PART 5    Ch.XXXIII.27 (I – II)

The Pelasgians or proto – Latins (Arimii)

(The Pelasgians from the northern parts of the Danube and the Black Sea)

 

PART 5

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XXXIII. 27. The ancient popular form of the name “Pelasgi”.

 

I.

The Pelasgii, writes Dionysius of Halikarnassus, had received their name from Pelasg, the son of Jove and Niobe (lib. I. 11, 17).

We find the same tradition with the poet Eschyl, who presents Pelasg speaking the following words: “I am Pelasg, the son of Palaechton, born from Terra (Gaea), the ruler of this country, and from my name, its king, has been called the nation of the Pelasgii, which masters this earth” (Supplices, v.250-251).

Here Pelasg is, as we see, the national name of an illustrious king, who had put the foundation of the first powerful state, with a moral purpose, in Europe.

Before trying though to find out about the ancient form of the name Pelasgi (ans), we must know in which part of the ancient world had been the country of this great civilizing king of the Pelasgian people.

In ancient Greek literature, the country or nationality of the more famous persons of the mythical times was often indicated in a simple genealogical form. The countries, lands, mountains, rivers, caves, were personified, and it was said, for example, that the ancestor of a tribe, a king, or a hero, had been the son of Thrace, of Libya, of Atlas mountain, or of the river Oceanos, Scamandros, Alpheos, etc.

Such a geographical genealogy had also Pelasg, the first traditional king of the Pelasgian people.

 

According to one of these traditions, Pelasg had been a great grandson of Oceanos potamos (istru), and its great affluent Tetys (Tisa), both these rivers personifying the regions from the Carpathians and the lower Danube.

 

We find another allegorical genealogy with the poet Asius of Samos, who had lived 700 years before the Christian era. According to this tradition, Pelasg, “the one like the gods”, had been born “in the black country”, on the mountains with the high ridges” (Pausanias, frag. lib. VIII. 1). Here, the mother of Pelasg is the country, or the “black” land, a very ancient name in itself.

The blessed region situated in the northern parts of the river Oceanos, where the earth blossomed and bore fruit three times a year, is called by Hesiodus gaia melaina (Theog. v. 69; Dies et Opera, v. 171)[1].

 

[1. The name gaia melaina does not derive from the physical type, or the color of the inhabitants, but from the geological quality of the particular zone of black, rich and extraordinarily productive soil (Neumann, Die Hellenen im Skythenlande, p. 14, 20). We have to admit though that the geological and ethnographic meaning of this expression had been misinterpreted since the most remote antiquity, even by Homer].

 

For some parts of ancient Dacia, the same name has been preserved in a traditional form, even during the course of the Middle Ages.

At the time when king Stefan, called “the Saint”, ruled over Hungary (997-1038), Transilvania appears under the name Ungria Nigra (Ademar Chabaniensis, Historiar. III. 33; Hunfalvy, Ethnographie von Ungarn, p. 217, 417).

The epithet Nigra has a great significance for history here, and “Ungria”, if not somehow a simple corrupt form of “Nigra”, appears only as a political name given by the author, because Transilvania had never been called with the particular geographical name of “Ungria”.

 

From the country, the epithet of “negri” (TN – blacks) passes on to its people, the Romanians.

In the chronicle of Fazel-ullach-Rashid from around 1303, the Romanians from the southern parts of the Carpathians are called Kara-Ulaghi, meaning the “Black Valachii” (D’Ohsson, Histoire des Mongols. La Haye, 1834, t.II, 627-628; Hasdeu, Ist. Critica, p. 68).

The Turks call the Romanian Country (Tera Romanesca) Kara-Iflak, and Moldova Kara-Bogdan (Cantemir, Cronicul vechimii Romano-Moldo-Vlahilor, ed. 1901, p. 307; Hasdeu, Ist. Crit. p. 107).

In the epic poems of the southern Slavs, the Romanian Country is zemlja karablaska (Miladinovitzi, 203; Hasdeu, Ist. Crit. 107, 110).

In the documents of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate between the years 1390-1400, Moldova figures as Mauroblachia (II. nr. 404, 435, 444, 454, 461, 465, etc; Codinus, De officiis magnae eccl. Paris, 1625, p. 130), and as Melana Pogdania with Chacocondylas (lib. IX. p. 514).

 

Finally, we find with Eschyl a third tradition about the country of Pelasg.

In his poem Supplices (v. 250), Eschyl tells us that Pelasg had been the son of Palaechton (the ancient earthling, born on the earth), born of Gaia or Terra.

In ancient Greek literature, the epithet “Palaechton” was hold only by the god Mars (Eschyl, Sept. c. Th. v. 105), also called Geticus by the Latin poets (Statius, Silv. I. 2. 53), and protector of the Getic plains (Virgil, Aen. X. 542).

 

We are presented here with the question, why was the god Mars, the protector of the Getic plains called “the ancient born on the earth”, or in other words, why it was said that Mars was originally from the ancient country (TN - Tera cea vechia)?

Under the name “Terra antiqua” appears in the geography of the Pelasgian times a certain region, famous for its martial people and for its richness (Homer, Hymn. XXX. 2).

Virgil also speaks about this “Ancient Terra”, and tells us at the same time that the Greeks named it also Hesperia, or “the country from the sundown” (Aen. I. v. 530; III. v. 163 seqq) [2].

 

[2. Diodorus Siculus writes (IV. 27) about the origin of the name Hesperia, that Atlas – the ancient king of the Hyperboreans (Apollod. II. 5. 11) – had divided the parental inheritance with his brother Hesperus, and that the part over which ruled the latter had been called Hesperia.

It results therefore that, according to the traditions of more ancient times, Hesperia had been situated in close neighborhood with the kingdom of Atlas from the Atlas mountains (of Olt), in the northern parts of Istru. From a geographical point of view, the name Hesperia refers in any case to the lands situated beyond the Carpathians mountains, which formed the separation line between the eastern and the western regions of ancient Dacia (Rufus Avienus, Descr. Orb. v. 738-739).

 

In Romanian heroic songs, which are of a very remote age, we still find today some mentions about the country from the sundown (TN – tera de la scapatat), identical with Ardel.

In the epic cycle about Old Novac it is said that his porch was at the sundown (Catana, Balade pop. 108). In another versions though, his sons are called “brave men from Ardel” (Sezatoarea, I. 44). Iovan Iorgovan is called in some versions “an emperor’s son, from the sundown”. The same is said about the maiden from the mountains of Cerna, that she was “an emperor’s daughter, from the sundown” (Catana, ibid. 56)].

 

The name ”Terra antiqua” is the antithesis of the new countries; or in other words, “Tera vechia” is the mother country of the Pelasgian pastoral tribes, which, migrating in the course of a long series of centuries, towards south and west, still remembered an ancient country, or the places from where their parents had come, as the same meaning still has in our times the name “the old village” as opposed to “the new village”.

From this “Tera vechia” therefore, once unbeaten in wars and blessed with the richness of its soil (potens armis atque ubere glebae), had been originally Mars, called Palaechton, the father of king Pelasg.

 

Thus, we have here the following genealogies regarding the country of Pelasg, the first monarch who had ruled over the great people of the Pelasgii:

 

It results therefore that, according to Greek traditions, Pelasg, the ancient representative of the Pelasgian people, was originally from the northern parts of Istru.

II.

 

We now know which was “Tera vechia” (Terra antiqua) of the Pelasgian people, situated on the northern parts of Istru.

We have to address now the question of the form of the name Pelasgoi, as it appears in the ancient Greek literature. But before all else, we must state here the following:

In the ancient topical nomenclature we do not find any trace of the form of the name Pelasgoi as presented by the Greek authors, either on the territory of Hellada, of Asia Minor, or in the Italic peninsula, where as we know, so many Pelasgian tribes had once settled.

 

This is evident proof that the name Pelasgoi, as used by Homer, does not correspond to a true popular form; that we have here only a term, corrupted by the mode of pronunciation and writing of the Greek authors.

The Greek geographer Strabo, originally from Asia Minor, wishing to indicate an etymology of the name Pelasgoi - but in an entirely frivolous way - tells us that in older times the inhabitants of Attica called these people Pelasgoi (ciconiae, meaning storks), because they migrated from one place to another (Geogr. Lib. V. 2. 4).

We find the same idea expressed by the Diodorus Siculus (I. V. 80), who uses for the Pelasgians the epithet planomenoi, “nomads”, from planao, to wander.

All the ancient and new attempts of finding the origin of this name, from its Greek form of Pelasgoi, could not reach any serious result.

 

In reality, the original form of the name “Pelasgi” had been completely different.

The Greeks had borrowed this term from the barbarian populations of the Hem peninsula; had borrowed and had distorted; and if we took into account the Greek phonetic changes, then it is easy to understand that the correct, usual  form of this name, in the speech of the southern populations, had been without doubt Balasci, or Belasci, where the Greeks, by the nature of their language, had replaced, as in many other cases, B with P, and from the suffix ascus, asci, had formed a more harsh, guttural one, asgos, asgoi.

 

In prehistoric antiquity had existed, as we know, only two big groups of the Pelasgii.

The first group were the Arimii, a name which appears in various regions under the various forms: Rami (Ramnes), Remi, Romi, Rumi, Aramaei, Arimi, Arimani, Remores, Aremorici, Ormini, Orchomeni, etc.

 

The second group were the Abii, or the White Arimii (Abii, Abarimones), to which belonged the inhabitants of Latium (Albani, Bolani, Abolani), and various other Pelasgian tribes, scattered from east to west through the three continents, under the name of: Balaci, Belaci, Bolaci, Bellovaci, Belloaci, Blasci, Blaci, Placi, Palaci, Blaceni, Belcae, Volcae, Volsci, Vloqui, etc.

That the form “Balasci” or “Belasci” as ethnic name had once been used in the Balkan peninsula is proved by the term Balascae, as were called the Thracii of the first half of the Middle Ages (Tomaschek, Die alten Thraker, II. 4).

The Romanian Country (Tera Romanesca) is called even today Vlaska zemlia in the language of the southern Slavs. A district of the Romanian Country is called Vlasca. We also find here the villages Balaci, and the family names Balaciu and Balascu (Hasdeu, Etym. Magn. III. 2992, 2943). Finally, the part of Moravia, where in ancient times was settled a significant group of Romanians, is still called Valaska.

 

The suffix ascu is neither Greek, nor Slav.

This suffix had also existed in the ancient language of the Pelasgian population, having the same meaning as escu has in the Romanian language of today.

On a Roman inscription discovered at Genova, on the territory of the ancient Ligurii, we find mentioned the rivers Neviasca, Tulelasca, Veraglasca, Vinelasca, certainly reflecting the names of some ancient Ligurian localities (C. I. L. vol. V. nr. 7749. I. 9. 10. 19. 21).

The food tabula of Veleia also mentions two names of localities ended in ascus: fundus Areliascus and fundus Caudalascus (C. I. L. vol. XI. p. 215, nr. 1147, p. 5. 1. 21).

Finally, we find even today in the upper parts of Italy a significant number of localities with the name ending in the suffixes asca and asco:

In the provinces Genova and Porto Maurizio: Caiasca, Marinasco, Morasca, Bagnasco;

In the province Alexandria: Fabiasco, Martinasco;

In Novara and Emilia of Lombardy: Rimasco, Romagnasco, Barbarasco, Sarmadasco, Romasco, etc (De Jubainville, Les premiers habitants. Tome II. 46-59).

The same suffixes also appear in the topical nomenclature of Switzerland, Tyrol, upper Bavaria, Alsace, Loraine, France, Corsica, Spain and Portugal (Ibid. II. p. 68. 86. 99).

 

We resume: the ancient popular form of the name Pelasgi had been Belasci and Balasci; and the ancient country, the power center from which this people had expanded, had been in Europe, at the Carpathians and the lower Danube.

 

END OF PART 5 – (to follow up go PART 5 – CONTENTS – PART 6)