Etymology of the star name Antares

sumelic

Senior Member
English - California
I've been trying to look up information about the etymology of the star name Antares (Bayer designation α Scorpii, also known by the epithet "the heart of the scorpion"). The name seems to go back to Greek ἀντάρης, ου, but I want to know its original derivation and how it got from Greek to English. Wikipedia says that the Greek name comes from the Ancient Greek name of the God Ares: Ἄρης, which has the genitive Ἄρεως (a type of irregular declension that is not seen in the star name, as far as I know). If this etymology is true, the first part comes from the preposition ἀντί "against" with elision of the final vowel. But the source cited is "The Arkana Dictionary of Astrology", and I'm not totally sure whether this is a reliable source for etymologies. A dictionary from 1671, The new world of words: or a General English dictionary, marks the word as deriving from Arabic, but I'm also suspicious about the accuracy of this source. Wiktionary says that the current Arabic name of the star is qalb al-ʿaqrab, literally "the scorpion's heart", which isn't a plausible source of the form "Antares".
 
  • Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    It was also known as عنتر ʿantar (brave, hero) among Arabs. But I assume the Greek sources (as mentioned in your link) are far older than any Arabic borrowing into Greek. It is possible that Arabs simply Arabicized the Greek word or it's just a coincidence, or both go to an older source in Near East.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Possibly related to:
    ἀνταρσία (insurrection)/ἀντάρτης < v. ἀνταίρω (rise up/against) < ἀντί + αἴρω (lift).
     
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    Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    It's said that the first Greek record of the name is due to Ptolemy but it's not that clear that he invented the name. As the Wikipedia article itself says, the idea of comparing the star with Mars may date back to Mesopotamian/Babylonian times. That doesn't (necessarily) mean that the Greek came etymologycally from an Akkadian name though. Richard S. Cook published in the vol. 18.2 of Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman area (1995) The etymology of Chinese Chén. It includes some content about astronomy and it could be interesting for you, if you could have access to the paper, to read the section about Parallel Astronyms in the Sinitic and Sumero-Akkadian traditions (pages 35-39) to get some tips for further research.

    But the source cited is "The Arkana Dictionary of Astrology"
    They quote another source (see footnote 17).
     

    sumelic

    Senior Member
    English - California
    Thanks you, Circunflejo! I see now that I missed some relevant things in the Wikipedia article. What I meant in my initial post was that "The Arkana Dictionary of Astrology" is the only source cited for the formation of ἀντάρης from ἀντί + Ἄρης. The source cited in footnote 17, Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, establishes the existence of ἀντάρης in Ancient Greek, but does not explain its derivation.
     

    sumelic

    Senior Member
    English - California
    Thanks for the interesting comparisons, Perseas! The fact that you thought of another ἀντί- prefixed word makes it seem more likely to me that this prefix is involved somehow, if the name is ultimately formed from Greek elements.
     

    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Αντί- can also mean "equal", so perhaps αντάρης could be "equal to Ares" or "Ares-like" instead of "against Ares"?
     

    Vukabular

    Member
    Serbian
    The ancient Babylonian deity Marduk was associated with the planet Mars and was the origin of the legends and lore of that planet as well as many later gods and heroes. Latin mārtius (“month of the god Mars”) <>Ancient Greek Ἄρης (Árēs) < (m)ares
     

    Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    Αντί- can also mean "equal", so perhaps αντάρης could be "equal to Ares" or "Ares-like" instead of "against Ares"?
    That's another theory that I've read. It makes sense because it's red like Mars but the against one makes sense too… and it doesn't seem to be a clear explanation of the origin of the Greek name. I think the way to go could be to research the knowledge of Mesopotamian astronomers about Antares because, surely, that knowledge was imported by the Greeks. Etymologycally, the Greek name for Antares may not have an Akkadian origin but it might be a Mesopotamian concept written with Greek words… but I'm just speculating. To know if Hiepparchus quoted this star and if he quoted it, what was the name that he used might be a good idea too.

    What I meant in my initial post was that "The Arkana Dictionary of Astrology" is the only source cited for the formation of ἀντάρης from ἀντί + Ἄρης.
    That's basically (the Mars part isn't identical) the same etymology quoted on page 177 of Islamicate Celestial Globes: Their History, Construction and Use by Emilie Savage-Smith published in 1985 in Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology (vol. 46) but the meaning given in this source isn't against Mars but similar to Mars...
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Thanks you, Circunflejo! I see now that I missed some relevant things in the Wikipedia article. What I meant in my initial post was that "The Arkana Dictionary of Astrology" is the only source cited for the formation of ἀντάρης from ἀντί + Ἄρης. The source cited in footnote 17, Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, establishes the existence of ἀντάρης in Ancient Greek, but does not explain its derivation.
    The most obvious semantic derivation of Anti-Ares is "another Mars". The star has sometimes (depends on the distance to Earth and Mars have in their positions of their orbits) the same brightness than Mars, has roughly the same colour and its position is close to the ecliptic. It is easy to confuse them.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Two people dressed in red at the same party may become rivals. I don't see the etymology of 'anti-' in the sense of 'against' so far-fetched, to be honest.

    Just food for thought too. Astrologically speaking, Ares/Mars has traditionally been the same planet for both Scorpio and Aries. They are not opposite today, as Aries is now opposite to Libra, but in old astrology, Libra didn't exist, it was seen as the Scorpion's claws. (For those who don't see connections, remember that the Scorpio constellation was placed there because Orion is on the opposite extreme, due to the myth of Orion and the scorpion. Mythology and astrology definitely played a role in the naming of constellations in ancient times)

    All this said, an origin in Arabic (or another ancient Middle Eastern language) wouldn't be unlikely either.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    The star name ἀντάρης is used already by Ptolemy and thus can hardly be borrowed from Arabic. There are lots of European star names that were borrowed from Arabic during the Middle Ages, but Antares is not one of them. As for "another ancient Middle Eastern language", we are waiting for suggestions.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Two people dressed in red at the same party may become rivals. I don't see the etymology of 'anti-' in the sense of 'against' so far-fetched, to be honest.
    Instead of-, equal to-, like- are regular meanings of the prefix anti-. Like in many other languages, again and against are in Greek essentially specializations of the same fundamental semantic concept.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    The ancient Babylonian deity Marduk was associated with the planet Mars and was the origin of the legends and lore of that planet as well as many later gods and heroes. Latin mārtius (“month of the god Mars”) <>Ancient Greek Ἄρης (Árēs) < (m)ares
    The Babylonians identified the planet Mars with the war god Nergal, not with Marduk.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Instead of-, equal to-, like- are regular meanings of the prefix anti-. Like in many other languages, again and against are in Greek essentially specializations of the same fundamental semantic concept.
    And probably the most correct in this case. I was just pointing at the fact that both interpretations could be acceptable at a certain point.
     

    Vukabular

    Member
    Serbian
    The Babylonians identified the planet Mars with the war god Nergal, not with Marduk.
    Nergal is a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash (Sun god), but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. He was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)
     

    Treaty

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Are you sure about this? The only Arabic form I know is qalb al-'aqrab.
    You're right. My source had misrepresented the original source, Allen's Star names and their meaning. He mentioned (and refutes) the claim of عنتر being the source, but my source pretended as if the word was actually used by Arabs.
     

    sotos

    Senior Member
    Greek
    As the Wikipedia article itself says, the idea of comparing the star with Mars may date back to Mesopotamian/Babylonian times.
    Wikipedia is not a reliable source. This particular line is linked to the reference "Allen R.H. (1963)", but this is actually a 1899 book by an amateur "polymath". Those good old years, all the wisdom had to originate in the East.
     

    Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    Wikipedia is not a reliable source. This particular line is linked to the reference "Allen R.H. (1963)", but this is actually a 1899 book by an amateur "polymath". Those good old years, all the wisdom had to originate in the East.
    I know that Wikipedia isn't a reliable source and I took care to say may date back instead of dates back. However, I must say that I read it elsewhere (sadly I can't find the source right now, I'll post it later if I find it) but I quoted Wikipedia because it had been previously quoted by that user who overlook that reference.
     
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