The Alphabet of Vaste

Classical Quarterly 19 (2):68-70 (1925)
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All students of Greek epigraphy are familiar with the abecedarium discovered in 1805, ‘prope Bastam ruri quodam dicto Melliche,’ by Luigi Cepolla, amongst whose papers Mommsen found and published it in his Unteritalische Dialekte . Cepolla's copy, though inaccurate, is not so bad, as I hope to show, as has usually been supposed. To be sure, he proposed to interpret an alphabet as a complete inscription, and actually ‘translated’ it! Nor, I think, could it be properly deciphered until more Messapic inscriptions than were known to Mommsen had been collected and their alphabet more closely studied. It has, however, long been recognized that the Vaste alphabet should be rightly regarded as essentially a Messapic alphabet, although, as is well known, the alphabet of the Messapic inscriptions agrees in the main with the Tarentine-Ionic variety of the Western Greek alphabet; but the proposed explanations of Cepolla's transcript of the Vaste alphabet have been most diverse, not to say perverse—certainly they have been largely arbitrary. They may be sought in the places cited in the footnote below



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