27 Dec 2007

The Etruscan word 'tezan'

I think I just found out what tezan means. I've noticed four instances of the word so far. We have the word on the so-called Cippus Perusinus (CPer A.iv):

eśtla afunas sleleθ caru tezan

Then there is TLE 571, a stone cippus with the brief inscription:

tezan teta tular

Then we may note TLE 621, a stone cippus:

cehen cel tezan penθna θauruś θanr

And finally TLE 626, another stone cippus:

la śar[-]ni tezan tular ufleś pentna ale[1]

It seems to me that if you have a word consistently written on a cippus and no other object, it's probably not a stretch of the imagination to consider that tezan is referring to a cippus. Pallottino thought it might be related somehow to teś- which he translated for some strange reason as 'to look after' (Pallottino, The Etruscans, 1975. p.233). This threw me off for a bit, however there is no way to explain the unmotivated change of intervocalic z to ś or vice versa. Then others delighted in an optimistic equation with Latin finis urbani auspicii (read this, for example). So I was always skeptical of these claims yet hadn't the foggiest clue what could be a better interpretation. Now I think the above pattern speaks for itself.

[1] I just thought of a new interpretation of ufleś/uples this very hour that affects the translation of this inscription. I discuss it under the Updates section in my previous post.

(Dec 28/07) Nevermind my footnote #1 just above. I may be delusional. Carry on.... (See Me fighting with myself on the Etruscan name Uple.)


  1. I've been thinking about this one. And although the idea is compelling, I was wondering: Are these all the complete texts written on these cippi (cippora? forgive me my latin :P)?

    Because if this is all, I indeed see no other reason but to assume that it means cippus. But if there's a lot more text than just this on it, then it's slightly harder to prove.

  2. I won't rest until I find pictures to each and every one of these blasted inscriptions because of all the contradictions I find between different authors, however from what I read, the extent of the cippus TLE 571 is simply tezan teta tular. G&L Bonfante translate teta as "grandmother", however in this context Teta must surely be a family name (note the Latin nomen Tettius as well as Vel Teta Celias from CIE 1553). The inscription would literally read, "cippus Teta marking", or rather "a cippus marking the Teta (family)". In other words, it's a funerary cippus.

    I have a hard time translating tezan in this context with anything to do with "caring for (something)" (Pallottino: tezan, possibly related to teś- "to look after(?)")or with "grandmother" (G&L Bonfante: teta = "grandmother"). Do you have a better suggestion?

    Likewise, my interpretation implies that despite the rumours, the Cippus Perusinus (see picture here) is also a funerary cippus (not some legal document commemorating an exchange of property between two families as some claim). In it, you can clearly see tularu, the passive participle of tular. This shows that tular is indeed a transitive verb meaning "to mark (a boundary); marking" and is only ever a noun in the sense of a deverbal noun "a marking; a boundary" (as in Selvansl Tularias). So I suggest it has the value of an active participle "marking" in TLE 571. The context of tezan in the Cippus Perusinus is as follows: [-]eulat tanna larzul ame vaχr lautn velθinaś eśtla afunas sleleθ caru tezan fuśleri tifnś teiś raśneś ipa ama hen. The word tezan follows the word caru "created" (passive participle of car).