Voiced s in the Oenotrian inscription from Tortora. Part one

Photo by Greg Becker

Photo by Greg Becker

In his analysis of the Oenotrian inscription from Tortora, Paolo Poccetti (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) proposes the following reading of line A-5: –]ντρο[.]δοσερFια[–.

He correctly points out that the sign after the sequence –]ντρο[, which is part of a prepositional or nominal base, can be read either as <σ> or as <α> and consequently presents two different versions of this line: –]ντροσδοσερFια[– and –]ντροαδοσερFια[–.

This would entail two alternative forms, –]ντρος and –]ντροα, the former showing the nominative/accusative plural ending of o-stems (ος), the latter showing the nominative/accusative neuter plural (with lowering of –ā) or the accusative singular masculine/neuter ending (with omission of –m), plus an element αδ, to be interpreted either as a postposition or a prefix attached to the following word οσερFια[–.

Poccetti states that a major problem posed by the first reading, –]ντροσδοσερFια[–, is that fixing a world boundary between –]ντρος and οσερFια[– would leave the intervening δ unexplained and interprets this spelling as a mistake caused by the addition of a unnecessary sign or by the omission of a necessary sign on the part of the engraver.

The second reading, –]ντροαδοσερFια[–, is unconvincing according to both the explanations put forward by Poccetti: in fact, the lowering of –ā is less likely than the omission of –m, because this phenomenon occurred later, and the omission of –m is also unlikely, because it is at variance with the fact that in Umbrian the nasal in the accusative singular is never omitted when it is attached to postpositions beginning with a vowel (see Umbrian persklumař).

In my view, the first reading is more convincing than the second, but still requires an explanation.

The reason why my analysis of –]ντροσδοσερFια[– differs from Poccetti’s is that I don’t consider the intervening δ a blunder on the part of the engraver, for which there is no evidence, but rather as a correct spelling, where <σδ> stands for <σ>.

This peculiar spelling convention, which is otherwise unattested in Greek and Oenotrian inscriptions in the Achaean alphabet, occurs in the personal name νιυμσδιηις appearing in an Oscan inscription from Messina, where <σδ> is used to indicate voiced s (see Vittore Pisani, Manuale storico della lingua latina. IV. Le lingue dell’Italia antica oltre il latino, 2nd edition, 1964; Paolo Poccetti, Alphabet grec et langues indigènes de la Grande Grèce entre unité et variété, in Contacts et acculturations en Méditerranée occidentale. Hommages à Michel Bats. Actes du colloque de Hyères, 15-18 septembre 2011, R. Roure ed., 2015, pp. 511-523).