Lupa Romana and Hruomwulfa: A Reconstruction, Part II

Part II. The Frankish Context: Hruomwulfa

Link to Part I

Reconstructed Frankish theonym:
Hruomwulfa 

Based on the name elements Hruom (PGmc *hrōmiz, “glory,” and “fame,” which also came to be associated with the homophonic “Rome”) and wulf (PGmc *wulfaz “wolf”) 

Introduction

The she-wolf’s relevance at the provinces shows that the motif of the she-wolf was a way of reflecting Romanness even from a peripheral context (see Part I for discussion of the she-wolf motif on provincial grave markers). Moreover, scholars note that the destruction of Rome was the end of “central Romanness,” enabling greater “local Romanness” for the Franks and other Roman and Roman-adjacent provinces (Reimitz 15 citing Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom, xxvi).

Frankish Romanitas is well documented, particularly in its founding myth, which positions Francia as a cousin to Rome through Antenor’s lineage. Hence Frankish identity has always relied on Romanness and would certainly accommodate the worship of a God embedded in this complex ethos. 

The wolf’s role as Roman–Frankish cultural broker is demonstrated by the use of the “wulf” name element. Among the descendants of Lupus, originally of a stirps Romana, naming elements had double meaning:

This had already been the case for Lupus’ brother, Magnulf, where the two parts of the name could have been interpreted as *Magan-wulfa—‘power wolf’—or as a combination of Germanic wulf with the latin magnus—‘great.’This tradition was passed on to the next generation as Lupus’ son was named Romulf, which could be interpreted as consisting of two Germanic parts as Hrōma-wulfa―‘glory-wulf’—or as a combination of the Germanic wulf with Roma. […] show its members as cultural brokers between Roman and Germanic worlds.”(Reimitz 211)

The particular example of Romulf draws a parallel between “glory” and “Rome,” and brings in the “wolf” as mediator of these properties.

In Frankish sources, we can also see a parallel to Romulus and Remus in the clash of the brothers Theuderic and Theudebert:

At the climax of the conflict between [the brothers Theuderic and Theudebert], Theuderic moved against his brother with a large army. The first major clash was decided in his favour, and Theudebert fled to Cologne. When Theuderic was chasing after him, he reached Mainz and encountered the city’s bishop, Leudegarius. Leudegarius, “who appreciated the virtues of Theuderic as much as he despised Theudebert’s folly,” seems to have confirmed the Burgundian king’s pursuit of his brother by telling him a fable:

Finish what you have begun…There is a rustica fabula that tells how a wolf went up into the hills with his cubs, and when they had started to hunt he called them and said: “As far as your eyes see and in what direction, you have no friends except the few who are from your own family. So finish what you have begun.”[…] Theuderic triumphs decisively over his brother. (Reimitz 207)

In this excerpt, it is unclear whether the fabula is a sign of Leudegarius’s approval or disapproval. Ehlers (17) notes that Theuderic did not believe that Theudebert was his biological  brother, so the censure against killing kin would not necessarily have applied. Regardless, Leudegarius seems to preach decisiveness. The fabula itself focuses on wolves as mediators of kinship, emphasizing the motif of “the pack” as symbolic of family loyalty.

In another example, wolves are tied to kingship:

Childeric saw animals that looked like lions, leopards, and unicorns. When he returned, Basina sent him out again. That time he saw bears and wolves. The third time he went out to look, he saw dogs and other smaller animals, which were dragging each other through the mud and writhing around. Basina interpreted these visions and suggested that her own son would have the appearance and bravery of a lion, their grandsons of leopards and unicorns, and their great-grandsons the bravery and truthfulness of wolves and bears. But [according to Basina,] “What you saw the third time will be the shame of this kingdom, as they will rule just like dogs or smaller beasts: their bravery will be like that of these animals. The multitude of other despicable beasts who were dragging each other around signifies that under their rule, the people [populi] will destroy each other without their rulers [principes].” (Reimitz 206)

The excerpt suggests that wolves, while not necessarily the highest animal ideal, are associated with kingship and the positive qualities of truthfulness and bravery. It is also worth noting that unicorns and lions are established Christian symbols in lore (see Physiologus), so wolves and bears may have been displaced from their preeminence in the pre-Christian hierarchy.

In full, the wolf is a mediator, a designator of kingship, and a bold warrior.

Conclusion

Wolves represent heroism, bravery, and truthfulness in early medieval Frankish thought. Therefore, Hruomwulfa would likely have martial associations. This bravery, “exploited to the full” by Theuderic, also demonstrates the power of wolfish qualities in acquiring kingship. Hruomwulfa can also be seen as a cultural broker between Romanitas and Frankishness.

In TFA, she should be celebrated at Wargbiskirmerfol, a Frankish cognate to Lupercalia.

Sources

Ehlers, J. (2004). The Birth of the Monarchy out of Violent Death: Transformations of Kingship from Late Antiquity to the Tenth Century. Bulletin of the German Historical Institute, London26, 5-34.

Reimitz, H. (2015). History, Frankish Identity and the Framing of Western Ethnicity, 550–850 (Vol. 101). Cambridge University Press.

Hêtan

Hludmilukgabis (She who gives the glory milk)

Notes


Special thanks to Ingruoda for pointing me in the right direction and providing invaluable feedback and support.

*A Disclaimer on the Identities of Dea Lupa and Hruomwulfa:
Are these Gods the same being?
My reconstruction does not intend to suggest that these Goddesses are objectively the same being, nor that They are different. Personally, I see Hruomwulfa and Dea Lupa as being interrelated but not necessarily interchangeable.

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