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The Fanes' saga - Analysis of the legend

The Fanes kingdom: 2 - Inserted myths

At this point of the story, Wolff inserted two myths that must be older than the Fanes’ saga, and ought to have been a part of the cultural background of those who first compiled it, since the legend makes reference to them in several passages, using them as an archetype for a number of specific situations and characters. They are:

  • Ey-de-Net and Spina-de-Mul: the transposal of an ancient myth of initiation;
  • The Aurona: the fabled mine, a story in which obscure rites for ore vein fertility are veiled.

The text in short


1. Ey-de-Net and Spina-de-Mul

A boy who wishes to become a warrior arrives at the borders of the Fanes’ territory at dusk, from the remote country of the Duranni. Not far away a servant, who is coming back with the baby Dolasilla from having met with the eagle, is assailed by a powerful sorcerer, Spina-de-Mul (i.e.: mule-skeleton). who can assume the aspect of a half-rotten mule carcass and cannot be wounded by weapons. The boy attacks him in the darkness, repeatedly hitting him with stones, and succeeds in putting him to flight and eventually knocking him down. Then the sorcerer, subdued, names him “Ey-de-Net” (i.e. “Night-Eye”) and walks away. Ey-de-Net finds a splendid gem (the "Raietta") that the sorcerer had lost in combat, but gives it away to Dolasilla to stop her from crying.


The whole combat sequence is nothing but an initiation ceremony: the boy must defeat his most ancestral fears and knock down the ghost of death to receive the name that admits him into the society of men. Obviously, the tribe’s shaman disguises himself as a monster to frighten the kid, but in effect opposes a just symbolic resistance. The “un-dead” features of the monster are related to the symbolism of death and resurrection connected with the initiation ritual.The myth shows primeval features and ought to be related with a culture much earlier than the Fanes themselves, maybe even a paleolithic one. Therefore we might be in presence of two separate legend structures overlapping. The earlier one told of the initiation ceremony of a young man who was destined to become a great warrior, performed by his tribe’s shaman, whatever his tribe may have been; shaman who, during initiation ceremonies, took the name Spina-de-Mul and assumed all monstruous features we can find today in our legend. At the Fanes' times, the Spina-de-Mul of the ancient legend was understood as the archetype of the sorcerer, and Ey-de-Net the corresponding archetype of the warrior. We shall see later that the couple of characters is repeating: again, we have a contention, a physical confrontation, between a cunning spiritual chief and a great warrior, who later on shall fall in love, to the point of deserting his people. Both myths can therefore overlap, and as a consequence the characters may be identified one another, so that names and deeds pertaining to the earlier tale migrate into the protagonists of the later one.The presence of the baby Dolasilla in the scene must then be considered just as a by-product of the myth overlapping above described.


2. The Aurona

Once upon a time, under the ridge of mount Padon, there was a golden gate, locked all the time, that was the entrance to the country of Aurona, whose inhabitants had forever renounced to sunlight on the purpose to amass an enormous wealth in gold and gems. One day, a little hole opens up in the ceiling, and through it an old man can admire the beautiful outside world; but he gets blinded. So the hole is hastily closed, but everyone is now craving for getting out, specially princess Sommavida, who spends long hours weeping just behind the gate. Odolghes, the young king of Contrin, passes by and, in order to free her, pounds the golden gate with his sword seven days long, until he breaks in. He marries the girl, disregarding all other wealths; but the tip of his sword remains shining with the gate’s gold, so that the hero is nicknamed Sabja de Fek (Sword of Fire). The inhabitants of the Aurona scatter all over the world and the entrance to the underground kingdom gets forgotten and is eventually buried by landslides.



As Palmieri remarks, the Italian word rame (copper) derives from the late latin auramen, thence the post-latin name Aurona does not imply at all that it was a gold mine (a geologically improbable fact). It may well have been a copper mine instead. Anyway, in the middle or recent Bronze Age, this type of ore represented a source of great wealth and welfare for the whole surrounding area. Significantly, the myth of the Aurona shows comparable features with that of the Delibana. In the latter, the Delibana is a virgin who must remain buried inside the mine to grant fertility to the ore vein; she might be freed by a prince but, since this doesn’t occur, the mine remains productive until she dies. Sommavida on the contrary is freed by the “king of Contrin”, and as soon as this happens, the mine declines without remedy. I’m inclined to believe, therefore, that the legend of the Aurona originally depicted the archetype of a Bronze Age copper mine, and originated in the same period as a myth describing, in a veiled fashion, an obscure religious practice of the miners on the purpose of propitiating the “mountain spirits”; or better explaining the dire consequences one could incur by overlooking it. See further remarks in > Essays > Aurona.


Why did Wolff insert both these chapters into the Fanes’ saga, while they are clearly myths apart, if he did the reverse with the “Croda Rossa”?

As far as Ey-de-Net and Spina-de-Mul are concerned, the real reason is that both protagonists’ names will play a very important role in the course of the saga, and Wolff presumably didn’t realize that they were two distinct pairs of characters, separated by a large time span and identified together on the same archetype just because they behaved alike. The other (feeble) trait-d’union is represented by the Raietta, the gem that Ey-de-Net is told to have offered the baby Dolasilla, that later on is mounted onto the warrior girl’s outfit, and Spina-de-Mul tries to recover by any means. But the story would hold very well even if the gem donated by the ancient hero to an unknown girl were a completely different stone from the one later included into Dolasilla’s outfit.

A reference to the Aurona repeats in three independent passages of the Fanes’ saga; in no case we are anyway dealing with a well-determined place or situation, but only with hearsays, so that we can maintain that, already at the time of the Fanes, it must have been a legendary and archetypical place, that was automatically recalled every time one happened to be talking about mines or metals. Therefore, its claimed localization in the Padon appears absolutely arbitrary.