Ancient Greeks and Italics in Ukraine and Russia
Using the graphic-analytical method, the ancestral home of the Proto-Greeks was localized in the ethno-producing area between the Lower Berezina, Dnieper, Pripyat, and Sluch Rivers. Under the pressure of Germanic tribes, which area of was beyond the Sluch (lt of the Pripyat), as well as, obviously, for other reasons, during the "First Great Migrations" the Greeks started moving in search of new places of settlement. Undoubtedly migrants used the waterway along the Dnieper, moving to the Black Sea and along its shores to the mouth of the Danube. A further way to the Peloponnese came up the Danube and then through the Balkans.
No doubt that during this long way some of the migrants remained for residence in comfortable places, as the Greeks did not have an ultimate aim of resettlement in a certain place, they are just looking for free land. However, Ukraine, especially in the steppe part, was dominated by the Turks at the time, so most of the Greeks just had to move on.
There are facts that suggest that the Greek settlers in Ukraine were not assimilated by other peoples for a long time, but lived in peaceful coexistence with them. In his history, Herodotus recalls the agricultural tribe of the Callipidai which were, according to him, half-Hellenes and half-Scythians and inhabited the territory along Hypanis (Southern Bug) west of Borisphen (Dnieper). Obviously, Herodotus could consider them as semi-Hellenes due to their language which was similar to Greek. It could be developed from the same parent language of all Greeks but somewhat different from the classical Greek after several centuries of its development in isolation from the majority of Hellenes. Thus the Callipidai could be the ancestors of those ancient Greeks who remained on the territory of Ukraine since ancient times.
Right: Bilsk hillfort
On the other hand, Herodotus, describing the wooden town of Gelonos in the land of Budinoi, wrote that it was inhabited by the Budinoi and Gelonians. Gelonos is associated with Bilski hillfort on the Vorskla River and Budinoi are identified confidently by historians confidently with Mordvins that left many traces in place names on the banks of the Vorskla, Sula, and Psel rivers. Describing the inhabitants of Gelonos, Herodotus wrote: "…the Gelonians are originally Hellenes, and they removed from the trading stations on the coast and settled among the Budinoi; and they use partly the Scythian language and partly the Hellenic" (HERODOTUS. Book 4: 108).
The reasons for relocation could not exist, therefore because M.I. Artamonov, tying Gelonos with Bilski hillfort, pointed out that the reason for Herodotus identifying Gelonos residents with the Greeks was only harmony "Gelonians – Hellenes" (ARTAMONOV M.I., 1974: 93) and considered Gelonians as one of the Scythian tribes. However, there are also striking similarities between the name of the city of Gelonos and the name of Gilan Province in Iran, populated by a people speaking the Gilaki language. Exploring kinship of Iranian languages (see the section Iranian Tribes in the Eastern Europe at the Bronze Age), we localized the area of the formation of the Gilaki language between the upper reaches of the Seversky Donets River and the Oskol, that is, literally next to Gelon. Some Greek-Gilaki lexical parallels suggest the possibility of contacts Gilanians with Greeks:
Gr. κορη "a girl" – Gil. kor"a girl";
Gr. δάμαρ "a wife", δαμάζω "to conquer, marry" – Gil. damad "a son-in-law";
Gr. ῥοή "stream, flowing" – Gil. rå "way, path";
Gr. γάμος "marriage, wedding" – Gil. hamser "husband, wife";
Gr. φανός "light" – Gil. fanus "latern".
At the Pre-Scythian times all Iranian tribes occupied a large area between the Dnieper and Don Rivers, and other lexical coincidences between the Iranian and Greek languages may serve as evidence of the presence of the Greeks in these places during the II mill. BC. Some of these matches were found while researching. For example, Greek εσχαρα "hearth, fire" has parallels in the Iranian words meaning "bright": Pers ašekar, Gil ešêker, Kurd. aşkere, Yagn oškoro etc. Greek τιμωρεω "to protect" corresponds to Pers timar, Gil timer, Kurd tîmar, Tal tümo "care". Greek σασ "a moth" can be connected with Pers, Kurd sas "a bug", Gil. ses "id". Afg lamba "flame" was borrowed from Gr λαμπη "torch", "light", rawdəl "to suck" (Gr. ῥυφέω "to slurp, swallow") and Afg julaf "barley" could originate from Gr αλφι borrowed from Turk arpa "barley". Tal külos "a ship", "a trough" is similar to Gr γαελοσ "a bucket", "a cargo ship". However, one can not exclude the fact that some of the Greek words mentioned here penetrated into the Iranian languages during the Hellenistic period, which began after the conquests of Alexander the Great. This topic requires some careful research.
You can also find Greek loan-words in the Mordvinic and Mari languages. For example:
Mok vatraksh “a frog” – Gr. βατραχοσ “a frog”.
Erz vis’ks "shame" – Gr αισχοσ "shame".
Erz. nartemks "wormwood" – Gr ναρτεχ (some plant).
Mok klek "good" – Gr γλυκυσ "sweet".
Mok stir' "a girl" – Gr στειρα "sterile".
Mok. pindelf "to shine", an isolated word among all Finno-Ugric – Gr Πινδοσ (to PIE * kuei "to shine").
Mari kala "a mouse" – Gr γαλη "a marten", "a weasel", "a ferret".
Mari lake "a pit" – Gr λαχη "a pit" out of λαχαίνω "to dig".
The Baltic-Finnish languages have words which origin is an enigma for specialists. For example, in the etymological dictionary of the modern Finnish language, the possibility of ancient borrowing from Germanic languages is assumed for Fin. hepo (diminising from hevonen), Est. hobu, hobune, Veps, Karel. hebo – all "horse", Mari čoma and Komi čan' – both "colt". However, it is noted that even the distant similarity for these words is not found among the Germanic vocabulary (HÄKKINEN KAISA. 2007: 192). Finnish linguist did not come to mind about accordance of the Baltic-Finnish words with Gr. ιπποσ "horse" phonetically adequate to Fin. hepo. Also Fin. and Veps. paimen "a herdsman" are identic to Gr. ποιμην "the same", but K. Häkkinen connects these words with Lith. piemuo "a herdsman" (ibid, 853), despite the fact that the Greek word corresponds to them much better phonetically.
The next enigma is the origin of the name of a bat in the Baltic-Finnish languages: Fin. lepakko, Karel. yölepakko, Veps. öläpakkoine. Phonetic diversity speaks of borrowing, but from which language? Obviously from Old Greek where the word ἱέρᾱξ, -ᾱκος meant "hawk, falcon" and Frisk explained it as "high flying". You can also note that Est. aur "steam" is like Gr. αηρ "air".
All these examples of Greek-Iranian and Greek-Western-Finnish matches give reason to assume that once some Greek tribes settled adjacent to the Iranian and the Finno-Ugric regions. The presence of the Greeks in the area of Gelonos is confirmed by a cluster of Greek place names along the banks of the Vorskla found while researching, but later it turned out that they sporadically can be found in other places:
Abazivka, a village of Zachepylivka district of Kharkiv Region – Gr. ἄππας "priest". There is the village of Abazsvka in the Poltava Region, but its name supposedly comes from the surname Abaza.
Khalepie, a village in Obukhiv district of Kiev Region – гр. χαλεπός "heavy, hard, dangerous".
Kovray, a village in Zolotonosha district of Cherkasy Region – Gr. κουρά "cutting hair, wool, branches".
Olbyn, a village in Kozelets district of Chernihiv Region – Gr. ὄλβος "prosperity, happiness", ὄλβιος "blessed, happy".
Poltava, a city and villages in Kharkiv, Lugansk and Rostov Regions – the name can have a different interpretation by means of Greek but the best Gr πόλις "a fortress, city" and ταΰς "great".
Saguny, a towt in Podgorevsk district of Voronezh Region, the village of Sahunivka in Cherkasy Region – Gr. σαγήνη "great fish net".
Stasy, a village in Dykanka district of Poltava Region and the village of Stasy in Chernihiv district – Gr. στάσις "a site".
Tarandyntsi, a village in Lubny district of Poltava Region – Gr. τάρανδος "elk, deer".
Takhtaulove, a village in Poltava district – Gr. ταχύς "swift, rapid, prompt", Θαύλιος – epithet of Zeus.
Trakhtemyriv, a village in Kaniv district of Cherkasy Region – Gr. τραχύς, "raw, rocky, rough", θέμερος "solid, sturdy, hard".
Ancient Greek place names in Ukraine.
As can be seen, there is in many cases good phonetic closeness of names to the Greek words. In addition, the compact location increases the likelihood of made interpretations. Religious features of the area designated by the place names such as Abazivka and Tahtaulove were continued by the Slavic population, which can be validated by the existence here villages having the root bozh (Slavik "god") – Bozhks Bozhkove, Bozhkovske. As can be seen, in many cases there is good phonetic proximity of place names to the words of the Greek language, and the compactness of their location increases the likelihood of interpretations. In a small area, toponymy reflects the continuity of the special religiosity of its population, regardless of ethnicity and religion. Started by the Greeks in the settlements on the site of Abazsvka and Takhtaulove, it reached Slavic times, confirmed by the names of the villages of Bozhki, Bozhkovo, Bozhkivske having in the names the root bozh (Slavik "god"). Such an analogy could be considered accidental if it were not for the deciphering of the several nearest place names Khorol by means of the Kurdish language – xor "sun", ol "religion". The Kurds worshiped the sun, and this feature of them is also reflected in the accumulation of the Kurdish place names in Eastern Poland, where villages with names of similar religious meaning are located in a small space (Narol, Paary, Pordisowka, Rebizanty). The presence of Kurds in Eastern Europe is discussed in the sections "Cimmerians" and "Cimbri".
It is also interesting that in the Seversky Donets basin, and in the nearest neighborhood there are about a dozen names containing a component part Liman. This word is not Slavic, and it is believed that it was borrowed through the Turkish, Crimean Tatar languages from Greek (Gr λιμήν "standing water, lake, harbor") already in historical time. This may be true for place names in Black Sea space which we do not take into account, but borrowing is unlikely for the Kursk, Belgorod, and Voronezh Regions in Russia.
So, we have enough evidence of the presence of the Greeks in Left-Bank Ukraine, but it is unclear how the way they got there. Two options are possible. Or they went down from their Urheimat along the Dnieper River and settled in the valleys of its tributaries, or they were the Callipidai, who came from the shores of the Hypanis. There is reason to consider the first option since some place names that can not be deciphered by any language other than Greek were found along the Dnieper and Desna Rivers and further towards Poltava. They could mark the migration path of the Greeks. We are talking about such settlements as the Stasy, Olbyn, Khalepie, Trakhtemyriv, Kovray, and others.
The city of Kyiv fits this chain of names too. The etymology of its name is dark. Perhaps it is also of Greek origin, taking into account Gr. κίω "to set in motion". As the legend of the founding of Kyiv is present in the Armenian literature, we suggested that the date of foundation of Kyiv should be attributed to four thousand years ago (see "About the Origin of the city of Kyiv ").
Staying for a long time on the territory of Ukraine, the ancient Greeks had a definite impact on the language and culture of the later population, in particular Ukrainians. In the area between the Lower Berezina, the Dnieper, the Pripyat, and Lower Sluch Rivers after the Greek began to form the North German language, and then there lived Baltic tribes, whose language is unknown to us, but it has had some influence on the formation the Ukrainian language in the same area. By the principle of superposition, Greek cultural and historical substratum lasted until the settlement of the Slavs here. After the Ukrainians the same place was inhabited by the Belarusians, so the Greek substratum can be found in the Belarusian language and culture.
During the studies the influence of the cultural substrate was not specifically examined. However, certain analogies in the culture of the Greeks and Ukrainians were found. For example, both the Greeks and the Ukrainians have wedding folk dances under the same name "Crane". Judging by the descriptions in the specialized literature, the dances are very similar (see the article by Anatoly Bogorod on the website "Traditional dances Ukraine"). If this dance is still known in Scandinavia, then it can be considered a cultural substratum. We can also point to other Greek-Ukrainian cultural parallels having analogy also in other eastern Slavic peoples. Ukrainian words korovod, khorovid (Rus. khorovod, Br. karagod a.o.) have good Greek match χορεια «round dance» and χοροσ «chorus». Slavic words have no satisfactory etymology, so it is likely that they are the ancient Greek culture substratum, as well as the tradition to dance in this way. We can also point to other Greek-Ukrainian cultural parallels having analogy also in other eastern Slavic peoples. Ukrainian words korovod, khorovid (Rus. khorovod, Br. karagod a.o.) have good Greek match χορεια «round dance» and χοροσ «chorus». Slavic words have no satisfactory etymology, so it is likely that they are the ancient Greek culture substratum, as well as the tradition to dance in this way.
Greek linguistic substratum is found in the Ukrainian language much better. Undoubtedly, a substrate word is *krene "a well, source", though most experts deny connection Ukr. krynytsia and Br. krynitsa with Gr. κρηνη (Aeolis κράννα) “the same”. However H. Frisk and F. Holthausen link this word and κρουνός "source, flow, stream, spray" with Old Norse hrønn "wave", OE hræn "wave, flow, sea". Clearly, the Norsemen and Anglo-Saxons have adopted this word from the remnants of the Greek population, and from them, the word in a narrower sense has been got by the ancestors of the Ukrainians, who have added the Slavic suffix –itsya to it, and then the Russians, Poles, and Belarusians borrowed the word from the Ukrainians.
Other examples of possible Greek-Norse substrate
Gr. βλεμμα “look, eyes” – Old Norse blim-skakka “to squint” (Icl. skakka “curvature”) – Ukr. blymaty "to shimmer, glimmer".
New Gr. γλεπω ”I watch” – Dan. glippe, Sw. glippa “to blink, watch” – Ukr. hlypaty "to see, look.
Gr. κωβιοσ “gudgeon” (Gobio gobio) – Old Norse. kobbi “young seal”, Sw. kobbe “seal, sea-dog” – Ukr. kovbyk “gudgeo”, Bel. kovbel “the same”. Similar words are present in the Baltic and Russian languages (А. LAUČIŪTĖ Yu.A., 1982, 143), but phonetically they are standing on. Perhaps it is a stray word.
Gr. σκαπερδα "a game of boys while Dionysius” – Icl skoppa “ricoshet” and jörðin “earth” – Ukr. skopyrdyn “some game, during it a stock is thrown to be struck on the earth with both ends in turn”.
Gr. σμῶδιξ "a stripe" – Icl. smuga “small valley” – Ukr. smuha "a stripe".
Gr. χαρισ “beauty” – Ukr. harnyi "beautyful".
We can speak more confidently about borrowing from the Greeks of Ukraine word parus "sail" (OR parusъ, Gr. φαροσ "sail, cloth"). H. Frisk pointed out that this word was isolated in Greek, and Fasmer noted that it had a poetic character in ancient Greek and was not encountered later (FRISK H., 1970, V. II: 993; VASMER M. 1971. V.ІІІ: 210). The Greek word should be associated with Gmc. *fara- "to move". In Icelandic, it corresponds to far "a means of passage, ship" (CLEASBY RICHARD, VIGFUSSON GUDBRAND. 1874: 141), semantically close to the Greek word. Consequently, the word, which originally had the narrow meaning of "sail", later acquired Germanic various meanings associated with movement. In the original meaning, the word was borrowed by the Ukrainian language, and from it came into Russian and Belarusian. Doubts about the possibility of its borrowing from the Greek (VASMER M. 1971: ibid) arise from ignorance about the presence of the ancient Greeks in Ukraine.
Isolated lexical correspondences between the Ukrainian and Greek languages have repeatedly attracted the attention of linguists. In particular, O.A. Ponomariv (PONOMARIV O.D., 1973,) gives a number of Greek-Ukrainian matches, including most of the relatively recent borrowings, including yegipta, yerodula, spudey, khalepa. These words have been never widely sread in the Ukrainian language (perhaps with the exception of khalepa) and were used mainly among the clergy and students, what explains the nature of the borrowing. However, words such as aterynka “a rudd”, dzema “soup”, lavuta “a fool”, lakata “fish net”, ramat “a type of female shawl”, skoroda “sedge”, though still not widespread, could in principle be of substrate loan-words from Greek, but not in the mutual Greek-Ukrainian ancestral home but somewhere in the Poltava Region.
Working with dictionaries of the Finno-Ugric languages, I noticed that some words are very similar to Latin ones. At the same time, some place-names of Central Russia of unknown origin were well explained in Latin. Since the presence of the ancient Greeks in Ukraine has convincing evidence, therefore the possibility of the presence on the territory of Russia of the ancient Italics, that is, the conditional ancestors of the Romans, could not seem as absurd. When targeted searches were carried out, this bold idea was confirmed. At present, there are few proofs of the Italics among the Finno-Ugrians and some of them may be inconclusive, but according to the probability multiplication theorem, the probability of a casual simultaneous occurrence of a certain number of independent unlikely events approaches zero.
So, let us take examples of lexical coincidences between Latin and Finno-Ugric languages, the probability of their non-randomness is by no means too a small a value. First of all, it is necessary to pay attention to the words, which in their meanings can be borrowed by the Finno-Ugrians from the Italics, who stood at a higher level of development. These include the name of copper in the Finno-Ugric languages, similar to Lat. argentum "silver": Mari vürgene, Komi yrgön, Udm. yrgon, Mansi ärgin.
If you do not take into account modern vocabulary, the Mari language has most of all correspondences to Latin words. True, some of them have matches in Old English, since the Anglo-Saxons were also present in Russia, but much later (see the sectionAnglo-Saxons at Sources of Russian Power). For example, Mari pundo "money" can be connected with OE. pund "pound,a measure of weight and monetary unit". This word could get to Mary through Mordovians, whose languages have pandoms "to pay", pandoma "payment", borrowed from the Anglo-Saxons. Other Germanic languages have similar words. No doubt, they are borrowing from Latin, which has pondō "poгnd" and pondus "weight" (KLUGE FRIEDRICH, SEEBOLD ELMAR. 1989: 542). The Mari word is closer to Latin and Old English ones, not to Mordovian words, so borrowing could come only from the Anglo-Saxons or from the Italics. Mari arča "a casket" corresponding to Lat. arca "box, chest", but it can be borrowed from other languages (Chuv. arča «arča», OE. earc(e) "ark, box"). Mari pod, Fin. pata and similar in other Finno-Ugric languages in the meaning of "cauldron" also have a correspondence in Lat. pottus "pot". Lat. fundus "bottom, base" corresponds to Mari pundaš "bottom, sole". Komi pydös and Udm. pydes "bottom" were borrowed from Mari. Separate Mari-Latin correspondences may be as follows: Mari vurgo "stem" – Lat. virga "rod, twig", Mari rat "sense, use" – Lat. ratio "mind, thinking", Mari tuto "full" – Lat. totus "whole, full".
The fact of the presence of Italians on the territory of Russia is indicated by the similarity of some Finno-Ugric words to Latin rūmigāre "to ruminate", which comes from rūmen "throat, esophagus". Both Latin words correspond to the Old Ind. romanthah "rumination" (WALDE ALOIS, HOFMANN J.B., BERGER ELSBETH, 1965). In the Finno-Ugric languages, the same meaning have Veps. märehttä, Est. mäletseda, Karel. märehtie, Fin. märehtiä, Komi römidztyny, Udm. žomystyny. Experts believe that they all have a common origin, but the diversity of their forms does not find historical argumentation and therefore there is no confidence in the reconstruction of the original Finno-Ugric root: *märз or *rämз (HÄKKINEN KAISA, 2007: 759). Kaisa Häkkinen, the author of the etymological dictionary of the modern Finnish language for some reason did not introduce in this cluster Erzya and Moksha words r'amigams "ruminate". The similarity of the Mordovian words and the Ukrainian "remigaty" makes it possible to assume that the Finno-Ugrians borrowed the Ukrainian word through Mordovian, but it was borrowed from Romanian in historical times and therefore could not be widely spoken in the now very remote Finno-Ugric languages. The fact that the Romanian word comes from the Latin no doubt (MELNYCHUK O.S. (Ed). 2006, 140). Finno-Ugric words could not be borrowed from Indo-Aryan due to a large phonetic difference. Under such circumstances, the words with the meaning "ruminate" could get into the Finno-Ugric languages only from Italics.
The ancestral home of the Mari was defined in the area bounded by the Tsna, Moksha, and Khoper rivers. On this territory or near it, toponyms have been found that have no interpretation either in Finno-Ugric or in Russian or Turkic languages, but they can be explained by Latin. Among them:
Alamasovo, a village in Voznesensk district of Nyzhny Novgorod Region – Lat. ala "wing, shoulder", mas "man".
Ardatov, towns in Mordovis and Nizhny Novgorod Region – Lat. arduus "high", atavi "ancestor".
Kandievka, a village in Bashmakov district of Penza Region – Lat. candere, candeo "shine".
Kondol', a village in Penza Region, the center of a district, on the bank of the Kondol' River – Lat. condolere "to sympathize".
Penza, a city, the center of a Region – Lat. pensio "rent".
Ruzayevka, a town in Mordovia – Lat. rus "country" aevum "eternity".
Satis, a river in Mordovia and Nizhny Novgorod Region, rt of the Moksha, rt of the Oka, lt of the Volga, three villages of the same name on its banks – Lat. satis "sufficiently", "fairly", "pretty".
Sura, a river, rt of the Volga – Lat.. sūra "shin, calf" phonetically well suited, but the motivation of the name is incomprehensible. Similar words exist in the Finno-Ugric languages, which suite better to the meaning, but phonetically beimg further (Komi šor “stream”, Udm. šor "river", Khnt sor “lake, river”). On the other hand, the names of some tributaries of the Sura (Alatyr, Urga, etc.) can also be deciphered using the English language and, moreover, the ancient Roman politician Publius Cornelius Lentul Sura was known. Hard case.
Virga, a village in Nizhniy Lomov district of Penza Region – Lat. vīrga "rod, twig", vīrgo "virgin".
Volonter, village in the Burtasy rural settlement of Vurnary district of Chuvashia – Lat. voluntarius "volonteer".
As you can see, the ancient Italics left enough evidences about their presence in the neighborhood with the Mari. It would be strange if the Latin word rūmigāre, which was discussed above, did not leave any traces in the Mari language, but experts did not find it. However, purposeful searches yielded results – the Mari language has a word mugyrtyš “burping”, which has changed from the origin name to unrecognizability, but semantic proximity indicates the origin of the word.
Right: Places of settlements of the Greeks and Italics in Ukraine and Russia
On the map, the ancestral homeland of the Greeks and their later settlements are marked in blue, the Anglo-Saxons – in red. The ancestral homeland of the Mari is indicated in yellow, and the territory of the Republic of Mari El – in orange.
If the presence of the Italics in the neighborhood with the Mari is witnessed quite well, then their path from the ancestral homeland to Central Russia did not leave clear traces in the toponymy. If we assume that it went approximately in a straight line, then we can assume that on the way they founded such settlements:
Romny, city in Sumy region – the name of the city can be derived from the same word as the name of Rome (romanus "Roman").
Tavrovo, a village in the Belgorod district of the Belgorod Region, a part of the city of Voronezh, the former town of Tavrov – Lat. taurus "bull, ox".
Satinka, a village in the Tambov region, district center – Lat. satio, -one "time of sowing, time of year".
In addition to the Greeks and Italics, in prehistoric times other Indo-European peoples also lived on the territory of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, who in the course of their migrations were delayed near their ancestral homeland for a long time. First of all, they are Germanic, Iranian, Thracian tribes. Others, such as the Illyrians, the Celts, the Armenians, the Phrygians, the Indo-Aryans, practically did not leave their obvious traces. In the course of the research, they would be found in sufficient quantity to prove their residence in Ukraine or Russia. However, many researchers, putting forward their own hypotheses on the basis of random correspondences in toponymy, are looking for additional facts in their confirmation, but don't find convincing ones. Appearing from time to time publications about the connections of Ukrainians or Russians, for example, with the Indo-Aryans, have great interest of the reading public, which is attracted by sensational materials filled with mystery, especially if they contradict academic science. Of course, there is mystery in the presence of the Greeks and Italians on the territory of Ukraine and Russia. This topic should be interesting for wider research.
It is hoped that specialists will find more examples of the similarities in language and culture of the ancient Greeks and Ukrainians.