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Subject: Re: Emne < Isamnion, etymology
From: "Dr. David Stifter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 31 Jul 2011 07:42:54 +0100
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On 30 Jul 2011 at 14:13, Helen McKay wrote:

> I came to think recently that a healing sanctuary of sorts is precisely
> what we should expect at Emain Macha.  But its not the great mound at
> Navan hill, there a huge wheel of posts was put up, filled with rock, set
> alight and a turf mound placed over it, so I don’t think it would ever
> have functioned as a ‘temple’ space, as it seems to have all been done
> at the one time.  The notion of a wheel on a hill named for a horse
> goddess – well we’ve all seen that wheel/horse symbolism before….

As I pointed out recently, latest research indicates that the
association of the place with a equine figure called Macha seems to
be only a fairly recently (= medieval) constructed legend. From an
onomastic point of view Macha seems to have been the name of the
plain originally, and there is some chance that its etymological
meaning was simply "plain" or something related to start with. If
that is so, the original meaning of Emain Macha would have been "the
emain-type of place in the Macha-plain". The equine femal figure
called Macha may only have been invented at a relatively late stage
when the original meaning of the placename was lost, or when it
became more typical to associate second elements of compound
placenames with individuals.

> So here goes (and
> please don’t worry if the answer is no in both cases, I just need to ask):

> a)	could this  “PIE root  *H1eisH2- also meant "to strengthen"
> (Iranian i:s- "strengthening, Greek &#912;&#940;&#959;&#956;&#945;&#953; "cure, heal")” be the stem of
> the name Esus?

Theoretically yes, but as you may be aware the etymology of Esus is
disputed in itself. Was the oldest form of the name Aesus (in which
case your etymology wouldn't work) or was it Esus (in which the
connection with *h1ei̯sh2 would be possible). But then again, I am
also sceptical whether etymologising divine names would lead us in
the right direction in understanding the functions of the respective
divine figures.

> b)	Could then the stem of ‘Esus’ be part of the name Isamnion?

No.

David

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