V. 52 N. 2 (2014)

In margine a lit. áitvaras

Marco Battaglia
Università di Pisa

Pubblicato 2015-01-20

Parole chiave

  • áitvaras,
  • dragon legends,
  • Germanic myth and culture.


In a comment of a recent article by A. Parenti on this journal (“Seguendo l’aquilone: per l’etimologia del lituano áitvaras”, Slavica et alia. Per Anton Maria Raffo, 2007), C.A. Mastrelli (Mastrelli 2011) takes into consideration the Lithuanian word áitvaras (a dragon- or rooster-like household spirit of the local folklore), coming to the conclusion that such a lemma can well be con-sidered as a loan-word originating from Gothic. In order to strengthen his hypothesis Mastrelli connects the aforementioned word to the idea of the myth-ical dragon(/snake) arising from the Old English and Old Norse literary tradition, particularly the Nibelung-Völsung cycle. With this aim, he therefore analyzes a few poetic methaphorical and methonimical circumlocutions (ONo. kenningar), claiming to find further clues from the archaeological evidence of the ‘Gothic’ expansion as well as from the Germanic religion. Evidence from Germanic ‘culture’, poetry, ethnography and cults seems however to hamper Mastrelli’s assumptions, tracing back áitvaras’ etymology within the range of the Baltic options indexed in Fraenkel (1962-65) or Greimas (1985).