Sventevith, Svetovid, Suvid, Svantevit, Svantovit, Swantovít, Sventovit, Zvantevith, Świętowit, Światowid, Sutvid, Vid. and, incorrectly, "Światowit", is the Slavic deity of war, fertility and abundance.
Sometimes referred to as Beli (or Byali) Vid, "Beli" = white, bright, shining (as in a Serbian folklore poem "Vojevao Beli Vide / Tri god'ne s kleti Turci / A čet'ri s crni Ugri..." - Beli Vid waged war / Three years with the damn Turks / And four with the black Hungarians).
Svetovid is associated with war and
divinationand depicted as a four-headed god with two heads looking forward and two back. A statue portraying the god shows him with four heads, each one looking in a separate direction, a symbolical representation of the four directions of the compass, and also perhaps the four seasons of the year. Boris Rybakovargued for identification of the faces with the gods Perun, Svarog, Lada and Mokosh(c.f. Zbruch idol). Joined together, they see all four sides of the world. This gave rise to a false etymology of the name of the god as "world-seer" ("svet" = "world", "vid" = "sight"; "Svetovid" = "worldseer"). However, the forms "Sventevith" and "Zvantewith" show that the name derives from the word "svętъ", meaning "saint, holy". The second stem is sometimes reconstructed as "vit" = "lord, ruler, winner".
The name recorded in chronicles of contemporary Christian monks is Svantevit, which, if we assume it was properly transcribed, could be an adjective meaning aprox. "Dawning One" ("svantev","svitanje" = "dawning, raising of the Sun in the morning" + "it", adjective suffix)).
He always carries his sword (sometimes bow) in one hand, and in the other a drinking horn. Svetovid had a white horse which was kept in his temple and taken care of by priests. It was believed Svantevit rode this horse in battle. The horse was used for divination. Victory in battle, merchant travels and a successful harvest all depended on Svantevit.
The main temple of Svantevit, as he was called by the local Rani, was located in Arkona on
RugiaIsland in the Baltic Sea(today Rügen, in Germany). According to various chronicles, the temple contained a giant wooden statue of Svantevit depicting him with four heads (or one head with four faces) and a horn of abundance. Each year the horn was filled with fresh mead.
The temple was also the seat of an
oraclein which the chief priest predicted the future of his tribe by observing the behaviour of a white horse identified with Svantevit and casting dice(horse oracles have a long history in this region, being already attested in the writings of Tacitus). The temple also contained the treasury of the tribe and was defended by a group of 300 mounted warriors which formed the core of the tribal armed forces.
Some interpretations claim that Svetovit was another name for Radegast, while another states that he was a fake god, a Wendish construction based on the name
St. Vitus. However, the common practice of the Christian Church was to replace existing pagan deities and places of worship with analogous persons and rituals of Christian content, so it seems more likely that Saint-Vitus was made to replace the original Svanto-Vit. According to a questionable interpretation, Svantevit was a Rugian counterpart of the all-Slavic Peruncommon in Slavic mythology.
In Croatia, on the island of Brač, the highest peak is called Vid's Mountain. In the
Dinaric Alpsthere is a peak called "Suvid" and a Church of St. Vid. Among the Serbs, the cult of Svetovid is partially preserved through the Feast of St.Vitus, " Vidovdan," one of the most important annual events in Serbian Orthodox Christian tradition.
The Science Fiction story "
Delenda Est" by Poul Andersondepicts an alternate historyworld where Carthagodefeated Rome, Christianity never arose, and in the 20th Century Svantevit is still a main deity of a major European power called Littorn (i.e., Lithuania). A devotee of this god, in the story, is called Boleslav Arkonsky - a name evidently derived from the avbove mentioned temple at Arkona.
* [http://www.ma.krakow.pl/pradzieje/swiatowid Svetovit from Zbrucz Archeological Museum in Kraków - Poland]
* [http://www.rkp.w.activ.pl/index.php?option=com_akogallery&Itemid=26&func=viewcategory&catid=67 actual Svetovit monument - galleries from polish cities]
* [http://acn.waw.pl/qkiel76/A49.jpgSvetovit figure discovered in Wolin - Poland]
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