Fanes' saga - Analysis of the legend
Fanes kingdom: 4 - Ey-de-Net
plot begins to unravel, with the introduction of a group of peculiar
characters, some of which are essential for both interpreting
the real meaning and proposing a datation of the narrated events.
The male protagonist, the herculean warrior Ey-de-Net, eventually
enters the stage, and at the same time the mysterious key character
of Tsicuta, who had once been betrothed to the Fanes’ king,
is also revealed.
here defined as “the Lastoieres’ sorcerer”,
on the purpose to retrieve his Raietta,
tries to put together a coalition of tribes against the
Fanes. He succeeds in convincing Ey-de-Net to take a part
in it with a group of Duranni.
The warrior, who had never heard of Dolasilla, accepts at
the condition of being granted to take the girl out of the
battle unharmed. |
are a small tribe, whose name seems to be related with the
Lastoni di Formin, close to the Croda
da Lago. Since they live in this area, they are in the
nightmare of being destroyed by the Fanes’ raids at
any time. This must be the true reason (instead of the alleged
recovery of the Raietta,
that was related with the ancient initiation myth) why the
“modern” sorcerer takes so much pain. He proves
a cunning diplomat and succeeds in putting together a pretty
strong coalition, but the Caiutes
remain out of it. Ey-de-Net, a young warrior chief, consents
to participate, probably at the head of his personal supporters,
more on the purpose to make acquaintance with this Dolasilla
than for political or military motivations.
the battle, Ey-de-Net greets sunrise from the top of mount
The clash, in which the Eagle-prince fights for his first
time, takes place in the small plain of Fiammes.
While the Fanes are at an advantage, Ey-de-Net confronts
Dolasilla standing motionless and uncovered but, as the
archer girl wavers, Spina-de-Mul, who was hiding behind
his shield, wounds her with an arrow. Ey-de-Net, instead
of exploiting the Fanes’ momentary dismay, assails
the sorcerer who has broken their deal. The Fanes prevail
and the allies quarrel.
of moving against the Fanes taking the straightest path,
i.e. through the Falzarego pass, where they would logically
be awaited, the allies march north along the Boite stream,
on the obvious purpose to bypass the defenders and penetrate
into the core of the enemy territory. The Fanes however
are not deceived and intercept their enemies still in the
narrow plain of Fiammes,
i.e. well before they can actually violate their borders.
They at once take the initiative and successfully attack
according to a classical scheme of breaking up the center.
Only later, having put the weaker tribes to flight, they
turn to the tougher Duranni:
here the crucial scene of Dolasilla’s wounding takes
place. When the girl falls, Ey-de-Net, instead of giving
order to counterattack, angrily knocks the sorcerer down
with his shoulder. This is undoubtedly the passage that
must have essentially contributed to the assimilation of
this pair, the warrior who knocks the sorcerer down without
using any weapon, with the mythological one of the “ancient”
Spina-de-Mul and Ey-de-Net.
will not come back home, because he wants to approach
Dolasilla. He finds an anguana,
and asks her for advice. The anguana
addresses him at the Vögl
delle Velme. In his turn, the old man sends him to
a sister of Spina-de-Mul’s. Ey-de-Net looks for
her to no avail for a long time, until he runs into
who explains him what he must do to meet her. She tells
him that the woman had been betrothed to the Fanes’
king before the latter married the Fanes’ queen,
and other interesting details. Tsicuta
deals with Ey-de-Net coldly, foretells him that Dolasilla
will break a promise she will make him, and that her destiny
is shaped by her father’s ambition. However she
gives him the correct advice to get in touch with the
girl: he must have a shield built, so heavy that almost
no man can be able to carry it.
decides to defect. According to the legend, he will never
return to his Pregajanis,
not even after Dolasilla’s death. He looks for an
and finds her on the shore of the Costeana stream. She suggests
him – for rather obscure reasons – to meet with
delle Velme. This character, who is defined a “prince
of the Aurona”,
i.e. an expert metallurgist, “who travelled all over
the world” and who, being able to despise wealth,
must have owned a lot, exactly outlines the figure of a
Bronze-Age itinerant smelter, well-proven by archaeology.
sends the hero to Tsicuta,
but he has a hard time finding her. A supernatural halo
of mystery and terror has been built around this character.
But, from the raven’s gossip, we learn far more mundane
details about her. Actually, the woman accomplishes nothing
esoterical and gives Ey-de-Net the right advice to enter
the Fanes’ kingdom.
“raven”, who had been Tsicuta’s
servant, is an obvious metaphore to denote an
evil-minded, gossiping silly woman, who is used
to embody the voice of the populace. Ey-de-Net
shall meet her again, short before the battle
on the Pralongià. This time, the raven
informs the hero that the cliff, inside which
Tsicuta has her home, blossoms of fire-red poppies
only just before a thunderstorm breaks out; Ey
shall discover that, at the first drops of rain,
the poppies quickly wither and only a small lump
of greyish powder remains of them (the poppies
are therefore an enigmatic metaphore, maybe a
riddle, for lightning-lit bushfire).
the raven states that Tsicuta had been betrothed
to the Fanes’ king, but the Caiutes’
king, who was a friend of his, had averted the
marriage. She hated both, had replaced the baby
son of the Caiutes’king with another and
finally had sent him to death by giving him a
few of her poppies before entering in battle against
Dolasilla, whose heart he intended to conquer.
quickly recovers from her wound. The artisans who had
assembled the silver armour answer the king that it had
been pierced by a magic arrow, against which it had no
power. In order to protect Dolasilla from enchanted weapons,
an enchanted shield was required, as the dwarfs of mount
Latemar could build. The dwarfs speculate that the king’s
order concerns the same shield Ey-de-Net had already ordered
them; when the finished objects is delivered to the castle,
the Fanes discover that none of them is able to raise
it from the ground. One day, Ey-de-Net arrives and proves
able to carry it, so that he is hired as shield-carrier
for the princess.
we replace the word “magic” with the word “metallic”,
we can read that the metal armour could stop normal arrows,
but not those equipped with a metallic arrowhead: to obtain
that, a metal shield was needed, but a very heavy and thick
one. The logic flows perfectly.
We can be left skeptical about the smith dwarfs’ argument,
who apparently receive two separate orders, one from the
Fanes’ king and one from Ey-de-Net, but conclude that
both are dealing with the same object, and therefore build
No man can raise it, but Ey-de-Net (who had it built according
to his own strength) carries it without effort. Obviously,
the Fanes as a race must all have been thin and short guys,
and the Duranno a sort of giant among them.
appears here in the role of a cunning diplomat, capable of roaming
mountains and valleys to put together an army from nothing in
support of his threatened tribe. Indeed, he is said to be a brother
(a brotherhood better to be read in the broader sense of “fraternity”)
who certainly is, as we shall see shortly, a Caiutes
priestess. Spina-de-Mul (the “modern” one!) may thence
be probably defined as a priest, maybe a missionary among the
Certainly, at Fiammes
he fights with a bow, a weapon not exactly suitable to a warrior;
anyway, by wounding Dolasilla he obtains a brilliant success.
The Fanes prevail again, but theirs is a Pyrrhus’s victory.
immediately appears as a competent military chief; the strategical
move (that, however, has no success) to bypass the Fanes’
army must be an idea of his, and his battle
array appears quite sensible. However, his interest in the matter
is limited to Dolasilla; as soon as the heroine falls, he doesn’t
insist fighting, on the contrary he just quarrels with his ally
who broke their deal.
episode of the Vögl
delle Velme was inserted by Wolff between the encounter with
and that with Tsicuta.
In this position, it appears meaningless. We must keep in mind
that Wolff was
reassembling the scattered fragments of an almost forgotten legend,
and probably he just made a mistake in locating this character
before, instead of after, the episode with Tsicuta.
Indeed, if she suggests Ey-de-Net to have a shield built, who
could give him advice better than the old retired itinerant smelter?
the keystone of the story is Tsicuta.
On one hand, she owns a range of attributions more appropriate
to a Nature mother-goddess than to a priestess; her nickname (Tsicuta
= Hemlock), that recalls both her dominance on herbs and a socially
reproachable usage of them, her undiscoverable dwelling inside
the mountain itself, her fire-red poppies, her control of storms,
her relationship with animals… On the other hand, the far
more humanlike circumstances described by the raven. Tsicuta
had been betrothed to the man who today is the Fanes’ king,
but he was induced by the Caiutes’
king to forsake her and marry the marmots’ queen instead!
This can only be explained by assuming that the Fanes’ queen,
when she had to marry, and to marry a foreigner according to her
tradition, asked the Caiutes’
king for a husband: he designated for the role a close friend
of his, maybe a relative, or even his own brother, just overlooking
the detail that he was betrothed (or married) to Tsicuta.
An illuminating consequence follows: both Tsicuta
and the Fanes’ king must be high-born Caiutes!
let us examine the story of the shield. If the smith dwarfs
build a shield by order of the Fanes’ king, but manufacture
it according to Ey-de-Net’s size, this may only mean that
the warrior and the king had already agreed to have it that way.
As a matter of fact, Dolasilla is of a marriageable age, and the
king has the problem of finding her a husband. He must be a foreigner,
and certainly the king wants him of his own race and his same
political opinions. However, the Fanes warriors would be hostile
to another Caiute
like him. Ey-de-Net comes at the right time: he is the right man,
and the king does his best to introduce him into the Cunturines
without rousing suspicion.
who was acquainted with both, Ey-de-Net and the king, and therefore
could arrange them to meet?
Tsicuta was the only one!
Suddenly, all veils fall: the mysteries and terrors shrouding
and her dwelling must have been artfully manufactured to keep
inquisitive people at a distance and cover her secret meetings
with the Fanes’ king; meetings that didn’t stop at
all after his royal wedding. This circumstance also explains why
a version of the legend (collected by H. de
Rossi in the Fassa valley) says that the Fanes’ king
betrayed his people because of his love affair with a Caiute