Home T - panel (The Back) - The Picture

The depiction is clearly separated into an upper and a lower level, and these bands are vertically divided by an arch, so that the whole picture falls into four segments. It shows Titus conquering Jerusalem after long siege in September 70 AD.

In the upper left segment we see five armed warriors attacking the Jews, Romans under Titus. He might be the one wearing a helmet or the one distinguished by his armour, but this is less likely as the general would be armed with a sword rather than a spear. It would be Titus himself then, who kills a fleeing enemy, may be one of the leaders of the Jewish revolt. He is being hit by the Roman behind him, going down on his knees, his sword slipping from his hand. Two of his people just manage to escape across the arch, which on the original might have stood for the Jewish temple.

The upper right segment shows thirteen more refugees, one with a flask, two others with walking canes, properly put under hic fugiunt …"here flee ..." They are deserting the town to escape from Roman retribution.

The lower left segment (just below the Roman soldiers) shows a court hearing. Victory is one aspect of glory, punishment the other. It is probably the commander in chief himself sitting on the "Throne of Justice" (as it is no bench), a cup in his hand. A servant below the throne - the þyle1 - is holding something like a scroll and another cup, which he seems to pass on to a person on the right of the royal chair. This man, too, seems to be holding a scroll. He is accompanied by a soldier (one of Titus' body guard?). The repetition of scroll and cup seem to hint at the completion of a contract. It looks as if a brave warrior is receiving his reward, may be, a thane is granted a fief. The lord will drink to him and therewith confirm the contract. On the left, we see a warrior in his armour. He is being held by his hair, probably condemned because of cowardliness. Perhaps they will cut his hair off and sell him into servitude. The "servant" below the throne is the ðyle, the speaker or orator, who mediates in behalf of the ruler. With the word doom both episodes are commented on. A good fortune for the one, a tough fate for the other.

Beneath the picture of the Jewish refuges, lower right segment, we have a group of eight people, commented on by gisl, 'hostages'. The first three persons could be Roman soldiers on sentry duty, the one with the yoke might have been Simon bar Giora or John of Gischala on the original. Simon and John, the ringleaders of Zealots, were left alive and taken to Rome to be presented to the citizens in a triumphal procession.

That huge arch (rather not the Ark of the Covenants) may have been adopted from the manuscript and will have meant the temple. However, our carver did certainly not cut them, believing that he was depicting Seraphim and Cherubim, as frequently suggested. If these beasts were angels, one would hesitate to go to Heaven, if admitted. There may have been Jewish symbols on the original picture, but the rune master has cast them out, just like he removed the angel from the picture of the Magi. He fills in animals in Anglo-Saxon or Irish style, their tails etc. forming knots and their beaks twisted. The temple is now crowded by an assembly of the beasts of the battlefield.

There are three pairs of animals depicted. On the bottom we have 'sitting' horses, anatomically rather odd. Right under the arch we have two bird heads, connected by knot ornaments. The animals between bottom and top are hard to interpret, but if we find a meaning for the other two couples we might deduce from that. To begin with, the birds, they may refer to Woden's ravens, Hugin and Munin, while the horses could be connected with Tiw (patron of this panel). Horses are his attributes, just like spear (!) and sword (Pollington, p. 51). Though these creatures between bottom and top do not look like anything biology teaches, we detect ears with them, mammals then, and no birds. If the others are the companions of the 'gods of war', these may be the heads of the missing cohort, the wolves Geri und Freki (the ones we have seen on the R-Panel). For the sake of interlaced presentation the long muzzles, which the beasts by the Roman twins already show, become even longer here. We would have all the animals we meet elsewhere on the panels: the wolves from the R-Panel and Æ-Panel, the birds from F-Panel and the H-Panels, where there is that horse as well. A perfect pagan zoo of war, the beasts of battle arranged, as we often find it with those animals at the Tree of Life. If the temple has thus been turned into an Anglo-Saxon sanctuary, the ornament on its top was meant to identify it. Does it allude to the Valkyrie's runic symbol? Is that one mixed with a crucifix here, syncretism at its peak, so to speak?

All the traditional pictures so far (Magi, Roman twins, Titus) have transformed into a pagan setting, topics altered to make them work.

1 To the part of the Þyle as a speaker and mediator see S. Pollington, The Mead Hall, p. 188


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