🔼The name Cnidus: Summary
- New Place
- From κνιδη (knide), prickly nettle.
- From PIE "ken-", to arise or be new.
🔼The name Cnidus in the Bible
The name Cnidus belongs to a city on the western extreme of the (modern) Datca Peninsula, off the south-western coast of Asia Minor, the western end of Anatolia, modern Turkey. The peninsula juts into the sea and terminates between the islands Cos and Rhodes, which it has as neighbors on either side.
The name Cnidus occurs only in the Bible, namely in Acts 27:7, where we read how the Alexandrian ship with Paul on it reached Cnidus as it traveled through a storm westward along the southern coast from Myra in Lycia. Strangely enough, because of the storm, the ship barely made it to Cnidus, yet it zips as it seems instantaneously to Cape Salmone, off Crete, about 100 nautical miles south-west.
As we discuss in our article on the name Sopater, author Luke composed Acts in such a way that it catered to the literary sensitivities of his Greco-Roman audience. Cnidus had been a Spartan colony, and together with Cos, Halicarnassus and the cities of Rhodes, it formed the Doric Hexapolis. During the Corinthian War (Sparta against a coalition of Corinth, Athens and the Achaemenid Persians), the Battle of Cnidus (394 BC) was decisive: Sparta lost its fleet to the Persians and Sparta's dreams of becoming the capital of a Spartan empire were dashed. Persia would hold Cnidus and environs until the rise of Alexander the Great.
Our western society is strongly based on Greek ideas (of which Plato remains the champion), but those are Attic ideas that proliferated in Athens. Sparta had its own ideas, which were much more in line with modern fascism (and thus the Roman Empire) than democracy and free-market capitalism. Thanks to the Battle of Cnidus, our modern world holds to mostly Attic norms, and any flirts with fascism doomed to fail.
🔼Etymology of the name Cnidus
The name Cnidus (Κνιδος, Knidos) appears to come from the noun κνιδη (knide), which describes a kind of prickly nettle. This suggests that Cnidus was perhaps named after its vegetation, although its local plants couldn't have been significantly different from those of Sparta. Our noun κνιδη (knide) is thought to stem from the verb κνιζω (knizo), to prick, gash or pound, or metaphorically, to teasingly irritate or provoke. This verb, in turn, is thought to derive from the Proto-Indo-European root "ken-", which means to arise or begin. This root lives on in many European languages, in words that describe newness or youngness (young child). From this same root comes also the Greek word καινος (kainos), new:
The ubiquitous copulative particle και (kai) simply means "and" or "also". Officially unrelated, the adjective καινος (kainos) means "new" and also has nothing to do with νεος (neos), which also means new. Noun καινοτης (kainotes) means newness. Verbs καινιζω (kanizo) and καινοω (kainoo) mean to renew.
This suggests that the name Cnidus may stem from a pre-Dorian European dialect, and was simply named after its being a colony of Sparta: New Place.
The name Cnidus may mean Prick, and remind of the Biblical theme of the thorn in the side (Numbers 33:55, 2 Corinthians 12:7). Or it may mean New Town, and be a name like Neapolis or Newton, and remind of the theme of the sick or possessed daughter (Matthew 9:18-26, 15:21-28).