Can the name of the Greek goddess Demeter come from PIE word for tamer, dōma̯tēr (especially given the Aeolic form of the goddess' name, Δωμάτηρ)? I am interested in both whether it is possible from sound change perspective and semantically.
This etymology seems unlikely to me for several reasons:
- A long o-grade in a Greek agent noun in -ter is at best unusual. I can't think of another such example, at any rate.
- The -a- of the second syllable is long, as shown by Attic-Ionic Δημήτηρ. Of course, one could invoke folk etymology here, so this isn't conclusive.
- The vowel in the first syllable in the more common forms of the name, Δημήτηρ / Δαμάτηρ, cannot come from PIE *ō.
- It's pretty clear that Δαμάτηρ is a compound of Δα-μάτηρ, since the first element seems to occur in the name of Poseidon: Potei-dāōn 'husband of Da' (which he isn't in the traditional mythology, but seems to have formerly been).
- It's not clear why an earth goddess should be named 'Tamer'.
Most probably her name derives from PIE *dhǵhōm-. Kretschmer suggests that δᾶ (Δαματήρ) is a pre-Greek version of γη/γᾶ, but I tend to believe Heubeck's (1961) and others suggestion of an Indo-European root for 'earth'. Phrygian has
so that speaks too for a IE-root. Δᾶ seems to be the Doric version of γη/γᾶ.
Now in order to be cautious, we should remember that Phrygian could (or should) have shared substratum with Greek, hence that wouldn't eliminate Kretschmer's theory. However, I don't see much support for it by others.