Cicero has therefore approached the. Razor to the “lituus” of Naevius, but how could he accept the king’s absurd idea that such a razor could shatter a grindstone? Even burying knife and stone to keep the public’s memory alive, raising a puteal in that same spot, is bizarre. The puteal is a small marble wall that encloses the well to avoid falling into the water. Still, in this specific case, there is nothing to lose, and this is likely why the name of the puteal was given to this low wall because it had approximately the exact dimensions surrounding the wells. However, the absurdity of this construction remains. It could be explained in only one way: what is fenced in here is the locality where Attius Naevius used to exercise his prophetic art, i.e., the original game board, scratched in the land and then fenced off to prevent it from being canceled. From here, it could also derive from the edge with which the Greco-Roman game board was equipped. In addition, a connection to the prediction well of Mimir’s head is also possible, where it is not only Odin’s eye but also the horn (curved, of course) by Heimdal. Specific names of Hittite kings also make us think because if some have obvious references (such as Thhaliyas and Arnuwandas, which are names of mountain divinities), others, such as Suppiluliumas, “the one who belongs to the sacred well”, can be explained only if inserted in this context.
But, to return to our legends and identity between the knife and curved stick, it is not credible that a hero like Perseus or the god Kronos used a purely agricultural tool for their fights, such as a shepherd’s crook. This further confirms the weapon function assumed by the “lituus”, as we have already underlined when speaking of its use for hare hunting. But if it is possible that the Hittite kings cared little about the origin of their scepter, not so can be said for the Christian bishop. The long road of the “lituus” from walking stick and augur to throwing rod, weapon, and scepter, can no longer be undone. That is why the bishop, when he adopted the curved staff of the augurs, added a bar and a pennant and made it into a vexillum. Let’s think back to the divination game between Arthur and Owein. Whenever the situation seems to turn in Arthur’s favor, his squires win; when, on the other hand, the problem is unfavorable to him, the crows have the upper hand. What function does the raising of the vexillum have here? According to the poet, that of raising the morale of the fighters. But why, then, doesn’t Arthur have such a vexillum capable of cheering souls? The narrator could not explain it, but we can now venture an answer: the vexillum is present simply because it is typical of the board game, as the curved rod is of the augur and the “lituus” of the “god of the mountain” or of “the one of the sacred well”. We find proof of this in the two heirs of the ancient ritual game, namely in chess and cards, where the vexillum should still be recognizable. On the chessboard, the king goes on foot; the chariot with the vexillum is part of his retinue and is later mistaken for the tower. Ten is not so much a number as a figure in cards: the vexillum.
Pawn, vexillum, stone, and sickle constitute an inseparable whole. In one way or another, every single interpretation must deal with this duality. Consequently, we are not at all surprised to find the stone and the curved knife in the fable of Hrungnir and Thor in the Nordic Skáldskaparmál. Ullikummi’s story already falls into that area in which we can no longer distinguish which are the original elements, such as those due to the fantasy of the “homo ludens”; the story of Hrungnir is even a farce.
The stone Hittite colossus Ulikummi here has an entirely human appearance. But since this does not bring out the stubbornness and strength of the rock, he doubled himself to underline the duality. Hrungnir is already the rock itself. He has a stone heart with three points in the shape of a rune, which takes the name of “Hrungnir’s horn” from him, which, unfortunately, is not known to us. The head and the shield are also of stone. As a weapon, he has a grindstone, which immediately prompts us to look around for the sickle since, not even for a giant, the grindstone seems an excellent defensive weapon.
However, Hrungnir is too human to be put in ridicule. The comic traits are then poured onto the creature, to which – like Ulikummi – one always resorts to threats or help of the gods. It is typical of a legend that the avenger or the rescuer is not immediately tangible and is created only from time to time for a single situation: generated or formed, but the result is the same. Surprisingly, it is never a god but always a man or a demon, in any case, a lower subject. We can conclude that behind all human rescuers, there was initially hidden not an individual but a “team” tool.
Thus a man of clay is created, Mokkurkalfi, nine tall miles and with a chest circumference of three miles: a creature which in size is no less than Ulikummi or Typhon; not only that: she is obtuse and stupid like Kadmo’s antagonist. In the North, it is even worse; Mokkurkalfi is also a coward because he has the heart of a mare in his chest. On the duel day, he is seized with such fear that he gets wet; finally, the squire Thjalfi takes him out alone and without great effort.
Hrungnir also has another notable feature in common with Ullikummi: his weakest point is the pedestal on which he stands. Ullikummi is cut at the base with the harp. In Kollr, the “head”, Orvendel cuts off the leg; to our foolish giant, however, Thjalfi may imply that Thor will emerge from the earth and must protect his feet. Consequently, he places himself on his shield, lost from the start, because he remains without protection. But where is the sickle? It exists: Mjollnir, Thor’s weapon, is a “boomerang”, like the wooden arrow. When he throws, it returns to his hand. A simple hammer certainly does not have this feature. But in some drawings, Thor’s hammer is depicted as two crossed curved sticks, evidently derived from the swastika. The origin of the stick curved is, therefore, quite clear. We don’t know if the legend of Hrungnir or others introduced this extraordinary metamorphosis of the hammer. In any case, the meeting of stone and sickle is also here, which interested us in this story. The two tools, thrown simultaneously, meet in the air. The grindstone shatters, and a fragment ends up on Thor’s forehead, where it gets stuck. It would be superfluous to seek, for this fragment which has never been removed, another explanation than the always fascinating one of the meeting of stone and sickle.
For the fall of the giant – it’s about the stone one, and not the clay one, an increasingly neglected and superfluous continuation of the legend – Thor falls with his neck under the foot of Hrungnir, and not even the united efforts of all the gods can deliver him. Only one has such strength: Knirps, the three-day-old son, who effortlessly lifts the giant’s leg from his father’s neck. We will not dwell here on the ancient motif of the child god: in our context, the portion is much more critical. Despite its massive consistency, the rock has maintained its ability to walk. The poet, who is especially keen on clarity, duplicates not only the stone colossus but also the importance of its feet. The cut of the Ulikummi had clearly shown that it could be lifted from its base; here, the stone giant is even placed on a shield. But a movable stone, set on a support, is nothing more than a pawn.
Ullikummi’s antagonist is the god of time, and Hrungnir’s is Thor: in both cases, therefore, the god with the instrument of thunder and lightning. But the god linked to the board game is the wizard Odin. When Thor takes over, he’s the one to pit his strength and outspokenness against the supernatural, secret forces of fate, which of course, come off very badly. The absence of Odin in Hrungnir’s story is understandable. And if he appears in the story of the clash of the two tools, he does so significantly not as a fighter but as a troublemaker, which he jokes about in a non-human way with the two tools. But let’s look at this story more closely.
When Odin came down into the world to get mead, he met nine farmhands in a field intent on mowing. He asked them if he should sharpen the sickles. They answered in the affirmative, and he pulled out a millstone from the fence – but what was the use of a god like Odin so far from working in the fields? – And he sharpened them. They found his grindstone better than theirs and wanted to trade it. Odin then said that only he willing to give something adequate would get it. Everyone shouted to accept this condition. So he threw the grindstone into the air, and as they all tried to grab it simultaneously, they cut their throats with their sickles.
We do not mean to endorse the legend of the dragon’s teeth sown by Jason behind this story. If there is any logic in this story, it is that Odin kills the nine laborers to place himself at the service of the dwarf Baugi. This clears everything up. This time the “homo ludens” has accomplished the task of explaining the meeting of sickle and grindstone more skillfully than the author of Hrungnir’s joke.
By word of the populace and priestly wisdom, the stone swallowed by Kronos in place of his last son and then erupted was the sacred stone venerated in Delphi. It is one of the cylindrical or semi-conical creations that we often meet on our way as divinities and that we usually call by ancient tradition “omphalos”, “navel of the earth”, or Betyl, “house of El”. These are neither meteorites nor rough finds. Their shape is somewhat similar to the hemisphere or the pylon, or it can be precisely the phallic one: in any case, it always tends to approach that of the roundish pin. A large block in the shape of an altar never appears, but sometimes the stone’s elaborate form can contrast with a regular roundness. An ideal case in which the result corresponds more to the pre-established model is that handed down to us by the design of the sacred stone of Pergo, which has a button-shaped swelling at the tip; this elaboration was made possible by the more extraordinary softness of the material. This stone is precisely reminiscent of the ancient pawn, which is no different from today’s game “halma”.
In Greece, these stones still survive in their importance, not without a certain degree of almost mystical mystery – and without even in Paphos, in the temple of Aphrodite, the circumstances from which they originated are now more fully recognized. But far more compelling is how they fit into the reality of daily life in the Nordic world.
Lià Fáil, the “stone of Fal”, had the particularity of screaming when a man who could have become king stood on it. This stone, too, had a phallic shape. It is also said that in racing events, he marked the turning point and that when a runner was destined for the kingdom, he would scream as his car circled him so that all present could hear him. On Lía Fáil, which is said to have been brought to Westminster, English kings and queens are still crowned today. Of course, it is no longer expected to scream.
No word is mentioned of the sickle, but this had by now become an insignia and, even more, the king’s emblem already in the Hittite age. For the proclamation – and in the case of Lía Fáil, the shout – the sickle is therefore no longer necessary; on the contrary, precisely the declaration through a phallic-shaped stone constitutes the Inauguratio, that is, the “confirmation through an augur”, who in this circumstance carries the stick.
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