chapter  VIII
23 Pages

Floria

In this tale, ,vhich \vas collected and sent to me by Peppino, it is properly Floria ,vho gives the blow with the hamrner, and it is evident that Floria IS the real mother of the child, and that the \vitch came after the marriage in the wife's form. Floria-Flora-was certainly equivalent with Horta, \vho in Etruscan times was one \vith Nortia-Fortuna-\vho drove the nails of Fate. I forget no\v whether it IS in the work of Inghirami or that of Eduard Gerhard that she is twice depicted as holding a hammer. Padre Secchi follows MUller (Etrusker, iii. 3, 7) in declaring that Horta, an Etruscan

goddess, equivalent to Salus, gave name to Orte, and that she is distinct from Nortia, or Fortuna, the great goddess of Volsinii. "A distinction bet\veen her and Fortuna is indicated by Tacitus" (vZ:de Dennis, Cities of Etruria, vol. i., p. 140 in note). But these very objections prove that Nortia of the hammer was regarded as one with Horta by many. And this legend of Peppino agrees curiously with it. Dennis suggests that Horta was a goddess of gardens, therefore a synonyme with Flora. Pomona was also a form of Flora, and in her legend, by a strange change, it is not the witch who takes a female form, but Vertumnus who appears to her as an old \voman. Confused as all this seems, I believe this legend to be ancient or classic. But it is very significant indeed that on Etruscan vases the hammer specially occurs as the implement of death in the hands of the equivalent of Nemesis, as in this tale. It is, in fact, the invariable symbol of death, and is in the hands of Charun and all the demons. Lanzi gives a beautiful female spirit holding it.