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Venetic theory (Slovene: venetska teorija) is a pseudohistorical idea favoured by Slovenian nationalists that the Slovenes are a Middle European master race because they (or rather, proto-Slovenes) have inhabited the Eastern Alps since generically "ancient times". Though it has strong support amongst Slovenian politicians, nationalists and uneducated people, it has virtually no academic support.
The theory was first popularized by Slovenian authors in 1984, who stated that the Slovenian people are not descendants of Slavic immigrants to the area, but were rather the original Slavs, who spoke a proto-Slavic language from which all Slavic languages evolved. The claim is that modern Slovenians are direct descendants of Veneti (derived from "Sloveneti") that inhabited what is now Slovenia in the pre-Roman era. Since the Slovenes were supposedly the first inhabitants of the region, they, and not the Russians, are the best Slavic (if not European) race. Not only that, the Veneti are also actually Aryans!
Venetic theory is widely branched and has lots of little subtheories or versions where Veneti is simply replaced with a name of another indigenous ancient population - at least one radical nationalist website can be found to directly connect modern Slovenes with any nation that set foot on any part of the surface of modern Slovenia (regnum Noricum etc.), and further connect those nations with other "master races" (i.e. Aryans above). It's actually quite entertaining.
The archeological, linguistical and historical evidence gathered about ethnogenesis of Slovenes thus far points to Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps in the sixth century CE. There was indeed an Italic nation called Veneti (Latin; Greek Enetoi) on a part of modern Slovenia and Italy in the pre-Roman era. The city of Venice gets its name from them. Their Indo-European language is not directly related to Slavic[note 1] but it appears to have been an independent branch of Indo-European with some relationship with Italic or Germanic. Their culture was strongly influenced by Celtic, Roman and Slavic cultures. They left behind a fair number of short inscriptions, mostly votive dedications to the goddess Reitia. Dr. Rajko Bratož, one of most respected Slovene historians, speculates that 1% of Slovenian heritage is of Venetic origin. That's ... not enough to support the Venetic theory.
Besides, the Venetic theory proponents often ignore the way nations evolve — for example: Italians are not just the descendents of Romans, and Modern Greeks are not just the descendants of the ancient Greeks, because almost all ethnic groups mix with their neighbors and are genetically "mongrels" (the idea of a "pure" race is meaningless). Thus one can conclude that even if Slovenians were the direct descendants of the Veneti, that would mean nothing in terms of culture or rights of the nation as a whole (why would you even need that in modern times?), except that you can't get a big ole' boner over knowing your grandpa was here first.
Evidence that clearly shows that the Venetic theory is the ultimate truth
Venetic theory was developed by author and quasi-historian Jožko Šavli, Catholic priest and publicist Ivan Tomažič and ex-partisan author Vladimir "Matej Bor" Pavšič. The theory is based on some vaguely similar-sounding names of European nations, some even more fuzzy linguistical similarities between Eastern European languages, and some historical theorizing. There were also some strange claims about DNA relating Slovenes to Swedes and Norwegians, because all nationalism comes back to Nordicism eventually.
Venetic theorists often take inscriptions of ancient Veneti, give them to Slovenes and ask them to read the inscriptions using their modern Slovene language. Of course, no one knows how to read ancient Venetic runes, until they are told what to read.
Venetic theorists often hold idea that Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps is a theory used by Nazi Germany (see Reductio ad Hitlerum) to make Slovenes look inferior and that that alone is enough to attack the sixth century settlement theory. They often ignore archeological and actual linguistic evidence that debunks their theory.
- Jovan I. Deretić — another pseudohistorian who has basically the same idea, but with Serbs as the main actors
- Nationalist pseudohistory
- See the Wikipedia article on Venetic theory.
- Goriški Panterji, website of Slovene ultranationalists, on Venetic theory
- Promin.si on Venetic theory
- "Translations" of "Slovenetic" inscriptions
- Early Slavic is well attested in the form of Old Church Slavonic.