PART 5    Ch.XXXIII.2

The Pelasgians or proto – Latins (Arimii)

(The Pelasgians from the northern parts of the Danube and the Black Sea)

 

PART 5

PREVIOUS

 

XXXIII. 2. The Giants (Gigantes)

 

Another generation of titans mentioned by the ancient Greek theogonies were the Giants (Gigantes). They were born of Terra or Gaea and of Uranus, like the Titans; or, in other words, both tribes were from the same country and the same people.

In the Greek epics, the Giants are presented as a superb type of people, violent and impious, because they did not believe in gods (Macrobius, Sat. I. 20). Their stature was of an astonishing size. They had gleaming weapons and long spears in their hands (Hesiodus, Theog. v. 186).

“Gaea or Terra”, writes the grammarian Apollodorus, “being upset by the terrible fate of the Titans, gave birth by Uranos to the Giants, who were characterized by the size of their body and the vastness of their strength; they had terrible faces and long hair fell from their head and chin; they had scales like a dragon’s on their legs, and threw stones and lighted faggots towards the sky” (Bibl. lib. I. 6. 1).

The Giants were a mountainous people par excellence. In their war with Jove, the new ruler of the Pelasgian empire, they lifted mountains on top of other mountains, in order to climb to Olympus; huge Atlas shook under their assault; and although Jove threw his thunderbolts against them, the gods could not defeat them until they asked for the help of a mortal man, Hercules.

 

Their country was on the territory of Dacia, near Oceanos potamos, in the same region where their older brothers, the Titans, had been born.

During the Roman epoch, the Dacians were considered as a remainder of the ancient Titans and Giants.

The emperor Augustus mentions in his testament (Monumentum Ancyranum, C. I. L. III. p. 796) that he had led in person an expedition against the Dacians; that after he had won and repelled the incursion made by this people on Roman territory, his armies had crossed to this part of the Danube and had forced the Dacians to accept to be subjected to the orders of the Roman people. Following these successes, Horatius celebrated Augustus as the second victor against the Titans (Od. III. 4). After the war with the Dacians, the emperor Augustus erected in his forum a magnificent temple dedicated to Mars the avenger, Mars Ultor. About this temple writes the poet Ovid: “Grandiose is the monument, grandiose is the statue of the god and deserving of the trophies taken from the Giants” (Fast. Lib. V. v. 552 seqq).

The emperor Domitian also undertook, as we know, a great expedition against the Dacians. Martial, one of his favorite poets, celebrates him as a victor over the Giants (Epigr. Lib. VIII. 50); and the poet Arruntius Stella, who was significantly wealthy, threw a magnificent banquet in honor of Domitian’s victory against the Dacians, considered a triumph over the Giants (Martial, Epigr. Lib. VIII. 78. v. 1-3).

 

The dwellings of the Giants, as the Greek logographers tell us, were in the regions of Phlegra mountain (Apollodorus, Bibl. lib. I. 6. 1), where the heroic battle with the gods had also taken place. The Roman poet Statius (Thebaidos, lib. III. v. 595), who had often written about the triumph of Domitian against the Dacians, also confirms that the memorable Phlegra, where the Giants had fought with the gods, was on the territory of Dacia. (According to Orpheu’s Argonautics – v. 1125 – Phlegra mountain was close to the strait of the Rhipaei mountains, the Iron Gates). This mountainous region, which had become so famous in Greek legends, has preserved its ancient name to this day.

 

On the territory of the Romanian country, close to Cerna, is the mountain so-called Pregleda.

Without woods, because of some remote events, its surface is covered only with burnt, calcareous rocks. It is the ancient Phlegra of the history of the Giants, which, as the Greek authors tell us, had received this name because it had been burnt by the thunderbolts of Jove (Diodorus Siculus, I. V. 75) [1].

 

[1. According to other traditions, the battle of the Giants with the gods might have taken place in the glade from Phlegra (TN – poiana de la Phlegra), or at Pallene or Ballene, in fact identical with Phlegra. It is probable that this open plain in the woods of Phlegra is the so-called Poiana Beletin near the mountain Pregleda, where can be made out even today the remains of some ancient earth fortifications].

 

The identification of the mountain Pregleda with Phlegra of the legend of the Giants is confirmed all the geographical data which we possess in this regard.

Near Phlegra of the Giants was the renowned cave of antiquity called Avernus, Greek ‘Aornos, ‘Aouernis. At the foothills of Pregleda mountain, a Romanian village called Isvernea exists today, with a vast cave, extremely complicated and dark, about which we shall speak later.

Near Phlegra of heroic times the defeated Giants, called Avernii, had been buried under rocks and mountains (Strabo, I.VI.3.5; Val. Flaccus, Argon. II. 16; Silius Italicus, lib. XII. V. 151); and in the slopes of the mountain called Pregleda from Isvernia is seen even today a vast cave in, or a giant, amazing cut, unique in its way, which, it is said, it had been made by a giant [2].

 

[2. In Strabo’s geography (VI. 3. 5, Ed. Didot), the Giants who had fought at Phlegra with the gods are also named Leuternioi, and Leuernioi in the Venetian codex (ibid. p. 980), a corrupt form of ‘Aouernioi (see Diodorus, IV. 22).

The grammarian Apollodorus (Bibl. I. 6. 2) communicates the names of a number of Giants who had distinguished themselves in their battles with the gods. Among these we find Coemse, Pallas, Phorcus, Ienios, Alemone, Gration and Poliboetes.

These are names which we still find today with the Romanian people under the forms: Comsa, Bala, Porcu, Ianes, Aleman and Craciun. Polyboetes (meaning one with large herds of cattle) has a Greek form. Boetiu, as family name, appears even today in the region of the Guganii from the tableland of Closani. In his poem towards Nicetas, the bishop of Dacia, St. Paulinus mentions also the inhabitants rich in cattle herds from the Lower Danube].

 

We are therefore in the geographical region of the ancient Giants.

Towards north of Pregleda begins the majestic massif of Retezat, a vast labyrinth of high peaks and precipitous depths, of secular woods and enclosed and dark valleys; a strong natural fortress, which had remained almost unknown even during the Roman epoch (C. I. L. vol. III. nr. 1579, 1585).

 

The battle between Neptune (Poseidon) and the giant Polyboetes.

Painting executed with great care by the artist Aristophanes on a cup from the workshop of Erginos.

The giant Polyboetes, a noble martial figure, is presented having on his head a crested helmet;

over the shirt he wears a jerkin embroidered with flowers and two little stars on his shoulders;

he has a sword on his left side, hung with a strap over his chest, while in his left hand he holds

 a round shield and a spear. At the back of the god appears Terra or Gaea;

the expression of her face and gestures show her deep distress and fear.

 

(From Gerhard, Trinkschalen u. Gefasse d. k. Museums zu Berlin, Taf. II. III).

 

In the same massif, in the south-western part of Retezat, is the so-called mountain Gugu, which in the present case presents a particular interest.

Around this mountain lives since the most remote times a population of shepherds, robust people, men and women of a sometimes astonishing tall stature, of a particular type, dress and traditions. They are called Gugani.

A significant part of these Gugani shepherds are scattered, even since remote times, through the mountainous regions of the districts Mehedinti and Gorj. Here they form their own hamlets and villages, leading a more isolated tribal life, as if they considered themselves more ancient, more noble, and with a different historical past than the other inhabitants of this country. The folk traditions say about these Gugani that they are originated from the “tera guganesca (TN – the Gugan country), which is across the mountain”.

The language of this population of Gugani is distinguished by some characteristic phonetic particularities, very archaic. Guganii don’t have the s (TN – read sh) and j, instead of which they use only s and z. So they say, si, sede, septe, zoc, zos. They pronounce z as if formed of d, like dz: dzece. And the sound ce and ci has a soft sibilance, as it is pronounced by the Romanian people from Hateg, Banat and the inhabitants of Trastevere at Rome [3].

 

[3. The villages on the territory of Romania in which this dialect is still used are the following:

Baraiac, Sipot, Cracul-muntelui, Closani, Obersa, Isvernia, Selisce, Gornovita, Presna, Costesci, Gornenti, Podeni, Cires, Marga, Godean, Bala and Cernaverf, all situated on the tableland of Closani in Mehedinti district].

 

 

Two figures of Giants (anguipedi), one young, the other old. Indignant and confident in their rights,

 they threaten with tree branches the unseen powers of the gods. Relief on a sarcophagus found at Vatican.

(The oldest art shows the Giants with heroic, robust, human figures.

Later though they were represented with snakes for their legs,

from where derived their epithets of anguipedes and serpentipedes.

 

(From Stark, Gigantomachie auf antiken Reliefs, Heidelberg, 1869)

 

The name Gugani given to these inhabitants of the mountains was also known to Greek antiquity. A locality from the region where the Giants had fought with the gods was called Gigonus (Stephanus Byz, see Gigonos).

Hercules, whose legends under the name Iorgovan are tightly connected to the mountains of Mehedinti, was also given the epithet of Gigon by the Egyptians (Hesychius, see Gignon). In Romanian traditions, he is called “son of a shepherd” (TN – “ficior de mocan” - Teodorescu, Poesii pop. p. 415), from the slopes of the Carpathians.

The name Gugani was also known in the Roman epoch. A locality of ancient Dacia, situated on the road between Ad Mediam (Meadie) and Tiuisco (Caransebes) is called on the Tabula Peutingeriana Gaganis, meaning Gagani (Segm. VII. 4). According to the most ancient manuscripts of Strabo (Geogr., Ed. Didot, lib. IV, 6. 2 and p.965), Ligurii (emigrated from the Carpathians) who dwelt in Italy on a rocky terrain, had a sort of horses and mules called guganioi (of the mountain).

 

As we have established the geographical region where this tribe of tall, superb and violent men dwelt, we can understand now which is the origin of the Greek name Gigantes.

Most of the Greek poets, grammarians and historians, derived this name from the word gegeneis, born from the earth (Isidorus, Orig. lib. XI. 3. 13; Timaeus, fragm. 10, in Fragm. Hist. graec. I. 195; Diodorus, lib. IV. 21. 7), epithet which was in fact applied in antiquity to the entire Pelasgian people. This etymology is not right though. The word gigas, gigantes, is not of Greek origin.

 

The personal (and family) name Gyges, meaning Guges, was very much used in Pelasgian primitive times.

One of the ancient Giants (Hecantonchir) is called Gyges, meaning Guges (Suidas, Lex, see Tritopatores). Another giant of the ancient world was the so-called Ogyges (‘O Gyges), king of Beotia, or according to other traditions a king of the gods (Schol. Hesiod. Theog. 806).

A Gyges, son of Dascylos, is mentioned as king of the Lydiens (Herodotus, lib. I. 14; Clearchus, fragm. 34, in Fragm Hist. gr. II. 314). He had erected in honor of his favorite woman a funerary mound of an extraordinary size, to be seen by all the Lydiens.

According to Homer’s Iliad (XX. 390), the most terrible hero among all mortals had been originally from near the lake Gygaea in Meonia.

Finally, a locality in Roman Africa called Gigantes is also written as Gygantes, meaning Gugantes (Ravennatis, Cosmogr. Ed. Parthey, p. 162).

 

The term Gigantes of the Greek legends is only a simple ethnic name from the north of the Lower Danube. The original form of this word had been in any case Gugani, from the radical Gugu, Greek Gyges. (The names Gugu, Guga, Goga and Gogan are even today used by the Romanian peasants, especially by those from the mountains).

 

The Giants, who during primitive Pelasgian times had reached such a celebrity, are also mentioned in the Hebrew traditions. Here they figure under the name Gog and Magog.

The oldest legend regarding Gog and Magog is found with Ezekiel.

In one of his prophecies, Ezekiel threatens the Hebrews that Jehovah will bring against their country king Gog from the country Magog, with his fine army of horse riders, armed with shields, helmets, swords, lances, maces, bows and arrows. These, coming from the depth of the north, together with many other peoples riding their horses, will fall like a storm on the country of Israel, to loot it and devastate it.

They will ride the earth in triumph, will take the Hebrews in captivity, after which, their mission accomplished, will be all destroyed by the fury of the heaven (38, 39).

 

Two colossal statues, known under the name Gog and Magog, which decorate the

great hall of the municipal palace (Guildhall) of London. Their age is great. The figure at left, probably

a king-pontiff, wears a crown on his head, which seems to represent a phoenix among flames,

and in his right hand he holds a spear with three points, arranged in the shape of a cross

(the ancient Roman kings also had a lance, hasta, as emblem of sovereign power).

The second figure, with a crown of oleander on his head, wears Scythian dress and weapons.

 

(From Berthelot, La Grande Encycl. Vol. XVIII, p. 1168)

 

The prophecy of Ezekiel had remembered, without doubt, the ancient traditions about the terrible war of the Giants, when these, chasing the gods, had followed them to Egypt.

 

The prophet Jeremiah, who had lived a little before Ezekiel, speaks about the same people (4-6), which he simply names the looter of peoples (praedo gentium), which will come from a faraway country from the northern parts, from the ends of the earth; people of riders and archers, courageous, strong and ancient (Cf. Virgil, Aen. VI. 580), speaking a language which the Hebrews do not understand. They are a great people, cruel and without pity; their voice bellows like the sea, and they come on horses faster than vultures, all in rows, like men of war. They will surround the citadel of Jerusalem, will destroy all the strong fortresses of Judah and will transform the country of the Hebrews in a wasteland, so that no man will be left in Jerusalem; and the Hebrews will become slaves of strangers, in a country which will not be theirs.

 

Six centuries after Ezekiel, Gog and Magog are mentioned in the Revelation of John the Theologian (20, 7-10). Speaking about the last times of the world, the author of the Revelation tells us that when one thousand years shall pass since the ancient dragon (Typhon, devil, Satan) had been thrown and shut underground, then he shall be freed and coming out of his prison he shall gather around him and shall lead to war the peoples of Gog and Magog, which are scattered in the four corners of the world, and whose number is like the sand of the sea. (As we see, the Revelation considers Gog and Magog as the mother peoples, from which had descended all the Pelasgian tribes, scattered in various parts of the ancient world). These shall come like the sea on the surface of the earth, shall lay siege to the beloved city of Jerusalem; but in the end the celestial fire shall fall on them and shall destroy them.

As we see, in the Revelation we have just a simple version of the traditions about which speak Jeremiah and Ezekiel, or in other words, of the old legend of the Giants, or the Pelasgians from the Carpathians.

 

Under the names Gog and Magog, the ancients understood especially the Getae and the Massagetae. But St. Augustin, more theologian than historian, had tried to interpret the text of the Revelation referring to Gog and Magog, more in an ecclesiastical sense. Nevertheless, his words are remarkable, as they state the historical truth that some of the authors of antiquity, faithful to their inherited traditions, understood as Gog and Magog, the Getae and Massagetae. “It must not be understood”, writes he, “that these peoples, whom the Revelation calls Gog and Magog, might be some heathens, who exist in some parts of the earth under these names, or the names of Getae and Massagetae, as some call them” (De civit. Dei, lib. XX. c. 11).

The same thing results also from the Sibylline oracles, saying that the countries in which the peoples Gog and Magog dwelt, were situated at north of Thrace (Friedlieb, Oracula Sibyllina, lib. III. v. 508-513; Ibid. p. XXXIII).

 

The tradition about Gog and Magog is also found in the epic legends about Alexander the Great (Graf, Roma nella memoria e nelle immaginazioni del medio evo., 1883, Vol. II. p. 507-563).

The country of the peoples called Gog and Magog is described in these narrations as inhospitable, wild and infertile, exposed to the northern winds, rains and frost; but sometime these lands are presented as a fecund earth and having a very gentle climate.

The peoples Gog and Magog, these epic legends tell us, had started an invasion towards the southern parts. They made Alexander prisoner in Macedonia, but Alexander escaped and gathering a large army, went out and conquered the country of these peoples, which was situated near the straits of Caucas (see Ch. XXIX). The vanquished peoples withdrew between two mountain chains which rose up to the sky. Alexander though, in order to prevent future incursions of these peoples, shut this pass with a high, wide and strong gate of bronze or of iron (which is in fact just a simple Hebrew version of the legend of the Titans, who had been shut underground with a strong wall and copper gates - Hesiodus, Theog. v. 715-735). From there these peoples shall come out only at the end of the world, to invade the country of Israel. Together with Gog and Magog, Alexander the Great shut behind his bronze or iron gates another 37 – 40 peoples, whose names we mostly find in the same geographical region where the ancient Giants (Gigantes) dwelt, or today Gugani.

We reproduce here the names of these peoples, according to the version titled Revelationes from the 8 – 9 centuries ad, attributed to Metodius; we add some versions from the narration of Pseudo-Callisthenes, predating the 8th century ad, and at the same time we give as comparison the actual names of several localities in Romania, which seem to be more or less identical with those from the above mentioned legends.

 

List of the peoples from the family Gog            Actual names of localities in the western

and Magog, according to the epic legend        parts of Romania

of Alexander the Great

 

1. Gog and Magog                                             Mocod (Nasaud and Zabolti)

2. Marson [4]                                                     Marsani (Dolj)

3. Mosach                                                         -

4. Thubal [5]                                                      -

5. Anog (Anugi, Nunii – Ps. Cal.)                         -

6. Ageg (Egi - Ps. Cal.)[6]                                   Ogean (Dolj)

7. Athenal                                                         Antina (Romanati); Olteni (Valcea)

8. Cephar                                                          Cepari (Romanati and Arges)

9. Pothim (Photinaei – Ps. Cal.)                          Putinei (Mehedinti and Dolj)

10. Hei                                                              Hau (family name)

11. Libii                                                             Libicesci (Mehedinti)

12. Cumei                                                         Camuesci (Mehedinti)

13. Pharilei (Pharizaei – Ps. Cal.)                        Fauresci (Valcea)

14. Ceblei                                                          Ceple (Dolj)

15. Lamarchiani (Zarmantiani – Ps. Cal.)              -

16. Charchanii                                                   Gorgani (Olt)

17. Amathartae                                                  Amarade, river, valley, village (Gorj)

18. Agrinardi (Agrimardi – Ps. Cal.)                      Atarnati (Mehedinti, Dolj)

19. Alan (Alani – Ps. Cal.)                                  Olan (Mehedinti), Olanesci (Valcea)

20. Anufagi or Cynocephali                                 Afumati (Olt, Dolj), Caneni (Valcea)

 

[4. This name appears only in the Sibylline Oracles (Ed. Friedlieb) lib. III. v. 512. These Marsoni, or Marsani, had probably been in antiquity the undivided people to which the tribes, which we find scattered later, belonged: Marsi in the Apennines, Marsi near the Teutoburgic forest and Marsigni who dwelt near Riesengebirge in today Silezia.

 

5. Mosach (Mesech, Mesoc, Mosoc) and Tubal appear also in biblical traditions. Both were the sons of Iapet, who reigned over the mountains of Scythia and the northern regions (Chronicon pict. Vindob. c. 1). From Mosach descended the Cappadocii (Ibid. c. 1), and according to other traditions, Illyrii and Mossynii (Riese, Geogr. lat. min. 161. 165). The country of Tubal was, according to German legends, Transilvania (Tibalt von Siebenburgen. Grimm, Deutsche Heldensage, p. 104, 212). From Tubal descended the Hispanii (Chron. Pict. Vindob. C. 1).

 

6. Aggon (= Agoni) in the Sibylline Oracles, Aggei in Liber generationis, near the Gangini (Riese, 164, XLVIII). It seems that the name of Agathyrsi indicates the Aggei Tyrseni.

An ancient king of the Scythians was called Agaetes (Steph. Byz. see Pantichapaion)].

 

         21. Caribei                                                         Corobai (Mehedinti), Corobesci (Gorj)

         22. Thasbei (Tarbaei – Ps. Cal.)                          Tarbesci (Romanati)

         23. Phisolomici (Phisolonicaei – Ps. Cal.)            Fiscalia (Fiscaleni) (Valcea)

         24. Arceni                                                         Arcani (Gorj)

         25. Saltarei (Saltarii – Ps. Cal.)                           Slatarei (Valcea); Slatari (Dolj)

 

 To these we also add the following tribes from Pseudo – Callisthenes, Ed. Mullerus, lib. III, c. 26. 29:

 

         26. Phonocerati                                                 Pangarati (only in Moldova)

         27. Syriasori                                                      Silisciora (Gorj, Romanati)

         28. Ionii                                                             Ionesci (Gorj, Olt, Valcea)

         29. Catamorgori (De sub maguri?)                       -

         30. Campani                                                      Campeni (Romanati, Olt)

         31. Samandri                                                     Sumandra (Mehedinti)

         32. Ippii                                                             Calarasi (Dolj) (TN – cal = horse)

         33. Epambori                                                     Iepurani (Olt)

         34. Diphar                                                         Dervari (Mehedinti, Dolj)

         35. Caloni, var. Chalonii                                      Caloiu (Mehedinti), Caluiu (Romanati)

         36. Exenach                                                      -

         37. Imantopodi (= those with the legs tied up        -

                     with leather straps)

 

As we see, the various tribes allied with Gog and Magog had their dwellings on the territory of today Oltenia; so they were neighbors with the Gugani [7].

 

[7. According to the Cosmography of Aethicus Istricus (Graf, Roma, II. p. 534), these populations had a vast and strong metropolis, called Tareconta (var. Taracont). It was situated in an island of the Ocean (or Istru of Pelasgian times), which flew along the countries Gog and Magog. Alexander the Great, during his war with Gog and Magog, had come to a distance of 20 miles from this metropolis.

 

We believe that under the name Tareconta may be understood ancient Tirighina, from near the mouths of Siret. In those parts Alexander the Great had crossed the Danube, when he warred with the Getae. Still in this region, from the sea to Siret, dwelt the people called Tyragetae, var. Tyrangottae (Ptolemy, lib. III. 10. 7, Ed. Didot)].

 

Finally, we also mention here two more versions regarding the legend about Gog and Magog.

In one of these, of German origin, whose essence is very ancient, the populations Gog and Magog appear under the name Rimtursi (Graf, Roma nella memoria del medio evo. II. 560), meaning Arimii Turseni.

At Homer (Iliad, II. v. 783) and Hesiodus (Theog. v. 304), the Giants who fought together with Typhon against the gods, are from the country called Arimi, situated at the northern part of the Lower Danube. Similarly, the country of the Giants is called Inarime by the poet Claudianus (Panegiric about the 6th consulate of Honorius, Praef. V. 18), which is a simple imitation of the Greek form ein ‘Arimois.

According to another legend, the peoples Gog and Magog were under the domination of Popa Ion (Presbyter Johannes, prest Ian, Prester John), a prince whose power also extended over a great part of Asia (Graf, Ibid. vol. I. p. 258; II. p. 548-557). We have here without doubt only a memory of the king, so honored in the history of the Pelasgian people, Ianus, who had reigned over the Arimi (see Ch.XXVIII.3) before going to Italy, and whose type is also presented on the coins of Dacia.

 

NEXT