Sickles become vexilla, which indicate the way to the north and ultimately move the pawns. In all this, the separation of heaven and earth.
The Emasculation of Uranus
Let us now deal with another of the elements contained in Lucianus’ dialogue, when the priest reproaches the god, who moreover defines this rumor about himself as entirely false, of having swallowed a stone thinking it was baby Zeus. This episode is narrated in it is narrated in a very similar way throughout the ancient world. Just browse Apollodorus, in a sense, the manual of the mythology of the 2nd century BC., and we find in summary everything we need:
Uranus was the first ruler of the world. He married the goddess Gaea and fathered the Hundred Arms and the three Cyclopes. The latter, however, were tied up and thrown into Tartarus. A dark place of the realm of the dead, placed so low in the earth as high as the sky. He, therefore, fathered with Gaea six other sons, the Titans, including Kronos, and seven daughters, the Titanides [...] Angry at mistreating her children, locked up in Tartarus, Gaea convinced the Titans to attack her father. For this purpose, she gave Kronos the arta (i.e., the sickle) of iron. And indeed, they, except Okeanos, attacked him, and Kronos cut off his father’s member and threw it into the sea. From the drops of blood that the three Erinyes were born from it […] The father was also dismissed from power. They recalled the brothers from Hades and gave authority to Kronos.
However, Kronos returned to chain them and lock them up in Tartarus. He then married his sister, Rhea, and swallowed all his children as they were born because Gea and Uranus had precisely predicted that one of his children would deprive him of power. After three daughters – Hestia, Demeter, Hera also swallowed Pluto and Poseidon. But when Zeus was about to be born, Rhea, who had begun to hate her husband, fled to the island of Crete: here she gave birth to him in a cave and entrusted him to the Curetes and the nymphs Adrasteia and Ida, so that they raised him. The nymphs fed the child with Amaltheia’s milk, and the Curetes guarded him armed in the cave, beating shields and spears so the father would not hear his cries. Meanwhile, Rhea wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes instead of the baby and gave it to Kronos to swallow.
Apollodorus follows quite faithfully the story of Hesiod, “the shepherd of flocks and simpleton chatterbox”, as Lucianus jokingly defines him. But what is essential is that Kronos emasculated his father with a sickle.
Eastern precedents can only explain this extraneous factor. However, the version circulated in the second millennium among the Hittites is a connecting factor. Also, here we speak of the succession of various generations of gods. The original god, corresponding to the first ruler of the world, the Greek Uranus, is here split into two figures, Alalu and Anu. Anu overthrows Alalu, but he runs the risk of being deprived of power by Kumarbi.
Alalu and Anu. Anu overthrows Alalu, but he runs the risk of being deprived of power by Kumarbi. Anu then fled. He flew like a bird in the sky. But behind him darted Kumarbi, who grabbed him by the feet and pulled him down from the sky. He (Kumarbi) bit his (Anu’s) knees. His (Anu’s) manhood slipped from his (Kumarbi’s) interior. And when Kumarbi had received and swallowed the manhood of Anu, he rejoiced and laughed. Anu turned away and began to speak to Kumarbi: “You are happy with your inmost beings because you have swallowed my manhood. But don’t get excited. I have impregnated you with three mighty deities: first, with the mighty weather god; second, of the river Tigris; and third, of the great god Tasmisu. I have sown in you, as the fruit of my body, three terrible gods.”
Kumarbi then spits out what he had swallowed, but the Earth welcomes him and generates three terrible gods.
The Greeks probably took the episode of the emasculation of Uranus just from this story, and that, too, The engulfment and subsequent eruptions come from its source. But what interests us most is the appearance of the stone and sickle at another point of the narrative. Like Kronos, Kumarbi also tries to prophylactically harmless the dangerous offspring. He lies with a female rock, which begets a son whom he names Ullikummi. But to hold hidden from the god of time the growth of the stone child, the father hides him in the sea. The rock grows on the earth giant’s shoulders until it reaches a size that threatens the city of the weather god. At first, the countermeasures of some gods, incredibly frightened, seem to have no effect. But finally, the Asiatic Ea, the ever-wise, advises to cut the stone colossus with the sickle, that is, with the instrument with which the earth would once have been separated from the sky. So it happens. The stone falls, and the deities are safe.
In Eastern legends, the separation of heaven and earth is frequent no less than the place occupied by the conjunction member, the “bridge between heaven and earth”.
The emasculation of Uranus refers directly to these conceptions. More difficult to explain, however, is the fact that the member is a stone. However, if we think that the sacred stones scattered throughout the world – they are called Menhir, Masseben, or Omphaloi – often have, just like the Hittite pawns, a phallic shape, it follows that the imagination, the creator of the legend, has placed such a stone, sometimes massive, based on his “explanations”. So much so that Alalu, missing in the later editions of the Hittite glossaries, is nothing more than a “kalma”, a “log”. an expression used to indicate the pawn.
Anu’s emasculation and the stone’s cutting are distinct in the Hittite legend. In contrast, in Greek, the cutting is connected with emasculation, and the stone is associated with swallowing and belching.
We certainly can not expect the legend to be older than us. Always provide the original version or serve as a starting point for the following ones. The redactions we need to be more sketchy to serve this purpose. We must instead see the whole as a very branched river system, which emerges on the surface only in some stretches, leaving just the hint of the connections that flow in depth. The only thing we can do is note that at a particular moment and in a specific place, the concept of the division of the world has been related to the sacred stones.
Further branching of the Greek legend made of the evil spirit of the stone, the dragon Typhon, or instead created a relationship between the rock and the dragon: the latter, as an antagonist of the god of time, is, in fact, at least as old as the evil spirit of the stone. Also, among the Hittites, the god of the time fights against a dragon, always gigantic, which no longer has anything that brings it closer to stone.
After beheading Medusa, Perseus finds Andromeda chained naked to a rock and petrifies the sea monster. And it is always Lucianus who, in his Dialogues with marine deities, highlights what is surprising in this procedure. It does not hesitate to unravel this intricate skein with his comedy. On the other hand, the hero waves the sickle with which he strikes the monster while he petrifies it using the Medusa. He calcifies only the part emerging from the water, that is, all the parts facing the Medusa; enough, however, to cause its total fall. We have ensured that Perseus was dragged by anger and that the monster, already partially petrified, was struck with the sickle, which should necessarily fill up with notches. But no problem! Ulikummi, too, is sawn by an already old-fashioned tool due to rust and old age: the same one which, as it is expressly said, was so decisive in the division between heaven and earth (the emasculation of Uranus for the Greeks).
Lucianus is one of many who draw attention to the absurdity of certain legends of historical origin. It is no coincidence that we drew attention to the possibility that the sickle, having come into contact with the stone, would be filled with notches. A story that concerns us closely also falls into this category, namely that of the prophecy of Attius Naevius, exhaustively reported by Cicero, as well as other exciting news in his considerations on the art of prediction (I, 17, 30).
Where does that “lituus” of yours, the most famous prophecy badge, come from? Isn’t it perhaps with a lituus” that Romulus indicated the parts of the sky at the time of the founding of the city? This “lituus” of Romulus (a curved stick at the upper end, which derives its name from the resemblance to the “lituus” on which it blows) was therefore in the Curia of Salii, on the hill Palatino, and was found intact even after this era was destroyed by fire? Moreover, many more years after Romulus, under the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, which ancient writer does not talk about the delimitation of the sky carried out through the “lituus” by Attius Naevius? These, when as a child, forced by poverty to be a pig herder, he loses one, he would have promised to bring the most significant bunch of the vineyard to the god. Legend has it that, having found the pig, he stopped in the middle of the vineyard looking towards the south, divided it into four parts, and having neglected three of the birds, he found in the fourth, as it has been written, a branch of extraordinary size.
When the matter was known, all the neighbors turned to him for their troubles: great became his fame and name. King Priscus, then, had him called, and to put the test his àugur ability, he told him to have in mind one thing, and he asked him whether this was achievable or not. After completing the rite, he said yes. Tarquinius replied I thought you could shatter a grindstone with a razor. Attius would then arrange to set up the test, and for this purpose, a millstone would be brought to the “Comitium”, which would be crushed before the eyes of the king and the people. Accordingly, Tarquinius employed Attius Naevius as augur, and the people consulted him in matters concerning him. But the grindstone and razor were reportedly buried on the Comitium, upon which a puteal was placed.
According to Dumézil, grindstone and razor – in the ancient world, razors are curved – are to be understood as ritual objects; and as a third, he mentions the curved staff of the augurs. We do not share this statement, but we are convinced that ritual objects are not three but only two. The knife and the curved stick are, in fact, the same thing.
However, let us try to motivate this conclusion to which we have arrived. The unique shape of the curved staff has been thought to derive from the moon. But we have already had the opportunity to identify in it not only the ancient shepherd’s crook but also an object of worship, the prophet’s crook-oracle. It is no coincidence that Attius Naevius uses the shepherd’s crook for his prediction. Furthermore, the stick also appears as a scepter of the Hittite kings. But, besides having these sacred functions, it is also a weapon. Think, for example, of the “lagobolon” a widespread tool among ancient shepherds and hunters for hare hunting; it was a slightly longer and lighter variety of the curved sword of Anterior Asia and therefore fell into the category of throwing woods used by the most disparate peoples.