Oscan aflukad

Photo by Genta Mokizawa

Photo by Genta Mokizawa

The Oscan verb form aflukad occurs twice in the text of the Defixio Vetter 6 (also known as “The Curse of Vibia”) and is the third person singular of a present subjunctive, but its etymology is still unclear. Here I give the text of the first three lines of this inscription (Cp 37) according to Rix (see Helmut Rix, Sabellische Texte. Die Texte des Oskischen, Umbrischen und Südpikenischen, 2002, p. 101), followed by my translation of the relevant passages:

Side a

Line 1

keri: arent[ikai: man]afum: pai: pu[i:

pu]i heriam suvam legi[num: suvam:

a]flukad -[-22/24-]

“I have entrusted to Keres Arentika so that she aflukad her will, her cohort against anyone

Line 2

usurs: inim: malaks

nistrus: pakiu(i): kluvatiui vala(i)ma{i}s

p[uklui] antka[id]um damia[-21/23-]

the wives and the children, the relatives. Damia aflukad in hatred

Line 3

leginum: aflukad idik: t(i)fei: manafum:

vibiiai prebai ampu[z] ulum da[da]d keri:

ar[entikai: pakim: kluvatiium]

her cohort against Pacius Clovatius, son of Valaima. I have entrusted this to you; (I have entrusted) him, Pacius Clovatius, to Vibia Preba, so that she may hand him over to Keres Arentika”

An important step towards the interpretation of this verb form was taken by Emil Vetter (see Emil Vetter, Handbuch der italischen Dialekte, 1953, p. 41), who first understood that pakiu, occurring at line 2, represents the first word of a new sentence, which in turn proves that the immediately following sequence pakiu:kluvatiui valamais:p[uklui] belongs to another sentence and agrees with the second aflukad, just like the dative pu[i:pu]i agrees with the first aflukad.

As shown by Marco Mancini (pp. 9-10). the resulting parallelism between these sequences makes it easier to find a plausible etymology of aflukad. Contrary to previous proposals, he points out that verb contains the prefix af “from” and an Oscan verb cognate with Latin lacere, “to deceive”, and connects it with Latin elicere, “to let out” (see Plautus, Bacchides 384), which is used in magic speech with the meaning of “to evoke”. Thus a similar value can be assigned to Oscan aflukad. This conclusion, which is confirmed by the occurrence of similar verbs in other curse tablets, allows us translate it as “she may evoke” and “may Damia evoke” respectively.

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