Fanes' saga - Analysis of the legend
Fanes kingdom: 5 - The King's betrayal
the previous chapters we have already remarked that some weaknesses
in the narration may be caused by the first storytellers’
lack of first-hand information. Since now on, the few survivors’
witnessings, that represent the primary source of the legend,
become fragmentary, reticent, often reconstructed out of hearsays,
sometimes even artfully distorted on the purpose of conveying
all the blame and all the shame onto the king alone. Fortunately,
we know the general outline well enough yet to try recomposing
the puzzle more coherently.
Healed from her wound, Dolasilla enters the field again,
protected by Ey-de-Net’s huge shield. The Fanes’
army appears invincible. When, one day, Ey-de-Net asks
the king for his daughter’s hand, he gets indignant.
But Dolasilla has fallen in love with her shield-carrier
herself, and declares tired of fighting. Since Ey-de-Net
can’t be replaced in his job, the king pretends
yielding his consent, but delays the wedding and prepares
a plot. He knows that both have promised each other never
to fight again unless together. In his unmeasured greed
for wealth, the king plans to have himself and his family
buried in the Aurona. To do that, he needs a lot of workers
to find out its entrance and open it again. Therefore
he secretly gets in touch with the enemy, the “southern
peoples” who are going to wage war against the
Fanes, and comes to an agreement with them: he will prevent
Dolasilla from entering battle, so that the enemies will
easily gain victory and take possession of his kingdom;
after their victory, will dig out for him the gates of
in exchange. Therefore, the king banishes Ey-de-Net, being
convinced that Dolasilla will no longer fight without
him because of her promise, and himself retires on the
Lagazuoi waiting for events. Ey-de-Net leaves the kingdom
without even having met his betrothed again.
Dolasilla announces her will to marry Ey-de-Net, the king
indeed cannot but be happy: this is exactly what he was
expecting. It is probable that he just pretends being angry,
to disguise his agreement and increase his restless warriors’
acceptance of the marriage: had they been aware that Dolasilla’s
marriage with an “enemy” had long been prepared,
and therefore it was not, or not only, a love affair, but
a king’s cunning political move, they even might revolt
Maybe the king actually was greedy for wealth (at least
in a mountain shepherd's eyes), but certainly could not
wish being buried in a mythical mine. However, this expression
makes us understand that a mine may really have been implied
in the plot. Let us try to reconstruct what might have happened,
according to the existing clues.
If the “southern peoples” are engaging war against
them, chances are that the Fanes have violated their truce
with the Caiutes
a provoked a firm reaction from the Palaeo-Venetics.
This means that the king’s authority must already
have been quite weak. Now the enemies are collecting troops
to send a punitive expedition with crushing forces against
the Fanes. We saw in the previous chapter that the king
himself is a Caiute,
therefore he sure doesn’t wish fighting against them;
moreover, he perfectly knows that the Fanes cannot prevail
against the Palaeo-Venetics.
We may guess that the Caiutes’
king made his friend (or brother?) a generous proposal,
at the same time as he was issuing an ultimatum: provided
the Fanes stop their raids forever, he will grant them the
exploitation rights of a rich mine, so that they won’t
be able to allege their poverty as an excuse any longer.
Obviously, the Fanes’ king willfully accepts, but
his young warriors don’t. Never shall they bend to
conditions imposed by the enemy, never shall they accept
the humiliation of toiling in a mine: a raider’s life
is much more fun. If the king has accepted conditions like
those, he is colluding with the enemy, he has betrayed his
people, he is no longer worthy of his title. As a matter
of fact, the king disappears, and nothing will be known
of him any longer; Ey-de-Net gets banished, although not
by the king, by the Fanes themselves.
Fanes are in dire straits: the king has disappeared, Ey-de-Net
has been banished, Dolasilla refuses to fight although
repeatedly invoked, and the overwhelming foes are approaching
their borders. The Eagle-prince suggests exploiting the
darkness for a sudden night attack. Pondering her difficult
choice, either to fail her promise or let her people being
destroyed, eventually Dolasilla consents to enter the
Fanes must have started counting their enemies who are waiting,
weapons at hand, for their ultimatum to expire, and they
have realized being in a very serious trouble. But now they
couldn’t any longer obtain a truce even if they wanted
to. And then they look at Dolasilla as at their last hope:
maybe, if she leads them in battle, they might prevail again.
The invocations to the princess are insistently repeated,
in a style that may be rather directly related to the homeric
canon of Achilles being supplicated to fight, or to still
later literary perorations: a convincing clue that the redundant
rhetorical flourishing of this chapter of the legend is
indeed only an embellishment developped in a later period.
The girl must probably understand that everything is lost,
nevertheless she eventually accepts to lead the last desperate
is looking for a silvano,
a friend of his, but meets the raven
again. She tells him the news that Dolasilla will fight
again, against all odds. Since the hero feels betrayed
because she broke her promise to him, and declares he
will go far away forever, the silvano
sends him consulting the lake nymphs’
oracle (the ethereal mjanines).
But the oracle answers that Dolasilla had no other choice
but to break her promise, and that she soon will die.
Ey-de-Net tries to rejoin to the Fanes to defend her,
but arrives too late.
or banished from the Fanes’ kingdom, Ey-de-Net loiters
nearby: he doesn’t try at all to return among the
Fanes, nor to reach his old comrades, nor does he go away.
This circumstance may let us suppose that he had a predisposed
plan to meet with Dolasilla again. I suspect that he visits
just because Dolasilla had agreed to reach him there so
that they may get away together; only when and because this
does not happen (and on the contrary he is told that Dolasilla
has decided to resume fighting), he gets disheartened, convinced
that the girl has preferred dying together with her people.
Obviously the Fanes were unaware that Dolasilla herself
was on the verge of betraying them - and the few survivors
wouldn’t admit that, even if they had suspected it;
therefore the storytellers had to devise a completely different
explanation to justify her behaviour.
pays a visit to the silvano,
Ey-de-Net’s friend, and learns that he went away,
never to come back. While returning to her castle, Dolasilla
meets a crowd of weird ragged boys, who ask for her arrows;
she gives away one each, thirteen in total. When she arrives
at the castle, the enemy coalition is on sight, camped on
the Pralongià. |
first scene of the episode is just the counterpart of
the previous paragraph. Dolasilla does go to her date
but, victim to the same misunderstanding, convinces herself
that Ey-de-Net has decided to abandon her forever. The
second scene is nothing but a stage device to show that
the heroine herself, desperate, wilfully gives away her
own arrows, those that will give her death. The intention
may be to remark that the heroine could only succumb to
arrows that were not only “magic”, but also
“unfailing”. However the presence of the mysterious
children, who appear as by wizardry, and also of the “magic”
number thirteen, makes us believe that this is just a
legend plot, as we can read it now, shows over and over being
just the picture of the events as the Fanes could see them, i.e.
from a quite limited and partial point of view. None of them,
except the king and maybe Dolasilla, could realize having raised
the wrath of a power capable of destroying them without even get
upset that much. None of them could hold the vision that owning
a mine would allow them to put an end to their condition of precarious
survival, and attain something close to welfare. They never suspected
that the king had arranged Dolasilla’s marriage with Ey-de-Net.
The king probably has betrayed his wife, but he only did his best
to save his people from impending disaster. But he was misunderstood.
We don’t, and never shall, know whether he had a chance
to escape together with his mistress Tsicuta, but it’s more
probable that the Fanes just put him to death, maybe keeping the
queen herself unaware.