Friday, August 27, 2010

Macedonian names and makeDonski pseudo-linguistics: The case of the name Lyka.

Miltiades Elia Bolaris

Το παρόν άρθρο είχε πρωτοεμφανιστεί στο Αμέρικαν Κρόνικλ στις 15 Αυγούστο του 2009. This article first appeared in the "American Chronicle", on August 15, 2009.

"Lyka. This female Macedonian name, which exists in the present day language, is possibly derived from the noun "lika" (a face, pretty face). The name Lika is present in today's Macedonian onomasticon." Quote was taken from: "Similarities between ancient Macedonian and today's' Macedonian Culture (Linguistics and Onomastics)" by Aleksandar Donski, celebrity "historian" and propagandist from FYROM.


Lykos/Λύκος in Greek means wolf. In Greek the substitution of the -os/ος ending of masculine names by the -e/-η and -a/-α endings signifies the female equivalent of the same noun or adjective. Therefore, to the uninitiated, Lyka obviously sounds like female wolf in Greek. Under certain conditions it could be, but properly it is not. The female wolf in standard modern Greek, is Lykaina (G.Babiniotis, Athens, 2002). Lyka/Λύκα is also understood, but it does not sound proper.

The modern Slavic name Lika/Лика, (wherever it is not a simple cut-off derivative of Angelika) can possibly be a survival of the ancient Greek name Λύκα/Lyka, since many Greek rural populations lived side by side with Slavic ones and some were probably assimilated into the Slavic populations of later times, post 7th century Ad. But since this name is found also in other Slavic languages, who never came into contact with the local Greek speaking populations of the Balkans, then this hypothesis is probably unsupported.

Personally, I would would tend to think that if, and that is a big if, the Slavic female name Lika/Лика is related to Greek, then it is most probably a modern loan name that could in fact be derived from the Greek Lykos/ Λύκος=wolf. In a dialectical format in some parts of modern Greece the she-wolf may indeed also be called Lyka/λύκα, though personally I cannot attest to it, nor deny its posibility. In ancient Greek the word to describe her was either Lyko/Λυκώ or Lykaina/Λύκαινα(Stamatakos, Athens, 1972). The commonly used word to describe the the she-wolf now, in Modern Greek, is also Lykaina/Λύκαινα, the "Wolfette" . For the record, Lykos/ Λύκος is derived from the common Indo-European word for the wolf *wlkwos, which is found in numerous other Indo-European languages, besides Greek: Latin "Lupus", Sanskrit "Vrka", Tocharian B "Walwa", Lithuanian "Vilkas", Albanian "Ujk", English and German "Wolf", Russian "Volk", etc. (Oxford Introduction to Indo-European, Oxford 2006).

Professor Donski may actually be correct in pointing out that the modern Slavomacedonian name Lika/Лика "is possibly derived from the noun "lika" (a face, pretty face)". Indeed, "face" in Russian is "Litso/лицо", and when speaking of a Saint's face the Russians use the word "лик святого" (lik svyatogo). In Serbian and Croatian it is "Lice/лице" and in Bulgarian it is "Litse/лице" or "Lik/лик" so it seems probable that Donski may actually be partially right on this one, on the derivation of the modern Slavonic name Lika.

Regardless and completely independent of where the modern Slavic female Lika/Лика is derived from, the ancient Macedonian name Λύκα/Lyka is unquestionably Greek. Unlike the modern version, though, it is for sure not derived from Λύκος/Lykos, the wolf. Linguistically the two words are totally unrelated.

We must go to the ancient sources and look at what the ancient epigraphy can reveal to us, in order to find out why.

The first inscription is from the Macedonian city of Amphipolis/Ἀμφίπολις, not far from the city of Serres:

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia
SEG 35:712
Makedonia (Edonis) — Amphipolis — Portraita se Taphika Mnemeia (1983) 194,
127 — Grabdenkmäler mit Porträts (1998) 104,135

Ζώσιμος καὶ Χρη-
σίμα Λύκᾳ τῷ τέ-
κνῳ μνήμης

Zesimos and Chre-
sima to Lyka their
child in memory's

A second inscription from Macedonia comes from Beroia:

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia
EKM 1. Beroia 341
Makedonia (Bottiaia) — Beroia — 2nd/3rd c. AD

Ἡλιοφῶν Λύκαν τὴν γυ-
νε̑κα μνήμης χάριν κὲ Οὐα-
λέριν τὸν υἱὸν ἥρωα.

Heliophon to Lyka his
wife in memory's Grace and to Oua-
lerios his son the Hero.

A third inscription, this one from Thessalonike mentions yet another Lyka:

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia
IG X,2 1 326
Makedonia (Mygdonia) — Thessalonike — 2nd c. AD

Σεραπιακὸς καὶ
Λύκα Λευκίππ[ῃ]
καὶ Ἀθηνοδώρῳ
τοῖς τέκνοις μνεί-
ας χάριν.

Serapiakos and
Lyka to Leukipe
and Athenodoros
their children, in me-
mory's Grace

Then, on an inscription, from the Paionian city of Stoboi, now in Central FYROM, the name appears in its masculine form, Lykas/Λύκας.

Regions : Northern Greece (IG X) : Macedonia
SEG 16:406
Makedonia (Paionia) — Stoboi — Sirkovo — Roman period — ZAnt 3 (1953) 237, 7

Κλυμένη Λύ-
κᾳ τῇ θυγατρὶ
καὶ Πουπλίῳ
τῷ ἀνδρὶ ἐποίει
μνήμης χάριν καὶ
ἑαυτῇ ζῶσα.

Klynene, daughter of Ly-
kas to her daughter
and to her husband
Pouplios she made
(and dedicated this monument)
in memory's grace and
to herself, while still alive.

Τhe Paeonians were an ancient ethnic group that lived in the Amphaxitis, in what is now Central Macedonia,Greece, in southern ex-Yugoslavia (what is now southern and central FYROM), and in SW Bulgaria. They were squeezed between the Macedonians and the Thracians. The Paionians are thought to have been a cousin nation to the Greeks, the closest ethnolinguistic relatives of the Greeks in the ancient Balkans. Precious few of their words are known to us. Only some toponyms, hydronyms, animal names ethnic and personal names have passed down to us. They never had their language written down and what has been written is all in proper Greek. Paionia became completely Hellenized after it became a client state of the Macedonians, retaining only nominal independence. It is generally accepted that they were also closely related to the Phrygians, who were originally neighbors of both the Paionians and the Northwestern Greeks, according to Herodotus and others, and the linguistic affinity of the Phrygian language to Greek has recently been well established (Claude Brixhe, Vladimir Orel, Panayiotou, Diakonov, etc) beyond doubt.Revealingly, most of the Paionian names were either unmistakably Greek (Agis/Άγης, a Royal name shared with several kings of Sparta, Ariston/Αρίστων, Audoleon/Αυδολέων, Leon/Λέων, etc) or Greek-related (almost completely Greek with only slight dialectical differences with classical Greek, like Patraos/Πατράος, Eupolemenos/Ευπολεμένος, etc). At any rate all of their names are easily decipherable using Greek. One of the Paionian names was that of a Paionian κing, named Lycceios/Λύκκειος (356BC - 340BC).
We see that there are plenty of inscriptions in Macedonia, which indicates that the name Lyka and apparently Lykas too were quite common in Macedonia, and apparently in Paionia too. In fact there was a city known from Hellenistic times called Lyka, on the island of St Achileios in the Prespa Lake, which has been recently identified by Roman and Hellenistic fragments under Byzantine archaeological strata, and of course the epigraphy found at the spot:

EAM 149
Macedonia : Lynkestis: Lyke (Agios Achilleios)

Λυ]καίων ἡ πολειτεία
Κ(όιντον) v Ἰούλιον Κρίσπον

The city of the Lykaioi
to Kointos Ioulios Krispos (a Latin name written in Greek)

SEG 47:910
Macedonia : Lynkestis: Lyke (Agios Achilleios)

θε]οῖς Σεβαστοῖς καὶ τῇ Λυκαίων
πό]λει Λ(εύκιος) Φλαούιος Φαβρικιανὸς

to the Respected Gods to the city of the
Lykaioi Leukios Flauios Fabrikianos

The St. Achileios island inscriptions, besides the identification of Lyka, the city of the Lykaoi, it also gives us a good hint of the language spoken in this macedonian city during the Roman times.

But was the name Lyka/Λύκα exclusive to Macedonia? Apparently not, as the epigraphic record will easily prove.

An Athenian man, sometime in the early 5th c BC inscribed his name in ancient graffiti form, for posterity:

SEG 40:47 Attica
Att. — Würzburg: Martin-v.-Wagner — c. 480-470 bc



In the Attic town of Eleusis, in Athens we read:

Regions : Attica (IG I-III) : Eleusis
SEG 45:188
Att. — Eleusis — AD 47.1992[1997].B.42

Λύκα Θρέπτου ἐγ Μελιτέων

Lyka daughter of Threpsis from Meliteoi.

A woman's funerary dedication on her father's tomb, tells us that the name Lyka was also in use in the island of Crete.

Regions : Aegean Islands, incl. Crete (IG XI-[XIII]) : Crete
IC II v 43
Crete, W. — Axos — IIp.

Λύκα Μυ̣-
τῷ πατρὶ

Lyka to My-
her father
in memory's

The name Lyka appears twice on a long list of about 270 names from the Torre Nova area of Rome, the vast majority of which are Greek, with some Latin ones, which indicates that this was a Greek religious cult or mystic order, since such religious titles as ἱέρεια/Hiereia, μύσται/mystai, ἥρως/hero, δᾳδοῦχος/dadouchos, ἱεροφάντης/hierophantes, βουκόλοι ἱεροί boukoloi hieroi, πυρφόροι/pyrphoroi and of course a φαλλοφόρος/phalophoros are mentioned, all by name:

Regions : Sicily, Italy, and the West (IG XIV) : Italy, incl. Magna Graecia
IGUR I 160
Italia — Roma: Torre Nova, area of — ca. mid. 2nd c. AD — cf. IGUR IV, p. 148, 160

and further down:
Οὐαλερία Ἀριστεῖνα/Oualeria Aristeina

Finally, in the Greek city of Knidos, in Caria of Asia Minor, at the base of a statue we read:

Regions : Asia Minor : Caria
IK Knidos I 165
Karien — Knidos (Tekir) — 180-170 v.Chr. — AJA 77.1973.422 Anm.37

Κλέαρχον Ἀναξιδώρου
Τιμόξενος Ἀριστοκλεῦς
καὶ Λύκα Ἀναξιππίδα
τὸν αὐτᾶς πάππον

To Clearchos son of Anaxidoros
Timoxenos son of Aristocleus

and Lyka daughter of Anaxipidas
to her grandfather

The epigraphic record, therefore, amply proves, as we said earlier, that Lyka/Λύκα is not only a Macedonian, but a Panhellenic name; all the Greeks used it, in every part of the Greek speaking word.

Let us now go to two inscriptions from Central Greece, with the name Lyka/Λύκα. They are from the oracle of Delphi, where Apollo was worshiped. Both inscriptions very similar, I would say almost identical, which seems to indicate that they followed a ritual pattern for this type of sacred dedicatory texts, where only the names of the persons, the names of the months and the amounts of money involved in the sacred sale were changing. They are dedications to the Pythian Apollo of Delphi.

1 ἄρχοντος Δαμοσθένεος μηνὸς Δαιδαφορίου, ἐπὶ τοῖσδε
ἀπέδοτο Διόδωρος Μνασιθέου Δελφὸς τῶι Ἀπόλλωνι
τῶι Πυθίωι σῶμα γυναικεῖον ἇι ὄνομα Λύκα, τιμᾶς ἀργυ-
ρίου μνᾶν τεσσάρων ἡμιμναίου, καθὼς ἐπίστευσε
5 Λύκα τῶι θεῶι τὰν ὠνάν, ἐφ´ ὧιτε ἐλευθέρα εἶμεν

which translated into English will give us:

1 during the archonship of Damosthenes in the month of Daidaphorios right here
Diodoros son of Mnasitheos, a Delphian offered to Apollon
the Pythian a body of a woman whose name is Lyka worthy
four and a half silver mnas since she
5 Lyka has accepted the sale to the Gods

Regions: Central Greece (IG VII-IX) : Delphi
SGDI II 1963 SGDI II 1962 SGDI II 1964
Phokis — Delphi — 182 bc

Now the second Inscription:

ἄρχοντος Κράτωνος μηνὸς Θεοξενίου, ἐπὶ τοῖσ-
δε ἀπέδοτο Λύκα Δώρου τῶι Ἀπόλλωνι τῶι
Πυθίωι σῶμα γυναικεῖον ἇι ὄνομα Εὔπρα-
ξις. τιμᾶς ἀργυρίου μνᾶν τριῶν, καθὼς ἐπί-

and in approximate translation:

during the archonship of Kraton in the month of Theoxenios right
here Lyka daughter of Doros offered to Apollon
the Pythian a body of a woman whose name is
Eupraxis worthy three silver mnas since she be-

Regions: Central Greece (IG VII-IX) : Delphi
SGDI II 1961
Phokis — Delphi — 183 bc

In both of these texts we notice the mention of two women named Lyka. They are obviously unrelated, which seems to indicate that this was probably a common name in the area of Delphi. In fact I found a total of seven inscriptions from Delphi (SGDI II 1741 Delphi, SGDI II 1833, Delphi, SGDI II 1876 Delphi, SGDI II 1961 Delphi, SGDI II 1963 Delphi, SGDI II 1975 Delphi, SGDI II 2243 Delphi) where the name Lyka is mentioned no less than 13 times.

The reason is simple: One of the names of the Pythian Apollon is Lycaios Apollon / Λυκαίος Ἀπόλλων or Lyceios Apollon /Λύκειος Ἀπόλλων. To know the meaning of this adjective we go to other words in the Greek language: Lykauges/Λυκαυγές (from Lyke/λύκη, meaning bright light+auge/αὐγή meaning dawn) is the light of the early dawn, when darkness breaks into day.

The same meaning is also found in the Greek word Lykophos/Λυκόφως (λύκη + φώς) for twilight. In ancient Greek we also encounter the word Lykabas/Λυκάβας (Λύκη+βαίνω) which means the going, the traveling, the departure of light, and it signified the time of day that still has light – before it gets dark, but also alternatively the solar year. Therefore, Lyke is a word that means light, and it is related to the word Lychnos which is the oil lamp the ancients used at night. Therefore Lycaios Apollon/Λυκαίος Ἀπόλλων means Apollo the illuminating one, which makes perfect sense considering that Apollon is a Solar God, a God of Light. Homer calls Apollon Lykegenes/Λυκηγενής=born of light, offspring of the light (and not wolf-born as popular etymology would assume, that would have been: Lykogenes/Λυκογενής).

In Arcadia in central Peloponnese we find the worship of Lycaios Zeus/Λυκαίος Ζεύς and indeed the toponym (one of many throughout Greece, from Macedonia to the Peloponnese) of Lycaeon/Lykaion/Λυκαίον Oros/Lycaeon mountain and on that mountain we also find the temple of Apollon at Bassae, in Phigaleia, a work of the celebrated architect Iktinos, one of the most magnificent temples in all of Greece. There is also a town called Lycaia, in Arcadia ("Λύκαια, πόλις Αρκαδίας"/Lycaia, a city of Arcadia - Stephanus Byzantius), adn yet another one, called Lycoa/Λυκόα ("Λυκόα, πόλις Αρκαδίας"/Lycοa, a city of Arcadia - Stephanus Byzantius, referencing Pausanias).

On top of the mountain Lycaeon/Lykaion the Arcadians celebrated the festival of Lycaea/Lykaia/Λυκαία in Honor of Lycaios Zeus/Λυκαίος Ζεύς.

An inscription from the town of Tegea, in Arcadia, enumerates the career victories of a Tegaean athlete, a native son, Damatrios/Δαμάτριος (Doric form of Demetrios), son of Aristippos/Ἀρίστιππος, and we read that among his numerous victories he had also won four times the Javelin throw prize in the Lykaian Games, the Lykaia/Λύκαια, held in his native Arcadia:

IG V,2 142 Arkadia (IG V,2) Arkadia — Tegea — late 3rd c. BC

Δαμάτριος Ἀριστίππου Damatrios son of Aristippos
Ὀλύμπια παῖδας στάδιον, Olympic Games children, Stadion run
Νέμεα παῖδας δόλιχον, Nemean Games children, Javelin
Ἀσκληπίεια παῖδας δόλιχον, Asclepieian Games, children, Javelin
Ἀλέαια παῖδας δόλιχον, Aleaian Gamnes, children, javelin
Λύκαια ἄνδρας δόλιχον τετράκις, Lykaian Games, men, Javelin, four times
Νέμεα ἄνδρας δόλιχον τρίς, Nemean Games, men, Javelin, thrice
Ἑκατόμβοια ἄνδρας δόλιχον ἵππιον δίς, Ecatomboia Games, men, Javelin, twice
Ἴσθμια ἄνδρας δόλιχον δίς, Isthmian Games, men, Javelin, twice
Ἀλέαια ἄνδρας δόλιχον τρίς, Aleaian Games, men, Javelin, thrice
Πύθια ἄνδρας δόλιχον δίς, Pythgian Games, in Delphi, men, Javelin, twice
Ὀλύμπια ἄνδρας δόλιχον ἅπαξ, Olympic Games, in Olympia, men, Javelin, once
Βασίλεια ἄνδρας δόλιχον δίς. Basileian Games, men, Javelin, twice

In the center of Athens, across the Acropolis, there is the white capped hill of Lycabetus/Λυκαβητός, a name it has had since prehistoric times. Then there is Lykeion/Λύκειον, the neighborhood by the temple of Lyceios Apollon, where Aristotle established his school of philosophy appropriately named the Lyceion/Λύκειον, in Latin transliterated as Lyceum. Τhe archaeological site has already been identified several years ago, in modern Athens. Now schools worldwide are called Lyceum/Lyceo/Lycee' due of Aristotle's random choice of that neighborhood as a good place to locate his school.

An inscription found in Athens actually mentions Lyceion/Λύκειον as an Athenian neighborhood landmark location:

IG II² 457 Attica

το τό τε στάδιον τὸ Παναθην]αϊκὸν καὶ τὸ γυμνάσιον τ-
ὸ κατὰ τὸ Λύκειον κατεσκεύ]ασεν καὶ ἄλλαις δὲ πολλαῖ-
ς κατασκευαῖς ἐκόσμησεν] ὅλην τὴν πόλιν·

and the stadion known as Panathenaikon and the gymnasion (a place for exercise),
the one next to Lykeion (Lyceion/Λύκειον) he built and other numerous
structures he decorated throughout the city.

Stephanos Byzantios mentions it too, in his "Ethnica": Λυκείον, τό γυμνάσιον. καί Λύκειος ό Απόλλων, λέγεται καί Λυκήιον / Lyceion, the gymnasium. and Lyceios Apollon, it is also called Lyceeion.

Finally in ancient Greece we encounter the names Lycaon/Λυκαων of Arcadia, Lykastes/ Λυκαστης of Crete, Lycarios/Λυκαριος the Spartan, Lycaonides/Λυκαονιδης the Arcadian, Lycanthos/Λυκανθος the Athenian, Lycainion/Λυκαινιον as a name for a woman from Athens Lycaros/Λυκάροs (IG X,2 2 327) in Macedonia : Derriopos: Styberra (Cepigovo), and Lycaretos/Λυκάρητος (Lebedos 6) from Ionia. We find Lyka/Λυκα a name very popular in Delphi and also Lyca/Λύκα (I.Apollonia 115) from Epeiros, and Lyca/Λύκα ( SEG 36:1156) from Bithynia, Lyca/Λύκα (IC I xviii 95) from Crete, Ctr.: Lyttos and Lyca/Λύκα (SEG 37:450) from Thessaly (IG IX,2): Magnesia: Demetrias. Lycaon/Λυκάων (IvO 91) from Elis in the Peloponnese, Lycaon/Λυκάων (MAMA 10 244) also from Phrygia, Lycaon/Λυκάων (FD III 1:478) from Delphi but also from (Spomenik 98 (1941-48) 48,101) Macedonian Paionia: Idomene? (Isar-Marvinci). Lykaios/Λυκαῖος (Epigr. tou Oropou 353) from Megaris in Boiotia (IG VII), Λυκάδας (Brunšmid, Inschriften 2-14) Epeiros, Illyria, and Dalmatia : Dalmatia, IG IV²,1 188, Λύκαιθος (IG IV²,1) from Epidauros in the Peloponnese, Lycades/Λυκάδης (ID 338) from the Cycladic island of Delos (IG XI and ID), Lycarion/Λυκαρίων (IGUR II 756) from Magna Graecia, in Southern Italy but also Lycarion/Λυκαρίων (SEG 40:1568) from Egypt. Lycandros/Λύκανδρος ( Graffites d'Abydos 91) from Egypt, Lycaris/Λυκάρις (IK Klaudiu polis 15) from Bithynia, Lycaithion/Λυκαίθιον (IK Knidos I 73) from Caria : Knidos. Lycaithos/Λύκαιθος Chios 152) from the island of Chios, and Lycaithos/Λύκαιθος (Iscr. di Cos ED 81) from Cos and Calymna : Kos.

Lyc/Luk-/Λυκ- derived Greek names, are all over the map of the ancient Hellenic world, they are obviously Pan-Hellenic and certainly not exclusive to the Macedonians.

Lyka-/Λυκα- is derived from Lyke/Λυκη meaning "bright light", which is also distantly related to Leukos/Λευκος which means "bright white, shiny, clear, bright" in Greek, and both are directly derived from the original Indo-European word *leukos which meant light, shiny, clear and bright, and related to the Indo-European noun *loukes for light. The Germanic-derived English word "light", the Old Irish "Loch" (glowing white), Hittite "Lukke", Sanskrit "Roki", Tocharian B "Lyuke", Lithuanian "Laukas" for blazing white, as well the Latin words "Lux" for light and "Luceo" for kindle, are all linguistically related to the Greek words "Leukos/Λευκός" the bright white, and Lyke/Λύκη" and of course to the ancient Macedonian, therefore Greek name "Lyka/Λύκα".

If we had the white she-wolf, shown in the photograph above, and had named her Lyka, she would have been Lyka/Λύκα, the lyceia/λυκεία-leuce/λευκή lykaina/λύκαινα:

In ancient Greek:

Λύκα ἠ λυκάλευκη λύκαινα - Lyka he lykaleyke Lykaina: Lyka the brightly white - shiny white she-wolf.

Come to think of it, it almost sounds like the title for a beautiful children's fable, like one of those professor Donski could be writing, once he stops wasting his great talent with words in fake nationalist fables for politically delusional adults of the type that belongs to the VMRO-DPMNE party; fables that try to promote an imaginary Ancient Macedonian Greek past for those with an uncertain and confused identity who happen to live in the lands of ancient Paionia and Dardania.


The photographs from Amphipolis, Lycabetos and Stoboi, as well as the Ancient Greek to English translations are by the author.

Greek Inscriptions

THE OXFORD INTRODUCTION to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World, Oxford Linguistics, J.P.Mallory & D.Q. Adams, Oxford University Press, 2006-2007

Εθνικά, Στέφανος Βυζάντιος, ΚΑΚΤΟΣ, Αθήνα, 2004

A LEXICON OF GREEK PERSONAL NAMES - VOLUME IV - MACEDONIA, THRACE, NORTHERN REGIONS OF THE BLACK SEA, The British Academy, Clarendon Press, The University of Oxford, Oxford, 2005

Villages Cities and-Ethne in Upper Macedonia, Rizakis-Touratsoglou, page 82

GREEK - ENGLISH LEXICON, Liddell & Scott, Oxford University Press, 1843-1951

Λεξικόν της Αρχαίας Ελληνικής Γλώσσης, Ιωάννου Σταματάκου, Αθήνα, 1972

Λεξικό της Ελληνικής Γλώσσaς, G.Babiniotis, Athens, 2002

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