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Gelezinis Vilkas [Iron Wolf]

Gediminas and the Legend of the Iron Wolf


Around the year 1323, Gediminas, the Ruler and Grand Duke of Lithuania was hunting with the nobles of his court. Among his retinue were servants and beaters with large packs of hounds. The great forest was disturbed by the uncommon activity. All the animals, great and small reacting to the terrifying clamor invading the tranquil serenity of their province, and in mortal fear, scurried into the thicket.

Though the animals fled into the brush, the hunters were expert and skilled. Their royal horses were tenacious, and their arrows never missed the objective. Many wild animals were killed and the greatest trophy of the hunt, a splendid specimen of the great Lithuanian bison, was killed by the Grand duke himself. In pursuit of his prize, Gediminas came to the apex of a high mountain located at the junction of the rivers Neris and Vilnele. The view from the spot was glorious and Gediminas ordered that camp be set at this place. At his command, the fires were sparked and furs were spread for sleeping.

The day had been tiring, and soon Gediminas was asleep and dreaming. In the dream he envisioned an iron wolf on this mountaintop. This wolf of iron was uttering such howls that they sounded as if there were hundreds of wolves bellowing in unison.

When he awoke, Gediminas spoke of his dream to his courtiers, asking for their thoughts. They were unable to explain it. He then sent for the High Priest, Kriviu Krivaitis, of the shrine to Perkunas, the Lithuanian god of thunder, which was nearby. The priest listened thoughtfully to the Grand Duke's rendering of his vision. The priest nodded in deference to the great ruler, and reflectively stroked his long white beard. He then pronounced the meaning of the vision: "Sire, the Iron Wolf signifies a large and mighty city, the howling means the clamor that will arise from it reaching far beyond the country's borders and proclaiming through long centuries the glory of Lithuania." 

Gediminas was pleased with the priest's explanation of his dream. Upon his return to his residence at is Kernave, he summoned artisans and craftsman from around Europe to design and construct a strong and beautiful castle on the top of the mountain where he had seen the iron wolf. The castle was completed and Gediminas moved his domicile, signaling the establishment of a new capital for his country: Vilnius. Could the priest have foreseen the events of 668 years later, when in 1991 the people of Vilnius stood up to the Soviets, changing the world?


By: David Shestokas
Edited By: Dave Stanulis