Aeolic Greek

In linguistics, Aeolic Greek (), also known as Aeolian (), Lesbian or Lesbic dialect, is the set of dialects of Ancient Greek spoken mainly in Boeotia (a region in Central Greece); in Thessaly; in the Aegean island of Lesbos; and in the Greek colonies of Aeolis in Anatolia and adjoining islands.

The Aeolic dialect shows many archaisms in comparison to the other Ancient Greek dialects (Arcadocypriot, Attic, Ionic, and Doric varieties), as well as many innovations.

Aeolic Greek is widely known as the language of Sappho and of Alcaeus of Mytilene. Aeolic poetry, which is exemplified in the works of Sappho, mostly uses four classical meters known as the Aeolics: Glyconic (the most basic form of Aeolic line), hendecasyllabic verse, Sapphic stanza, and Alcaic stanza (the latter two are respectively named for Sappho and Alcaeus).

In Plato's Protagoras, Prodicus labelled the Aeolic dialect of Pittacus of Mytilene as "barbarian" (barbaros), because of its difference from the Attic literary style: "He didn't know to distinguish the words correctly, being from Lesbos, and having been raised with a barbarian dialect".




Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Greek [[labialisation|*]] changed to Aeolic p everywhere. By contrast, PIE * changed to Attic/Ionic, Arcadocypriot, and Doric t before e and i.
  • PIE * → Lesbian písures, Boeotian péttares ~ Attic téttares, Ionic tésseres, Doric tétores "four" Similarly PIE/PGk * always became b and PIE * > PGk * always became ph (whereas in other dialects they became alternating b/d and ph/th before back/front vowels).

    Labiovelars were treated the same way in the P-Celtic languages and the Sabellic languages.

    Sonorant clusters

    A Proto-Greek consonant cluster with h (from Indo-European ) and a sonorant (r, l, n, m, w, y) changed to a double sonorant in Aeolic (rr, ll, nn, mm, ww, yy) by assimilation. In Attic/Ionic and Doric, the h assimilated to the vowel before the consonant cluster, causing the vowel to lengthen by compensatory lengthening. : PIE VsR or VRs → Attic/Ionic-Doric VVR. : VsR or VRs → Aeolic VRR.
  • PIE * → Proto-Greek *ehmi → Aeolic emmi ~ Attic/Ionic ēmi (= εἰμί) "I am"

    Loss of h

    Lesbian Aeolic lost in initial h- (psilosis "stripping") from Proto-Indo-European s- or y-. By contrast, Ionic sometimes retains it, and Attic always retains it.
  • PIE * → Proto-Greek *hāwelios → Lesbian āélios, Ionic ēélios ~ Attic hēlios "sun"

    Retention of w

    In Thessalian and Boeotian (sub-dialects of Aeolic) and Doric, the Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Greek semi-vowel w (digamma) was retained at the beginning of a word.
  • PIE → Boeotian, Doric wépos ~ Attic-Ionic épos "word", "epic" (compare Latin vōx "voice")


    Long a

    In Aeolic and Doric, Proto-Greek long ā remains. By contrast, in Attic, long ā changes to long ē in most cases; in Ionic, it changes everywhere.
  • PIE → Aeolic, Doric mātēr ~ Attic/Ionic mētēr "mother"


    In Boeotian, the vowel-system was, in many cases, changed in a way reminiscent of the modern Greek pronunciation.
  • Attic/Ionic αι ~ Boeotian η ~ Modern Greek αι
  • Attic/Ionic ει ~ Boeotian ει ~ Modern Greek ει
  • Attic/Ionic οι ~ Boeotian υ ~ Mediaeval Greek and Old Athenaean οι ~ Modern Greek οι


    In Lesbian Aeolic, the accent of all words is recessive (barytonesis), as is typical only in the verbs of other dialects.
  • Attic/Ionic potamós ~ Lesbian pótamos "river"


    Contracted or vowel-stem verbs that are thematic in Attic/Ionic are often athematic (-mi) in Aeolic.
  • Ionic philéō, Attic philô ~ Aeolic phílēmi "I love"

    Aeolic athematic infinitive active ends in -men or (Lesbian) -menai. ~ Attic/Ionic has -enai.
  • Lesbian émmen, émmenai; Thessalian, Boeotian eîmen ~ Attic/Ionic eînai (spurious diphthong) "to be" In the Lesbian dialect this ending also extends to the thematic conjugation, where Attic/Ionic has -ein. All three of these Aeolic endings occur in Homer.
  • Homeric agémen

    Proto-Greek -ans and -ons-ais and -ois (first- and second declension accusative plural). ~ Attic/Ionic -ās and -ōs (= -ους).

    Dative plural -aisi and -oisi. ~ Attic/Ionic -ais and -ois.

    The participle has ois and ais for Attic ōs (= ους), ās.



  • ἀέλιος "sun" Doric also (Attic hēlios; Cretan abelios; Laconian bela; Pamphylian babelios) (PIE *sawel-)
  • ἄγωνος ágōnos "struggle" (Attic agōn; Elean dat. pl. agōnois for agōsi)
  • ἀθρήματα gifts sent by kin to Lesbian brides (Sappho fr.) (compare Homeric [ hedna, eedna])
  • Αἰολίωνες Aiolíōnes "Aeolians" (Attic Αἰολεῖς Aioleîs) ( "speak Aeolic, compose in the Aeolian mode, trick out with false words" Sophocles Fr.912 ) ([ aioleō] vary, adorn, diversify ([ aiolos] quick-moving, glittering, shifty)
  • ἀκλάδες [ aklades] (unpruned vineyards) (Attic akladeutoi ampeloi)
  • ἀκόντιον akontion (part of troops) (Attic spear) (Macedonian rhachis, spine or backbone, anything ridged like the backbone)
  • ἀμένης -τος [ amenēs] -tos (Attic ὑμήν humēn) thin skin, membrane.
  • ἀμώνες [;query=entry%3D%236204;layout=;loc=a%29mwre%2Fa amōnes] (Attic ἀνεμώνες anemones
  • ἄορος [ aoros] (Attic ἄϋπνος ahypnos, without sleep) Μηθυμναῖοι
  • ἄρπυς [ arpys] (Attic ἔρως Eros, Love) attested in Crinagoras, ἁρπάζειν harpazein to snatch. Homeric [ harpaleos] attractive,devouring
  • ἄσφε [ asphe] to them (Attic [ sphe], sphi)
  • βακχόα [ bakchoa] (Attic βόθρος bothros sacred dungeon, pit)
  • βάλλα [ balla] threshold (Attic βῆλος bēlos) (Doric balos)
  • βελφιν [ belphin] dolphin (Attic delphis) and Βέλφοι Belphoi Delphi
  • βᾶμα [ bama] Doric also (Attic βῆμα bema walking, step)
  • βλῆρ [ blēr] incitement (Attic [ delear]) τὸ δὲ αὐτὸ καὶ αἶθμα. παρὰ Ἀλκαίῳ ἡ λέξις
  • βραδανίζω [ bradanizō] brandish, shake off. (Cf.Elean bratana Common rhatane)
  • βραδινός [ bradinos] slender, soft (Attic rhadinos) Sapph.90,104.
  • βράιδιον [ braidion] (Attic ῥάιδιον rhaidion easy)
  • βράκειν [ brakein] to understand (dysbrakanon imprehensible)
  • βράκος [ brakos] long robe, Sapph.70 Homeric [ ῥάκος] ϝράκος rhakos wrakos
  • βρίζα [ briza] root (Attic rhiza)
  • βρόδον [ brodon] (Attic ῥόδον rhodon, rose) and vagina metaphorically in Erotic Glossary.
  • βροδόπαχυς [ brodopachus] with pink, rosy forearms (Attic rhodopuches) (βροδόπαχυν brodopachun Sappho) and [ brododaktulos] with rosy fingers
  • βροχέως brocheos or βρουκέων broukeon (Attic βραχύ brachy short) ( 2,7)
  • δράσειν drasein (Attic θύειν to sacrifice)
  • δνόφος [ dnophos] darkness Ionic also (Attic ζόφος zophos) (akin to knephas)
  • εἴδη eide (Attic ὕλη, forest) (εἴδη Ionian also)
  • Ἐννησιάδες Ennesiades Lesbian Nymphs
  • ἐπιάλτης [ epialtēs] and epialēs nightmare (Attic [ ephialtēs]) (wiki Ephialtes)
  • ζάδηλον [ zadelon] with holes in it, open (Attic diadelon obvious) (Alcaeus 30 D 148P)
  • ἴμβηρις [ imbēris] eel (Attic ἔγχελυς enchelys) Μηθυμναῖοι
  • ἴρον [ iron] holy (Attic ἱερόν hierón) (Doric hiarón) (Ionic hirón)
  • Ἰσσα Issa old name of Lesbos Island Cf. Antissa
  • ἴσσασθαι [ issasthai] (Attic κληροῦσθαι klerousthai to take sth by lot)
  • καγκύλη [ kankulē] (Attic κηκῖς kēkis wet,vapour, mordant dyeing)
  • κάμμαρψις [ kammarpsis] dry Measure (Attic ἡμιμέδιμνον hemimedimnon, one half of a medimnos)
  • καραβίδες [ karabides] (Attic γρᾶες [ graes]) Μηθυμναῖοι
  • καυαλέον [ kaualeon] Hsch (Attic αἶθος aithos fire, burning heat) (Cf.kaiō burn)
  • κλᾷδες [ klaides] Doric also (Attic [ kleides] bars, bolts, keys)
  • Mεσοστροφώνια Mesostrophonia'' Lesbian festival
  • μέσσυϊ messui (Attic ἐν μέσῳ in the middle)
  • μόλσος [ molsos] (Attic δημός, fat)
  • ξέννος [ xennos] foreigner, guest-friend, strange (Attic xenos) (Ionic xeinos)
  • ξίμβα [ ximba] (Attic ῥοιά rhoia pomegranate-tree) (Boeotian [ sida])
  • ὄθματα [ othmata] (Attic ommata eyes)
  • ὄν [;query=entry%3D%236214;layout=;loc=a%29%2Fna1 ón]ὄνα óna (Attic ἀνά aná) upon,through,again (Arcadocypriot also)
  • πασσύριον [ passyrion] (Attic passydia totally,all together,with the whole army)
  • πεδαμείβω [ pedameivō] (Attic metameivo exchange) (πεδέχω pedecho μετέχω metecho), pedoikos metoikos [ peda] for meta
  • πέμπε [ pempe] five (Attic πέντε pente, Pamphylian πέδε pede ) ( πεμπάσσειν pempassein to count per five) (Attic pempe imp. of pempō send)
  • Πέῤῥαμος [ Perrhamos] Priamus (Alcaeus 74D,111P (it means also king)
  • πέσδος [ pésdos] pedestrian,infantry) (Attic πεζός pezós)
  • πέσσον [ pesson] plain (Attic πεδίον pedion)
  • πέσσυρες [ pessyres] four (Lesbian πίσυρες pisyres) (Boeotian πέτταρες pettares) (Attic τέσσαρες tessares) (Doric tetores)
  • σάωμι [ saōmi] save (Attic σῴζω sōizō ) (Homeric σαόω saoō)
  • σίγλαι [ siglai] ear-rings (Attic enōtia, Laconian exōbadia)
  • σκίφος [ skiphos] Attic xiphos sword (skiptō, given as etym. of skiphos and xiphos, Sch.Il.1.220; cf. skipei: nussei, it pricks,pierces)
  • σπόλα [ spóla](Attic στολή stolē) equipment, garment (spaleis, the sent one, for staleis)
  • στρότος [ strótos] (Attic stratós) army
  • συρξ [ syrx] (Attic σάρξ flesh) (dative plural σύρκεσιν syrkesi Attic σαρξίν sarxin)
  • τενεκοῦντι [ tenekounti] (Attic enoikounti dative singular of ἐνοικῶν enoikōn inhabiting)
  • τράγαις [ tragais] you break, grow rough and hoarse and smell like a goat
  • τῦδε [ tude] tudai and [ tuide] here) (Ionic tēde)
  • ὔσδος [ usdos] (Attic ozos twig, branch)
  • φαυόφορος [ phauophoros] priestess (Attic ἱέρεια hiereia) (light-keeper) (Aeolic [ phauō] for Homeric phaō shine) (Homeric phaos light, Attic phōs and phōtophoros)
  • φηρία [ phēria] (Attic θηρία thēria beasts)
  • Ψάπφω [ Psapphō], (Attic Σαπφώ Sapphō)


  • ἄας [ aas] ἀεστητόν aestēton tomorrow (Attic αὔριον aurion) (Cf.Attic ēōs dawn)
  • ἀμίλλακας [ amillakas] wine Theban (Attic oinos)
  • ἀνωδόρκας [;query=entry%3D%2310930;layout=;loc=a%29nwdi%2Fnw anōdorkas] a fish ''[ βρίγκος] ὁ ἰχθῦς, ὑπὸ Θηβαίων
  • βαιδύμην [ baidumēn] (Attic ἀροτριᾶν arotrian to plough)
  • βανά [ bana] (βαλάρα [ balara]) woman ( Attic gunē ) (βανῆκες, banēkes βάττικες [ battikes] women ( Attic gunaikes )
  • βάστραξ [ bastrax] or bastax (Attic τράχηλος trachēlos neck) pl.bastraches
  • βλεερεῖ [ bleerei] (Attic οἰκτείρει he feels pity) Cf. eleairei
  • γάδου [ gadou] (ϝάδου wadou) (Attic ἡδύ hēdú) (Corinna.17)
  • Δεύς [ Deus] instead of Zeus. Attested also in Laconian and Rhodian.
  • ἐμπυρία [ empyria] divination (Attic manteia) (Hsch. public oath, Koine ordeal by fire)
  • ζεκελτίδες [ zekeltides] gourds Amerias zakeltides (Phrygian zelkia vegetables)
  • ἴδηφιν idephin sweet-voiced. Hsch.: ἴδηφιν ἴδαις· Βοιωτοί. [καὶ ὁ ἡδυλάλος διὰ τῆς διφθόγγου] (Attic [ hēduphōnon]) ( Aeolic wad-, ad- )
  • ἰστάκη istake scythe (Attic δρέπανον drepanon)
  • ἰυγοδρομεῖν [ iugodromein] (Attic ἐκβοηθεῖν, ekboēthein, and boēdromein, run to help) (Ἰύγγυϊ Dionysus, ἰυγή voice,scream (Soph. Phil. 752))([;layout=;query=entry%3D%2351416;loc=i%29uggodrome%2Fw Iungios] Thessalian month)
  • ἰώ and [;query=entry%3D%2330658;layout=;loc=e%29gw%2Fguos hiōn] (Attic ἐγώ egō, I) (hiōnga iōga for egōge)
  • Καραιός [ Karaios] Boeotian epithet for Zeus meaning tall,head. Boeotian eponym Karaidas
  • κᾶρουξ karoux (Attic kēryx herald)
  • κριδδέμεν [ kriddemen] (Attic γελᾶν gelan to laugh) (Strattis fr. 47) Cf. (Cf.Attic [ krizō] creak,screech)
  • κόριλλα [ korilla] little girl (Koine korasion from Attic korasis girl) (Aetolian korudion)
  • μηλάτας [ mēlatas] (Attic ποιμήν poimen shepherd) (homeric μῆλον [ mēlon] sheep) (Attic [ mēlon] apple, Aeolic-Doric malon)
  • μνάριον [ mnarion] (Attic κάλλυντρον [ kallyntron] broom, brush)
  • ὀπισθοτίλα [ opisthotila] (Attic σηπία sēpia cuttlefish) (Strattis. fr. 47,3) (squirts its liquor from behind)
  • ὀπίττομαι opittomai (homeric [ opizomai] I care,respect) (Laconian opiddomai)
  • ὀφρυγνᾷ [ ophrygnai] (Attic ὀφρυάζει[ ophryazei] he winks raising the eyebrow,to be haughty)
  • σεῖα [ seia] I persecuted (Attic ἐδίωξα edioxa) (Cf.Homeric [ seuō] move quickly,chase)
  • συοβοιωτοί [ syoboiōtoi] Hog-Boeotians (Cratinus.310)
  • τρίπεζα [ tripeza] (Attic trapeza,table)(from [ tetrapeza] four-footed) (tripeza three-footed) (in Aeolic it would-be tripesda)
  • ψώσματα [ psōsmata] Boeotian word acc. Aristonymus


  • ἀβρεμής [ abremēs] (Attic ἀβλεπής ablepēs ἀνάξιος του βλέπεσθαι unworthy seeing, despicable (Cypriotic also) (Hes. text ἀβλεπής Κύπριοι καὶ Θετταλοί
  • ἀγορά [ agora] (Attic λιμήν limen port, harbour) (Hes. text Θετταλοὶ δὲ καὶ τὸν λιμένα ἀγορὰν καλοῦσιν Κρῆτες δὲ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν
  • ἀλφινία [ alphinia] white poplar (PIE *albho- 'white') (Attic leukē, PIE *leuk- 'bright,light') (Macedonian aliza)
  • Ἄπλουν [ Aploun] Apollo (Attic Ἀπόλλων Apollōn) (Doric, Pamphylian Ἀπέλο̄ν Apelon)
  • ἀσπάλεια aspaleia safeness (Attic asphaleia)
  • ἀστραλός [ astralos] (Attic ψάρ -ος psar Starling)
  • βεβυκῶσθαι [ bebukousthai] to be swollen (Homeric βυκτάων buktaon blowing)
  • βουσία [ bousia] (Attic γογγυλίδι gongylidi turnip)
  • δάμοσσος dámossos public (Attic dēmósios) opp. ἰδδιούστικος iddioûstikos privative (Attic idiōtikós)
  • δάρατος [ daratos] Thessalian bread (Macedonian dramis) (Athamanian dramix) (PIE *der- cut,split)
  • δέσποινα [ despoina] woman (Attic gunē, Doric guna) (fem. of despotes)
  • ἔνορμος [ enormos] (agora, assembly, market and chōra) (Attic [ enormeō] get in a harbour, [ hormos] bay,anchorage
  • ἐρέας ereas children (Hsch.Attic τέκνα tekna) (Homeric [ ernos] young sprout,scion) (Neo-Phrygian eiroi children)
  • θεανῶσται [ theanoustai] (Attic ξυστῆρες xysters)
  • ἰθείη [ itheiē] (Attic ἁμαξιτός hamaxitos chariot-road) (Homeric ἰθεῖα ὀρθή Ψ 580) (Attic ithys,eytheia straight line)
  • ἴμψας impsas past participle of impto (Attic ζεύξας zeuxas zeugnymi join together)(Ἴμψιος Impsios Ποσειδῶν ὁ ζύγιος Poseidon Zygius on horses)
  • κάλαφος [ kalaphos] (Attic ἀσκάλαφος, Ascalaphus a bird (Magnesian)
  • καπάνη [ kapanē] chariot (Attic ἀπήνη apēnē) also, a helmet([ kapanikos] plenteous
  • κίς [ kis] who, anyone (Attic tis) (Laconian tir) (Arcadocypriot sis)
  • καρπαία [ karpaia] Thessalo-Macedonian mimic military dance (see also Carpaea) Homeric [ karpalimos] swift (for foot) eager,ravenous.
  • κῦῤῥος [ kyrrhos] or kyrros sir,master (Attic kyrios)
  • Μακετοὺν Maketoun 'Macedonian man' (Attic Μακεδών Makedōn) (Thessalian -ουν-oun suffix for Attic ων ōn in both nominative and genitive of participles,pronouns and nouns.
  • ματτύη [ mattuē] a meat-dessert of Macedonian or Thessalian origin (Athenaeus)(Macedonian mattuēs a kind of bird)
  • νεαλεῖς nealeis new-comers, newly caught ones (Cf.[ nealeis],[ neēludes])
  • νεβεύω nebeuō pray (Macedonian neuō) (Attic euchomai, neuō wink)
  • ὀνάλα onala, ὀνάλουμα onalouma (Attic [ analōma] expense cost) ( on- in the place of Attic prefix ana-, ongrapsantas SEG 27:202
  • Πέτθαλος [ Pétthalos] and Πεθθάλειος (Boeotian Φέτταλος Phéttalos) (Attic Θετταλός Thettalós) (Ionic, Koine Θεσσαλός Thessalós) 'Thesalian man' (Πετθαλια Petthalia Thessalia) (Petthaloi Thessalians) (Koine thessalisti the thessalian way) ( Attic ἐντεθετταλίζομαι [ entethettalizomai] become a Thessalian, i.e. wear the large Thessalian cloak ( Thettalika ptera ''feathers' ), Eupolis.201. )
  • ταγεύω [ tageuō] to be tagos archon in Thessaly ταγευόντουν τοῦμ Πετθαλοῦν