the soil of language

The wet earth. I did not imagine
your death would reconcile me with
language, did not imagine soil
clinging to the page, black type
like birds on a stone sky. That your soul – yes,
I use that word – beautiful,
could saturate the bitterness from even
that fate, not of love
but its opposite, all concealed
in a reversal of longing.
—  Anne Michaels, from Correspondences

Ancient peoples of Italy

The future of the southern Italian peninsula was shaped by the different peoples who inhabited it between the years 800 and 200 BC. These include the Etruscans, Greeks and the many  Italian tribes such as the Latins, Campanians, Samnites, Sabines, etc.  Such tribes had spread out much earlier into Europe from the east and southeast both as invaders and, more gradually, as farmers, giving up  hunting and gathering for the more efficient process of tilling the soil. In the process they developed  towns, government and written language. This slow process started before 6,000 BC.

By 1000 BC early Italic peoples were in place on the peninsula; these are the peoples who would become the Latini, Sabines, Oscans, etc. etc. They were in place as a result of the Indo-European population diffusion, Indo-European being a term that declares common origin (3,000-4,000 years ago) of peoples as different as Swedes and Iranians or Punjabis and Spaniards. These pre-Italic Indo-Europeans can plausibly be figured to have started trickling onto the peninsula around 2500-2000 BC. There were, obviously, already some non-Indo-European inhabitants of Italy, just as there were elsewhere in Europe.

We wil talk about Etruscans later. Let’s see now some other smaller peoples.

  • Many peoples lived along the Tiber river; among these were, of course, the Latini. There is confusing historical overlap of Latini and Romans. Traditionally, Rome is said to have been founded in 753 by descendants of Aeneas, a refugee from the Trojan War. Archeology places Latini culture as early as 1100 BC. True imperial expansion of Rome starts in 295 BC when the Romans, at the Battle of Sentium (near modern Ancona), put an end to the competition in Italy by defeating a combined force of Samnites and Etruscans.
  • Along the Tiber, too, were the Sabines. The proximity of the Sabines to Rome has made it difficult to identify their ruins with certainty, although there are some from as early as the 9th century BC. The Sabines were related to the Samnites to the south, and they adopted writing from the Etruscans.
  • Other neighbors of the Romans in central Italy were the Volscians and the Equians. Most knowledge of them comes from later Roman historians complaining about these piddling little peoples getting in the way of real empire! They were Indo-European and spoke languages closely related to Latin.
  • The Samnites were an important sister tribe of the Latins. Their capital was modern Benevento in the  rugged terrain east of Naples. At the time of the first contacts between Roman and Samnite (around 350 BC), Samnium was larger than any other contemporary state in Italy. For almost two centuries, the Romans and Samnites fought for control of South/Central Italy. As warriors, the Samnites were ferocious, and some say they were the ones who gave the Romans the idea for those gruesome gladiator fights to the death.

Tags: Everyone lives/nobody dies; post-botfa; pining; gardening; flower language; shipper trash!Balin; letters
Word count: ~6k
Dwarves know nothing about growing things, but Hobbits do. Bilbo returns to Bag End after the great battle, believing it was the right thing to do at the time, but he misses the Dwarves (especially a certain Dwarf) badly enough to want to try to help them grow something in the desolation outside the mountain - even if Bilbo has to lend aid from halfway across the world to accomplish it.
Read it on Ao3.

(credit for graphic to @killaidanturner <3)

And he loved that her eyes matched the waves that brushed against their late night walks on beaches that taste of salt, but it was the kind that made the blood pressure settle and rip all at once. And he loved that her hair came from halos and a bit of afternoon sunlight, but sometimes the devil is alive.

If he could hold her and breathe without a sudden impulse to let go, maybe he could; I’m sure none of us would ever leave if that was the case.

But he met someone who melted the ocean into a pill for his swallowing. He’d soon forget about forget-me-nots; he’d soon lose touch with her stolen sun colored eyes. And the earth speaks loudly within the newspaper soaked with muddy soil; this one could tear the language of his mind. A spell, a pull from the most ancient magic: something new.

We’ve all had this before. In with the new and out with the old. It’s always a bit backwards, right? Loving you was like that. A clock in rewind. A heart that was never truly mine because I could not give you what you need.

And her cracked flowerpot strands filled his fingertips and the lover of yesterday was faded. A photograph, a disposable camera; she was lost. Not at sea, but in his smile with her.

We both knew that day was coming, we just didn’t think it would happen so soon. Not like this, please.

—  No, not like this. // because sometimes the flowers of tomorrow finds a way to drench the beauty of yesterday. hair color, eye sparkles, soulmates? what is love if we remove the physical aspects? i guess we’ll all see one day.
Jorge Luis Borges wrote a parable about some cartographers who eventually created a map that was 1:1 scale and covered much of a nameless empire. Even at 1:1 scale, the two-dimensional map would be inadequate to depict the layers of being of a place, its many versions. Thus the map of languages spoken and the map of soil types canvas the same area differently, just as Freudianism and shamanism describe the same psyche differently. No representation is complete. Borges has a less-well-known story in which a poet so perfectly describes the emperor’s vast and intricate palace that the emperor becomes enraged and regards him as a thief. In another version the palace disappears when the poem replaces it. The descriptive poem is a perfect map, the map that is the territory, and the story recalls another old one about a captive painter who at the Chinese emperor’s dictate paints so wonderful a landscape that he is able to escape into its depths. These parables say that representation is always partial, else it would not be representation, but some kind of haunting double. But the terra incognita spaces on maps say that knowledge also is an island surrounded by oceans of the unknown. They signify that the cartographers knew they did not know, and awareness of ignorance is not just ignorance; it’s awareness of knowledge’s limits.
—  Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, pp. 162-63

“Far from being writers -founders of their own place, heirs of the peasants of earlier ages now working on the soil of language, diggers of wells and builders of houses- readers are travelers; they move across lands belonging to someone else, like nomads poaching their way across fields they did not write, despoiling the wealth of Egypt to enjoy it themselves. Writing accumulates, stocks up, resist time by the establishment of a place and multiplies its production through the expansionism of reproduction. Reading takes no measures against the erosion of time (one forgets oneself and also forgets), it does not keep with what it acquires, or it does so poorly, and each of the places through which it passes is a repetition of the lost paradise.”

-Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life