Protagonists and sidekicks

When listening to The Allusionist podcast today I learnt an interesting word – tritagonist, who was the actor who played the third role in ancient Greek drama.

Tritagonist comes from the Ancient Greek word τρίτἀγωνιστής (triagōnistḗs), from τρίτ ‎(third) and ἀγωνιστής ‎(combatant, participant).

The actors who played the first and second roles in ancient Greek drama were known as the protagonist and deuteragonist, or sidekick. Proto- comes from πρῶτος ‎(first), a superlative of πρό ‎(before), and deuter- from δευτερ (second).

Proto goes back to the Proto-Indo-European *pro/*per- (to go over), which is also the root of:

– Proto-Celtic *ɸro = before, in front of, in addition
– Welsh rhy = too
– Irish ro = too
– Proto-Germanic *fram = from, by, due to
– English from
– Scots frae = from
– Swedish från = from; and fram = forward
– Icelandic frá = from, away from, about
– Latin per = through, by means of, during, and related words in Romance languages.

The antonym of protagonist is antagonist, from ἀντί ‎(against) and ἀγωνιστής (combatant, participant).

Source: Wiktionary

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Greek, Irish, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Scots, Swedish, Welsh, Words and phrases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: