Barbarian wolf pelt
Were the ancient Germanic tribes and the ancient Romans really that into wolves?
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Well, yes, though they meant something quite different to the two different sides. It might work to get you in anyway, if they thought you were initiated into the secret rites, of course. In Germanic and Norse mythology, wolves could be seen as either vicious, destructive forces, or as symbols of bravery or loyalty. Geri and Freki, for examples, were loyal companions to Odin.
Wolves were often associated with violence for Germanic and Norse peoples, though. In mythology, the giant wolf Fenrir, the son of Loki, was kept chained because he was so dangerous, and in some stories he was destined to swallow the god Odin at Ragnarok, the end of the world.
In some stories, his sons Skoll and Hati also devour the sun and the moon. Quite how that works is more of a mystery.
Ad — content continues below. The Romans were generally more attached to wolves as a positive symbol than the Germanic tribes were.
In the showwe see Varus tell his new German foster sons the story of Romulus and Remus, the legendary brothers who founded Rome — the show obviously asking us to connect the two German brothers raised by Romans with the two Roman brothers raised by wolves. They were suckled and raised by a female wolf, supposedly in a cave on the Palatine Hill in Rome called the Lupercal, before growing up, founding Rome, falling out, and Romulus eventually killing Remus.
Thanks to this story, wolves in Rome could be associated, not just with violence and ferocity, but also with motherhood and nurturing. On 15 th February every year in a festival called the Lupercalia, the priests of the Lupercal would sacrifice goats and a dog a domesticated dog, not a wolf, obviously at the cave and then they would run naked through the streets with thongs made of goat skin.
Barbarians and animal symbolism: what did wolves mean in the ancient world?
Women would hold out their hands to be hit gently with the thongs, because this was meant to protect them and their babies in childbirth, or help them to conceive. Mark Antony was one of these priests and it was at this festival that he once offered Julius Caesar a crown three times to judge the reaction of the crowd — and yet, disappointingly, this bit never seems to make it into TV or film re-tellings of that story Shakespeare kept it off stage, the spoilsport.
The bravery and fierceness of wolves was important in their symbolism for the Romans too. The Romans thought of themselves as descendants of the war god Mars, and of boys raised by a wolf, which helped to encourage a culture of violence, war, and constant combat and conquest. Wolves were not the only animals that were important to them, though.
It was the skins of bears or lions that standard-bearers wore on their helmets not wolf-skins, as re-enactors and TV shows often suggest and the animal on the standard was, of course, the eagle. The eagle was the symbol of the Roman legions, as each legion had an eagle standard that it marched behind.
When the Emperor Augustus had a shiny statue made of himself in military dress known now as the Prima Portahe had an image put on the breastplate of himself recovering an Eagle standard from a Parthian that had been lost by earlier general Crassus years before — he was that proud of getting the Eagle back, and symbolically recovering the loss. You can imagine his frustration, then, when Quinctilius Varus lost three of them all at once in the Battle of Teutob u rg Forest.
The loss of men was tragic, not to mention the grisly fate of some of the survivors caged and burned alive.
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Romans loved their wolves, but ultimately, the animal they really cared about was the eagle. Juliette Harrisson ClassicalJG.
At her podcast,…. By Juliette Harrisson November 6, Share on Facebook opens in a new tab Share on Twitter opens in a new tab Share on Linkedin opens in a new tab Share on opens in a new tab Comments count: 0.
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Tags: Barbarians Netflix. from Juliette Harrisson.