The Iguvine Tablets are a series of seven bronze tablets discovered at Iguvium (contemporary Gubbio), Italy, in the year 1444. Currently housed in the Civic Museum of the Palazzo dei Consoli in Gubbio, they are also known as the Eugubian Tablets or Eugubine Tables. The earliest tablets were probably written in the 3rd century BC in the native Umbrian alphabet, the latest in the 1st century BC in the Latin alphabet.
The tablets contain religious inscriptions that memorialize the acts and rites of the Atiedian Brethren, a group of 12 priests of Jupiter with important municipal functions at Iguvium. They are written in the Umbrian language, one of the Italic languages, a not-too-distant relative of Latin. They are by far the longest and most important document of the Umbrian language and also of all Osco-Umbrian family languages. They shed light on the grammar of this ancient dead language, and also on the religious practices of the ancient peoples of Italy, including the archaic religion of the Romans. Part of the last tablets, namely of tablet VI and VII appear to be written in an accentual metre, similar to the Saturnian metre that is encountered in the earliest Latin poetry. The complete text, together with a translation into Latin, was published in London in 1863 by Francis Newman and 1931 in a book by Albrecht von Blumenthal.
The extraordinary value of these documents is underlined by the great number of scholars who have devoted their efforts to reading and deciphering them since their discovery. Their value lies in the fact that they are the only extant documents of the ancient religions of Europe and the Mediterranean which have come down to us in an almost complete state. Moreover, their content deals with the rituals (sacrifices and prayers) addressed to the highest gods of the local community and to some extent may reflect the common religious beliefs and practices of the Italic peoples. As historical linguist Giacomo Devoto once described it, it is necessary to go deep into Asia to find anything of equal value.
Also, the religious structure present in the Tablets resembles that of the early stage of Roman religion, reflecting the Roman archaic triad and the group of gods more strictly related to Jupiter.
Although the general meaning of the tablets is clear, there are still many obscure and debated points and issues. The main difficulty in understanding the text is the insufficient knowledge of the Umbrian vocabulary.
- 1 Discovery
- 2 Epigraphic note
- 3 Date
- 4 Content
- 5 The religion of the Umbrians as reflected in the Iguvine Tablets
- 5.1 The triad of the Grabovii
- 5.2 The minor triad
- 5.3 Other deities
- 5.4 General remarks on Iguvinian theonyms
- 5.5 Priesthoods
- 5.6 Rites
- 5.7 Treatment of the offerings
- 6 Augury
- 7 Topography
- 8 Text sample
- 9 References
- 10 Sources
- 11 External links
A farmer found the tablets in a field sometime in the medieval period (1441) and sold them to the city for 2 years' worth of farming rights. The content of the tablets concerns the religions and ceremonies that were celebrated at Iguvium, the town's religious organization and its boundaries.
The tablets are engraved on bronze. The analysis of the external appearance of the supporting material has led scholars to conclude that only tablets V, VI and VII were meant to be exposed in public. The other ones were cast as an archive document. They are inscribed in Italic alphabet derived from Etruscan (T. I to Vb 8) and in Latin alphabet (T. Vb 9 onwards, VI, VII).
The study of the ductus (writing style), conducted by comparing the tablets with other inscriptions from the area of Central Italy, has allowed scholars to conclude for a dating from no later than the end of the 3rd century for T. III and IV to the first half of the 1st century for the latest T. VI and VII.
Tablets I to V present their topic in a concise, matter of fact manner. Tablets VI and VII repeat the same subject of Tablet I in a much more detailed and diluted way, with apparent literary and encomiastic intentions and overtones. The content of the tablets is given below, in their relative order of antiquity as established by Newman on the authority of Aufrecht and Kirchhoff, which is identical to that recently indicated by A. Maggiani.
Tablets III and IV
Sacrifice to Puemonos Popricos and Vesuna.
General prescriptions concerning the holding of the sacrifice, sacrifice of the ovis (lamb) to Puemonos and Vesuna near a sacred grove. Containing details on the choice of the ohtur (auctor, head, perhaps augur) of the ceremony, the dispositions of the ritual instruments, the ritual invocations for the safety of the city to Iove Patre and Puemonos, the distribution of the sacrificial meat and the libations.
Side a (b of Lepsius)
(Lacuna at the beginning of the text).
Sacrifice of an ox to Iove Patre, of a ram to Iovio? (Iuno according to Newman), of a lamb to Iovio (Iuno) and of a boar to Marte.
Making of the arfertur. Preparations: readying of the victim(s), grains, strues, fertum; incense or meal, wine; salt, mola; mandraculum (white linen used to wrap the officiant's hand), vases; pure water; ignition of the fire at the ara. Petronian Feast to Hontos Iovios: sacrifice to Hontos Iovios of puppies, offers of wine, libation, partition of the meats and their exposition on a board. Holding and turning of the ara with the hands and offer of wine. Division of the wine, the strues and ferctum, the meats among the participants. Burning (or inhumation) of the puppies at the ara.
Side b (a of Lepsius)
Sacrifice and feast of the Attidian Brotherhood:
Sacrifice of a pig and a ram to Iove at the time of the decuriae of month Semonius by the ten sets of families of each of the 12 regions. Sacred Epulum (feast) in honour of Iove Patre, started in town and profanated at the various fana with libations using the mandraculum.
Vocian (Buck: Lucian) Feast to Iupater:
Sacrifice of a calf to Iove Patre for the Vocian (Lucian?) gens of the Attidians. The sacrifice is conducted with the urfeta in one hand at the offering and the crencatro (augural implement comparable to the lituum but crossed (Newman), or toga wore slanted across the right shoulder (Buck)) in the right hand at the time of the slaughtering.
Six triplet sacrifices to the Grabovian triad and the minor triad:
After observing the birds on the before and the behind three oxen are sacrificed to Iove Grabovius before (without) the Trebulana Gate. Behind (within) it three sows are sacrificed to Trebus Iovio.
Before the Tesenaca Gate three oxen are sacrificed to Marte Grabovie. Behind it three pigs are sacrificed to Fisus Sancius. A libation ensues.
Before the Vehiia Gate three white fronted oxen are sacrificed to Vofione Grabovie. Behind the Gate three ewe lambs are sacrificed to Tefre Iovie. After the profanation of the lambs, the rump is offered in expiation and a libation for the tota, local community, ensues, on the two sides separately starting with the right side. After the profanation of the rumps is over the backs shall be profanated.
Two more triplet sacrifices to Marte Hodie and Hondos Çerfios in atonement for the citadel:
At the Jovian grove after the shearing of sheep three male calves shall be sacrificed to Marte Hodie for the Iguvine people and tota.
At the Coreties (Quiritius or Curiatius) grove three male calves shall be sacrificed to Hontos Çerfios.
Henceforth the citadel will be expiated. If any anything vicious happened in the discharge of the rite the birds shall be observed, the rite shall be reinstated once again after returning to the Trebulana Gate.
Review of the city militia and expulsion (exterminatio) of the traditional enemies of Iguvium by the arfertur and the two prinovatus (augures or their attendants): Tadinates, Tusci, Naherci (Sabins from the area of river Nar, now Nera), Iapuzcoi (a people settled near the Alps between NE Italy and NW Balkans).
Four more triplet sacrifices:
Near the small fontains three red boars shall be sacrificed to Çerfos Martios.
On the Rubinian ager three she boars shall be sacrificed to Prestata Çerfia of Çerfos Martios. The sacred jugs, black and white, shall there be ordered and turned.
Beyond the Sahata (Sahata is probably the area considered within the pomerium, possibly marked by a stream) three she calves shall be sacrificed to Tursa Çerfia of Çerfios Martios.
The assignation of the place where to carry out the slaughter of the boars shall be decided according to the site upon which the officiant is watching, whether either behind on the Rubina or beyond on the Sahata.
Three days later the people shall be assembled and three heifers sacrificed below the Forum of Sehemania (Semonia) to Tursa Iovia at Acedonia. One of the heifers shall be consecrated by the arfertur and two by the prinovatus.
Duties of the arfertur:
The arfertur must provide whatever is essential for the ceremony and select the victims.
Fees to be levied for the performance of the rites.
Whenever the banquet of the brotherhood takes place the fratreks or the cvestor must put to votes whether the banquet was properly arranged. If the majority of those present think it was not a further vote must be taken to fix the penalty for the arfertur.
Contributions to be made by two gentes to the brethren and portions of flesh to be awarded them by the brethren on the decurial festival.
Tablet VI and VII
These two tablets repeat the content of tablet I while expanding it to include and expound the minutest details of the rituals.
VI Side a
Lustration of the arx
Introductory auspices: as in I the sacrifice is to be preceded by the taking of the auspices. Formulae passed between the augur and the arfertur (legum dictio); warning against noises, interruptions, meddling; boundaries of the augural templum; formulae of announcement of the auspices (conspectio, nuntiatio); prescriptions applying to the ensuing sacrifice concerning the military rod (pirsca arsmatia), the disposition of the pots and the fire.
1. Sacrifice of three oxen to Iove Grabovios before the Trebulan gate. An opening prayer is followed by three long prayers in identical words for each of the three offerings to the three Grabovian gods and these by a general prayer in conclusion. Then follow prayers especially devoted to the rites connected with the sacrifice.
2. Sacrifice of three pregnant sows to Trebos Iovios behind the Trebulan gate: the prayers used in the first sacrifice are to be repeated.
3. Sacrifice of three oxen to Marte Grabovios before the Tesenaca gate. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated .
4. Sacrifce of three suckling pigs to Fisus Sancius behind the Tesenaca gate. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated. Then an offering of cakes accompanied by specific prayers and ceremonies ensues (involving the use of the mandraculum, white linen cloth wrapping the right hand of the officiant): special attention is given to Fisus Sancius, patron of the citadel (ocre Fisia).
5. Sacrifice of three oxen with a white forehead (calersuf) to Vofionos Grabovios before the Vehia gate. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated.
6. Sacrifice of three she lambs to Tefer Iovios behind the Vehia gate. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated. Then supplementary offerings follow, thereafter prayers and accompanying rites with vases on both sides of a trench.
7. Sacrifice of three bull calves to Marte Horse at the Iovian grove. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated.
8. Sacrifice of other three bull calves to Hondos Çerfios at the Coredian grove. The prayers of the first sacrifice are to be repeated.
Rites for the lustration of the poplo (people, i. e. city militia) and execration of the enemies:
The auspices are to be taken in the same way as for the lustration of the arx. Holding the perca arsmatia (ritual staff) and the cringatro the arsfertur lights the fire then with the two assistants (prinovatus), who hold rods of pomegranate wood, marches with the victims along the Augural Way to the district of Acedonia. Proclamation is made expelling the alien enemies. The Iguvines are ordered to form in companies. The arsfertur and the assistants march about them thrice with the victims and the fire. At the end a prayer is made invoking misfortune upon the aliens and blessings upon the Iguvinians.
VII Side a
Sacrifice of three boars to Çerfios Martios at the Fontuli, accompanied by the prayers used at the Trebulan gate.
Sacrifice of three sows to Praestita Çerfia at Rubinia, with the prayers used at the Trebulan gate. Ceremonies with the black vessels and the white vessels, the former meant to bring misfortune to the aliens, the latter to avert it from the Iguvinians. Offering to Fisovius Sancius with the prayersw used behind the Tesenaca gate.
Sacrifice of three female calves beyond the Sahata to Tursa Çerfia of the Çerfios of Marte. The prayers used at the Trebulan gate are to be repeated. The profanation of the offerings must take place where the nuntiatio happened: either in Rubinia or beyond the Sahata.
After three days the holder of the perca arsmatia and the two assistants pray silently for the execration of the enemies and the safety of Iguvium from the shrine of Tursa. Then heifers are set free below the Forum of Sehemenia: the first person who has caught any of the first three shall sacrifice them to Tursa Iovia at Aceronia for Iguvium. The prayers and rituals (offer of cereals, strues, fertum, persea) used at the Trebulan gate are to be repeated.
Obligations of the fratrexs and entity of the fine he must pay in case of omissions (300 asses).
The religion of the Umbrians as reflected in the Iguvine Tablets
The triad of the Grabovii
The triad of the Grabovii is the highest group of deities of the Iguvian pantheon and looks to be strictly allied to the archaic triad of Roman religion. The epithet Grabovius seems to be related to Etruscan crapis, ceremonial litter, which might derive from a word meaning oakwood.
The triad is composed by Iove or Iove Patre, Marte and Vofionos. The identity of the last has been understood as corresponding to Roman gods Quirinus or Liber, the former from an IE root *leudh- meaning people, the latter either directly from the Italic theonym Loifer or through the intermediary of the Italic or Etruscan interpretation of Greek god (Dionysos) Eleutheros, recorded also in the Etruscan theonym Tin Luth (=Iuppiter Liber) of the Piacenza Liver.
The gods of the triad of the Grabovii receive in sacrifice three oxen (buf) outside the three town gates (Preveres Treblanes, Tesenaces, Vehiies before the Trebulan, Tesenacan, Vehiian Gate). Those to be offered to Vofionos are qualified as calersu, probably correspondent in meaning to Latin callidus, with a white forehead.
The minor triad
The gods of this triad receive sacrifices in correspondence with those of the major one but these gods are honoured within the town gates. Trebos Iovios corresponds to Iove Grabovios, Fisus Sancius to Marte Grabovios and Tefer Iovios to Vofionos Grabovios. They received sacrifices of three pregnant sows, three suckling pigs and three ewe lambs respectively. Only the identity of the second one is known with any degree of certainty from attestations of his existence in Rome and elsewhere in Italy. In Rome he is known as Semo Sancus Dius Fidius. It is odd that he is here associated with Mars while his association with Jupiter would seem more well grounded theologically . The topic has been the object of a study by Dominique Briquel: he opines the reason should lie in the repressive and henceforth military connotation of the notion of divine sanction of the law. This aspect is particularly relevant as to the divine sanction of the town wall, fact which is of primary concern in the content of the Tablets.
Trebos in Trebos Iovios is usually understood as corresponding in meaning to Latin trabs, ridge of the roof. Tefer of Tefer Iovios is often explained as burner, from the IE root *tep haet. This interpretation though is very debated.
Both Benveniste and Dumézil have argued that the Iguvine triads are just another testimony of their three functional hypothesis of IE religion. In particular the sacrificial offerings roughly correspond to those of Rome in their three functional significance and the sixfold invocations of VIa 30 and 39, VIb 13 and 32 (nerf, arsmo; veiro, peiquo; castruo, fri: princes, priests; men, cattle; fields, land produce) show a direct connection to the sovereign, military and productive activities.
Many scholars, from Bücheler to Prosdocimi, opine this deity is an underworld god of agricultural fertility and plenty on the grounds of the sacrifice of puppies he receives at his festival. Prosdocimi calls it the intermestruae cereales: the declaration of the dog is set at the climax of the feriae . Jörg Rüpke remarks the association of Hondos with Juppiter is one among the numerous in the tablets, in which a complex multilevel and hierarchic structure of relationship among theonyms is envisaged. This phenomenon would put the god into a sort of host-guest relationship with the one given in the attributive. In the case of Hondos this feature is apparent also in the fact that his cults at the Hondia festival take place in the Jovian Grove but those at the lustration of the citadel (when the god bears the epithet of Çerfios) in the Coredian Grove.
Çerfos Martios, Praesta(o)ta Çerfia, Tursa Çerfia, Tursa Iovia
These deities are invoked and receive sacrifices aimed at obtaining their favour for the protection of the arx itself, of the community and of the fields in connexion to the lustration rites of the Iguvian citadel at different locations of augural relevance.
The rites concerning the Praestota and the two Tursae involve a complex of libations aimed at obtaining a twofold action: the safety for the Iguvine community and the offsetting and expulsion of its traditional enemies.
The debated points are few as far as the Praestota and Tursa are concerned. The two theoyms correspond to the Latin Iuppiter Praestes, Iuppiter Praestitus, Iuppiter Praestabilis and the Lares Praestites. Tursa corresponds to god Terminus, being the deity that represents the boundaries of the city at different locations of augural relevance: these are without and within the city for Tursa Çerfia and Tursa Iovia respectively (TI I b; VII a). Such a meaning is connected to the Umbrian word for border, tuder: Tursa is written Tuda in the Etruscan tablets, the intervocalic d being pronounced as a weak rs (i.e.: ḍ). Dumézil on the other hand, on the grounds of the function of Tursa, a deity whose action is to scare, inspire terror into the enemies, opines the theonym derives from a verbal root equivalent to Latin terreo, I scare (interpreting accordingly tursitu, tremitu in VIb 60).
There is no agreement among scholars on the meaning of the epithet Çerfios and as to whether this is also a theonym, i. e. Çerfos Martios is a god different from Mars or not. An inscription from Corfinium reads: Çerfom sacaracicer Semunes sua[d, "priest of the Çerfi and the Semones", placing side by side the two categories of entities, the çerfi and the semunes. Çerfos is most times associated to IE root *ker(s) and Latin theonyms Ceres and Cerus. This view though might create interpretative problems concerning the theology of Mars and of the two deities who in Rome are associated with the sphere of law and defence, i. e. gods Jupiter and Semo Sancus Dius Fidius. Georg Wissowa and Dumézil both underline that the derivation from root *ker(s) is not certain: Umbrian group -rf could have a different origin than -rs.
Marte Hodie; Hondos Çerfios
Marte and Hondos appear also under these epithets. Here too the only certain indication is from Roman Heres (or Here) Martea, connected with heres, he who inherits and also dominus, the position of master of the house. The two gods both receive sacrifices of male calves in the rites for the lustration of the citadel at the Iovian and Coredian groves respectively; theirs are the last in the series of sacrifices after the two triads and before the execration of the enemies.
God Hondos receives the epithet Iovios in II whereas of Çerfios in VI. This fact raises the question of whether these epithets were used alternatively in connexion with local or temporal constraints. Another similar instance is that of Tursa Çerfia and Tursa Iovia, who are found without and within the pomerium respectively.
Puemonos Pupricos and Vesuna of Puemonos Pupricos
This divine couple appears only in tablets III and IV, the most ancient ones. Puemonos's name seems to be related with Roman goddess Pomona; moreover both the name itself and the epithet Popricos (Publicus) hint towards a universal fertility god, similar to Latin god Liber. Vesuna is also found on a coin from Marsian territory.
General remarks on Iguvinian theonyms
O. de Cazanove observes Iguvinian theonyms appear to be compound formations of two, three and four terms: they may consist of a substantive plus an epithet (e. g. Honods Iovios, Tursa Iovia, Puemonos Podpricos), of a substantive plus a possessive phrase plus epithet (e. g. Vesuna of Puemonos Podpricos) and of a substantive plus epithet plus possessive phrase plus epithet (e. g. Prestota Çerfia of Çerfios Martios, Tursa Çerfia of Çerfios Martios). In his view this situation is comparable to that of Rome where are recorded purely functional deities in the pontifical books. These divinities were invoked in the prayers according to the Roman rite as mentioned by Gellius: "Lua Saturni, Salacia Neptuni, Hora Quirini, Virites Quirini, Maia Vulcani, Heries Iunonis, Moles Martis, Nerio Martis". These entities would be a concrete representation of the powers of their respective god.
At Iguvium though the situation looks more complex and less fixed as Tursa and Hondos are alternatively Çerfian and Martian and Çerfian and Iovian respectively.
Some other deities are known just because they are mentioned occasionally in specifying the limits of augural observation (included those of the town). These theonyms are for the most part known in Roman religion. They are Tursa and (possibly) Hulos in IV 17 and 19 respectively, Vestisios (Libasius) apparently god of libations, Hoios (cf. Latin Holus, Helus, Roman grove of Helernus in Ovid Fasti II 67-68) god of vegetation and Padella (cf. Roman goddess Patella), goddess of opening sheaves in VIa 14. Possibly adjective deueia of Asa Deueia (VIa 9, 10) implies a cult of the sky under the name Dius, Dia, similar to that of Dea Dia outside Rome (Ancellotti & Cerri).
The Attidian brethren had an arsfertur (literally the Umbrian equivalent of Latin adfertor, i. e. "he who carries something to somewhere", clearly referring to a role in the ceremonies, holder of the pirca arsmatia, ceremonial rod). Other mentioned offices include the fratrecs interpreted as curator arcae, the cvestor and the prinovatus, probably agrimensors, attendants of the person who takes the auspices. An ohtor (auctor) is mentioned in T. III and IV: the term denotes the person responsible for the ceremony.
The tablets record different sets of rites held on different festive occasions: the main and recorded in greatest detail one is the annual lutration of the citadel (ocre, Latin arx) of Iguvium (Tablets I, VI and VII). This rite includes sacrifices to the Grabovian (major) triad and the minor one near the gates of the town, sacrifices to Marte Hodie and Hondos Çerfios at the two sacred groves of Iove and Coredios (interpreted as Quiritius or Curiatius) respectively, the lustral review of the people of Iguvium in arms, i. e. the city militia, the execration and ritual expulsion (exterminatio) of the traditional enemies of Iguvium and final sacrifices to Çerfios Marti(os), the Praestita Çerfia and the two Tursae, Çerfia and Iovia, at various locations without and within the pomerium. Tablets VI and VII relate the ritual actions such as circumabulations, libations, kneelings and dance in minute detail recording all the prayers and the other augural formulae. The older tablet I gives a more concise record.
The ritual triple (three time) circumambulation with fire and the victims about the city militia looks parallel to the Roman ritual performed by king Tullius as described by Dionysius of Halicarnassus.
The most complex ceremonies are those concerning Tefer Iovios and Fisus Sancius. A summary is appended below.
Sacrifice of the ewe lambs with the usual prayers used for each god of the two triads.
Offering of the persondro sorsom (suine) at the right foot of the gate with accompanying libation.
Offering of the libations.
Prayer to Tefer Iovios.
Offering of the persondro staflare (bovine or ovine) at the left foot of the gate.
Assigning of the prosecta (cuts of sacrificial meat).
Assigning of the libation accompanying the persondro sorsale at the right foot where the sorso was offered to the god (profanated).
Assigning of the libation accompanying the persondro staflare at the left foot as above.
Burning or inhumation of the persondro sorsale.
Burning or inhumation of the persondro staflare.
Throwing away of the vessels used for the persondro during the prayer on the incense (or cereal meal).
Fisus Sancius (here appealed to also as Fisovius = Fiducius):
Sacrifice of three suckling piglets with the usual prayers, consecration with incense (or meal) and grains as at the Trebulan gate.
Wearing of the mandraculum (white cloth) around the right hand by the officiant.
Adding of the ficla and strucla to the prosecta.
Placing of the sopo (offa) at the back.
The officiant while kneeling offers the libation, the mefa and the spefa spilling them from the vessels.
Prayer for the arx and the community.
During the prayer libation and tripodium.
Offering of the libation.
Distribution of the prosecta and of the libation while kneeling.
Crushing and spilling over the fire of the mefa, libation, sopa (possibly lower entrails).
Milling while sitting, prayer over the milled incense or meal.
The two profane and the two sacred jugs are disposed in rows.
Tablet II records various sacrifices to Iove, Iovio (or Iovia? Newman: Iuno) and Marte to be held in atonement of possible unknown ritual faults; the Hondia festivals on which occasion dogs were offered in sacrifice to Hondos Iovios; the feast to Hondos Iovios held by the gens Petronia (these last two festivals might in fact be one); the sacrifice and feast of the sodalitas of the Fratres Atiedii on which rams and pigs were sacrificed to Iove by the ten sets of families of the twelfth pomperias, districts of Iguvium; finally the sacrifce of a calf at the feast of Iove Patre held by the gens Vocia (Lucia). The tablet might be fragmentary, i. e. record only the final part of a ritual at its beginning.
Here is the summary of the ceremonies at the festival of Hondos:
Hondia (IIa 15-44):
the sum of money for the kid(s) is to be raised among the dining tables at the published price
the arfertur is to be made after observing the birds
the kid(s), grains, strues, fertum; incense, wine, salt, mola; mandraculum, vases (consecrated and not or wet and dry), water (or ointment) are to be prepared
the fire is lit on the ara
the incense is consecrated
offer of the kid(s) to Hondos Iovios, declaration of its purity
the sopas of the kid are taken and the prosiciae (cutlets) divided upon the breadcrusts
empty baskets are placed behind and the cereals before at the foot (of the ara)
offer of the incense
libation and tripodium
tripodium near the vessels of wine chanting in turn nine times: "I honour Thee with incense and wine"
bringing of the crusts with the entrails
two cuts of the kid(s) are divided into three pieces or three times
addition of strues and fertum
offering of the dog
prayer over the uncut flesh
addition of strues and fertum to the flesh cuts
offering of the kid(s); prayer in front of it
prayer on the flesh, both uncut and roasted
offer of the suppa on the plates
prayer on the dedicatory jugs
libation, tripodium, moving and placing down of the offerings
suppas are placed behind, the flesh is taken by hand
the incense is placed in two jars on the bracket
breadcrusts, fried placentas, pots both containing water (ointment) and empty are brought over
libation to Hondos Iovios from the jugs for the gens Petronia of the Attidian Brethren
beyond the bracket prayer on the pure breadcrusts
same wise prayer on the placentae, the pure jugs filled with water and the empty ones on the bracket
libation and tripodium
the bracket is moved aside; prayer on the pure water (ointment)
hands are washed from the ara (or the ara is turned in the hands)
back to the ara, near it silent prayer on the pure wine
bringing and distribution of whatever the participants wish: wine, incense
grinding of the strues, fertum; spilling of the incense or meal on the jar
prayer on the whole and the ground grains
the rite is proclaimed over
the sacred rite is profanated
the kid(s) is burnt near the ara.
Sacrifices of dogs were not common among ancient Italic people. Instances in Rome include the Lupercalia and a parallel may be found in the Augurium Canarium and the Robigalia, both held in late Spring for the propitiation of a good harvest and for the preservation of the grains from mildew respectively. According to the explanation given in Ovid by the flamen Quirinalis the dog was sacrificed because at the time in which the grains in the ears are in danger for the heat and draught the sun enters the constellation of the Dog: this explanation is erroneous. Another ritual aimed at protecting corn in danger from fires concerned foxes which were set afire in the Circus Maximus on the last day of the Cerialia (Cerealia). Finally dogs were crucified on the Capitol at the beginning of August, time of the canicula to avert the rabies contagion or lessen their barking which disturbed sick people.
Tablet III and IV record in minute detail the rituals of the festival of Puemonos Popricos and Vesuna at a sacred grove outside the town. Recently Michael Weiss has advanced the view that this was a new year ritual on the grounds of comparative material.
Treatment of the offerings
Latin sources concerning the cooking of the viscera underline the difference between the Etruscan and Roman costume distinguishing the exta aulicocta boiled in the olla extaris before the offering to the god, from the Tuscan exta roasted in veru and partly eaten during the sacrificial rite. At Iguvium the description of some sacrificial rites documents both the use of spits for the viscera and the presence of prosiciae displayed on the table of the offerings beside the fire and perhaps consacreted and burnt to the gods.
Augural practices are presented in the tablets, most notably in the last two ones. They include the praeire verba, i. e. the uttering of the words to be repeated by the arfertur, the legum dictio, the rules for the taking of the auspices such as silence (silentium) and the avoidance of other incidents, the definition of the boundaries of the augural templum, the nuntiatio, announcement of the appearance of the expected signs from birds, the circumambulation of the army with fire.
Tablet VI begins with an augural song. Here below is the text (VI 1-5):
- Este persclo aveis asseriater eneto
- parfa curnace dersua
- peiqu peica merstu.
- Poei angla asseriato eest
- esso tremnu serse
- arsferture ehuelto stiplo:
- "Asseriaia parfa dersua, curnaco dersua,
- peico mersto peica mersta
- mersta auei mersta angla
- Arfertur eso anstiplatu:
- "Ef asserio parfa dersua curnaco dersua,
- peico mersto peica mersta
- mersta aueif merstaf anglaf
- esona mehe
- tote Ijoveine esmei stahmei".
Rules for the observation of bird signs are given in VI 15-18: below a certain boundary line (hondra esto tudero VIa 15) defined previously the augur must see and hear the verse of a parfa (parrha) and a crow; above that line (supu) he must see and hear a woodpecker peiqu and a magpie peica.
Aveis asseriates Ia 1; aves asseriates VIa 1: avibus observatis, having observed the birds.
persnaies, pusnaies Ia 1: antici, postici, (in the part) before and behind.
dersua VIa 1: dextera, right hand, prosperous. The right hand was apparently seen as auspicious in Umbria as in Greece. Newman (Appendix II) cites the position of the augur in the inauguration of Numa, in which he faced east while Numa faced south. Right and left have both an auspicious and inauspicious meaning in Latin.
merstu VIa 1: iustissimus, rightest, most correct, propitious, superlative of mersos. Adjective mersos, from meḍos (literally medius), means iustus (cf. Oscan meddix: supreme magistrate, iudex). Both words in Latin and Osco-Umbrian have a broader meaning than just, lawful: they may mean augurally correct, favourable, in agreement with the divine forces.
anglaf VIa 1: oscines, giving signs through their voice.
stiplo, anstiplatu VIa 2, 3: stipulare, leges dicere, stipulate.
mersta auei, mersta angla, esona VIa 3: most propitious birds (auspices), most propitious singing, divine.
stahmei stahmeitei VIa 5: statio statuta, templum designatum, augural templum, the designed space of augural observation.
neip mugatu VIa 6: ne mugito, muttito, that nobody shall make utterances, murmur. Silence is essential in augural practises,
nep arsir andersistu VIa 6: ne divis intersistito, that nobody shall come in between, barge in, between the divine (signs) and the augur.
disleralinsust VIa 7: alteravit (eṛali, erali=alter) render irritual, impair the auspice; attero VII a 11, 27: bad, unlucky.
verfale VIa 8: formula of the templum. According to a new etymology de Vaan connects this noun to Latin cognate urbs, both having the meaning of defined space for augural observation, from a PIE root *u(o)rb(h) plus /d(h)-h(2) enclosure, enclosed area.
stahmito VIa 8: statutum, designed.
tuderato VIa 8: finitum, defined, provided with boundaries. From noun tuder boundary, Etruscan tular.
vapersus auiehcleir VIa 9: lapididibus auguralibus (ablative), (near) at the augural stones, rocks.
tuder VIa 9: boundary, limit.
anclar VIa 16: oscines.
combifiatu VIa 17: conspectum capito, nuntiato, (the augur) shall announce the appearance of the auspices. Literally confidato.
popler anferener VIa 19: populi recensendi, lustrandi, review of the levied army. Buck cites the parallel instance of the ritual circumbulation holding a lit torch performed by king Tullus Hostilius in Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities IV 22.
perca arsmatia VIa 19: virga ritualis, ritual (and/or military) rod.
perne postne sepse sarsite uouse auie esone VIb 11: antice postice septe sarcte voce (et) ave (i. e. auspicio) divina, from before and behind, clear and cut (fully, wholly) voice and bird sacred. Or ...voto, augurio, sacrificio by vow, auspice and sacrifice.
peiqu: picus woodpecker; peica perhaps magpie; parfa: parrha, perhaps oxifraga or upupa; curnace: cornix, crow (VIa 1 etc.).
prinovatus: legatus, assistant to the arsfertur, possibly agrimensor, land-surveyor: probably from Greek πρινος, Celtic prinni oakwood.
percaf poniçate Ib 15; perca poniçiater VIb 51: virgas Punicae-mali rods, wands of pomegranate wood.
fato fito VIb 11: it looks fito had an active meaning in Umbrian, i.e. (having) become; fato has been interpreted as a passive past participle of a verb correspondin g to Latin fateor, thence fato fito: having become defined by utterance.
Studies have been devoted recently to identifying the location of the rituals described in the tablets, particularly of the Fisian Arx, which has been placed with certainty on Monte Ingino, to the southwest of Gubbio.
Here is a sample of their language and content, from Tablet VI a 26 ff.:
- Dei Grabouie
- orer ose persei ocre fisie pir
- orto est
- toteme Iouine arsmor dersecor
- subator sent
- pusei neip heritu.
- Dei Grabouie
- persei tuer perscler uaseto est
- pesetomest peretomest
- frosetomest daetomest
- tuer perscler uirseto auirseto
- uas est. . .
"Jupiter Grabovius, if on the Fisian mount fire has arisen, or if in the nation of Iguvium the owed preparations have been omitted, let it be as if they had been made."
"Jupiter Grabovius, if in your sacrifice there has been any flaw, any defect, any ritual violation, any fraud, any error, if in your sacrifice there is a flaw, either seen or unseen. . . "
Here is the entire text of Tablet VI a 22 ff.:
- teio subocau suboco
- dei graboui
- ocriper fisiu totaper iiouina
- erer nomneper erar nomneper
- fos sei pacer sei
- ocre fisei tote iiouine
- erer nomne erar nomne
- arsie tio subocau suboco
- dei grabouie
- arsier frite tio subocau suboco
- dei grabouie
- di grabouie
- tio esu bue peracrei pihaclu
- ocreper fisiu totaper iiouina
- irer nomneper erar nomneper
- dei grabouie
- orer ose persei ocre fisie pir orto est
- toteme iouine arsmor dersecor subator sent
- pusei neip heritu
- dei crabouie
- persei tuer perscler uaseto est
- pesetomest peretomest
- frosetomest daetomest
- tuer perscler uirseto auirseto uas est
- di grabouie
- persei mersei esu bue peracrei
- pihaclu pihafei
- di grabouie
- pihatu ocre fisiu pihatu tota iouina
- di grabouie
- pihatu ocrer fisier totar iouinar nome
- nerf arsmo
- veiro pequo
- castruo frif
- futu fos pacer pase tua
- ocre fisi tote iiouine
- erer nomne erar nomne
- di grabouie
- saluo seritu ocre fisi
- salua seritu tota iiouina
- di grabouie
- saluo seritu ocrer fisier totar
- iiouinar nome
- nerf arsmo
- veiro pequo
- castruo fri
- salua seritu
- futu fos pacer pase tua
- ocre fisi tote iouine
- erer nomne erar nomne
- di grabouie
- tio esu bue peracri pihaclu
- ocreper fisiu totaper iouina
- erer nomneper erar nomneper
- di grabouie
- tio subocau
- On the holes bored on the last three tablets Prosdocimi (p. 161) remarks they testify that the documents were meant for public exhibition. As this seems odd for ritual prescriptions it can be interpreted as a political operation of the Augustan period.
- Adriano Maggiani in Aldo L. Prosdocimi Le Tavole Iguvine Firenze 1984. This may though be considered only a terminus post quem since a style of ductus may last in peripheral areas well after its inception and even well after its demise in culturally dominant areas has occurred. Prosdocimi above p. 153.
- In Aldo Luigi Prosdocimi Le Tavole Iguvine I Firenze Olschki 1984.
- Strucla, ficla would be equivalent to the Latin terms denoting the sweetmeats always accompanying religious ceremonies in ancient Roman religion. Cf. Festus s.v. strufertarii. Literally ficla, ficula made into a shape.
- Georges Dumézil "Remarques sur les dieux Grabovio- d' Iguvium" Revue de Philologie 28 1954 p. 226-234; Irene Rosenzweig Ritual and Cults of pre-Roman Iguvium London 1937.
- P. Kretschmer "Festschrift Bezzenberger" p. 89 ff.: from Illyrian for oak or beech: cf. Russian grab beech; Macedonian γράβιον "wood of the oak". (As cited by Buck above p. 371).
- Vittore Pisani "Mytho-Etymologica" Revue des études Indo-europeennes (Bucarest) 1, 1938; Émil Benveniste "Symbolisme social dans les cultes gréco-italique" Revue de l' histoire des religions 129 1945 p.7-9. Cited by Georges Dumézil ARR It. tr. La religione romana arcaica Milan 1977 p. 144. Olivier de Cazanove "Religion in Preroman Italy" in Jörg Rüpke (editor) A Companion to Roman Religion 2008.
- Isidore Origines cited by Newman above.
- D. Briquel "Sur les aspects militaires du dieu ombrien Fisus Sancius" in Melanges de l'Ecole Francais de Rome Antiquite' 1979 pp.135-137.
- Gaius Institutiones II 8.
- The same root of Tefer is also found in names of rivers such as Tiber, Tifernus, placenames such as Tibur, Tifernum Tiberinum and proper names as Etruscan Tefaries or Latin Tiberinus, Tiberius and Tiburtus. The most likely etymology of these names is from Mediterranean word teba meaning hill. Hubschmid 1954, Alessio 1949.
- Rolf Noyer PDF by University of Pennsylvania: Linguistics Courses 051 (online at: linguistics upenn.edu).
- TI II a 15-44. Aldo Luigi Prodocimi "L'Umbro." in Lingue e dialetti dell' Italia antica (= Popoli e civiltá 1. Italia antica VI) Roma e Padova 1978 a cura di A. L. Prosdocimi p. 713-717; 761-762. Hondra in Umbrian means under(neath), below.
- G. Dumézil La religione romana arcaica Milan 1977 p. 222-223.
- G. Wissowa Religion und Kultus der Römer Munich 1912 p. 192 n. 9; Dumézil Archaic Roman Religion It. tr. Milan 1977 p. 222-223. Derivation from IE root *kerr (horn) would seem to suit the functions of these gods.
- Gellius XIII 23, 1 and 18; Festus s. v. p. 89 L; Ennius Annales 104 "...Nerienem Mavortis et Herem..." . Hendrik Wagenvoort Pietas.Selected Essays on Roman Religion Leiden 1980 p. 175.
- Some connect the epithet to Latin adjective fodius, he who destroys.
- Newman p. 4 citing Mommsen.
- According to toponomastic studies Vesuna is a potamonym. i.e.a river name in the hydronymy of Central Italy.
- Olivier de Cazanove in Jörg Rüpke (Editor) A Companion to Roman Religion London Wiley 2007 part I chapter 4 p. 50 f.
- Aulus Gellius Noctes Atticae XIII 23, 2.
- He may have a cave if carso Hoii is interpreted as cave of Hoios (Ancellotti & Cerri), but the most likely meaning of carso is ditch (Newman after A.& K.).
- Prosdocimi above p. 713 f.
- Francis W. Newman The Iguvine Tablets London 1863 p. 1 and 24 citing Aufrecht and Kirchhof.
- Carl D. Buck A Grammar of Oscan and Umbrian Boston 1928 p. 308 citing Dionysius Halicarn. IV 22.
- After Newman, Buck, Ancellotti & Cerri.
- After Newman and Buck.
- Pliny Naturalis Historia XVIII 14.
- Ovid Fasti IV 939-942.
- Ovid Fasti IV 691-712.
- Plutarch Roman Questions.
- Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae Paul Getty Foundation "Sacrifices" in "Processions, Sacrifices, Libations, Fumigations" p. 182.
- Cicero De Divinatione II 39, cited by Newman p. 53.
- Adjective derived from PIE medh-ios middle, cf. Latin medius middle, central: M. de Vaan Etymological Dictionary of Latin and Other Italic Languages Leiden 2008 sv.
- G. Dumézil ARR It. tr. p. 91 n. 7 on the authority of Plautus.
- Festus sv. silentio surgere.
- Festus s.v. alterum: " Alterum et pro non bono ponitur, ut in auguriis altera cum appellatur avis quae utique prospera non est...pro adverso dicitur et malo". "Other is understood as meaning not good, as in auguria when a bird is named other i. e. not not propitious... it is said for adverse and evil". Ehlich Zu indogermanische Sprachengeschichte p. 78 as cited by Buck p. 308.
- M. de Vaan Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages Leiden/Boston 2008 sv. urbs citing Driessen 2001 and Meiser 1998. Cf. Hittite uarpa- enclosure.
- Festus s. v. sarte p. 429 L: "Sarcte in auguralibus pro integre ponitur. Sane sarcteque audire videreque". " In augural lore sarcte means wholly: hearing and seeing clearly and wholly". As cited by Newman from Aufrecht & Kirchhof.
- C. D. Buck p. 273.
- G. M. Facchetti Appunti di morfologia etrusca 2002 p. 52.
- Francesco Marcattili in Thesaurum Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum. Cult Places s. v. Arx p. 187 Paul Getty Foundation 2006. Citing Simone Sisani Tuta Ikuvina. Sviluppo e ideologia della forma urbana a Gubbio Rome Quasar 2001.
- Simon Theodor Aufrecht and Adolf Kirchhof, Die umbrische Sprachdenkmäler : ein Versuch zur Deutung derselben, Berlin, 1849 and 1851 (2 voll.)
- Friedrich Panzerbieter, Questiones Umbricae, Meiningen, 1851
- Eduard Huschke, Die iguvischen Tafeln nebst den kleineren umbrischen Inschriften : mit Hinzufügung einer Grammatik und eines Glossars der umbrischen Sprache, Leipzig, 1859
- Francis William Newman, The Iguvine Tablets, London, 1863
- Michel Bréal, Les Tables eugubines : texte, traduction et commentaire, avec une grammaire et une introduction historique, Paris, 1875 (2 voll.)
- Hermann Osthoff, "Umbrica" in Studien zur Griechische und Lateinische Grammatik, 9, 1876, p. 273-284
- Franz Bücheler, Umbrica, Bonn, 1883
- Luigi Ceci, Tabulae Iguvinae in usum academicum, Turin, 1892
- Robert von Planta, Grammatik der Oskisch-Umbrisch Dialekte, Strassburg, 1892-1897 (2 voll.)
- Robert S. Conway, The Italic dialects, Cambridge, 1897
- Roland G. Kent, "Studies in the Iguvine Tables" in Classical Philology, 15, 1920, p. 353-369
- Carl Darling Buck, A grammar of Oscan and Umbrian, Boston, 1928 (2nd ed.)
- Albrecht von Blumenthal, Die iguvinische Tafeln : Text, Übersetzung, Untersuchungen, Stuttgart, 1931
- Irene Rosenzweig, Ritual and cults in pre-Roman Iguvium : with an appendix giving the text of the Iguvine Tablets, London, 1937
- Giacomo Devoto, Tabulae Iguvinae, Rome, 1940 (2nd ed.; reprinted in 1954)
- Giacomo Devoto, Le Tavole di Gubbio, Florence, 1948
- Giovanni Battista Pighi, Umbrica. 1, La composizione del libro rituale di Gubbio ; 2, L'auspicio, Bologna, 1953
- Gino Bottiglioni, Manuale dei dialetti italici, Bologna, 1954
- James W. Poultney, The bronze Tablets of Iguvium, Baltimore, 1959
- Ugo Coli, Il diritto pubblico degli Umbri e le Tavole eugubine, Milan, 1958
- Alfred Ernout, Le dialecte ombrien : lexique du vocabulaire des "Tables eugubines" et des inscriptions, Paris, 1961
- Giacomo Devoto, Tabulae Iguvinae. Pars quinta : appendix, Rome, 1962
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- Aldo Luigi Prosdocimi, Studi iguvini, Florence, 1969
- Willy Alfred Borgeaud, Fasti Umbrici : études sur le vocabulaire et le rituel des Tables eugubines, Ottawa, 1982
- Aldo Luigi Prosdocimi, Le Tavole iguvine. 1, Florence, 1984 (2 voll.)
- Gerhard Meiser, Lautgeschichte der umbrischen Sprache, Innsbruck, 1986
- Augusto Ancellotti and Romolo Cerri, Le Tavole di Gubbio e la civiltà degli Umbri, Perugia, 1996
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- Brigitte Schirmer, Studien zum Wortschatz der Iguvinischen Tafeln : die Verben des Betens und Sprechens, Frankfurt, 1998
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- Patrizia Castelli and Salvatore Geruzzi (edd.), Prima e dopo le Tavole eugubine : falsi e copie fra tradizione antiquaria e rivisitazioni dell’antico, Pisa, 2010
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