# What would the Ancient Greeks call a wizard that can control life?

In this world set in an alternate Ancient Greece, science is combined with magic given from the gods.

People who study healing arts usually worship Asclepius. There also is a cult that studies the secrets of death under the governance of Thanatos (they have access to curses that drag the target closer to the Underworld and animate the dead).

However, a few of these cultists also study healing, in hope of healing even the dead from beyond the grave (the undead normally cannot be healed), and even bringing false life to inanimate objects by binding unfortunate souls from the Underworld. Even some healers joined this cult to become <insert title here>.

What would the Greek call this wizard? Necromancer is for those under Thanatos, the apostles of death. This wizard can do much more than a necromancer can do. I'm thinking of Vitamancer, but I'm not sure if it has the correct usage of Greek, and it feels weird.

• Setting a story in a variant of ancient Greece without having a minimal understanding of Greek (at least the vague idea needed to make sense of the search tools available at Perseus) is asking for pain and trouble. For example, your choice of divinities is troubling; I would have expected a death-tamer to be an Orphic. – AlexP Aug 23 '17 at 11:40
• Latin is not derived from Greek. It is an entirely separate language with totally separate origins. I would really recommend brushing up on your history of ancient Greece before setting a story there. – anaximander Aug 23 '17 at 14:29
• A zoomancer, or would that be an animal tamer? – nzaman Aug 23 '17 at 14:55
• @Vylix: ζῳομαντεία (zoomanteia) would mean divining/forecasting from life or from living things; ζωός (zôos) means "alive", ζῷον (zôon) is a living being, an "animal" in the Latin sense, from ζωή (zôê) "life", "existence", and μαντεία (manteia) means prophetic capacity or mode of divination. A person who practices zoomancy would be a ζωομάντις (zôomantis), which could be Englished as a zoomant or zoomancer. – AlexP Aug 23 '17 at 16:14
• @Azor-Ahai Separate enough that their shared origins significantly predate what is generally meant by the "ancient Greek" and "ancient Roman" civilisations. – anaximander Aug 24 '17 at 7:41

Latin is not derived from Greek.

That apart, you are probably looking for something related to Moirai

They controlled the mother thread of life of every mortal from birth to death. They were independent, at the helm of necessity, directed fate, and watched that the fate assigned to every being by eternal laws might take its course without obstruction. The gods and men had to submit to them.

Moirasophist (the one who knows the Moirai) sounds like a decent name.

• Moirasophist is probably the commonest form that word would have taken. Anyway +1 for the mythological, instead of ethymological, reference. – Rekesoft Aug 23 '17 at 11:24
• Moirasophist would probably be good term for "wizards" in general, as in those who meddle with fate, one way or another. – M i ech Aug 23 '17 at 14:05
• This gives new understanding to the name Moiraine in Wheel of Time. – Mike Manfrin Aug 23 '17 at 20:40

Necromancer is usually considered to come from the greek Nekrós (death) and Manteía (divination). Thus a lifesorcerer in greek would presumably be a Biomancer (Bíos meaning "life").

As the joke goes, mixing greek and latin roots is unnatural. (However, so is necromancy I suppose... so it may be a moot point.)

• I don't know how I missed "bio" from the start. Biomancer really sounds familiar with English audience, but "moirasophist" sounds more exotic so I will go for that one. – Vylix Aug 23 '17 at 16:02
• Biomancer will likely sound natural to modern speakers (Greek and non-Greek), thanks to its obvious connection with the very well-established word necromancer. While the other answers are also perfectly reasonable, I think they will sound more realistic to scholars than they will to a layperson. – Sigma Ori - Reinstate Monica Aug 24 '17 at 11:38
• You could use both. Biomancer as used by everyday common people and moirasophist by the scholars and more educated people of your world. Use it as a class distinction on what word you naturally use for the wizard...."ooooh, lord bob is showing his common roots! Sniff sniff humphf cheap bastard sniff cough!" – EveryBitHelps Aug 24 '17 at 15:45
• Biomancer might seem like coming from a sci-fi setting (for modern audiences), especially from a cyberpunk setting. – vsz Aug 28 '17 at 6:15
• Nowadays, people tend to use -mancy to refer to any kind of magic, but it's historical meaning is divination. It wouldn't work in an ancient Greek setting. – Jetpack Sep 27 '18 at 17:58

You can try english-ancient Greek dictionaries for some root words.

For example:

• kratos - King or ruler leading to obvious necrocratos and biocratos as death king and life king respectively. However, due to similarity to democracy, necrocracy is already used as a trope for country ruled by undead.

• kyrios - master thus necrokyrios and biokyrios the death master an life master respectively.

• damazo - verb meaning to tame (animals), subdue, control, rule over, violate (in context of women, presumably rape). Considering spectrum of meanings, this is in my opinion the best I can find. Just cut some letters, add some more to anglicize and you can get something like necrodamast (< νεκροδαμαστής) / biodamast (βιοοδαμαστής) or more anglicised necrodamazer/biodamazer or maybe necrodamer/biodamer.

• That would of course be a necrodamast or biodamast (from δαμαστής (damastês), subduer). Or a metagenic, from μεταγεννάω (metagennaô), I revive; or a zogreic / zogreist, from ζωγρέω (zôgreô), I reanimate. On the other hand, I don't see what's wrong with plain reanimator. – AlexP Aug 23 '17 at 11:22
• @AlexP Feel free to modify my answer. I don't know Greek, and I don't have time to be properly thorough until much later today. – M i ech Aug 23 '17 at 11:27
• @AlexP BTW, I modified my answer before seeing your comment, when I thought that initial idea didn't feel like noun. – M i ech Aug 23 '17 at 11:29
• Usually Greek words are received in English as if they had been borrowed into Latin and then followed the usual rules for Englishing a Latin word. So for example, a death-tamer νεκροδαμαστής (necrodamastês) would be Englished as necrodamast, with the common rendering of the suffix -αστής, -ίστης as -ast, -ist. For example, a πολεμιστής (polemistês, a warrior) is Englished as polemist. – AlexP Aug 23 '17 at 11:36
• Signed up to +1 for necrodamast. Don't know how it sound to English ears, but it's really cool in greek, and oddly familiar to my demographic (rhythmodamast being a rapper's name in the 90's, 00's). Necrokyrios on the other hand... probably not. – rath Aug 23 '17 at 13:14

Those come from death = Thánatos (θάνατος) / life = Bíos (βίος) + the word "puppetteer", which is translated into "Góns" (γόης).

I strongly disagree with people using "Nekros" as "Death", since it actually means "Dead" (a person who is deceased).

The divinities they devote to could indeed be the "Moirai":

but I'd believe normal people wouldn't want to call themselves like semi-gods, nor would they dare to call themselves "the ones who know [insert divinity name here]".

TWIST: The "Moirai" could also actually be their enemy, since they'd no more shape human destiny.

I've not read anywhere that the ancient Greeks understood magic and wizards and so forth the way we do in modern fantasy worlds such as this, so I really don't think we can hope to find an exact word for these kinds of magic users.

That said, I'd suggest for a wizard who can control life itself the name or title archontobion.

This word, perhaps a bit of a pastiche, derives ultimately from the verb ἄρχω to rule, via the nominal use of the present participle ἀρχοντο- in addition to βίος life.

It is constructed in parallel form to other archonto- words (archontology, archontogliers) and archon itself, lending its -n of the participle which we borrowed into English.

Also you will find the terms:

MAGOS: A term for magician or sorcerer; like our term magician this is drawn from Persian.

PHARMAKIS: I understand this can be used for men and women and of course where we get our term pharmacy as ancient Greek Witchcraft concerned many arts but most famously that of herbs, poisons and drugs. It may be worth looking at the key ones from mythology: the children of Helios of Perse:

Circe: who was able to turn men into pigs with her potions and had knowledge of necromancy. She is a witch and goddess of transformation and in Ovid's metamorphosis he makes her responsible for the transformation of the Nymph Scylla into a monster.

Pasaphae: Queen of Crete, wife to Minos and mother of the famous Minotaur, she was an expert in posisons and cursing, including a curse that turned her husbands seed into snakes and scorpions when he lay with other women.

Perses: A mysterious figure who moved to Persia but a sorcerer and necromancer in his own right.

Aeetes: King of Colchis, most famous for his role when Jason seeks the golden Fleece. a mroe classic sorcerer in a land of Dragons and magic, sewing seeds to create warriors and with his daughter Medea, also a powerful sorceress.

• Welcome to the Worldbuilding Stack Exchange! Thank you for your answer, sources would be appreciated. – A Lambent Eye Jun 19 '19 at 10:00

ταχύνων(tachýnon)

I'm going to take a different angle on this one.

(Disclaimer: I have no knowledge, whatsoever, of the Greek language, and I relied heavily on Google Translate to come up with the word above. I feel my main contribution here is in my thought process, rather than the end result, so someone with more knowledge of the Greek language might very well come up with a better individual word or phrase using the same process)

Instead of trying to find a word or phrase that describes who they are, I decided to try to find a word to describe what they do. As of my composition of this answer, all previous answers try to label the person themselves, rather than what they do (for a comparison in English "mechanic" vs. "fixer") One is a job title, if you will, while the other is more of a job description.

If I understood Google translate's results correctly, the word I selected, above, should mean something like "Quickener", as in "one who quickens", with the word "Quick" in this caase referring to the older English meaning of "living" ("the quick and the dead"). Someone who makes things more alive, or 'more lively". So they are the ones who make 'things' more alive, whether it me actual people/spirits or the objects that receive them. They don't create the life, as the spirits existed before, during, and after their magic. They don't even necessarily 'control' it completely, in that the spirit would still belong to the person/being that lives/lived, and that person would maintain control over whatever form their 'life' takes due to the manipulations of these wizards. More like they move life from one place to another, from the afterlife to the living realm, granting the appearance that life has come to where none was before.