Duenos Inscription

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The Duenos inscription, as recorded by Heinrich Dressel.

The Duenos Inscription is one of the earliest known Old Latin texts, dating from circa the 6th century BC. It was found by Heinrich Dressel in 1880 on a vase on the Quirinal Hill in Rome. It is difficult to translate, as there are very few spaces and some letters are hard to distinguish, particularly since they are in Old Latin.

There are many different translations advanced by scholars ever since it was found. Since we do not have a large body of Latin literature, and the Romans inscriptions were used to be abbreviated, no one can be certain exactly what it says. To further complicate things, there are no spaces in-between the letters, so even figuring which letters belong to which words is difficult.

Below is the transcription and merely one of the interpretations:

a. the direct transcription
b. direct transcription with possible macrons and word breaks
c. a speculative interpretation in Classical Latin
d. an English translation of that interpretation.

Line 1:

a. IOVESATDEIVOSQOIMEDMITATNEITEDENDOCOSMISVIRCOSIED
b. iouesāt deiuōs qoi mēd mitāt, nei tēd endō cosmis vircō siēd
c. Iurat deos qui me mittit, ni in te (=erga te) comis virgo sit
d. The person who sends(?) me prays to the gods, if the girl is not kind towards you

Line 2:

a. ASTEDNOISIOPETOITESIAIPACARIVOIS
b. as(t) tēd noisi o(p)petoit esiāi pācā riuois

Line 3:

a. DVENOSMEDFECEDEN MANOMEINOMDVENOINEMEDMALOSTATOD
b. duenos mēd fēced en mānōm einom duenōi nē mēd malo(s) statōd
c. Bonus me fecit inmanom einom bono, ne me malus (tollito, clepito)
d. A good man made me ?? for the purpose of good, evil shall not take me.

"Duenos" is an older form of Latin bonus, "good", just as bellum (war) is from Old Latin duellum. Some scholars posit Duenos as a proper name, instead of merely an adjective.

The Praenestine fibula was once thought to be the earliest surviving evidence of Latin and to date to the 7th century BC, but is now believed by most scholars to have been a well-informed hoax.

[edit] References

Duenos Inscription

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