion, since the Greeks were reasoning with letters, not with sounds, and for them sound and letter were one and the same thing. Here the assumption is that adding a velar to [ag] (ἄγω) which has a real velar, graphic and phonological, will transform it into ἀγκ-, which has a graphic velar but a phonological nasal, and then metathesis will turn it into ἀκμή, which has a graphic and phonological nasal. The phonological level is required as an intermediate step between two incompatible spellings, with the letters Γ (ἄγω) and Μ (ἀκμή).

Parallels

There is no parallel

Modern etymology

Ἀκμή is derived from root ἀκ- (PIE *h2ek-) "point", found in most IE languages. Within Greek, it is related to ἄκρος "highest, extreme", ἄκων "javelin", ἀκόνη "whetstone", ἀκίς "spearhead" (Beekes, EDG)

Persistence in Modern Greek

Yes

Entry By

Le Feuvre