A claim has been made that the Veneti worshipped – as their Sun God – Jason or maybe Jasion/Iasion. This claim, if true, would, combined with the reports of the Polish God Jassa and the Czech God Chasson (identified, at least in Jan Rosa’s Grammatica Linguae Bohemicae, as a sun God, that is Sol or Phoebus or Astron), suggest that at least these two nations were in fact connected with the Veneti or perhaps descend from the Veneti.
What’s more, because the claim was made regarding the Adriatic Veneti, this would not only further strengthen the Slavic-Venetic connection but, in fact, expand it all the way to Venice – no doubt helping “Venetologists” such as Matej Bor.
But, as regards the Adriatic Veneti at least, is the claim true?
What Says Strabo?
Strabo does say (Book V, I):
“And in the very recess of the Adriatic there is also a temple of Diomedes that is worth recording, “the Timavum“; for it has a harbour, and a magnificent precinct, and seven fountains of potable waters which immediately empty into the sea in one broad, deep river. According to Polybius, all the fountains except one are of salt water, and what is more, the natives call the place the source and mother of the sea. But Poseidonius says that a river, the Timavus, runs out of the mountains, falls down into a chasm, and then, after running underground about a hundred and thirty stadia, makes its exit near the sea.”
“As for the dominion of Diomedes in the neighbourhood of this sea, not only the “Islands of Diomedes” bear witness thereto, but also the historical accounts of the Daunii and Argos Hippium, which I shall relate insofar as they may be historically useful; but I must disregard most of the mythical or false stories, as, for example, the stories of Phaethon, and of the Heliades that were changed into poplar-trees near the Eridanus (the Eridanus that exists nowhere on earth, although it is spoken of as near the Padus), and of the Electrides Islands that lie off the Padus, and of the guinea-fowls on them; for not one of these things is in that region, either. It is an historical fact, however, that among the Heneti certain honours have been decreed to Diomedes; and, indeed, a white horse is still sacrificed to him, and two precincts are still to be seen — one of them sacred to the Argive Hera and the other to the Aetolian Artemis.”
And later (Book VI, III):
“Now, however, Argyrippa is smaller; it was called Argos Hippium at first, then Argyrippa, and then by the present name Arpi. Both are said to have been founded by Diomedes. And as signs of the dominion of Diomedes in these regions are to be seen the Plain of Diomedes and many other things, among which are the old votive offerings in the temple of Athene at Luceria — a place which likewise was in ancient times a city of the Daunii, but is now reduced — and, in the sea near by, two islands that are called the Islands of Diomedes, of which one is inhabited, while the other, it is said, is desert; on the latter, according to certain narrators of myths, Diomedes was caused to disappear, and his companions were changed to birds, and to this day, in fact, remain tame and live a sort of human life, not only in their orderly ways but also in their tameness towards honorable men and in their flight from wicked and knavish men. But I have already mentioned the stories constantly told among the Heneti about this hero and the rites which are observed in his honour. It is thought that Sipus also was founded by Diomedes, which is about one hundred and forty stadia distant from Salapia … In Daunia, on a hill by the name of Drium, are to be seen two hero-temples: one, to Calchas, on the very summit, where those who consult the oracle sacrifice to his shade a black ram and sleep in the hide, and the other, to Podaleirius, down near the base of the hill, this temple being about one hundred stadia distant from the sea; and from it flows a stream which is a cure-all for diseases of animals. In front of this gulf is a promontory, Garganum, which extends towards the east for a distance of three hundred stadia into the high sea; doubling the headland, one comes to a small town, Urium, and off the headland are to be seen the Islands of Diomedes. This whole country produces everything in great quantity, and is excellent for horses and sheep; but though the wool is softer than the Tarantine, it is not so glossy. And the country is well sheltered, because the plains lie in hollows. According to some, Diomedes even tried to cut a canal as far as the sea, but left behind both this and the rest of his undertakings only half-finished, because he was summoned home and there ended his life. This is one account of him; but there is also a second, that he stayed here till the end of his life; and a third, the aforesaid mythical account, which tells of his disappearance in the island; and as a fourth one might set down the account of the Heneti, for they too tell a mythical story of how he in some way came to his end in their country, and they call it his apotheosis.”
You can read more about the Veneti of the Adriatic here.
So we seem to have the worship of Diomedes by the Veneti…
Is Diomedes Jason?
Well, for many years Jason was equated with Diomedes…
In 1711, Abbe Antoine Banier claimed that “[Chiron] taught [Jason] the Sciences, which he himself professed, especially Medicine, and gave him for that Reason the name of Jason, instead of Diomedes, which he had before.”
This was repeated as fact by many subsequent scholars. What is the source of this information?
Apparently, it is this:
“When Jason became a man and had learned from Chiron the healing art, he was called Jason, having first been called Dolomedes.”
This is from the 1581 edition of a Natali Conti Mythologiae. However, the first edition of the same (in the year 1567) did not contain the last clause.
It seems that Conti added this, misreading
Winifred Warren Wilson claimed in 1910 that in the 1581 edition Conti added new material (from Apollonius of Rhodes), and misread the Greek word δολόμηδες (“crafty”) as a proper name and then attributed it to Jason – as a proper name of Jason’s. And then Dolomedes became Diomedes. How? Well, apparently there was a misprint of Diomedes for Dolomedes in subsequent editions of Comes’ treatise. More on this on a site by this guy (yes, he is Jason too) who claims that there are no ancient sources equating Jason with Diomedes.
If this is true then the story ends right there and the temple to Diomedes is not any temple to Jason. And so the Slovenian Venetologists lose (at least one argument)…
Enter the Dragon
But… did you know that (according to the website for the Slovenian capital Ljubljana:
“Once upon a time, Greek hero Jason and his Argonaut comrades stole a golden fleece, the coat of a golden ram, from the King of Colchis on the Black Sea. On board the Argo they fled their pursuers and found themselves at the mouth of the River Danube instead of going south towards the Aegean Sea and their Greek homeland. There was no way back, so they went on, up the Danube and then along the River Ljubljanica. They had to stop at the source of the Ljubljanica and overwintered here. They then took the Argo apart and in the spring carried it on their shoulders to the Adriatic coast, where they put it back together again and went on their way. According to the legend, on their arrival between what is now Vrhnika and Ljubljana, the Argonauts came across a large lake with a marsh alongside. Here lived a terrible marsh dragon that Jason killed after a heroic struggle. The monster would have been the Ljubljana dragon. It is said that Jason should have been the first real Ljubljana citizen.“
Of course, Jason actually did encounter a dragon – Ladon (Lada?) – who had just been defeated by Hercules but was still twitching (Apollonius of Rhodes’ Argonautica). And is there any connection to Krak of Wawel?
After all we do know that the word a..i.su.n. (accusative) for “God” does appear among the Venetic inscriptions. And does Iazze really mean “I” (ia se)?
So how old is this Slovenian legend? Older than Conti’s misprint or not?
And here is another interesting thing: a river mentioned in ancient times (including later in the Getica – ad Pontem Sontii) that bears a striking similarity to Jason’s name: its Slovene name is Soča but, at various times, it went in antiquity by Aesontius, Sontius, and Isontius then – as per Marko Snoj – super Sontium (in 507–11), a flumine Isontio (1028), in Lisonçum (1261), an die Ysnicz (1401), and an der Snicz (ca. 1440).
Snoj suggests that the Latin (and Romance) Sontius was probably based on the substrate (!) name *Aisontia, presumably derived from the PIE root *Hei̯s- ‘swift, rushing’, referring to a quickly moving river (or the pre-Romance (!) root *ai̯s- ‘water, river’.
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