Re: thanatos

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Mar 08 1999 - 09:43:23 EST

At 8:27 AM -0600 3/8/99, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:
>dellbert wrote:
>> Has the word 'thanatos' ever carried with it the idea of 'separation'. Is
>> 'separation' part of the etymology of the word?
>Why do you ask? Is this a question with reference to the meaning of a
>Biblical text in which QANATOS appears? Even if "separation" was "part of
>(?) the
>word's etymology", it probably not have any bearing on the way the word
>was used
>there, since etymology is often a poor tool to determine the meaning with
>which a
>word was employed subsequently.

Let me just add another comment to Jeffrey's question about the question:
it appears to be a question about an unnamed text wherein some idea of
separation may be implicit or explicit because of some other stated or
implicit contextual assumptions. For instance, in Plato's Phaedo, there is
developed a dualistic conception of a YUCH that is separable from the SWMA,
that enters into it at birth, parts from it at death, and is later
reincarnated into another SWMA. QANATOS is defined therefore in the Phaedo
as separation of the YUCH from the SWMA, but this does not mean that
QANATOS by itself regularly bears such a sense. I think the regular forms
of the root QEN/QON/QNH/QAN (also shows up in the words for blooshed/murder
as FON/FONE) refer quite simply to the process of death and dying in common
human experience without any attached overtones that don't derive from
another source).

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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