Επιδιοι

Attested:  (1) Ptolemy 2,3,1 Επιδιον ακρον;
  (2) Ptolemy 2,2,11 Επιδιον, one of 5 islands called Εβουδαι;
  (3) Ptolemy 2,3,11 Επιδιοι people living by Επιδιον ακρον.

Where:  Presumably the Επιδιοι people lived around Kintyre, with their (1) ακρον ‘promontory’ at the Mull of Kintyre, whose southern tip is near NR618059.  The island (2) is a problem: perhaps it referred to Sanda (which was important to early mariners), but that may have been the Cosmography's Minerve; or maybe it was Gigha island, also called Birila in the Cosmography; or maybe the whole Kintyre peninsula was considered an island, because it may have been at least a tidal island in Roman times, since when post-glacial rebound, plus siltation, may have raised its Tarbert neck of land faster than sea-level rise.

Name Origin:  Early names beginning with Ep- make many scholars think of horses, with particular attention paid to a goddess Epona, and to Welsh ebol ‘foal’.  The argument is set out by Delamarre (2003:163).  However, there are huge problems with applying that logic to these people, in terms of zoology, ethnography, and archaeology.  There is no obvious reason why horses were specially important in Kintyre, and a Punic word for ‘sheep’ has also been suggested.  Επιδιοι is most simply explained as beginning with Greek επι ‘upon’.  For the second part, Liddell and Scott's Greek dictionary reports διον as an adjective derived from PIE *dwei- ‘to fear’.  “Upon fearful” sounds like a fair description of the fierce tidal race around the lee shore and high cliffs of the Mull of Kintyre.

Notes:  This analysis outranks a previous suggestion that the second element was based on δυο ‘two’ or δια ‘through’, implying that Gaelic people lived on both sides of the North Channel.

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Last edited 1 October 2022     To main Menu