Vegoia (see List of Etruscan mythological figures) is a nymph and/or sibyl in the Etruscan religious framework that is vested with the responsibility of writing some parts of their large and complex set of sacred books, of initiating the Etruscan people to the arts, rules and rituals of land marking, and of presiding to the observance, respect and preservations of boundaries

In the Etruscan religious framework

The actual Etruscan religious system remains mostly obscure; the Etruscan language is only slightly understood, due to the lack of many bi-lingual documents comparable to the Rosetta stone
Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek...

; therefore the ancient Etruscan documents (VIIIth, VIIth, VIth centuries BC) that would reflect their own proper conceptions do not yield much; moreover during the later period (Vth through Ist century BC), the Etruscan civilization heavily incorporated elements of Greek civilization and eventually diluted itself in the greco-roman mixture of their powerful Roman neighbours; last, while in a unique way they formalized their religious concepts and practices in a series of “sacred books", most of them are actually non extant and known only through commentaries or quotes from Roman authors of the late Ist century
and hence are suspect of being extremely warped.

Two mythological figures have been set by the Etruscans as presiding to the production of their sacred books : a female figure, Vegoia, and a monstrous child-like figure gifted with the knowledge and prescience of some ancient sage, Tages
Tages was a founding prophet of Etruscan religion who is known from reports by Latin authors of the late Roman republic and Roman empire. He revealed a cosmic view of divinity and correct methods of ascertaining divine will concerning events of public interest. Divination was undertaken in Roman...

. Those books are known from Latin authors under a classification pertaining to their content or under a classification pertaining as to their mythological author (whether delivered through speeches or lectures, such as Tages, or inspiration).

The attributes of Vegoia

The revelations of the prophetess Vegoia are designated as the Libri Vegoici, which included the Libri Fulgurales and part of the Libri Rituales, especially the Libri Fatales.

While some legendary portraying of Tages was handed down the centuries, probably due to the “fantastic” aspects of his personality, the figure of Vegoia is almost entirely blurred in the mists of the past. Vegoia is mostly known in traditions issuing from the Etruscan city of Chiusi (Latin: Clusium; Etruscan: Clevsin; Umbrian: Camars)(nowadays in the province of Siena).

She is barely designated as a “nymph”, as the actual writer of the Libri Fulgurales,which give the keys to interpreting the meaning of lighning strokes sent by the deities (using a cartography of the sky, which, as a sort of property division, was attributed to Vegoia; this assignment of sectors of the horizon to various deities is paralleled in the microcosm that is the liver of a sacrificed animal. The sacred divisions seem also to have a correspondence in the measurement and division of land, which since the very dawn of Etruscan history obeyed religious rules), as teaching the correct methods of measuring space in the Libri Rituales, and as lording over their observation under threat of some dire woe or malediction , thus establishing her as a power presiding over land property and land property rights, laws and contracts (as distinct of commercial contracts laws).

She is also indicated as having revealed the laws relative to hydraulic works , thus having a special relationship to "tamed" water.

Such an imposing system of “revealing” and “sacred texts” would be expected to have left some imprint on the neighboring italic peoples; indeed, there is ample evidence of the Etruscan culture having heavily permeated their less advanced Latin and sabine neighbours’ communities : this is for instance reflected in the etruscan alphabet, itself derived from the Greek one, being solidly established as having inspired the Latin one (see Etruscan alphabet), or the principles and architecture rules of their decimal numerals system being likewise at the origin of the Roman one (actually a simplified version) (see Etruscan numerals
Etruscan numerals
The Etruscan numerals were used by the ancient Etruscans. The system was adapted from the Greek Attic numerals and formed the inspiration for the later Roman numerals.There is very little surviving evidence of these numerals...

), or the symbols of supreme power (see Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci...

), or the structure of the calendar in Rome (“itis” or “itus”, the Etruscan notion for the middle of the lunar month has given the Roman “Ides”, “Kalendae” the Etruscan word for calendar, has given “calendae” the first day of the month; the Etruscan “Craeci” has given the word “Greeks” while those people named themselves “Hellenes” etc.).

While the Roman religion has precious little written bases, they nonetheless had a kind of very abstruse set of texts known as "Libri sibbylini"
Sibylline Books
The Sibylline Books or Libri Sibyllini were a collection of oracular utterances, set out in Greek hexameters, purchased from a sibyl by the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, and consulted at momentous crises through the history of the Republic and the Empire...

, which were under the exclusive control of special “priests” (duumviri, then decemviri
Decemviri is a Latin term meaning "Ten Men" which designates any such commission in the Roman Republic...

) and were solely resorted to in times of ultimate crisis; the devolution of these “books” to the Romans was, through some rocambolesque scene, attributed to Tarquinius Superbus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was the legendary seventh and final King of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 BC that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is more commonly known by his cognomen Tarquinius Superbus and was a member of the so-called Etruscan...

, the last of the legendary kings of Rome, himself an Etruscan.
Likewise, one may suspect that the legend of Egeria
The name Egeria may refer to:*Egeria , a mythological water nymph and the wife of Numa Pompilius, second king of Rome*Egeria , also called Aetheria, a fourth century Christian woman who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and wrote a letter about her travels*HMS Egeria, three Royal Navy ships*USS...

, the nymph that inspired king Numa Pompilius
Numa Pompilius
Numa Pompilius was the legendary second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus. What tales are descended to us about him come from Valerius Antias, an author from the early part of the 1st century BC known through limited mentions of later authors , Dionysius of Halicarnassus circa 60BC-...

 (the second legendary king of Rome that succeeded its founder Romulus; Latin "numen" designates "the expressed will of a deity") the establishment of the original framework of laws and rituals of Rome, also associated with "sacred books" (Numa is reputed to have written down the teachings of Egeria in "sacred books" that he made bury with him; when some chance accident brought them back to light some 400 years later, they were deemed by the Senate inappropriate for disclosure to the people and destroyed by their order; what made them inappropriate was certainly of "political" nature but apparently has not been handed down by Valerius Antias
Valerius Antias
Valerius Antias was an ancient Roman annalist whom Livy mentions as a source. No complete works of his survive but from the sixty-five fragments said to be his in the works of other authors it has been deduced that he wrote a chronicle of ancient Rome in at least seventy-five books...

, the source that Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 was using), the same that interpreted for him the abstruse omens of gods (episode of the omen from Faunus
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Faunus was the horned god of the forest, plains and fields; when he made cattle fertile he was called Inuus. He came to be equated in literature with the Greek god Pan....

), and also associated to beneficial water, would have some link with the figure of Vegoia.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.