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(Ethnos) and (genos) in Herodotus.

Herodotus has often been considered the Father of Ethnography no less than the Father of History. It comes as a paradox, then, that he, has been taxed with confusion in his use of two terms that recur over and over in his discussion of peoples, [Unknown Words Omitted] and [Unknown Words Omitted]. Here is the formulation of Raymond Weil:(1)

Herodote definit mal l'`ethnos'. C'est pour lui tantot une subdivision du genos', tantot au contraire un ensemble de `gene'. Ainsi l'`ethnos' des Medes, comme celui des Scythes, groupe plusieurs [unknown character]. Mais cet `ethnos' scythe porte aussi le nom de `genos', et comprend des [unknown character]. Les Atheniens sont un `ethnos' hellenique qui fait partie du `genos' ionien, les Lacedemoniens un 'ethnos' pelasgique a rattacher au `genos' dorien.(2) Il y a d'ailleurs plusieurs [unknown character] pelasgiques et helleniques. L'ensemble des Grecs constitue tantot un `genos' - [unknown character] - reparti en [unknown character] tantot un `ethnos'. Et le `genos' dorien n'est plus au livre VIII que l'un des sept qui occupent le Peloponnese.

In other words, Herodotus' use of the two terms is taxonomic or hierarchical, and at the same time inconsistent: an ethnos is sometimes a subdivision of the genos, and sometimes the contrary.(3) It is true that he does not use language with the precision of a philosopher, and does not establish `definitions,:4 rather, like most authors he assumes that his personal linguistic system, the linguists' `idiolect', is sufficiently close to the reader's to make definitions unnecessary. On this understanding, it will be argued here that his distinction between the two words is not taxonomic, but instead is to be explained by linguistic `intension': that is, his choice of one or the other is determined not only by the object referred to or `referent' (`extension') but by the way he wishes to present them (`intension').(5)

An example of this distinction in English is provided by the words `house' and `home', which often occur together, sometimes as near-synonyms, `eat out of house and home', sometimes with a slight but perceptible difference, as in the American proverbs `men build houses, women build homes', `not all houses are homes'.(6) In these last, `house' emphasizes the dwelling-place as physical object, often as viewed from outside (`a street lined with ugly houses'): `home' emphasizes comfort, security, and other subjective feelings, often as viewed from inside (`she has a beautiful home'). There is perhaps a further difference, that the two words are paired as `marked' and `unmarked', `house' being the general, `unmarked' term, `home' the `marked `one.'(7) Like [unknown character] and [unknown character], `house' and `home' exhibit different syntactical behaviour. `House' in the singular is almost never found without a definite or indefinite article, and phrases like `in house' are rare: `home' tends to be used with reference to specific dwellings only when their physical amenities are stressed (`stately home', `senior citizens' home' [US]), and otherwise in generalized expressions such as `at home', `far from home', `go (come, get) home'.

I will begin by considering Herodotus' use of the words [unknown character] and [unknown character] in isolation from each other, and then take those passages in which they occur in the same context, sometimes with reference to the same group. I shall then compare Thucydides' practice with Herodotus'.

[unknown character] is a word of uncertain derivation. Chantraine defines it thus: `groupe plus ou moins permanent d'individus, soldats, animaux (Homere, Pindare, Aeschyle), d'ou "nation, caste, classe" (Herodote, ionique-attique), "sexe" (Xenophon), "peuple etranger, barbare" (Aristote, etc.)'.(8) Herodotus uses [unknown character] in a very restricted way, and practically every case can be translated `people' or 'nation'.(9) When accompanied by an ethnic adjective, the word may designate a group as small as the population of Attica ([unknown character] 1.57.3) or as large as the nation of the Medes (1.101): sometimes the connection of a group with an affiliated one is indicated by such phrases as [Unknown Words Omitted] (7.85. 1). Very often [unknown character] designates a people subject to a particular ruler, so that it may appear in the genitive after a noun such as [unknown character] or [unknown character] (1.6.1, 53.2) or in the accusative after a verb like [Unknown Words Omitted] (1.101, 177). Herodotus also uses it for a people viewed in its physical or geographical extension, for example [Unknown Words Omitted] (1.203), [Unknown Words Omitted] (2.102.3). Almost always he uses the word when viewing a people from the standpoint of a particular moment of his narrative, that is, synchronously with some other event or state of affairs, a viewpoint sometimes stressed by a temporal phrase: thus [Unknown Words Omitted] (1. 171.3). By contrast with [Unknown Words Omitted] is never bonded with ethnic adjectives in the so-called accusative of respect, so that there is no such phrase as [Unknown Words Omitted] to set beside such expressions as [Unknown Words Omitted] (1.6.1). The closest Herodotus comes to such a construction is when he uses [unknown character] qualified by an ethnic adjective in apposition with another noun, as [unknown character] in an example cited above (7.85.1).

Herodotus' use of [unknown character] is much more varied. This has a very clear Indo-European ancestry, and is connected with a root meaning `engender, give birth', as in the Latin gigno. Chantraine glosses the word thus: "`race, famille" (notamment grande famille patriarchale), "postdrite" et en outre "sexe," en logique "classe" par opposition a [unknown character] en histoire naturelle "classed 'animaux", etc'.(10) Herodotus always uses the word of animate beings, usually human but sometimes animal such as birds, sheep or oxen (1.159.3; 3.113. 1; 4.29). Powell's various 'senses' are not to be understood in the way that `offspring' and `semen' are two senses of [unknown character] but rather, as often in lexica, as possible translations of [unknown character] in light of the fact that English lacks a simple equivalent. For Herodotus, the essential idea is of a group into which one birth, what one becomes [Greek Words Omitted] by the fact of birth. The anthropological term `descent-group' covers most of its uses in Herodotus, and covers several of Powell's other senses such as `tribe', `family', `house'; even `caste', since when Herodotus talks about the seven [Greek Words Omitted] of the Egyptians, priests, soldiers, cowherds, and so on, he means groups which pass on their vocations `from father to son' (2.164.1, 166.2). He also uses the word of a genetic group and not an ancestral one, as when speaking of [Greek Words Omitted] (2.85.1), and in this sense it is on its way to its long career in logic and natural history as the counterpart of [Greek Words Omitted], genus as opposed to species.(11)

Syntactically, Herodotus uses [Greek Words Omitted] very differently from [Greek Words Omitted]. Powell's second sense of the word, `race, nation', is the largest, with twenty-nine examples out of sixty-six, and almost all of these are of the bonded type already noticed, for example [Greek Words Omitted] (1.6.1). Despite Powell, Herodotus uses this construction of a population group as large as the Lydians (1.60.3), as small as a single city, [unknown characters] '[Greek Words Omitted] (3.4.1), [Greek Words Omitted] (5.62.2): here again, therefore, `descent-group' is the dominant sense. It accords with this that Herodotus often uses the word with a strong connotation of preterite time, for example to emphasize the relation of an ethnic group to its ancestors rather than to the moment of the narrative: we will examine a notable instance (7.185.2) later.

To summarize the argument so far, [Greek Words Omitted] and [Greek Words Omitted] when applied by Herodotus to an ethnic group, in the sense of a group to which an ethnic adjective can be applied, differ not in taxonomy, as part to whole, but in other ways, which are largely explained by linguistic intension. An [Greek Words Omitted] is such a group viewed as a geographical, political or cultural entity, often in relation to the time of the narrative context: [Greek Words Omitted] is such a group viewed as united by birth, and often in relation to some point previous to the narrative time. It might also be said that an ethnic adjective employed alone, either in the generalizing plural [Greek Words Omitted] or the substantival neuter [Greek Words Omitted] [Greek Words Omitted], represents a neutral grade, the group viewed from no point in particular.

We may test the hypotheses advanced so far about these two terms by examining those passages in which Herodotus uses them both in close conjunction, usually with reference to the same group.

1.56.2-59.1. Herodotus uses a specific historical moment, Croesus' search for allies among the mainland Greeks, to give a survey of the chief Greek peoples at that time: this survey doubtless represents what Gomme calls `learned theory' of the author's own, but its truth-value can be left to one side here.(12) The first sentence, the only one in which he uses the word [Greek Words Omitted], contains a syntactical ambiguity [Greek Words Omitted]. Commentators do not agree as to which noun is to be supplied with [Greek Words Omitted]. Because of the preceding [Greek Words Omitted]. Stein understands [Greek Words Omitted] with [Greek Words Omitted] and [Greek Words Omitted] with [Greek Words Omitted], while Legrand understands [Greek Words Omitted] in both places. The latter view must be right. The phrase, `they had never yet migrated', could hardly refer to the Pelasgians by contrast with the Hellenes,(13) but well suits the Athenians contrasted with the Spartans: and as for the shift from [Greek Words Omitted] to [Greek Words Omitted], there is one similarly abrupt, though in the other direction, at 4.46.1-2 (below). If that is correct, then he uses [Greek Words Omitted] only of the Dorians and Ionians, descent-groups named after Doros son of Hellen (whom he mentions just below) and Ion son of Xouthos (whom he mentions much later in his narrative, 5.66.2, etc.). In the rest of the passage he uses only [Greek Words Omitted], and his subject is the various peoples (Pelasgians, Hellenes, Spartans, Athenians) as language-groups, as groups that `split off' or `joined' others (58), or, in the case of the Athenians, as a people tyrannized by Peisistratus (59.1).

1.101. After describing how Deiokes `united the Median people' [Greek Words Omitted], Herodotus proceeds to list six [Greek Words Omitted] of the Medes, ending with the Magi. Here he does not use [Greek Words Omitted] and [Greek Words Omitted] of the same group, and while he might mean the second to be a subdivision of the first, he could equally well be referring to these six groups as hereditary. The meaning is therefore not very different when he talks of the three leading [Greek Words Omitted] of the Persians, `on which all the other Persians depend' (1.125.3), or the vocational [Greek Words Omitted] of the Egyptians (2.164.1).

4.46.1-2. `The Pontos Euxeinos ... has of all lands the most ignorant peoples, apart from the Scythian one [Greek Words Omitted]: for I am unable to cite any people of those on this side of the Pontus for wisdom, nor do I know of any man of learning who existed among them, except the Scythian (people) and Anacharsis. But the Scythian nation [Greek Words Omitted] has devised one thing of the greatest importance in human affairs more wisely than any nation, (and that is) that no-one who attacks them can escape....' Here [Greek Words Omitted] refers to the Scythians simply as one grouping among several in present time: when Herodotus turns to the achievements of the Scyths in the course of their history [Greek Words Omitted], he switches to [Greek Words Omitted].

4.5.1-6.2. `As the Scythians say, their people [Greek Words Omitted] is the most recent of all, and it came into being [Greek Words Omitted] thus. The first man to be born [Greek Words Omitted] in this land, which was deserted, was called Targitaos. They say that this Targitaos had as parents [Greek Words Omitted] ... Zeus and the daughter of the river Borysthenes. Of some such birth [Greek Words Omitted] as this (they say) Targitaos was born, and to him were born three sons, Lipoxais, Arpoxais and last of all Kolaxais ... From Lipoxais (they say) were born those Scythians who are called Auchatai by birth [Greek Words Omitted], from the middle (son) Arpoxais those who are called Katiaroi and Traspies, and from the youngest of them the kings who are called Paralatae... That is how the Scythians say they are descended [Greek Words Omitted].' In this passage Herodotus switches in the other direction, from [Greek Words Omitted] of the Scythians as a people in general, to [Greek Words Omitted] and verbs derived from [Greek Words Omitted] when talking about their descent and that of their patriarch and clans. His move from the aorist [Greek Words Omitted] to the perfect [Greek Words Omitted] is also notable, the first denoting birth or coming into existence, the second descent or existence over time.

As we should expect, [Greek Words Omitted] and [Greek Words Omitted] occur together in the latter part of Herodotus' work, in which he lists the forces of Xerxes' and of the Greeks at various stages of their conflict. In his account of Xerxes' initial forces (7.61-99), [Greek Words Omitted] does not occur at all, except only with reference to an individual's ancestry: Artemisia 'was the daughter of Lygdamis, but by descent (adverbial [Greek Words Omitted]) she was from Halicarnassos on her father's side, but Cretan on her mother's' (7.99.2). Two other passages are more revealing.

7.185.2. 'Of the infantry provided by the Thracians, Eordoi, Bottiaioi, the Chalcidic tribe ([Greek Words Omitted]), ... and those that inhabit coastal Thrace, I think there were three hundred thousand of these peoples ([Greek Words Omitted]).' There must be a reason why Herodotus designates the Chalcidians settled in Thrace, whom elsewhere he calls [Greek Words Omitted] (8.127), as 'the Chalcidic tribe' in this list of [Greek Words Omitted]. What them from the others is that they are colonists who take their name from a parent-group, the Chalcidians of Euboea. It is notable that he reserves the word [Unknown Words Omitted] for the original Chalcidians except at 8.127, where this same designation of [Unknown Words Omitted], Occurring just before, guards against ambiguity.(14)

8.43-8. Reviewing the Greek forces at Salamis, Herodotus uses the term [Unknown Words Omitted] and [Unknown Words Omitted] in ways which are hard to distinguish, and yet correspond rather to intension than to taxonomy. [Unknown Words Omitted] occurs thrice in participial phrases depending on plural proper names: the Spartans and several other Peloponnesian peoples, [Unknown Words Omitted] ... [Unknown Words Omitted] (43); the Leucadians, [Unknown Words Omitted] [Unknown Words Omitted] (45); the Ceians, [Unknown Words Omitted] (46. 2). [Unknown Words Omitted] occurs twice, once in a complete sentence, the other time in a participial phrase: [Unknown Words Omitted] [Unknown Words Omitted] (47), [Unknown Words Omitted] (48). We should also note such phrases as [Unknown Words Omitted] (46.3), [Unknown Words Omitted] (48). The two uses of [Unknown Words Omitted] fit easily into the `adverbial' category already discussed, `with reference to their descent', but it is harder to explain the two phrases in which [Unknown Words Omitted] is accompanied by a prepositional phrase: Herodotus seems to be justifying his attribution of the city in question to a particular [Unknown Words Omitted], `the Leucadians, a Doric people as coming from Corinth'. When he uses [Unknown Words Omitted], the ideas are more closely connected, `the Crotoniates are from Achaea by descent', `the Melians being from Sparta by descent'.

It appears, then, that there is a genuine semantic difference between the two terms in Herodotus, and that in certain contexts `peoples' may be considered as `descent-groups', as may other groups such as the vocational `castes' of Egypt or the aristocratic `clans' of cities such as Athens and Thebes; whether there is also a distinction of `marked' and `unmarked', with [Unknown Words Omitted] as the former and [Unknown Words Omitted] as the latter, seems less clear. If this proposal is correct, we may perhaps compare a similar suggestion about Herodotus' use of the terms [Unknown Words Omitted] and [Unknown Words Omitted], the former indicating both the urban agglomeration of a city as opposed to its territory, and in certain contexts the city regarded from the perspective of its inhabitants, while [Unknown Words Omitted] presents it from the perspective of outsiders, often enemies.(15)

We may also note some peculiarities in Herodotus' use of these two words. First, the opposition between [Unknown Words Omitted] and [Unknown Words Omitted], already incorporated in the Amphictyonic oath of the Archaic period, and much discussed in recent years,(16) occurs in his text only once or twice (6.27.1; 7.8 [Gamma] 3). Second, in two places we might have expected one of these terms, but in fact meet others. Herodotus introduces Adrastos the Phrygian into his narrative of Croesus' son as a man [Unknown Words Omitted] [unknown characters] (1.35.1). Here [Unknown Words Omitted] would have been appropriate in the first member, but Herodotus presumably does not wish to use it twice when trying to draw a contrast. After Artemision, he tells how Themistocles plotted to make `the Ionian and the Carian [Unknown Words Omitted] break away from the barbarians' (8.19.1): here [Unknown Words Omitted] might seem equally appropriate, but [Unknown Words Omitted] perhaps connotes these two peoples as distinctive units in the mass of the Persian forces.(17)

Thucydides' use of these two terms is fairly similar to Herodotus'. He uses [Unknown Words Omitted] more often in the plural than than the singular, applying it both to Greeks and to barbarians; as in Herodotus, the word tends to denote a people either as a territorial unit, such as the [unknown characters] who inhabit Sicily (6.1), or as ethnic units in an army or an alliance (1.122.2, 2.9.4., etc.). [Unknown Words Omitted] refers to descent or family, usually of individuals ([Unknown Words Omitted], 1.24.2) but once or twice of groups ([Unknown Words Omitted], 1.24.2; [Unknown Words Omitted], 7.57.6). In one place we might have expected [Unknown Words Omitted]. On the Thracian character Thucydides observes: `the Thracian [Unknown Words Omitted], (being) similar to those of the most barbaric ([Unknown Words Omitted]), is extremely murderous as long as it feels confidence' (7.29.4). Here, however, he is talking of the Thracians not so much as a geographical people but as one with inherent traits, so that the genetic viewpoint is uppermost.

Like Herodotus, Thucydides occasionally uses [Unknown Words Omitted] and [Unknown Words Omitted] close together. In two places (1.24.1-2; 6.1.2-2.1) the collocation is fortuitous, but the other instance is more instructive. Hermocrates at the Sicilian peace-conference of 424 argues that the Sicilians must act for their collective good, and not along lines of Dorian and Ionian. `No-one should have the idea that, while the Dorians amongst us are the Athenians' enemies, the Chalcidians are made safe by kinship with the Ionians (Unknown Words Omitted]. It is not because the two peoples (Unknown Words Omitted) are at enmity that the Athenians are attacking out of hostility towards one of them, but because they covet Sicily's advantages; and they showed as much recently when those of Chalcidic descent ([Unknown Words Omitted]) called them in' (4.61.3-4). Thucydides uses [Unknown Words Omitted] when thinking of Dorians and Ionians as hostile groups, both of which are represented among the peoples of Sicily: referring to settlers from Chalcis in Euboea, he uses the word [Unknown Words Omitted], exactly as did Herodotus when referring to Chalcidian settlers in Thrace (8.127), while [Unknown Words Omitted] stresses

(1) R. Weil, Aristote et l'Histoire, Etudes et Commentaires 36 (Paris, 1960) 385. I have much from talking with Kevin Daly, Alex Hollmann, Simon Hornblower and Gregory Nagy, and am also grateful to the readers for CQ. My research for this paper has been greatly facilitated by the use of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (Irvine, CA).

(2) The text (1.56.2) is ambiguous, but not on this point: Herodotus in fact attributes the original Ionians to the `Pelasgic [unknown character], the Spartans to the Hellenic.

(3) The first view ([unknown character] as a subdivision of [unknown character]) is already in Schweighaeuser's Lexicon, and thereafter in the revised Stephanus and LSJ.

(4) The famous phrase in 8.144.2, [Unknown Words Omitted] is not actually a `definition of Greekness', as it has sometimes been called, but means only 'the fact that the Greek people is of one blood and one tongue'.

(5) A useful discussion in R. E. Asher et al. (edd.), The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (Oxford, 1994), s.v. `intension', iv. 1699-702.

(6) W. Mieder et al. (edd.), A Dictionary of American Proverbs (New York, 1992), s.v. `house' 27, 29.

(7) On this distinction, see The Encyclopedia of Language (above, n. 5) s.v. `markedness', v. 2378-83.

(8) P. Chantraine, Dictionnaire etymologique de la Langue grecque ii (Paris, 1970), 315.

(9) References in J. E. Powell, A Lexicon to Herodotus (Cambridge, 1938), s.v. (henceforth Powell, Lexicon'). Powell puts one instance under a second rubric, `nationality', [Unknown Words Omitted] (4.111.1; [unknown character] omitted by the codex Mureti): but this could be understood as `the nation (to which the strangers belonged, sc.)'.

(10) Chantraine (n. 8), i (Paris, 1968), 222.

(11) LSJ (s.v. [Greek Words Omitted] V 2) cite Pl. Parm. 129 C, but in fact Aristotle is the first to establish this distinction (E. des Places, Lexique de Platon i [Paris, 1964], 110).

(12) A. W. Gomme, A Historical Commentary on Thucydides i (Oxford, 1945), 95-8; J. H. M. Alty, JHS 102 (1982), 1-14.

(13) For Herodotus' account of the expulsion of the Pelasgians from Attica,

(14) On this application of the expression `Chalcidian' to inhabitants of this region, Gomme (n. 12), 203-8. See also below, on Thuc. 4.61.3.

(15) M. Casevitz, Ktema 8 (1984), 75-83.

(16) Oath: Aesch. 3.110, [Unknown Words Omitted]; cf. A. Giovannini, Untersuchungen uber die Natur und die Anfange der bundesstaatlichen Sympolitie, Hypomnemata 33 (Gottingen, 1971), 14-16; F. W. Walbank, Selected Papers (Cambridge, 1985), 6, 22.

(17) For [Unknown Words Omitted] as conveying `the distinctiveness of one race as opposed to another', G. Nagy, Greek Mythology and Poetics (New York, 1990), 290-1.
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Author:Jones, C.P.
Publication:The Classical Quarterly
Date:Jul 1, 1996
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