Re: PROSKNUEO (forward)

Carl W. Conrad (
Fri, 29 Mar 1996 05:32:08 -0600

I think this may have been intended for the list, rather than for me alone.
I think it's an interesting alternative suggestion for the etymology, but
it does run counter to the prevalent etymology suggested in lexica, and I
wonder whether a dog's fawning on a master is close enough to the obeisance
of PROSKUNHSIS to make this likely. Perhaps it depends on whether it's your
dog or mine!

Etymology is a peculiar game. It's generally agreed that the Cynic school
of philosophy derived its name either from its own adherents (Diogenes of
Sinope?) saying that a dog's life (hO KUNIKOS BIOS) was good enough for
them, inasmuch as they didn't deem themselves above the animal life or from
its opponents disparaging it. I suppose the formative elements WOULD permit
PROS-KUNEW to mean "act like a dog in front of"--well, doggone it!

<< start of forwarded material >>

>Date: Thu, 28 Mar 1996 16:43:57 -0800
>From: Alan Repurk <>
>Organization: I do not speak for my organization
>To: "Carl W. Conrad" <>
>Subject: Re: PROSKNUEO
>Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> On 3/28/96, tom atkinson wrote:
>> > Greetings!
>> >
>> > I am new to this list but am enjoying what I have read thus far. Very
>> > informative.
>> > I was wondering if anyone could provide me with a definition of the term
>> > PROSKNUEO-"worship." Specifically, I am wondering about the etymology of
>> > the word, how the word is used in the New Testament and what that entails
>> > for us today. I have done my own research of the term, but would like to
>> > hear fresh ideas from anyone on the list that could share it with me.
>> >
>> > One other thing. I had a professor who defines this word as "to be filled
>> > with emotions so overwhelming that it brings us to our knees in awe and
>> > adoration." What would you say to this definition.
>> PROS-KUNEW does fundamentally mean "go to ones knees before," "worship,"
>> even "grovel before," if you want to push those emotions and overtones of
>> groveling at the feet of an oriental despot--that's where the whole notion
>> comes from. So the fundamental notion is recognition of one's own humble
>> status in the presence of one whose superiority and authority one
>> acknowledges. Although it literally means "kneel before," therefore, it
>> seems to me that it is more metaphorical in usage to express the worshipful
>> stance of acknowledgement of one's own inadequacy and commitment to the
>> power and authority of the one before whom one acknowledges one's
>> helplessness and commitment.
>> Carl W. Conrad
>> Department of Classics, Washington University
>> One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
>> (314) 935-4018
>> OR
>> WWW:
>I have also heard that the word may be derived from kunarion, or
>dog, because of the similarity of the way a small dog might grovel
>before his master.
<< end of forwarded material >>

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR