From Lexicon Leponticum
Revision as of 14:25, 8 July 2022 by Corinna Salomon (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigationJump to search
Reading in transliteration: ḷẹtiusiuilịos / ??????????????
Reading in original script: L3 dE4 dT dI dU dS dI dU dI dL dI dO dS6 d

Object: MI·7 Cernusco sul Naviglio (amphora)
(Inscriptions: MI·7.1, MI·7.2)
Position: shoulder, outside
Direction of writing: dextroverse
Script: perh. North Italic script
Number of letters: 24
Number of lines: 2
Workmanship: scratched
Condition: unknown

Archaeological culture: unknown [from object]
Date of inscription: 2nd–1st c. BC [from object]

Type: unknown
Language: perhaps Celtic
Meaning: 'Letiu son of Siuilos ...' (?)

Alternative sigla: Whatmough 1933 (PID): 281
Tibiletti Bruno 1981: 29
Solinas 1995: 98
Morandi 2004: 137

Sources: Morandi 2004: 613 no. 137



First published by Biraghi 1849.

Images in Biraghi 1849 opposite the title page, fig. 1 (drawing = Ghezzi 1911: 27, tav. II = Bruno & Sorisi 1994: 23, fig. 26 = Morandi 2001: 15 = Morandi 2004: 620, fig. 18), Biraghi 1851: 3 (drawing = CIL V 664*), Poggi 1879: ? (drawing of first line = Pauli 1885: Taf. I.23 = Giussani 1902: 51, fig. 18).

Inscribed in two horizontal lines on the shoulder of the amphora, see Biraghi 1849: 5 and his drawing of the object (fig. 2). Since the object is untraceable, the only sources are the drawings of Biraghi (in two only slightly different versions) and Poggi (reproduced by Pauli; I cannot find the drawing in Poggi's publication); individual letters can also be made out in the drawing by the Scuola di Disegno industriale. Biraghi (1851: 5 f.) is adamant about the document being authentic, but his Latin reading (MI·7.1 and MI·7.2 together) is not quite credible. His reading (1851) of the two present lines is C daddAE1 dX d.I dU dL3 dI dU s.I dU s.C dO2 dS6 d / K d.A22 dA22 dS6 dI dN6 d.C dI dN6 dI dS6 d.R3 dS6 d.R6 d = Caes(are) Iulio IV co(n)s(ule) G(aii) Asin(ii) cinis d(elatus) R(oma) 'when Julius Caesar was consul for the fourth time, the ash of Gaius Asinius was brought from Rome'. The name of the defunct is supposed to be connected with the old name of the find place, Cernusco Asinaria. The inscription is included as spurious in CIL V 664* on the authority of Giovanni Labus, who may or may not have seen the original (see the object page).

Poggi 1879: 311, no. 50, who also gives a Lepontic reading for the line on the lid (MI·7.1), suggests to read the first line of the two on the body in the Lepontic alphabet: tiusiulos, leaving out an unclear group of scratches in the beginning (represented by a single vertical line in his rendering of the letters) as well as two elements in the latter part of the inscription. Pauli 1885: 11, no. 23, amends to tiusiuilios, also leaving out the scratches before St. Andrew's cross, but including the two elements in the latter part of the inscription as iotas – despite the fact that the last "iota" is curved also in Poggi's drawing. Pauli's reading is accepted by Giussani 1902: 51, Jacobsohn 1927: 31, no. 200 a, and Rhŷs 1913: 44, no. 4 (1); the latter, after "discarding" the initial scratches, follows Pauli 1885: 73 and Holder AcS II: 1591, 1863 in segmenting tiu siuilios 'Tiu son of Siuillos'. siuilios is also listed by Lejeune 1971: 51, 65, n. 221. Whatmough PID: 98, no. 281 speculates that the sign before St. Andrew's cross could be a trademark. Pisani 1964: 283 f., no. 120B tentatively reads the initial scraches as ue, possible le or just e. He is followed in this by Tibiletti Bruno 1981: 185, no. 29, who gives letiu or uetiu siuilios (also Tibiletti Bruno 1978: 150 f.); see also Solinas 1995: 364, no. 98 ]tiu siuilios.

The second line was ignored by all scholars since Poggi, who apparently did not even draw it. Morandi 2004: 613, no. 137 judges the Lepontic reading to be a misunderstanding of a Latin inscription or, more likely, of a forgery made by Biraghi to "ennoble" Cernusco Asinario. Though one hesitates to accuse a beatified man of a lie, the latter assumption is certainly worthy of consideration – Biraghi had a lot to say about the importance of the find for the town in his original publication, and no part of his reply to doubts that were evidently voiced by his contemporaries about the inscription's authenticity can prove that he did not forge the inscription on an authentic object. However, one wonders whether Biraghi would not have come up with something more convincing than the dubious inscription he published, with the unmotivated separation between the first and the other two lines, the faulty text, and the problematic letter forms. Apart from the present document, another eight "titulis ficticiis ab eo prolatis" are included as falsae in CIL (V 661*–669*); Mommsen, never one to pull punches, judged Biraghi to be a person who saw an inscription in every random mark (V, p. 633). It seems thus more likely that Biraghi found an ancient inscription he could not read, and forced the Latin reading he wanted to see. This conclusion is also supported by Biraghi's correspondence with colleagues at the time, see Bellomo & Gazzoli 2019: 22–27. The apparent difficulty of a Latin reading strengthens the possibility that the entire document is Lepontic. (Cf. the EDF, where the inscription is included as a falsa in the sense of misread non-Latin inscription.) However, it must be admitted that the lines on the body as drawn by Biraghi and Poggi do look more Latin than Lepontic. The only letter in line 1 which fits better with a Lepontic reading is retrograde sigma, whose existence is made doubtful by the appearance of the neat dextroverse rounded Latin sigma at the end and in line 2; putative lambda L d would also be more Lepontic than Latin, but is notably different from the cursive Latin form in the overall more Lepontic-looking MI·7.1 and, according to Pisani's/Tibiletti Bruno's reading, also in the beginning of line 1; it could well be upsilon U d as read by Biraghi. The third-to-last letter looks very much like Latin C d, as does the one at the beginning of the inscription (also in Poggi's drawing). Line 2, with Latin rho R6 d and the appearance of word separation, has even more of a Latin look to it, and nobody to my knowledge has ever proposed a Lepontic reading. It must also be observed that we do not have any other inscriptions in the Lepontic alphabet on amphorae, which typically carry Latin graffiti. Bellomo & Gazzoli 2019: 28, though sceptical about most of Biraghi's reading, consider his identification of a consular dating IV COS in line 1 plausible.

Morandi, who checked Biraghi's publications and was aware that the two inscriptions are written on the same object, does not discuss the relationship between MI·7.1 on the lid, which he appears to consider a valid Lepontic inscription on the strength of Mommsen's convincing-looking drawing, and the supposed forgery on the body. Considering the spatial separation of the two inscriptions, it may be possible that MI·7.1 is Lepontic, while MI·7.2 is an (unrelated?) Latin text; an alphabetically Lepontic and linguistically Celtic line 1 on the body beside a Latin line 2 (which clearly does not repeat the putative name formula in another alphabet) is hardly credible. Overall, I am inclined to think that both inscriptions (or inscription parts) are Latin.

Corinna Salomon


AcS Alfred Holder, Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz, Leipzig: Teubner 1896–1907.
Bellomo & Gazzoli 2019 Michele Bellomo, Silvia Gazzoli, "Monsignor Luigi Biraghi e i falsi di Cernusco", in: Lorenzo Calvelli (ed.), La falsificazione epigrafica: Questioni di metodo e casi di studio, Venezia: Edizioni Ca' Foscari 2019, 15–30.
Biraghi 1849 Luigi Biraghi, Epitafio romano su di un' olla cineraria scoperta a Cernusco Asinario, Monza: Tipografia Corbetta 1849.
Biraghi 1851 Luigi Biraghi, Illustrazione archeologica dell'epitafio romano scritto su di un'olla cineraria dissotterrata a Cernusco Asinario provincia di Milano nel 1849, Milano: Tipografia Boniardi-Pogliani 1851.
Bruno & Sorisi 1994 Silvio Bruno, Giuseppe Sorisi, Cernusco sul Naviglio. Attraverso la storia e le sue cartoline, Cernusco sul Naviglio: La Martesana 1994.
CIL Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. (17 volumes, various supplements)
Ghezzi 1911 Luigi Ghezzi, Cisnusculum. Memorie storiche relative a Cernusco sul Naviglio, Monza: 1911.
Giussani 1902 A[ntonio] Giussani, "L' iscrizione nord-etrusca di Tesserete e le altre iscrizioni pre-romane del nostro territorio", Rivista Archeologica della Provincia e Antica Diocesi di Como 46 (1902), 25–67.