Fanes’ legend properly begins when the Fanes’ last
queen, who wished to marry outside of her tribe according to traditions,
wisely decided to find a husband among the Caiutes, the mightiest
neighbouring people, whose aristocrats already were of Palaeo-Venetic
origins and culture.
above statement, as well as those that follow, derive from a passage
of the legend declaring that Tsicuta had once been betrothed to
the Fanes’ king: a statement as illuminating and decisive
as this one is dropped so casually and so out of the context that
we are induced to believe it as an embarassing real circumstance,
better than a literary element that would have deserved being
developped much further .
Caiutes’ king designated for this honour a trustworthy friend,
maybe a close relative of his, assigning him the political task
of slowly bringing the Fanes under Palaeo-Venetic influence. He
disregarded, however, that his man already was in love with a
noble Caiute woman, who belonged to a religious circle [or who
entered such a circle after having been abandoned]. Anyway, both
didn’t refrain from secretly meeting again.
The new Fanes’ king therefore found himself as the matriarch’s
reluctant bridegroom and the military chief of a tribe much poorer
and older-styled than his original people, rocked by social conflicts
and eager to gain glory and booty by raiding, among others, both
the Caiutes and their allies. His first political move was trying
to enter into the younger warriors’ good graces by supporting
their institutional vision, – making an end of marmots and
matriarchate – by procuring them with better weapons, e.g.
plundering the old sacred repositories on lake bottoms, and by
skillfully leading them into battle against those neighbours of
theirs who lived in the northern valleys and were not bound to
the Palaeo-Venetic confederation.
of the most uncertain points of the whole saga is represented
by the actual composition of the royal couple’s siblings;
we shall follow here – demythizing them – the basic
assumptions proposed by the legend, in the awareness anyway that
both the needs of the myth and the wish to embellish may have
induced the storytellers to introduce heavy distortions on the
daughters were born to the king, one of which, – they say,
– named Lujanta, was exchanged with a marmot, i.e. was brought
into a cave, according to the Fanes’ ancestral and secret
tradition, so that she might live a marmot’s life. This
was done for the purpose that her sister, named Dolasilla, might
embody a marmot herself and therefore be conferred with the sacrality
required to ascend the throne at her due time.
Later on, a son was born, who – they say, because the rite
was kept even more secret than the former one – was also
“exchanged”, i.e. sacrificed to the vultures, so that
his brother, who still had to be born, could embody the vulture
himself in exchange, like Dolasilla was to embody the marmot.
When this new brother was eventually born, time later, the king
proclaimed the vulture as the new symbolic (=“totemic”)
animal of the Fanes, [implicitly?] declaring the end of the matriarchate
and the newborn as his heir to the throne.
Young Dolasilla couldn’t accept that and, as soon as she
came of a suitable age, decided to reaffirm her rights in the
only way she thought possible: since her father was in so friendly
terms with warriors, and used to claim that only a skilled warrior
would be able to govern the state, good: she would fight herself,
and would show him her stuff.
“real” is Dolasilla’s character, how much of
it has been imported from Greek or Balkan archetypes, how much
is it the result of literary embellishments? We have no safe clue
at that. We can take for granted that, if embellishments have
ever been introduced into the story, she is the most obvious candidate
at having been their object. It is quite plausible, and probable,
that a queen’s daughter, destined to the throne, really
existed; that she got hold of a bow, that she owned superior-quality
arrows, that she contributed to her people’s victories,
and finally that she fell in the battle that marked the Fanes’
end, is far from being unbelievable. We ought to be rather cautious,
on the contrary, not only about stereotypal attributions like
her great beauty, skill and physical strength, but also about
some doubtful elements of her outfit, like her armour or the Raietta.
By now, we shall pretend still to believe the legend, or at least
what still holds of it after the analytical discussion of the
girl trained with the bow and procured herself a set of outstanding
arrows by assembling second-hand metal arrowheads on straight
and robust reed stems. She protected herself with an armour built
out of platelets of a strange, hard metal the Fanes had stolen
from an itinerant smelter, and she was ready to enter combat.
The presence of an archer on the battlefield – and a pretty
good one, since Dolasilla actually displayed a steady hand and
a wonderful shot – represented a devastating tactical surprise
for the small enemy tribes. On the other hand, no male warrior
would dare handling a bow to counter her, instead of brandishing
a standard spear or a sword: everyone would laugh at his reluctance
to face the enemy at close quarters and would accuse him of cowardice.
Therefore, Dolasilla’s arrows opened conspicuous gaps in
the enemy ranks without opposition, making the Fanes’ victories
much easier, and allowing them to plunder the villages of the
defeated at a very low cost in casualties.
Thence, after a victorious campaign, the king, who was very proud
of that daughter of his who had become the idol of all young warriors,
as well as he realized that his son on the contrary, vulture or
not, didn’t show very promising, decided to postpone his
programme of abolishing matriarchate, and officially reinstated
Dolasilla in her rights to the crown .