Brian and I were at the University of Richmond in 2002, watching a presentation on Etruscan art. Larissa Belfonte was showing slides of various vase paintings, and was talking about how the Etruscans were prudes. "They almost always drew people covered up, from head to toe, and were cautious about showing skin."
And that's when this picture appeared on the projection screen behind her.
Spectators at games,
from the Tomb of the Bigas.
Brian and I looked at each other and laughed.
To this day, I don't really understand her comment on the Etruscans being prudes. Granted, she didn't actually *say* that they were prudes, but she certainly implied it.
Personally, I'm very appreciative of the work done on these tomb walls. The Etruscans spent a lot of time on death and on their ancestors; so much time, in fact, that we thought they were basically a death cult until we realized that it was far more likely that we just hadn't found the stuff that the living dealt with.
But I find the paintings beautiful.
Detail of erotic symplegma and bull,
from the Tomb of the Bulls.
While personally, I'm not generally one for crazy erotic art, these particular paintings stand out in my mind. They're worth something, and they convey something. What that is, to me, is ineffible. Such things need to be seen.
I don't talk a lot about the Etruscans, or about my personal connection with them. In general, this is because I know it's remarkably boring to the majority of people around me, most of whom are wrapped up in Indo-European cultures and deities, and might not even understand why I work with this strange set of gods and goddesses that bear little to no relation to my usual ones.
I'm not sure I understand it.
I spend a lot of time, though, reading up on the Etruscans and their deities. I've learned a bit of liver divination; though I've never tried it, I find a desire to give it a shot on a real goat. I watch thunderstorms and hear Uni's voice on the winds, and watch Tinia trace out messages in the sky with bolts of lightning. I find devotion to Menrva within my heart.
These are things I rarely speak of. It's personal, private devotion, and almost no one knows of it. It is locked away inside me. It does not beg to come out, or to be shown. It is mystery, and the rituals I have devised and done have, until now, been for me alone.
The Etruscans have profoundly affected me. They have brought out a kind of priest that I wasn't sure existed: the priest who deals only with the deities.