Phrygian language

Michel Lejeune

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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Phrygian is known mainly from inscriptions, both at an early (Old Phrygian) and at a later (New Phrygian) stage. At some time in the 8th cent. bce, the Phrygians devised an alphabet adapted from Greek and Semitic models. In this are written some 250 Old Phrygian texts (mostly short, but with a few of reasonable length) ranging from the second half of the 8th cent. to the second half of the 3rd cent. bce, the majority belonging to the pre-*Achaemenid period (8th–6th cents. bce). They include monumental rock inscriptions, e.g. ates…midai lavagtaei vanaktei edaes, lit. ‘Ates…to Midas chief [and] king has dedicated’. During the Hellenistic and early Roman periods, Phrygian must have been reduced to use as a spoken vernacular, but from the 1st to the 3rd cents. ce it turns up again in written form, in the Greek alphabet. We have over 100 short New Phrygian inscriptions, most of them consisting of curse formulae, often added to epitaphs that are otherwise in Greek; e.g. iosni semoun knoumanei kakon abberet etitetikmenos eitou, lit.

Article.  268 words. 

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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