25 April 2008

The Legendary Origins and Character of the Huns - Jordanes

"We learn from old traditions that their origin was as follows: Filimer, king of the Goths... found among his people certain witches, whom he called in his native tongue Haliurunnae. Suspecting these women, he expelled them from the midst of his race and compelled them to wander in solitary exile afar from his army."
The best English definition of "haliurunnae" is along the lines of "crazy bitches", "ugly bitches", or "really, really disliked bitches".
"There the unclean spirits, who beheld them as they wandered through the wilderness, bestowed their embraces upon them and begat the savage race, which dwelt at first in the swamps, a stunted, foul and puny tribe..."
I might go protest the ignored problem of acquaintance-embrace bestowal with the Women's Center next week.
"For by the terror of their features they inspired great fear in those whom perhaps they did not really surpass in war."
The John Brown theory of battle.
"They made their foes flee in horror because their swarthy aspect was fearful, and they had, if I may call it so, a sort of shapeless lump, not a head, with pin-holes rather than eyes."
Visual aid.
"...they cut the cheeks of the male [infants] with a sword, so that before they receive the nourishment of milk they must learn to endure wounds. Hence they grow old beardless and their young men are without comeliness, because a face furrowed by the sword spoils by its scars the natural beauty of a beard."
Because the problem with slicing open the faces of babies is that it renders them unable to grow facial hair. This is the kind of historian I want to be when I grow up.


David Wagner said...

1. Re the visual aid, I have, in fact, occasionally heard Huns described as "cat-faced." (No cites at hand, at least not without work.)

2. Those Strange Hats in the picture -- did the Mongols (= East Huns: you know that) invent fur-edged toppers? Is the "Crown of Monomakh" of unacknowledged Mongol origin?

TKB said...

Re #2: Oh, probably. Tons of people have commented, for example, on the Asian look of Ivan IV in many portraits and engravings (Repin shows this well in the famous one of him and his son, although that's a 19th century work... Interesting comparison here: http://www.geocities.com/normlaw/kaftan.gif of note, of course, are the fastenings on the Russian's kaftan- very eastern.

Also, stuff like this: http://www.uni-duisburg.de/FB3/ROMANISTIK/PERSONAL/Fricke/brosch1999/Kaftan.JPG
is actually Persian/Moroccan, but could be used very effectively for a medieval Russian costume...