Re: The Greek word 'Magoi'

From: Timothy T. Dickens (
Date: Thu Nov 07 1996 - 09:13:44 EST

At 17:26 Uhr +0100 on 06.11.1996, Timothy T. Dickens wrote:

> I am currently trying to understand the etymology
> of the Greek word 'Magos'; this word appears only in a
> couple of instances, and its scarceness makes me wonder
> if the word is even Greek in origin.

It is not Greek in origin, but generally considered as an old Persian loan
word. Old Persian is, not surprisingly, the language of the ancient
Persians, and it is an indo-european language like Greek and Latin are,
belonging to the indo-aryan group. This being so, there could well be a
more exact etymology, but as far as I know there is no good explanation of
the word.

Dr. Rainer Thiel

TTD: Dear Dr. Thiel,
        Your comments are interesting; particularly, since they differ
somewhat from what a member from another list had to say on the topic:

". . . .the Magoi were a tribe of the Medes, to the west of the ancient
Persians, and described at some length by Herodotus in Bk 1 of his
Histories (1.140) as being a priestly caste with some distinctive
religious practices that aren't necessarily if at all related to the
Persian (who spoke an Indo-European language, Old Avestan, later Persian,
ancestor of the modern Farsi still used in Iran) Zoroastrians. . . . "

Dr. Thiel and Dr. Conrad,
If the passage by Herodotus is given any type of credibility whatsoever,
then while the "religious practices" of the Magoi "aren't "necessarily. .
. related to the Persian," was the language of the Magoi old Persian?

Tim Dickens

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