A Door God or Two: A New Interpretation of cvl on the Piacenza Liver

Katie Rask

Florida State University

The Etruscan Piacenza Liver, divided and covered with the names of deities, has been an unending source of speculation amongst Etruscan scholars of mythology, religion, and cult. The names and the regions depicted on the bronze model, used to interpret divine will, indicate the regions of the sky associated with specific gods and their commands. My intention in this paper is to discuss the inscription cvl found in the northwestern portion of the model and to reinterpret the identity of the spirit to which it pertains.

Previously, scholars have suggested that the stem refers to either the double-faced male deity Culśanś or the female Underworld spirit Culsu. Both of these are liminal deities, and because of evidence relating to these spirits, the stem cvl has been translated as 'door.' Much like Janus, Culśanś is associated with the liminal space of the city gate, while Culsu is a torch-bearing door guardian who is similar to the female Etruscan psychopomp Vanth.

I will argue, however, that the cvl region cannot be specifically connected to either Culśanś or Culsu. Instead, considering the evidence found in the text of Martianus Capellus and the sacred calendar found on the Zagreb mummy linens, the cvl on the Piacenza Liver must be a group of multiple and unnamed door gods. The plural Etruscan door gods, known as cvlscva, would then coincide with the Ianitores Terrestris mentioned by Martianus Capellus.

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