We propose an extension of natural inflation, where the inflaton potential is a general periodic function. Specifically, we study elliptic inflation where the inflaton potential is given by Jacobi elliptic functions, Jacobi theta functions or the Dedekind eta function, which appear in gauge and Yukawa couplings in the string theories compactified on toroidal backgrounds. We show that in the first two cases the predicted values of the spectral index and the tensor-to-scalar ratio interpolate from natural inflation to exponential inflation such as R2- and Higgs inflation and brane inflation, where the spectral index asymptotes to ns = 1 − 2/N ≃ 0.967 for the e-folding number N = 60. We also show that a model with the Dedekind eta function gives a sizable running of the spectral index due to modulations in the inflaton potential. Such elliptic inflation can be thought of as a specific realization of multi-natural inflation, where the inflaton potential consists of multiple sinusoidal functions. We also discuss examples in string theory where Jacobi theta functions and the Dedekind eta function appear in the inflaton potential.
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