πείθω

Validation

No

Word-form

πίθηκος

Transliteration (Word)

pithēkos

English translation (word)

monkey, ape, non-human primate

Transliteration (Etymon)

peithō

English translation (etymon)

to persuade, to convince

Author

Philoxenus

Century

I B.C.

Source

Id.

Ref.

Philoxen. fr. 17 Theodoridis

Ed.

C. Theodoridis, ed., Die Fragmente des Grammatikers Philoxenos [Sammlung griechischer und lateinischer Grammatiker (SGLG) 2. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1976]: 93-387

Translation (En)

Pithēkos (Monkey): from the future pithēsō ('I'll convince you'), coming from the contract pithō ('I convince you'). This is because this animal despite being ugly persuades us to pay attention to him.

Other translation(s)

Pithēkos ('scimmia'): dal futuro pithēsō ('Ti convincerò'), una forma che viene da pithō ('Ti convinco'). Infatti questo animale, pur essendo orrendo, ci convince a prestargli attenzione.

Comment

The verb *πιθέω - πιθῶ is a ghost-form invented to explain πίθηκος: it is drawn from the negative ἀπιθέω "I do not believe", attested in Homer and in poetry and belonging to the root of πείθω, through removal of the negative prefix. For a general insight into ancient 'folk' etymologies concerning primates see above all Isidorus' Etymologiae, Isid., Etym., 12.2.30, where different hypotheses are put forward.

Parallels

Orion gramm., Etym., π 134 ; Souda Lex. π 1580 ; Etym Gud. π 467.18. See (implicit?) Scholia in Ar.,, Scholia in Ranas 1084 : Δημοπιθήκους δὲ τοὺς πανούργους περὶ τὸν δῆμον, ὡς τὸ ζῷον ὁ πίθηκος. ἢ τοὺς τὸν δῆμον κολακεύοντας καὶ πείθοντας.

Bibliography

General references on primates in Antiquity: W.C. McDermott, The Ape in Antiquity, Baltimore 1938; C., Connors, "Monkey business : imitation, authenticity, and identity from Pithekoussai to Plautus" 2004, Classical Antiquity 23 (2) : 179-207; C. Greenlaw, The Representation of Monkeys in the Art and Thought of Mediterrenean Cultures, Oxford 2011.

Modern etymology

unknown

Persistence in modern Greek

Thw word id used in Modern Greek to designate the family of mammals including chimpanzees, monkeys, baboons, gοrillas etc. The word is also used metaphorically to denote a very ugly man (Triandafyllidis Dictionary of Modern Greek).