Re: Fw: Concepts and Words

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Jul 01 1998 - 06:55:09 EDT

At 3:53 AM -0400 7/01/98, Peter Phillips wrote:
>I always understood the root of KUNEW being "cone" or "wedge-shape" - the
>same as "cuneiform" writing being writing made of wedge shapes. Hence the
>person in "proskunates" herself makes a wedge shape with her body - head
>down, 'posterior' up as a sign of obeisance. I thought that LSJ says that
>the earliest time that this word is used as "kiss" is in reference to some
>priest kissing a bishops ring in about 300-400CE. Again it is not a sign
>of intimacy but obeisance. You would harldy consider the kind of act of
>homage paid to some ancient kings as "kissing up to" the king!!! My life,
>can you imagine what a turn around we would need to have in translating
>Thucydides and Herodotus et al. if everytime someone "proskunated"
>themselves before a despot, we were to translate it "and he kissed up to
>the king"...and presumably had his lips sugically removed very swiftly!!!

Well, now, that is truly ingenious; it derives a word used in Greek already
seen in Homer (and meaning "kiss" there) from a Latin word-root from CUNEUS
for "wedge." This is etymology gone wild! Actually Ken Tolliver is quite
right: the root is *KU- and the -N- is a common nasalizing verbal formative
element for present-tense forms.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

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