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Greek/Ancient Greek Words with no equivalent


QUESTION: Hello, I was wondering if you know of any strong words in ancient greek that have no real equal in english?
something along the lines of the words 'metis' and 'pothos'

also if i can ask another question? what is the upper case translation in ancient greek for 'victory is in the preparation'

ANSWER: Hi Nick,

thank you for your question. What kind of words are you looking for? There are several ways one can approach your question. For example, words of local origin with no equivalent in any language would be the various names of pottery vases, glasses (e.g. kylix, kantharos, crater, pyxis etc.), or words from the political structure, such as democracy, oligarchy, aristocracy or maybe words from the philosophical thoughts and theories, that were later adapted by medieval scholars to promote their world/religious views. Those could be: teleology, hybris etc. What exactly are you looking for?

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QUESTION: Sorry i knew this one would be somewhat difficult haha. From what little I've learned, words like 'metis' and 'pothos' have no real equivalents in english. metis meaning some kind of cunning or artfulness (odysseus did not win the battle with strength or the finest of his armor but his metis) and pothos, used to describe alexander the great's 'divine yearning' to continue his campaigning. these two words in particular have been brought up in lecture after lecture, essay after essay that i've read on classical athens and/or the hellenistic age. for instance also the greek word for 'good order', eunomia,  would be one of those. i've noticed also that these names, all three ive mentioned in fact, are minor gods or goddesses. is there a relation or have i missed something in my studying? i hope that im doing a decent job of making myself clear.  im sorry i know you do this for free so please feel free not to spend too much of your time on it, i will be rating you highly either way. thank you

ANSWER: The words you mentioned are also used as proper nouns in texts. The fact that their concept is also attributed to a deity or a supernatural being, which represents it, is not the main reason of word inexistence in other languages. The more interesting part of this question would be to find out which cultural elements of the Greek tradition did not occur in other civilisations and vice-versa. Then it comes to my previous response, where you notice purely Greek elements. And in order to refer to them in other languages, you actually have to adopt the word as it is. When Greece was conquered by the Romans, several military terms from the Latin language (ranks, positions etc.) had to be "hellenicised", i.e. adopted as loan words.

I hope this was helpful enough. Wishing you a nice weekend.


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QUESTION: Thank you Michael, very helpful. Really, I'm jealous of your extensive knowledge. One last thing if you don't mind, a few translations in upper case ancient greek.

'victory is in the preparation'

Thanks you sooo much Michael.

You are welcome, Nick. Thank you for your kind words. I am doing my best; maybe someone else could have approached the topic differently. Nevertheless, if you are satisfied with my response, then I shall also feel relieved ;)

So, here are the requested words - in the same order (upper- and lowercase):

ἡ νίκη ἐν τῇ παρασκευῇ ἐστί / Η ΝΙΚΗ ΕΝ ΤΗΙ ΠΑΡΑΣΚΕΥΗΙ ΕΣΤΙ
μῆτις / ΜΗΤΙΣ
πόθος / ΠΟΘΟΣ
εὐνομία / ΕΥΝΟΜΙΑ

Let me know whether I can be of further assistance. I'd be glad to help.
Take care, Nick.



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Michael Barkas


I provide assistance in linguistic, literary topics of Greek and Latin covering, thus, the following fields: translation, grammar, syntax, vocabulary, etymology, morphology, semantics and interpretations etc.


Studies: University of the Aegean, Dept Rhodes Friedrich Wilhelm Universitšt Bonn

Magister Artium (Archeology/Linguistics) Bachelor (Latin/English/Greek)

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