Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Name Changes

Name changes.  Names, especially the more ancient ones, evolve over time in pronunciation and spelling, and sometimes even in meaning! For example:

Bethlehem Hospital [London] => Bedlam
Fora Julia => Frejus
Lugdunum => Lyons
Londinium => London
Breuckelen => Brooklyn
Conihasset => Cohasset
Satuit => Scituate
Dùn Èideann => Edinburgh, Dunedin
sicarius => sicario, Iscariot
gul-goletha => Golgotha
crux => cross

The last three are controversial, in that two are devolutions of regular, plain nouns into proper nouns, names and the third, well, read on.  The Latin noun sicarius (assassin) became Iscariot (Man of Kerioth, Man of Falsehood, etc.) and the Aramaic noun gul-goletha (skull, head, place of the head, tax office) becomes Golgotha (Place of the Skull). Of course, Melito of Sardis (On the Passion 94-97) thought the Jews hanged Jesus in the broad space of Jerusalem—which, before Hadrian renovated it into Aelia Capitolina, was on the plinth known as the Temple Mount.  So gul-goletha (Golgotha) could have referred to the place of the Head of all Israel! And crux to cross, well it seems self-explanatory, but back in the days before the supremacy of Christianity under Constatine, a crux meant "torture-stake," whether it was equipped with a transom or not.  Even an impaling stake qualified as a crux. Since then, it has been rendered identical to the Roman tropaeum in all illustrations and reliefs and means two pieces of wood set transverse to and laid into each other by a lap-joint.

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