Etruscan Bologna: A Study

by Richard Francis Burton.

First edition of 1876.
London, Smith, Elder, & Co.

PDF Page Images (from the Internet Archive).


I NEED hardly say that this little volume offers no novelty beyond introducing to the English reader the valuable results of Etruskische Forschungen in modern Italy. It can hardly be termed uncalled for. The discovery of the Bolognese Certosa which took place some six years ago, requires, for study, reference to a number of pamphlets and scattered letters, which we must not expect to see in our libraries. Other 'finds,' noticed in 'Etruscan Bologna,' are even less accessible; and even my own list is not quite complete.

Like the Gipsy dialect, the Etruscan tongue has fascinated a host of scholars. The latest result is a belief that in it 'we have a waif of one of those many extinct families of speech which have gone to build up the languages of the present world' (Sayce). For the moment we can only say that the problems of its origin and its position have not been solved; that some Italic vocables have been detected, or rather guessed, and that there are, perhaps, a few 'Turanian affinities,' possibly derived from Finnish, and pointing, haply, to an age when the Aryan limits were not definitively laid down. Some day, as linguistic science is in despair, we may bring to light a long bilingual inscription, that will prove a veritable Rosetta Stone. Hitherto, the only keys applied to the ethnology of the mysterious race, which taught Rome her arts and arms, have been 'glottology' and comparative philology, while not a little violence has accompanied the application. In this volume, however, we shall find Professor Calori, to mention no others, searching the sepulchres, and supplementing linguistic by craniological and other physiological studies.

Finally, 'Etruscan Bologna' attempts for the first time to describe the North-Eastern, which may be the eldest, Etrurian Confederation, while the works of Dennis and other notable English authorities treat mainly, if not only, of Middle Etruria, almost corresponding with modern Tuscany.

I must again conclude with my old apology for minor sins of omission and commission—the 'single revise' excuse.

March 4, 1876.