David L. White dlwhite at
Tue Apr 10 23:51:49 UTC 2001

> So your North Aegean Proto-Etruscan (NAPE) civilization was respected and
> ancient, but below it is fairly small and heavily genericized. Now at least
> we know what to look for in the North Aegean: a civilization small but
> respected (like a wolverine?) and ancient but generic (like plain yogurt?).

        Yes.  I believe both descriptions might be applied to the
civilization of Troy, and I see nothing inherently contradictory or comical
about this.  More to the point, any bearers of Eastern Mediterranean
civilization, however generic, would have been impressive to the people of
Italy before these began (with the Etruscans) to ascend to the same level.

>> But a fairly small and heavily genericized (for lack of a better word) East
>> Mediterranean culture might not leave much of a signature.

> Then one wonders why this culture left such a prominent signature in such a
> large part of Italy.

        Because they continued to develop new styles of pottery etc., as did
the Greeks, and were not so subject to nearby foreign cultures at their
level.  The small fish became bigger by moving to a smaller pond.

> How can any culture be so successful as a colonial
> power, and such a nondescript failure at home?

    I did not say they were a failure.  Colonization to the west was all the
rage in the Eastern Mediterranean (not counting Egypt).  (It seems that
everyone was anticipating the later advice to "Go west, young man".)  But a
fairly small bunch that went west, in part because their position in the
east was becoming precarious, would almost have to go in mass (over the long
run), or those left behind would be put in even more dire straits.
        There is evidence that the Trojans were a small bunch, in the fact
that their armies are described as being multi-lingual, whereas the Greeks
were pretty clearly multilingual.  (Now just where in the Iliad is that?)
Clearly they were not able to match the Greeks in putting fellow-speakers
(so to speak) in the field, and their forces were composed largely of the
tributary forces of other states, of other languages.   This does not
suggest that the native Trojans were ever a large group.  (Nor are they very
distinctive archeologically, as far as I know.)

> The example of Mamurke Tursikina comes from Clusium, in a peripheral zone
> where we already know that both Umbrian and Etruscan were spoken. Someone
> wealthy enough to hand out custom-made golden objects doesn't belong to the
> lower class anyway.

        I didn't say he was lower-class; I said he was living among
non-Etruscans, or his name does not make much sense.

> In any case, since it's _your_ theory of mysterious North Aegeans bringing
> language and High Culture to Etruria, it's up to _you_ to find the
> linguistic evidence. It's not up to me (or the rest of the nativist crowd)
> to argue with hypothetical positions or unpresented data.

        I am not exactly the only person to say that Etruscan civilization
did not arise semi-miraculously in Tuscany as a result of Greek and
Phonecian contacts that can only be shown to have been significant in
Campania.  Since a date of 1200 is too early for real Etruscans in Italy, I
would imagine that most migrationists must posit an interlude somewhere in
the northern Aegean, or not far from it.

>> Speaking yet more of hinterlands, I would like to know the extent of this
>> aspiration thing in Italian, and why, if it is characteristic of Tuscan
>> generally, it is not in the standard language, which according to my
>> understanding is a recent derivative of Tuscan, Rome having become
>> effectively depopulated at at least one point during the Middle Ages.

> If memory serves, Dante chose to compose
> poetry in the Tuscan dialect (with the addition of some forms from northern
> dialects) because the heavy stress and distinct stress-timing allowed
> phonetic parallelism on the basis of polysyllabic homoioteleuton, or
> "rhyming". Dante has been called "the father of Italian poetry" which is
> subjective but not really "wrong", and also "the father of modern Italian"
> which is nonsense. Not even Bill Clinton could "father" a language. Some
> cavalier statement like that probably got mixed in with the facts about
> Dante's writing.

        That is the version I got, though I doubt oral transmision has
played a role.   More like over-simplification.

Dr. David L. White

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