Etruscan Corner Etruscan Books Fulgurales

Etruscan Books Fulgurales

These books used to be the guide for the Etruscan society, politics, and religiosity. During the first century BC Tarquinius Priscus translated all of their knowledge in Latin (Libri Tarquitani). Later on, Cicero attacks these books with philosophic scepticism writing The De Divinatione criticising all aspects related to Etruscan oracles, the Haruspicina and their astrology. Cicero points out the unreliability of such cults, however, he admits that these beliefs are necessary to maintain balance within the Roman states and to keep an idea of traditions.

First of all it is useful to state that for the Etruscans the Gods communicate through the use of Thunderbolts (the divine lightning). This divine sign used to be interpreted by the Etruscans using three types of classification. These signs could be understood by the adoption of the TEMPLUM Model that allowed the interpretation of the divine messages. Through rituals it was possible then to modify their effects or even obtain redemption.

Nine were the Gods allowed to throw Thunderbolts on Earth; amongst them only Tinia (Tin) could throw three (one for each one of his celestial places). The first type THE PRESAGIUM was used by the divinities to give a warning; Tinia could throw it of his own will. The second type of thunderbolt the OSTENTARIUM was created to manifest the Gods’ powerful presence; in this case though the sign could be thrown to help, and so give a beneficial effect, or right the opposite to provoke disorder effects; Tinia had to obtain approval by the twelve Gods ‘’Dii Consentes’’ to use this lightening. Last but not least, was the PERENTORIUM a Thunderbolt sign even called ‘’Devastating Fire’’, it could be thrown only by direct order of the Faith Deities.

Regarding the Dii Consentes, Arnobius Roman Historian, tells us that The Etruscans have Gods that go by the name of Consentes , six male and six female, they rise from East and set at the West, their names are unknown and show very little mercy.


Considering our previous articles (Etruscan Discipline or Rituales Books) , in the Division of the Templum there was a part considered of God Omen (the East) and a part of Bad Omen (the West); so all the lightening occurring at Noth – West were considered of Bad Omen, the ones occurring at North – East of God Omen. Further, Thunderbolts occurring at South – East and South – West were considered less important as they were part of the future events part.

Besides all these indications, it is useful to give our readers the information that there were different types of lightening considering from where they would come from, the year they would occur, the object would hit by the thunderbolt etc…

An incredible collection of records of these phenomena was left by the Haruspex Aulus Caecina from Volterra whose notes would be mentioned later on by Seneca in his Naturalis Quaestio.

(End of part two)