Oenotrian amates. Part two

Photo by Sudiono Muji

Photo by Sudiono Muji

Because of its antiquity, αματες is in itself a strong argument for classifying it together with historically attested –t– (e.g. Paelignian coisatens, Marrucinian amatens, Volscian sistiatiens) and –tt– perfects (e.g. Oscan prufatted) into a single Italic –t(t)- perfect category.

The variation between the single-t and geminate-t spellings attested by these forms can be easily explained as a result of the so-called Iuppiter-rule, whereby a long vowel followed by a single consonant becomes a short vowel followed by a geminate consonant (Iūpiter > Iŭppiter).
This simple observation has two important consequences: first, that the Oscan perfects showing geminate t should be regarded as reflecting an innovation rather a retention; second, that the second α in αματες should be regarded as long and this, in turn, is instrumental in helping us identify a perfect stem αματ-, which is undoubtedly cognate with Latin amo and may be literally translated “they loved”.
This rendering, which seems to be at variance with the institutional content of the Oenotrian inscription from Tortora, has an exact correspondence with the desiderative value taken by the Latin verb amo in some literary works reflecting colloquial Latin: this usage is clearly shown by a passage from Cicero’s Letters to Atticus (2, 2, 1), where the author asks his friend to take care of his son (cura, amabo te, Ciceronem nostrum).
The same usage can be assumed for Marrucinian amatens, attested in the Bronze of Rapino, with the secondary meaning of “they decreed”:
eituam amatens venalinam ni ta[g]a nipis pedi suam.