Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Etruscan Mythology and Religion: Part 1 of 2

I wanted to make one thing clear to start with. Now that all of the posts from the old Lombardian-American blog have been merged here, as well as many existing posts regarding the history of the ancient Lombards, it could give one the impression of some type of "Lombardophile" concept here. Also, other organizations see Lombard or Celtic heritage as the mainstay of Northern Italian historical identity. While we do utilize symbolic aspects of the Kingdom of the Lombards, we recognize the Etruscans (including the early Italic tribes) as our native stock.

It should be pointed out, again, that the Lombard flag has an Odal Rune in its center, which is actually Etruscan in origin, and it represents the sovereign Northern Italian (Langbard) state. The Romans defeated the Etruscans in war, then absolutely destroyed everything that was Etruscan in the land. It almost reminds me of how Globalists in various nations today, actually attack their own national interests and sovereignty for their personal financial gain. Had this not occurred, history may have ended up being very different than it was. There may have been a permanent Northern Etruria, and the Greeks or Carthaginians may have overtaken the Southern Italian peninsula eventually. In any case, the spirituality of the Etruscans is an area that we do need to take a look at.

Prior to the advance of the Roman Church into the north, there was the Etruscan religion ("
Disciplina Etrusca"?; "Etruscan Trinity"?), Celtic witchcraft (and Celtic Druidism?), and Lombard Odinism (Odin, which they called Wotan or Wodan). However, while I find all of this to be very interesting, it was the Etruscan spirituality which was the one that was homegrown and apparently not shared anywhere else (other than some Greek overlap). When we look at Etruscan gods and mythology, we see that it has all the intrigue of the Greek and Norse gods and mythology. The only difference being that the Romans smothered out the Etruscans from their place in history, and therefore cut it off from it's rightful, inherent, and original Greek-like glory.

There really could have developed a permanent Etruria! Rather than moving towards a Roman-style "empire," they could have developed their own nation and would have been able to defeat any invaders. Again, this seems to me to be directly linked with the Roman devastation of Etruria, which was almost like an internal coup d'etat. Sure, they may have later adopted many of the old Etruscan customs, and perhaps held a certain reverence for them, similar to Americans later holding a reverence of the American Indians, but the world is only now beginning to see the significance of their civilization and place in history. I will state it once again, everything of the Etruscans was especially native to basically Northern Italy. Etruscan civilization extended from around Naples, up to southern Lombardy.

Etruscan mythology (Wikipedia)

The Etruscans were a people of unknown origin living in Northern Italy, who were eventually integrated into Roman culture and politically became part of the Roman Republic. The Etruscans had both a religion and a supporting mythology. Many Etruscan beliefs, customs and divinities became part of Roman culture, including the Roman pantheon. The Etruscans believed that their religion had been revealed to them in early days by seers.

Polytheistic belief system

The Etruscan system of belief was an immanent polytheism; that is, all visible phenomena were considered to be a manifestation of divine power and that power was subsided into deities that acted continually on the world of man and could be dissuaded or persuaded in favor of human affairs. Three layers are evident in the extensive Etruscan art motifs. One appears to be divinities of an indigenous nature: Catha and Usil, the sun, Tivr, the moon, Selvans, a civil god, Turan, the goddess of love, Laran, the god of war, Leinth, the goddess of death, Maris, Thalna, Turms and the ever-popular Fufluns, whose name is related in some unknown way to the city of Populonia and the populus Romanus. Perhaps he was the god of the people.

Ruling over this pantheon of lesser deities were higher ones that seem to reflect the Indo-European system: Tin or Tinia, the sky, Uni his wife (Juno), and Cel, the earth goddess. In addition the Greek gods were taken into the Etruscan system: Aritimi (Artemis), Menrva (Minerva; Latin name for Athena), and Pacha (Bacchus; Latin name for Dionysus) during the Orientalising Period of 850-650 BCE. The heroes taken from Homer also appear extensively in art motifs.

Religious practices

The Etruscans believed in intimate contact with divinity. They did nothing without proper consultation with the gods and signs from them. These practices were taken over in total by the Romans. A god was called an ais (later eis) which in the plural is aisar. Where they were was a fanu or luth, a sacred place, such as a favi, a grave or temple. There one would need to make a fler (plural flerchva) "offering".

Around the mun or muni, the tombs, were the man or mani (Latin Manes), the souls of the ancestors. In iconography after the 5th century BC, the deceased are shown traveling to the underworld. In several instances of Etruscan art, such as in the Francois Tomb, a spirit of the dead is identified by the term hinthial (literally "(one who is) underneath"). A special magistrate, the cechase, looked after the cecha, or rath, sacred things. Every man, however, had his religious responsibilities, which were expressed in an alumnathe or slecaches, a sacred society. No public event was conducted without the netsvis, the haruspex, or his female equivalent, the nethsra. They read the bumps on the liver of a properly sacrificed sheep. We have a model of a liver made of bronze, whose religious significance is still a matter of heated debate, marked into sections which perhaps are meant to explain what the bump in that region should mean. Divination through haruspicy is a tradition originating from the Fertile Crescent.

Beliefs of the hereafter

Like the Egyptians, the Etruscans believed in eternal life, but prosperity there was linked to funeral prosperity here. The tombs in many cases imitated domestic structures and were characterized by spacious chambers, wall paintings and grave furniture. Most Etruscan tombs have been plundered. In the tomb, especially on the sarcophagus, was a representation of the dead person in his or her prime, probably as they wanted to be in the hereafter. Some of the statuary is the finest and most realistic of any. We have no problem visualizing the appearance of the Etruscans. They wanted us to see them smiling and intimate with their kith and kin around them, as we do.


The mythology is attested by a number of sources.

Mythological systems

The primary trinity included Tinia, Uni and Menrva.

List of Etruscan mythological figures

The names below were taken mainly from Etruscan "picture bilinguals", which are Etruscan call-outs on art depicting mythological scenes or motifs. Several different media provide names. Variants of the names are given, reflecting differences in language in different localities and times.

Many of the names are Etruscan spellings (and pronunciations) of Greek names. The themes may or may not be entirely Greek. Etruscans frequently added their own themes to Greek myths. The same may be said of native Italic names rendered into Etruscan. Some names are entirely Etruscan. Which is which is often a topic of debate in the international forum of scholarship.

Apulu, Aplu

The Etruscan equivalent of the Greek god, Apollo.

Aritimi, Artumes

Equated with the Greek goddess, Artemis. Infrequently depicted in Etruscan art.


Etruscan god of wine, identified with Dionysus. The name is used in the expressions Fufluns Pacha (Bacchus) and Fufluns Pachie. Puplona (Populonia) was named from Fufluns.


With Perseus, the main Etruscan hero, the adopted son of Uni/Juno, who suckled the adult Hercle. His image appears more often than any other on Etruscan carved hardstones. His name appears on the bronze Piacenza Liver, used for divination (hepatoscopy), a major element of Etruscan religious practice. His Etruscan epithet, sometimes substituted for his name, is Calanice, "beautiful victory", derived from Greek Kallinikos


Etruscan God of war.


One of a class of deities, plural Lasas, mainly female, but sometimes male, from which the Roman Lares came. Where the latter were the guardians of the dead, the Etruscan originals formed the court of Turan. Lasa often precedes an epithet referring to a particular deity: Lasa Sitmica, Lasa Achununa, Lasa Racuneta, Lasa Thimrae, Lasa Vecuvia.

Man, Mani

Etruscan class of spirits representing "the dead" and yet not the same as a hinthial, "ghost." From the Mani came the Latin Manes, which are both "the good" and the deified spirits of the dead.

Menerva, Menrva

The Etruscan original to the Roman Minerva, made into Greek Athena.


Italic divinity, probably Umbrian, of springs and water, identified with Greek Poseidon and Roman Neptune, from which the name comes. It occurs in the expression flere Nethuns, "the divinity of Nethuns."


God who appears in the expression Selvansl Tularias, "Selvans of the boundaries", which identifies him as a god of boundaries. The name is borrowed from the Roman god, Silvanus.


An Etruscan culture hero who, with his brother, Tyrrhenus, founded the Etruscan Federation of twelve cities.

Tinia, Tina, Tin

Chief Etruscan god, the ruler of the skies, husband of Uni, and father of Hercle, identified with the Greek Zeus and Roman Jupiter well within the Etruscan window of ascendance, as the Etruscan kings built the first temple of Jupiter at Rome. Called apa, "father" in inscriptions (parallel to the -piter in Ju-piter), he has most of the attributes of his Indo-European counterpart, with whom some have postulated a more remote linguistic connection. The name means "day" in Etruscan. He is the god of boundaries and justice. He is depicted as a young, bearded male, seated or standing at the center of the scene, grasping a stock of thunderbolts. According to Latin literature, the bolts are of three types: for warning, good or bad interventions, and drastic catastrophes. Unlike Zeus, Tin needs the permission of the Dii Consentes (consultant gods) and Dii Involuti (hidden gods) to wield the last two categories. A further epithet, Calusna (of Calu), hints at a connection to wolves or dogs and the underworld. In post-classical Tuscan folklore he became an evil spirit, Tigna, who causes lightning strikes, hail, rain, whirlwinds and mildew.


Etruscan goddess identified with Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus. She appears in the expression, Turan ati, "Mother Turan", equivalent to Venus Genetrix.[19] Her name is a noun meaning "the act of giving" in Etruscan, based on the verb stem tur- 'to give.'

Turms, TurmÅ›

Etruscan god identified with Greek Hermes and Roman Mercurius. In his capacity as guide to the ghost of Tiresias, who has been summoned by Odysseus, he is Turms Aitas, "Turms Hades."


Supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon, wife of Tinia, mother of Hercle, and patroness of Perugia. With Tinia and Menrva, she was a member of the ruling triad of Etruscan deities. Uni was the equivalent of the Roman Juno (Iuno), whose name Uni may be derived from, and the Greek Hera.


Etruscan winged demon of the underworld often depicted in the company of Charun. She could be present at the moment of death, and frequently acted as a guide of the deceased to the underworld.

List of Etruscan mythological figures

Greek deities and their Roman and Etruscan counterparts

No comments: