The Trojan connection?

Posted on Slashdot today is the article below that I intend to shanghai for a slightly different purpose:

Birthplace of Indoeuropean Languages Found: phantomfive writes “Language geeks might be interested in a recent study that suggests Turkey as the birthplace of the Indo-European language family. The Indo-European family is the largest, and includes languages as diverse as English, Russian, and Hindi. The New York Times made a pretty graph showing the spread.”

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Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Drilling into their article gets to link to the New York Times article being discussed. There  one will find a pretty family tree of the Indoeurpoean languages. Our friend and uncredentialed resource, Wikipedia, provides us an alternate view of the branches of the Proto-Indoeuropean (PIE) language. To use a software term, here is where I fork the discussion to take it in a slightly different direction.

There is a hypothetical Italo-Celtic clave of PIE that could have descended from a proto-Italo-Celtic language. This theory lends itself well to the legend that both Brutus,  (as described in The History of the Kings of Britain), and Julius Cæsar descend from Æneas, a Trojan noble. The legend of Æneas has been passed down to us by Homer in the Iliad and Virgil in the Æneid. This hypothesis provides an explanation of how we have two linguistically similar groups that are so geographically separated. [1]

(NB: Most scholars discount the texts I have referenced as mythology and fiction, but I believe that there are nuggets of truth to be found when you remove the chaff of embellishment. Remember: I am a rogue amateur playing in a scholar’s sandbox, using contrived evidence to support a shaky, myth-based hypothesis. I’ll approach the topic from that angle.)

The line of Brutus is illustrated in the upper-left corner of the William Blethyn pedigree roll [2]:

Copyright Glamorgan Archives (Reference CL/PED/1)

Brutus > Silvius >  [Julus] AscaniusÆneas

Allowing for a millennia of generations, compare the lineage of Gaius Julius Cæsar:

Gaius Julius Cæsar [IV] > Gaius Julius Cæsar the Elder [III] > Gaius Julius Cæsar II > Gaius Julius Cæsar I Sextus Julius Cæsar I > Lucius Julius Cæsar I > Numerius Julius Cæsar > Lucius Julius Libo II > Lucius Julius Libo > … > Romulus > Rhea Silvia (f.) > Numitor > Procas > Aventinus > Romulus Silvius > Agrippa > Tiberinus Silvius > Capetus > Capys > Atys > Alba > Latinus Sylvius > Æneas Silvius > Silvius > Æneas

These genealogies demonstrate a common link to ancestors who survived the fall of Troy, which could to have occurred around 3500 years ago.

Looking back to the map from the NYT article, one might notice that the western coast of modern Turkey (to include the site of ancient Troy) is outside the boundaries of the Anatolian languages. Some have speculated that Luwian might have been the language of Troy due to the influence of the Hittite Empire. I would side with the opposition with a view that Luwian may have been the lingua franca for the region, but that it was not the native tongue.

It is interesting to speculate that the Gauls that Brutus and his soldiers battled with before settling in Britain would have spoken a linguistically similar (if not the same) language, and scholars of antiquity traced their origin back to Galatia, thus providing a geographic connection to the vicinity of Troy.

So the question one has to ask is: Are these two genealogies just nationalist propaganda and the linguistic link contrived at best? Or are there nuggets of truth in them and a Trojan connection that explains the Italo-Celtic clave?


[1] I don’t want to put this in the main body of this post, but I’ll toss in another group for your consideration: the Irish/ Scots. Both Irish and Scots Gaelic descend from the Goidelic branch of Insular Celtic. We are told in the Lebor gabála Érenn that the Gaelic people descend from Míl Espáine (his proper name is said to be Golem), who in turn was a descendent of Goídel Glas, a Scytian whose myth claims him to have been present at the fall of the tower of Babel and the founder of the Goidelic language. His wife was purported to have been named Scota and the daughter of an unidentified Pharaoh. (My 2¢: would that make Scota a couple generations removed from Mizraim?) It is claimed that the Milesians, in their wanderings about the Mediterranean,  settled in Miletus and other locales before landing in Iberia. There Breogán, brother of Míl Espáine, is said to have built a tower and seen Ireland afar. The Milesians went on to conquer the inhabitants of Ireland and claim if for themselves. Alas, I am not skilled enough in the bardic ways to spin this yarn into a beautiful tapestry, but I will ask you one quick question: Is it coincidence that both the Spanish and the Scots “trill” their Rs?

[2] The pedigree roll takes the genealogy a step further and traces an unbroken line of descent to the Creation:

Æneas > Anchises > Capys > Assaracus > Tros > Erichthonius > Dardanus > Jupiter/Zeus [3] > Saturn/Cronus > Jltus?(Cælus)/Uranus > Cretis(Cres) > Sepruis? > Kytthym(Kittim) > Javan > Japheth > Noah > Lamech > Methuselah > Enoch > Jared > Mahalalel > Kenan > Enos > Seth > Adam

[3] Other Greek sources provide two alternatives for the father of Dardanus

Dardanus > Illyrius > Cadmus > Agenor > Poseidon > …

Dardanus > Illyrius > Polyphemus > Poseidon > …

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