Dionysus or Dionysos

Why is Dionysus the more common spelling?

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Dionysus or Dionysos

#1  Postby LucidFlight » Aug 05, 2018 10:47 am

Simple question, but one I could not find a definitive answer for on the internet: why is Dionysus the more common spelling and not Dionysos? Is there some stage at which the -us ending was employed as an acceptable phonetic spelling and this became the norm? Is there some Latin influence on the English spelling? What's going on here? :ask:

Edited: typo “couldn’t not”.
Last edited by LucidFlight on Aug 05, 2018 5:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#2  Postby Alan B » Aug 05, 2018 11:00 am

I give in. Why?
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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#3  Postby Hermit » Aug 05, 2018 12:07 pm

LucidFlight wrote:Is there some Latin influence on the English spelling?

The Romans themselves did not influence the spelling. The Latin spelling for Dionysos is Bacchus.

Perhaps too much is made of the "us" ending. Look at he principal Olympic god. The Greeks knew him as Zeus, the Romans as Iupiter.

Knowing next to nothing about Greek mythology and what the Romans took from it, I don't know what is going on. Tracer Tong is the most likely member of this forum to be able to enlighten us about this mystery.
Last edited by Hermit on Aug 05, 2018 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#4  Postby zoon » Aug 05, 2018 12:19 pm

Googling from a position of ignorance, the entry for Dionysus in Wictionary here states that the Latin form of the name is "Dionysus":
Wiktionary wrote:Dionysus
Alternative forms
Dionysos
Etymology
Via Latin Dionysus, from Ancient Greek Διόνυσος (Diónusos).

Pronunciation
(UK) IPA(key): /daɪəˈnaɪsəs/, /daɪəˈnaɪsɪs/
Proper noun
Dionysus

(Greek mythology) The god of wine, specifically its intoxication and social influence, but also the patron of agriculture and the theater. Also related to the mystery of religion, as in "spiritual intoxication".


Latin was the language of all educated people in Western Europe in the Middle Ages and was still widely used in the 1600s, so I suppose the Latin forms of ancient words drifted into English by default? If the Greek myths were retold by an English author any time before 1600, the English author would have been familiar with the Latin rather than the Greek form? More recently, it's become usual to change the Anglicised forms of foreign names which used to be standard in English, back to something closer to the original language, as in Mumbai and Beijing, so the name of the Greek god in modern English may currently be halfway between Dionysus (Latin and standard English) and Dionysos (closer to the Greek form)??

The same god (or at any rate, the equivalent god of wine and intoxication) in Roman mythology was Bacchus, as Hermit says, so I'm not clear when they would have been referring to Dionysus, perhaps when they wanted to talk specifically about the Greek deity?

Edited to add: the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica entry for Dionysus is here, and does not mention the alternative spelling "Dionysos", except at the end, where it cites a French publication and uses the French spelling. The Oxford English Dictionary online on Dionysus here likewise does not mention Dionysos, and Wikipedia here gives Dionysos only as the transliteration of the Greek. By contrast, Dictionary.com here and the Collins English Dictionary here, like Wiktionary above, both give Dionysos as an alternative English spelling; perhaps they are being quicker to move with the times?
Last edited by zoon on Aug 05, 2018 1:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#5  Postby BlackBart » Aug 05, 2018 1:20 pm

Image

/thread

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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#6  Postby LucidFlight » Aug 05, 2018 1:22 pm

Interesting, interesting. Thanks for the replies. :sherlock:
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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#7  Postby Arcanyn » Aug 05, 2018 1:47 pm

Dionysus is easier to spell while drunk?
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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#8  Postby newolder » Aug 05, 2018 2:01 pm

BlackBart wrote:Image

/thread

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Not so fast... (although the spelling elsewhere on this sign leaves room for doubt)
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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#9  Postby surreptitious57 » Aug 06, 2018 10:16 pm

I did not know there were different spellings for the original hellraiser. However Dy ony sus sounds way
better than Dee ony sos does so I am glad that the better name became the more accepted of the two
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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#10  Postby SafeAsMilk » Aug 06, 2018 10:29 pm

Not that this is relevant, but I am currently dealing with 3 separate Dionysoses (Dionysi?), not sure which way they spell it but got a good chuckle at this thread appearing just now.
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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#11  Postby scott1328 » Aug 06, 2018 11:04 pm

SafeAsMilk wrote:Not that this is relevant, but I am currently dealing with 3 separate Dionysoses (Dionysi?), not sure which way they spell it but got a good chuckle at this thread appearing just now.

Dionysoi :ask:
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Re: Dionysus or Dionysos

#12  Postby SafeAsMilk » Aug 06, 2018 11:53 pm

Yeah, that seems more right.
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