🔼The name Troas: Summary
- Of Troy, perhaps: of the Wound
- From the name Troy (Τροια, Troia), from the name Tros (Τρως), perhaps from τρωσις (trosis), wound, from τρωω (troo), to wound.
🔼The names Troas and Troy in the Bible
In the Bible, the name Troas refers to the city fully named Alexandria of Troas, located in the area historically called The Troad, on the upper west coast of Anatolia, modern Turkey, which by Roman times had been absorbed into Mysia within the province of Asia Minor. On their way from Macedonia to Jerusalem, Paul, Luke and friends stayed in Troas for a week. On the eve before their departure, the young man Eutychus fell out the window and died but was revived by Paul. The name Troas occurs 6 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
This city called Troas was situated a two hour walk from where the legendary city of Troy (Τρωια or Τροια) had been, after which both Troas and The Troad were named. Troy, of course, had fallen, but Troy was the capital of a much larger kingdom that continued, in both name and territory, albeit with an altered, more mature soul. In a way, Troy had been the childhood of a man who had overcome childish things.
The whole of Greek culture was largely based on the epics of Homer, but Troas was a living monument to the once magnificent citadel, whose essence, defense and ultimate demise were contemplated (and mourned) in Homer's Iliad. The Iliad, in turn, was not simply an entertaining tale (it would never have sustained the entire Greek culture if it had been) but a detailed contemplation of the fundamental transition from a society based on palatial estates to a society based on cities: the transition from tyranny to republic, from military might to intellectual clout, but most importantly: from the illiterate bravado of the "flesh" to the literate sophistication of the "spirit" (and see our article on Hellas for a much closer look at this).
Homer's Iliad is roughly contemporary with Moses' Exodus of the Hebrews out of Egypt. Both began to be written down in the 8th century, both play around the 12th century BC, and both tell of how the world of illiterate tyranny began to collapse to make way for a budding literary tradition that wouldn't mature for a few centuries. But from the Hebrew escapees came the alphabet (9th century BC), a baffling feat of ingenuity that was imported into the Greek language basin, so that Greece too could become literate — and its bards obsolete, to the understandable chagrin of the original Homerids. Later the Greek alphabet was adapted into Latin, when the Trojan prince Aeneas journeyed to Italy and sired the Roman people.
🔼Troy and Tyre
The kingdom of Troy was named after king Tros (Τρως), whose name hence means Trojan (either an inhabitant of the city of Troy, or the region called The Troad). The name Troas combines Tros with the suffix of agency -ας (-as), and the two relate like λαμπω (lampo), to shine, and λαμπας (lampas), lamp, or γαλα (gala), milk, and γαλατας (galatas), milkman.
King Tros had a son named Ilus (Ιλος), whose city was hence dubbed Ilion (Ιλιον), and whose story was called Iliad (Ιλιαδ). The kingdom extended its name to the city, which meant that the "city named Ilion" became also known as the "city of Troy". By the time of the famous Battle of Troy as described in the Iliad, the king of Troy was Priam, the grandson of Ilus. Homer said about Troy: "Numerous here are the allies spread out in Priam's great city, men from many lands, all speaking different tongues" (Il.2.803-804; compare 1 Kings 10:24 and Acts 2:9-11).
Troy was situated on the outer-western edge of the Hittite Empire, but we don't exactly know what language was primary out there, or which language the nobility would have drawn their names from. The Hittites spoke several Indo-European languages, but their eastern neighbors and trading partners (the Phoenicians and Israelites) spoke Semitic languages (collective called Hebrew). To the Hittites' west, people had begun to forge the Greek dialects, but although formally an Indo-European branch, the Greeks were evidently so comfortable with their Semitic trading partners that they absorbed a great many terms and ideas from them (see our article on the many Hebrew roots of Greek), even to the point that Greek might be considered a Indo-European/Semitic hybrid (not unlike English, which is really a German/Latin hybrid).
The inevitable competition between Semitic and Indo-European drew a political and ideological vault line, with long periods of peace and mutual respect interspersed by brief outbursts of vicious violence. Prior to the Bronze Age Collapse, Phoenician Tyre was the proverbial capital of the Hebrew world; "You had the Seal of Perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty" said YHWH to its king (Ezekiel 28:12). But Troy was the undisputed crown of the European world; "ever the most honored in my heart", said Zeus to Hera (Il.4.46). Upon the famous fall of Troy, the European capital moved west and became Rome. Upon the gradual decline of Tyre, the Semitic capital moved west and became Carthage. There the clash between the two was resumed, culminating in the Punic Wars: the destruction of Carthage and gradual decline of the Roman Republic. The Republic fell and the capitals moved east in a figurative way: the noun קדם (qedem) both means east and past. To the horror of many, Rome reverted back to the primitive reality of a centralized monarchy and became the hated Empire that spewed out the brood of its many incarnations up until Nazi Germany and the subsequent Destruction of Europe's Jews in the 1940s. Today, the pendulum swings the Hebrew way, and the Internet (and blockchain technology) is poised to restore the Republic and destroy the bullies for good.
And to hint at the nature of the difference between the two: our word "parchment" comes from the name Pergamum, of a city close to Troy, which derives from Priam, the name of the king of Troy at the time of the battle. The Greek word for "paper", namely βιβλος (biblos) stems from the name Gebal, of a Phoenician city in Lebanon. Parchment is much more durable and expensive than paper, which caused the art of writing in Europe to remain the esoteric domain of an elite cast of specially trained priests. In the Hebrew world, however, cheap paper (which actually originated as wrapping material) allowed for a huge boom in communication and thus mass-literacy and the massive popular participation in the exchange and development of ideas (Exodus 19:6; see Revelation 21:22-26). Paper did for the ancients what email did for us moderns; in Persia the Jews had invented the postal service, which was the original Internet. Of course the Hebrews too had parchment and cherished texts that they wouldn't ever change, but the European way is to love orthodoxy and follow orders from an established authority, whereas the Hebrew way is to love freedom and wisdom, inquiry and learning, community and growth.
🔼Etymology of the name Ilus/Ilium
The true origins of the names Troy/Troas and Ilus have been lost over time. Hittite records that were unearthed in recent times indeed use similar names for cities that would have been near Troy, but again, it's not at all clear in which language these names originated, or what these words may have meant to the people who first used these names. But there's the rub. Toponyms are curious creatures, because they commonly arise, just like regular words, from large groups of people spontaneously assigning a certain recognizable verbal label to a place. This indicates that the name meant something to the community; something that the whole community confirmed by perpetuating the name. Even when a name was forced upon a place (in this case, by extending the name of king Tros onto Tros' kingdom, hence Troy), the fact that this name wasn't altered over time — and even that this same name would come to represent one of two archetypes of human society — demonstrates that it meant something appropriate to the people in antiquity.
Significantly, in the Latin language of those who claimed descendancy from the Trojan royals, the Latinized name Ilium was identical to the noun ilium, from ila, the abdomen containing the bowels (and genitalia), which were considered the seat of the emotions — in ostensible contrast to the torso, where the ratio was thought to be seated (see our article on κοιλια, koilia, hollow). In Latin writing, the name Ilium was used as synonym for Paris (the son of king Priam; Paris' seduction of Helen of Sparta triggered the Trojan War). The feminine name Ila was used for Rhea Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus (whose story is set in the 8th century BC).
In Greek, the name Ilus (Ιλος) certainly reminded of the noun ιλη (ile), meaning band or troop either of merrymakers or soldiers (perhaps somewhat comparable to the name Gad). This word ιλη (ile) came to be used as a military unit of about five dozen men (initially cavalry, later any sort of soldier). In Sparta this word denoted a subdivision of the αγελη (agele), literally denoting any driven herd, but in Sparta specifically referring to a military school for young boys. Also because the eagle was adopted as military standard, replacing the original fascis, here at Abarim Publications we suspect that the otherwise unexplained noun aquila, meaning eagle, was formed according to this Greek word αγελη (agele), herd (see our article on the name Aquila).
All this suggests that both the fascis and the name Ilus (and later the Roman eagle) embodied the pooling of resources and thus the creation of leagues and federations (that is: economic partnerships between the palatial estates). This principle is of course a great idea, but only when this pooling is voluntary and achieved by harmonic resonance. When it is achieved by force, it simply results in the tyranny of the strongest constituting member (this is how the Delian League went sour, and in recent history of course the Fascist movement). A proper federation is achieved only by extensive and free communication, which was a thing that the Hebrews excelled in (in the Iliad embodied by Achilles). The Europeans, and thus the Trojans, excelled in law enforcement (i.e. Hektor).
Note that these two players are also represented by the two talons of the eagle of the US great seal: the Semitic olive branch in its dexter talon and the Trojan fascis in its sinister talon: innovation and tradition, art and law.
🔼Etymology of the name Tros/Troy/Troas
The name Troas comes from Troy, which comes from Tros, and in the Greek world the name Tros (Τρως) without a doubt reminded of the noun τρωσις (trosis), meaning wound or a wounding (both unused in the New Testament). Bloodshed was common in antiquity, and a wound of any sort was to be avoided, yet the worst kind of bloodshed came when a woman failed to get pregnant (Isaiah 4:4, Ezekiel 24:6-14, Habakkuk 2:12, Revelation 13:3). Communities and cities were feminine (the citizens were the sons; the king their father and the culture their mother), which is why Paris took Helen to Troy: in the hope that Helen's presence would allow Troy to get pregnant and produce a son (Isaiah 9:6).
The noun τρωσις (trosis), a wounding, comes from the verb τρωω (troo), which is short for τιτρωσκω (titrosko), to wound (first and second person singular: τρωσω, troso). This verb comes from a huge Proto-Indo-European root "terh-", to hurt: hence English words like trauma and tragedy. From the same PIE root comes the verb τριβω (tribo), meaning to rub, wear out or exhaust (hence, via Latin, the English word tribulation). Rather notably, however, from this verb τριβω (tribo), to rub worn, comes the noun τριβος (tribos), which describes the smoothness of a highway that's been formed in a wilderness by the many feet that shuffled along it (Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3 and Luke 3:4). And that's the very nature of the proverbial Highway of the Lord: formed not from the "will" of a man (some king and his well-meaning legislation) but from the virgin pregnancy of a free market (see παρθενος, parthenos, virgin).
Another verb of note, which also stems from our PIE root "terh-", to hurt, is τρωγω (trogo), to eat away or wear holes into:
The verb τρωγω (trogo) means to consume or wear holes into. This verb is thought to be related to τρωω (troo) or τρωσω (troso), to wound. From this verb τρωγω (trogo) also comes the noun τρωγλη (trogle), hole, from which comes the word troglodyte, or cave-man. Noun τρωγαλια (trogalia) described the nuts and fruits that rodents would nibble on, and which were served for dessert after banquets.
This verb τρωγω (trogo) was used to describe the eating of herbivores (nibble, gnaw) but also of diseases that "ate" away the flesh of its victims. Derived noun τρωγαλια (trogalia) described things to nibble on: fruits, almonds and such. And noun τρωκτης (troktes) described a nibbler: whatever nibbles whatever. Most notably, however is the noun τρωγλη (trogle), meaning a hole formed by gnawing: a hole eaten into cloth by moths, or into flesh by a disease, but also any hole or burrow made by a nibbler (a rabbit hole in the earth), and from there any hole in the earth. The Septuagint uses this word to describe the holes in which Hebrews had hidden themselves from the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:11). The Hebrew uses the noun חור (hor). The English noun troglodyte, cave-dweller, comes from the Latin troglodytae, from the Greek τρωγλοδυτης (troglodutes), or hole-plunger (τρωγλη, trogle, hole, plus, δυω, duo, to plunge): specifically foxes (Matthew 8:20) serpents and cave-men.
But this connection to holes in the earth brings our name Tros in clarifying proximity to the Latin word ilium, abdomen. Whether deliberate or consciously or not: Troy was mostly associated to centralized power, the flesh, the emotions and thus the will, lust and desire, whereas Tyre was mostly associated with decentralization (and republics), the spirit, the ratio and thus the global conversation, free international trade and the natural progression of evolution.
Troy was the embodiment of primitive sophistication, the old world of forcible federations of palatial estates, ultimately the barren woman who could not conceive because her husband (that is God) was not attracted to her. Writing and the postal service, the day off, science and possibly even marriage (γαμος, gamos) were Hebrew inventions: the new world, the global decentralized republic which is governed solely by the Word, the Prince of Peace.
🔼Troas and Troy meaning
The name Troas means Of Troy, and Troy means Of The Wound, i.e. the blood flow of a woman who has failed to conceive.