Adriatic Veneti

Adriatic Veneti

The Veneti ("Enetoi" "Ενετοί" in Greek) were an ancient people who inhabited north-eastern Italy, in an area corresponding to the modern-day region of the Veneto. They spoke Venetic, an independent Indo-European language, which is attested in approximately 300 short inscriptions dating from 6th to 1st centuries BC. Venetic appears to share several similarities with Latin and the Italic languages, but also has some affinities with other IE languages, especially Germanic as well as Celtic.


The north-eastern portion of Italy was also once home to an indigenous group known as the Euganei. They superseded and later mixed with the group that came to be known as the Veneti. In Italy these ancient Veneti are sometimes referred to as Paleoveneti [] so as to distinguish them from the modern-day Veneti in Italy. The extent of their territory before their incorporation by the Romans is uncertain. It was at first included in Cisalpine Gaul, but later became known as the tenth region of Italy. It was bounded on the west by the Athesis (Adige), or according to others, by the Addua (Adda); on the north by the Alps; on the east by the Timavus (Timavo river in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, known as "Timâf") and on the south by the Adriatic Gulf. From the earliest times the Veneti appear to have been a peaceful people, chiefly engaged in commercial pursuits.

Historical references

According to Livy, himself one of the Veneti from Patavium, the Veneti were formed by a merging of the indigenous peoples known as the Euganei and a Trojan-Paphlagonian tribe known as the Eneti (or "Enetoi" in Greek) who had settled in the area between the Alps and the Adriatic sea. Homer and perhaps more significantly, Pliny the Elder points out that with the death of king Pylaemenes of the Paphlagonians, Antenor the Trojan led the "Eneti" across the Mediterranean towards the coast of north-east Italy near the Brenta river where their descendants, the "Veneti" lived ("Natural History", vi.2.5). Homer ("Iliad", ii.852) speaks of the Paphlagonian "Eneti" as breeders of "wild mules" and their fondness for horses is regarded as proof of their descent from the "horse-taming" Trojans. This is further stipulated by Pliny the Elder who indicates the Veneti ancestry as being Trojan ("Natural History", iii.130). Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, who assisted the Veneti to repel the attacks of the Liburnian pirates, is said to have kept a stud in their country (Strabo v.1.4).

Recent studies

The ancient Veneti traded metals and in particular gold. Many archeological excavations are still underway in the Veneto today with particular focus on the traditional "Paleoveneto" [] sites such as Este, Padua, Oderzo, Adria, Vicenza, Verona and Altinum to name but a few. Studies are also being done on the vast influence of the Greeks in the Adriatic and their interaction with the Veneti, particularly focusing on the Euboeans, Phocaeans and Corinthians. Villanovan and more significantly, Etruscan activity in the region and their strong links to the Veneti are also attested to.


Dr. Anna Maria Chieco Bianchi compiled the "Italia Omnium Terrarum Alumna" (1988) academic reference point for all studies on the Italic peoples which provides a thorough account of the Veneti and the various inscriptions from Este. Chieco Bianchi and Dr. Capuis have established a thorough literary body, predominantly in Italian, of studies on the Veneti. Dr. Capuis [] , an Associate Professor in Pre-Roman Italian Civilsation at the University of Padua, has contributed along with Doctors De Min, Serafini, Malnati and others under the auspices of the Veneto regional government on a collaborative effort. The Superintendent for the Archaeological Heritage [] of the Veneto Region has released a recent series of publications with the aforementioned professors on the ancient Veneti and Etruscans as part of a project which commenced in 2003 and was aimed at bringing together all of the foremost archaeological experts on this topic.

Venetic language

This work and others on the Venetic languages stems predominantly from the foundations laid by Aldo Prosdocimi and Giovanni Pellegrini with "La Lingua Venetica" (1967) and Michel Lejeune's "Manuel de la langue vénète" (1974) [] . Prosdocimi has gone on to publish in 2002 several other articles and catalogues concerning the Venetic script. In particular a study on the alphabet and inscriptions and an article on the names "Veneti, Eneti, Euganei, Ateste" where specific references are made to inscriptions cross-referenced with archaeological materials at the site of Ateste. Another of the most recent major publications on the ancient Venetic language has been entered in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages by Dr. Rex Wallace [] from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This was done as a part of several Italic language submissions to the University for inclusion in the 2004 tome along with the "Sabellian" chapter also by Wallace, "Latin" by J.P.T. Clarkson and "Etruscan" by Helmut Rix.Many tribes thought to be Illyrians are actually Veneti [Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992,ISBN 0631198075,page 183,"... We may begin with the Venetic peoples, Veneti, Carni, Histri and Liburni, whose language set them apart from the rest of the Illyrians. ..."] [Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992,ISBN 0631198075,page 81,"... " In Roman Pannonia the Latobici and Varciani who dwelt east of the Venetic Catari in the upper Sava valley were Celtic but the Colapiani of the Colapis (Kulpa) valley were Illyrians ( ..."] ..


The ancient Veneti are not to be confused with the later Venetians, who traditionally speak Venetian, a Romance language; both of whom originate from the modern-day Veneto region and are known in Italian as Veneti.

Peoples of the name "Veneti" are also historically attested to in Gaul (see Veneti (Gaul)) and other parts of Europe, but it should be emphasized that these were not one and the same people.


Primary sources

* Homer - The Iliad, 2.825; 2.851-852; 5.577; 13.656, 661
* Livy - The Early History of Rome 1.1; 5.34
* Pliny the Elder - Natural History iii.130
* Polybius - ii.17.4-6, 18.1-3; ii.23.1-3; ii.24.7-8
* Strabo - xiii.1.53; v.1.4, 8, 9
* Xenophon - Anabasis (Xenophon), (known as Anabasis III in the Loeb Classical Library edition), I.viii.5; V.ii.22, iv.13, v.12, 22, vi.3, 6; VI.i.1, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15. ISBN 0-674-99101-X

Academic publications

* Chieco Bianchi, Anna Maria [et al.] (1988). "Italia: omnium terrarum alumna: la civiltà dei Veneti, Reti, Liguri, Celti, Piceni, Umbri, Latini, Campani e Iapigi". Milano: Scheiwiller.
* Lejeune, Michel (1974). "Manuel de la langue vénète." Heidelberg: Indogermanische Bibliothek, Lehr- und Handbücher.
* Pellegrini, Giovanni Battista (1967). "La lingua venetica" / G.B. Pellegrini, A.L. Prosdocimi. Padova: Istituto di glottologia dell'Università di Padova.
* Prosdocimi, Aldo (2002). "Trasmissioni alfabetiche e insegnamento della scrittura, in AKEO. I tempi della scrittura. Veneti antichi: alfabeti e documenti, Catalogo della Mostra" (Montebelluna, dicembre 2001-maggio 2002). Montebelluna, pp.25-38.
* Prosdocimi, Aldo (2002). "Veneti, Eneti, Euganei, Ateste: i nomi", in AA.VV., "Este preromana: una città e i suoi santuari". Treviso: Canova, pp.45-76.
* Wallace, Rex (2004). "Venetic" in Roger D. Woodard (ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages, University of Cambridge, pp. 840-856. ISBN 0-521-56256-2

External links

* [ Italic languages - Additional reading] Encyclopædia Britannica (in English, French, German and Italian).
* [ Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages, Venetic chapter] Dr. Rex Wallace (in English language
* [ Extensive Bibliography - Studies on the Veneti] Dr. Loredana Calzavara-Capuis (in Italian).
* [ Venetic inscriptions] Adolfo Zavaroni (in Italian).

ee also

*Veneti (disambiguation)
*Veneti (Gaul)

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