The Albanian in His Own Habitat. A Dated Portrait
Viorel Stănilă
 

While rejecting the idea that the Albanian of the turn of the 20th century was spiteful by nature, we have to consider, though, that he was forced into vendetta by custom ? a defining feature when it comes to character. It is Neniţescu that we will quote once more, since we have not come across equally conclusive reference to the institution of the vendetta with the Aromanian authors. Nevertheless, according to Caragiani?s say, quoted by Neniţescu, revenge was as personal with the fărşerot people as it was with the Albanians. The concise reference of the former, that ?revenge operates more with the fărşerot people than it does with the Albanians? is enhanced by Neniţescu to the dimensions of the following paragraph:

?One of the characteristic traits of the fărşerot people is revenge by retaliation for offences or encroachment of rights, that is, the vendetta, which is also customary with the Albanians. The right of revenge is sacred with the fărşerot people and is often concluded with assistance of the celnic that sees to the restriction of the dimensions of the vendetta. This restriction of the vendetta thoroughly depends on the judgment and the sentence of the celnic, since the vendetta is even more widespread among the Aromanian fărşerot people than among the Albanians.? (Neniţescu, 1995, p.179)

?Revenge does not only happen between tribes, but also as an individual enterprise. If for instance an individual from a tribe is murdered for whatever reason by another from a different tribe, then the relatives of the dead, and sometimes even the tribe to which the dead belongs are bound, by Albanian custom, to chase the murderer or one of the latter?s family, and when the murderer has no relatives, then the revenge falls on one member of the tribe of the murderer.? (Neniţescu, 1895, p. 476-477)

So far, the Aromanians have spoken of the Albanian as of an enemy, notwithstanding their sharing the same social organization, many customs, the same founding myths (most significantly the common descendence from Alexander the Great, together with the Greeks and the Slaves), or precisely because of this common heritage.

Let us look at the portrait of this enemy, first of all in his extreme hypostasis: ?(?) approaching the group before me, I was surprised to notice the dishonest figures that were staring at me? Two of these, gun over shoulder, and a double breast of cartridges, seemed even suspect, the more so as they were pale and emaciated, wearing bedraggled kilts, which must have been white once, but now were covered in an oily shade of grey.? (Burileanu, 1906, p. 130)

The figures of these hărmits (bandits) did not much differ from that of ordinary Albanians, the honest subjects of the sultan: ?(?) Tough men, on whose faces I could not see one endearing look, all of a solid built, carabines over shoulder, and pistols and cartridge belts?

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