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Bern and New York. Documentation — Visualization — Imagination, ed. Related to the marriage was their function as instruments of prophecy. Part of this ritual, as in India today, was the prophecy. Regularly used in religious ritual and for political purposes, 25 prophecy was used privately in marriage, and the act of reading the prophecy is a recurrent motif in scenes of weddings and marriage. It occurs in a series of finely crafted mirrors derived from the same original source.
Though some of the names differ from one mirror to the other, the story is basically the same. On an uninscribed mirror in Princeton fig. Also recurrent in the lower exergue is the small female figure, probably a Lasa. She holds out her mantle in a gesture normally associated to the bridal or wifely gesture of lifting the veil — it is often an attribute of Hera, for example. This gesture has recently been convincingly associated with prophetic scenes: Here the nude standing figure labelled Thethis is at her toilette, assisted by the Nereid Calaina, or Galene, who is on the ground, offering her a jewel.
But the many examples of prophecies that Nancy de Grummond has collected have convinced me that with this gesture he is registering his amazement at quite another sight. His hair, standing on end on his head, shows his horror at the revelation of the terrible outcome of the marriage: Where she sees only the image of her face, he sees the birth of Achilles, the Trojan war, and the suffering it brought to both Greeks and Trojans.
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London, British Museum Bonfante, , fig. It shows the embrace of two lovers, labelled Fasia and Mexio — evidently their real names, in the Praenestine dialect. Ceisia Loucilia fata ret[tulit]. Iunio[s] Setio[s] atois ret[tulit, which tells us that Ceisia Lucilia is relating the prophecy to them. Ceisia Loucilia interprets the prophecy fata. In the center of an attentive crowd, Pava Tarchies, wearing the hat of a priest, left leg raised in the ritual pose for prophecy, examines a liver fig. In the exergue above we see the quadriga of Thesan, the Dawn, recording the time of day, an important aspect of the ritual.
His wings are characteristically Etruscan, often applied to figures that were not normally winged in Greek myth. This scene uses the name of a Greek seer, Calchas, for a priest carrying of the native Etruscan ritual. This was true in Greece, as we saw from their appearance on the Attic stelai. One of the most popular, the story of Admetus and Alcestis, is illustrated on three monuments of the fourth century, a mirror and two red-figure vases.
As in the tragedy by Euripides that inspired them, they play with various elements of this story about Admetus, who earned the privilege of staying alive at the cost of sending his aged parents or his wife to die in his place. Flanking the couple are two figures, unlabeled.
The handsome youth on the left who turns his back as he leaves, shoes in hand, represents either Hymenaios or Thanatos — the torch he holds could be for either - or both - the wedding or the funeral, the marriage or the death that are so much a part of the story. On the right, an old woman with pendulous breasts and unkempt hair, a death demon, anoints Alcestei for a fateful marriage or an early death.
Etruscan mirror from Civita Castellana Falerii. The red-figure vase in Paris again show us on either side wait to escort Alcestis to the Underworld. The scene is accompanied by one of the few narrative inscriptions in Etruscan, which echoes a line from Euripides: Boston Museum of Fine Arts Museum photo. The longer legal, religious and ritual inscriptions regularly include the word zich , referring to the fact that they were written. The solemnity of the written style comes through even in the limited amount of written material that has come down to us.
On a mirror from Volterra, an enthroned Uni nurses a full-grown, bearded Hercele in order to make him immortal and eligible for admission into Olympos fig. The ritual act takes place in the presence of a solemn gathering of divine witnesses, On the right, Tinia points to a tablet that documents the adoption: Eca sren tva ichnac hercle unial clan.
Lasa, Ajax and Amphiaraos, a seer fig. We would expect the winged female to be called Vanth, the female spirit who, along with Charu, accompanies the dead on their dangerous journey to the Afterworld. Perhaps at some level the names of Lasa and Vanth are interchangeable. Etruscan mirror in London, British Museum Bonfante , fig. That is why Laris Pulenas is shown displaying his genealogy and priesthoods documented on the scroll, and why priests are portrayed on their urns with the attributes of their priesthood, including the sacred linen books from which they read out the rituals they celebrated in their lifetime.
By the second half of the third century, a less aristocratic clientele was acquiring smaller, simpler Etruscan bronze mirrors. On these the most frequent images were winged Lasas and Dioscouroi, without benefit of inscription. The Lasas often hold alabastra, unguent jars and dipsticks like those we have seen being used in various ritual scenes fig. We have seen that this was not always the case.
Writing functions on many mirrors as a way of elevating the daily to the ritual. As in an epithalamium, they move the scene to a mythological level, equating the married couple to mythological lovers. But these mirrors also had a special power: Its ritual functions gave it a symbolic, magical force. In interpreting the scenes represented on these mirrors, we do not have to choose between genre scenes and mythological figures: A mirror carries with it the special power and the symbolic meaning it had for the mater familias and her family, in the home during her lifetime and at her death in the grave and in the world beyond.
I have not always been able in this short account to acknowledge properly my debts to them and to other scholars who have dealt with the iconography of Etruscan mirrors, but I am most appreciative of their insights. Austin, TX, , p. Izzet, The Archaeology of Etruscan society , Cambridge, Many more will be cited in the following notes. Ambrosini, Le raffigurazioni degli operatori del culto sugli specchi etruschi , in M.
Storia delle religioni III, Verona, , p. Wedding and funerary dress: Negroni Catacchio, Le vesti sontuose e gli ornamenti. Ritual and reality in classical Athens , New York, , p. Special techniques in Athenian vases , Malibu, , p. Younger, Women in Relief: University of Texas Press , p. Clairmont, Classical Attic tombstones , 6 vols. Masci, Picturae Etruscorum in Vasculis. La raccolta vaticana e il collezionismo di vasi antichi nel primo Settecento. Documenti e Monografie I, Rome, , Cat.
Classical Studies 12 Berkeley, , pl. For Etruscan mirrors and Praenestine cistas, see de Grummond, Guide , op. This book deals with many of the topics mentioned in this essay. Menichetti, Lo scudo e lo specchio. Forme della catoptromanzia , in Le perle e il filo. A Mario Torelli per i suoi 70 anni. Possible examples of references to the adornment of the groom is the crowning of Hercle on a mirror in Berlin Staatliche Museen, ES 2, pl.
Austin, TX, , fig. Franchi De Bellis, Iscrizioni prenestine su specchi e ciste , Alessandria, , p. Iovei , in the oblique case, has been variously explained: She is often shown with her swan, Tusna: Bonfante, Iconografia delle madri: Etruria e Italia antica , in A.
Bonfante, Etruscan dress , Updated edition. Erika Simon explains the presence of the sphinx that swoops down from above as an epiphany of the goddess: Simon, Griechische Sagen im etruskischen Kunst , Mainz, , p. I am grateful to Adriano Maggiani for this reference. For Etruscan prophecy, see N.