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The Lapis Niger and the Iguvine tablets

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I find these two documents to be fascinating.....

The Iguvine tablets....



And the Lapis Niger (or, more accurately, the inscription found thereapon.)



In an imaginary world I would have friends with whom who I could discuss this kind of stuff, but that is not the case. If I did, and I was going to give a friend the low down on what I think the Lapis Niger says, I would tell them that it is a warning, like a road construction sign, that passers-by should take care while passing the coming religious precinct. They should take care because there may be religious ceremonies goin on and auguries being taken and they should not disturb these rituals, under pain of punishment of the King. Indeed, one should remove the yoke from his oxen such that the chance that their ox might drop a loaf would be reduced.

Now, I know almost nothing about Latin. The Latin inscribed on the Lapis Niger is very old and obscure. It is sometimes claimed to be the oldest Latin inscription known. Indeed, to me, it looks a bit like Greek, literally. Expert attempts at translation frequently point out that their attempts are a best-effort, and its meaning is still obscure. So, my hypothetical pal, to whom I would be bantering, would get a similar qualification from me.

Yet, now, I have discovered a translation of a portion of the Iguvine Tablets which illustrates quite well the kind of message which I think the Lapis Niger is attempting to purvey. Here it is, a copy and paste from Wikipedia.....



VI Side a

Lustration of the arx

Introductory auspices: As in 1, the sacrifice is to be preceded by the taking of the auspices. Formulae passed between the augur and the arfertur (legum dictio); warning against noises, interruptions, meddling; boundaries of the augural templum; formulae of announcement of the auspices (conspectio, nuntiatio); prescriptions applying to the ensuing sacrifice concerning the military rod (pirsca arsmatia), the disposition of the pots and the fire."



And that ends my post.







Edited by Michael Clark
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