Psyche

Psyche

Postby Mike Burke Deactivated » June 14th, 2013, 9:08 pm

I know psyche can mean wind, air, or spirit, but I was surprised to learn that it can mean butterfly and/or moth.

From what I've learned, Aristotle first used the word to refer to some insect, and it came to mean that in Greek, but sources seem divided on whether it meant butterfly, or "night butterfly" (i.e. moth.)

Does anyone know?

Also, I understand that the butterfly was used as a symbol of resurrection and rebirth in Christian art and iconography, but I've never seen any examples.

Does anyone know if they depicted what we would call butterflies, or "night butterflies" (i.e. moths)?
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Re: Psyche

Postby David Lim » June 15th, 2013, 1:28 am

Mike Burke wrote:I know psyche can mean wind, air, or spirit, but I was surprised to learn that it can mean butterfly and/or moth.

I thought that it is "πνευμα" that means "wind", "breath" or "spirit". "ψυχη" means "soul (self / being)", and hence can be used to refer to:
(1) ourselves ("ου βδελυξεται η ψυχη μου υμας" = "my soul will not be disgusted with you" in LXX Lev 26:11)
(2) persons ("η ψυχη η αμαρτανουσα αποθανειται" = "the soul that sins will die" in Ezek 18:20)
(3) beings in general ("ψυχην ζωσαν" = "living soul" in LXX Gen 2:19)
But I'm also surprised to see that it was used to refer to butterflies or moths.

Mike Burke wrote:Also, I understand that the butterfly was used as a symbol of resurrection and rebirth in Christian art and iconography, but I've never seen any examples.

Well here is one I found using Google: http://www.saintsebastianchurch.org/sta ... ction.html. But I always had the impression that the phoenix was the more commonly used symbol by the church fathers and in early Christian art with regard to resurrection and rebirth:
(1) http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04012c.htm
(2) http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310118.htm
(3) http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/34032.htm
(4) http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01515b.htm
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Re: Psyche

Postby Mike Burke Deactivated » June 15th, 2013, 1:57 am

I thought that it is "πνευμα" that means "wind", "breath" or "spirit"


You're right.

I was getting numa and psyche confused.

Well here is one I found using Google: http://www.saintsebastianchurch.org/sta ... ction.html.


That actually looks more like a moth to me.

Does anyone know if the word (anciently) meant moth or butterfly?
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Re: Psyche

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » June 15th, 2013, 3:01 am

Mike Burke wrote:I was getting numa and psyche confused.


"Numa" is "lion" in Mangani language.
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Re: Psyche

Postby Mike Burke Deactivated » June 15th, 2013, 3:49 am

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
Mike Burke wrote:I was getting numa and psyche confused.


"Numa" is "lion" in Mangani language.


Isn't numa also the phonetic spelling of pneuma (πνεῦμα)?

Anyway, I'd still like to know if ψυχη meant butterfly or moth?

Can anyone tell me?
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Re: Psyche

Postby Mike Burke Deactivated » June 15th, 2013, 4:35 am

P.S.

This is a stained glass butterfly..

You can tell because the antenna are clubbed.
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Re: Psyche

Postby David Lim » June 15th, 2013, 6:06 am

Mike Burke wrote:This is a stained glass butterfly..

You can tell because the antenna are clubbed.

Nice, I didn't know that! But I don't think it answers your original question of whether the word "ψυχη" can be used to refer to "moth". Does anyone know?
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Re: Psyche

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » June 15th, 2013, 2:00 pm

According to LSJ, yes.

http://logeion.uchicago.edu/index.html#ψυχη (toward the bottom of the entry)
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Re: Psyche

Postby David Lim » June 15th, 2013, 11:26 pm

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:According to LSJ, yes.

http://logeion.uchicago.edu/index.html#ψυχη (toward the bottom of the entry)

Yes I'm aware of the LSJ entry, but does it mean "something like a butterfly or moth" or "either a butterfly or a moth"?
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Re: Psyche

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » June 16th, 2013, 1:30 am

LSJ reads "butterfly or moth" rather than "something like a butterfly or moth" so I guess you can take that as you'd like.

Since one of the three references (Arist.HA551a14, Thphr.HP2.4.4, Plu. 2.636c) is in Aristotle's Historia Animalium, I'm kind of assuming it's an actual insect. But if you can track down the texts, I'd appreciate getting more information.
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