16 Mar 2011

An offering to Tluschva

Building on my previous elaboration on the Etruscan god Tluschva, we still have a partially translated inscription whose second line needs interpretation:
kanuta larecenas lauteniθa aranθia pinies puia turuce
tlusχval marveθul faliaθere
It's rather clear that the first line of the inscription records a freedwoman named Kanuta giving an offering. I can only imagine that perhaps originally an Oscan slave-girl from the south, the Larecena household had bought Kanuta as hired help and a reasonably to-do man of the Pinie family eventually swept her off her feet in marriage. Somewhere in between she was manumitted and became a full-fledged Etruscan citizen. In the end, however it transpired, I gather the freedwoman must have gained personal wealth of her own to have made this fine offering. Not bad for a former slave. Good for her. Of course, if somebody has an alternative biography in mind, I'm open to new perspectives as long as it carefully respects the grammar of the first line.

In the second line, the god Tluschva is named recipient of Kanuta's offering and I've already identified this deity as the god of the seas, comparable to Roman Neptune, based on my interpretation of the outer rim of the Piacenza Liver. Now we just need to grasp the next two hapaxes, marveθul and faliaθere, and wrap our translation up into a package that's historically coherent.

Rex Wallace, like countless 19th-century linguists before him, indulges in idle Latin look-alikes with marones and falando on his own blog but this just isn't acceptable or productive in modern linguistics. A careful morphological breakdown must be preferred over eyeballing. Assuming that the words are parsed correctly, first and foremost marveθul must be a type-II genitive of *marveθ while faliaθere is an animate locative plural of *faliaθ. In any novel Etruscan word we may encounter, native derivations are predictably built on head-first roots. Ergo, chances are that if marveθul and faliaθere are native formations, they are built on roots mar 'to harvest' and fala 'hill; hypogeum' respectively. I give these roots these values based on a number of other inscriptions where these values seem to consistently fit. The former root is present in the Etruscan godname Maris 'Harvester', consistent with Roman Mars' original agrarian function, while I trace the latter root to a recent loan (cf. Latin fala 'siege tower') with funerary nuances.

Put it together and the whole inscription then reads: "Kanuta, freedwoman of the Larecena, Aranth Pinie's wife, gave to Tluschva of the Harvested (Tlusχval Marveθul) before those of the hypogeum". And what parallels of Tluschva of the Harvested are present in the surrounding classical world of that time, pray tell? Try the Roman god Consus, god of harvested fruits and wheat.[1] Both Dionysius and Livy mention his connection with the god Neptune and subterranean altars were devoted to him. In the absence of other possibilities discussed online, here's a tantalizing match to consider.

[1] Takács, Vestal virgins, sibyls, and matrons: Women in Roman religion (2008), p.55 (see link): "On August 21st, the Romans honored Consus, god of harvested fruit, in general, and wheat, in particular. [...] The Consualia featured horse races. Since the horse was associated with Neptune's Greek equivalent, Poseidon, this was reason enough to think the festival was in honor of the equestrian Neptune (Livy 1.9.6)."


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