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The Fanes' saga - Short essays


Mount Amariana


Before moving against the Fanes with the coalition that Spina-de-Mul has put together, Ey-de-Net climbs the sacred mount Amariana before dawn, to greet the sunrise from the summit. Interestingly, this is the only explicit hint at an act of cult within the whole main body of the legend. Sun worship must anyway have been quite common in the Bronze Age, and we already indirectly found it in other passages. We must remark, however, that what is being told is that Ey-de-Net greets the sunrise, as if he ought to be singled out from the others. No doubt, what storytellers wanted to underline is that Ey-de-Net is the only man who climbs the mountain.

Mount Amariana might be located close to the Pregajanis, from where Ey-de-Net leaves to war, but more probably it must be looked for on the Lastoieres’ highlands, the operational base from which the punitive expedition moves against the Fanes. The word “Amariana” should easily be connected with the Ladinian root “merì”, noon (which, by the way, refers to a precise position of the sun); Wolff himself quotes a Pala di Merjan, that sounds suspiciously similar, but is located in the Padon group. thence outside of our area. If we look for it on an ordnance map, however, we find it designated by the name Sas di Mezdì (Peak of Midday); and this immediately reminds of another peak, the Becco di Mezzodì (Beak of Midday), which is located exactly where it should be according to the story: on the border of the Lastoieres’ country, on the edge of the Cortina bowl. Notice that the sun myth of “Merisana’s wedding” is located in the close-by Costeana valley. Merisana comes from the Latin Meridiana through the Ladinian “Merijana”: according to Wolff’s writing of Ladinian words, the letter “j” must be pronounced the way Germans do, i.e. like an Italian “long i” (engl. “ee”), while the french-style “j”, which is present in Ladinian, appears in Wolff’s writings just once, as “zh”. The name “Merisana” should therefore be spelled more correctly as “Merijana”, with a french-style “j”. Merisana marries the “king of rays”; their marriage takes place – obviously – at high noon. Was then Mount Amariana (=Merjàn, Meridiana, Midday) the Becco di Mezzodì? Was it Merisana’s mountain? It stands somewhat apart from due south of the precise point where Merisana’s myth is located (the “grassy hill facing the Croda da Lago” near the “Ru de ras Virgines” (brook of the Virgins), but its bold and characteristic profile would easily match that of a sacred mountain, while its not rising very high over the plateau would make plausible that the hero climbs it on the same morning when he must leave to war. However, the common way to the top includes 150 metres of climb with passages up to the second grade (Welzenbach): was Ey-de-Net able to overcome them? Maybe he was; one can suppose that, had mount Amariana been but an anonymous field for cows, the legend wouldn’t have cared recording and handing down to us this memorable enterprise. However the nearby (and higher) Cima Ambrizzola (in the Croda da Lago group), which is located almost due south of the Ru de ras Vergines, can be climbed within the limits of the first grade; unfortunately, its name is not the correct one, but over time it might have “migrated” from the former peak to the latter. It would make more sense locating a place connected with the cult of waters on the shore of a lake, better than of a brook. Remark, on the other hand, that the name itself of the Croda, “da Lago”, i.e. “Peak of the Lake”, connects the mountain with waters. Lake Fedara, however picturesque, certainly is no hydrologic feature of any special relevance, and it isn’t located at all due north of the Croda, therefore it is unprobable that the mountain took its name from it. On the contrary, it is likely that the swamp, out of which the Ru de ras Vergines flows, (and part of whose water is channeled today into a small aqueduct) once was a small lake. Seen from that point, the Croda da Lago stands out loft and lonely almost exactly due south; archaeological excavations on that site might be the source of interesting surprises.