I’m all about that assonance

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Image from here

Speaking of Máni, Galina left the following comment on the Day IV Hymn:

i love how you bring the Byzantine and Scandinavian sources together here!

How that happened is an interesting story, actually!

The names for my Máni cycle come from Skáldskaparmál chapter 55, which contains a list of the God’s kennings and heiti or epithets:

The lunar planet is called Moon, Waxer, Waner, Year-Teller, Mock-Sun, Fengari, Glamour, Haster, Crescent, Glare. [Tungl: máni, ný, nið, ártali, mulinn, fengari, glámr, skyndir, skjálgr, skrámr.]

Now one of these words is not like the others. Fengari is the Old Icelandic form of the Byzantine Greek Φεγγάρι, “Moon.”

I was curious how that had happened – Varangians, perhaps? – so I did some digging and … made it about three clicks before I got sucked into a myth I don’t believe had ever been put to ink or pixel before. The last site I visited was Wikipedia’s article on Fengari, specifically this bit:

Fengari, also known as Saos (Greek: Σάος or Φεγγάρι) is the tallest mountain in the Aegean island of Samothrace, Greece, with an elevation of 1,611 metres (5,285 ft). The previous name of the mountain, Sàos, which means safe is still used in some maps. The current common name, though, is Fengari or Fenghári and it means moon. According to a local legend, anyone who stands at the top of the mountain during the night of a full moon will see something that they wish coming true. During classical antiquity, this mountain was very useful for sailors’ navigation, due to its relative height and prominence. In legend, Poseidon watched the Trojan War from the peak.

And the hymn kind of composed itself from there.

Oh, neat fact! Hjúki and Bil, Máni’s attendants, are thought to be the basis for the Jack and Jill figures from English folklore. I included them since the Hymn was set on Samothrace as a nod to the Divine Twins who likewise attend Kasmilos. (For the purpose of assonance, without necessarily implying any sort of syncretic interpretatio.)

OK, maybe it’s only interesting to me. 


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