5/11/06 Piacenza Liver, a device Etruscans used to teach divination.
Part of a work relating to Etruscan Phrases,showing Etruscan conjugation and declension patterns, vocabulary and translations;
Etruscan etymological relationships to other Indo-European languages; Proto-Indo-European (PIE);
featuring Table 1, Indo-European words as they relate to Etruscan words
Copyright © 1981-2006 Mel Copeland. All rights reserved.

Piacenza Liver
by Mel Copeland

Translation of the Etruscan model of a sheep liver from Piacenza

This is my first attempt to translate the Piacenza Liver. The translation is based upon Etruscan Phrases Table 1 vocabulary and expands our knowledge of the Etruscan language. Many have claimed to have translated the liver but the attempts do not take into consideration grammatical requirements that would apply to all texts. Etruscan Phrases Table 1 reflects a vocabulary and conjugation / declension patterns that are consistent with all extant Etruscan texts that are covered in Etruscan Phrases.

As a background note, I called the work, "Etruscan Phrases" with the intention to decipher and translate the Etruscan language using the technique of isolating individual words and phrases. Where words and phrases repeat (regardless of any attempt to discern their meaning) one can isolate the foundations of a grammatical pattern. Following this premise we focused on the longer Etruscan texts, beginning with the Tavola Eugubine part of which a professor at Stanford University claimed to have translated and said it was in the Oscan language. In correspondence with him years ago I pointed out that he cannot claim to translate a language by using only a piece of the body of the extant scripts. Whatever grammar that exists in a language has to be consistent in all texts. His translation did not correspond to my findings, since the Tavola Eugubine is in a language consistent with the other extant Etruscan scripts covered in the Etruscan Phrases website.

My work on the Piacenza Liver is based upon three different photos – showing different angles – and a common transliteration found on the internet. Through the three different views I was able to correct the common transliteration seen on most sites on the Piacenza Liver. There are parts of the liver that are still hard to read, and another photo of the bronze would be helpful in this regard.

Piacenza liver rendition by Mel Copeland, correcting some errors from renderings found on the internet

The Piacenza Liver appears to have been used by Etruscan augurs as a teaching instrument in forcasting using a sheep's liver. There are three areas of the liver that are noted within the text of the liver, which one should be able to discern by looking at it. On the left is an area called "The Net." The Etruscans wrote from right to left, and where there is some doubt as to the direction of reading the scribes faced the letter(s) in the direction they are to be read. In some scripts where an "F" might be able to go with the word before or after it, if it went together with the word preceeding it the scribe would face the "F" in that direction, countering the actual direction the other letters in the phrase would face. Also, they used a colon or a dot to separate words and phrases. These puncutation marks, in fact, became quite important – as they were intended – in reading the Etruscan texts. When in doubt I looked at the punctuation marks. This was particularly important in translating the Tavola Cortonensis.

Forgive my handwriting. If I have time I will redo the rendering.

The Net reads after the manner of a wheel, beginning with PL-1, LES VFELI, "Law of the sheep." The next region, PL-6, reads Te LVS Ce, "to you the light here, " followed by PL-5, "LER A and PL-4, "SELFA," meaning "the Lord / god to save." The last region of The Net is PL-3, CILEN and PL-2 ES SATR, meaning "they are quick ; he is the begetter / saver."

Another area of the Piacenza Liver is in its center, in an area called "TIVS ARC" : arch of the god. Rounding the lobe in the arch one reads AFIS LARI, "Eternal gods." Adjacent to it is a region, PL-7, PER _ _ and PL-11, RET PEVRI, meaning, " by_ _ net to propitiate."

The right hand area of the liver has to do with "hearing / reading beginning with PL-21, CARE, "he cares for, cures" then PL-20, BVB LVS, possibly a name, "Boblos." PL-19 is LARV, "ghost, spectre" and PL-17 is LER E, translated at TC 31 and K-1 as "gods, lords," but this may mean "the Lord e, ex (from)" following the example at PL-5, LER A, "god to.." Lar, Laris appear most frequently in the scripts, meaning god, pl. gods. The word refers to Roman tutelary / household deities.

The next panel is PL-18, RPIS but combined as a phrase with PL-17 reads god ERPIS, "god of vegetation." Working back up the liver we find PL-14, TINIR PER and PL-15, RV8ARAS, "to ring, tinkle, talk shrilly through hardwood /oak," i.e., the sacred oaks. Then PL-16 says TINI RF8, "he / it rang / shrilled disgrace."

The bands around the liver appear to voice the message in the three main regions, with the left being salvation and the right harboring disgrace and through the vegetation connection the promise of rebirth where one can go through the arch of god through the AFIS LARI "eternal gods" who adjoin RET PEORI, the Net to Propitiate (PL-11), where the Law of the Sheep, PL-1, begins.

The band above the RET PEVRI is PL-22, CILENI, which appears to be L. silanus-i, "fountains," but probably is CI LENI Le: that / which he makes straight there. The band, PL-28, 8V8LVNS, has been translated by scholars as "Flufluns," the Etruscan Bacchas or Dionysius, the vegetation god. Reading along the band in the direction the letters face, from right to left, there is PL-27, SELFA, L. salveo-are, to save, repeated directly below the panel carrying the same word. The next panels in the order, PL-26, LER NI, may be "no god," but the character "I" is not clear. NI is used in the Zagreb Mummy script, Z386, SAC NI CLERI, and may mean L. ne, indeed, truly. NE and NA are used in abundance in the Etruscan scripts. Panels PL-25 and PL-24 are hard to read.

Panel PL-23, CFLAN, may be "food" (L. culina-ae, f. kitchen, meton. food, fare)

The band on the right of the liver reinforces what we already know from the region adjacent to it: PL-34, TIN CILEN, "the ring of fountains," PL-33, TIN RE8, "the ring I echo / make to resound" (L. reboo-are, to echo, resound, make to resound), PL-32, TINI HE, and PL-31, VNI RAE and PL-30 YEIFA, appear to mean, "it has sounded of the goddess Uni the defendant /accused (L. reus-i, m. and rea-ae, f.) she drives back (L. reveho-vehere-vexi-vectum, to carry back, drive back). The panel, PL-29, LFS Le, seems to conclude this region of the arch of the god, referring perhaps back to atonement, PL-11. LFS Le appears to be L. luo-lure, "to atone" there, through the AFIS LARI, eternal gods, around the arch of god to PL-11, RET PEVRI, the net of propitiation. PL-7, PER _ _ is probably LER NA, god of nothing and appears to be a region like pergatory. It's a dead end. The long lobe, PL-35, is hard to read, but the letters on the tip appear to be REN. The word is used frequently, read as "I reign" (L. regno-are, to reign). It declines as RENA, RENeS, RENeR, RENI, RENV.

A line-by-line description follows: These words have been inserted into Etruscan Phrases Table 1.

PL-1 LES VFELI [Translation: The law (L. lex, legis, f.) of the sheep (L. ovillus-a; of sheep; ovile-is, a sheepfold, an enclosure)]
PL-2 SATR ES [Translation: the begetter (L. sator-oris) he is (L. es)]
PL-3 CILEN [Translation: they make quick (L. celero-are)]
PL-4 SELFA [Translation: he saves (L. salveo-are)
R A [Translation: god / lord (L. lar, lares) to (L. a)] Note: LER appears at Z5, K13, LERES, Z155, LERI, Z122, Z224, Z851. 1
PL-6 Te LVS Ce [Translation: you (L. te) the light (L. lux, lucis, f.) here (Fr. ici)] Note: LVS appears at TC71.
PL-7 PER _ _ [Translation: through (L. per) _ _ ]
PL-8 AFIS [Translation: eternity (L. aevus-i)] Note: This word appears at S-10, S-30, the Lemnos Script.
PL-9 LARI [Translation: gods / lords (L. Lar, Laris, m. plur. Lares)]
PL-10 ARC TIVS [Translation: the arc / arch (L. arcus-us, m. a bow, arch, arc, esp. the rainbow) of god / the divine (L deus, divus, m., numen divinum, god; dius-a-um, divine, god-like)] Note:
TIVS appears at N738 and HJ-3; ARC appears at TC127, TC236 (CLENI ARC) , possibly TC260
RET PEVRI [Translation: the net (L. rete-is) of propitiation (L. pio-are, to appease, propitiate, venerate, atone for)]
PL-12-13 Not used
R PER [Translation: to ring, tinkle, talk shrilly, pay money (L. tinnio-ire) by (L. per)] Note: TINiRS appears at Z522, TINiS appears at Z439, Z572, CA-1, a statue of the Chimera. The inscription on its leg tells you to pay up.
RV8ARAS [Translation: oak (L. rubur-oris, m., hardwood, oak) ; alternate could be Robigus, Rub, the deity invoked to preserve grain (L. Robigus, Rub-i) you plow (L. aro-are)]
PL-16 TINI RF8 [L. to the god Tin, Tini (L. Jupiter; Gr. Zeus) I am red, I blush (L. rubeo-ere)] Note: Tin, Tini appear frequently in Scripts Z and TC; Tinia is shown in the Divine Mirror.html.
PL-17 LER E [Translation: the god / lord (L. lar, lares)
PL-18 (E)RPIS [Translation: vegetation (L. herba-ae, f.) Note: the god / triumph of vegetation seems to be the theme of PL-14 through PL-18. Directly below the Net of Propitiation is the name 8V8LVNS, interpreted by scholars as Fufluns, the Etruscan Bacchas or Dionysius, the god of vegetation and rebirth.
PL-19 LARV [Translation: the ghost, spectre (L. arua [larua]-ae, f., a ghost, spectre, mask)] Note: This word appears at TC108, K43, AN31, LS-1.
PL-20 8V8 LVS [Translation: I vow / pray (L. voveo, vovere, vovi, votum, to vow, promise to god, to pray for, to wish) of the light (L. lux, lucis, f.)] Note: 8V8 is used at N607: TRE8: 8V8 KALE RV8: ; See RV8, PL-15 above. LVS is used in several scripts (See Table 1) and the Mirror from Tuscania shows an augur (haruspex) examining a liver with the goddess Dawn driving the sun-chariot overhead. The ceremony for Tarquin thus is shown on this mirror as taking place at dawn. The play of light on the liver would appear to be important..
PL-21 CA
RE [Translation: you care for, cure, minister to (L. curo-are)] Note: This word declines: CAR, Z582; CARV, K18 : LER CARV TEI. Script "K," the Perugia Cippus, is an important script that contains a list of kings and queens. A significant queen, RENF SARINA, has a bronze bust in the Louvre, Museum which has her name inscribed on her forehead, just as it appears in script K.
PL-22 CILENI Le [Translation: This is probably a name, Cileni] Note: The word possibly refers to: which / that (L. quae; It. ci, that, about it) he made straight / straightened (L. lineo-are) there (le, la)] Note: CI appears in scripts Z, TC, K, M, and AJ-9. LENI appears in Script TC; LENIES is at R426. This may be the word,
L. silanus-i, "fountains" ; however, the word, PHVNT, PHVNTA, PHVNTE, PHVNTIA (L. fontanus-a-um) appears in scripts N, Q and R. See PL-34.
PL-23 CFLAN [Translation: kitchen, menton. food, fare (L. culina-ae, f.)] Note: KFLIN appears at L-7, Novilara Alphabet : ATHINE Mi CHFLIN PARIEMUS (Athena my food we purify).
PL-24 CE L S (unreadable)
PL-25 LVS S _ (unreadable)
PL-26 LERNI [Translation: no god / lord?] Note: This may refer to Lerna, a Greek town where the Alcyonian Lake, entrance to Hades was located. The word is interestingly located next to SELVA, "he saves."
PL-27 SELFA [Translation: he saves (L. salveo-are)] Note: See PL-4.
PL-28 8V8 LVNS [Translation: I vow / pray (L. voveo, vovere, vovi, votum, to vow, promise to god, to pray for, to wish) of the loins? (L. lumbus, m.; It. lonza, ounce, f. ; Fr. longe, f.)
PL-29 LFS Le [Translation: I loose, expiate, atone for (L. luo, lueere, lui, luitrus, to loose, to expiate, atone for, make good) there (le)] Note: LVRI, HA-2, is used in a script on a statue of an augur in the context: "Behold, he atoned for the true offspring."
PL-34 TIN CILEN [Translation: I ring (L. tinnio-ire) or to the god Tini of Cilen (name?)] Note: See PL-22 and PL-3.
PL-33 TIN RE8 [Translation: to the god Tini I dream, muse (Fr. rever ; L. somnio-are, to dream; It. sognare); this may be "I revere," L. venerari ; Fr. révérer)] Note: This word declines: RE8, RE8A, Pyrgi Gold Tablets, Au17, Au74, and RE8V, N16.
PL-32 TINI HE [Translation: the god Tini he has (L. habeo-ere, to have, hold, have about one, contain, possess)] Note: The Etruscan verb "to have" conjugates very much like French, Italian and more particularly Spanish: HV (ho) HA, HE. Third person singular, HE, appears frequently in Script Z and at K136. HV appears in Scripts Z, M and K.
PL-31 VNI RAE [Translation: the goddess Uni (Etruscan consort of Tini) she expunges (Fr. rayer, to stripe, streak, cancel, erase, expunge, strike out ; It. raschiare)] Note: RAE appears at Z412; RA appears at Z761, TC120, R36 and K113.
PL-30 YEIFA [Translation gods (L. deus, divus)]

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Alternatively LER could relate to triumph, the laurel (L. laurus-i)

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Updated: 5.10.06; 5.11.06

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Copyright © 1981-2006 Mel Copeland. All rights reserved. Use of the information on this page is expressly forbidden for purposes of publication in any media without the prior written consent of the author.