Oenotrian amates. Part one

Photo by Samuel Zeller

Photo by Samuel Zeller

In my major degree dissertation, I dealt with the reconstruction of the Palaeo-Italic inscription from Tortora, one of longest Pre-Samnitic texts. Since Pre-Samnite is a vague category, covering virtually all the Sabellian languages spoken in Central and Southern Italy before the expansion of Oscan-speaking Samnites, in this post I will refer to the local variety used in the inscription from Tortora simply as Oenotrian, according to the definition used by classical authors with reference to the inhabitants of archaic Lucania and Bruttium.

This inscription was discovered by Gioacchino Francesco La Torre in 1991, in the Italian region of Calabria, and was first edited by Maria Letizia Lazzarini and Paolo Poccetti in 2001 (for further details see Maria Letizia Lazzarini-Paolo Poccetti, Il mondo enotrio tra VI e V secolo a. C. Atti dei seminari napoletani (1996-1998), L’iscrizione paleoitalica da Tortora, 2001).

Despite the mystery still surrounding the overall meaning of the text, the same does not necessarily hold true of some words, such as amateς, occurring at the end of line A-3: I reject Poccetti’s view interpreting it as the masculine or neuter genitive singular of a –to– perfect participle and argue, instead, that is the third person plural of a perfect corresponding to Marrucinian amatens, attested in the Bronze of Rapino. This, in turn, would allow us to trace the Sabellian third plural perfect ending –ens straight back to Palaeo-Italic times and would cast a new light on the origin of the Italic (mostly Oscan, but also Paelignian, Marrucinian and Volscian) –t(t)– perfect.