Did the greco-romans realize they were related to the other indo-europeans?

Apr 2017
306
The Ancient World
I don't think Greeks and Romans realized they were linguistically related to Germanics or Indians.

In mythology humans were all related. For the greeks, some major mythological dynasties were even born from migrants from Africa (Danaus the founder of Argos and ancestor of Perseus and Heracles) and the Middle East (Cadmus founder of Thebes and Europa his sister).

The real and mythological relations were, and still are important. But I don't think they noticed any linguistic or cultural relation between them and other indo-european speaking people.

Probably for a Greek or Roman in 100 AD, a German or a Parthian would be more alien to them than an Egyptian, or an Arab.
This is very reasonable and correct. The Greeks and Romans often compared themselves to other peoples through mythology, which was called Interpretatio Graeca and Interpretatio Romana. But the Greeks and Romans neither had the knowledge nor the social condition to understand Indo-European origins and relations; they were (for the most part) regionalists and tribalists rather than nationalists or pan-nationalists, which was the case with all other peoples also.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
I wonder actually, who was the first person to notice and mention the indo-european link?
It is a few hundred years old. Observations were made but they were by no means comprehensive. Still, these obervations provided the foundation for the subject, Indo European Linguistics. This is what wiki has to say on the earlier pioneers:

"Indo-European studies are generally considered to have been begun by William Jones, an Anglo-Welsh philologist, a puisne judge in Bengal who postulated the common ancestry of Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek. Although his name is closely associated with this observation, he was not the first to make it. In the 1500s, European visitors to the subcontinent became aware of similarities between Indo-Iranian languages and European languages and as early as 1653 Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn had published a proposal for a proto-language ("Scythian") for the following language families: Germanic, Romance, Greek, Baltic, Slavic, Celtic and Iranian. In a memoir sent to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in 1767 Gaston-Laurent Coeurdoux, a French Jesuit who spent all his life in India, had specifically demonstrated the existing analogy between Sanskrit and European languages.

In many ways Jones' work was less accurate than his predecessors', as he erroneously included Egyptian, Japanese and Chinese in the Indo-European languages, while omitting Hindi."
 
Sep 2015
1,711
Romania
It is a few hundred years old. Observations were made but they were by no means comprehensive. Still, these obervations provided the foundation for the subject, Indo European Linguistics. This is what wiki has to say on the earlier pioneers:

"Indo-European studies are generally considered to have been begun by William Jones, an Anglo-Welsh philologist, a puisne judge in Bengal who postulated the common ancestry of Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek. Although his name is closely associated with this observation, he was not the first to make it. In the 1500s, European visitors to the subcontinent became aware of similarities between Indo-Iranian languages and European languages and as early as 1653 Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn had published a proposal for a proto-language ("Scythian") for the following language families: Germanic, Romance, Greek, Baltic, Slavic, Celtic and Iranian. In a memoir sent to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in 1767 Gaston-Laurent Coeurdoux, a French Jesuit who spent all his life in India, had specifically demonstrated the existing analogy between Sanskrit and European languages.

In many ways Jones' work was less accurate than his predecessors', as he erroneously included Egyptian, Japanese and Chinese in the Indo-European languages, while omitting Hindi."
Ohh, thanks!
 

Dreamhunter

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
7,505
Malaysia
However, even today when looking at ukrainian and italian for example you can see they have a common origin (maybe not recent) and I'm not talking about modern words taken from french or some other language by both italian and ukrainian.

The greco-romans back then must definitely have realized they have many things in common, especially in language and culture with the celts, germans, etc but not with the etruscans or semites, my question was, rather, is there a historical source noting this?
With all due respect, I don't think that things were all that black-and-white, at a time when there was not yet that much culturally-conditioned consciousness about one being European or Asian, as compared to what we hv today.

For a start, the Etruscans were, as believed by archaeologists & historians, originally from Lydia, in western Anatolia, so they cud not hv looked or behaved that much different from your average Greek or average Roman of that time. And they were in fact the first builders of Italian civilisation, from whom the Romans adopted so much influence.

As for Semites, I wud believe that not all Semites are always that much different from an average Greek or average Roman of the time either. Now, this is a recent pic of Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia, minus his Arabic garb.



Now, AFAIK, he does not hv any recent Greek or Italian lineage. So, basically, no Indo-European in his relatively recent ancestry. But still, by my judgement, he cud easily pass muster as a Greek or an Italian.
 
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Naima

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
2,323
Venice
Everyone on earth is related, if you go back far enough. We're all descended from the same ancient people in East Africa. That knowledge hasn't stopped people from going to war with one another.

The Romans had more civil wars than probably any other ancient civilization. Considering the frequency in which Romans slaughtered each other, I'm guessing the knowledge that we're all related wouldn't have stopped them from going to war with their neighbors either.
Thats not really correct, There are other civilizations that had a lot of internal turmoils as well , the bigger the empire the bigger the revolts, as an example look at China... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rebellions_in_China
 

Naima

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
2,323
Venice
With all due respect, I don't think that things were all that black-and-white, at a time when there was not yet that much culturally-conditioned consciousness about one being European or Asian, as compared to what we hv today.

For a start, the Etruscans were, as believed by archaeologists & historians, originally from Lydia, in western Anatolia, so they cud not hv looked or behaved that much different from your average Greek or average Roman of that time. And they were in fact the first builders of Italian civilisation, from whom the Romans adopted so much influence.

As for Semites, I wud believe that not all Semites are always that much different from an average Greek or average Roman of the time either. Now, this is a recent pic of Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia, minus his Arabic garb.



Now, AFAIK, he does not hv any recent Greek or Italian lineage. So, basically, no Indo-European in his relatively recent ancestry. But still, by my judgement, he cud easily pass muster as a Greek or an Italian.
I guess you have not been in Italy or Greece much, he doesn't look Italian or Greek , perhaps you can find similarity with some Sicilians or Spanish perhaps due to the fact that Arabs had been there for some time . Still Semite populations are fairly white skinned and are part of the caucasoid group , they also intermixed with indoeuropeans and preserved their language cultural group. Upper Royal class also is usually more light skinned than the rest of the population that is made of ethnicties of different origins.
 
Sep 2015
1,711
Romania
With all due respect, I don't think that things were all that black-and-white, at a time when there was not yet that much culturally-conditioned consciousness about one being European or Asian, as compared to what we hv today.
Yet they would still observe and appreciate similarities in culture and such.



And they were in fact the first builders of Italian civilisation, from whom the Romans adopted so much influence.
That's a fair enough point but they were still quite alien and remained so in many vital aspects.

As for Semites, I wud believe that not all Semites are always that much different from an average Greek or average Roman
In my opinion their cultures, religions and very spirit differ a lot.

Just look at the greeks/romans trying to adapt their pantheon system to welcome egyptian gods, claiming they all have the same gods and that those same gods hid in Egypt one time, transforming in animals, and that's why they appear as such in the egyptian religion... that's quite a stretch (quite some effort).

For a start, the Etruscans were, as believed by archaeologists & historians, originally from Lydia, in western Anatolia, so they cud not hv looked or behaved that much different from your average Greek or average Roman of that time.

Now, AFAIK, he does not hv any recent Greek or Italian lineage. So, basically, no Indo-European in his relatively recent ancestry. But still, by my judgement, he cud easily pass muster as a Greek or an Italian.
In all honesty, the man really doesn't look greek or italian to me.

Regardless, when I meant ancestral I was rather referring to a cultural consciousness (for example, the romans claiming to descend from the Trojans) rather than a biological continuity.

If I'm not mistaken, the greeks knew they came as the indo-europeans, invading and consuming the previous population.

Not to mention that the romans and cels/germans were very closely related genetically but looked very differently due to diet and enviroment.
 
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Devdas

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
5,029
India
Did the greco-romans realize they were related to the other indo-europeans when it comes to their culture, language and ancestrality?

Did it matter to them in any way?
The concept of Indo-European popped in late 18th century when Europeans first studied Sanskrit literature. The earliest European linguistics considered Japanese and Chinese as a part of Indo-European languages while Hindi was not a Indo-European language.