19 Apr 2011

Dice, divination and a third

In Paleoglot: The dicey proof of Etruscan numerals, while a general *tendency* existed for two opposing sides on classical rolling dice to add up to seven, I explain that it wasn't a hard-fast rule in the past. Other possibilities existed.[1] Nonetheless, quite a few Etruscanists and avid hobbyists will still leap to the over-assertive conclusion that the Etruscan dice *must* follow this pattern. From these sorts of precarious arguments, śa continues to be misinterpreted as 'four' instead of 'six', and huθ is misinterpreted as 'six' instead of 'four'.

In Paleoglot: Truth will shine forth (2), I outlined the Etruscan solar trinity that's directly shown on the Piacenza Liver by the names Tinia Cilensal ('Sun of Darkness' = Jupiter Sommanus), Tinia Θufal ('Sun of Oath' = Jupiter Fidius) and Tinia Θneθ ('Thundering Sun' = Jupiter Tonans). As far as I know, no specialists have bothered to explain these three entities as I have done, nor to even translate their names. All indicates an Etruscan solar triad, parallel to what can be found among the contemporaneous Egyptians (ie. Khepri, Ra and Amon).

Now let's take these two previous ideas and mash them together. We may understand the classical dice in question as exhibiting opposing sides that differ by a value of '3', rather than adding up to '7', making śa = 'six' and huθ = 'four'. Knowing that 'three' is a symbol of the solar triad and that Tinia was a deity governing divination and intellectual illumination much like Greek Apollo or Babylonian Shamash was, could the difference of 'three' between opposing sides of the dice then be a deliberate feature by the die-maker, conceptually linking games of chance with divination?

[1] Trosset, An Introduction to Statistical Inference and Its Applications with R (2009), p.16 (see link); Trager, Studies in linguistics, vol 19-22 (1968), p.65 (see link); The Athenæum: A journal of literature, science, the fine arts, music, and the drama (1874), p.146 (see link); Bonfante covertly admits uncertainty in Bonfante, Etruscan life and afterlife: A handbook of Etruscan studies (1986), p.229 (see link) when she begins, "If the arrangement of dots on Etruscan dice is the same as on ours, [...]" (italic mine).


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