The Root *nes- in Prehistoric Greek

1. Evidence for the Primitive Meaning

In order to connect nóos with néomai one must first reconstruct the primitive meaning of Greek nes-. Other Indo-European families (notably Germanic) contain valuable comparative evidence, and some of this evidence will enter the present discussion. The bulk of the Indo-European evidence, however, will be treated separately in chapter 6. The first step is one of internal reconstruction.
For the primitive Greek meaning there is one piece of evidence with singular importance. This is the old participial form ásmenos, which occurs first in Homer and then, with considerable frequency, in later Greek. This form deserves close attention, and, in fact, most of this chapter will be devoted to it. The points to be considered are, first, the etymology of the form; second, its place in the formulaic diction of Greek epic; and third, its meaning in primitive Greek. As will be seen, these three points are to a large extent overlapping.
The basic question concerns the etymology of ásmenos. On this question there has been a persistent debate, which can be described briefly. [1] {6|7}
The first etymology proposed for ásmenos connected this participle with the root *swād- of, for example, Greek hḗdomai, “enjoy,” and handánō, “please.” [2] The form was reconstructed as *swad-s-menos, representing an archaic sigmatic aorist. The chief merit of this derivation from swād- is that it provides a basis for the meaning “pleased “ or “happy,” which is regular for ásmenos in classical Greek.
But this etymology has a serious problem in that ásmenos has a smooth-breathing in Attic as well as Ionic, which conflicts with a derivation from an original sw- (cf. Attic handánō). [3] It has further been shown that in all manuscript traditions of all Greek authors only the form ásmenos is correct. [4]
This problem was pointed out by Wackernagel, who then proposed a new derivation from the root nes-. [5] He too reconstructed a sigmatic aorist participle, of the form *n̥s-s-menos, and he defended his etymology by citing passages in Homer and later authors where ásmenos apparently means “saved” and not “happy.” For the meaning “saved” of the root nes- he compared the important Gothic cognates nasjan, “save,” and ganisan, “be saved,” and proposed that ásmenos originally had the same sense. To account for the later meaning “happy,” he supposed either a semantic development from the basic meaning “saved,” or a cross-etymology with an original *swad-s-menos, with generalization of the smooth-breathing.
Two derivations for ásmenos have been given, only one of which can be correct. I will argue that the derivation from the root nes- is correct but that Wackernagel’s arguments as to {7|8} form, meaning, and semantic development are in need of modification.
The reconstruction *n̥s-s-menos has a formal problem. It posits a zero-grade of the root, which, because of its samprasāraṇa ablaut, would have to be very old. But the sigmatic aorist middle, to judge from the evidence of Vedic Sanskrit, originally had a full-grade of the root. [6] The Sanskrit forms in which a zero-grade appears are late and seem to have been based on original root-aorist middles.
A solution for Greek ásmenos is suggested by this mention of root-aorist. One may in fact regard this form as simply a root-aorist, in which an archaic zero-grade would be entirely natural (cf. Homeric phthímenos and ktámenos). To account for the preservation of the consonant group -sm-, one may assume the same paradigmatic pressure as restored the form esmén on the basis of esté, or created pepusménos on the basis of pépustai. [7] In just this way, ásmenos could have been restored on the basis of a third-singular *asto. If phonology thus offers no real problem, the morphology of ásmenos would seem to demand the reconstruction *n̥s-menos.
The next problem is that of meaning. I suggest that “saved” may be close to the original meaning of ásmenos but that it is not exact. Wackernagel took this meaning directly from Germanic, but it will later be argued that even Gothic nasjan and ganisan contain (or at least go back to) more “primitive” meanings than “save” and “be saved.” Reserving this matter for chapter 6, we must first consider the most important evidence, which is to be found in Greek itself.
This evidence has to do with the use of ásmenos in Homer. The word is in fact relatively rare (it occurs only five times), {8|9} but it is possible, by means of formulaic analysis, to establish a chronological hierarchy of what occurrences there are. This has important consequences in that the oldest use can be shown to be very old indeed and to contain the original meaning of the root nes-.
The following formulaic line accounts for three of the five occurrences of ásmenos in Homer: [8]
ásmenoi ek thanátoio, phílous olésantes hetaírous
ásmenoi from death, having lost dear companions.
Wackernagel thought that the collocation ásmenoi ek thanátoio meant “having been saved from death.” I propose, however, that the original meaning was simply “having returned from death,” which keeps ásmenoi in line with Homeric néomai. This may be disappointing from the point of view of ásmenoi alone, but from the point of view of the whole collocation the result is startling. The words ásmenoi ek thanátoio, interpreted as “having returned from death,” reveal the primitive context in which the verb néomai appeared, and this context is of the greatest importance. To “return from death” is clearly not the same as to “return home.”
The argument sketched above must now be filled out and defended. Three immediate points require demonstration, all concerning the line:
ásmenoi ek thanátoio, phílous olésantes hetaírous.
First, does the word ásmenoi in this line in fact derive form the root nes-? Second, does the first half of this line in fact mean “having returned from death”? Third, is the whole line an inheritance from an earlier period in the epic tradition? {9|10}
The demonstration for each of these points emerges from another formulaic line in Homer, which has never been considered in this connection before. The line, which occurs twice in the Odyssey (xi 114 and xii 141), is the following:
opsè kakō̂s neĩai, olésas ápo pántas hetaírous.
You will return late and in evil condition, having lost all your companions.
The crucial point to be noticed is the resemblance between this line and that which includes ásmenoi. In the latter half of the two lines the resemblance is unmistakable. Is it, then, a coincidence that the second line contains a form of néomai, namely neĩai, “you will return”? On the contrary, this fact indicates that ásmenoi also belongs to the paradigm of néomai, and that the two lines in question are ancient formulaic variations of one pattern.
The justification for this view involves a number of different considerations. The most important point concerns the meaning of the forms ásmenoi and neĩai. It is obvious that if the two lines in question originated as variants of each other, then the two forms of néomai must have had the same meaning. It was proposed above that ásmenoi should be rendered as simply “having returned.” The connection with the form neĩai, “you will return,” would now seem to support this. More important, however, is the question of context. In the case of ásmenoi the context is made explicit by the words ek thanátoio: the “return” is “from death.” It is of great significance that for neĩai the context is likewise a “return from death,” with the difference, however, that the context in this case remains implicit.
What must be taken into account is the larger context in which the line with neĩai appears. As stated earlier, the line occurs twice. Both occurrences are significant, but for the sake of clarity only the first need be considered here. [9] The context in which {10|11} this is found is the prophecy Teiresias gives to Odysseus in the underworld. The implication here is clear. When Teiresias says, “you will return,” he means, implicitly, “you will return from death.” [10]
Comparison with the line containing neĩai has already indicated the answer to two important questions about the collocation ásmenoi ek thanátoio. There is now a compelling reason to believe that ásmenoi contains the root nes- and that the whole collocation once meant “having returned from death.” The relevance of this meaning to the Homeric contexts where the collocation appears is a separate and important problem, which will be considered thoroughly in chapter 3. At present, however, more discussion is required to elucidate the formulaic relationship of the two lines in question.
There is, first of all, a difference between the two lines that must be explained. One line contains the root nes- in a participial form and fails to make a complete statement; the other line contains the root in a finite form and is thus self-contained. The explanation for this would seem to be formulaic expansion. The line with ásmenoi in fact forms the second part of a two-line unity; this unity, which does not vary, functions as a “refrain” at the end of three episodes in the Odyssey. The complete traditional unit is therefore the following:
ἔνθεν δὲ προτέρω πλέομεν ἀκαχήενοι ἦτορ,
ἄσμενοι ἐκ θανάτοιο, φίλους ὀλέσαντες ἑταίρους.
From there we sailed onward grieving at heart, ásmenoi from death, having lost our dear companions. {11|12}
The first line in this refrain contains a further link with the line beginning opsè kakō̂s neĩai; the word kakō̂s, “in evil condition,” and the phrase akakhḗmenoi ē̂tor, “grieving at heart,” both suggest a negative aspect to “returning.”
There are other obvious differences between the two lines. Person, number, and tense are all different for the two forms ásmenoi and neĩai. Formulaic flexibility can again be invoked to explain this, though the precise mechanism need not be specified. [11] It is enough to realize that basic differences in situation are involved.
One hesitates to be overly specific because the two lines in question must have been composed at a very early time and should not therefore be explained in terms of Homer’s own improvisational techniques. The question that now remains, however, has to do precisely with the antiquity of these lines. How old do they seem to be?
The fact that they are variations of each other means they originated more or less together. When they were composed, moreover, the form ásmenos was necessarily still a part of the paradigm of néomai. [12] At this time, therefore, the whole root-aorist paradigm of néomai must still have been intact. This establishes as a terminus ante quem for the composition the point at which the root-aorist died out. This development, in turn, has a terminus post quem on the basis of an earlier argument. According to this argument, the consonant group -sm- was preserved through pressure from other parts of the root-aorist paradigm. Hence this paradigm must still have been {12|13} intact when the alteration of original -sm- took place in Greek. This development belongs to the second millennium BC. [13]
Two things are uncertain in this, and the possible period of composition is thus somewhat broad. One cannot tell how long before the death of the root-aorist paradigm the line with ásmenoi was composed; and, at the other end, one cannot tell how long after the alteration of original -sm- this paradigm died. It is enough to say that the period of composition could easily have been in the second millennium BC.
By the Homeric period, at any rate, the form ásmenoi no longer belonged to the same paradigm as neĩai. This point has not yet been discussed, and it should now be emphasized. Since the two forms in question no longer belonged to the same grammatical system, the lines in which they occur inevitably ceased to belong to the same formulaic system. Instead the two lines went their separate ways, creating new “subsystems” of their own. This development is worth demonstrating in detail.
The development is especially apparent in the case of the line beginning opsè kakō̂s neĩai. As argued above, this line properly and traditionally formed an essential part of a Nekuomanteía. [14] In one crucial instance (xi 114) Homer preserves this context. In the line’s only other occurrence (xii 141) the context is still “prophecy,” but the implication of “returning from death” is less apparent. [15]
The first formulaic variation of the line appears in ii 174 ff., where again the context of prophecy is preserved without further implications. The seer Halitherses, warning the suitors that Odysseus will soon be home, says that everything he once {13|14} prophesied has come to pass; he repeats his prophecy in indirect discourse:
φῆν κακὰ πολλὰ παθόντ’, ὀλέσαντ’ ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους,
ἄγνωστον πάντεσσιν ἐεικοστῷ ἐνιαυτῷ
οἴκαδ’ ἐλεύσεσθαι.
I said that he, having suffered many evils and having lost all his companions, would come home unrecognized by all in the twentieth year.
In modifying his basic pattern, Homer has changed neĩai, “you will return,” into oíkad’ eleúsesthai, “he would come home”; kakō̂s, “in evil condition,” into kakà pollà pathónt’, “having suffered many evils”; and opsé, “late,” into eeikostō̂i eniautō̂i, “in the twentieth year.” The secondary nature of the above passage is evident, just as it is evident that in it there is no conscious suggestion of “returning from death.” Only the prophetic context is traditional.
In a second passage, ix 532 ff., there is less modification of the basic pattern but the context has been changed from prophecy to curse. In this passage the Cyclops prays that the fleeing Odysseus, even if he is not prevented by Poseidon from returning home, may at least suffer great misfortune on his way:
ἀλλ’ εἴ οἱ μοῖρ’ ἐστὶ φίλους ἰδέειν καὶ ἱκέσθαι
οἶκον ἐüκτίμενον καὶ ἑὴν ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν,
ὀψὲ κακῶς ἔλθοι, ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους.
But if it is his destiny to see those dear to him and to reach his well-founded home and fatherland, may he come late and in evil condition, having lost all his companions.
Here Homer has substituted élthoi, “may he come,” for the traditional neĩai. The fact that élthoi depends for its sense on the previous mention of “home” and “fatherland” shows the secondary nature of this passage. {14|15}
A final variation occurs in xiii 339–340, where Athena has met Odysseus upon his return to Ithaca and apologizes for her apparent neglect during his voyages:
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ τὸ μὲν οὔ ποτ’ ἀπίστεον, ἀλλ’ ἐνὶ θυμῷ
ᾔδε’, ὃ νοστήσεις ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους.
I never doubted it, but knew in my heart that you would return home, having lost all your companions.
Here Homer omits any suggestion of the traditional words opsè kakō̂s, “late, in evil condition” (which would be tactless in this context), and he substitutes the derivative form nostḗseis for the older neĩai. It is also worth noticing that the word ḗide’, “I knew,” goes syntactically with what precedes, and that Homer has thus used less than a full hexameter in modifying his inherited model. What was expanded in the first two passages has here been contracted, and the latter process, as much as the former, indicates a secondary status. As for context, this is traditional only insofar as Athena’s statement has a future reference (cf. nostḗseis). The element of prophecy has again been weakened, if not eliminated.
The dependence of the above passages on the line beginning opsè kakō̂s neĩai argues strongly for the traditionality of this line. Each modification, moreover, makes it clear that Homer understood the word neĩai as meaning, simply, “you will return home” (cf., for example, oíkad’ eleúsesthai in ii 176). If the word originally meant “you will return from death,” then Homer, while preserving a traditional line, has understood something new by it. The three dependent passages bear witness to this reinterpretation.
When we turn to the line beginning ásmenoi ek thanátoio the factor of reinterpretation becomes more important still. Whereas neĩai meant something new to Homer, it at least still belonged to the paradigm of néomai. As argued above, however, the {15|16} same was not true of ásmenos. This old participle had in fact already lost its verbal force, acquiring instead the adjectival meanings “pleased” and “happy.” An isolated occurrence in Homer shows this; in XIV 107–108, Agamemnon appeals to his counselors to suggest some better plan than his own:
νῦν δ’ εἴη ὃς τῆσδέ γ’ ἀμείνονα μῆτιν ἐνίσποι,
ἢ νέος ἠὲ παλαιός· ἐμοὶ δέ κεν ἀσμένῳ εἴη.
Would that there were someone, either young or old, who might utter a better plan than this; it would make me ásmenos.
Even if a weakened notion such as “relieved” might still be present, the form asménōi functions as an adjective, just as in classical Greek. The meaning is probably no more than “happy.”
If ásmenos functioned only as an adjective by Homer’s time, then Homer can no longer have understood the syntax, let alone the meaning, of the traditional refrain. This is in fact borne out by the one formulaic adaptation of the phrase ásmenoi ek thanátoio which occurs in Homer. Homer must have felt the lack of a verb in the refrain; this he supplies in the following passage (XX 349–350), part of the speech Achilles utters when he realizes that Aeneas, snatched by Poseidon, has escaped to safety:
ἐρρέτω· οὔ οἱ θυμὸς ἐμεῦ ἔτι πειρηθῆναι
ἔσσεται, ὃς καὶ νῦν φύγεν ἄσμενος ἐκ θανάτοιο.
Let him go; he will no longer have the heart to make trial of me who has just now escaped ásmenos from death.
The fact that Homer has added the verb phúgen, “escaped,” indicates strongly that he felt no verbal force in ásmenos. Equally important, the verb phúgen reveals how Homer has re-interpreted the very context of the collocation ásmenoi ek thanátoio. What was originally a “return from death” has become simply an “escape from death.” {16|17}
Homer’s use of the verb pheúgein is to be stressed here, for it is a constant feature in a whole series of reinterpreted contexts that will be considered in the course of this study. One such context may be considered immediately because it has to do with another, as yet unanswered, question. The collocation phúgen ásmenos ek thanátoio shows that ásmenos no longer had its verbal force. How, then, did Homer understand this adjective? The phrase emoì dé ken asménōi eíē in XIV 108 has already indicated the meaning “happy.” The same meaning is therefore more than likely in the derivative collocation phúgen ásmenos ek thanátoio. But can Homer have understood the same meaning in the traditional refrain, where there is no form of pheúgein to rescue the syntax?
That he in fact did so is indicated by the lines in the Odyssey which conclude the Laestrygonian episode. These lines, which are followed immediately by the traditional refrain, serve to adapt this refrain to the particular occasion. Homer thus offers his own reinterpretation of the refrain, a practice that he follows consistently, [16] and that in this case is very revealing. The Laestrygonian episode ends as follows (x 131 ff.):
ἀσπασίως δ’ ἐς πόντον ἐπηρεφέας φύγε πέτρας
νηῦς ἐμή· αὐτὰρ αἱ ἄλλαι ἀολλέες αὐτόθ’ ὄλοντο.
ἔνθεν δὲ προτέρω πλέομεν ἀκαχήμενοι ἦτορ,
ἄσμενοι ἐκ θανάτοιο, φίλους ὀλέσαντες ἑταίρους.
Happily my ship escaped from the overhanging rocks into the sea; but all the other ships perished there together. From there we sailed onward grieving at heart, ásmenoi from death, having lost our dear companions.
The correspondence between the last line and the first two lines is apparent. But while the forms olésantes, “having lost,” and ólonto, “perished,” balance one another completely, the form {17|18} ásmenoi has been reinterpreted by the words aspasíōs . . . phúge, both of which are significant. Phúge shows that the context is now simply one of “escape”; aspasíōs indicates that Homer did in fact understand ásmenoi to mean “happy.” [17]
A phrase meaning “happy from death” must have seemed odd to Homer but not impossible. This would have been justification enough for preserving a line that was hallowed by tradition. The crucial factor in this preservation was the very possibility of reinterpretation. Had the form ásmenos not acquired a new meaning and a new grammatical function, and thus survived, the line containing it would doubtless have disappeared long before Homer. But since ásmenos did survive in the ordinary language apart from its original paradigm, the line containing it was able to survive in the epic language apart from its original formulaic system. It is thus an accident of linguistic history that the lines with ásmenoi ek thanátoio and opsè kakō̂s neĩai both appear in the same Homeric poem, for the lines no longer have anything to do with one another.
This completes my analysis of the formulaic factors involved in the interpretation of the form ásmenos. Before proceeding to other matters, however, I shall consider briefly an alternative explanation of these factors.
Friedrich Bechtel sought to disprove Wackernagel’s contention that ásmenos must sometimes mean “saved.” [18] Realizing that the correct reconstruction of ásmenos depends ultimately on a correct interpretation of the formulaic refrain, he argued that the second line of this refrain is a late interpolation. The supposed interpolator did two things. He first modified the phrase phúgen ásmenos ek thanátoio found in XX 350 by pluralizing ásmenos and {18|19} omitting the finite verb phúgen. He then took the formulaic phrase olésas ápo pántas hetaírous, “having lost all your (his) companions,” and adapted it to a plural context: phílous olésantes hetaírous, “having lost our dear companions.”
There are serious problems with both parts of this argument. As far as ásmenos is concerned, the supposed interpolator did all in his power to create nonsense if this word meant “happy” to him. Not only is the syntagma “happy from death” abnormal in the extreme, but also its juxtaposition to akakhḗmenoi ē̂tor, “grieving at heart,” would have required an ineptitude that is difficult to imagine. As far as olésas ápo pántas hetaírous is concerned, Bechtel failed to realize that the basic line containing this formula contains the word neĩai as well, which all but proves what he sought to disprove concerning the root of ásmenos. The only plausible explanation of the relation between the lines with ásmenoi and neĩai is that they both go back to the same primitive source.
With this point established, one may look more closely at the original meaning of the Greek root nes-. The earliest context in which this root appears is a “return from death.” What must now be asked, therefore, is precisely what it means to “return from death.” How is this meaning, which seems implicit in the primitive root, to be interpreted?
The enquiry into this matter can best begin with a further observation on the two lines:
ásmenoi ek thanátoio, phílous olésantes hetaírous
opsè kakō̂s neĩai, olésas ápo pántas hetaírous.
What must now be taken into account are the contents of these two lines in their entirety. Both lines contain two distinct ideas: on the one hand a “return” and on the other hand a “loss of companions.” The opposition between these two ideas, furthermore, is one that has a profound relevance to the basic plot of the first half of the Odyssey. The essential result of the adventures of Odysseus is the gradual “loss of {19|20} companions,” until all have perished and the hero alone is left to “return.”
The importance of this opposition may be judged by the opening passage of the Odyssey, which presents a synopsis of the fates of Odysseus and his companions. Odysseus is said to have suffered much “while winning his life (arnúmenos hḗn te psukhḕn) and the return of his companions (kaì nóston hetaírōn).” [19] However, the companions are then said not to have returned but to have perished through their own foolishness.
The lines describing the companions’ fate contain an important clue for our present enquiry. The lines (i 6 ff.) are as follows:
ἀλλ’ οὐδ’ ὣς ἑτάρους ἐρρύσατο, ἱέμενός περ·
αὐτῶν γὰρ σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο,
νήπιοι, οἳ κατὰ βοῦς Ὑπερίονος Ἠελίοιο
ἤσθιον· αὐτὰρ ὁ τοῖσιν ἀφείλετο νόστιμον ἦμαρ.
Even so he did not save his companions, hard though he tried— for they perished through their own recklessness, the fools, when they ate the cattle of Hyperion Helios and he took away their day of return.
The poet here has singled out the god Helios as the agent who prevented the companions from returning. The importance of this for the tradition behind the Odyssey and for the original meaning of the root nes- can be suggested here by anticipating one conclusion of chapter 6—namely, that the Indo-European root nes- meant not only “return from death” but also, implicitly, {20|21} “return from darkness.” The same composite meaning was also present in the Greek root, [20] on the evidence of the nóstos of Odysseus. One purpose of chapter 3 will be to show that this nóstos is a “return from darkness” as well as a “return from death”; for now, however, attention can at least be drawn to the name Kalupsṓ. The name of Odysseus’s captor for seven years, related as it is to the verb kalúptō, suggests both “darkness” and “death.” [21]
If the root nes- originally had to do with “returning from darkness,” it is not difficult to believe that the role of Helios, the Sun, is somehow relevant to the present discussion. I wish to suggest, however, that this role, more than being relevant, is absolutely central to a correct understanding of the root nes-. We know that the earliest context for this root was a “return from death” accompanied by a “loss of companions.” This context, I suggest, originated as a direct reflex of primitive sun worship. What leads to this conclusion is not only the role of Helios in the Odyssey and the meaning “return from darkness” of the root nes-; the assumed hierophany of the sun also explains what it means to “return from death,” and why this return is accompanied by a “loss of companions.” An explanation which takes account of both these patently old features is very compelling.
The easiest way to explain what is involved in primitive sun worship is to quote from the work of a scholar who has made a comparative study of the phenomenon. The following paragraphs are taken from Mircea Eliade’s Patterns in Comparative Religion. [22] The first paragraph describes primitive conceptions of the sun in a general way, while the final two paragraphs are particularly relevant to our problem. {21|22}
Sunset is not recognized as a “death” of the sun (unlike the moon’s three days in hiding) but as a descent into the lower regions, into the kingdom of the dead. Unlike the moon, the sun has the privilege of passing through hell without undergoing the condition of death. Nonetheless, its predestined journey through the lower regions still confers on it the prerogatives relating to death and burial. Thus even when it no longer holds a front place in the pantheon or in the religious experience of a given civilization, as the Supreme Being who has become a sun god or a fecundator, the sun still manifests a certain ambivalence which makes it capable of undergoing yet further developments.
This ambivalence might be expressed rather like this: though immortal, the sun descends nightly to the kingdom of the dead; it can, therefore, take men with it and, by setting, put them to death; but it can also, on the other hand, guide souls through the lower regions and bring them back next day with its light. That is its twofold function—as psychopomp to “murder” and as hierophant to initiate. It explains the belief, so widely held in New Zealand and the New Hebrides, that merely to glance at the setting sun may induce death. The sun draws things, it “sucks in” the souls of the living with as much ease as it guides the souls of the dead to whom it acts as psychopomp through the western “gate of the sun.”...
...Clearly, the fate of all the souls who plunge into the setting sun is not the same; not all gain what we may call “salvation.” That is the point at which the redemptive power of initiation enters, and the part played by the various secret societies in choosing the elect and separating them from the amorphous mass of common men (the separation expressed in the mystique of sovereignty and the “children of the sun”).
This description makes clear why the role of Helios is central to an understanding of the root nes-. Helios takes away from the companions their day of return (autàr ho toĩsin apheíleto nóstimon ē̂mar) because they are the “amorphous mass of common men” from whom the hero must be separated. The hero, {22|23} on the other hand, is one of the “elect,” and may thus gain “salvation.” [23]
Eliade’s description also reveals what it means to “return from death” in the context of a solar hierophany: “the sun has the privilege of passing through hell without undergoing the condition of death. Nevertheless, its predestined journey through the lower regions still confers on it the prerogatives relating to death and burial.” Thus the hero, too, can pass through the regions of death without actually dying; he can, without violating nature, “return from death,” because he has had only the prerogatives, and not the actual condition, of death.
It is appropriate to mention here the Gothic verb ganisan in its meaning “get well, recover.” The verb contains the IE root nes-, and the context of illness is the easiest in which to grasp the root’s underlying meaning, “return from death, return to life.”
This section has shown that the earliest reconstructable context of the Greek root nes- is a “return from death and darkness,” and that this context was hieratic. It is possible, however, that the root also appeared in secular contexts from an early time. If so, it would be overly restrictive to render the meaning of the root as “return from death and darkness.” It is worth noting that, in the phrase ásmenoi ek thanátoio, the hieratic context has been specified through the words ek thanátoio. Similarly, in the frequent Homeric verse cadence oĩkónde néesthai, “to return homeward,” the word oĩkónde, “homeward,” may once have served to specify a secular context.
Émile Benveniste has reconstructed the original meaning of Greek néomai and its Sanskrit cognate nasate as “return to a familiar state” (“revenir à un état familier”), [24] which is perhaps {23|24} broad enough to accommodate a variety of specific contexts. It does not, however, do justice to the hieratic context in early Greek. Since this context is of first importance to the study, I will refer only to the hieratic acceptation of the root nes-, which may indeed be rendered as “return from death and darkness.”

2. The Semantic Development of ásmenos

The previous section showed that the word ásmenos had undergone a semantic development even before the Homeric period. To Homer the word already meant “happy.” As soon as the rest of the root-aorist paradigm of néomai died out, the old participle from this paradigm could survive only because of its acquired adjectival meaning.
It was also shown that the original hieratic meaning of ásmenos was “having returned from death and darkness.” This meaning could as accurately be rendered as “having returned to life and light.” What is the connection between this meaning and the meaning “happy”? I suggest that for this connection one need only take into account the Greek word pháos. Pháos of course means “light,” but throughout ancient Greek it also has the metaphorical meanings “deliverance” and “happiness” (see LSJ s.v.). The triple notion of “light,” “deliverance,” and “happiness” exactly covers what has been reconstructed and what is attested for the meaning of ásmenos.
There is evidence in post-Homeric Greek of a connection between the words pháos and ásmenos. The following passage in Plato (Cratylus 418c) is very revealing. In this passage Socrates mentions an old pronunciation of iota for eta which allows him to derive hēméra, “day,” from himeírō, “desire.” What {24|25} interests us is the way in which he glosses his explanation:
ὅτι γὰρ ἀσμένοις τοῖς ἀνθρώποις καὶ ἱμείρουσιν ἐκ τοῦ σκότους τὸ φῶς ἐγίγνετο, ταύτῃ ὠνόμασαν “ἱμέραν”
Men named it day (himéran) because when the light (phō̂s) emerged from the darkness they were happy (asménois) and longing for it (himeírousin).
The fact that Socrates uses ásmenos as his gloss indicates that this word was the vox propria in the context of “light.” A passage in Herodotus (8.14.1) exemplifies the implied association in the phrase: hṓs sphi asménoisi hēméra epélampse, “as day broke to their happiness (relief).”
Equally striking are the following passages from Euripides. In the first, pháos is used metaphorically. The passage is Bacchae 608–609, in which the Chorus, terrified by the destruction of the royal palace, hails Dionysus as he emerges unharmed:
φάος μέγιστον ἡμῖν εὐίου βακχεύματος,
ὡς ἐσεῖδον ἀσμένη σε.
O greatest light to us of the Bacchic revelry, how happily have I set my eyes on you.
The next two passages are more striking still, in that they involve not only “light” but also a “return from death.” The first is Ion 1437 ff., in which Creusa and Ion, discovering that they are mother and son, have the following dialogue:
I. ὦ φιλτάτη μοι μῆτερ, ἄσμενός σ’ ἰδὼν
πρὸς ἀσμένας πέπτωκα σὰς παρηίδας.
C. ὦ τέκνον, ὦ φῶς μητρὶ κρεῖσσον ἡλίου –
συγγνώσεται γὰρ ὁ θεός – ἐν χεροῖν σ’ ἔχω,
ἄελπτον εὕρημ’, ὃν κατὰ γᾶς ἐνέρων
χθόνιον μετὰ Περσεφόνας τ’ ἐδόκουν ναίειν. {25|26}
(Ion) “My dearest mother, happily seeing you I have fallen on your happy cheeks.” (Creusa) “O child, O light which to your mother is better than the sun—for this the Sun God will forgive me—I have you in my hands, an unexpected godsend, you who I thought were dwelling dead and buried beneath the earth in the kingdom of Persephone.”
The second passage is Hercules 523–524, in which the hero, emerging from the underworld, addresses his palace as follows:
ὦ χαῖρε, μέλαθρον πρόπυλά θ’ ἑστίας ἐμῆς,
ὡς ἄσμενός σ’ ἐσεῖδον ἐς φάος μολών.
Hail to you, my gateway and palace, how happily have I set my eyes on you as I come into the light.
The expression es pháos molṓn, literally “having come into the light,” could serve as an etymological definition of ásmenos.
One may speculate about another element which the three Euripidean passages have in common—namely, the collocation of ásmenos with the verb horā̂n, “to see.” This collocation is frequent in post-Homeric Greek. Along with ásmenos pheúgein, “to escape happily,” it is in fact the only recurring collocation involving ásmenos. The instances with horā̂n, moreover, considerably outnumber those with pheúgein. [25] One wonders, therefore, whether the collocation is old. Since the faculty of vision is inseparable from “light,” one suspects that it is. I suggest that the collocation may actually go back to a fuller, more explicit form, *ásmenos horā̂n pháos, in which ásmenos still contained the notion of “returning to life.” It should be noticed that the latter part of the suggested collocation is closely connected with “life” in the following Homeric formula: zṓei kaì horā̂i pháos ēelíoio, “he lives and sees the light of the sun.” It is easy to see {26|27} how, in a collocation ásmenos horā̂n pháos (which Bacchae 608–609 would still reflect), ásmenos could develop the meaning “happy,” and how ásmenos horā̂n could then be applied to objects other than pháos.
But one need not insist upon a precise channel for the semantic development of ásmenos. It is enough to recognize that the meaning “having returned to light” could develop the adjectival meaning “happy” as easily as the word pháos could stand metaphorically for “happiness.”
It remains to give a brief discussion of the phrase ásmenos pheúgein. This collocation adds nothing to our understanding of the semantic development of ásmenos, but in some instances at least the context is worthy of note.
The complicating factor in the collocation ásmenos pheúgein is the possibility that it has been based on the Homeric phrase phúgen ásmenos ek thanátoio (XX 350), which is itself already secondary (cf. section 1 above). Thus, for example, Euripides Helen 398 probably owes something to the Homeric model:
τοὺς δ’ ἐκ θαλάσσης ἀσμένους πεφευγότας
those who have escaped happily from the sea.
It is interesting, however, that the collocation twice appears in erotic contexts, where death imagery is otherwise common in Greek literature. The first instance is Theognis 1337–1338:
οὐκέτ’ ἐρῶ παιδός, χαλεπὰς δ’ ἀπελάκτισ’ ἀνίας
μόχθους τ’ ἀργαλέους ἄσμενος ἐξέφυγον .
I no longer love the youth, but have shaken off the bitter sorrows, and have escaped happily from the painful troubles.
The second passage is Plato Republic 1.329c4, an anecdote according to which Sophocles, when asked if he missed love-making in his old age, replied in the negative: ἀσμενέστατα μέντοι αὐτὸ ἀπέφυγον, “most happily have I escaped from it.” {27|28}
In the next passage, Euripides Hercules 619ff., the context is explicitly a “return from death.” In this passage the hero has just brought Theseus from the underworld, and in telling his father where Theseus is now, he says that he is in Athens, nérthen ásmenos phugṓn, “having fled ásmenos from the world below.”
One final passage may be mentioned, in which the verb anabaínen, “to ascend,” is used instead of pheúgein, but where the context is once again a “return from death.” The passage is Plato Republic 10.616a7, in that part of the myth of Er where the torments of the wicked souls in Tartarus are described; it is reported that the worst torment of all was a “mouth” leading out of Tartarus which would roar whenever those below tried to ascend through it, and that therefore “each of them ascended asmenéstata whenever the mouth was silent.”
In the last two passages cited, the words ásmenos and asmenéstata would seem to mean “happy” and “most happily,” but it is also likely that the words were felt to be particularly appropriate to their contexts. Counting two of the Euripidean passages quoted earlier (Ion 1437ff. and Hercules 523–524), we have thus seen four instances where the classical Greek ásmenos, through whatever channel, has preserved a connection with its etymological meaning, “having returned from death.”

3. The Relation Between the Greek Root *nes- and nóos

I have reconstructed the original meaning of the Greek root nes- as “return to life and light.” If the word nóos is to be explained as an old verbal noun from this root, then it too should have had to do with a “return to life and light.” The plausibility of this reconstruction of nóos can be supported in this place by a number of general observations. [26] {28|29}
In the last section attention was drawn to the inseparable relation between “vision” and “light.” This establishes an immediate point of contact with nóos, for it is well known that nóos and denominative noéō are intimately connected with the {29|30} faculty of vision. In Bruno Snell’s terms, the verb noéō designates a “seeing,” but a “mental” or “spiritual” seeing which is independent of the eye. [27]
But it is difficult to say more precisely what the noun nóos, involving a “return to life and light,” in the first instance designated. The meaning “return to life” suggests more than mere vision. Perhaps “consciousness” would be the closest equivalent, inasmuch as one “returns” to consciousness, or consciousness “returns” to one. Consciousness is also closely related to vision, but is at the same time broader and more internal than vision alone. The term includes the other senses as well, and it suggests the mental quality inherent in nóos. {30|31}
It is worth noting that in Homer the Sun seems to be endowed with an all-embracing consciousness in the line:
Ἠέλιος θ’, ὃς πάντ’ ἐφορᾷς καὶ πάντ’ ἐπακούεις
and Helios, you who see everything and hear everything. [28]
To be sure, there is no mention of nóos here, but the idea may not be far away. One thinks of Xenophanes’ description of God (frag. 20 [Diehl]), which greatly resembles the Homeric line but which contains a new element:
οὖλος ὁρᾷ, οὖλος δὲ νοεῖ , οὖλος δέ τ’ ἀκούει
He entirely sees, entirely perceives, entirely hears.
This line shows how closely allied noéō is with verbs of perception. [29] Xenophanes, moreover, has placed this verb iconically; it occurs “internally,” between verbs of sense perception, because it designates what Snell calls “ein ‘geistiges’ Sehen,” or what we might simply call “consciousness.” To mention the sun in this discussion is not amiss. There is already good reason to believe that sun symbolism is important {31|32} in understanding the root nes-. If nóos contains this root, then sun symbolism must also be taken into account in explaining the origin and development of this word.
Eliade’s comparative study again proves useful. It emphasizes that hierophanies of the sun have achieved real importance in few cultures, being all but limited to Egypt, Asia, and primitive Europe. [30] Where they have become important, however, they have consistently gone hand in hand with a development toward rationality; hence the phenomenon that sun worship habitually ends by rationalizing itself out of existence, at least from the standpoint of its originally “ambivalent” nature. What remains of it tends to become the secret possession of a small “elite.”
The “rationalizing” tendency of sun worship has an obvious bearing on the word nóos, which in attested Greek designates the “rational” faculty. When we consider the importance that this word attained in the Greek philosophical tradition, the notion of a rational “elite” also becomes important. Eliade himself makes some useful comments on this matter: [31]
It is worth underlining the close connection between solar theology and the elite—whether of kings, initiates, heroes, or philosophers. Unlike other nature hierophanies, sun hierophanies tend to become the privilege of a closed circle, of a minority of the elect. The result is the hastening of the process of rationalization. In the Graeco-Roman world the sun, having become the “fire of intelligence,” ended by becoming a “cosmic principle”; from a hierophany it turned into an idea. . . . The philosophers, last among the “elect,” . . . at last completed the secularization of what was one of the mightiest of all the cosmic hierophanies.
I suggest that the history of Greek nóos also followed a course from “hierophany” to something more strictly rational. It is the {32|33} former stage in which I am interested, and for which I shall seek traces in Homer.
But it must be remembered that the Homeric poems are themselves well along in the development of Greek rationalism. This indicates in itself that Homer’s understanding of nóos will no longer correspond to the word’s original significance. The traces left in Homer are only those that have been preserved by his conservative tradition. [32] One such has been encountered already, although attention was not drawn to it. In the first section of this chapter I spoke at length of the companions of Odysseus who are “murdered” by the Sun. When Homer refers to this event at the beginning of the Odyssey, he calls the companions “foolish” (i 8–9):
νήπιοι, οἳ κατὰ βοῦς Ὑπερίονος Ἠελίοιο
The significance of this in terms of tradition is that the companions lost their nóstos for their lack of nóos.
Unlike his companions, Odysseus himself is one of the arch-embodiments of intelligence in ancient legend. In the next chapter I shall examine the relation between Odysseus’s nóos and his “return from death.” {33|34}


[ back ] 1. The two derivations to be discussed are both given, with no decision made, by H. Frisk, Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (chap. 1, n. 4), s.v., E. Boisacq, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque 2 (Paris, 1916), s.v., and P. Chantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque, vol. 1 (Paris, 1968), s.v. Yet another derivation (connection with Greek ā̂sai, "satisfy") has been proposed by L.R. Palmer, Sprache 5 (1959): 136 n. 21; while possible, this derivation still calls for a satisfactory explanation of the form ā̂sai itself (see Chantraine, s.vv. ā̂sai, ásmenos, who reviews Palmer's proposals.)
[ back ] 2. The derivation goes back to P. Buttmann, Ausführliche griechische Sprachlehre 2 (Berlin, 1839), 2: 10; cf. also J. Schmidt, Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 27 (1882–1885): 320; it has been accepted by E. Schwyzer, Griechische Grammatik (Munich, 1939), 1: 749, n. 3.
[ back ] 3. Only the unlikely assumption that Attic ásmenos was an Ionic or epic borrowing evades this problem.
[ back ] 4. See R. McKenzie, "ἌΣΜΕΝΟΣ or ἍΣΜΕΝΟΣ?" Classical Quarterly 20 (1926): 193–194.
[ back ] 5. J. Wackernagel, Vermischte Beiträge zur griechischen Sprachkunde (Basel, 1897), p. 6 [ = Kleine Schriften (Göttingen, 1953), 1: 767].
[ back ] 6. See J. Narten, Die sigmatischen Aoriste im Veda (Wiesbaden, 1964), pp. 23–36.
[ back ] 7. Cf. M. Lejeune, Phonétique historique du mycénien et du grec ancien (Paris, 1972), pp. 122–124.
[ back ] 8. The line is part of a two-line refrain at the end of the Ciconian episode (ix 62–63), the Cyclops episode (ix 565–566), and the Laestrygonian episode (x 133–134).
[ back ] 9. xi 114 is in question here; xii 141 forms part of the Circe episode.
[ back ] 10. This is the time to counter an immediate objection—namely, that the prophecy of Teiresias does not refer to Odysseus's return from the underworld but to the dangers he will encounter afterward, on the "way home"; this merely shows us that Homer understood neĩai to mean "you will return home," not that this was the intended meaning when the line was first composed (see below in text on this point). Further objections might be raised by analyst critics, who view the Nekyia (Odyssey 11) as a late addition to the poem; for a discussion of how this view affects my argument, see end note 1.
[ back ] 11. Formulaic flexibility can be analyzed in detail only for the period of the final composition of the Iliad and the Odyssey; cf. J.B. Hainsworth, The Flexibility of the Homeric Formula (Oxford, 1968), for such an analysis.
[ back ] 12. Hainsworth, pp. 36–38, in defining a "formula," counts variations within the same paradigm (inflection) but excludes variations between forms from the same root which belong to different paradigms; with ásmenos, however, it is a case of having belonged to the same paradigm as neĩai, or of having ceased to belong to any paradigm at all.
[ back ] 13. Cf. E. Risch, "Die Gliederung der griechischen Dialekte in neuer Sicht," Museum Helveticum 12 (1955): 67–68 [ = Language and Background of Homer, ed. G.S. Kirk (New York, 1964), pp. 96–97].
[ back ] 14. See n. 10 and accompanying text above, and end note 1 as well.
[ back ] 15. For a discussion of the Circe episode, see chap. 3. sect. 2.
[ back ] 16. The specific instances are discussed in chap. 3, sect. 3
[ back ] 17. The word aspásios also occurs in the reinterpretation of the refrain in the Cyclops episode; see chap. 3, sect. 3.
[ back ] 18. F. Bechtel, Lexilogus zu Homer (Halle, 1914), s.v. ásmenos.
[ back ] 19. i 5; notice the parallelism between psukhḗn and nóston in this line, both used as objects of arnúmenos. Does the expression "winning his life" imply "winning his life back again" or merely "remaining alive"? Such ambiguity could well be the reflection of a traditional "return from death" motif.
[ back ] 20. The notions of "death" and "darkness" are of course closely connected in Greek generally (cf. the noun érebos).
[ back ] 21. Cf. chap. 3, n. 68.
[ back ] 22. M. Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion, trans. R. Sheed (New York, 1963), pp. 136–137.
[ back ] 23. According to Pausanias 8.31.7, Helios was called Sōtḗr, "Savior," in Arcadia.
[ back ] 24. É. Benveniste, "Actif et moyen dans le verbe," Journal de Psychologie (Jan.–Feb. 1950) [ = Problems de linguistique générale (Paris 1966), p. 172].
[ back ] 25. Examples of ásmenos horā̂n are found in Sophocles Trachiniae 755, Philoctetes 271; Euripides Iphigenia Aulidensis 640, 644, Troades 21, Hypsipyle 1.4.20; Plato Protagoras 346a; Lysias 1.12, 3.29, 21.18; Demosthenes 37.15; Isocrates Philippus 50, 104. See below in text for ásmenos pheúgein.
[ back ] 26. From a formal standpoint, it is the whole series néomai nóos noéō which must be explained semantically. The nearest formal parallel is the series phébomai phóbos phobéō, in which the forms are related as follows: phóbos, "panic flight," "panic fear," is an action noun, and corresponds closely in meaning to the primary verb phébomai, "flee in terror;" phobéō, "put to flight," "terrify," is a causative verb formed directly from the root, though it was later regarded as a denominative from phóbos (cf. H. Frisk [chap 1, n. 4], s.v. phébomai). Here the parallel with nóos breaks down, since noéō is generally taken as an originally denominative verb (see P. Chantraine [n. 1], s.v. nóos, who comments on the similar semantics of noéō and nóos). If this is correct, the basic meaning of noéō, "perceive closely," must derive from the meaning of nóos. Now nóos itself seems to be an action noun (cf. Chantraine); but it may be that the verbal notion in nóos was not "return to life" (intransitive) but "bring back to life" (transitive); a reconstructed Greek verb *néō, with just such a transitive meaning, will be discussed in chap. 4, sect. 4 below. If the verbal notion was indeed transitive, a better comparison for nóos is the noun gónos. Although there is no Greek verb *génō, gónos, in the meaning "procreation," is an action noun from the root *gen-, to "procreate"; just so, on the strength of the conjectural verb *néō, "bring back to life," the noun nóos may be taken to mean a "bringing back to life," and a "bringing back to the light." Now "bringing back to the light," as the description of a mental process, is easily related to "perceive closely," the meaning of denominative noéō (see below in text for both nóos and noéō in connection with verbs of perception, especially "seeing"). In the meaning "mind" it is possible that nóos, in addition to expressing an action, also expresses the result of an action (is not only a nomen actionis, but also a nomen rei actae: see E. Schwyzer, Griechische Grammatik 2 [Munich, 1953], 1: 457, 458–459). This is the case for gónos, which means not only the act of "begetting," but also "that which is begotten," namely, "offspring." Just so nóos, in the meaning "mind," may have been "that which is brought back to life." This meaning suggests certain contexts of noũs in classical Greek. Aristotle, for example, in The Generation of Animals 736b28, reasons that at birth "noũs alone enters in, as an additional factor, from outside, and it alone is divine" (τὸν νοῦν μόνον θύραθεν ἐπεισιέναι καὶ θεῖον εἶναι μόνον). Euripides, on the other hand, in Helen 1014 ff., represents noũs as departing at death (the speaker, significantly, is the priestess Theo-nóē): ὁ νοῦς / τῶν κατθανόντων ζῇ μὲν οὔ, γνώμην δ' ἔχει / ἀθάνατον εἰς ἀθάνατον αἰθέρ' ἐμπεσών, "The noũs of those who have died does not remain alive, but rather preserves an immortal intelligence, having fallen into the immortal ether." Whether contexts like these have to do with the original semantics of nóos is of course a matter for conjecture. For possible interpretations of the Euripidean passage, see A. M. Dale, Euripides: Helen (Oxford, 1967), p. 132. The passage may allude vaguely to Anaxagoras and a cosmic Noũs; Dale, on the other hand, sees no close parallels, and regards the passage as a "piece of high-toned but vague mysticism appropriate to Theonoe." Since noũs is at least a minor theme in the play (cf. Theonóē), one wonders if Euripides may have drawn on a piece of old solar tradition in the lines quoted.
[ back ] 27. B. Snell, Gnomon 7 (1931): 77: "Das νοεῖν steht … in naher Beziehung zum Organ des Auges. Nur dass die Funktion des Auges (das Sehen) in dem Wort erscheint als abgelöst von dem Organ. Das νοεῖν ist ein 'Sehen,' aber ein 'geistiges' Sehen." See also K. von Fritz, "ΝΟΥΣ and ΝΟΕΙΝ in the Homeric Poems," Classical Philology 38 (1943): 88, and "ΝΟΥΣ, ΝΟΕΙΝ, and their Derivatives in Pre-Socratic Philosophy," Classical Philology 40 (1945): 223. C. J. Ruijgh. Études sur la grammaire et le vocabulaire du grec mycénien (Amsterdam, 1967), pp. 371–372, has proposed a direct connection between Greek noéō, "to observe," and the Gothic causative verb nasjan, "to save"; he argues that the original meaning of noéō was likewise "to save," and he cites such parallels as Latin servo, "to save" and "to observe," to explain the subsequent semantic development of noéō. The verbal noun nóos would have undergone the same semantic development, and both noun and verb would ultimately have lost their original meanings completely. This argument is attractive for its simplicity, but it does not, in my opinion, do justice to the Indo-European meaning of the root nes-, which had to do with more than simply "saving" and "protecting." I also doubt that noéō is a real equivalent of the Gothic causative nasjan; noéō is more likely to be a denominative formation from nóos, as is usually assumed (see n. 26 above).
[ back ] 28. III 277; the same line, with slight variations, occurs in the prophecies of Teiresias (xi 109) and Circe (xii 323). R. Schmitt, Dichtung und Dichtersprache in indogermanischer Zeit (Wiesbaden, 1967), p. 164, argues, on the basis of the vocative Ēélios, that this line is archaic.
[ back ] 29. Consider the following texts: Hesiod, Works and Days 267: πάντα ἰδὼν Διὸς ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ πάντα νοήσας ("The eye of Zeus which sees all and clearly perceives all"); Epicharmus, frag. 249 (Kaibel): νοῦς ὁρῇ καὶ νοῦς ἀκούει· τἄλλα κωφὰ καὶ τυφλά ("The mind sees and the mind hears; all else is deaf and blind"); Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos 371: τυφλὸς τά τ' ὦτα τόν τε νοῦν τὰ τ' ὄμματ' εἶ ("In your ears, mind, and eyes, you are blind"); Euripides, Helen 122: αὐτὸς γὰρ ὄσσοις εἰδόμην, καὶ νοῦς ὁρᾷ ("I myself saw with my eyes, and the mind sees too.").
[ back ] 30. Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion (n. 22), p. 124.
[ back ] 31. Ibid., pp. 150–151.
[ back ] 32. Some of the Homeric evidence that will concern us has already been noticed by P. Frei, "Zur Etymologie von griech. νοῦς," Lemmata W. Ehlers (Munich 1968), pp. 48–57. Frei argues that nóos is derived from the root nes-, and he proposes "safe homebringing, safe return from danger" as the noun's original meanings; he then points out a few Homeric passages where such meanings are still suggested by the context, e.g. the speech of Zeus to Athena in v 23–24: οὐ γὰρ δὴ τοῦτον μὲν ἐβούλευσας νόον αὐτή, / ὡς ἦ τοι κείνους Ὀδυσεὺς ἀποτίσεται ἐλθών; "Did not you yourself devise this plan (return?), that Odysseus might come and take revenge on them?" The semantic development which Frei proposes for nóos is: (1) "an escape from danger"; (2) "a plan to escape from danger"; (3) "plan" or "purpose" in a general sense. The difficulty, however, is to explain the development from "escape" to "plan to escape," and Frei does not attempt to do this.