In Greek religious language there is a pattern of divine epithet use consisting in the apposition of a concrete or abstract noun – and not an adjective – to the deity’s name. A few examples: Aphrodite Ψίθυρος ‘Whisper’, Demeter Ὁμόνοια ‘Concord’, Artemis Εὐπραξία ‘Welfare’, Athena Νίκη ‘Victory’, Zeus Κεραυνός ‘Lightning Bolt’.
As far as noun appositives referring to divine names are concerned, there are basically three types: (a) concrete and abstract apposed nouns; (b) generic appellatives such as θεός (this type also includes words for profession like ἰατρός, kinship terms like πατήρ, and general terms of address like ἄναξ); (c) divine names employed as epiclesis, e.g. Artemis Eileithyia, Zeus Ares, Aphrodite Hera.
My aim in this talk is to provide a unified account of the different types of noun apposition in Greek religious language. To this purpose I shall first classify them according to semantic classes. Secondly, I will hint at their syntactic status in the hope of shedding light on the syntactic relationship between divine name and epithet, thus putting forward a provisional linguistic explanation, as regards both semantics and syntax, for the three types of appositives under consideration. Hitherto they have not been dealt with as a group, nor have they been adequately compared with similar examples in other Indo-European languages.
José Marcos Macedo is Associate Professor of Greek Language and Literature at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. His main research interests are in the areas of Greek historical grammar, ancient Greek religion, and Indo-European poetics. He is currently working on a project about divine epithets in Greek and Vedic.