30 Sep 2007

Concerning Pre-Etruscan syncope

Sad as it is, I'm still contemplating the "magical -i-" in the name Arnth (see my previous blog: Etruscan names Arnth and Arnthia) that shows up sometimes when declined in the genitive case as Arnthial, the case form that indicates possession. I know it may seem that I have no life (actually, "seem" is such a euphemism, let's face it) but I really think there's something noteworthy going on here with this apparent lost vowel. Yet I haven't read any published work on it at all. It seems that Etruscologists like Pallottino, Bonfante, Jannot or De Grummond seem to be far too concerned with generalities to worry about these language specifics and that's a pity. For innovative ideas to toy with, we often have to go online and sniff around. Everyday people are talking about all sorts of subjects and it's not just people talking through their hat either. Some are sharing with us their informed ideas generously. I've managed recently to recover some interesting tidbits from the internet's collective memory on this very topic.

I remember I had read something about a disappearing *-i in pre-Etruscan before. I started thinking about Miguel Carrasquer Vidal, a man with a fierce sense of logic with which I had many an online arguement with beforehand. Regardless of our differences of opinion, I respect him as a keen thinker in the realm of comparative linguistics and someone who typically backs up his views with a wealth of solid references. In this post on sci.lang in October 2004, Vidal had mentioned this interesting tidbit which he based on his readings of Robert S. P. Beekes, the Emeritus Professor of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics at the University of Leiden who has also written about the origin of the Etruscans (see pdf) and Pre-Greek substrate (see pdf). Miguel stated:

That doesn't change anything in the analysis of -le < *-la-i, or -ls < *-la-si. If it makes you feel better:
  • genitive *-si, *-ia-la > -s, -(ia)l
  • ablative *-si-si, *-ia-la-si > -is, -(ia)l(a)s
  • dative *-si-i, *-ia-la-i > -si, -(ia)le
At the time I had first read it, it didn't "make me feel better", nor did other people completely embrace the idea as you can read by the responses. While it's acceptable to suggest that Etruscan had some sort of prior syncope (before the documented one that occured around 500 BCE), suggesting also that an ablative *-si-si was reduced to -is by way of a convenient one-time case of added haplology seemed to me ad hoc. The package as a whole then came across as just a shade too mathematical, assumptive and logically problematic to accept.

Yet now, here I am before my computer, and after hammering out my Etruscan database, I have to admit with tail between my legs that Miguel may not have been so crazy afterall, although his point of view needs clearer rules and further examples. It's not enough to say that vowels disappeared in final position because it clearly wasn't the case in passive participles in -u (e.g. caru "made"), as an example.

It seems to me that we might be able to theorize the following to add to Miguel's ideas above concerning an early stage of pre-Etruscan:
  • There were once 3 possible vowels in word-final position: -a, -i and -u.
  • Both -a and -i were dropped while -u remained.[1]
  • Former a-stems and i-stems however still kept their vowel when suffixes were added.
So then, this would mean that the masculine praenomen Arnth was from *Aranθi with genitive *Aranθi-al and the feminine praenomen was *Aranθia at the time, with a homophonous genitive *Aranθia-l. After the syncope, we would have *Aranθ and its unscathed genitive *Aranθial, while in the feminine, we might have *Aranθi but again with genitive *Aranθial. The result is a curious intrusive -i-, a relic from a previous time. This idea also explains the intrusive -i- in the word hinθial 'spirit, ghost, shade' derived from the genitive of hinθ 'below, beneath, underneath' which we may now relate to an earlier form *hinθi. And of course, Miguel has already explained the loss of the same -i in the s-genitive ending citing Beekes.

More food for thought.

[1] The loss of -a can be seen in the word un 'libation' (< *una) with the locative une (< *una-i) attested in the Liber Linteus (LL 8.xvii, 10.xxxiv). If the vowel had not been there, we'd expect *un-i in the locative instead.

27 Sep 2007

The Etruscan names Arnth and Arnthia

According to most accounts by Etruscologists, Larthi is the feminine of masculine praenomen Larth. Likewise, Arnthi is the feminine of masculine praenomen Arnth. We may be easily deceived into thinking that the names are pretty straightforward. They're not.

TLE 179: Eca mutna Arnθal Vipinanas, Śeθreśla.
"This (is) the sarcophagus of Arnth Vipinana, (descendant) of Sethre."

The above inscription shows us a male name, Arnth, declined in the genitive (Arnθ-al "of Arnth"). His family name Vipinana is also declined in the genitive as well (Vipinana-s) because this is traditional for family names of males. Depending on the class of the noun, the genitive is marked in either -as or -al. A third name at the end is declined with a case suffix -śla to indicate ancestral lineage. In this case, he is the descendent of Sethre, a common male praenomen in Etruria.

TLE 233: Arnθ Lenies, Larθial clan, Velus-um nefiś.
"Arnth Lenie, Larth's son, and Vel's grandson."

The name Arnth is here unmarked because it's the nominative case and this person's last name is declined in the genitive again because the person is male. There is also no question that he is male because his inscription is written over a picture of him reclining with his brother while being serenaded by musicians. This is what a male name looks like in Etruscan. However if you scroll down through the same inscription, we notice another interesting sentence describing his brother:

Vel Lenies, Arnθial ruva, Larθial[usla] clan, Velus-um nefś.
"Vel Lenie, Arnth's brother, Larth's son, and Vel's grandson."

Notice that the genitive of Arnth may be Arnθal (as in TLE 179) or Arnθial (as in this last inscription). It's not a typo because it occurs elsewhere (ETP 83: Mi Arnθial Tetnies śuθi-θi Velcl-θi. = "I am of Arnth Tetnie in the tomb in (the city of) Vulci."; TLE 320: Ramθa Viśnai, Arnθeal Tetnies puia. = "Ramtha Visna, Arnth Tetnie's wife."). This interloping -i- or -e- is clearly supposed to be there and not just some scribal error. Now let's look at the female praenomen:

TLE 888: Metli Arnθi puia amce Spitus Larθal. Svalce avil LXIIII. Ci clenar acnanas, arce.
"Arnthi Metli was the wife of Larth Spitu. (She) lived 64 years. Having brought forth three sons, (she) raised (them)."

This shows the unmarked female praenomen in the nominative case and we know this is a female name by the context. Note that her family name is declined not in the genitive but in the locative case (Metli < *Meteli-i) as is traditional for female names, while the name of her husband, Larth Spitu, shows yet again the genitivized family name (Spitu-s) as expected for males.

But wait a minute. I have questions and I need answers. Quite frankly I'm not even sure what the answers should be but apparently Etruscologists aren't talking about it either and they should:

1. If the genitive of male Arnθ can be Arnθial, then what is the genitive of feminine Arnθi?
2. Is the genitive of both the male and female names homophonous, and thus only distinguishable by the declension of their last name?
3. If an inscription only says Mi Aranθial (see ETP 295), what gender is the person? (Mi simply means "I (am)".)
4. What on earth is that interloping -i- or -e- doing there?
5. Why is the genitive in -al in the first place?
6. What morphological reasons cause speakers to chose l-genitive over an s-genitive? We have Arnth with genitive Arnθal/Arnθeal/Arnθial and yet Minrva (Minrva-s "of Minerva") and Uni (Uni-al "of Uni").

25 Sep 2007

Four Stone Hearth - Volume 24

Paddy K hosts this volume of Four Stone Hearth's always-informative multi-blog travelling carnival of social sciences, adding a tinge of irreverent humour to make it entertaining too:

Click here...

And we can scroll down to find: "Glen over at Paleoglot gives us a few thoughts on sexuality and history and how it is impossible to separate one from the other, no matter how many flag-waving moralists are camped on your front lawn."

Lol! I couldn't have summed it up better myself. In fact, maybe that's how I should have worded it in that article. Enjoy!

24 Sep 2007

More published errors on Etruscan inscriptions

It just never ends. Whenever I do my own "archaeological dig" for extra information on ancient inscriptions, I never fail to find some interesting red herrings along the way. The many goof-ups in these books, which are now thankfully exposed and searchable online thanks to Google Book previews, are fascinating to me. I must have found a hundred transcription errors by now in both antique and modern books.

Here's another CSI case to solve. There's an Etruscan inscription that goes something like this:
velias . fanacnal . θuflθas . alpan . menaχe . clen . ceχa . tuθines . tlenaχeis [1]
At least this is according to Atema in Antiquity (1991) on page 315 where it is explained that this was inscribed on the leg of a bronze statuette of a boy from Montecchio. Before this, he tells a real-life, historical horror story about how catholic priests in the area were demanding that "pagan idols" be handed over in order to promote ignorance and discourage "heresy", otherwise known in the free world as "knowledge and logical curiosity".

Speaking of promoting ignorance, this is not the same thing that was once published in Taylors' Etruscan Researches (1874) on page 299:
velias . fanacnal . θuflθas . alpan . lenaχe . clen . ceχa . tuθines . tlenaχeis
The notable difference is marked here in red (i.e. lenaχe rather than menaχe). The rest is kosher when we understand the quirky use of 'k' and 'ph' in this text, rather than the now-standard 'c' and 'f' to indicate Etruscan kappa and vau. Unfortunately, there is yet a third version written in
Dümmler's Beiträge zur vergleichenden Sprachforschung (Auf dem Gebiete der arischen, celtischen und slavischen Sprachen (1865), page 3:
velias . fanacnal . θuflθas . alpan . penaχe . clen . ceχa . tuθines . tlenaχeis
Any pictures of the artifacts, much like the historical objects successfully nabbed by the catholic priests in the city of Montecchio, are taken away from easily accessible, public view. And just like the catholic priests, we the people are not to question the authority of experts who display their doctorate much like the Egyptian crook and flail was a holy symbol of infallibility meant to silence the commonpeople. Of course, PhDs are respectable enough but I'm a hardcore iconoclast and I have a disdain for "symbolic education" in place of true education (that is, the self-directed and neverending kind). So I gladly spend hours of extra time searching for the pictures and/or using my organizational skills to learn that the verb menaχe is the most logical answer and is the passive preterite of a very common verb men conveying the giving or placement of gifts. I'm currently translating it as "to place, to lay something down" but note also that Bonfante and Pallottino give it the meaning "to offer":
mena [CPer A.xxiii] (pres.) // menaχe [TLE 282, 447, 896] (pass.pret.) // menaqu [ETP 118] (perf.part.)
So even without pictures, rational thought overcomes this mental chess game of historical obfuscation.

The inscription is indexed by Pallottino as TLE 652 and one should note that in fact none of the books I've referenced in my article here have transcribed the inscriptions perfectly. Note that many books carelessly throw away diacritics and the distinction between the Etruscan letters sigma and san. While this distinction was maintained in Etruscan, they are ignored by many authors as in this inscription. See Kharsekin, Zur Deutung etruskischer Sprachedenkmäler: Mit einem Anhang: etruskischen Geschichte (1963), p.55 for the transcription with the retained distinction (the added diacritics are shown in blue):
veliaś . fanacnal . θuflθas . alpan . menaχe . clen . ceχa . tuθineś . tlenaχeis
That being said, when we compare with Wiener, Die Sprache (1949) on p.62, we discover yet a fifth version of the same transcription! Hold on to your hats, folks:

veliaś . fanacnal . θuflθaś . alpan . menaχe . clen . ceχa . tuθineś . tlenaχeiś

(September 25 2007) Well, looky, looky. Now there is a picture, albeit a facsimile of the original artifact, available online that seems to confirm Wiener's transcription (the picture is courtesy of http://www.proel.org/alfabetos/etrusco18.gif):

Say, wouldn't it be funny if I found a competing drawing published with totally different letters?

22 Sep 2007

Models of the Temple of Knossos are online

There is a new program out there called Google SketchUp. Google has entered the 3D business by providing a free program to download that allows users to view or create 3D models which can be uploaded directly to Google for everyone to share. While I'm not particularly fond of the pro-poverty Web 2.0 craze that expects everyone to do all work without any monetary compensation in return, I think there's a lot of potential in this for teachers to make history come alive and for independent students who just want to know about civilizations past.

I was happy to discover that someone had already made a replica (or rather, reconstruction) of the famous Minoan Temple of Knossos on the island of Crete. You can search for more on Google Warehouse.

I think just being able to look at the building and the way it's laid out is instructive in itself, but personally I think it needs a few plants. Maybe we need less architects in the world and more interior designers.

21 Sep 2007

Trolls - Turning anonymous flakes into constructive 'tools'

Every once in a while I get an interesting psych-case or two who apparently seem to think that they're succeeding in their own anarchistic cause by cursing at people who contribute on the net... even though I have "comment moderation" enabled. If I don't like your negative monologue, I simply chuckle as I delete it. I gather these people must be the bottom of the barrel. They think like some six year-olds: "I want you to pay attention to my antics, but you never do... so I'm going to break this window!" I have every confidence in Darwin however, and I simply turn their idiotic suggestions into constructive and intelligent linguistic topics. Turn black into light.

Etruscan is related to Dravidian...
Translation: I don't understand what mass comparison is.

There was a person a few weeks ago who was bold enough to expose his identity after pestering me with what he thought was clever humour at my expense. Not the best way to win friends, I'm afraid. Sufficed to say, he had abandoned his own blog that was failing miserably, no doubt because its premise was built entirely on a shallow sense of humour (i.e. consisting of sophomoric mockery of professors for the sake of diminishing those smarter than him to ail his self-worth). They were very pedantic jokes yet detached from intellectuality or even reality. His blog entries were hard to appreciate on any level. Whether in jest or in all seriousness, he asserted to me that Etruscan was related to Dravidian and that I should blog about it. Of course, there are just too many nutball theories like this on the net. There's even the case of Zacharie Mayani who published his book The Etruscans Begin to Speak, a truly useless waste of paper that seeks to convince the slowest of readers that Etruscan is related to Albanian without a respectable methodology in sight. There's no need to go into more detail about these pseudo-theories because they are all committing the same error: mass comparison.

Mass comparison is the practice of taking words and comparing them to other words in another language based on your own, lonely conviction that the words look alike. Of course, if your IQ is even a shade over 100, the natural question should arise: How "close" do words have to be before they "look alike"? What does "close similarity" even mean? What if I don't agree that your words look alike? Does my subjective opinion count as much as the theorist, or does the theorist just want to live in his own bubble? There are no rational answers to these questions because this is all about self-centeredness and attention-seeking more than rational thought. If the theorist is insane, the results will be just as insane. The method is random and only used by people who are too lazy or incompetent to find stricter, more empirical methodologies. Read Mark Rosenfelder's How likely are chance resemblances between languages? which explains all of this with mocking examples comparing Quechua to every language on earth.

Theories could be wrong, so all theories are hearsay...
Translation: I'm a dogmatic relativist and I have a mental illness.

I see this time and time again in various incarnations. A recent spammer named himself after a plague-causing bacteria, exposing a wealth of psychological background about his fragile self-esteem. While using delightful expletives to shock me, he proceeded to inform me that I allegedly "believe that 'hammers' ham". I assume the angry loon was sheepishly refuting with ad hominem attacks the method of using morphological analysis to determine the likeliest word origins in a given language. Sufficed to say, I've never seen this person create his own Etruscan Dictionary Project and proof is in the pudding. Critics are far too often the same people who convieniently produce nothing of their own to critique because they couldn't handle being served their own cold dish.

It's no secret: I proudly use morphology to break down Etruscan words to deduce etymologies to these words and to help triangulate more precise translations. I'm certainly not going to opt for no analysis at all in place of morphological analysis. Relativism is rampant on the net and seeks to deconstruct reasoning into a game of "anything can be correct." Well, no, that's not the case and I encourage relativists to walk out in front of a car to prove that they won't just pass through the car without a scratch.

The general masses are eternally confused about the difference between "all", "some" and "none". Some words don't fit this ideal situation, such as when the word "hammer" doesn't come from a verb "ham". An almost-correct solution is better than no answer but some people are so out of sorts that they are easily discouraged by the impossibility of attaining an absolutely perfect solution. So they decide that it's not worth pursuing answers at all. Fortunately, depression is treatable with medication and therapy.

In most cases morphological analysis is productive. If this wasn't used in some form, no linguist would be able to speak of "grammar" since inflections can only be deduced by internal comparison of one word form with another in the same language. Etruscologists have uncovered case suffixes this way by comparing, for example, ati "mother" with atial "of the mother". Since the pattern of the genitive case is so extensive there's no reason to doubt the effectiveness of morphological analysis in determining word origins. We can't let the minority of cases where such an analysis is faulty dictate what works for the majority of cases. Any etymological errors are eventually uncovered when someone provides a more optimal solution, instead of wasting their precious time in their underwear nagging at random bloggers with a moderated commentbox.

You speak of loons in general, so maybe you're a loon...
Translation: I mistake criticism for its own sake as "Critical Thinking".

This is my most favourite one of all. Apparently in this increasingly politically-correct world, if you now even dare suggest for a moment that anyone's theories could be nonsense, you're vollied back with a childish "I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I" barb. It's an easy way out since it's less difficult than assessing the validity of a person's words more deeply. I've figured out quickly that while Lulu.com is a great place to share pdfs and books, whether free or for pay, the site itself is not effectively moderated by its administrators who think à la Ayn Rand that direct ad hominems are just "freedom of speech" and "democracy". Of course, democracy can only exist in an educated and intelligent society of constructiveness, otherwise its citizens drown in a sea of uninformed gossip and in their confusion, they begin to be brainwashed into believing that dictatorship or maoism is a better solution than democracy to maintain order. Goddess help us all.

When I advertised my free project to everyone on Lulu, I inadvertantly committed the supposed faux-pas of mentioning in general how some people in the field of Etruscology produce such horrible work that they can be considered "loons" and that this is why I'm inspired to do my project. I never named names but, sure as rain, a digimaoist by the name of Kenneth Griefer stepped up to the plate to attack my generalized, experience-based opinions by suggesting that maybe I was loony too (see my entry on Lulu: New Etruscan Dictionary Project - Draft 001 is uploaded).

Of course we could equally question this about any person or book under the sun, including Kenneth Griefer's own Lulu book entitled Messianic Mistakes: Possible Mistakes in the Messianic Proof Quotes. Unlike my general statement, his is a pointless criticism and person-directed attack. It's neither here nor there in the end and, failing the responsibility of providing facts to back up a charge against me, it's implicitly understood that intelligent readers will take up the responsibility to logically assess what they're reading on their own anyway. The wikitrend that expects us all to turn every statement into feelgood hyperpositivism is the latest, disturbing dance with the devil. Adopting an Orwellian-like language that signifies nothing at all is not going to save our species. What I had merely intended to be a quick, general statement about my deep dissatisfaction with this particular field was successfully distorted into an ad hominem in a way that would almost appear intentful but he later apologized after stating the word "loon" an innumerable amount of times. Go figure. You be the judge.

I'm a troll, screw you...
Translation: I hate my meaningless existence as others push forward without me.

In the end, my project continues on, so it begs the question why there are so many loons in this world. Oh no, did I mention the word "loon" again? Dear me, how dare I keep it real, hehe. Yep, loons exist alright. It's the truth Wikipedia doesn't want you to know. Loons are among us so if we care about the future and the world that we live in, we need to speak up and make a cause to thwart their stupidity.

I continue to have informed, fact-based opinions and I continue to express my opinions with the facts that support them. This is true democracy. Take away facts and you have an asylum. The naysaying, faux-positivist critics with shiney teeth and jagged tongues however continue to roll around in their own constructiveless dung as I write this. So why sweat it? The only way to stop negativity is to continue being shamelessly constructive and as we do, the stupidity of nihilism becomes increasingly clearer.

18 Sep 2007

Suri, the saga part 3

(Continued from Suri, the saga part 2.)

Hopefully, given what I've presented in the previous two parts of this "miniseries blog" about the supposed Etruscan deity named Suri, you should now be frightened of academic groupThink and the bibliographical game of telephone. You should be so gripped with fear that you've either soiled your pants or you have vowed to always read multiple sources of information, never stopping to ask yourself questions until you uncover the truth. I've already explained that:
  1. Etruscologists fail to define the function, gender and worship of Suri.
  2. The basis for a cult of Suri is almost solely dependent on very opaque quotes from Roman authors about Vergil's brief mention of Apollo Soractis in the Aeneid.
  3. The rest is based on the word śuri in Etruscan texts whose instances in themselves prove nothing about worship if one doesn't even understand the language.
My philosophy is that any polytheistic culture has a basic pantheon structure that they follow. There may be regional variations but there is a core pantheon somewhere in it all. Egyptians had one, Hittites had one, Babylonians had one, and even Romans had one. I don't see why Etruscans should have been so special but mysterymongers have taken hold of this subject and we need to force them to let go. When historians can't provide a coherent religious model for Etruscan, all this superfluous talk about obscure deities like Suri smells ripe. Then when historians cling to Vergil and his mythical saga of all things, for historical information about Etruscans, I get an extra pang of suspicion in my gut. The most suspect of all, however, is how reknowned Etruscologists have completely failed to note that the Greek language is already known to have a specific wordplay revolving around the cult of Apollo (read Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes, line 145) that explains entirely the true origin of Vergil's Apollo-wolf digression without the need to fantasize about Etruscans: You see, Apollo is an Anatolian god, hence he is also called "Lycian" which is also a play on the word "light" since he is a sun god afterall. And finally, he is later the "wolf", yet another purely Greek pun. Obviously, Vergil who lived in the 1st century BCE had no profound need to infuse Etruscan factoids into the Aeneid when most Etruscans were acculturated, Latin-speaking Romans by his time anyway. The motive behind his work set in the Trojan War doesn't really concern Etruscans so much as it concerns Romans and Greeks within the new Augustinian Empire. Furthermore, the importation of a Greek god on Italian soil is fully explained by Greek colonization (note Magna Gracia) without the need to ascribe every "foreign" influence to Etruscans. Mystery solved. Hopefully Etruscologists won't talk about this silly rhetoric again for fear of destroying their careers.

Now, what Etruscologists and all of us should have done from the beginning was to look at the Etruscan language itself to ascertain a true meaning for śuri. However, this takes more effort and brainpower than thumbing through Vergil's entertaining legends or staring at pretty pictures of Michelangelo's paintings looking for any random quality that appears Etruscan in origin[1]. Here are some relevant inscriptions with the word. Take a gander:

CIE 10498: savcnes śuris
CIE 11033: muras arnθ θufl śu{u}ris
TLE 290: śtasinu herma tins ceχe / sure / lusχnei

This isn't much to go on, obviously, but it's a start. The first inscription is found on a bronze plate where the last word is in the genitive. It would seem like an epithet of a god or a name of person to which this is devoted but it all hinges on what savcnes means. In CIE 11033, we have a person's name, Arnth Mura, on a votive inscription. His last name is declined in the genitive case, as is appropriate for male Etruscan names. Following this, it gets fuzzy. The next word is often taken to be an abbreviation for the goddess Thupaltha (θuplθas [TLE 654], θuflθi-cla [TLE 740]; often referred to in books with the later form Thufltha). Then, based on that assumption, and based on the assumption that the second 'u' is a scribal booboo, śuuris is then assumed to be either an epithet of this goddess or a second god Suri to which this votive inscription is supposedly also dedicated. The latter idea is far too assumptive since śuuris appears to be in the genitive case and lacks the conjunctive -c. However, if we assume that the third word is an abbreviation, then there is no guarantee that śuuris is a name so much as a descriptive, garden-variety noun or adjective. In TLE 290, lusχnei is assumed by some to be related to Italic *louksna, despite the assumption of metathesis (Brent Vine, Studies in Archaic Latin Inscriptions, p.131). Again, almost too coincidentally, it's thought by some like Pallottino that the inscription is devoted to multiple gods at once: Tins, Suri and Luna.

With everything demolished and all assumptions exposed, it's reasonable to take this whole Suri thing with a grain of salt and dare to explore other alternatives. Lately, however, I've been scanning the Tabula Capuana where I've found both savcnes and śuri, words found together in CIE 10498, but here in seperate contexts. An epithet it is not, my e-friends. The word savcnes is found in the phrase savcnes sa tirias of line 2 while in line 3 we find vacil śipir śuri Leθamsul. (Lethams is a god found inscribed on the Piacenza Liver. Don't worry, unlike Suri, this deity is kosher.) There's no sense to this last phrase if suri were an epithet or even a name because Lethams, a bona fide name of a deity, is declined in the genitive. This is surely the genitive of possession in which case we uncover a scary possibility: śuri might be a plain ol' inanimate noun after all.

The phrases still present difficulty however. The words in line 3 (vacil, śipir, śuri) all appear to be nouns in the nomino-accusative. We know that vacil means "votive", but what's the rest? I wonder if maybe in some contexts śuri acts as an adjective. The plot thickens.

[1] An example of fruitless Etruscan daydreaming is Steven Bule on page 322 of Etruscan Italy, Etruscan Influences on the Civilizations of Italy from Antiquity to the Modern Era (1996), edited by John Franklin Hall. The irony that I perceive here is that teasing out Etruscan influences in later Italian artwork is only possible if we understand who the Etruscans themselves were, however sadly, this idle speculation is so much more common than a more direct investigation that academics have made a career solely out of discussing supposed Etruscan influences in artpieces made a full millenium after the Etruscans entirely disappeared!

Ammendments to Etruscan Dictionary Draft 002

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Draft 003 is set for October 15, 2007.


As of Monday, October 14, 2007:
  • There are 912 secure items in the database.
  • There are 1090 items in total.

Oct 15, 2007

pes [type of food offering] - Modify translation: "sustenance"..
In the Tabula Cortonensis there is this phrase: pes Petrus pavac traulac (TCort, line 6). The last two words seem to be marked with the conjunctive, expressing then the pattern "both X and Y". Petrus is a male praenomen declined in the s-genitive. The grammatical structure of this phrase then must be "[pes] of Petru, both [pava] and [traula]" and it would then seem that pes is comprised of the two last words. If the two last words mean "both food and libation" (relating to funerary rites) then this word might mean something general like "sustenance" which is comprised afterall of both food and drink.

Oct 14, 2007

Atina [gentilicium] - Add item.
Declined in the genitive, Atinal, in TLE 512.
aθ "to clean" - Add item.
Attested in the middle preterite, aθene, in the Tabula Capuana (TCap xii).
auθil "cella, room of a temple" - Add item.
Another word found in the Tabula Capuana in the inessive singular (TCap xii: avθleθ)
cilθ "funerary niche" - Add item.
It has been suggested far too often that this word pertains to a deity or site of a sanctuary. This is complete nonsense and immediately falsified by the consistent application of an inanimate plural to the word! I hardly think gods are normally grammatically inanimate. To say "But anything's possible..." just doesn't cut it for me. The relevant examples are the genitive plural cilθcval (LL 7.viii) and inessive plural cilθcveti (LL 7.xiv). Certainly, given the inessive, again, it would hardly mean "in the god of Cilth". It is assuredly inanimate and indicates a kind of place from this evidence.
epni [type of offering] - modify translation: [type of animal].
Running on a hunch. It seems like the Tabula Capuana is saying to be that a sacrifice is being offered of three animals in the second section. Then after describing that, it seems to me to be saying that another sacrifice, namely "epni", is being added to the previous sacrifice. It also takes the s-genitive which is most common in animate nouns. It's all tentative at the moment but it's getting interesting.
Flanaχrina [gentilicium] - Add item.
Attested in the genitive case as Flenχrinas in ET AT 1.93.
flanzana [type of offering] - Add item.
The word flenzna is found in TLE 100.
hupni "funerary niche" - Modify translation: "ossuary".
While those of Pallottino's school translate this as "niche", I am straying away from this translation and giving it the value of an ossuary since, afterall, it is precisely on an ossuary that this word is apparently found (see TLE 53).
sacni "sacerdotal, sacred offering" - Modify translation: "soul".
See sacniiu below for further details.
sacniiu "small sacerdotal" - Modify translation: "soul, dear soul".
I see one instance of the diminutive form of sacni (found in TLE 319). Looking at the full context of the inscription (Marce Tetnies Veru sacniu), we notice that the name isn't marked for possession but remains in the nomino-accusative. This may be an indication that Marce Tetnie Verus, the full name of the deceased complete with Latin cognomen, is in fact being described with the word sacniu. In this case then, the diminutive ending might be used here as an expression of endearment. Perhaps "Marce Tetnie Verus, dear soul" or something to that effect. Whatever the translation may be, Massimo Pallottino's assignment of "sanctuary" is preposterous in most contexts save those in the Liber Linteus which he chose to translate only in piecemeal fashion.
θuniur "one each" - Modify form: θunur.
I'm just going to think of it as θun plus a distributive ending -ur. Simpler is better.
zaliur "two each" - Modify form: zalur.
Like for θuniur above, I've decided to simplify.
zuχ "to slay" - Add item.
It's found in the middle preterite zuχne (TCap xiv-xv).
zuχana "sacrifice" - Add item.
It's found in TLE 878. Of course, it's also possible that it's the same word as above. I'll figure this all out eventually.

Oct 10, 2007

trut "to give a libation, to pour" - Modify translation and form: "to be given drink; to be poured"; v.tr. -> v.i.
Most verbs in the Liber Linteus (LL) show a passive connotation so the example of LL 11.ii-iii: Trut-um θi θapneś-tś "And then the water was poured from the pitcher" is unindicative of the verb's passiveness in a pro-drop language that freely omits the subject anyway. If we can say that θ-participles only marks intransitive verbs, the existence of truθt in LL 5.xviii would hint that this is indeed a passive verb afterall. However in LL 5.xviii we have the phrase Ais cemnac truθt (ais = "god" and cemnac = adj.) where the head of the noun phrase, "god", is naturally animate and unpourable! I suggest that this verb is used differently based on the animacy of the subject. Thus "to be given drink" for animate subjects and "to be poured" for inanimate subjects. Context-dependant verbs also exist in English and many other languages (e.g. "The farmer feeds the cow." yet "The cow feeds.").

Oct 8, 2007

hil "land" - Modify translation: enclosed land.
I'm swayed by a certain convincing etymology I just discovered and I also believe that this may fit the contexts of this word in both Etruscan and Rhaetic inscriptions much better. I now feel that this isn't just any untamed land, but rather land that is in some way enclosed by borders.
hilar "to protect" - Modify translation: to enclose.
No guarantees on this one. I'm still searching for a secure translation but it seems reasonable that this verb is related to the noun hil with a denominal suffix -ar-.
tular "to mark a boundary, to encircle, to surround" - Modify translation: "to mark (as a boundary)".
I'm trying to make the translation more concise when possible.
tular "boundary stone, terminus" - Add item.
Now I have both the noun tular and the verb, which then explains the coexistence of both tularias (a plural noun in the genitive) and tularu (a passive participle).
Viśal "Faesulae [city]" - Add item.
This is based on Viśl from TLE 675, however I'm having trouble once again with "experts" who give multiple, wildly contradicting versions of the same inscription and no pictures around anywhere, of course. How annoying is that?

Oct 6, 2007

Amcie [gentilicium] - Modify form: Amicie.
Its origin is Latin name Amicius afterall and syncope takes care of -i- in later forms.
apirinθ "sanctified things" - Add item.
Apirθina [female praenomen] - Add item.
Heramina [gentilicium] - Modify form: Hirumina.
Considering the male praenomen Hirume, it wouldn't be entirely wise for me to connect this with Herame any longer, would it (TLE 867: Hirumesi "for Hirume")? As always, I will adapt. Mea culpa.
Hirume [male praenomen] - Add item.
See Heramina for further explanation.
Hulχenie [gentilicium] - Modify form: Fulχenaie.
Merging also with pre-existing gentilicium Fulχena.
neś "dead person" - Add item.
See neśna for further explanation.
neśna "sepulcher" - Add item.
I don't feel completely secure with the standard translation of the root neś- and its disturbing, forced connections to Indo-European *neḱ- "to die", but given the context of this hapax, the status quo translation is better than what I can come up with for the moment. Certainly however, there is no connection here with Indo-European and any similarities between these two roots are purely accidental.
sacniu "small sacerdotal" - Modify form: sacniiu.
Technically speaking, this word is the combination of sacni and the diminutive suffix -iu and so I opt for this more syllabic spelling even though it's attested as sacniu with only one iota in TLE 319. This is not a problem however considering the example of tiiur 'moon' which is often written tiur but is proven to also be writable with two iotas (TLE 749: tiiurś). To be clear, the second -i- is meant only to write the consonant [j] however, not a long vowel.
θes "to dawn, to rise (as of the sun)" - Modify type: v.tr. -> v.i.
Whoops, this should be intransitive since the verb merely conveys a state. It's participle form must also be *θesθ as a result which then might explain the etymology of attested word θesθu "eastward".
Θestia [female praenomen] - Add item.
Veru [cognomen] - Add item.
A foreign name, like all Etruscan cognomen so it seems, based on Latin verus "truth". The name is attested in TLE 319.

Oct 4, 2007

Hulχenie [male praenomen] - Modify form: Fulχenaie.
The name is equivalent to the Latin name Fulcinius. After changing the 'h' to 'f', I also felt compelled to merge this entry with my pre-existing record, Fulχena, also a gentilicium. All of this is now under Fulχenaie. Most efficient.

Oct 3, 2007

Lusce [male praenomen] - Modify translation: [cognomen].
I'm breaking down and accepting some names as cognomen. I have a minimalistic approach and wanted to do my homework on Etruscan cognomen to be sure. It appears that the name Lart Vipi Lusce in the Tabula Cortonensis demonstrates clearly that some Etruscan names did indeed have Latin-derived cognomen from time to time, although it doesn't seem to be the norm in Etruria. The name Lusce is of course from the Latin adjective luscus "half-blind" and not Etruscan.
Palpe [cognomen] - Add item.
From the Latin cognomen Balbus.
Tiφile [gentilicium] - Add item.
From the Greek name Δίφιλος.
Venu [male praenomen] - Add item.
Found in the genitive in both TLE 331 and TLE 711.

Oct 2, 2007

Nufrizna [gentilicium] - Modify form: Nuparzina.
The name is not only written in the genitive as Nufrznal in ET Pe 1.307 but also represented in Latin as Noborsinia in CIE 3864. The Latin form suggests that -f- was softened from an earlier unaspirated -p-, which would have sounded much like a 'b' to Roman ears.
Papas [gentilicium] - Add item.
I'm not sure yet but there is a Greek name Πάπιας Papias which I'm thinking might be related to this. It wouldn't be the first Greek name in Etruscan (c.f. Heraclite, from Greek Ηρακλείδης Hērakleidēs) .
Sutarina [gentilicium] - Add item.
Not only found as Sutrinaś in CIE 4469 but the name is also confirmed in Latin as Sudernia (CIE 837), based on an unmarked nomino-accusative form. Unaspirated Etruscan stops like 't' are normally represented in Latin as voiced stops.

Sep 30, 2007

Semala [deity] - Add item.
Found on a mirror (CII 2468) as Semla.

Sep 29, 2007

Caiie [gentilicium] - Add item.
Carcu [gentilicium] - Add item.
Carχvana [gentilicium] - Modify form: Carcvana.
Carχvanaie [gentilicium] - Modify form: Carcvanaie.
Festaraie [gentilicium] - Modify form: Vestaraie.
Haθlia [male praenomen] - Add item.
Haθlials is found in TLE 324, indicating family descent with a double genitive.
hevan "every, each" - Modify form: heva.
TLE 635 shows heva. If the word is declined like a demonstrative pronoun, the nominative is unmarked while the accusative is marked in -n.
Latiiu [gentilicium] - Add item.
Ramvaza [female praenomen] - Modify form: Remza.
Tute [male praenomen] - Modify translation: [gentilicium].
Tlapu [gentilicium] - Modify form: Talápu.
Tlapuna [gentilicium] - Modify form: Talápuna.
Vipieθu "member of the Vipie family" - Add item.

Sep 28, 2007

ca "this" - Deleting one entry under it: ka.
This is from TLE 920 that Pallottino claims contains ka, while others claim ica. Obviously, the crux of this disagreement lies in whether it's iota followed by gamma, or whether the two are part of the same letter kappa. Considering that the text dates to the 1st c. BCE when a spelling with kappa wasn't common anymore, I would have to reject Pallottino here and accept a typical 1st century spelling of the word. It helps to have the picture before me as well (click here for a drawing of it online published in Studi Etruschi; a search for 'tusuvas' in this book yields the picture). Grrrr, damn these insidious, transcription lies.
Ciiarθia [male praenomen] - Add item.
Tusnu [gentilicium] - Add item.
Venel [gentilicium] - Modify translation: [male praenomen].
Stupid typo. Consider it eradicated.

Sep 27, 2007

hiiuls "owl" - Add item.
Found confirmation of the word hiuls found in TLE 333 (aka ET Vc 7.1) that Pallottino claimed means "screech-owl" although I'm still looking for a clear picture of it to know precisely what this analysis is based on. I wouldn't suppose anyone has a clear picture to share... would they? I've added a second 'i' in the heading form due to phonotactic reasons; the second 'i' serves as consonantal glide [j], thereby evening out the syllable structure.
Laranθ [male praenomen] - Add item.
The syncopated form Larnθ is found in TLE 606.
Scarpe [gentilicium] - Add item.
Found in TLE 606.

Sep 26, 2007

Atiie [gentilicium] - Add item.
Found in the genitive in TLE 105.
Carsu [gentilicium] - Add item.
Found in the locative in TLE 108.
Curuna [gentilicium] - Add item.
Found in the genitive in TLE 104.
em "to take away" - Modify translation: "to remove"
That just makes it more to-the-point, n'est-ce pas?
Metru [male praenomen] - Add item.
Found in TLE 370 in the phrase Metru menece.
namer "cup" - Add item.
Although there is already the word naper "cup" in my list, namer is clearly inscribed in the photo I have of TLE 366 (aka Vetulonia's Cup), and naper is clearly inscribed in a photo I have of the Cippus Perusinus. I believe the words are related but their distinct forms may require separate entries. I still haven't found the etymological origin of this word that might offer a clue.
siianś - Deleting a genitive-inflected entry: sanśaś.
Pallottino makes reference to a word sanśaś which in fact is a corruption of the text in TLE 104 (n.b. Rix transcribes it as two words: sam . man). I side with Rix because the latter makes better sense in the context. Furthermore, siianś is otherwise a type II noun (i.e. it takes l-genitive) as in sanśl inscribed in TLE 624 and 651. Damn you, Pallottino, and your pretend words! Grrr.
Sisupe "Sisyphus [myth]" - Add item.
Y'know, that guy, Sisyphus. The guy pushing a giant rock up a steep hill in the bowels of Hades forever and ever and ever. Sucks to be him. The name is found in TLE 89.
Svincina [gentilicium] - Add item.
It smells suspiciously of a missegmentation of "marces vincina" with the first name in the genitive into "marce svincina" (since Vinacena is already attested) but I'll pretend it's a separate name for now.
tuθina - Modify type and translation: adj. -> ni.(II); "of the community" -> "district".

Sep 24, 2007

Fanacna [gentilicium] - Add item.
Present in TLE 652 in the genitive Fanacnal which I just recently blogged about in More published errors on Etruscan.
Fulvenia [gentilicium] - Modify form: Fuluvenia
Based on the gentilicium Fuluve.
hil "property, private land" - Modify translation: "land"
Logical simplification is godliness.
iś [type of offering] - Modify translation: "tray"
Iχśiun [myth] - Add item.
An Etruscanized name for Greek Ixion.
lup "to cross over, to pass on" - Delete duplicate.
Don't worry. I'm on top of it. It's a side-effect of my lazy programming. I know where the bug lies and I just need to get up off my ass and fix it. Sometimes when I modify entries, it creates an unintended duplicate if I do things in a certain way. Grrr. Computers! Bah! :)
malvá "to be blessed" - Modify type: v.tr. -> v.i.
The verb should be intransitive, naturally. Oopsy daisy. Also I found the expected intransitive passive participle form (muleθ) hiding in a corner of TLE 173. There ya go, little buddy, now you can join your friends in the malvá entry. Hehe.
Paziethe [gentilicium] - Modify form: Pazieθe.
I improperly coded the theta. Another typo successfully eradicated.
Ramaθa [female praenomen] - Modify form: Ramvaθa.
While forms like Ramuθa can be blamed on syncope (reduction of 'a' to schwa written as 'u', one might claim), I have another verb ramva [action regarding sacrificial animals] in the database. I really think that this is where the name comes from, with the feminine ending -θa attached as we see in lautniθa 'freewoman'.
Ramaza [female praenomen] - Modify form: Ramvaza.
For the same reasons as Ramaθa above.

Sep 23, 2007

Apulie [gentilicium] - Modify form: Apulaie
Already have a name Apula (ET Cm 2.2: Apulas) on which it's naturally based.
Caia [female praenomen] - Modify form: Caiia.
This name is based on the male form Cai with a feminine ending attached.
Eiasun [myth] - Modify form: Aiásun.
It just makes better sense to me. The name is of Greek origin but the prothetic vowel is due to the pan-Aegean phonotactic peculiarity which prevents words from beginning with [j]. The same disregard for initial [j] is noticeable in Minoan inscriptions where words beginning with A- can also be written with the character for YA-. I can't believe no one noticed that peculiarity besides me. Oh well.
eliunθ "olive farmer" - Modify form: elaiunθ.
The word is attested as eliunθ in the Tabula Cortonensis however it's understood by scholars that the word is of Greek origin, namely, ελαιϝών. I would think that the earliest form of this word had the diphthong as it appears in Greek but that syncope eroded the word down as it did with all others.
epni [type of offering] - Delete duplicate.
I hang my head in shame. Even worse, one of the entries had epninai while the other had epnina based on TLE 28. Part of the problem is that I'm still confused about what the word means. If anyone can take a crack at figuring out what Rix transcribes as "epninaitale" and the rest of this text, be my guest.
Tlamunus [gentilicium] - Modify form: Talámunus.
It's from Greek Τελαμώνιος showing that a vowel between tau and lambda probably existed originally before syncope took over in Etruscan.
van [intransitive verb of unknown meaning] - Add item.
The word may exist as vane-c with the conjunctive -c "and" in the Tabula Capuana (TCap 2.xv). I think it's also a reasonable possibility that the verb is the source of the Etruscan goddess name Vanth which would then be a descriptive participle of the deity's function or qualities. Even more interesting is if that is true, the verb is intransitive because of its choice of participial ending. (It seems that transitive participles take -u instead.)
Velθiena [gentilicium] - Modify form: Velθaiena.
Derived from the name Velθaie which in turn is based on velθa.
Velθienaθu "Velthiena family member" - Modify form: Velθaienaθu.

Sep 22, 2007

am "to be" - Modify type: v.tr. -> v.i.
Silly me. Yes, yes, I know, the verb "to be" is an intransitive verb since it describes a state of being, not an action, but I was too busy entering in tonnes of data to pay attention to these details. I just automatically made the default verb type "transitive" by default. Bah! Out, out, damn spot!

Sep 21, 2007

ecina "hedgehog" - Modify form and translation: ecnia [animate noun of unknown meaning].
Okay, this translation is giving me the sweats. So far, I need more input and while it's tempting to link it to Greek, I'm going to play it safe for now and just call it a type-I animate noun with unknown meaning until I find something more substantial. Whatever the real meaning of genitive ecnas, it is likely that it's related to ecnia on the Magliano Tablet, which would represent the nomino-accusative form. Depalatalization of 'i' after liquids like 'n' is well attested in various words and names (e.g. Turnu < *Turaniu "little Turan").
Truia "Troy [city]" - Add item.
I can't believe I missed that important one. Apologies. We have both Truia [TLE 74] in the nomino-accusative case and Truies [TLE 329] in the genitive.

Sep 19, 2007

ecina "hedgehog" - Add item.
Okay, I'm honestly not going to bet my life on this one. However, if this is borrowed from Greek echinos "hedgehog" (specifically Doric dialect like all the other Greek borrowings in Etruscan), then TLE 75 is apparently speaking about "a sacrifice of a hedgehog" (in the genitive: ecnas). Is that a typical offering to give? Is there precedent in Roman religion? I honestly need to verify this... {searching, searching}... No way! Blow me down: [link]!! Hahaha. Excuse me while I laugh myself to death! (See September 20, 2007 under ecina)
hivu [type of libation offering] - Add item.
niθu [type of libation offering] - Add item.
snena "on top, over" - Add item.
On lines 16 and 17 of the Tabula Capuana.
tiria "metal; metallic" - Add adjective and noun.
Found on the Tabula Capuana, appearing to modify the noun tar without further endings. However, it is found in the genitive on the first line in the phrase savcnes sa tirias, making me feel that it's also a noun on its own. This behaviour is similar to how vacil "votive" is used. There is probably little distinction made between noun and adjective in Etruscan in general, similar to the situation in Latin and its daughter languages, e.g. bona "good" (adj.) -> "the good" (n.f.).
urθan "to give, to offer" - Modify form: urθ.
It seems TLE 75 has urθri, showing that the root is in fact urθ-. So attested urθanike must then be the middle perfect preterite.
ziula "burnt offering" - Add item.
It's found twice on the Tabula Capuana in the genitive case (on lines 16 and 17). I'm very excited about this word for morphological reasons that shall remain mysterious for now.

Sep 18, 2007

śuri [unknown inanimate noun] - Modify translation and type: "bronze"; ni.(II) -> ni.(II) & adj.
I'm working on a hunch. It seems that bronze is a material that follows this word around. It's written on bronze plates and bronze statuettes. Seems reasonable but I will pursue this vector further to see where it takes me. On the Tabula Capuana then, vacil śipir śuri may refer to a bronze votive object called a śipir... whatever the hell a śipir is supposed to be.


Sep 22, 2007: My system is now hyperlink enabled

I coded a really cool addition to my web-based system so that I can hyperlink different language databases I have together and also to relate different words within the same database together with ease. Using Wikipedia-like syntax, I just enter "{{l dbs itemID}}" into any word entry where dbs is the short code for the database (min = minoan, ecyp = eteocypriot, etr = etruscan) and itemID is the automatically generated number referring to a particular word entry. You may say... "So what???" at which point I go "Are you kidding me, people??". The cool thing is that I programmed the system to automatically display the gobbleygook above as the word and its translation in question. So, when I relate one word to another, whatever I change in one entry will automatically change all entries that link to it! Borg power, baby!

15 Sep 2007

Etruscan Dictionary Draft 002 now available

Yesterday, I started my audit of the current version of my database to prepare for a less messy "Draft 002" of my Etruscan Dictionary. I should have started earlier but I'm such a lazy jackass. Phew! What a job that was. This list is getting huge!

Download Etruscan Dictionary Draft 002 for free.

And as you know, the project is ongoing, possibly neverending, as I try to hone the list and collect for each word plausible etymologies, claims from various scholars, brief reasons why a popular translation may not work and what alternatives there are, and any relevant Aegean cognates (in Lemnian, Rhaetic, Eteo-Cypriot, etc). If anyone is familiar with managing data, knowledge is more like a network than a consecutive list. Each piece of information connects with any number of other pieces of information. So if you change one thing, it can cause an exhilarating cascade of changes in related items that only a logical stoic would appreciate.

I try to keep consistency and data integrity in check. I'm thinking of adapting my database program to display interrelated words better. My system doesn't yet allow hyperlinked items to other words in my language databases but I'm going to have to start. The Perseus website does this and aside from the unintuitive layout and visually blinding hideousness of the site, it's functional as long as you have the patience to wait five minutes to upload just one of their pages. (Um... is there something wrong with their tech people?) At any rate, linked information makes things simpler than traditional notes, so I'm going to have to start coding like the dickens in the next few weeks.

I will schedule Draft 003 next month: Oct 15 2007. Seems fair enough. Plus, I really like the lunar cycle.

13 Sep 2007

Suri, the saga part 2

(Continued from Suri, the saga part 1.)

I couldn't help myself and had to draw a diagram to illustrate the merry-go-round I find myself on whenever I try to find information on this supposed Etruscan deity, Suri. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. It's a caveat that applies to historical research in general. Hope you enjoy:

So as I explained previously, we know that this Etruscan deity called "Suri" has no defined mythological function (i.e. He's the sun and the underworld.), has no defined gender (i.e. referred to as both a "god" and a "goddess"), and is tied to a bunch of Latin word lookalikes based purely on folktales, not proper linguistic methodology (e.g. sors, Soracte, Soranus).

This in itself is proof of a low academic bar of excellence, but I'm afraid it gets much worse because:

  1. Anecdotes from Roman authors are misrepresented and mangled.
  2. Quotes from Romans and idle assumptions are confused as true evidence for a cult of Suri.
  3. The deity's image however has never been found to date on any Etruscan artifact.
To prove the existence of Suri, Etruscologists cling to a few vague references in Vergil's Aeneid or to its commentaries by Servius written a few centuries after Vergil. It shouldn't have to be said that the Aeneid is primarily a tale and only secondarily a historical reference to begin with. Hardly dependable for historical accuracy. The fact that anyone would cite Servius quoting Vergil telling his tale so clearly laced with flamboyant artistic licence as positive proof of some historical practice is as screwy to me as people quoting Genesis to disprove evolution.

Let's however pretend for the sake of arguement that these are valid sources of information on Etruscan mythology. Etruscologists mention the priests called Hirpi Sorani and the deity known as Apollo Soractis. It's common practice for historians in this field to carelessly mangle the names together to produce unattested hybrids of their own like *Hirpi Soracte and *Apollo Soranus[1]. This is what ad.Aen. 11.785 states word for word:

"[...] et superos Arruns sic voce precature: "Summe deum, sancti custos Soractis, Apollo, quem primi colimus, cui pineus ardor acervo pascitur et medium freti pietate per ignem cultores multa premimus vestigia pruna."

"[...] and to the heavens Arruns thus cries out: "O chief of the gods, sacred guardian of Soracte, Apollo, whom we worship foremost, whom is fed a heap of burning pines and into the blaze passing through the fire we plant firmly our soles on burning coal."
It clearly says Soracte (the mountain), not Soranus, and the connection of mountain worship to sun cults is self-evident: standing on a mountain brings you closer to the Sun. While an Apollo cult is indicative of Greek influence, what does this concretely have to do with Etruscans?

The tale of the Hirpi Sorani is equally misrepresented. Erika Simon claims[2]: "In cult, as Giovanni Colonna has shown, Aplu could be equated with Suri (= Latin Soranus), who, like Aita, had the wolf as his attribute." Basically, she is quoting secondary or tertiary sources, perhaps for no other reason other than to namedrop impressive scholars. The primary source we should focus on here is in fact Festus (Fest. 93,25), not Colonna, who speaks of certain local priests: "Irpini appellati nomine lupi, quem irpum dicunt Samnites; eum enim ducem secuti agros occupavere." which translates as "They are called irpini, the name of the wolf, which the Samnites call irpus; following a wolf they arrived at their later domain." But just because a deity is worshipped in Sora or on Mount Soracte doesn't mean that it is the same as another deity in Sora or on Mount Soracte. The connections here are too simplistic and sweeping. There's not even a guarantee that the accounts are accurately recorded or exaggerations by these authors. Finally, I really don't understand why an account about Samnites is assumed automatically to reflect on Etruscan practices, but I suspect that it has something to do with the Victorian Age when Etruscans were mistaken to be Italic peoples. Quite frankly, if we worry about all these trivial distractions, we'll never learn a darn thing. So it's best to shake our heads, start afresh, and look for primary sources. And when I emphasize primary sources here, I'm talking about actual Etruscan artifacts and inscriptions and only those things. Not tales from Romans, not hearsay by modern authors. I'm talking about Etruscan artifacts.

Sadly, there are none. If you don't believe me, then believe Nancy De Grummond herself, who both pushes this cult of Suri but then admits to her discredit on page 133 in Etruscan Myth, Sacred History, and Legend (2006):

"As for Suri, it is most unfortunate that we do not have any inscribed images of this deity nor do we know his appearance."
It's perhaps most unfortunate to the reader who has to read through this big heap of confusing rhetoric before being directly and honestly told this important fact.

So then, the remaining question about the cloudy deity is what people are talking about when they speak of "votive inscriptions to Suri". What inscriptions? Are they really what they claim they are or just more assumptions? Stay tuned.

(Continue reading Suri, the saga part 3...)

[1] Francesco De Angelis in summer 2006 edition of Etruscan News, a newsletter edited by respected Etruscologist Larissa Bonfante out of the University of Massuchussetts, refers to "Apollo Soranus(sic)" which he says is "in the Faliscan territory, with its peculiar priests able to walk on hot coals". He's clearly referring to Vergil but he's being too loose with his paraphrasing.
[2] De Grummond/Simon, The Religion of the Etruscans (2006) on page 57 under Aplu/Apulu.