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Donal Buchanan (from his Etruscan Database, a work in progress)

Above is an Etruscan Inscription, CIE#4918. It is a sepulchral inscription from Mancinia, Italy. The original read R-L. Its reading (but not the script) has been reversed in the decipherment below for ease of comprehension.


Transliteration:      TITE : ECNATE : TURNS

Phonetic:                 tite : egnate : tyran«s

Cognate Lang.:    Tite : Ignate : Tyrannis

Translation:         For Titus Ignatius — Tyrant

= TITE = tite = L. titus -i = Titus, a Roman given name (Ox 1945B). In Latin, the -e ending would denote a genitive (of Titus). In Greek, it would denote a vocative (expressing the person addressed). The name Titus is of uncertain origin (in Spanish and Italian it is rendered Tito —and it appears in that form in other inscriptions in the CIE). The name was borne by a companion of Paul, author of a book of the New Testament, and Titus Tatius, a Sabine King associated in legend with Romulus, one of the founders of Rome. Rule and Hammond, in What’s in a Name, suggest that Titus derives from the Latin for "giant," tityos (-us) -i (the name of a giant punished in the underworld for attempting, on Juno’s orders, to rape Latona). In that case, it must originally derive from the Greek: = Tityus = A Greek god-name; it appears in Homer’s Odyssey as a giant son of Gaea who was punished in Hades.

= EGNATE = egnate = Gk. (L. Ignatius); it has been seen spelled egnatius — Gellius Egnatius, a Samnite general ca. 295 BC (Who Was Who in the Roman World by Diana Bowder, 1984) = a given name of uncertain etymology, but ancient. Again we see the -e ending. I believe it may be associated with the Latin ignis = fire; a firebrand (deriving from the Indo-European *egni- and Sanskrit agni- —the latter also the name of the Vedic fire god) (CDB 71; C 284B; Ox 823A).

= TURNS = turns = given the semi-syllabic character of the alphabet used here (that is, characters can stand for single consonants or carry a vowel as syllables), this word was probably pronounced something like: turanus = Gk. (L. tyrannus -i) = an absolute ruler whom no law can touch; a monarch or sovereign (usually of a Greek city-state) (it later took on the connotation of one who rules as a tyrant, cruelly and mercilessly) (LS 1836B; Ox 1999A). It also existed as a Roman surname (Gaius Turranius was Prefect of the corn supply from AD 14-48 (Bowden 549).

If this inscription is Etruscan (it is, after all, listed in the Corpus Inscriptionum Etruscarum), then we can see close connections to Latin and Greek (both Indo-European languages). Fell felt that the -e ending in Etruscan denoted a Locative Case (at least in the Singular); but, according to the Bonfantes (The Etruscan Language, p. 70), the terminal -e denoted a masculine name (making sense here — both Titus and Ignatius being masculine); but the Bonfantes also said that -e could be a Dative ending indicating "to, for," giving us "For Titus Ignatius"—also making sense in the context—followed by his title: "Tyrant." The word order indicates a possible Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) orientation for the language.


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