Episode 15: Etruscans, Romans and a Modified Alphabet

The first Indo-Europeans settle into Italy, but they encounter an existing civilization known as the Etruscans.  The Etruscans borrow the alphabet from the Greeks, and soon pass it on to the Romans. Our modern alphabet finally begins to emerge.

TRANSCRIPT: EPISODE 15

9 thoughts on “Episode 15: Etruscans, Romans and a Modified Alphabet

  1. I am only just discovering this podcast so excuse me for being so far behind. I noticed that the ordering of the Greek alphabet is almost identical to the Hebrew alphabet. Alpha/ aleph, beta/bet, gamma/gimmel, delta/dalet etc etc. Is Hebrew part of the Etruscan group or did they borrow from Greek independently?

    • The connection between the Hebrew alphabet and the Greek alphabet is really the Phoenician alphabet. The Phoenician alphabet was a Semitic alphabet that was very closely related to the Hebrew alphabet. Both were based on a common alphabet that was used in the Semitic world. The Greeks borrowed the Phoenician alphabet and modified it to fit their southern European language.

  2. There’s a great word for that “going both ways” style of writing: “boustrophedon,” referring to the way an ox turns back and forth when plowing the field.

  3. Great series!. Congrats!. I am too far behind, but I’ll keep going forward.
    The indoeurpoean tribes who finally settled in the Latium area had to travel through Etruscan ruled land. Were there any conflicts or fights during the migration?. The Etruscans had any kind of militia I suppose?. Regards.

    • I don’t know. I don’t think much is known from that period other than what can be discerned from archaeological evidence.

  4. I believe the Latin word for actor is histrio, whereas in the recording I heard you say it’s histor (hister?) (15:55-16:05). Was that an error or am I missing something?

  5. Here it reads “Late 16th century. From classical Latin histriōn-, histriō actor, performer in pantomime from hister actor, explained by Livy as of Etruscan origin (although the ancient grammarian Festus states that histriones were so called as the first actors came from Histria, a peninsula at the head of the Adriatic) + -iō.”
    And Titus Livius’s History of Rome, book 7, chapter 2 reads (bold is mine), “To the native performers the name of histriones was given, because hister, in the Tuscan vocabulary, was the name of an actor, who did not, as formerly, throw out alternately artless and unpolished verses like the Fescennine at random, but represented medleys complete with metre, the music being regularly adjusted for the musician, and with appropriate gesticulation.” (from Project Gutenberg)

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