Makurakotoba - Foreign Equivalences

Foreign Equivalences

Makurakotoba can be found in other languages under the category of “epithet”. There are different types of epithets, some as a standard epithet, some as a common epithet or a stock epithet. Most are not bound by a syllable-count.

In Persian texts, there are several epithets commonly used. Sraosha, the protector of ritual piece, possesses the common known epithet: “Sraoshaverez.” However, “darshi.dru-” meaning “of the strong (Ahuric) mace” is also used. The name Sraosha itself means fury, wrath, or rage. Aeshma, the demon of wrath, possesses the standard epithet “xrvi.dru-”, meaning “of the bloody mace.” Aeshma has other standard epithets that include “ill-fated,” “malignant,” and “possessing falsehood”. A stock epithet, “ashya,” is used to mean “companion of recompense” or “companion of Ashi”.

In the Old Testament, the epithet Baal or Tammuz is often used to mean “the delightful one.” When referring to a king, Persians would write the epithet “adh,” which in the sense of eternity meant “father of eternity”.

People today also use epithets without knowing. The phrases: rosy-fingered dawn, undying fame, everlasting glory, wine-red sea, heartfelt thanks, Miss Know-It-All, blood red sky, stone-cold heart, and names such as Richard the Lionheart, Alexander the Great, Catherine the Great, and Ivan the Terrible are only several examples of the many epithets used. The first four of these are taken directly from Homeric epic.

In Greek, the Homeric epithets are most commonly recognized. The article “L’Épithète Traditionnelle dans Homère and les Formules et la Métrique d’Homère” by Milman Parry argues for Homer's use of formulaic epithets in the Greek epics. These epithets are arguably used formulaically much like the makurakotoba. Examples of Homeric epithets: swift-footed Achilles, crafty Aegisthus, wily Odysseus (or Odysseus of many wiles).

Another common epithet in the Greco-Roman epic is "pius Aeneas", used by the Roman poet Vergil in the Aeneid.

Unlike epithet in epic of the Western antiquity, makurakotoba rarely modify a personal name.

For more examples of Homeric epithets, follow the link.

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