22 Mar 2009

The winds and the Piacenza Liver

Yes, folks. I still have a bone to pick about the Etruscan Piacenza Liver. So much to analyse and so little time. As previously stated, I suspect that the Piacenza Liver might be understandable in terms of three cosmological regions representing the overworld (the world of sky deities), middleworld (the world of humankind) and underworld (the world of the dead and chthonic deities), as per the following diagram:

I now want to briefly talk about the region just below the pyramid in the overworld portion of the artifact. Notice how it's divided into eight sections? Since eight is simply four times two, I can't help but feel that this has something to do with the winds, parallel to the Greek winds (Boreas, Zephyrus, Eurus & Notus). Yet if this parallel is valid, why eight instead of four?

Let's look at how these sections are marked. They read from left to right, top to bottom: caθa, tins θneθ, fuflus, θuflthas, lasl, tins θuf, leθm and tul. The first thing that I notice in this grouping is that they can easily be divided into four male deities (tins θneθ, fuflus, tins θuf, tul) and four female deities (caθa, θuflthas, lasl, leθm). Though the artifact uses abbreviations, we may surmise as to who these deities are thanks to a parallelism with Roman mythology and a working knowledge of the Etruscan language. The male deities are thus: Tin Thneth (Thundering Tin), Fuflun (Bacchus), Tin Thufl (Tin of Oath) and Tul (Boundary). The female deities are thus: Caθa (Abundance), Thufltha (She of Oath), Lasa (Nymph) and Letham (Streams). Tin Thneth and Tin Thufl are two incarnations of Tin (the daytime sun) and clearly parallel to Roman Jupiter Tonans and Jupiter Fidius respectively. Given the arrangement of these deities in the tiny grid and the apparent functions of these deities, we might seperate them into four celestial pairs, no doubt then representing the four cardinal directions or winds: Fuflun & Catha (north); Tin Thneth & Thufltha (south); Tul & Letham (west); and Tin Thufl & Lasa (east).

For added interest, we may note that Catha and Fuflun are already known to form a religious pair since TLE 131 (Laris Pulena's sarcophagus) appears to indicate funerary devotion enacted specifically in the name of these two earthly deities.


  1. Thanks, Judith! But you know me, I'm an ever stubborn critic of Etruscanists (and Minoanists). So please forgive my following rant, folks.

    If this is any indication of the theory therein, then I remain dismayed at the hokey output of bedoctorated Etruscanists thus far. For example, in what way are the words which are inscribed on the underside of the artifact, tivr usils, addressed by this new idea? I really doubt that everything is historically, and especially linguistically, accounted for in this artifact.

    According to my reasoning, since the primary meaning of tivr is fully known to be "moon" (and by extension "month" in many texts) and since I've already shown that usil cannot mean "sun" but rather the act of "setting" (see Paleoglot: Etruscan 'usil': It ain't the "sun"), we have a phrase meaning "setting (usil) of the moon (usil-s)", refering therefore to "west" precisely where it is marked on the one side. Therefore there should be no mystery to the proper orientation of this liver model. (What this inevitably means is that the god Tin is situated in the south, contrary to pretty much every author's published account so far, but which is perfectly defensible historically.)

    Now unless Natalie Stevens has likewise realized that the status quo interpretation of these words is false as I have, the answer is merely an untested and perhaps even falsifiable solution among an infinite number of them. If so, it can have no great value any more than anything suggested by a random avid hobbyist on the internet. And this unending obsession with Martianus Capella's posthumous account of Etruscan religion is the sign of people grasping at straws in utter ignorance and desperation.

    Very dismaying indeed coming from an academic institution. Yet I can always pray that I'm completely wrong and that the world isn't as porcinely obtuse as it sincerely appears to me to be. >:-)