Gr. ἄφρων [adj.] 'senseless': a Reassessment

Romain Garnier, University of Limoges
2021 Scandinavian Philology  
The present article offers a reassessment of Hom. ἄφρων [adj.] 'unreasonable, senseless, foolish', which is traditionally accounted for as an ablauting compound (of the type πατήρ : πάτωρ) based on the simplex φρένες [] 'midriff, diaphragm' (+Il.). This archaic ablauting pattern (viz. °φρων vs. simplex φρήν*) is totally unparalleled for body parts; besides, the Ancients' interpretation of φρένες as 'diaphragm' is flawed. Φρονέω 'to have (good) understanding or intelligence' is a
more » ... ormation coined after φρονέω 'to act senselessly, to be foolish'. From zero-graded φραίνω (via a synchronic reanalysis of -αίνω as a deverbative suffix of the type °φαίνω), an adverb * φρα-δόν 'senselessly, foolishly' was eventually coined, which was the starting point of a whole new group. From this group was reanalyzed a "new" synchronic root √φραδ- 'to heed, to consider', reflected by Hom. φράζω. The lack of comparative evidence for this sprawling word family leads the author to assume that Hom. ἄφρων [adj.] 'senseless, fool, heedless' is in fact the reflex of a PIE etymon *ń ̥ -gʷʱr(h1)-on- 'without sense of smell, not able of scenting', from PIE *gʷʱreh1- 'to smell' (cf. Ved. jí-ghr-a- < *gʷʱí-gʷʱr(h1)-V-). This verbal compound of the type νήφων [*-on-adj.] 'sober' (< PIE *ń̥ -h1gʷʱ-on- 'not having drunk') would have been eventually reanalyzed as a privative bahuvrīhi (viz. 'lacking φρένες').
doi:10.21638/spbu20.2021.105 fatcat:obf6idwc7vaxvbszbqlystvrle