Mauss, Oscan and translation problems

I mentioned over here that there were some mentions of Oscan in Marcel Mauss’s The Gift, and also that there were some problems with some of the English translations of this essay. I thought I’d expand on this year, in case anyone happens to be reading The Gift and wants to know a bit more about…

Ancient languages and John Wilkins’s Real Character

I mentioned that at Geoff Fest last week I gave a paper on the “reception” of Oscan – mainly consisting of mentions of Oscan in slightly unexpected contexts from the sixteenth century onwards. One of those instances was in An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, written by John Wilkins in 1668. Wilkins was a…

The demos of Roccagloriosa

Today’s inscription is a fantastic example of linguists getting a huge amount of information about ancient societies out of very short texts. How short? Well, about two letters actually. Buxentum 2 (c. 300 BC) reads <ΔΗ>, or <DE> to transcribe it into the Roman alphabet. The two letters are joined by one of their lines, to make…

Corfinium – Italia or Italica?

Over the Easter holidays, I’ve been reading Mary Beard’s SPQR, which I highly recommend. I was particularly pleased that so much of it focusses on early Rome and its relationship with Italy – it was at least a third of the way through before we even got to Sulla. Mary, as usual, brings out all…

Plautus and plavtad

Here’s a nice post by Matteo Calabrese on the meaning behind the name of the Roman dramatist Plautus, with a reference back to the post I wrote on the Pietrabbondante tile in January. If you were wondering, his name is derived from a nickname meaning “flat-footed” – but as far as I know, we can…

I, Sicily

I’ve recently started on a very exciting new collaboration with the I.Sicily project, which is building a fully searchable, freely available online corpus of the inscriptions of Sicily. (In my head I keep turning this project into “I, Sicily” in the manner of “I, Claudius” – this sounds quite dramatic, so I’m sticking with it.) To…

Dedication to Mefitis

    μεfιτει μαρασ σταλλιεσ βρα τεισ δατ[α]σ To Mefitis, Maras Stallies, for grace given Oscan inscription in the Greek alphabet. Rossano di Vaglio, 325-275 BC. Imagines Italicae: Potentia 13; Sabellische Texte Lu 16. This is an inscription on stone, found at the sanctuary site of Rossano di Vaglio (pictured below) in central Lucania, modern day…