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S.R. SLINGS, Tsade and he: Two Problems in the Early History
of the Greek Alphabet ........................................................... 641
C.J. RUIJGH, Sur la date de la cration de lalphabet grec ..... 658
W.J. TATUM, Ultra legem: Law and Literature in Horace, Satires 688
II 1 ...........................................................................................
S. CASALI, Ovids Canace and Euripides Aeolus: Two Notes
on Heroides 11...................................................................... 700


K. LENNARTZ, Zu Hipponax 51 W. ............................................................... 711

A. RIJKSBARON, Euripides, Hippolytus 141 ....................................................... 712
C.W. WILLINK, Euripides, Hippolytus 145-50 ................................................... 715
A. RIJKSBARON & K.A. WORP, Isocrates bilinguis Berolinensis ..................... 718
T.J. LEARY, Mart. 14.211: caput vervecinum.................................................. 723
M. DEUFERT, Fronto p. 128,17 ff. van den Hout ........................................... 724

De novis libris iudicia ...................................................................................... 727

Libri ad Mnemosynen missi ............................................................................ 760

Dissertationes inaugurales Batavae ................................................................... 761

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1. Introduction
In a couple of magisterial studies1), the Dutch scholar C.J. Ruijgh
has argued extensively for the following twin hypotheses:
(1) The Greek alphabet cannot have been created ca. 800 BCE,
as most scholars are inclined to think today: the date must have been
ca. 1000 BCE.
(2) The Homeric poems do not belong to the 8th century, as is
commonly assumed: both the Iliad and the Odyssey were created well
before 800 BCE.
Let me say at the outset that I have no serious problems with
hypothesis (1) per se. Ruijghs early date would presuppose a much
closer contact between Greece and Phoenicia ca. 1000 BCE than
such archaeological data as are available at present seem to suggest.
But over the past decades such data have tended to show more and
more that the dark ages werent so dark after all, and it would be
foolish to rely on an argument from silence when the silence may be
broken at any time2). I do, however, have serious problems with
some of Ruijghs arguments, and more in particular with two sets of
arguments which Ruijgh himself considers to be exceptionally
strong3). I will not deal with hypothesis (2)4).

1) Ruijgh 1995 and 1997; cf. also Ruijghs valedictory lecture as a professor in
the University of Amsterdam: Waar en wanneer Homerus leefde (Amsterdam 1997),
reprinted Lampas 31 (1998), 3-21.
2) After all, any respectable scholar could maintain as late as the mid-seventies
that there was a strong argument from silence for supposing that the Greek alpha-
bet was not created until shortly before 700 BCE; cf. the quotations given in
Johnston 1983, 63 and 66. New discoveries, and new analyses of older objects, have
now made it clear that this is at least 75 to 100 years too late.
3) 1997, 535: nos principaux arguments; 565: cest l un argument trs fort
(argument (a)); 568: cest l largument le plus important (argument (b)).
4) I have no quarrel with a pre-800 date for the Iliad, but I do believe that the
archaeological data for the 8th century are strong and consistent enough to exclude

Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 1998 Mnemosyne, Vol. LI, Fasc. 6

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The two arguments which will be dealt with in this paper can be
briefly summarised as follows:
(a) The Greek reflexes of the Phoenician letter tsade show that this
letter was taken over from Phoenician at a time when Greek still
possessed the consonant cluster /ts/, both at the beginning and in
the middle of the word. At any rate at the beginning of the word,
this cluster had disappeared from most dialects before 800;
(b) The choice for the Phoenician letter het, rather than he, to ren-

der Greek /h/, shows that the latter was still a strong /h/, whereas
one of the earliest Greek inscriptions proves that it was a weak /h/.
I will try to show that:
argument (a) can be disproved definitely by the epigraphical
data that we have. I also think that there is good reason to believe
that no future discovery can possibly revalidate it; indeed some of
the relevant epigraphical data, to wit those that have to do with the
Greek letter san, rather suggest a date much closer to 800;
argument (b) is invalid on general grounds and for linguistic rea-

2. Tsade
2.1 Greek /ts/ and /ts/
As for the tsade argument, lets start with common ground. In the
prehistory and the early history of Greek, two entirely different
sound changes yield a cluster /ts/, a third one seems to have yield-
ed a temporary phoneme /ts/:
(1) Some instances of /ty/ and /thy/, and all instances of dental
+ /s/ seem to have yielded /ts/ as an intermediate stage. In most
Greek dialects, this older ts later developed to /ss/; in all of these
dialects this /ss/ was simplified to single /s/ after a long vowel or a
diphthong; in Ionic-Attic and Arcado-Cyprian this development took
place regardless of the preceding phoneme(s): *pheithso > pesv (never
**pessv); *totyos > tssow, tsow; *podsi > poss, pos. In Linear B,
words that once contained this earlier /ts/ are written with signs that
belong to the s-series: to-so.

that the Odyssey was composed before that century. Ruijgh can only make his case
here by taking up an unargued unitarian position on the authorship of both
poemsI prefer to be sceptical in this respect. The adagium that transmitted
authorship should be accepted unless the contrary can be proved does not, I feel,
apply to ascriptions that ultimately go back to oral traditionif anything, the onus
probandi lies here with the defenders of one author of both poems. Let me make it
quite clear that I do not regard the issue as settled in favour of two different authors.
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(2) Most instances of /ty/ and /thy/, and all instances of /ky/,
khy/ and /tw/ seem to have yielded /ts/ as an intermediate stage.
In almost all Greek dialects, this younger ts later developed to /ss/
(which, unlike older ts, was never simplified to single /s/)5); in Attic
and some neighbouring dialects the result is /tt/: *kretyon > krssvn,
krettvn, *phulakyo > fulssv, fulttv. At the beginning of the
word, this sound was simplified to /s/ and /t/ respectively, probably
earlier than within the word6). In Linear B, this sound is rendered
by means both of the s- and of the z-series: a-pe-a-sa being absent
(assa, Att. osa), za-we-te this year (stew, ttew)7). In East-Ionic
and Pamphylian, a special letter (sampi) is sometimes used to
denote younger ts or a later reflex of it8).
(3) In Arcadian and Cyprian a special consonant /ts/ (not a clus-
ter /ts/) seems to have developed out of the labiovelar /kw/ before
/i/, in Arcadian also before /e/. In Aeolic dialects and in Cyprian,
the reflex is /p/ before /e/, in all others, /t/: *ek weisa > peisa
(Aeol.), teisa; *kwis > tw (all dialect groups except Arcado-Cyprian).
Eventually, this /ts/ developed into /t/ in Arcadian, /s/ in Cyprian:
*kwi > t, s what. In Linear B, these sounds are always written by
means of the q-series: o-u-qe (= Att. ote). In Arcadian, this /ts/ is
sometimes written by means of what looks like a separate letter (at
Mantinea), sometimes by means of the letter zeta (Pheneos?) or by
means of the clusters zt (Pheneos?) and tz (Tegea)9). Similarly, some
Arcadian glosses spell the original /gw/ with a zeta; in Arcadian
inscriptions, the universal reflex is a delta. This points to an inter-

5) Except that between vowels, /n/ + younger ts yields a single -s- in all Greek
dialects: *pantya > pnsa. In some dialects this cluster was left unchanged, in East
Aeolic /n/ here developed into /i/: pasa; in most other dialects, /n/ disappeared,
causing what is infelicitously termed the second compensatory lengthening: psa.
6) This can be deduced from the fact that in Homer, /s/ which has developed
from younger ts rarely makes position word-initially but nearly always word-inter-
nally: contrast s (< *tw) and ssuto, pisseesyai (stem *kyew-; cf. Ruijgh 1997,
564 and n. 73).Ruijgh himself contrasts sev and pisseesyai, but in most
instances of *sev in Homer, an initial /s/ (e.g. in sto) does make position when-
ever it can, in other words when not placed at the beginning of the verse or after
a consonant or long vowel.
7) Cf. Lejeune, 100-110 and the study by del Barrio Vega. Ruijgh (this fascicle,
17-19) suggests a new, and to my mind entirely convincing scenario, which relies
on natural trends in syllabification. It does not, however, affect the tsade argument
as discussed here.
8) Cf. Thumb-Kieckers-Scherer, II 264-265; 187.
9) For the Arcadian data, cf. Thumb-Kieckers-Scherer, II 124-125. The in-
scription mentioned there as Sakralgesetz aus Kleitor oder Lusoi (SEG 12, 1112)
is now assigned to Pheneos, cf. Jeffery-Johnston, 209.
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mediate stage in which Arcadian here had a phoneme /dz/.

Following others, Ruijgh claims that the special signs found in
Ionia, Pamphylia and Mantinea are descendants of the Phoenician
letter tsade, which in the Phoenician alphabet is placed between pe
(Greek pi) and qop (Greek koppa); since, as he rightly claims, /ts/ at
the beginning of the word was already simplified to /s/ or /t/ by
800 BCE, this entails an earlier date for the creation of the Greek
alphabet, when younger ts was still a double consonantthis
prompts him to propose a date around 1000 BCE. Furthermore,
Ruijgh claims that the letter san, which is used instead of sigma in
some parts of Central Greece, the Northern Peloponnese, Crete and
some of the Doric Cyclades, and side by side with sigma in Etruscan,
points to the same datethis is, I think, a separate issue.

2.2 Sampi
The East-Ionic sign which in our handbooks goes by the 15th-cen-
tury name of samp, usually explained as sn (= sn) p, looking
like a pi10), is found on and off in most of Ionia (and East-Ionic
colonies, including Milesian colonies) down to the middle of the 5th
century; sometimes ss is used for the same sound in the same word
in the same inscription11). Some scholars have deduced from tt
spellings of Ionic words which should have had ss that this letter
was also to be found in the earliest text of Hipponax12). Its shape is
like a tau with serifs at the two ends of the horizontal ( )13). The
oldest attestation is in the abecedarium found in the Heraeum of
Samos, ca. 660-65014). This inscription, which is one of the oldest,
if not the very oldest, from Ionia, seems to me to be fatal to Ruijghs
10) Ruijgh 1995, 33 n. 106 records this interpretation; at 1997, 565, however, he
offers the alternative explanation that the name is a conflation of the old letter name
san + pi. The normal Byzantine form of the sampi, , resembles that of a pi tilted
45 to the right and with a curved horizontal, which is in fact a very common way
of writing a pi in Byzantine script from ca. 1250 onwards. Hence, looking like a pi
is a good description for the sampi in the late Byzantine era. However, as Ruijgh
(this fascicle, 10) points out, sn is late vulgar middle Greek, sn being more
normal even in the 15th century. I have no solution for this problemI do have
to point out, however, that the archaic and classical forms of san (M) and pi ( ) do
not easily combine into the earliest attested forms of sampi.
11) Cf. Thumb-Kieckers-Scherer, II 264; Jeffery-Johnston, 38-39; 325; 368; 472.
12) Cf. West, 91.
13) The Pamphylian letter, which looks like a rectangular psi, is obviously re-
lated to this. It is not relevant to my argument to speculate as to which one is prior
to which.
14) Jeffery-Johnston, 471-472, pl. 79, 7, with references to earlier publications at
471 no. 1a.
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hypothesis that sampi is Phoenician tsade: the letter is found there as

the very last letter of the alphabet, after omega15), and there is no sign
between pi and koppa, where we should expect it to be if the letter
was borrowed at a time when most Greek dialects still had later ts.
Since it is beyond doubt that omega is an East-Ionic invention,
devised to match the use of eta for long open /e/ (h)16), a fortiori
sampi as a special sign for the East-Ionic descendant of later ts must
be an even later East-Ionic invention. Therefore sampi has nothing
to do with Phoenician tsade17).
The same moral is pointed by the function of sampi as a numeri-
cal sign (900), to follow omega (800). Ruijgh is, of course, aware of
this problem, and his solution of it is a case of special pleading. He
assumes (1) that the Milesian system of using letters as numerical
symbols was already created by 700, and that in Milesian the sampi
had become dysfunctional and had been relegated to the end of the
alphabet (1997, 565); (2) that the Samian abecedarium is not only a
list of letters but also of numerical symbols (this fascicle, 9)in short
he is forced to assume that in Miletus and on Samos the sampi had
lost its raison dtre. There is, in fact, no reason whatsoever to think
that the use of letters for numbers was devised as early as that18). If
sampi was placed at the end of the alphabet because people had no
more use for it, one wonders why the same did not happen to the
wau, which had certainly become superfluous in East-Ionic by 800.

15) Ruijgh 1997, 570 wrongly says that in the East-Ionic alphabet, omega est la
dernire lettre additionnelle. Elle figure dj dans labcdaire de Samos. The first
statement is incorrect, the second correct but not pertinent to the case. He seems
the have been misled by the drawing in Guarducci 1967, 265 and by Heubecks
diagram (101, Abb. 39, col. 3), both of which inadvertently leave out the sampi. The
sampi in this abecedarium is also ignored in Genzardis study.
16) I am less confident than Ruijgh is (1995, 29; more circumspectly 1997, 568)
that this innovation originated in Ionia: it may just as well have been a Cretan
invention, although it should be borne in mind that the Cretan alphabet is, on the
whole, very conservative indeed, cf. below on san and sigma in Cretan. It is, of
course, even possible that the use of eta for h developed in Ionia and on Crete in-
17) The actual origin of the sign remains a problem. I agree with Ruijgh (1995,
32 n. 105; 1997, 564 n. 71) that the hypothesis that it was borrowed from an Ana-
tolian alphabet (so recently Genzardi, 305-306) is quite gratuitous. Perhaps, if word-
internal /ts/ was still pronounced as such in Ionia by 700, the sign was a variation
of the tau.
18) Of course, numerical symbols were necessary as soon as people began to use
writing for book-keeping purposes, but that does not imply anything about the date
of the Milesian system. It is perfectly possible that even in Ionia, a system like the
Attic and Latin one was in use for quite a long time.
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Finally, the argument requires a special development in Milesian for

which there is no indication whatever, and which is contradicted by
the usage in various Milesian colonies. The sampi is found as a let-
ter in inscriptions from these colonies, as well as in most cities in
Ionia; the fact that it happens to be absent from inscriptions from
Miletus itself cannot possibly be pressed to this extentindeed, this
sort of speculation is founded on the very same argument from
silence which Ruijgh rightly rejects in many theories of the origin of
the Greek alphabet19).
If the argument given in this section is correct, it is not relevant
to my argument to speculate about the reason why the (East-)
Ionians were prompted to introduce a separate sign for the descend-
ant of younger ts. It may well be the case that in the middle of the
word /ts/ still subsisted in the dialect (it did not at the beginning of
the word, and sampi is never used in that position20)). But it is equal-
ly possible that the relic of younger ts sounded roughly like a dou-
ble /s/, but was realised phonetically as a different, perhaps more
emphatic, double /s/. By the end of the archaic period, the sound
rendered by sampi must have been felt by most East-Ionic writers as
not significantly different from a long single /s/, so that SS became
acceptable as an alternative to sampi.
Anyway, if a letter is found at the very end of an alphabet, after
one which is unanimously regarded as an addition, this is proof that
it is itself an addition as well. It requires much stronger arguments
than Ruijgh is able to supply to derive sampi from tsade.

19) As for the possible occurrences of sampi outside Ionia and its colonies, cf.
below on Mesambria. Morpurgo Davies (1987, 462-463) has definitely disproved the
claim that sampi is also found in an inscription from Tegea (IG V 2, 3, 3). I have
nothing new to say about A.L. Boegeholds theory (AJA 66 (1962), 405-406) that
the tau in NETOS on an early black-figured vase from Athens (ABV p. 4 no. 1; last
quarter of the 7th century; Jeffery-Johnston pl. 1, 6a) is in fact a corrected sampi.
Since Ruijgh assumes that intervocalic younger ts developed to /tt/ in Attic (a
change that must have taken place well before the date of this vase) as a conse-
quence of a regular sound law, I dont see how he can use it as an argument either
way, and the matter seems to me far too uncertain in any case. Nttow is, of course,
the regular Attic form corresponding to Nssow. Cf. Threatte, 24; 144; 540.
Threatte (24) cannot confirm Boegeholds interpretation of the traces, although he
does not wish to exclude it. The use of the term sampi for a sign looking like a pi
with an extra vertical ( ) at Axos (Crete) and various places in Sicily (cf. Manni
Piraino, 82-89; two new instances from Sicilian Naxos at Manni Piraino, KVKALOS
33 (1987), 39, no. 20-21) is misleading: the sign is certainly a xi at Axos and prob-
ably so in Sicily, although one of its Sicilian variant forms is identical to that of
East-Ionic sampi. Genzardi, 307-309 is rightly sceptical.
20) This fact is crucial to Ruijghs position; it doesnt affect mine.
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2.3 Mantinean
In one 5th-century inscription from Mantinea21), most reflexes of
/kw/ are written with a special letter : iw (= tiw, 25 etc.; eight
times); once, we find a tau where we would have expected (te,
19)22), and once renders an original /d/ (pu edomnow = pode-
domnow, 19). It is frequently assumed that this sign is a descendant
of the tsade. Whether it is or isnt is irrelevant to my argument, since
the Arcadian data as given above show beyond reasonable doubt
that Arcadian had a phoneme /ts/ (as well as a /dz/) well into the
fifth century23). Therefore, if the Arcadians used tsade for this pho-
neme, this says nothing about the date of the Greek alphabet.
All the same, I am not too sanguine about this pedigree. The sign
doesnt look like a tsade very much24), and it is found only in one
inscription: if it was an old sign, we would expect it to occur more
frequently. Besides, Mantinean has quite a reputation for experi-
menting with letter forms in the 5th century25), and given the fact
that the inscription has no zeta, I would rather be inclined to believe
that is a zeta, rendering /ts/ as in Pheneos (and in the case of pu-
edomnow a /d/ as often in Elean26)). If so, the -shaped zeta is on
a par with the single horizontal stroke for epsilon, and the inverted C
( ) for mu, all of which are found at Mantinea in the same period.
Of course, I dont wish to imply that Mantinean is a variant of
the majuscule zeta (Z) as we know it. This form is not found before
the Hellenistic period. I do claim, however, that may well be
explained as a Mantinean variant of the archaic and classical . In
any case, my argument against Ruijgh does not hinge on this inter-

21) IG V 2, 262; DGE 661. Cf. Thumb-Kieckers-Scherer, II 125 and Lillos

paper. See n. 9.
22) Cf. Morpurgo Davies 1997, 54, who explains this as a sign that single te (as
opposed to e e) was borrowed from another dialect. Cf., however, z(e) for t(e) in
Pheneos (?), cf. n. 9.
23) The sign is not used for sounds that continue younger ts, cf. 17 saw =
Att. osaw, with single sigma denoting /ss/ < *ty.
24) It should be borne in mind that the standard form of san has true verticals,
not tilted ones like the mu. The san (?) in the Etruscan abecedarium illustrated
Jeffery-Johnston, pl. 48, 19 is more likely to be a damaged form of the normal M-
shaped sign than the Mantinean . In any case, it would be dangerous to rely too
much on this rather deviant document, which has what looks like a normal san
before xi, and misses koppa (unless the sign is actually a mistake for koppa).
25) Cf. Jeffery-Johnston, 212-213.
26) Usually taken as an indication of an affricate or fricative pronunciation, but
cf. Ruijgh 1996, 487.
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pretation of I reiterate that even if continues Phoenician tsade,

it makes no difference one way or the other.

2.4 San
If the Arcadian data are, in the last resort, irrelevant for the date
of the Greek alphabet, the data concerning san27) are highly relevant,
if extremely difficult to interpret. It is clear in any case that the old-
est Greek alphabet must have contained both a san (between pi and
koppa) and a sigma (between rho and tau), and that all local Greek
alphabets chose between the two for rendering the one sibilant that
Greek possessed (unless Mantinean is taken as a san, cf. above), as
opposed to Etruscan, which had two sibilants, and retained both
signs. No Greek inscription, not even an abecedarium, has both a
san and a sigma28); there is only one Greek city in which we find san
and sigma in different inscriptionspredictably, this is Delphi29).
In themselves these data fit Ruijghs hypothesis as well as the tra-
ditional one. In Ruijghs hypothesis san was used for younger ts,
sigma for the simple sibilant, until the two merged (at the beginning
of the word), and all Greek areas had to make a choice between the
two letters. Alternatively, the Greeks took over the Phoenician alpha-
bet with san and sigma at a time when younger ts had already dis-
appeared, and they soon realised that one of the two was superflu-
ous. The following considerations seem to me to be unfavourable for
Ruijghs thesis:

2.4.1 /ts/ and san

In Crete, older ts still seems to have existed as such by the time
of the earliest inscriptions, where it is written with a zeta: zoi,
mzatow (= soi, msatow). From the 5th century onward, we find
double (less often single) tau or theta instead for both older ts and
younger ts: ttoi, mtton (= soi, mson) for older ts, fittai,

27) Ruijghs hypothesis that the original Phoenician name *tsad (this is the form
as reconstructed by some Semitists) was changed to sn by the Greeks, who were
unable to pronounce word-final -d (1997, 545; 559), is very attractive.
28) The alleged san on the 8th-century Pithecussan inscription Johnston 1983, 64
and fig. 3; Jeffery-Johnston, 453 no. B, cf. Heubeck, 123 and Abb. 49, is much like-
lier to be a mu (so Johnston 1983, l.c.). If so, it would be possible to interpret the
inscription as ]akiw m[ poese (cf. SEG 42, 920; Johnston 1983, 64 and fig. 4,
Jeffery-Johnston, 453 no. 1a; Heubeck, 123 Abb. 50, Pithecussae, late 8th century:
]nw m poesethe mu on this inscription is very like the alleged san on the earli-
er one).
29) Cf. Jeffery-Johnston, 100-101.
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ylayyan (= Att. oshi, ylattan) for younger ts30). The san is used
for the single sibilant in Crete, never for /ts/. If Ruijghs hypothesis
is correct, this can be accounted for only by assuming that the Greek
alphabet did not reach Crete until after the distinction between san
and sigma had disappeared. But in fact archaeological data suggest
close contact between Phoenicia and Crete at an early date, perhaps
even closer and earlier than between Phoenicia and Euboea. It
would be very surprising indeed if Cretans remained unacquainted
with, or uninterested in, the alphabet for over two hundred years.
Ruijghs own explanation that in Crete la nouvelle valeur s du
sn avait pour consquence que la lettre ne pouvait plus exprimer
le groupe -ts- (1997, 564) seems to me to be inconsistent with his
hypothesis concerning the East-Ionic sampi. If the Cretans had been
using san for /ts/ for over two hundred years, what was to stop them
from continuing to do so? Surely not changes in other dialects! For
if so, the same explanation should obtain for the East-Ionic area,
which on Ruijghs hypothesis used san (sampi) and sigma side by side
for the same period of two hundred years, as did Crete, and con-
tinued doing so for over 350 years (assuming, as Ruijgh does, that
sampi continues san=tsade), and thus behaved fundamentally differ-
ently, and in a more conservative way than Crete. But in actual fact,
the Cretan use of the alphabet is, on the whole, very conservative
indeed, much more so than anywhere else in the Greek world, and
certainly much more so than in Ionia. Ruijghs hypothesis entails
that in Crete the san was discontinued as a sign for /ts/ because of
dialect changes elsewhere, while in Ionia these changes did not influ-
ence the spelling at all.
Besides, there are indications that /ts/ survived for quite a long
time in other Doric areas as well. Spellings with zeta are attested for
the Achaean colonies Croton (hzato he erected < *sed-sato, older
ts) and Metapontum (tzara = Att. tttara, younger ts), isolated
spellings with a single tau or theta (parallel to later Cretan ttoi,
ylayyan) are found in Sparta (ylaya = Att. ylatta, younger ts)
and Rhodes (xeteo* = Att. xesev < *khed-s-, older ts and sprten
= Att. efisprttein, younger ts)31). This casts even stronger doubt on
the assumption that the original value of san was /ts/: if it was, we

30) Cf. Thumb-Kieckers-Scherer, I 159; I. Hajnal, 64 n. 55 and 68.

31) Croton: SEG 28, 776bis; Jeffery-Johnston, 261 no. 22, pl. 50, 22; Metapon-
tum: Guarducci 1987, 35-37, cf. Ruijgh 1997, 564-565. Rhodes: Peters, 570-571;
Striano 1989b. Sparta: SEG 26, 461, cf. Striano 1989a.
921 06-11-1998 11:30 Page 650


would have expected to find the letter used at least occasionally for
/ts/ in these areas.
In addition, it is interesting to note that the coins of the Megarian-
Chalcedonian colony Mesambria (which used East-Ionic script) use
the sampi for older ts32) (note that in East-Ionic itself, sampi is only
used for younger ts), apparently because at the date, if not of these
coins themselves (5th century), at any rate of the foundation of the
colony, this was still pronounced in a way similar to younger ts in
East-Ionic. This might seem to suggest survival of /ts/ for Megara,
too33), if it were not for the uncertainty of the pronunciation of sampi
in East-Ionic: it may well be the case that the sampi on these coins
simply renders /ss/one should expect a Megarian colony to call
itself Messambria.
Furthermore, it is only fair to point out that not all of the later
reflexes of /ts/ may stand scrutiny. Spartan ylaya might be an
unexpectedly early spelling of [salassa], and Rhodian sprten is a
dubious reading (cf. Striano 1989b; Peters, 570). But Rhodian xeteo*
is, to my mind, hard-core evidence, and Ruijghs analogical expla-
nation of the form (this fascicle, 12) is, again, special pleading.

2.4.2 San in abecedaria

Secondly, three Greek abecedaria have been preserved which con-
tain the san: two from Corinth34), one from Metapontum35). In all
three the san is found between rho and tau, that is to say in the same
place as the sigma, not in its original place36). Furthermore, it is prob-
ably the case that in all Doric areas the letter for /s/, whether writ-
ten S or M, was called sn. This state of affairs is very hard to
understand if the Greek alphabet was introduced at a time when the
distinction between san and sigma still corresponded to a phonologi-
cal reality: if san and sigma were in use side by side for over two hun-

32) HN2 278; Jeffery-Johnston, 368; 372 no. 56. I see no reason for assuming a
non-Greek origin for this name.
33) There are hardly any archaic inscriptions from Megara itself; inscriptions
from its colonies do not help to settle the issue.
34) Jeffery-Johnston, 131 no. 16, pl. 20, 16 and 440 no. 19 pl. 74, 2-3 respec-
tively; both are dated to the first half of the 6th century. For the second, cf. Aman-
dry-Lejeune, 195-203, fig. 3 and 4; Heubeck, 101, Abb. 39 col. 4.
35) IG XIV 2420, 4; Jeffery-Johnston, 261 no. 19, pl. 50, 19; second quarter of
the 5th century.
36) Cf. the Messapian abecedarium IG XIV 2420, 5; Jeffery-Johnston, 284 no.
15, pl. 53, 15, which may have san and sigma side by side between rho and tau. But
the inscription is lost and known to us only from a drawing, made in 1805, which
does not exactly inspire confidence.
921 06-11-1998 11:30 Page 651


dred years, as Ruijghs hypothesis claims, we must assume that dur-

ing these years the san occupied its proper place in the alphabetit
is incomprehensible why it should have taken up the place of the
sigma after the latter had become superfluous. This behaviour is in
fact much more logically ascribed to an early, formative phase of the
Greek alphabet, when such matters were much more fluid. If this
interpretation is correct, the Greek alphabet was created in a period
in which the distinction between san and sigma was dysfunctional,
and one of the two was dropped (and in the san areas, the other dis-
placed) shortly after its creation.
For the sake of completeness, I mention the Etruscan alphabet; as
I said this has both a san and a sigma, both in their proper place.
These data are reconcilable both with Ruijghs theory and with a
later date. The only thing which Etruscan proves is that ca. 750 the
alphabet of Cyme, from which its alphabet was derived, still had san
and sigma; it does not exclude Ruijghs early date for the Greek
alphabet, but neither does it support it. This is not to belittle the
importance of the Etruscan data: they show that at the very least the
alphabet which lay at their basis had a san and a sigma. We must
assume, therefore, that the earliest Greek alphabet had the same dis-
tinction. However, this does not prove anything about the date of
the Greek alphabet.

2.4.3 San: date and place of the Greek alphabet

If the inferences made here about san are correct, more precisely
about its failure to render /ts/ when we should expect it to, they not
only narrow down the date of the origin of the Greek alphabet (sig-
nificantly closer to 800 BCE than to 1000 BCE), but also help to
narrow down its place of origin37). Given the fact that tsade was emi-
nently suited for rendering /ts/, we may safely exclude Crete38) and
with some confidence Rhodes (as well as Sparta, Achaea and
Megarawith different degrees of certainty, but nobody would
take these areas seriously in this respect anyway). Of the serious con-
tenders, this leaves us only with Euboea39) and Corinth (which many
37) Cf. Jeffery-Johnston, 5-12; 425-426; Heubeck, 80-87.
38) For the arguments pro and contra Crete as place of origin, cf. Johnston 1983,
66 n. 17 and 68.
39) If Euboea was indeed the place of origin, the inferences made from the san
may also shed light on the origin of the epic language. If I am right in supposing
that the original Greek alphabet had no use for the distinction between /s/ and
/ts/, the latter must already have disappeared from West-Ionic (=Euboean). Ruijgh
(1997, 563; 589) assumes that in Euboean /ts/ became /tt/ as a consequence of a
regular sound change. If so, the basic dialect of Epic Greek cannot be West-Ionic.
921 06-11-1998 11:30 Page 652


scholars exclude because of its idiosyncratic epsilon), with Thera,

Cyprus and Al Mina as interesting outsiders.

3. HE

Let us now move to Ruijghs arguments that concern the use of

Phoenician h et, not he, for the Greek /h/. Here again, the basic facts

are not in dispute. Mycenaean /h/
freely occurs within the word (between vowels);
prevents elision and crasis across word-boundaries;
behaves metrically as a true consonantthis is of course not
attested but can be inferred from metrical irregularities in old for-
mulas like ptnia Hrh and Di mtin tlantow, corresponding to
Mycenaean *potnia Hera (preventing elision), *Diwei metin hatalantos
(making position)40).
By contrast, in all Greek dialects of the first millennium, /h/, if
existing at all:
is rarely found within the word, and is virtually restricted to
does not prevent elision (though normally does prevent crasis
except in poetry) across word-boundaries;
is not a prosodic consonant (does not make position).
Therefore, Mycenaean /h/ is a true consonant (strong h), Hel-
lenic /h/ a vocalic segment (weak h)41.
It should be noted, however, that matters are not always as clear-
cut as this. For example, both English and German /h/ are rarely
found within the word (though not as rarely as in Greek), and in
compounds only. But while English /h/ does not prevent elision and
similar phenomena across word-boundaries (Ive, hes = I have, he
has), in standard German at any rate /h/ does prevent elision
etcetera across word-boundaries (no *dust = du hast; making posi-

However, certain data from Attic prompt me to believe that /tt/ originated in
Boeotia, and later ousted /ss/ in Attica and Euboea (Slings 1979, 262 n. 70; cf. del
Barrio Vega). Besides, various other data suggest to me the hypothesis that the
brand of Ionic which forms the basis of Epic cannot be identified with any of the
three groups (West, Central, East) but is a mixture of the three, for example
ntaya, a hybrid of West-Ionic ntoya and East-Ionic nyata (cf. Slings 1994, 82
and 88 n. 4 and 5). Forms like jenow, monow as against isolated jenh, monvyew say
nothing: the only thing they prove is that the wau was not dropped until very short-
ly before the fixation of the epic textsthey do not necessarily indicate an East-
Ionic origin of the epic language.
40) Cf. Ruijgh 1995, 73-81.
41) Ruijgh 1995, 12; 29; 1997, 567-569.
921 06-11-1998 11:30 Page 653


tion is irrelevant for English as well as for German). Thus, at the

time when the Greek alphabet was created, some dialects may have
had an /h/ that was weak in some respects but strong in others;
in addition, some dialects, notably Cretan, East-Ionic, East-Aeolic
(Lesbian), had lost the /h/ altogether.

3.1 h et versus he

Ruijgh claims that because the relatively strong het, not the rela-
tively weak he, was used to denote Greek /h/, the Greek alphabet
must have been created at a time when Greek /h/ was a strong,
not a weak /h/. It seems to me that the argument overlooks the
problems with which the creator of the Greek alphabet was faced.
He knew in advance, or came to realise, that he had to use three
out of the four Phoenician laryngeals (in addition to het and he, aleph

and ayin) to denote the Greek vowels /a/, /e/ and /o/, and that he
needed only one Phoenician laryngeal for Greek /h/. By their very
nature, one of the two Phoenician laryngeal fricatives (h et and he)

was more apt to render Greek /h/ than one of the two laryngeal
explosives (aleph and ayin). Of the first pair, the weaker he was a bet-
ter choice for a Greek vowel than the stronger h et. In other words,
the format of the Greek alphabet, in which the vowels had to be
noted, as opposed to Semitic alphabets, determined the choice of he
for /e/ and of het for /h/, irrespective of the question whether the

/h/ of the creators own dialect was strong or weak (and remem-
ber that in this case strong and weak may have been relative con-
By contrast, Ruijghs creator stumbles on from letter to letter.
Faced first with aleph he has no corresponding Greek sound, so he
hits upon the idea of making it render the vowel /a/, and so on. Let
us follow this scenario, and we will see that it breaks down on the
treatment of t et and taw. In Ruijghs modus operandi, the creator would
have used t et, not taw, for Greek /t/, only to discover in the end that
he had no use for taw. Going back, he concludes that it is better to
use t et for /th/ and taw for /t/42). Thus by trial and error, the cre-
ator of an alphabet (any alphabet) becomes an expert of sorts in the

42) Why then does he not use the distinction between kap and qop for /k/ and
/kh/ (cf. Ruijgh, this fascicle, 5)? The only answer I can give is that he had already
decided on two different realisations of Greek /k/, palatal and velar, as the values
for kappa and koppa respectively. That he confused phonetic and phonological dis-
tinctions only shows that he had not been trained in concepts that were only devel-
oped in the course of the 20th century. It does not show that my conception of his
modus operandi is mistaken.
921 06-11-1998 11:30 Page 654


phonological system of the target language (not necessarily in that of

the source language). In fact, it may well have been this very process
of trial and error which led to the eventual choice of he for /e/ and
of h et for /h/.

3.2 The Nestor Cup and the Nicandre inscription
For this reason, I think that Ruijghs basic argument is flawed. I
also have a serious problem with one of his major subsidiary argu-
ments under this heading, which involves the Nestor cup43). There,
the /h/ does not make position in line 3 hmerow hairsei. This is
treated as proof that Greek /h/ was already weak by the date of
this inscription. On theoretical grounds, I object to the inference
from one of the three aspects which make an /h/ strong or weak
(making position) to such a general statement. But more important-
ly, the argument works only on the assumption that the inscription
is in authentic Pithecussan, and therefore representative of contem-
porary West-Ionic. But the last two lines of the inscription, which
mentions Nestor, are in dactylic hexameters, and therefore in prin-
ciple the dialect is Epic Greek44). Now in Epic Greek the /h/ was
either weak or, if the traditional identification of its basic dialect
with East-Ionic is accepted, non-existent45). So the failure of /h/ to
make position in this inscription proves nothing. I do not wish to
imply that Euboean /h/ was still a strong h by 730: my only point
is that the distinction between strong and weak, applied to this
problem, and to this particular inscription, does not bring a solution
any closer.
Ruijgh (this fascicle, 15) buttresses up his argument by pointing
at a number of metrical inscriptions which omit wau at the begin-
ning of the word, even though the dialects of the regions from which
these inscriptions originate still retained wau in this position. By anal-
ogy, he expects the spelling *afirsei on the Nestor Cup if /h/ was
still a strong h in West-Ionic at the time. Such an argument e con-
trario is always hazardous, especially when the subject-matter is so
uncertain as in this case. First, the inscriptions cited by him are offi-
cial (funerary and dedicatory) epigrams, in which Epic Greek is
adapted as much as possible to the local dialect. The Nestor Cup
43) 1995, 30; 1997, 567-568, cf. 584-586.
44) Ruijgh 1997, 585, following Cassio, points out that the opening of line 2 hw
d n is at variance with epic usage, which prefers w d ke. True, but this is a sim-
ple instance of avoidance of Aeolisms, such as is often found in the dactylics of elegy
and epigram.
45) For aspiration in Epic Greek, cf. Ruijgh 1995, 13-15; 49-50; 1997, 595-596.
921 06-11-1998 11:30 Page 655


inscription, by contrast, is a sympotic inscription, for which such an

adaptation is inherently unlikely: one would expect it to be in Epic-
elegiac Greek in any case46). Secondly, /w/ and /h/ are not on a
par: in Epic Greek, it is the norm that a former /w/ is treated as a
true consonant even though it did not exist any more in the epic lan-
guage, but such a treatment for /h/ is very rare. And thirdly, if one
assumes that the original texts of the Iliad and the Odyssey were writ-
ten down in Euboea and used H for younger h, as Ruijgh does
(1995, 49-50; 1997, 595-596) the argument is a sophism. If texts of
Homer already circulated by 730 BCE, and if H was written at the
beginning of the word whenever it was pronounced in West-Ionic,
the Nestor Cup ceases to be independent testimony for the date of
the Greek alphabet.
Finally, a word on the Nicandre inscription from Naxos47), dated
ca. 650. Here, a special sign, a vertical rectangle, is used for /h/
preceding /s/the cluster corresponds to a xi: Na so, soxow,
Fhr so (= Najou, joxow, Frjou). In the interpretation of this
sign, Ruijgh seems to drop his rigid model Mycenaean strong h
versus Hellenic weak h, when he writes la consonne h du groupe
intervocalique -hs- (...) est une consonne authentique, in other words
a strong h (1997, 568). This is misleading in that this sign does not
render the /h/ which we find in most Greek dialects, which devel-
oped from an original *s or *y. In most if not all dialects, /ks/ /ps/
developed into /khs/ /phs/. If the Naxian sign is a variant of eta,
as seems likely48), the most likely interpretation is that before /s/,
/kh/ was pronounced as a fricative [x] (the German ach-Laut). If
so, , a variant of H, was probably devised ad hoc to render this allo-
phone, no matter whether H denoted a strong or a weak /h/ in
Naxian, or something in between. Here, too, the data do not sup-
port the hypothesis that h et was used for Greek /h/ when the latter

was still a full-blown consonant.

46) This does not preclude incidental adaptations of the vocalism to the local
dialect, provided they do not violate the metre (as hmerow hairsei would do if
Pithecussan had a strong h). Thus, one finds Attic vocalism in the elegies of Solon
(cf. West, 77-78). Therefore, rxeston on the Dipylon oinochoe is not a valid
counter-argument (cf. Ruijgh, this fascicle, 15). It should be borne in mind that the
genitive plural ending -vn of the first declension is nearly always one syllable in
Epic Greek and always in elegiac Greek (cf. West, 83).
47) DGE 758; CEG 403; Jeffery-Johnston, 303 no. 2, pl. 55, 2. Cf. Ruijgh 1997,
568; 586-587.
48) The same sign is used for weak h elsewhere on Naxos (DGE 757; Jeffery-
Johnston, 304 no. 3 and pl. 55, 3) and for long open /e/ in Knidos (cf. Jeffery-
Johnston, 351 and pl. 68, 34).
921 06-11-1998 11:30 Page 656


4. Conclusions
All in all, I conclude that while Ruijgh has offered a number of
ingenious arguments, he has not succeeded in proving his case. The
he argument cannot be pressed to yield any indication about the date
of the Greek alphabet. But with regard to the tsade argument, more
in particular the data concerning the san, they seem to me to dispose
of Ruijghs hypothesis altogether. If the arguments given here hold
water, the Greek alphabet was adapted from the Phoenician, at the
earliest, shortly before 800 BCE49).

AMSTERDAM, Free University

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help contributors to Mnemosyne to improve and clarify their arguments and exposi-
tion, but never more so than in this case. He has generously put at my disposal his
counter-arguments, thus enabling me to react to them in advance.
921 06-11-1998 11:30 Page 657


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