saras 2

Dominique.Thillaud thillaud at UNICE.FR
Tue Jun 16 09:06:18 UTC 1998

Dear members,
        To justify my hypothesis on the name of the Goddess sarasvatI (from
a saras =? speech), I must add some Greek facts to the Latin sermO
        We have a word herme:neus "interpreter", (first used for the poets
as Gods' interpreters) which shows the usual suffix -eus of job's names and
leads to a *herma:n (e: < a: is given here by the Pindaric form
herma:neus). But this *herma:n is not totally unknown: Laconian (and
Arcadian) forms of the God's name Hermes give us a genitive Hermanos. Now,
one of the Hermes' features is to be the God of the Eloquence, one among
the numerous common traits pairing Him with Apollo, leader of the Muses
(and compared to the Goddess vAc by Dumezil). Hence, it's highly probable
that this *herma:n have something to do with the speech, especially the
poetic one.
        The suffix -ma:n is not attested in Greek, but the neutral -ma (<
-*mn) is widely used, and known to altern with the sigmatic neutral -os.
Hence, I'm highly interested by the possibility of a Vedic saras = speech.

        Thinking at the Nirukta 2.23, gently given by Beatrice:
"The following fifty-seven (words) [in the NighaNTu] are synonyms of
speech. From what (root) is vAc (speech) derived? It is derived from (the
root) vac (to speak). With reference to these, the word SarasvatI is used
both in the sense of 'a river' and of 'a deity' in Vedic passages" (trans.
by Lakshman Sarup).
        I'd try to understand it:
        * saras is synonym of speech.
        (* in fact that's an homonym of saras 'pond').
        * the name of the Goddess vAc is derived from the speech.
        * this explains why the name sarasvatI had two meanings in Vedic: a
river (from the usual saras, no comment) and the Goddess of Eloquence (in
the same way as vAc).
        Do you agree? It could be perhaps useful to have the Sanskrit text,
"with reference to these" being the key.

        Following George, lets go back to the frogs (RV 7.103.7):
brAhmaNA'so atirAtre' na' so'me
sa'ro na' pUrNa'm abhi'to va'dantaH
        the two "na'" could be parallel in a basic sentence:
brAhmaNA'so abhi'to va'dantaH
        one for the circumstance:
atirAtre' na' so'me
        one for the regime of vad-:
sa'ro na' pUrNa'm
        both expliciting the metaphore (I agree with na' < na'): that's not
a soma sacrifice, but (because it's night) it seems; that's not a "full
litany" (because inarticulate), but it seems.
        Could I be right?
        The metaphore frog/priest based on the song is perhaps an Eurindian
one and the variants of the frog's Greek name 'batrakhos' (bathrakos (<
*bathrax), botrakhos, bratakhos, brotakhos) could suggest a root
*bRgwh-akhos with a dissimilation > b..dh; in the Aristophane's play
"Frogs", the choir of frogs are the Eleusinian initiates and the homeric
epic "Batrakhomyomakhia" (Battle of frogs and mices) shows the Gods allied
to the frogs (except Athena Who is angry against them because, coming back
from war and tired, the frog's songs keep Her awaked (note 'end of war
season' = 'begin of rainy season')).

        I thank Jan but I don't believe the "cow" metaphore meaningful.
It's commonly used for any sort of abundant gift: the cow give ALL things.
The metaphore speech/river seems to be universal (French: 'un flot de
paroles', 'un discours-fleuve', &c.) but I agree with George: that could
explain sarasvatI(river)/speech, not saras/speech. Moreover, the metaphore
seems to refer (cf the medical Greek "logorrhee") to an unstructured
speech, with a slight pejorative connotation of overflowing, unacceptable
for the Goddess sarasvatI.


PS: Could someone be rather courageous to give us the 57 synonyms of speech
from  naigh.1.11 ? Such a list could be very useful.

Dominique THILLAUD
Universite' de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France

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