Volterra’s defeat is one example of the Etruscans’ relentless absorption by Rome after the defeat of the Etruscan ruler Tarquin the Proud in 509 B.C. The last episodes of the struggle were played out in the first century B.C. By the time of the emperor Augustus (27 B.C.–14 A.D.), Etruscan writing had all but disappeared from tombs, buildings, coins, statues and books—from everything except certain religious texts.


The Nordic ring of Asgaria, with its evocations of Thor hammering thunderbolts on the plain of Asgard, also struck a chord. Many in Europe’s most learned circles, beginning with the Swedish Catholic scholar Johannes Magnus in the mid-16th century, had noted the similarity between Scandinavian runes and Etruscan script. Prospero’s texts appeared to support theories suggesting a cultural bridge.


One of these Etruscan linen books, reused to wrap an Egyptian mummy and preserved in the dry air of the Nile Delta, is now in the National Museum in Zagreb, Croatia. However, this remarkable artifact was not identified until the 20th century.



Curzio Inghirami, Ethruscarum Antiquitatum Fragmenta (Florence: Amadore Massi, 1636 [with a false imprint of Frankfurt, 1637]). Much of the material relating to Curzio Inghirami’s words, thoughts and actions comes from this text.


See Giovanni Cipriani, Il mito etrusco nel Rinascimento fiorentino (Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1980; and Gabriele Morolli, “Vetus Etruria” in Il mito degli Etruschi nella letteratura architettonica nell-arte e nella cultura da Vitruvio a Winckelmann (Florence: Alinea Editrice, 1985).


Massimo Pallottino, Testimonia Linguae Etruscae (Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1969 [2nd ed.]), #803. The word is described in Suetonius’s Life of Augustus, 97.


Paganino Gaudenzio, Paganini Gaudentii in antiquitates quasdam editas sub nomine Prosperi Faesulani Animadversio, BAV. MS Urb. Lat. 1605, c115v.


Heinrich Ernst and Paganino Gaudenzio, Ad antiquitates etruscas quas Volaterrae nuper dederunt observationes, in quibus disquisitionis astronomicae de etruscarum antiquitatum fragmentis auctor quoque notatur (Amsterdam: apud Joannem Janssonium, 1639).


Leone Allacci, Leonis Allatii Animadversiones in Antiquitatum etruscarum fragmenta ab Inghiramio edita (Paris: S. Cramoisy, 1640).