1 – A : The origins
Moltina’s legend, once cleared
from its several spurious elements, outlines a rather precise
and realistic picture of the Fanes tribe’s origins.
We are being told, thence, the story of a small,
matriarchally-ordered tribe that in the second half of the second
millennium B.C. lives hunting and gathering in the caves of the
Sennes and Fosses plateaus. The climate of that period is warm
enough to allow them wintering at high altitudes.
As soon as the first waves of invaders arrive, entering the Dolomites
through the S.Candido saddle and destroying everything on their
path, often to proceed further West towards the Adige valley and
beyond, the Fanes react by hiding themselves in the mountain crevices.
The destruction of the valley-bottom hamlets causes the few survivors
to flee away, so that for the next several centuries no stable
lowland settlements remain. A few Landrines take shelter at the
Fanes and bring them a significant contribution both in blood
and in culture.
This way, the Fanes society becomes a matrilinear hereditary monarchy,
that derives its sacrality from the symbolic alliance with marmots,
animals that share with the Fanes their purely passive defensive
behaviour, that in the circumstances results quite effective anyway.
1 – B : The evolution of the society and the crisis
When we pass from Moltina’s
story to the principal body of the legend, we can realize that,
over time, the Fanes’ society has changed substantially.
As a matter of fact, the Fanes have gradually
spread out to occupy the whole of the highland that will be named
after them and have built a robust stronghold on the Cunturines.
In the meanwhile, from mere hunters-gatherers they have evolved
to a mixed society of shepherds and hunters; this change has determined
a significant demographic growth and an increase of the available
pro-capita resources; but now they must also be able to defend
their pastures and their flocks, because they can’t any
longer hide them in caves when foes are approaching.
So, the Fanes have developped a relevant military capability,
that has found its mystic patronage in the cult of the vulture:
this animal, in the past connected with funeral rites only, has
become a martial symbol that gradually has assumed even greater
importance and sacrality than the cult of the marmot itself. On
the other hand, the Fanes had no other way to procure metallic
objects, specially weapons, than stealing them from their neigbours.
So, they have also discovered robbing and raiding as an easy,
exciting and rewarding lifestyle.
potential social conflict has therefore gradually developped,
between the supporters of a non-aggressive policy (the “marmots”),
who plausibly were mostly composed by women and elderly people
and had their main reference in the queen, and the partisans of
raiding (the “vultures”), usually to be identified
with the younger males, whose political leader must have been
represented by the king.
Chances are that the above mentioned social instability, after
having remained latent or close to eruption for several generations,
suddenly bursted out into an open conflict when this was triggered
by an external event. At this point, however, the conflict broke
out so violent as to challenge the same matriarchal form of the
This circumstance occurred about the end of the IXth century B.C.
Invasions from north-east had slowed down, and the first farmers
of a new people, the Rhaetians, had cautiously begun settling
again in the valley-bottoms. From the south, on the contrary,
a new stock of invaders was spreading up the tributary valleys
of the Piave river: the Palaeo-Venetics. Their expansion was essentially
peaceful: the ancient tribes were being attracted one after another
into their sphere of cultural, economical and political influence,
and entered a sort of loose, benevolent confederation of peoples.
When the Fanes started addressing their raids against tribes that
were covered by the Palaeo-Venetics shield, the clash became unavoidable.