Vindiorix

Attested:  ADIXOVI DEVINA DEVEDA ANDAGIN VINDIORIX CVAMVN AI is the only text on a British curse tablet that offers multiple words that are not in Latin and appear to be in an indigenous language.

Where:  Bath.  Written up by Tomlin (1987) and Mullen (2007).

Name originVindiorix begins like Vindo- ‘happy, pleasant’ seen in many place names.  It ends in -rix, which (whatever its linguistic origin) developed into an aggrandising personal-name ending that was used across the Roman Empire and survived particularly strongly among Germanic people.  Later parallels include Wynric in Domesday Book and the modern Belgian surname Vinderick, while near parallels include the Gothic king Witteric in AD 603.  Most likely Vindiorix meant something anodyne like ‘jolly good fellow’, but another possibility cannot be excluded.  Latin vindico ‘to make a legal claim’ is precisely what a person did in a curse tablet, so Vindiorix might be a stereotyped name meaning essentially ‘claimant’, which a semi-literate person copied without realising it was only a place-holder.  An equivalent name Deomiorix based on Greek δεομαι ‘I need, I beg’ occurs in another Bath curse tablet.

Notes:  Most commentators assume that the language of this text was Celtic (even though top Celticists cannot agree on a translation) and Paul Russell has kindly explained why an advanced linguist can still hold that opinion.  However, there is a non-Celtic interpretation with very plausible semantics.  Of the seven words: two look like personal or divine names (Devina and Vindiorix); two look very Germanic (andagin is close to OE ándaga ‘appointed day or time’ and cuamun perfectly matches the likely proto-West-Germanic form of ‘came’, according to Ringe and Taylor, 2014); and two look Greek (adixovi is close to αδικος ‘wrongdoing’ and αι is a Greek interjection of grief).  What many commentators miss is that curse tablets often contained a jumble of Greek mixed into an indigenous language, as if ancient people felt that was the right way to address deities.

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Last Edited: 23 June 2017