28 May 2008

Arretium versus German Erz and how this affects (or doesn't affect) Etruscan Aritimi

I found more odd gibberish from the Etruscologist Massimo Pallottino the other day. This time it's a claim of his that the cityname of a Roman city, Arretium, is in some way connected with German Erz 'ore'[1].

This ties in to my ongoing dilemma concerning whether Aritimi in TLE 737 means 'Artemis' or 'in Arretium'. Larissa Bonfante and Erika Simon continue to publish the claim that Aritimi points to 'Artemis' instead[2]. I have to say that I'm really finding that the status quo view that Aritimi and Artume are the same word to be implausible due to phonetic incongruence between the two terms, if not due to contextual issues as well. I've currently come to the conclusion that we have two different words with similar sounds: Aritim 'Arretium' (a Roman city) and Artume 'Artemis', the latter being obviously borrowed from the Greek name Artemis. In another Etruscan inscription[3], a phrase reads An Aritimi meani arasince and appears to me to mean 'She (an) was raised (arasince) in Arretium (Aritimi) in youth (meani)'. There's no way that I can see on the other hand how I might be able to fit the value 'Artemis' in that sentence without it sounding contrived. And thus, these experts have lied to me again! Grrr!!!

What has held me back from splitting these two terms into separate entries so far is the phrase Aritimi-pi Turan-pi of TLE 45 which has been traditionally claimed to mean 'to Artemis and to Turan'. Without a picture available to me, I can't yet prove for myself whether the reading is correct but the letters of the Etruscan text are transcribed this way by the invaluable Helmut Rix in Etruskische Texte (1991). Grammatically, it seems to me that -pi is a postclitic with a locative connotation, much like -θi 'in'. It's elsewhere used with the oblique case form of the first person singular pronoun mi, hence mini-pi (note TLE 12 and TLE 13) which probably means 'by me'. Note however that if the translation of the aforementioned phrase were correct, we'd expect the presence of the conjunctive -c attached to the last member of the pair to convey 'and'. Considering its absence, there's reasonable doubt that the translation may be incorrect. Conversely, nothing stops me from applying the value of 'Arretium' here. The idea of Aritimi-pi Turan-pi meaning 'before Turan in Arretium' makes more grammatical sense to me. Afterall, in this way, we may then pluck out the noun phrase Aritimi Turan, which would be an epithet meaning 'Turan in Arretium' (note TLE 393: Selvanzl Enizpe-tla = 'To Selvans in (the city) Enispe'). From there, the application of a case ending or postclitic to both members of such a noun phrase is perfectly acceptable in Etruscan, as well as in Lemnian (Hulaie-śi Φukiasi-ale 'to Hulaie the Phocaean'). Sufficed to say then, I will be updating my database in the next draft modification in July so hold on tight.

Back to Pallottino's claim, if Aritim can thereby be kosherly translated as the cityname Arretium as some scholars have already previously published[4], then how does Pallottino get from Aritim to German Erz? From what I see, he's just made another crazy claim without linguistic justification. The word Erz has also been attributed to a Proto-Germanic root *arutaz. Even so, if Aritim really meant 'Arretium', it surely is borrowed from Latin Arrētium, and has nothing at all to do with the Germanic terms for 'ore' because the second vowel, *-u- (as in OHG aruzzi), is incongruous with the phonetic reality of both the Latin and Etruscan terms. So these weakly researched comparisons between Indo-European languages and Etruscan simply have to go, I'm afraid. Caveat pensator.

[1] Pallottino, The Etruscans (1975), p.95 (see link): "Such contacts between Germany and Etruria are confirmed by the German word Erz, 'metal', which comes from the name of the Etruscan city of Arrētium, Arezzo, famous for its working on metal.".
[2] Bonfante/Bonfante, The Etruscan Language: An Introduction (2002), p.80 (see link). Erika Simon merely parrots the same in De Grummond/Simon, The religion of the Etruscans (2006), p.46 (see link).
[3] Steinbauer, "Zur Grabinschrif der Larthi Cilnei aus Aritim/Arretium/Arezzo", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 121 (1998), p.263–281 (see pdf).
[4] See for example Steinbauer, "Zur Grabinschrif der Larthi Cilnei aus Aritim/Arretium/Arezzo", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 121 (1998), p.263–281 (see pdf). On the website etruskische.de, Steinbauer's translation is also asserted.


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