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Article

Carlo de Simone

The term Messapic refers to the pre-Roman language attested in some 600 inscriptions, mostly funerary, found in the second Augustan district (regio) of Italy, Apulia et Calabria. See Italy; Messapii. The Messapic inscriptions are written in two similar alphabets, both of Greek origin. Given the present state of knowledge, it is wise to speak of Messapic only for the inscriptions of the modern Sallentine peninsula (*Calabria), including also some epigraphic evidence from Monopoli, Caglie, and Brindisi. The name Messapii is also used as quasi-synonymous of Iapyges, Sal(l)entini, and Calabri (cf. e.g. Strabo 6. 277), but in origin Iapygia indicated the Sallentine peninsula; thus we have no evidence that the Greeks called Messapic the local language of Daunia (see Daunians) and Peucetia. There may have been a local unitary language spoken in an area which went from Gargano to the Capo di Leuca, but so far this can only be a hypothesis. It would also be possible to think of some form of linguistic unity subsuming a number of dialects and one could compare e.g. the position of *Oscan in Campania as contrasted with that of Umbrian in the *tabulae Iguvinae.

Article

John Chadwick

Mycenaean is the name given to the form of the Greek language written in the Linear B syllabic script and found in the Mycenaean palaces (see pre-alphabetic scripts (Greece)). The nature of the script makes it impossible to give a full account of the dialect. In contrast to the Classical situation there appears to be considerable uniformity between all the sites so far known. It is clear that Mycenaean is a Greek dialect because of the presence of characteristic sound-changes, inflexions, and vocabulary. The genitive singular of o-stems in -οιο, of masculine a-stems in -ᾱο, the formation of substantives (including names) in -εύς, the feminine of the perfect participle of the verb in -υῖα, and the medio-passive participles in -μενος are all typically Greek features. The vocabulary contains specifically Greek words (both Indo-European and non-Indo-European), such as ϝάναξ (Homeric ἄναξ) ‘king’, ἔχει ‘he has’, ἀμφιφορῆϝες ‘amphoras’, ξένϝια ‘for guests’.

Article

Benjamin Fortson

North Picene was an ancient language of eastern coastal Italy. It is preserved on an Etruscan-style stele from Pesaro and perhaps three other inscriptions (if they are genuine), dating from the mid-first millennium bce. The alphabet used is of the familiar northern Etruscan type, but the language does not appear to be Indo-European and has so far resisted interpretation. North Picene is not to be confused with the unrelated South Picene (see Picenum).

Article

Benjamin Fortson

Old Persian was the Iranian language spoken by the ruling class of the Achaemenid Empire, probably reflecting the Southwest Iranian dialect of Persis (see Persia). It is preserved in documents in a cuneiform script superficially modeled on Mesopotamian (Sumero-Akkadian) writing and first used under Darius I in the late 6th centurybce. As a spoken language, Old Persian was the direct ancestor of Middle Persian and Modern Persian (Farsi). The script was the first cuneiform writing to be deciphered by modern scholars, starting in 1802 with the pioneering work of Georg Grotefend; this laid the basis for the subsequent decipherment of Mesopotamian cuneiform and the languages written in it, one of the most far-reaching achievements of 19th-century science (see cuneiform).Of the two Old Iranian languages that survive in written records (the other being Avestan, the language of the Zoroastrian liturgical texts), only Old Persian is attested to in original documents contemporary with when it was spoken. Most are monumental royal inscriptions, often trilingual (Old Persian, Elamite, Babylonian) in the early period, and have been found primarily in the historical regions of Persis, Elam, and Media. Many of these, most famously the massive trilingual inscribed on a high rock face at Bisotun (Behistun) that records the deeds of Darius I, are of immense value to historians. Though there is evidence of the language throughout the reign of Artaxerxes III (d.

Article

Benjamin Fortson

The Sabellic language (see Sabelli) spoken in central and southern Italy, attested in several hundred inscriptions from the 6th centurybce through the mid-1st centuryce. Specific varieties (e.g., Paelignian, Marrucinian, Vestinian) have been distinguished, though the material is too scanty to glean much information about regional differentiation.Most Oscan inscriptions are written in the native Oscan alphabet; the Greek and Latin alphabets are also found, the former in the south, the latter in some later material. Around the mid-4th centurybce, the Oscan alphabet was modified to indicate more differences among vowels, resulting in the so-called Oscan national alphabet. Few inscriptions postdate the Social War. The material encompasses many genres, including dedicatory inscriptions, epitaphs, leges sacrae, inscriptions on public works, curse tablets, and coin legends. Among the most notable texts are the Tabula Bantina (recording a statute), the Cippus Abellanus (containing an agreement between Abella and Nola concerning a shared sanctuary of Hercules), a lex sacra from Agnone with a lengthy list of deities, various curse tablets from Cumae exhibiting archaic Italic poetic features, the so-called iúvila dedicatory inscriptions from Capua, a lengthy epitaph from Corfinium of both poetic and religious interest, and the eítuns-inscriptions from Pompeii that appear to be military notices put up during the Social War.

Article

Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg and Josef Wiesehöfer

Old Persian (abbr. OP), an *Indo-European language of western Iran (first millennium bce). The identification of an administrative document written in OP among the texts in the Persepolis Fortification Archive indicates that, contrary to previous orthodoxy, the written language was not limited to royal inscriptions. The syllabic script has only 44 signs. The oldest extant and largest inscription is that of *Bisitun. It is debated whether the script was invented by *Darius I or had predecessors in western Iran. The majority of texts dates from the reigns of Darius and *Xerxes I. Thereafter texts are scarcer and contain more errors. OP was the first *cuneiform script to be deciphered (Grotefend, Rawlinson).

Article

Michel Lejeune

Phrygian is known mainly from inscriptions, both at an early (Old Phrygian) and at a later (New Phrygian) stage. At some time in the 8th cent. bce, the Phrygians devised an alphabet adapted from Greek and Semitic models. In this are written some 250 Old Phrygian texts (mostly short, but with a few of reasonable length) ranging from the second half of the 8th cent. to the second half of the 3rd cent. bce, the majority belonging to the pre-*Achaemenid period (8th–6th cents. bce). They include monumental rock inscriptions, e.g. ates…midai lavagtaei vanaktei edaes, lit. ‘Ates…to Midas chief [and] king has dedicated’. During the Hellenistic and early Roman periods, Phrygian must have been reduced to use as a spoken vernacular, but from the 1st to the 3rd cents. ce it turns up again in written form, in the Greek alphabet. We have over 100 short New Phrygian inscriptions, most of them consisting of curse formulae, often added to epitaphs that are otherwise in Greek; e.g. iosni semoun knoumanei kakon abberet etitetikmenos eitou, lit.

Article

John Chadwick and Anna Morpurgo Davies

Writing in the Aegean area appears to be a native growth, although no doubt inspired by earlier scripts used in Anatolia and Egypt. Apart from an isolated case, it seems that all pre-alphabetic Aegean scripts are related, probably originate from Crete, and are syllabic. Except for Linear B and Classical Cypriot they are undeciphered and the names are purely conventional.The so-called hieroglyphic script was used in Crete mostly on seals and sealings but also on vases, clay tablets, and stone dating from the 18th and 17th cents. bce. Isolated seals were found in *Cythera and *Samothracia. There are some 350 (very short) documents; the script has between 90 and 100 different syllabic signs and a number of ideographic signs. The Arkhanes seals which date from 2100–1900 bce may belong here or with Linear A.The Linear A script is related but we do not know whether it derives from Hieroglyphic Cretan or a common source; it was widely used in Crete from the 19th to the 14th cents. bce and has been found in Minoan settlements in the islands of *Thera, *Melos, *Ceos, Cythera, Samothrace and most recently at *Miletus on the coast of Asia Minor (other find-places are controversial).

Article

John Chadwick

The Greek language is known to have been well established in mainland Greece and *Crete by the 13th cent. bce. But the presence of an earlier language in this area can be inferred from the classical place names, the majority of which are without meaning in Greek. In a few cases the resemblance to a Greek word may be fortuitous or the result of deliberate adaptation (e.g. Σπάρτη, Ῥόδος, Ναυπλία); most inhabited sites with Greek names are foundations of historical date (e.g. Ναύπακτος, Μεγαλόπολις). The elements used in the pre-Greek names can only be reliably identified if of sufficient length. The best examples are: (1) -ινθος, -υνθος as in Κόρινθος, Ζάκυνθος); since this suffix is absent from Asia Minor, but -ανδα is common there, it has been suggested that these have a common origin, but this cannot be proved.(2) -σσος (Attic and Boeotian -ττος) as Παρνασσός, Ἁλικαρνασσός (Λυκαβηττός, Γαργηττός); this should be distinguished from -σος (which is also Attic) as in Κηφισός, Πάμισος, often river names, but in Crete settlements such as Κνωσός, Ἀμνισός, Τυλισός.

Article

Anna Morpurgo Davies

The main features of the pronunciation of ancient Greek may be established through the study of contemporary documents, literary texts, spelling mistakes, puns, grammarians' statements, etc. (see pronunciation, latin). In many points we may claim only approximate accuracy, but it is certain that the pronunciation of ancient Greek was different from that of Modern Greek and also differed from most modern scholarly pronunciations which inevitably show the influence of national traditions and the scholar's first language. What follows mostly refers to Classical (late 5th cent. bce) Attic written in the Ionic alphabet (see alphabet, greek) and offers a traditional view of Attic pronunciation different from that of those scholars like Theodorsson who believe that by the 4th cent. this had already advanced a great deal further in the Modern Greek direction.Attic had five short and seven long vowels: [a, i, y, e, o, a:, i:, y:, .

Article

W. Sidney Allen and Jonathan G. F. Powell

Our knowledge of the pronunciation of classical Latin is derived from a variety of sources. Most direct are the specific statements of Latin grammarians and other authors (though allowance must be made for the fact that the former tend to be of later date). Other sources are: puns, word-play, contemporary etymologies, and onomatopoeia; the representation of Latin words in other ancient languages; later developments in the Romance languages; the spelling conventions of Latin, and especially any deviations from these; the internal structure of Latin itself and of its metrical patterns (see grammar, latin; etymology).

It is impossible to reconstruct the vocal totality of a language spoken before the invention of sound-recording; but we can make a reasonably good approximation to the sounds of standard urban Latin as spoken around the turn of the era. It should be remembered that the pronunciation of Latin must have varied chronologically, socially, and geographically. In particular, the relatively static nature of the written medium in later antiquity may well have concealed significant changes in pronunciation.

Article

Benjamin Fortson

The Punic language was the variety of the Northwest Semitic language Phoenician spoken in Carthage and its colonies in the western Mediterranean basin (see Phoenicians). Remains of the language have been found primarily in North Africa but also in France, Spain, Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands, and date from the 6th centurybce to the 5th centuryce. There is possible evidence that Punic continued to be spoken in North Africa as late as the Arab conquest in the 7th century. Until the fall of Carthage in 146bce, Punic was not distinct from a kind of standard Phoenician in use elsewhere, but after this time, when Carthage’s ties to the Phoenician homeland were severed, it diverged more noticeably, especially in its writing system but also in its phonology and lexicon, the latter affected by loanwords from other North African languages (in particular, Berber) and Latin. Inscriptions up to the fall of Carthage are written in the Phoenician alphabet, after which a cursive form, called Neo-Punic, is generally used instead. A collection of late inscriptions (4th–5th centuryce) from interior Tripolitania are written in the Latin alphabet, sometimes with admixture of Latin; and in a few cases the Greek alphabet was used as well.

Article

John Penney

The name is a conventional label applied to the language of some 220 very short inscriptions from the Alpine region to the north of Verona. These date from the 5th to 1st centuries bce and are written in an alphabet of Etruscan origin on bronze objects, antlers, or ceramics. The texts are not completely understood, but from certain similarities in vocabulary, and especially in the formation and declension of personal names, it has been shown that the language is related to Etruscan.

Article

Patricia Watson

Register (esp. Latin), the level of language, especially with respect to vocabulary, appropriate to a particular *genre. Studies have concentrated on poetic rather than prose texts, though there are distinctions between e.g. the speeches of *Cicero and his more colloquial prose letters.Latin prose and poetry share a common vocabulary: even the most elevated poetic genre, *epic, contains a large proportion of everyday words. There are, however, important differences between (1) poetry and prose and (2) the various genres of poetry.1. The language of poetry has been distinguished from that of prose by two methods. (a) Leumann demonstrated the existence of vocabulary and syntax with a peculiarly poetic colouring, i.e. not found in the ‘standard’ prose of *Caesar and Cicero.(b) Axelson showed that many words or classes of words (e.g. diminutives) occur rarely, if ever, in poetry; these he labelled unpoetisch (unpoetic).2. In selection of vocabulary, Latin poets were influenced by the place of their genre in a hierarchy which ranged from epic at the higher end to *epigram at the lower.

Article

Sabelli  

Edward Togo Salmon and T. W. Potter

Sabelli is not synonymous with *Sabini. It is the Roman name for speakers of *Oscan. They called themselves Safineis and their chief official *meddix. They expanded from their original habitat (reputedly Sabine Amiternum) by proclaiming sacred springs (see ver sacrum) and settling in fresh lands where they usually imposed their language and coalesced with the pre-Sabellian populations. Thus originated Samnites, Frentani, Campani, Lucani, Apuli, Bruttii, and Mamertini. (Paeligni, Vestini, Marrucini, Marsi, and Aequ (?), who spoke Oscan-type dialects, presumably had a similar origin.) These migrations were still continuing in the 5th cent. bce and later: Sabelli conquered *Campaniac.450–420, *Lucaniac.420–390; *Bruttii appeared c.356. But the Sabelli were more expansive than cohesive. The Samnites (see samnium), the most typical Sabelli, had no feeling of political unity with their ancestors the Sabines, nor the *Frentani with theirs, the Samnites.

Article

John Penney

Sabellic (or Sabellian) is the name given to a group of languages in ancient Italy, including Oscan and Umbrian, that belongs to the Italic branch of Indo-European (see italy, languages of for the use of “Italic” as a label for this group alone). An alternative name, still widely employed, is Osco-Umbrian, but the less cumbersome label Sabellic is increasingly to be found. It is based on what seems to have been the native term for the peoples of this linguistic community (see SABELLI): an element sab-/saf- may be recognized in such names as Samnium (Oscan safinim) and Sabini. (It is clear from recorded glosses and from personal names that the Sabini spoke a form of Sabellic, but there are virtually no inscriptions that can be assigned to them, apart from an unintelligible text on a vase from Poggio Sommavilla.) An older usage, still employed by some scholars, reserves the label Sabellic for the so-called minor dialects, such as Paelignian and Volscian.

Article

Semitic  

J. F. Healey

Semitic, a term derived from the Old Testament personal name Shem, refers to a middle eastern language group (used linguistically by A. L. Schlözer in 1781, though J. G. Eichhorn claimed priority). Principal ancient constituents are *Akkadian, Ugaritic (see ugarit), Phoenician (see phoenicians), *Aramaic, Biblical Hebrew, Sabaic, and Ethiopic (Ge῾ez).

Article

Benjamin Fortson

Sicel was the language of the Siculi, spoken in eastern Sicily and preserved in a few inscriptions in the Greek alphabet (see alphabet, Greek) and in a handful of glosses noted by ancient authors. Though the interpretation of the inscriptions is largely unclear, the language is usually thought to be Indo-European and may have been Italic. Securely Indo-European is the form pibe (“drink!”), inscribed on the bottom of a drinking vessel (cp. Sanskrit píba, Latin bibe).

Article

Benjamin Fortson

South Picene was the Sabellic language spoken in east-central coastal Italy by a people who called themselves Safinús (Sabines, see Sabini). Examples of the language are found on about two dozen inscriptions, which date mostly from the late 6th centurybce, with a few from the 4th. Almost all are funerary texts for warriors on monumental stelae. The South Picene alphabet was not fully deciphered until the mid-1980s by Anna Marinetti. Her work revealed texts of considerable linguistic and cultural interest. Several are poetic, most famously one that reads, postin viam videtas tetis tokam alies esmen vepses vepeten, meaning approximately “along/behind the road you see the toga/covering of Titus Alis, buried (?) in this tomb.” Its bipartite alliterative phrases and its run of three heptasyllables, each structured 2×2×3, are reminiscent of the Saturnian. Given the paucity and often poor preservation of the remains and difficulties with their interpretation, South Picene morphology and syntax can only be sketched, but it appears to be of the typical Sabellic type; noteworthy is a 3rd person plural, perfect ending in -úh, apparently from *-ont.

Article

An archaic Ionian Greek alphabet was employed along the Mediterranean coast in the area of the modern provinces of Alicante and Murcia in the 4th century bce to engrave inscriptions in the Iberian language. It does not make use of the characters 〈ε μ π φ θ χ〉. While the phoneme /e/ is represented by 〈η〉, it seems clear that [m] existed only as an allophone of /n/ and that /p ph th kh/ did not exist in the language.1Much more widespread and attested in many more inscriptions are distinct variants of a paleohispanic script. There is general agreement that the script was developed, probably in the 8th or 7th century bce, in the Iberian Peninsula and that its principal, perhaps, indeed, entire source is the Phoenician abjad, though some believe that certain characters are derived from the Greek alphabet.2 The paleohispanic script is distinct among writing systems of the ancient Mediterranean in that it is semi-moraic and semi-segmental. Characters for plosive phonemes include an inherent vowel, thus there are five separate characters for each plosive—for example, 〈Ta, Te, Ti, To, Tu〉—while simple vowels, sonorants, and sibilants are represented with alphabetic characters.