Fanes' saga - Short essays
names in the saga
are only a few of them. Most of the existing ones either are appellatives,
or can be demonstrated to be spurious. Several principal characters’
names are wholly missing: from Moltina’s husband to the
last Fanes’ queen, from the latter’s husband to the
Caiutes’ king, and so on. One might remind the “Origines”,
the history of Rome written by Cato the Censor without once naming
his characters but by the title corresponding to their public
office (“the consul”, “the praetor”, etc.).
One of the possible reasons why the Fanes’ king and queen
have no name is that they represent, so to speak, a collective
of people, i.e. they are an historical synthesis of generations
of kings and queens who followed one another over time; albeit
a last queen and a last king obviously had to exist, and the detailed
narration of the events that marked the end of the kingdom cannot
but refer to these both particular individuals. Another chance,
not to be overlooked, might be that the Fanes themselves did not
use personal names as we intend them, but named people by attributions
linked to their position within society, or to their physical
features, or to events they had been the protagonists of. Maybe
all these hypotheses are all at least partially true at the same
time. What follows is a short discussion about the names –
or appellatives – of the characters who own one, at times
an archetypical name shared by homologous figures belonging to
periods and contexts even very different from each other.
we can see here an anomalous structure, a pair of mother-and-child’s
names, where the protagonist’s name (the daughter) seems
to be derived from that of her mother’s, who anyway plays
a quite marginal role in the story. Likely, however, this “Molta”
is but a spurious interpolation of Christian age, and ought not
to have been present in the original core of the legend.
We are induced to believe that the name “Molta” must
be interpreted according only to what the woman represents for
her daughter, owing to an exchange between “l” and
“r”, i.e. her mother who died [=morta] and left her
orphan and deprived of everything. If “Molta” were
to mean “morta”, certainly “Moltina”
wouldn’t be its diminutive, (as it would turn spontaneous
in any neo-latin language), but rather a substantivized adjective
in its turn derived (in Latin or a close language) from the noun
“Molta” (=dead woman), and therefore Moltina should
mean “pertinent to the dead woman”, “(daughter)
of the dead woman”.
However, we have the very interesting indication by U.
Kindl (priv. comm., 2002) of the existence of a Rhaeto-Roman
god named Moltinus, who is mentioned on a stele found
in Alto Adige and is considered as equivalent to Mercurius as
god of livestock thieves, but also as protector of livestock itself
(Moltinus was originally a Celtic deity, who can be encountered
in France and in Austria, but there he is generally compared to
Mars, better than to Mercurius). Whichever the name owned by the
founder of the Fanes’ kingdom, if any, we cannot discard
that in the Rhaetic or Roman period she was assigned a special
appellative on the purpose of stressing her sacredness by associating
her to a god. Much later, having Moltinus’ memory dissolved
by then, and being in need to insert a fictitious Moltina’s
mother into the story, storytellers might have resorted to this
totally invented “Molta”, on the purpose to artfully
build the above mentioned fictive semantic structure.
among non-named characters, and characters only named with an
appellative, Dolasilla appears the only one in her family owning
a “true” name. Is it really so? Maybe “Dolasilla”
also (at times also “Doresila”) was but an attribution.
to explain “-sila” through the quite doubtful
assonance with “sala”, thence connecting
Dolasilla with waters (“sala” in Ladinian
means “millcourse”, or “springpipe”).
The root “-sill” also appears, however, in
the ancient Ladinian (or better late Rhaetian?) “fursill”,
the name of a famous (historical) iron mine. “Sill”
thence meant “metal”? Is there a relationship and
not only an assonance with the German “Silber”
(silver)? “Dolasilla” therefore might mean something
like “metal-clad” or “shining with metal”?
Perhaps one day a linguist shall tell us.
this is an evident attribution, because in Ladinian it means “shining”,
“radiant”. This might easily be extended to mean “white-skinned”,
“lunar”. Of course we cannot discard that the adjective
“Lujanta”, attribution or not, was also used as a
real personal name (see also >Essays > “Lujanta’s
“Edl de Net”, absolutely equivalent. It literally
means “Night-Eye”, but it might also be read as “Eye
of the night”. U.Kindl
suggests the latter reading, which would bestow him a name with
a lunar symbolism. Remind that Ey-de-Net (although probably another
Ey-de-Net) will marry Soreghina, the Sun’s daughter. From
a purely linguistic point of view, the former lesson, simpler
and more direct, also looks like the more probable, but a subtlety
like this, bound to meanings probably mostly lost by then, might
have gone just unnoticed to the Ladinian storytellers.
the word “Spina de Müsc”, i.e. “donkey-skeleton”.
Little changes for the sorcerer as such, but the absence of the
“mule” allows dating the sorcerer to a period when
horses were not yet raised. We can’t even discard that the
original, pre-Ladinian name made reference to still another four-legged
animal (e.g., a cervid) and that it was only approximately translated
local form of the word “cicuta” (hemlock),
the well-known poisonous herb, an infusion of which was used to
put Socrates to death. On one hand, this name alludes to a special
mastery of the usage of herbs; on the other, to a socially reproachable
usage of them. Maybe, at least initially, “Hemlock”
was but a proper nickname to indicate an ill-tempered and pungent
person, like e.g. that football player, Lorenzi, who played for
Inter in the fifties, who was nicknamed “Veleno”
delle Velme: Vögl in Ladinian means
“old man”, but what are the “Velme”? Palmieri
translates the Ladinian word by interpreting it as a reference
to the conical heaps of pressed hay, quite common in countryside
courtyards. We can remark that their shape is almost identical
to that of a pre-historical smelting oven. Did the word migrate
by analogy from the former to the latter object? Palmieri
himself (2002) quotes the Austrian legend of the Venediger
Mandl (lit. “Venetian little men”), whom he interprets
as Palaeo-Venetic miners of the late Bronze Age: “…
they light a big bonfire in a haystack in such a way that straw
doesn’t take fire”.
name attributed to the mythical king of Contrin,
as a matter of fact derived from that of a legendary bavarian
duke, Adelger, through the lombard Adalgais
(see separate discussion in Odolghes).
the princess of Aurona
brought back to sunlight by Odolghes.
Her name, clearly a Neo-latin one (“summa” in the
sense of highest point, or mountain pass, is rather common in
Ladinian) might be a reference to the Sommadida forest, near Auronzo,
of which it might be a variant or a trivial misspelling, possibly
by Wolff himself.
Not far from the Sommadida forest, in effect, there is the entrance
to a famous mine, that seems having been referred to by the magic
– albeit this doesn’t mean identifying it with the
mythical archetype of all mines, that should better be linked
to a place in the valley of the Cordevole stream.
this name is certainly a late-medioeval one. It derives from the
Ladinian “lidsa”, (italian “lizza”),
meaning “tournament”. Both words are taken from the
frankish word “lice”, that originally meant
“palisade”, and only later was used to indicate the
area comprised between two concentrical wall enceintes, that was
carefully kept free so as to offer no shelter to any foe who had
entered it, and was therefore quite suitable to host carrousels
and tournaments. Therefore the identification “lidsa”
= tournament presupposes a military architecture that developped
not earlier than 1100 – 1200 A.D. At least the hero’s
name, thence, cannot be contemporary to the supposed Arimanni.
in Merisana we can easily read a Latin “Meridiana”
(i.e., pertinent to Midday), through the Ladinian “Merijana”.
Soreghina’s name, usually referred to soredl, “sun”
(= the eye above?), might also be read as sora-ega, i.e.
“over the water”. Notice, moreover, that the adjective
that always accompanies Soreghina is lujenta, "shining",
i.e. Dolasilla’s marmot-sister’s
attribution! A coincidence?