Kassiopeia or Kassiepeia

Offline kassyopeia

  • Semi-Newbie
  • *
    • Posts: 3
The wikipedia article claims that "Cassiopeia" means "she whose words excel", and there are a lot of google hits for that translation, but none of them give anything resembling an etymology. If I look up "word" and "excel", I don't see any translation that looks like it might be part of the name. Am I missing something, or is this just an often-repeated claim with no basis?
I found a few sites which discuss the etymology in what seems like a better-founded way, and they suggest that it either quite prosaically derives from the spice cassia, or that it's simply a meaningless proper name as far as Greek is concerned, with possible partial derivations from Egyptian or other early languages.

TIA for any elucidations. :)
« Last Edit: 22 Sep, 2009, 19:17:17 by billberg23 »


Offline elmak

  • Full Member
  • ***
    • Posts: 519
    • Gender:Female
  • Eleni Makantani
Hello,

Without being an ancient Greek expert, I could find that the name Cassiopeia is the Greek Kassiopi, Kassiopeia, Kassiepeia or Kassopi (Κασσιώπη, Κασσιόπεια, Κασσιέπεια, Κασσώπη). It is a compound noun. The first part of it derives from the verb kainymi (καίνυμι=excel), of which the perfect form is kekasmai (κέκασμαι). Of course, this is just an allegation, because the name is so ancient, that scholars are unsure about its exact derivation. For the second part of it, there are two opinions. One says that it derives from the noun opsis (όψις) = looks (so it would mean "she who has excellent looks"). The other one says that it derives from the noun epos (έπος) = word (so it would mean "she who excels at words).

I hope that someone more expert than myself could help you learn what you are asking for or that they will correct anything incorrect that I might have posted here. The issue of names derivation and meaning is very interesting to me, too.

And just for your info,  there is a seaside resort on the Greek island of Corfu, called Kassiopi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kassiopi



Online billberg23

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
    • Posts: 5825
    • Gender:Male
  • Words ail me.
Good question, k.!  All bets are off on the origin/interpretation of this name.  Gallons of ink have been spilled over it for the past century and a half, and it's all conjectural.  Chances are it's non-Greek in origin, with the Greeks (and especially the Romans) imagining it to have something to do with "loud-voiced."

In fact, it might derive from the name of a West Semitic harvest deity, Kasiu or Kaššu, whose worship the Phoenicians introduced in a few Greek seaport towns.  An important cult center for "Zeus Kasios" (as the Greeks called him) was named after him — the Corcyrean (Corfu) port city of Kassiope, mentioned by elmak (above).  (The -ope ending referring to the god's "voice" or oracle?) Corfu is off the west coast of Greece, and the variation Kassiopeia/Kassiepeia may in fact be west Greek in origin, like the variation Corcyra/Kerkyra.
« Last Edit: 22 Sep, 2009, 22:43:17 by billberg23 »


Offline kassyopeia

  • Semi-Newbie
  • *
    • Posts: 3
Thanks, both! :)

Bill, can you be bothered to write a short paragraph about the Semitic deity? I'd like to include your derivation in the 'pedia article, but at the moment the only place to link to is this, which is not only not particularly informative but also confusing, as the article is on the Zeus for the most part, not the word in its more general meaning. It's fine if you post it here, I'll find a suitable article to include it in. Or go ahead yourself, whichever you prefer.

I found one mention of a Kassite king named "Kaššu-nadin", might that be the ultimate source of the name?



Online billberg23

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
    • Posts: 5825
    • Gender:Male
  • Words ail me.
This is about all I have to offer, Kass.  Remember, most of what we think we know about this deity and the putative connection with Cassiopeia is based on conjecture rather than solid evidence:

K. Tümpel, in Roscher’s monumental Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie (2.995), was evidently the first to suggest a link between the name of Cassiopeia (wife of Oineus and mother of Tydeus) and the name of the Corcyrean city Kassiope.  (Corcyra had been settled by Chalcidians — hence the Tydeus/Chalkis connection.)  Kassiope was a cult center of Zeus Kassios or Kasios, a West Semitic mountain-top god brought to Corcyra (Corfu) as a consequence of overseas trade with Syria and Egypt (W. Drexler in Roscher’s Lexikon, 2.974).  His name may originally have been Ḳaṣiu  (Drexler 970), or have had some early connection with the eponymous god of the Cassites, Kaššu (see M. Astour, Hellenosemitica, Leiden 1967, 145).  Further on Kassiope and Zeus Kasios:  A.B. Cook, Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion 2.2.906f.
« Last Edit: 24 Sep, 2009, 23:23:06 by billberg23 »


Offline kassyopeia

  • Semi-Newbie
  • *
    • Posts: 3
Quote
Remember, most of what we think we know about this deity and the putative connection with Cassiopeia is based on conjecture rather than solid evidence
Sure, that is understood, and I'll make certain whatever additions I make reflect that. It's wonderful that you included the sources, by the way. I'll post back here with links when I'm done, so you can proofread and point out anything I messed up, if needed.


 

Search Tools