sovay: (Rotwang)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2014-05-26 05:26 pm

But a saint dies with her boots on

I wish I had Carthaginian or Etruscan authors to love as much as the Greek or Roman ones. I stared at the Pyrgi Tablets last night and thought again that they are one of the coolest things I know from the ancient world, and so very singular. Wikipedia in translating both texts renders the personal name of Thefarie Velianas as "Tiberius," although the Etruscan form is older. His city was Cisra. The Romans called it Caere; it was Kyšryʼ to his Phoenician-speaking allies. I'm sure the political situation was complex. It is a curious thing for a ruler to dedicate a shrine in gratitude to another people's god. But he calls her Uni-Astre, syncretizing. (Her name on the Phoenician side of the tablets is rendered ʻštrt, Aštart—cognate with Akkadian Ištar, Hebrew Aštoret, I don't like to use Astarte outside of Greek contexts for the same reason I prefer not to Romanize Greek names wherever possible. That š is important.) The Romans assimilated Tanit to Juno Caelestis, raised temples to her after the destruction of Carthage and the building of Roman Carthage on the same ground. Not Venus, despite her equivalence to the evening star. Carthage is Juno's city in the Aeneid; its future defeat is the reason the goddess hates Aeneas, his abandonment of Dido and her enmity-ensuring curse a closed loop of time. Roman tradition held that Juno herself was taken from the Etruscans by evocatio at the siege of Veii in 396 BCE. Scipio Aemilianus is supposed to have performed the same ritual on Tanit during the sack of Carthage in 146. At Cisra, she was offered a shared name and invited in. These old, old links, irrecoverable fragments. Everything becomes a sigil of something lost: an unspoken language, an unreadable book. I have no more right to the Etruscans than D.H. Lawrence, but I can't stand reading his Sketches of Etruscan Places (1932), lovingly as he writes of their ruins and their art; he romanticizes them so much, so much freer, more spontaneous, more sexual, more primitive than the clipped stony Romans who succeeded them. So much more in tune with nature, so unspoilt. (Plus lots of assumed phallic symbolism, because this is Lawrence. I cannot actually read his interpretation of the duck with a straight face.) The Etruscans were as warlike as anyone else in the ancient world, not just in fighting off Roman expansion. They had colonies themelves. They made sacrifice of prisoners taken in war. Nothing is as simple as falling in love with a painting on a tomb wall. I keep coming back to voices that cannot speak for themselves; I never want to be Lawrence. I wish I knew some of their poetry. Or even the histories they wrote.
thistleingrey: (Default)

[personal profile] thistleingrey 2014-05-27 02:17 am (UTC)(link)
I did not know some of those things about shin. Cool.

One could certainly wish for less comprehensive obliteration by Romans, yes. To Carthaginian and Etruscan I'd add Liburnian and Illyrian, though probably less prominent at their heights than the first two.

[identity profile] 2014-05-26 09:57 pm (UTC)(link)
I keep coming back to voices that cannot speak for themselves

Yes. Same.

[identity profile] 2014-05-27 01:52 am (UTC)(link)
And yes.

So beautifully mused.

But do tell us about Lawrence's duck. Will I need a kazoo?


[identity profile] 2014-05-27 02:45 am (UTC)(link)
Oh my God, that's hilarious. And so totally true.

[identity profile] 2014-05-27 03:08 am (UTC)(link)
D.H. Lawrence never met the creature, symbol, or element he could not liken to his penis, unless it was a creature, symbol, or element he was likening to something he could put his penis in.

HA! excellent--like Kate Beaton's Byron.
Edited 2014-05-27 03:10 (UTC)
choco_frosh: (choco frosh)

[personal profile] choco_frosh 2017-06-06 07:46 pm (UTC)(link)
like Kate Beaton's Byron

I was just thinking that!

Also, Oh Dear God WTF Lawrence. That paragraph read like a parody of itself.

[identity profile] 2014-05-27 03:33 am (UTC)(link)
The problem is, Mybug is a parody, but the original is even funnier now.

[identity profile] 2014-05-27 05:25 am (UTC)(link)
D. H. Lawrence: not only a terrible writer, but ass at research. Sheesh. Jesus is a fish because of the precession of the equinoxes causing the sun to rise in Pisces, and also because St. Augustine had a cute little acrostic on the subject. These are not uncommon citations!

[identity profile] 2014-05-27 06:04 am (UTC)(link)
"It’s deep water, that’s why a duck."



[identity profile] 2014-05-27 06:33 am (UTC)(link)
Be kind to your webfooted friends
For that duck may be somebody's...


[identity profile] 2014-05-27 08:56 am (UTC)(link)
Ducks. Who knew?

[identity profile] 2014-05-28 04:45 pm (UTC)(link)
Good Lord, it's the White Goddess school of mythological analysis, only with a sizeable dose of a-cigar-is-never-just-a-cigar Freudianism.

[identity profile] 2014-05-26 10:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes. I'd take the things Claudius put together, but to have his sources instead, or as well--it's not a greedy thing to dream.
selidor: (Default)

[personal profile] selidor 2014-05-26 11:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Were there copies of such authors who got lost in the attrition of libraries along the way? Or were the Romans not keen on keeping Etruscan texts?

On a different note: might I ask how to properly say Chariklo? Been causing no end of grief in recent paper discussions: no one wants to mangle it, but no one is sure how to say it.

[identity profile] 2014-05-27 08:37 am (UTC)(link)
"...but these are all Etruscan words, as Volnius, who wrote Etruscan tragedies, said."

Gah! It's like being a cat, scratching at a door, but there's no one to open it - unless Egypt yields more wrappings.
selidor: (Default)

[personal profile] selidor 2014-06-02 07:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank goodness for Egyptian mummies. In some ways that we don't have much more due to the slight of preservation makes it a little easier to bear: deliberate obliteration carries its own purpose, but it's hard to hate mildew &c. for wanting somewhere to live.

Alliteration with 'chair' is now removed from any future mention of Chariklo. Thank you!
(Turns out Chariklo is the first non-planet ever found to have rings).

[identity profile] 2014-05-27 08:41 pm (UTC)(link)
I had not been properly aware of evocatio as a thing. Now that I know it, I have three or four different stories competing to see which one gets to steal the idea first.

[identity profile] 2015-07-22 07:41 am (UTC)(link)
None yet! But it's there in the back of my brain; like blood, I'm sure it will out. (Eventually.)

Unexpectedly, it's got a distant echo in the Shinto religion: a shintai is an object that houses a kami, and a yorishiro is an object capable of becoming a shintai -- so one calls the kami into the yorishiro to make it a sacred relic. My reading on the topic of Japanese religious history has yet to uncover any instances of somebody luring a kami away by these means (you can totally enshrine the same kami in a bunch of different places, by enacting a ritual called bunrei that's basically kami mitosis and then enshrining the other half of the divided spirit in a new shintai) . . . but I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen.

[identity profile] 2014-05-28 02:13 am (UTC)(link)

The noble savage--I infer from your description that Lawrence invested the Etruscans with at least a bit of that archetype--is still a savage, and being, in whatever complex, fraught, and enternally incomplete adopted/adapted/assimilated/de-assimilated fashion, part of a group often assigned to noble savage status (even if it's as like to be from inside or more typically from half-inside as from outside), I dislike the trope all the more.

They made sacrifice of prisoners taken in war.

Interesting. I'm not surprised, I suppose, as most peoples have done this at one time or another, but I wasn't aware of them doing so. Is it a recent discovery, or is it something left out of most accounts? I do have to say that I don't envy anyone writing about sacrifice, much as I'm irritated by the grotesquely sensational presentation that all too often results.

Tangentally, I was just reading an excerpt from a book suggesting that Tartessian was a Celtic language, extending into an argument that the Celtic languages developed in an Atlantic context, in the space of land and sea between Iberia and Ireland, rather than starting with Hallstatt and La Tène and radiating out to the Atlantic fringe. Fairly convincing argument, although it's really not my field.