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The Result Of The Foregoing Investigations






Category: REMINISCENCES IN THE POPULAR TRADITIONS OF THE MIDDLE AGES OF THE HEATHEN MIGRATION SAGA.

Source: Teutonic Mythology

Herewith I close the examination of the sagas in regard to the Trojan
descent of the Teutons, and in regard to the immigration of Odin and his
Asiamen to Saxland, Denmark, and the Scandinavian peninsula. I have
pointed out the seed from which the sagas grew, the soil in which the
seed could be developed, and how it gradually grew to be what we find
these sagas to be in Heimskringla and the Younger Edda. I have shown
that they do not belong to the Teutonic heathendom, but that they were
born, as it were of necessity, in a Christian time, among Teutons
converted to Christianity, and that they are throughout the work of the
Latin scholars in the middle age. The assumption that they concealed
within themselves a tradition preserved for centuries among the Teutons
themselves of an ancient emigration from Asia is altogether improbable,
and is completely refuted by the genuine migration sagas of Teutonic
origin which were rescued from oblivion, and of which I shall give an
account below. In my opinion, these old and genuine Teutonic migration
sagas have, from a purely historical standpoint, but little more claim
than the fables of the Christian age in regard to Odin's emigration from
Asia to be looked upon as containing a kernel of reality. This must in
each case be carefully considered. But that of which they furnish
evidence is, how entirely foreign to the Teutonic heathens was the idea
of an immigration from Troy or Asia, and besides, they are of great
interest on account of their connection with what the myths have to say
in regard to the oldest dwelling-places, history, and diffusion of the
human race, or at least of the Teutonic part of it.

As a rule, all the old migration sagas, no matter from what race they
spring, should be treated with the utmost caution. Large portions of
the earth's surface may have been appropriated by various races, not by
the sudden influx of large masses, but by a gradual increase of the
population and consequent moving of their boundaries, and there need not
have been very remarkable or memorable events in connection therewith.
Such an expansion of the territory may take place, and be so little
remarked by the people living around the centre, that they actually do
not need to be aware of it, and much less do they need to remember it in
sagas and songs. That a few new settlers year by year extend the
boundaries of a race has no influence on the imagination, and it can
continue generation after generation, and produce as its final result an
immense expansion, and yet the separate generations may scarcely have
been conscious of the change in progress. A people's spreading over new
territory may be compared with the movement of the hour-hand on a clock.
It is not perceptible to the eye, and is only realized by continued
observation.

In many instances, however, immigrations have taken place in large
masses, who have left their old abodes to seek new homes. Such
undertakings are of themselves worthy of being remembered, and they are
attended by results that easily cling to the memory. But even in such
cases it is surprising how soon the real historical events either are
utterly forgotten or blended with fables, which gradually, since they
appeal more to the fancy, monopolise the interest. The conquest and
settlement of England by Saxon and Scandinavian tribes--and that, too,
in a time when the art of writing was known--is a most remarkable
instance of this. Hengist, under whose command the Saxons, according to
their own immigration saga, are said to have planted their feet on
British soil, is a saga-figure taken from mythology, and there we shall
find him later on (see No. 123). No wonder, then, if we discover in
mythology those heroes under whose leadership the Longobardians and
Goths believed they had emigrated from their original Teutonic homes.





Next: The Longobardian Migration Saga

Previous: The Materials Of The Icelandic Troy Saga



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