A number of languages were spoken in Italy in the first millennium BC. With the exception of Latin and Greek, these languages are fragmentarily attested, mainly through quite short inscriptions. But even so, detailed descriptions of the ritual practices of that time are to be found therein.

In this project, Emmanuel Dupraz will study five of these documents: the Tabula Capuana in Etruscan (early 5th century BC), the Liber Linteus also in Etruscan (2nd century BC?), the Iguvine Tables in Umbrian (3rd - 2nd century BC), the Table of Agnone in Oscan (late 3rd century BC) and finally Cato the Elder's ritual descriptions in the De Agricultura, written in Latin (2nd century BC) which allow a comparison with a well-documented language. These texts have an injunctive character, describing rituals which have to be performed by the readers in the future, in contrast to many other texts that describe acts performed at a precise moment in the past by a specific person.

Such documents can be used as a comparison base from both a linguistic and religious perspective: the researcher and his team will be studying the lexical, syntactic and stylistic choices used, as well as the relationship between the text and how the ritual was actually performed. These parameters will allow them to determine whether a common base existed for all the religious rituals of that period, despite the diversity of languages and communities existing at that time in Italy. The study will allow progress to be made in the fields of semantics, syntax and stylistics, neglected by linguistic studies often focused solely on phonetics and morphology, as well as in the history of religion.


DUPRAZ Emmanuel
Literary, Philological and Textual Studies
Faculty of Letters, Translation and Communication

Created on August 31, 2018