🔼The name Adramyttium: Summary
- Destination Afterlife
- Majestic Death, Death's Cloak
- From חרם (haram), to consign to the afterlife.
- From (1) אדר ('adar), to be majestic or wide, and (2) מות (mut), death.
🔼The name Adramyttium in the Bible
The name Adramyttium belonged to a city on the upper west coast of Anatolia (modern Turkey), just south of the Troad, where Troy had been. It was named after Adramytos, a son but not the successor of king Alyattes of Lydia, who reigned from 635 to 585 BC, and whom history remembers as the inventor of coinage and thus currency and thus the world of modern financial economy.
King Alyattes was succeeded by his son Croesus, who became very wealthy but also attracted the attentions of the Persians, and his kingdom fell. The fall of Lydia was an event that reverberated through the ages, and was in Greece remembered with the same bitter regret with which the Jews remembered the fall of Judah to the Babylonians (in large part brought about by king Hezekiah's foolish boast in his wealth: 2 Kings 20:14-19).
Adramyttium came under control of the Persians, then the Greeks, then the Seleucids, who ruled Adramyttium via the vasal kings of Pergamum. These ultimately rebelled against the Seleucids and the last king of Pergamon bequeathed his kingdom to Rome. It became part of the Roman province Asia Minor in 133 BC. In 88 BC, king Mithridates of Pontus rebelled against Rome and his army commander Diodorus (who was also a Platonic philosopher; a famous oratory school was situated in Adramyttium), ordered the death of all Roman settlers, including members of the Roman government. These were rounded up and butchered at Adramyttium.
The province of Asia Minor was of course reconquered by Rome (in 63 BC, the entire Levant, including Judea, fell to Rome), and Adramyttium subsequently lost all its status and tax privileges. All this suggests that in the century that followed, the name Adramyttium was associated both with the invention of money, and with a foolish and still-born rebellion against Rome.
The name Adramyttium doesn't actually occur in the Bible, only an adjective derived from this name: Αδραμυττηνος (Andramuttenos), meaning Adramyttian, or of Adramyttium. This adjective occurs in Acts 27:2 only, where it describes the ship in which Paul was transported from Jerusalem to Myra in Lycia, where centurion Julius found an Alexandrian ship headed for Italy.
Author Luke composed the Pauline part of the book of Acts very obviously with the literary tastes of his Greco-Roman audience carefully in mind. Acts closely matches the Nostoi or "Return Home" genre, of which the Odyssey and the Aeneid are the most famous examples: stories that tell of a hero who learns "the way of thinking" of men and their townships (Od.1.3) by visiting them and observing them, so that the hero's physical journey also reflects his learning curve, and ultimately functions as a commentary on the global goings on.
At least ever since the very ancient story of Jason and the Argonauts, stories of ships that navigate through stormy waters are also stories of governments who steer their nations through times of social upheaval — the noun ναυς (naus), meaning ship, is closely related to the word ναος (naos), meaning temple, which in the old world sat at the center of society and hence functioned as the seat of government. From the verb κυβερναω (kubernao), meaning to steer or pilot a ship, come our words government and cybernetics (which is the study of control).
Natural storms only rarely last longer than a few days but the storm that wrecked Paul's ship and landed him on Malta lasted more than two weeks (Acts 27:27). All this strongly suggests that Luke was not giving a mere anecdotal report of an unfortunate but otherwise unremarkable journey, but rather a detailed commentary on the history of governance, which includes the history of information technology (see our article on YHWH), which is part of the history of the greater global economy (see our article on Abraham).
🔼Etymology of the name Adramyttium
The name Adramyttium comes from Adramytos, in the same way that the name Ilion derived from the name Ilus, of the son of king Tros, who founded Troy the kingdom (Troy was not the name of the famous city but of the kingdom it was the capital of; the city itself was called Ilion, which is why Homer's famous epic is called the Iliad: it deals with the city, not with the entire kingdom).
But where the name Adramytos comes from isn't clear anymore. It appears to have been discussed by several ancient writers, but not many of their ultimate conclusions have survived. Aristotle submitted that Adramytos was the Lydian equivalent of the name Hermonos (Ερμωνος, Ermonos), which points toward a possible Semitic origin of our name (the Greek spelling of the familiar Biblical name Hermon is Αερμων, Aermon), which is not unthinkable considering the Phoenician presence in the region. The Biblical name Hermon comes from the complicated verb חרם (haram), to designate something or someone to one of the two possible ways the afterlife can be enjoyed:
The verb חרם (haram) describes to separate something from its natural economy and consign it to the afterlife. In practice this may either mean to grab hold of something and utterly obliterate it forever, or else set it aside for its forever keeping or some special sacred service (hence the word "harem").
The noun חרם (herem) may either refer to the act of designating something to the afterlife, or the item so designated. Perhaps a second but identical noun (or else this same noun) describes a fishing net. Such a net is of course an item with which fish are extracted from their natural economy and designated their afterlife.
But even if Adramytos is not Lydian for Hermon, it may still be Semitic, and rather consist of two familiar Hebrew elements, the first of which would be the verb אדר ('adar), meaning to be majestic:
The verb אדר ('adar) means to be superior or majestic (or literally: wide). Noun אדר ('eder) means glory or magnificence, or may refer to a wide cloak. Adjective אדיר ('addir) means majestic. Noun אדרת ('aderet) means glory.
The second part of our name is considerably darker: מות (mut), meaning to die or to kill:
The verb מות (mut) means to die or kill. Nouns מות (mawet), ממות (mamot), and תמותה (temuta) mean death. In a theology that operated perpendicularly upon that which worshipped life, death was venerated under the names Mot and Mawet.
The noun מת (mat) is a word for man, and particularly a man capable of combat and exerting death.
The meaning of our name, that is to say: the function of our name as a character in the narrative, obviously has more to do with historical associations than with proper etymology. Adramyttium is the City of the Non-Successive Son of the King Who Invented Money. Adramytos' brother Croesus succeeded the king, so as characters in an allegory, Adramytos probably embodies the Central Bank to Croesus' capitalistic government.
But formally, the name Adramytos may very well be a Hellenized version of a Semitic name Adar Mut, which combines two known theonyms (also very common in Semitic cultures): both Adar and Mut (or Mot or Mawet) were known Semitic deities, and in Egypt, a goddess named Mut was worshipped. But since Adar means majestic, and Mut means death, our name may also mean Majestic Death or even Death's Cloak — and note that the name Troy means "Of Tros", and obviously associates with the noun τρωσις (trosis), wound, from the verb τρωω (troo), to wound.