6 Jul 2009
You're probably all tired of all this talk of eggs lately and the rotten stench of my stale ramblings are probably overwhelming at this point. Well, tant pis pour vous, mes camarades. Lol. This is my blog afterall and I've still got Etruscan eggs on the brain. There's a nagging passage in the Liber Linteus that I want to address now and this is in connection with my hypothesis that luθ could mean 'egg'.
Let's examine the three lines of LL 6.xvii, xviii and xix:
eslem . zaθrumiś . acale . tinś . in . śarle
luθti . raχ . ture . acil . caticaθ . luθ . celθim
χim . scuχie . acil . hupniś . painiem.
Since it seems that no linguists to date have conclusively cracked this portion of the ancient text yet, we're left to our own devices to decipher it ourselves. So I take liberty here, based on what I understand of Etruscan grammar at this point, to divvy up the punctuationless text above into clear sentences as follows:
Eslem zaθrumiś Acale, Tinś in śarle.
Luθ-ti raχ, ture acil.
Caticaθ luθ cel-θi-m.
Χi-m, scuχie acil hupniś.
Now, let's start with what we know. (Naturally!) We know that the opening phrase Eslem zaθrumiś Acale is a calendar date meaning "On the 18th (day of the month of) Acale". Acale is glossed as Aclus in Papias' Liber Glossarum and associated with the Roman month of Iunus (ie. June). Next, while tinś could also mean "of the day" and thus part of the previous phrase, it could also mean "for Tin", Tin being the deity to whom the rite to be yet described is devoted. While the verb in the following phrase is a hapax, we may reasonably conclude that in śarle means "it was śaril-ed".
In the second line, ture means "(they) gave" and is the simple preterite of tur 'to give', matching the verb tense of the previous sentence. So the second line seems to have a structure suggesting the interpretation "Raχ-ing in the luθ, they gave acil."
In the third line, only cel-θi-m can be understood without controversy as "then in the earth" since cel is earth, -θi is the inessive postclitic "in", and -m is a phrasal conjunctive meaning "and so" or "then". This sentence is without explicit verb, emphasized by the fact that the phrasal conjunctive marks a noun rather than a verb as it normally does.
In the last line, only hupniś can be read with some confidence, referring to something going "to the tomb chamber", if the Bonfantes' published translation is correct at all.
Evidently, as a whole, this inscription is talking about a funerary rite of some kind but what gets interesting is when this inscription is understood in the light of my idea that luθ means 'egg'. From my perspective, Tin, as sun god and head of the pantheon, is the recipient of devotion. Then we would read here that an offering is presented (ture) to the solar deity by placing something inside an egg (luθ-ti raχ). It could be a real egg, but more practically-speaking likelier to be a clay egg, as was used for burials and other rituals by both Greeks and by Egyptians. The next sentence, Caticaθ luθ cel-θi-m, may then mean something like "Then this very egg (is placed) in the earth." We get the impression that something must be buried because of the next funerary word, hupniś.
Egg burial?? Death of an egg? Hmmm, where have I seen this death/rebirth rite in Etruria before... Oh yes, the Pyrgi tablets, written in both Punic and Etruscan, which make it clear that Etruscans worshipped the death and rebirth of a deity at some point in the year. Smith in Origins of Biblical Monotheism (2001) on page 118 interestingly states: "Although this inscription suggests the death of some god, no one knows which god was involved. (The only deity mentioned by name in the inscription is the sun-god in line 5, and there is no need to connect him with the referent found in the dating formula.)" Perhaps there's more reason than Smith realizes...
Consider that your high-protein food for thought for today.