29 Apr 2010

Truth will shine forth (2)

(Continued from Truth will shine forth (1).)

Isn't this medieval Christian image glorious? I don't mean glorious in a faith sense since I'm a heartless atheist who equates baseless faith with cognitive dysfunction. No, I mean glorious in how it captures the solar divinity in Etruscan mythology. Oh wait, I forgot, I have to explain this currently unknown trinity before you're let in on this exquisitely divine joke.

According to my previous blog entry, the supreme god of the Etruscan pantheon, Tinia, was split into three specialized functions by ancient priests: Tin Thufl, Tin Thneth and Tin Cilensl. I reject the overwhelmingly popular mistranslation of tin as 'sky' which has led to stupid yet unchallenged paradoxes by numerous noted specialists. As will be seen, 'sun' is the correct value, thereby making this ancient trinity a solar one with its ultimate origin lying in Asia Minor and Egypt.

Tin Thufl 'Sun of Oath'

Tin Thufl is the sun in his function as lord of justice. With Etruscan θuf properly translated as 'oath' and equated with Latin fidius, Tin Thufl too may be equated with Fidius, the Roman god. This aspect may be associated not only with oath and testimony but with truth and justice as a whole (cf. Greek Ζεὺς Πίστιος, Sabine Sancus). He might remind us of Babylonian Shamash and his like position as supreme judge. We might also infer that he was, like Shamash, the source of omen and patron of augurs. He is also connected with sacral boundaries, their disputes and their resolutions (cf. Roman Iupiter Terminus). He is the daytime sun at zenith, in all its glory, highest of high (cf. Roman Iupiter Optimus Maximus). Thus it makes sense that he takes central position on the liver between his other two facets. He reigns directly above within the glowing face of the sky as its All-Seeing Eye atop a conceptual, triadic pyramid but this is hardly the New World Order; it's rather quite old actually. In a Dumézilian sense, if I'm permitted to indulge, this is clearly Tinia's judicio-religious function.

Tin Thneth 'Thundering Sun'

Tin Thneth may be conceived of as fundamentally the sun towards the evening with aggressive elements of storm, thunder and lightning added to emphasize a warrior role. The giver of rain and reliever of droughts (cf. also Roman Iupiter Pluvius). I interpret θne as an abbreviation for the word *θneθ 'thundering', a stative participle of *θun 'to thunder' which in turn is an early borrowing from Latin tonēre. In this way, Tin Thneth means precisely the same as Latin Iupiter Tonans and refers to the same specific god, an originally Etruscan one.

Tin Cilensl 'Sun from Darkness'

From its meaning, Tin Cilensl must be the sun rising out of the darkness of night and the darkness of the underworld below. After shining over the dead in Aita (Hades) during the night, the sun emerges from Cilens, the Darkness. One may confidently identify the many Etruscan scarabs found as indicative of this protective, afterworld solar aspect also popular in Ancient Egypt under the name Khepri 'the Becoming One' with his death-rebirth symbolism. Tin Cilens may be summarized as Tinia in his earthly life-giving role, particularly in spring.

Yet one more reason why Etruscan tin cannot mean 'sky'

Note, if tin meant 'sky' as is the current mistranslation of all famed Etruscanists to date, there is therefore no meaningful semantic difference between Tin Cilensl *'Sky of Night' and Cilens 'Night', yet we know they're different gods because they're placed side-by-side each with their own distinct sections on the border of the Piacenza Liver. This is how the explanations offered by current specialists are stagnant and incompetent. For example, notice how De Grummond and company trip over their own reasoning when claiming that *both* Cilens and Tin Cilens are God of Night between page 149 and page 48 of Etruscan myth, sacred history, and legend (2006) without addressing the paradox. Jannot in his Religion in ancient Etruria (2005) likewise lumps Cilens and Tin Cilens under a same lazy "Underworld conceptual blob" on page 164 wasting the ink of two long paragraphs and the reader's time by essentially saying, "I have no clue." Nothing new in Etruscan mythology has been learned for the past 60 years? It's hard to believe.

So let's now separate ourselves from the clueless and finally understand that Cilens himself is the true Night Sky while Tin Cilensl is the hidden Underworld Sun, also expressed by Tinia Calusna 'Underwordly Tinia'. Furthermore, let's now stop misinterpreting Tin Cilensl as the God of Death par excellence, which is already represented by Aita.

26 Apr 2010

The Etruscan temple, now with more yummy detail

My work continues on and it's pretty addictive. I've always loved 3D and details so I'm really getting my rocks off doing this model. I'm still pondering on how I'm going to dress this building up. What colours? What objects do you put in it? What would an Etruscan temple look like inside one of those rooms? Here's also the side view thus far...

23 Apr 2010

Truth will shine forth (1)

It amuses me that the mythos of ancient pagan Etruria, later to be the seat of Catholicism, just so happens to show evidence of a trinity built around the all-seeing Tinia in much the same way as the modern Catholic Trinity is built around the all-seeing Yahweh. But Etruscans win; they thought of it first. Tinia was the head of the Etruscan pantheon, the god of all gods. Neither Father Murphy nor the average modern Etruscanist will likely tell you the following because between religious extremism, mystery marketing, and the aimless pedantry of teasing meaning out of the nebulous Martianus Capella, no matter how futile, it seems that simple common sense is having a hard time competing for air time.

Evidence for a solar trinity is right there on the Piacenza Liver (illustrated above) where three incarnations of Tinia are recorded in abbreviated form side-by-side on its border, on the right-hand side above (tin. cilen., tin. θvf., and tins θne.), and only after these three portions do we find the section for his consort, Uni (here written as uni mae, equivalent to Roman Juno Maia).

Since the forms are abbreviated here and since these epithets appear to be hapaxes, one can only surmise the full forms. From what I know of Etruscan grammar, the full epithets are perhaps best read as Tin Cilensl, Tin Thufl and Tin Thneth. (Tins is merely a genitive case form meant to refer to the region *of* the deity in question and these suffixes were added off-and-on by the artist of the bronze liver due to spatial constraints. Thus, Cilensl too marks the region *of* Cilens, for example.)

Tinia's epithets find clear equivalents in Roman religion (and even Umbrian and Ancient Greek religions) lest anyone feign doubt:
The source of these three faces of the God of Gods isn't very transparent from the perspective of Roman mythology alone and that's partly because these epithets are Etruscan in origin, grounded in Near Eastern beliefs that Etruscans imported to Italy from Anatolia at the onset of the 1st millennium BCE. Once we shed the Indo-European-biased mistranslation of tin as 'sky' and acknowledge that it means 'sun', we now are witness to three solar incarnations reminiscent of Egyptian religion. More later.

Read onward: Truth will shine forth (2).

20 Apr 2010

I heart guts

Here's a psychotic link for laughs directed towards a website called I Heart Guts that specializes in bodily organs for the next generation of serial killers. It artfully bastardizes history for cheap marketing. No more of that complicated text stuff that makes our noodles hurt 'n stuff. Bleh! Everything can be understood with distracting street slang! YAY! Here's an excerpt.
"Before humans understood the circulation system, the liver was thought to be the body’s most important organ, being as it is the biggest, heaviest and baddest of them all."
Yes, that liver is a bad cat. Boy, we can all dig that random jive, can't we? And what's that creepy orange blob behind the Piacenza Liver photo? I guess it's supposed to be another liver but I've never seen an orange one before, let alone a smiley one. It's the worst photoshopping I've seen so far, yet it's too tragically deranged to keep my eyes away from. It almost makes me want to check into a hospital and get myself a helping of heroine.

The pièce de resistance: Part of their revenue stream relies predictably on "organ clothing". And before you ask the obvious, yes, they even have 'ovary & testis' panties.

17 Apr 2010

Thoughts on the etymology of Greek ἀκακαλίς

According to Perseus Online, ἀκακαλίς is equivalent to νάρκισσος 'narcissus, daffodil'. Some like Jennifer Larson in Greek nymphs: Myth, cult, lore[1] suspect that it could be Pre-Greek but, as always with these sorts of ideas, people are vague about the five Ws. Beekes too proclaims the word Pre-Greek[2] but is vague about what this elusive original word looked like, what it ultimately signified and what precise "Pre-Greek" language we're dealing with. I'm here to suggest something bold and off-the-wall: The word is just plain ol' Greek.

What tipped me off was, for starters, a casual search in the Perseus' Greek dictionary using the search string akak*. I like to begin here when investigating any etymological case labeled Pre-Greek because it makes it easy to find straight-forward native derivations beginning with the same sequence of letters. Fortunately most of Classical Greek's derivations were very regular and the root is normally at the beginning of the word unless a prefix has been attached. If so, one may use the "words containing" rather than "words starting with" tab.

Now in this search list, there was nothing terribly clear to me at first. The word ἄκακος was interesting but it only means 'unknowing of ill, guileless' and it's hard to immediately see why this should be connected with flowers. Yet, a strange instinct compelled me to check this word out further, just in case. Nothing. Then there was another word in the list, ἀκάκης, with two links marked LSJ and Middle Liddell. Clicking first on Middle Liddell, it only mentioned that the word was a poetic form of ἄκακος. Again, zip. So I checked the LSJ entry out of sheer hopelessness. BINGO! There, unassuming and in abbreviated form, it briefly states "epith. of Hades".

That's it! An epithet of Hades, the god of the underworld and death! This harks back to my aptly named post Death and daffodils where I explored a possible native etymology of ἀσφοδελός 'the netherworld asphodel meadow' effectively meaning 'the meadow (ἕλος) not (ἀ-) [reduced to] ashes (σποδός)" or 'unashen meadow'.

So now we have an interesting connection between ἄκακος ~ ἀκάκης 'naive, guileless', Hades and its apparent derivative ἀκακαλίς. Note too that the mythical egoist Narcissus did naively drown to death by his own reflection at water's edge before the narcissus flower (daffodil) rose up in his place, a symbol then of death and rebirth. Thus it's a native word, making Beekes' judgement false in this case.

[1] Larson, Greek nymphs: Myth, cult, lore (2001), p.187 (see link).
[2] See Beekes, Greek Etymological Dictionary: ἀκακαλίς.

14 Apr 2010

More work on the Etruscan temple

Phew. Building temples, even cyberspace ones, is a lot of work but as monumental a task as it seems, I'm still up for this visual-spatial challenge I started out a few days ago and I can't keep my eyes off the screen, enamoured by my virtual omnipotence. Why, I could build anything! The creative possibilities boggle the mind. What details can I add? What should I focus on now? Even if I fail miserably, the delete button is always just a click away. Then again, failure is truly owned by those that never try. Let's see what we got now.

Not perfect but we're getting there. And here below is a side view. I was attempting to imitate the terracotta elements along the roof edge that I see in the image I'm going by. If only I had a bigger image though of the intricate details and maybe I could be more accurate.

Still, not bad for an honest day's work, I must say. But even God rested from time to time so I believe it's time for a much-needed sandwich break.

12 Apr 2010

New info on 'lily'

After my last post just beforehand I ended up finding a slew of more 'lily' loanwords and relevant info. A new pattern is starting to reveal itself that adds to what I previously said. Previously I justified a Minoan reconstruction *léri (Lat lilium, Gk leirion) with *e rather than a possible alternative *ai and this is helped along by the Greek geographical name Lerna which may specifically attest to *e if meaning '(Place) of Lillies'. If this turns out to be off the mark, nonetheless ne'er a critic can question the power of my imagination.

But check this out now:
Despite displaying a more generalized meaning 'flower', the words may very well be related to 'lily' as many argue[1]. But exactly how? The curse here is the persistent ignorance and avoidance of establishing Egyptian vocalism in words. The chic thing to do is simply write the consonants and leave any mention of vowel reconstructions to stuffy academics who publish obscure works well beyond the hands of the general public, hidden somewhere in some journal perhaps rather than out in the open in general references which opt to err on such a safe side as to shun any informative position altogether on the etymology, assigning it nebulous catch-all phrases like "from Pre-Greek" or "from an unknown Mediterranean source". WHY??? What on earth is wrong with being accurate? Aside from Adolf Erman's casual attempt of *réret, I see no other mention online of what the vowels in this particular word may be. All these purely consonantal transcriptions do is mire everything in artificial mystery. Let's piece this together ourselves then.

In the Sahidic dialect of Coptic, the word has become ϩρⲏρⲉ with its feminine termination -ⲉ securely from Middle Egyptian *-at /-aʔ/. Its letter eta may be traced back ultimately to Old Egyptian *ū but, somewhere in the second millenium BCE, Loprieno educates us that it had already become [2]. This points me then to an original *ḥarūrat becoming *ḥarērat /ħə'ɾe:ɾəʔ/ at precisely the time we need to source the lurking Minoan term with just a slight modification: *aléri. I had missed the unaccented initial vowel so common in Minoan and which must reflect the Egyptian first syllable /ħə/. This then establishes the Hittite form as a borrowing directly from Minoan and which in turn implies that specialization to 'lily' came after this time. Lerna can now point to earlier *Alérina without problems considering Diktē < *Adíkituna.

(2010 Apr 13) Correction in "In the Sahidic dialect of Coptic, the word has become xrere [...]". Should be hrēre, a plain /h/. Thanks to fiosachd. And upon closer inspection, unaccented *a in Egyptian should be /ə/, not /a/. As I say, it's nice to be accurate.
(2010 Apr 14) Chuck Coleman corrects further: /hrerə/ (eta = short /e/ in Coptic). Upon reading further, this may indeed be more accurate and yet it dangerously strays us off topic. Ergo, all indication of Coptic phonetics in my above account has been eradicated in order to return to the main matters: 1) the etymology of 'lily', and 2) the vocalism of ḥrr.t 'flower' in the 2nd millennium BCE.

[1] Brown, Israel and Hellas - Vol. 3 (2001), p.46 (see link); Puhvel, Hittite etymological dictionary - Vol. 1 Words beginning with A (1984), p.33.
[2] Loprieno, Ancient Egyptian: A linguistic introduction (1995), p.38 (see link).

The place of lilies

More on the topic of Minoan floral terms initiated by Andras Zeke in Minoan Language Blog: Flower gardens of Ancient Crete, I've been recently pensive about the exact form we should reconstruct for the Minoan word for 'lily'. I believe there's little doubt that of all possible languages from whence Greek would obtain its un-Indo-European term léirion, Minoan shines forth as the leading probable source by far. Robert Beekes certainly thinks so (see Beekes, Greek Etymological Dictionary: λείριον). I've been leaning to the reconstruction *leri based on etymological and phonotactic hunches about Proto-Aegean and its derivatives while Andras is going for *lairi with the help of certain facts about the Linear script itself. Which one of these reconstructions is more accurate? How do we prove it? Therein lies the frustrating rub of it all.

Yet it turns out, to my infinite scholastic delight, that there was a region in the Eastern Peloponnese called Lerna (Λέρνα) described as "a marsh in Argolis, the mythological abode of the Hydra," a monster who was eventually slain by the great demigod and all-around hero Heracles as part of his second labour. Given the above, it's immediately seductive to read into it an Aegean name *Lerina "(Place) of Lilies" with the characteristic pertinentive suffix -na elsewhere seen throughout Minoan and Etruscan, thereby adding weight to the idea that *leri is the more accurate name for 'lily' in Minoan.

10 Apr 2010

Erecting an Etruscan temple

I couldn't help but notice when I browse through Google's 3D Warehouse looking for interesting historical 3d models that there is little mention of Etruscan-related anything, let alone a sample temple. Madness, I say! How many millions of people online and not a single person inspired for something more on that topic? Egad, talking about global depression.

Oh well, no worries. If you want something done, you gotta do it yourself. The above is my first attempt at architectural (re)construction, an Etruscan temple. Don't worry, it'll get more ornate as time goes on. I'm doing this primarily for my own selfish reasons. I want to visualize a temple and understand its components, understand how Etruscan rituals might have been performed in it, what religious nicknacks it was filled with, what ornamentation would be appropriate to the period, building methods, etc. Making this 3d model is an awesome learning opportunity that forces me to ask deeper questions for myself that I may not have pondered until I undertook this project. Besides, I really find using the simple and free-to-use Sketchup program to be a very intuitive tool to use, quick and easy to share with the online world.

Below is the plan and pic (source: http://intranet.arc.miami.edu/rjohn/EarlyRome.htm) that I'm basing things on, something that might be useful to others that want to try this fun exercise out for themselves:

8 Apr 2010

A revisal of the PIE sound system

As Jésus Sanchis in his blog Language Continuity takes up a noble battle against academic insanity and laryngeal overindulgence, I decided to finally upload a small pdf to my Lingua Files section regarding my summarized views on PIE phonology which have remained somewhat static for the past couple of years. Just as I've blogged before, I still advocate uvular and creaky-voiced phonemes to help rebalance the system and bring it in line with what we currently understand about phonology and its tendencies. I've included a paragraph or two about the ill-named laryngeals as well.

Of course, the staunchest traditionalists will be outraged by my vision as they are with most change but the rest of is, most notably qualified phonologists as well as rational Indoeuropeanists, should at least be intrigued if not in agreement.

5 Apr 2010

Happy Easter Monday and/or Qingming Day

It turns out that Qingming, the day for the respect of ancestors, coincides this year with Easter Monday, the day that the mythical demigod Jesus rose from the grave. I find that nicely symbolic of death and rebirth, don't you? It seemed like an apropos day to restyle (or possibly obliterate) my blog. Enjoy.

2 Apr 2010

Death and daffodils

Andras Zeke slipped another blog entry under my nose which I missed until now but it's a very interesting post which talks in part about Minoan floral terms.

In a tidy table towards the end of his post, there are listed various terms of "Pre-Greek" origin: ἀμυγδάλη, ἀσφόδελος, κάππαρις, κέδρος, σέλινον, ἐρέβινθος, κυπάρισσος, νάρκισσος, δίκταμνος, ἄγλις, δάφνη, λείριον, ἐλαία, ῥόδον, κρόκος, κνήκος, τερέβινθος, and ἄψινθος. The trouble with the term Pre-Greek however is that it doesn't really identify the origin of anything since there are many potential "Pre-Greek" influences to choose from (ie. Anatolian, Minoan, Semitic, Egyptian, etc.). When misused, the term can be as meaningless as the phrase "of American Indian origin" in some dictionaries without further explanation, as if to say that all American Indians are part of an unspecified monolith of unified culture and language. (I suppose they would seem to be by an ignorant person or racist.) Detail is important and I don't believe that all of these words are automatically of Minoan origin just because their etymologies are "uncertain".

In the list, I can see some terms can't be Minoan, in my view. This is because of what I've encountered as valid sound sequences and syllable shapes in more certain Minoan etyma and because of comparison with Etruscan, Rhaetic and Lemnian. Both ἀσφόδελος and ἄψινθος seem out of place because, if they were Minoan, we'd presume an onset like *aps- or *asp- to explain it, something perfectly expected in Indo-European but something that I'm suspicious of in Minoan because of the closed syllable ending in a sibilant or stop. (The question should be asked about what syllabic constraints this language had.) Zeke already compares the former word of this pair to Middle Persian aspand, another Indo-European language, and this fits my expectation. On the latter word, a related adjective ἀσφοδελός has already been offered an interesting analysis as "that in the meadow not reduced to ashes"[1] connected to its Homeric descriptions of the underworld, based on ἀ- [negational prefix], σποδός 'ashes' and ἕλος 'meadow'. Again, I find an Indo-European origin more likely in this case.

The rest of this long list deserves further exploration, but this will have to wait till later when I have time.

[1] Peradotto, Classical Mythology: An Annotated Bibliographical Survey (1973), p.10 (see link).