"Oh, Fufluns! Fufluns! awful deity!"--Pumpus of Perusia in the Gaudeamus of W. SCHEFFEL
"But it went better with Bacchus than it did with Mars or Apollo after the grand retreat of the gods."--HEINE, The Gods in Exile
THE Arno, which rushes roaring before the window where I am writing, swelled by much rain to a spring flood, is now a great river, very muddy and somewhat unmanageable. I have seen it in summer when it was limpid and clear, but then it was only a rivulet which went from one shining pool to another, like a silken thread scantily strung with sun-lit pearls, or a pilgrim wandering from shrine to shrine. It would have been easy then for a hundred people to carry it all away in barrels, or for all the population of the place to drink it up--as they would assuredly have done like "Macpherson," had it been wine. Now all the men in Tuscany, with all their buckets, could make no estimate of its water.
APLU, FUFLUNS, AND SEMELE
This reminds me of the task on which I am engaged. If it were only to gather, collate, and correct a collection of fairy tales, or proverbs, or parables,
or games, or Exempla, it would be an easy, or at least a defined work. Such pools are not hard to fathom, or count, or measure, or exhaust. But this mass of old, obscure, unrecorded mythology, comes pouring and foaming down like the Arno from the mountains of La Romagna, in whose mysterious recesses still dwells
"the dragon's ancient brood,
And rocks fall over roaring in the flood."
Well, it is a strange country little known--we have Goethe's word for that--and it has sent me, all in a spring freshet, obscure deities of doubtful name and fame, sorceries, rhymes, legends--dirt and diamonds--tutti confusi e misti. What should I give? What should I suppress? As compared to anything which I have as yet met in folk-lore this has been more like counting Ossian's ghosts than aught else. Many a time have I almost despaired over it, and many a time been awed.
But hope springs eternal in the human breast, and so I will proceed to discuss my last discovery of a divinity who is generally supposed to have utterly died out nearly two thousand years ago, and yet who lives as a real folletto among a few old witches in La Romagna. I mean Faflon.
FUFLUNUS was the Etruscan Bacchus. "His name," writes MÜLLER (Die Etrusker, vol. ii., p. 79), "was sounded (lautet) Fuflunus, Fuflunu, Fufluns--generally Fufluns. GERHARDT, i., 83, 84, 87, 90, &c.; CORSSEN (i., p. 313-5). We find on goblets Fufunl (FAHR. P, Spl. n. 453) and Fuflunsl (CORSSEN, i., p. 430), according to CORSSEN from poculum, and poculum Bacchi. He derives the name of the god from the Indogennanic root fu, to beget, ab. Gerhard from Populonia"--which is very doubtful.
On inquiring from my best authority if there was in La Romagna Toscana a spirit of the vineyards, or of wine, I was promptly informed that there was such a being known as Fardel, or Flavo, but among the witches, or those better informed in such mysteries, as Faflon. And at once there was narrated to me a legend which was then written out:--
"Faflon is a spirit who lives in the vines, and when women or men have gathered grapes and filled the panniers, then comes this Faflon and scatters them all on the ground; but woe to the contadini should they be angered at it, for then Faflon knocks them right and left, and tramples (on the grapes), so that they get no profit. But if they take it good-naturedly, he gathers them again, and replaces them in the panniers.
"Now there was a peasant who greatly loved the spirits, and frequently blessed them. One year everything went wrong with him, his crop of grapes and all other fruit failed, yet for all this he still loved Faflon and blessed him.
"One morning he rose to gather what little there was on the vines, but found that even that little was gone. The poor peasant began to weep, and said: 'Non mi resta che morire. All that remains for me now is to die, for I have lost what little crop I had in my little vineyard.' When all at once Faflon appeared, but beautiful with a beauty like enchantment--ma tanto bello di una bellezza da fare incantare--and said: 'Oh, peasant with great coarse shoes, but with a fine brain, thou hast loved me so well I will reward thee. Go to thy cellar, and there a great quantity
"D'uva mastatata tu troverai
E gran vino tu lo farai.
("Pressed grapes thou shalt see,
And great thy store of wine will be.)
"Now what Faflon had said seemed to be like a dream to the peasant, but he went to his cellar, and truly the wine which he had that year made him rich, e non ebbe piú biogna di fare il contadino--he was no longer obliged to live as a peasant."
No one can doubt that this Faflon--it was written in the MS. sometimes Flaflon--is the Fufluns, or Fufunal, of the Etruscans. His appearance as a very beautiful being is perfectly in accordance with that of Bacchus. It is exactly in this manner that Bacchus flashes up in beauty from disguise in classic tales. Bacchus of old carried off mortal beauties for mistresses, and I now give word for word as related by a witch a story of a modern Ariadne:--
"There was a contadino who had several vineyards, yet all went so ill with them for several years that he had not wine enough to drink for his family.
"Now he had a daughter--di una belleza da fare incantare--of enchanting beauty. And one evening as he was sitting almost in despair, his daughter said: 'Father, dear, do you not know how all this came to pass? Have you forgotten that strange and beautiful youth who once came to you and begged for me--he was so much in love? And when you denied him what he asked, he replied: "If I cannot have her neither shall you have any vintage."'
"Then the peasant was very angry, and beat his daughter, so that she had to go to bed. Then he went into the cellar, but what a sight be saw! On all the barrels were devils frolicking; fire flashed from their eyes and flamed from their mouths, and as they danced they sang:--
Give Faflon that girl of thine,
And henceforth thou shalt have wine
If the maiden you deny,
As a beggar thou shalt die.'
"Then the man gave his daughter to Faflon, and lo! all the barrels were filled with the best, and from that time his vintages were abundant."
The picture of the cellar full of frisking Bacchanals and Fauns is good. I suspect that a Catholic influence made them "devils with fire coming out of their mouths." But perhaps it was only
"Il vino divino
Che fiammeggia nel Sansovino."
The wine divine
Which flames so red in Sansovine.")
I should have been really sorry if, after all this fine Bacchic lore, I had not found a hymn to him. And here it is. When a peasant wants a good vintage he may possibly pray for it in church, but to make sure of it he repeats the following to the jovial god:--
"Faflon, Faflon, Faflon!
A vuoi mi raccomando!
Che l'uva nella mia vigna
E multa scarsa,
E vuoi mi raccomando,
Che mi fate avere
Faflon, Faflon, Faflon!
A vuoi mi raccomando!
Che il vino nella mia cantina
Me lo fate venire fondante,
E molto buono,
Faflon, Faflon, Faflon!"
("Faflon, Faflon, Faflon!"
Oh, listen to my prayer.
I have a scanty vintage,
My vines this year are bare
Oh, listen to my prayer!
And put, since thou canst do so,
A better vintage there!
Faflon, Faflon, Faflon!
Oh, listen to my prayer
May all the wine in my cellar
Prove to be strong and rare,
And good as any grown,
Faflon, Faflon, Faflon!")
There, reader, is the very last real and sincere hymn to Bacchus which was ever sung in Italy-probably the last truly Bacchanalian song which will ever be heard on earth. There have been whole libraries of such lyrics--Della Cruscan Redi wrote a Bacco in Toscana; but that was art--this is religion. And what is stranger is that this Bacchic hymn was possibly, in some form, not much unlike it, also the first which was ever composed.
I should add that after the above was written my two contadino friends, who made a special business of going on market days to pick up the testimony of old peasants from all parts of La Romagna, fully confirmed the existence of this spirit, with this variation--that Ottavio Magrini wrote the name Faflond, while Peppino declares, "Il name legitimo di questo spirito e Faflo" ("The legitimate name of this spirit is Faflo"). It was one of the gods who were specially inquired for or cried at the market-place and elsewhere with satisfactory result.
Fufluns was also anciently known as Vertumnus. "Allied to him," says Dennis, "probably more than in name, was Voltumna, the great goddess at whose shrine the confederate princes of Etruria held their councils" (Cities, &c., of Etruria, vol. i., p. lvii.).
The spirit of Content is certainly a very good one, and I wish with all my heart that it may dwell with my reader, not only as regards this book, but be in all his life in everything. It is very creditable to the Italians that in such a terribly overtaxed country the idea of a spirit of content can be entertained, however, it is certain that they do invoke her when setting out on a journey to seek fortune. And it is uttered as follows:--
"When one is about to travel to seek fortune he says to his friends:--
"'Vado in viaggio
Per fare fortuna.'
("'I am going on my way
To find a fortune if I may.')
"Then his friends reply:--
"'Che lo spirito della contentezza
Ti possa guidare sempre!'
("'May the spirit of content
Guide thy steps wherever bent!')
"Then the traveller may go his way joyous and at case, sure that he will succeed, but he must never forget that it is due to the Spirit of Content."
There can be no question but that this Spirit of Content is the Fortuna Redux, "the goddess of happy journeys, and of prosperous returns, to whom, after the long absence of the Emperor AUGUSTUS, altars, temples, and sacrifices were ordained." When Augustus (B.C. 19) returned, October 12th, from a long absence
in Asia, this day was appointed for an annual celebration of the event, and an altar raised which was consecrated on the 15th of the following December.
It should not escape the notice of the reader that the Italian account of this goddess concludes with an exhortation never to forget that one's good fortune will be due to the spirit which has been invoked; that is to say, it is to an old Roman deity under another name that you will owe success, and that the traveller is to be grateful to Fortuna Redux. This is in truth a most naïf unconscious survival of heathenism.
Still in our ashes glow the wonted fires."
Schedius gives in relation to this divinity the following inscription from a monument:--
Q. AXIS. AELIA.
NUS. VE. PROC.
IT may be observed as a very singular fact, that all these Tuscan spirits of the forests and fields, the fireplace and vineyard, are of a perfectly fresh, unaffected simplicity, befitting the out-of-door nature from which they are derived. Herein they differ radically and entirely from every personification of the Roman Catholic Church, from the Trinity itself which is a "mystery," down to the Cupid--cherubim, gilt lightnings, hammers and nails, hearts on fire, Madonnas in silks with gold surroundings, jewelled shepherd's crooks, and the whole mass of mystical theatrical properties which indeed take hold of vulgar nature in part, but not of all. This natural simplicity was of yore heathen, and its existence in folk-lore is always a proof of certain elements, at least of antiquity.
I remarked in my Gypsy Sorcery that if the Pope and Cardinals of 1891 had lived in 1484 and dared to express what they all (with the exception perhaps of the Spaniards), now think of witchcraft, they would all have been tortured horribly, and then burned alive as heretics. So we may observe, that the whole modern machinery of the Church would have been utterly damned by the Fathers, from its immensely artificial, stagey character. Very revolting to many would have been its miserably affected, moping melancholy, its wretched ideal of life
without laughter, and innocence without smiles. Apropos of which I come to the charming spirit Corredoio, who is purely heathen.
There is in the Romagna a spirit, fairy or goddess (male or female), who is of a gay and festive nature. She is called Curedoia or Corredoio, and loves dances and festivals. She is a vera fanatica per la musica--wild after music--and though you may not suspect her presence, she is sure to attend wherever there is a frolic or a ball. I offer with all modesty, or even distrust, the suggestion that we may have in her the beau reste or possible fragment of Curitis or Quritis--the is and us of Latin are very commonly changed to vowels in Italian, which would make Curitoio at once.
"Curitis," says MÜLLER, "was the name in Falerii, where she was zealously worshipped, of Juno." Magnificent festivals with every circumstance of splendour and gaiety were held in her honour. White cows were sacrificed, the streets laid with carpets (OVID, iii., 12, 13, 24), maidens wrapped, according to Greek custom, in white garments, bore as cannephoroe, the holy utensils on their heads. The Etruscans surpassed any race of antiquity in their passion for processions, festivals, and the intensity of their frolics. The Romans seem to have taken their style from Greece, but their keen relish for splendid pleasure from the Tuski. And if Curitis was the popular name for Juno, and if she was indeed above all others the goddess of the pompa and the festivals and of joyousness, it is not impossible that the name survives in the modern deity of the dance, and what most nearly corresponds to the grand displays of the olden time. Of Corredoio I have the following:--
"Corredoio e uno spirito che va molto nelle feste da ballo, Corredoio is a spirit who much frequents dances and who in every way diverts himself. (There are conflicting accounts as to the sex of Corredoio or Corredoia). He is delighted to come in like a ventata--a gust of wind--e cosi si alza le sallane a quelle Signore--and so raise the devil--or the skirts--among the ladies, then he (or she) bursts into loud laughter, so that the ladies blush. Then Corredoio flies up into the orchestra, and makes all the musicians whirl round, and then he makes all the instruments sound of themselves, and everybody is amazed to hear music and see no performers--at which he utters another roar of laughter--e se ne va--and flies away."
There is an incantation or invocation to Corredoio which is extremely curious:--
"Corredoio, Corredoio, Corredoio
("Corredoio, Corredoio, Corredoio!
Thou who art so pleasant and benign,
Thou who never dids't do harm to any,
Should any sorrow come into my house
Oh, fair Corredoio, send it flying
With a ringing peal of merry laughter.
Thou, fair Corredoio, art a spirit,
Truly but thou also art a spirit
Of all merriment, thou enterest houses
To promote all loving peace and union,
And so, fair spirit, since thou art so kind,
Come now and then I pray thee to my room,
And help me to maintain a merry mind,
And never know a sorrow--and if thou
Can'st grant me some small grace which I may ask
Of thee, fair Corredoio, this is sure,
That when I ask that grace thou'lt grant it me.")
The reader who understands Italian, if he will make allowance for the fact that it is only that of a poor peasant woman, translated "as she went along," from Romagnola, may admit that this is a very remarkable and beautiful invocation with a ring as of Shakespeare in it. It is utterly out of the pale of the Church and as heathen as can be. There is in the whole Catholic--I may say Christian--religion, no trace of such a glorious Robin Goodfellow as Corredoio--one who goes to all the balls, plays on all the instruments, whirls all the women in a wild waltz, then wends him laughing, ho, ho, ho! and yet makes it his constant occupation to go into families and promote peace and harmony, or please and play with the children, and depart, leaving everybody jolly.
This invocation is as earnest a prayer in the Romagna as any in the Prayer Book, and it begs the deity to sometimes "look in on a fellow and cheer him up in a friendly way"--a deity who is very beautiful, graceful, accomplished; it is only in Italy that one could find a god who can "do the whole orchestra," and
who makes it the business of his life to make people happy. Truly I cannot but feel grateful that such a fragment of light-hearted Paganism has survived, if only to show to an astonished world that Piety and Jollity can go hand-in-hand. The priests in Italy have been teaching the people that religion and salvation and everything saintly is of tears, wails, fasting, blood, torture, and death--yet all the while under these ashes of misery, the old heathen Roman-Etruscan spirit of human nature and genial tenderness still survived. In all the religions current in all the world there is nothing so real, so touching, and so beautiful as this spirit of Corredoio. Sancte Corredoio ride pro nobis!
"Cast up the account of Orcus, the account thereof cast up."--Codex Nazaræus.
It would hardly be worth while to mention Orco, the Italian form of Orcus, who has passed into innumerable fairy tales as the Ogre, and who is known to every Italian child, were it not for the peculiar description of him given by my chief authority. "Orco," she said, "is a terrible spirit who was once a great wizard." For this is all the world over the earliest conception of spirits, and especially of those who are feared. Among savage tribes in the early stages of Shamanism, like the Red Indians of America, every remarkable spirit was once a man, always a magician. We may say that the Latin Orcus was a personification of hell, or of the horrible, just as Jupiter was of lightning, 1 but, etymology to the contrary, it is a fact that rude races apply such names as hell and lightning to men. According to Euhemerus of Messina, who derived all gods from men, in which he appears to have been, to a certain degree, right, so far at least as rude races are concerned.
Tesana is "the Spirit of the Dawn," one may say Aurora--"lo spirito della alba." She is good, and while a contadino is sleeping when the morning red is first seen on the hills she comes to him in dreams and says
O buon uomo
Che l'alba spunta:
LALAE LINTHUN THESAN MEMRUN
Sono un spirito
Che vengo per aiutarii
AI buon coraggio,
Ed alla buona fortuna,
Ma pero sempre
Col tuo lavoro,
E cosi con la buona--
E volenta di lavorar,
Il ricco e nato ricco
Per aiutar il povero.
E il povero
Per aiutar il ricco,
Col suo lavoro,
Perche il signore
Non sarebbe copare
Lavora o buon contadino!
Che al momente
Spunta il sole,
Quando sei stanco
In tuo soccorso,
Ed io saro sempre
Il tuo angelo
Softly and gently,
Thou truly good man,
Rise from thy sleep!
The day is dawning,
I am a spirit;
One who brings comfort;
I come to thy aid,
To give to thee courage,
To give thee fortune,
But it will come
Ever from labour;
Thus thou shalt have
Always good health,
And good will to work.
The rich is born rich
To give aid to the poor man,
The poor man to aid
The rich by his labour,
For the rich is unequal
To such heavy labour;
Work then, good peasant
The sun is rising.
When thou art weary,
Call me to aid thee,
And I will be ever
An angel consoling.)
"And so the peasant awakes and goes to his work, contented and allegro--gay at heart--believing that he has seen in a dream and conversed with a saint-santo, o una sauta--when instead of that he has been talking with a spirit."
This is absolutely heathen--witch-heathen--and a protest of "the old religion" against the new. For "a spirit instead of a saint" means here simply nothing but an old Romano-Etruscan or pure Etruscan deity. There are no such very beautiful incarnations of the Dawn in the Roman Catholic mythology with its wooden-plaster rococo saints who are all of the stage stagey, and of the shop shoppy, even here in Italy. This graceful Aurora--this spirito della alba--belongs to a purer and better race of beings. She comes out of true love to the peasant, asking neither tithes, prayers, or worship, fasting nor vigils, to please her vanity, but simply cheering him. This is very heathenish indeed, and quite in keeping with her simple old-time conservatism--that rich and poor must exist and observe mutual obligations one to the other.
A learned friend who has revised this work, remarks of Tesana, that Thesan, according to Corssen, is an Etruscan goddess of the dawn (Die Sprache der Etrusker, i., p. 259).
It cannot have escaped the reader that Tesana appears strangely in this legend as reflecting on stages, of society, human laws, and relations. This is decidedly marked. And Gerhard (Gottheiten d. Etrusker, p. 39, and Etrus. Spiegeln, plate 76) remarks that there was an identity between Thesan and Themis. This if accidental is certainly extraordinary. Before I had met with this observation I had been deeply impressed with the remarkable character of the reflections as to social rights which are so prominent in the song, and which were far above the range of thought of the woman who sung it.
It is remarkable that as the ancient Tusci surpassed all other nations in the number of their gods of thunder and storm--having, indeed, one for every season--
so their descendants have also great fear not only of Tinia, or Jupiter, but also of Spulviero,--the dreaded spirit of the wind and tempest, of whom there is an account which might have originated among the Algonkin Indians.
Spulviero, also Spolviero, is the Spirit of the Wind. His name literally is probably derived from polvere--"dust," referring to the eddies or whirls of dust caused by the wind--the Pau-pu-ke-wiss of the Chippeways. It may conceal, however, a derivation from pluvio--"rain." But this is the legend as recited to me and then written:--
"The Spirit of the Wind, called Spulviero, is an evil spirit--spirito chattivo--who in his lifetime was a wizard, one of those wizards so evil that he ruined many good families, people of good hearts--bonquore--who did good to all--even those who had done good to him. For he was so wicked that when any one had done him good, he at once did them harm; nor could any one revenge himself on him, because he flew swift as the wind.
"But, evil as he was, his turn came and he died, but before dying he was in a hospital. And he commended himself to all there, patients and servants, and asked if any one would take the inheritance of his witchcraft; but none replied, for they knew him well. But a servant took two brooms, and put them under his bed, and said: "Leave it to these," since but for this he could not die.
"So he died at once, but suddenly there arose a great, terrible wind so that the hospital was nearly blown over, and his spirit departed in the wind."
The legacy refers to the belief that a wizard or witch cannot die till his or her power is transferred to another. The broom is an old Latin charm against sorcery. What is very ancient and purely Shamanic in this legend is the faith that all spirits or deities were once sorcerers. The train of facts is intricate, but it may be followed out. The Etruscans had risen to polytheism, still retaining Shamanic forms--but the people have remained in an earlier stage, believing that every great spirit was once a man. So that they have here really led back a myth to its beginning. So Chuchulvia is declared to be a wizard, now become an evil spirit.
But I doubt if this really be a relapse since it is not probable that the peasants of Romagna have ever really changed since the beginning. The Etruscan great and wise men developed gods, but the people while accepting them always believed in Euhemerism--that they were only developed magicians. And whether this legend be modern, or older than the earliest Tuscan records, one thing is self. evident--that the spirit of it is as old as anything recorded. Those who love the antique do not always reflect that a pebble may be older than anything man ever made.
Of this spirit I know nothing save that I heard it remarked, "E una donna che si presente nella casa" ("It is a lady who manifests herself in houses.") I believe she is a benevolent spirit.
75:1 "Pluton Latiné est Diespiter: alii Orcum dicunt " (Tertullian Div. Instit. Lib., i., chap. 14)