Origin (etymology) of the name Mithridates

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Here it is, thanks to the always excellent work done by the people at dnghu.org.

Mithridates or Mithradates (in Greek, Mιθριδάτης or Mιθράδάτης) is the Hellenistic form of an Iranian theophoric name meaning "given by Mithra", being thus a Greek historiographic adaption of Old Iranian *Mithradata-:

1) First element from Indo-European mitros, Proto-Indo-Iranian *mitras, an Indo-Iranian divinity. Pokorny refined Meillet's mei- as "to bind." Combining PIE zero-grade mi- with the "tool suffix" -tro- "that which [causes] ..." (also found in man-tra-, "that which causes to think"), then literally means "that which binds" and thus "covenant, treaty, agreement, promise, oath" etc; cf. Gk. Hom. μίτρη “Gurt; head fascia, Withra”; doubtful μίτος “Einschlagfaden”; Ltv. mìemuri, meimuri “Femerstricke”. Pokorny's interpretation links it with PIE root mei-, "to fasten, strengthen", which may be found in Latin moenia "city wall, fortification", and in an antonymic form, Old English (ge)maere "border, boundary-post".

2) Second element from participle of -, "give"; compare participle Lat. datus “bestowed” = falisk. datu “given, delivered, given up, surrendered “,vest. data “ been delivered, given up, surrendered “, päl. datas “ been delivered, given up, surrendered" (: Gk. δοτός); compare also Ind. participle ditá-ḥ (uncovered), secondary dattá-ḥ, zero grade in ā̈-t-tá-ḥ, prá-t-ta-ḥ “devoted”; BUT, ablaut. in tvā-dāta-ḥ “ you gave from", Av. dāta-. Therefore translated as the general IE zero-grade datós.

Hence MIE Mitrodátos, "given by Mitra (promise, oath)".


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