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King Lacedaemon was the son of Zeus and of nymph Taygete. He married Sparta, daughter of King Eurotas of Laconia.

I would like to know more about the etymology of Lacedaemon. The daemon part is easy. However, where does lace come from? Does it come from lake?

Being a neophyte, I do not even know where to look for such information. Advice would be most welcome.


Related: Is there a tale of Zeus having sex with a deer?

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    This really belongs more on linguistics.SE than here. Note also that ancient Greek is thought to have adopted many thousands of place names and proper names from an unknown pre-historic language that predated the coming of proto-Greek speakers.
    – Semaphore
    Nov 22 '21 at 10:26
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    Do you want it moved to Linguistics?
    – Semaphore
    Nov 22 '21 at 10:29
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    @Semaphore If anything, it should go to Latin, which also covers ancient Greek. Send it over there and we'd be happy to adopt it.
    – cmw
    Nov 22 '21 at 13:14
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Unfortunately, we just don't know. There is no clear Greek etymology for it, not just the initial Lake- part, but the whole word. This is from Beekes' etymological dictionary:

Λακεδαίμων, -ονος [f.] town and country on the river Eurotas (ll.). <PG?> .DIAL Myc. ra-ke-da-mi-ni-jo /Lakedaimnios/ and [ra-]ke-da-mo-ni-jo /Lakedaimonios/, cf. Lejeune RPh. 68 (1994): 165-168.

...

ETYM The meaning of the appellative is unknown, so the name remains without etymology. Several proposals: a) to λακεδάμα [/lakedama/]...'bitter water [poured over groats] which the [Macedonian] countrymen drink' (H.); b) the second member is δαίμων /daimon/ in the sense 'part' (BechteI 1921, 2: 370); c) dissimilated from *Λακεν-αίμων /Laken-aimon/, to > Λάκων /Lakon/ and another ethnonym Αἵμων /Aimon/ (Szemerenyi Glotta 38 (1960): 14ff. with ample discussion).

Acc. to Fick 1905: 90, however, it is rather a Hellenisation of a Pre-Greek word. Frisk thinks that Λάκων is a shortened form of Λακε-δαιμόνιος /Lake-daemonios/; the element Λακε- /Lake/ is found in Λάκε-θεν /Lake-then/, a deme of Eretria.

  • The transcriptions of Greek words are my own and follows the same type as Beekes' does for Mycenaean words. The "PG" in the beginning means "pre-Greek."

Under Λάκων, Beekes has some further information:

ETYM Acc. to Dittenberger Herm. 41 (1906): 196, hypocoristic for official Λακεδαιμόνιος, which is why the fem. Λακαίνα /lakaina/ (for Λακεδαιμόνια /Lakedaimonia/ is found almost everywhere. Krahe IF 57 (1940): 119 supposes the name to be Illyrian and connects Lacinium, a promontory in southern Italy, Iuno Lacinia.

Fur.: 171117 thinks that the suffix -αινα is Pre-Greek.

So as you can see, there are many guesses, but no one knows for sure. It's doubtful that -daimon itself is even related to the Greek word daimon, and if so in what sense it is being used.

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  • Thank you for your answer and for proposing the migration. It was a mistake to assume that the daemon in Lacedaemon is the same as in Eudaemonia. Nov 25 '21 at 9:47
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    @RodrigodeAzevedo It's an easy association to make! I myself assumed so up until the time I looked it up. I'm still not sure why it can't be, but maybe someone will chime in with that.
    – cmw
    Nov 25 '21 at 13:30
  • @cmw I don't think there's any specific reason it can't be δαίμων -- it's just unclear (as you say).
    – TKR
    Nov 25 '21 at 21:00

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