Would "ἰχθύβολος ἄναξ" be a correct translation of "Fisher King" into Ancient Greek? (I want to use a derivative of ἰχθύς plus ἄναξ, not βᾰσῐλεύς)


I think that's a reasonable choice under the constraints you have given (but see below for accent). You might consider using ἰχθυοθηρητήρ rather than ἰχθυβολος. I think the connotations are slightly different - although I don't think I've met either of these words in the wild, but from the formation, the -βολος suggests striking the fish, while the -θηρητήρ suggests hunting for them.

As an aside, the term "Fisher King" has quite Christian connotations for me, but the word for "fisherman" is ἁλιεύς in the NT, and ἄναξ has a distinctly poetic/archaic feel to it.

One further remark: the link given above to the L&S entry for ἰχθυβολος shows two possible accents, a paroxytone ἰχθυβόλος for an active meaning, and a proparoxytone ἰχθύβολος for a passive meaning. This type of distinction is regular for compound nouns of this type. So, if you choose to go with your original version, it should be ἰχθυβόλος ἄναξ.

  • Thanks so very much. That's a very important distinction I missed - angling and fishing. So "ἰχθυοθηρητήρ ἄναξ" would be correct? And, to bring Draconis' excellent point into it, would "ἰχθυοθηρητήρ ϝάναξ" work as well? – Johan88 Oct 11 '18 at 2:16
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    I think that both I and Draconis have attempted to give you some reasonable possibilities, with indications of the connotations of the choices involved. What is best for your purposes is up to you do decide. Is ἰχθυβόλος (with its connotations of actually spearing that fish), or ἰχθυοθηρητήρ (with its connotation of hunting that fish) more suitable for what you want to convey? Should you choose ἄναξ, or the still more archaic ϝάναξ? This is a matter of tone where there is no "right" answer. You must decide. – varro Oct 11 '18 at 2:59
  • Sorry, but I should have answered your question: would "ἰχθυοθηρητήρ ϝάναξ" work as well? I think so, with some qualifications. I suspect that ἰχθυοθηρητήρ is relatively late, and ϝάναξ is definitely archaic. Does this combination work together? I'm not sure. – varro Oct 11 '18 at 3:07
  • @varro ἰχθυοθηρητήρ ἄναξ / ϝάναξ it is, with that choice I'll have to make later. Thank you ever so much. Much obliged, friend. – Johan88 Oct 11 '18 at 3:07

If you really want to say “Fisher King” (a king who is a fisher, Roi pêcheur, Fischerkönig) and not “Fishing king” (a king who fishes) you will probably need to coin a compound, something like ἰχθυβολοβασιλεύς.

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    ἰχθυοθηρητήρ is a noun. In Greek if you combine two nouns (as opposed to adjective and noun) you need to use the compounding stem of the first noun. – fdb Oct 11 '18 at 10:52
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    In Greek if you combine two nouns (as opposed to adjective and noun) you need to use the compounding stem of the first noun -- that isn't right. Things like Ζεὺς ἄναξ, ἄναξ δεσπότης, βασιλεὺς ἄναξ are perfectly good Greek. perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/… – TKR Oct 12 '18 at 0:50
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    @TKR. I think we are talking about two different things. Ζεὺς ἄναξ is apposition (Zeus the king). Fisher King is a compound where the first element is subordinate to the second. – fdb Oct 12 '18 at 9:58
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    But Fisher King is apposition too -- it means "the king who is a fisherman", not "the king of fishermen". – TKR Oct 12 '18 at 17:10
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    @TKR: I think it is a kamadhāraya “a king who is also a fisher”. – fdb Oct 12 '18 at 17:21

Just to mention another option, I think the most natural translation would be ἄναξ ἁλιεύς. That's the normal Greek word for "fisherman", so would be the obvious choice unless you have some specific reason you need a compound with ἰχθύς.

  • Thanks so much. Great point, but in thus particular matter I am limited to ἰχθύς. Great point though. – Johan88 Oct 12 '18 at 2:19

Ánax is a fine word for "king", though if you want to be super-ancient you can use wánax (ϝάναξ) instead; that's the even older form found in Homer. The first letter is a digamma, representing a sound that disappeared from Attic but survived in other dialects.

Ichthýbolos is specifically about hitting fish with spears or tridents; I'd translate it as "angler" rather than "fisherman". Varro suggests a few other words you can use, but to add another option, how about a participle? The generic verb for "to fish" is ichthyáō, which doesn't imply any particular method. So "[the man who is] fishing" would be ichthyõn with contraction and ichthyáōn without; the contraction is very Attic, while Epic and many other dialects don't do that.

So for a particularly archaic sound, I'd say ὁ ϝάναξ ὁ ιχθυάων ho wánax ho ichthyáōn "the king who is fishing".

  • Thanks so very much. I had considered ϝάναξ but was a little worried about it precisely because it was so ancient and ϝ disappeared for a lot of Greece (but not all of it, for a long time). But I do require a title rather then a phrase, "Fisher King" rather then "the King who is fishing", in reference to the character of grail legend. – Johan88 Oct 11 '18 at 2:18
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    @Johan88 Greek doesn't draw as strong of a distinction as English does between "fisher" and "fishing"—both are basically "one who fishes". – Draconis Oct 11 '18 at 2:39
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    @Johan88, FYI ϝάναξ does look rather nonstandard because of the digamma -- even in the texts of Homer digamma is not actually written, only reconstructed. If you're going for a recognizably Classical Greek form I'd go with ἄναξ. – TKR Oct 12 '18 at 0:56

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