Savos

Etymology:

The name Savos is undoubtably derived from the name of the Sava river. Šašel Kos, as she is wont to do, follows Šimunović in suggesting that the name of the Savus is paleo-European.[1][2] It is questionable, however, whether or not this hypothesis would ever find mass acceptance. Much more probable, it seems, is de Bernardo Stempel’s suggestion of a Celtic origin for Sava, meaning “that which winds”: from Celtic *sōw-o-s/-ā, in turn from IE *sewh1- ( = “to keep moving”).[3]

Function:

It may come as no surprise that Savus’ role in antiquity has been thoroughly explored by leading authors. He undoubtedly was patron of travellers, traders, merchants, and businessmen travelling along the Sava[4], which was essential for the local trade-economy.[5] It may also be of importance to note that archaeological finds which attest to Savus are only found along the upper course of the Sava. This is, potentially, because this part of the river was most dangerous, and so most travellers chose to ask for Savus’ protection along it[6], or because it is possible that not all of a river’s course was viewed as sacred.[7] It is also worth noting that perhaps Savus’ jurisdiction also extended beyond His role in protecting seafarers on the river. Savus has the honor of being invoked in the first Latin curse tablet explicitly invoking a river deity in Roman Europe.[8] The curse tablet asks Savus to drown, silence, or “drag down” the authors opponents in a legal proceeding.[9] This fact may imply that, in addition to water deities’ association with life and fertility, Savus is also intrinsically linked to the chthonic.[10] He is also attested as part of a divine couple with Adsalluta.[11]

In Practice:

Within Bessus Noricon, Savus is patron God of the river Sava. He is patron of travellers, merchants, and trade. He is also a chthonic deity who can be invoked in defixiones.

Interpretatio:

As all river deities are incredibly localized, the closest Roman deity to Savus, especially in terms of importance to the local population, would probably be Tiberinus.

Iconography:

Although unknown in Norican art, it is possible to infer some iconography for Savus from the iconography of other cultures in antiquity. Older depictions of river gods in Roman, Greek, and Etruscan art are both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic, potentially with the implication that they are shape-shifter (which my stem from the fluid nature of rivers). They also appear on antifixes and occasionally as border decoration on shields, which may indicate a liminal nature of rivers and their patron deities. This ancient depiction, however, seems to have been overturned in river deities important to the national identity of a state, such as Tiberinus was to Rome. Tiberinus is depicted as an older man, reclined, and sometimes alongside a cornucopia or an oar.[12] These attributes, due to the Sava rivers importance to the identity of the Norican region, seem more fitting for Savus.

Sources

  1. A Sacred River Landscape with a Sanctuary, The Worship of Rivers in the South-Eastern Alpine Area by Marjeta Šašel Kos, 2017, p. 442

  2. PREDANTIČKI TOPONIMI U DANAŠNJOJ (I POVIJESNOJ) HRVATSKOJ by PETAR ŠIMUNOVIĆ, 2013, pp. 208-209

  3. Die in Noricum Belegten Gottheiten by Patrizia De Bernardo Stempel, 2005, p. 16

  4. The Worship of Savus and Nemesis in Andautonia by Ivan KNEZOVIĆ, 2010, p. 187

  5. A Sacred River Landscape with a Sanctuary, The Worship of Rivers in the South-Eastern Alpine Area by Marjeta Šašel Kos, 2017, p. 447

  6. The Worship of Savus and Nemesis in Andautonia by Ivan KNEZOVIĆ, 2010, pp. 189-193

  7. A Sacred River Landscape with a Sanctuary, The Worship of Rivers in the South-Eastern Alpine Area by Marjeta Šašel Kos, 2017, pp. 446-447

  8. A LATIN DEFIXIO (SISAK, CROATIA) TO THE RIVER GOD SAVUS MENTIONING L. LICINIUS SURA, HISPANUS by FRANCISCO MARCO SIMÓN and ISABEL RODÁ DE LLANZA, 2008, p. 173

  9. A Sacred River Landscape with a Sanctuary, The Worship of Rivers in the South-Eastern Alpine Area by Marjeta Šašel Kos, 2017, p. 448

  10. Pre-Roman Divinities of the Eastern Alps and Adriatic by Marjeta Šašel Kos, 1999, p. 113

  11. A Sacred River Landscape with a Sanctuary, The Worship of Rivers in the South-Eastern Alpine Area by Marjeta Šašel Kos, 2017, pp. 451-453

  12. The Nature and Function of Water, Baths, Bathing, and Hygiene from Antiquity Through the Renaissance by Cynthia Kosso and Anne Scott, 2009, pp. 235-244