The Season 4 finale of History’s Vikings saw the long-anticipated arrival of Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ character, Heahmund, a religious warrior. However, it is the inscription on his sword shown at the very end of Episode 20 that has everyone talking. So, what does “ananyzapata” even mean?
SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information about the 20th episode (entitled “The Reckoning”) of the Season 4 finale of History Channel’s Vikings. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.
The Season 4 finale of Vikings closed with the introduction of Heahmund, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. This character is a religious man, first seen conducting a burial service. The next scene then shows Heahmund bedding the widow of the man buried. However, it is the shot of his sword bearing the inscription “ananyzapata” that has viewers talking. So, what does this term mean?
While the word can be spelled ananyzapata, there are alternative spellings out there. Anazapta and ananizapta are also common alternatives, but there are several others.
According to Etymology Online, ananyzapata or ananizapta is very similar in use to the word “abracadabra.”
“Magical formula, 1690s, from Latin (Q. Serenus Sammonicus, 2c.), from Late Greek Abraxas, cabalistic or gnostic name for the supreme god, and thus a word of power. It was written out in a triangle shape and worn around the neck to ward off sickness, etc. Another magical word, from a mid-15c. writing, was ananizapta.”
The Book of Talismans, Amulets and Zodiacal Gems by William Thomas and Kate Pavitt also suggests ananyzapata could be used as a talisman against epilepsy. This book also explains the Coventry Ring had this word inscribed into it and could be translated as, “Have mercy on us, O Judge.” This meaning of the word seems very fitting to be on a sword used by a religious warrior such as Heahmund in Season 5 of Vikings.
The British Museum also suggests this version of the word inscribed on the Conventry Ring could be an anagram for, “Antidotum Nazareni Auferat Necem Intoxicationis Sanctificet Alimenta Pocula Trinitas Alma.” The Z in this meaning is replaced by the letter S, which is a common occurrence. Once again, the Y has been replaced with the letter I. This translates to, “May the antidote of Jesus avert death by poisoning and the Holy Trinity sanctify my food and drink.”
This word has also been found a couple of times engraved onto gates in Ingolstadt, Germany. Dr. Werner Karl, when studying the meaning of the word ananyzapata, suggested the letter Z in it, considering it had a little tail on it in the gate engraving, could represent the word, zabolus, which translates into “devil.” This would, therefore, break the word up into two words, anani and apta (based on this version of the spelling of the word). Placing the cross in front and at the end of the word, such as is also seen in Heahmund’s sword, could indicate they are there to destroy the devil residing within the word. He then suggests the translation of the word, ananyzapata, to read as: “Jesus Christ defeated death (or the devil).” Once again, this is certainly a translation that would be fitting on a sword that is used to defend Christianity against the heathens such as Heahmund will likely do moving forward into Season 5 of Vikings.
Another interesting thing to note about Heahmund’s sword is the jewel in it. Dr. Werner Karl also speculates on whether there is a connection between the word, ananyzapata, and the Middleham jewel. This jewel was “a gold amulet probably made between 1450 and 1475.” It was found near Middleham Castle in 1985. The Middleham jewel contains a sapphire on top of a gold diamond-shaped pendant, displaying a religious scene. The words, “ecce agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi miserere nobis tetragramaton ananizapta,” are inscribed on it. The first part of this translates to, “Behold, the Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world.” The final words, tetragramaton ananizapta, are translated as “Lamb of God.”
Considering Heahmund is a precursor to the Knights Templar, fans are already speculating that Vikings might be a good launchpad from this show into History’s new show about the Knights Templar, Knightfall. So, could this sword be the link between the two shows? Only by tuning into Season 5 of Vikings and the premiere of Knightfall this year will reveal the answer.
Let us know your thoughts and theories about what the word, ananyzapata, on Heahmund’s sword means, and how it will affect Season 5 of Vikings by commenting below.
Vikings has been confirmed by History Channel as returning in 2017 with Season 5. Knightfall will premiere on History in the fall of 2017.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Hession/History Channel]