The Veneti are again amongst us. During the last year, 2007, Father Ivan Tomažič published a booklet in Slovenian, German and Italian languages on the subject of Veneti, titled God Bless the Land Under Mount Triglav. The title is a paraphrase of a Venetic inscription from the Carnic Alps, and this article is the translation of the review of the booklet. Last year also saw a new, improved and enlarged edition of Dr. Jožko Šavli’s Slovenska država Karantanija/The Slovenian State of Carantania. The two publications appeared in time to coincide with the renewed interest among us Slovenians in our past.
Author: Ivan Sivec
Translated from Slovenian: Anton Škerbinc
Ivan Tomažič speaks of himself: “I left home in my childhood [age 13] in September 1932, not knowing that I would not see it again for 23 years. I lived all the intervening years in foreign countries. Other nations and languages became part of my life to the point that I nearly forgot my mother tongue, which I never really knew well; the elementary schools in our part of Slovenia were at that time Italian. When after many years I arrived in Vienna, Austria, my interest in everything Slovenian awakened in me …
“Among these interests were also questions about our past. The official theory states that we Slovenians arrived in our traditional lands in the 6th century AD; however, I found no evidence for this arrival. The simple question, ‘Where were we before?’ could not be answered. Although I was very occupied with the building of the student residence Korotan, I continued the search through history books. Later, Jožko Šavli arrived in Vienna. We had many discussions about Slovenian history and we both wrote in the periodical Glas Korotana/Voice of Carinthia. After our first public appearances the poet and academician Matej Bor took courage and published in Slovenia’s leading daily Delo his deciphering of Venetic inscriptions. The three of us then together developed the arguments and substantiations about uninterrupted developments of the Slovenian nation from the distant past to the present day.
“Our collaboration was crowned in 1988 with the publication of the book Unsere Vorfahren die Veneter/Veneti: Our Ancestors and its presentation in the prestigious Beethoven Hall in the centre of Vienna. The musical contribution for the occasion was provided by the Slovenian Octet. In June 1989, we made one of our largest presentations of the Slovenian edition of the book Veneti naši davni predniki/Veneti: Our Distant Ancestors in the Union Hall, Ljubljana, Slovenia. The crowd was too big to be accommodated in the large hall. There, too, we experienced an unforgettable occasion, a national celebration …”
Ivan Tomažič was, and—in spite of his advanced age—still is the chaplain in one of Vienna’s hospitals. In those earlier years, he also looked after the large Slovenian student residence, but even so, his concerns about Veneti were ever present. His latest booklet reflects his tireless research: “Up till now we held the view that Slavs originated in the Lusatian culture. We also placed the origins of the Veneti there, that is, in the 2nd millennium BC. However, the new discoveries, strongly defended by Italian linguist Mario Alinei and the Belgian archaeologist Marcel Otte, state that the Slavic languages and nations also originated in the Late Stone Age [Neolithic]. According to Alinei, the Slavs were then the oldest and largest population, and he assigns to them the entire area from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans, almost half of Europe.” And what is the latest view of the Veneti? “Veneti are part of this wide Slavic—albeit not densely populated—territory, but they originate in the Lusatian culture, with its religious significance of the Urnfields. People later named Veneti spread the religious concept of Urnfields [burial of urns with ashes in open fields] with a missionary zeal far and wide in the Slavic territory.
“In my view, the name Veneti originates in the ethnonym Slovani (Slavs) from its root slovo, meaning word. Its adjective is sloven, and its noun is slovenet. Inasmuch as the Greek and the Latin languages did not have the consonant group sl, the first syllable was dropped, and the Sloveneti became Veneti. This is also evident from Mario Alinei’s book Origini dele Lingue Europee, Bologna 1996, of almost one thousand pages, in which he speaks about the original languages of Europe. Clearly emphasized is also the Venetic language.” The inscription found in the Carnic Alps, “Bug oša so višad,” is in modern Slovenian: “Naj bi Bog obšel to višavo/May God visit this highland.” We find in the booklet interpretations of other Venetic inscriptions from northern Italy, present-day Slovenia, and Carinthia, Austria.
The booklet contains also many other explanations on the subject of Veneti and Slovenians, among them the example of the great religious teacher St. Jerome, who is at times mistakenly called St. Hieronim: “He was born in 347 to Roman parents in the now unknown Stridon, which could be the old Slovenian village Starod near Podgrad between Trst/Trieste and Reka, and could have been a Roman outpost. He studied in Oglej/Aquileia. He had connection to Ljubljana/Emona but spent most of his life in Rome and Bethlehem. In his Commentary to Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, Jerome refers to the name Tychicus and gives an explanation in the following words: ‘Tychicus enim silens interpretatur/Tychicus actually means silent.’ How would St. Jerome know if he did not understand the Slovenian language, which he could have learned among the children of his birthplace, or in Oglej.” The reports of Gothic historian Jordanes similarly show the presence of Slovenians, and so do the travel accounts through Slovenian territory by the grandfather of Paulus Diaconus, and the Slovenian name Zaloka on the Roman road map called Tabula Peutingeriana, etc. Tomažič also touches on Carantania about which Dr. Šavli wrote Slovenska država Karantanija. Tomažič writes: “The most important historical documentation for Slovenians is the report about two Bavarian attacks on the Slovenian state in the years 593 and 595 with the intention to plunder. That means that the Slovenians had at that time an independent state in Noricum [present-day Austria], later named Carantania. The exact translation from the Latin says: ‘In those days, Hildepart, the king of Franks, installed Tasilo as the king of Bavaria. Who soon thereafter invaded the province of Slavs, overpowered them and returned to his homeland with much loot.’ (HL, IV, 7) In the second attack the Bavarians were defeated. This is an important documentation of Slovenian presence in their traditional lands before the year 593, even though the historians, who are defending the late arrival of Slovenians, are trying in every way to give the text a completely false meaning. They say that this is a report about a battle between the arriving Slovenians and the Bavarians, which is completely at odds with the words of the text, which state clearly that the Bavarians attacked the Slovenian state. Paulus Diaconus uses the term provincia, just as the Langobards did in regard to their own country in Italy.”
Another detail that is not commonly known is that the name Slovenia was recorded very early. “The name Slovenia is found as early as the year 837 in the inscription: ‘territorium in Slavinia in loco nuncupato Ipusa/district in Slovenia, in the place called Ipuža’ (Enss in German), located in Inner Noricum [approx. the southern two thirds of present-day Austria] (Kos II. no. 21).”
Alinei says: “One of the most absurd results of the traditional chronology is the arrival of the Slavs—during historical times—to the immense territory such as it is, on which they dwell to this day” (Origini dele Lingue Europee, p. 183). About Slovenians he says (ibid., pp. 745–747) that they took part during the 3rd millennium BC in the creation of Ladins (from Friuli in Italy to Switzerland) with the introduction of metallurgy from the Ljubljana moor in Slovenia. As evidence he presents the development of cultures and various linguistic specialties in the Slovenian and Ladin languages, and also some toponyms; for example, Gardena (the older Gradina) from the Slovenian word grad/castle, fortification (ibid. pp. 748–752). To this we could add hundreds of Slovenian place-names in the entire northern Italy and Switzerland. Also the situla art with its centre in Slovenian provinces, the central Alps, and Bologna is not without importance. “Slovenians are not from yesterday, our roots reach into the distant past.”
Devoted to the Veneti theory [Slovenian version of the Theory of Continuity], Ivan Tomažič says at the end of this chapter: “How different, the findings of the Italian scientist compared to the self-deprecating explanations of Slovenian historians about the late arrival of Slavs and even later formation of Slovenians!”
In the booklet God Bless the Land Under Mount Triglav there are also a number of interesting details about the language and ethnogenesis of Slovenians, including the chapter “From the Times of the Veneti to These Days.” At the end there is a noteworthy bibliography showing the tireless efforts of the authors.
The above booklet is available in the stated languages from:
Sp. Škofije 39 A