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Myths The Myth Concerning The Earliest Period And The Emigrations From The North.

The World War Its Cause The Murder Of Gullveig-heidr

Halfdan And Hamal Foster-brothers The Amalians Fight In Behalf Of Halfdan's Son Hadding

The Creation Of Man The Primeval Country Scef The Bringer Of Culture

Halfdan's Birth And The End Of The Age Of Peace The Family Names Ylfing Hilding Budlung

Gulveig-heidr Her Identity With Aurboda Angrboda Hyrrokin The Myth Concerning The Sword Guardian And Fjalar

The Sacred Runes Learned From Heimdal

Evidence That Halfdan Is Identical With Helge Hundingsbane

Borgar-skjold's Son Halfdan The Third Patriarch

The Significance Of The Conflict From A Religious-ritual Standpoint

Hadding's Defeat Loke In The Council And On The Battle-field

Sorcery The Reverse Of The Sacred Runes Gullveig-heidr The Source Of Sorcery The Moral Deterioration Of The Original Man

Hadding's Journey To The East Reconciliation Between The Asas And Vans

Halfdan's Enmity With Orvandel And Svipdag

Halfdan's Identity With Mannus In Germania

The Breach Of Peace Between Asas And Vans Frigg Skade And Ull In The Conflict

The War In Midgard Between Halfdan's Sons

The Teutonic Emigration Saga Found In Tacitus

The Position Of The Divine Clans To The Warriors

Review Of The Svipdag Myth And Its Points Of Connection With The Myth About Halfdan

Scef The Author Of Culture Identical With Heimdal-rig The Original Patriarch

Loke Causes Enmity Between The Gods And The Original Artists

Halfdan's Character The Weapon-myth

Halfdan's Conflicts Interpreted As Myths Of Nature

Heimdal And The Sun-dis Dis-goddess

The Teutonic Emigration Saga Found In Tacitus


Source: Teutonic Mythology

The migration sagas which I have now examined are the only ones
preserved to our time on Teutonic ground. They have come down to us from
the traditions of various tribes. They embrace the East Goths, West
Goths, Longobardians, Gepidae, Burgundians, Herulians, Franks, Saxons,
Swabians, and Alamannians. And if we add to these the evidence of
Hrabanus Maurus, then all the German tribes are embraced in the
traditions. All the evidences are unanimous in pointing to the North as
the Teutonic cradle. To these testimonies we must, finally, add the
oldest of all--the testimony of the sources of Tacitus from the time of
the birth of Christ and the first century of our era.

Thor was reputed to be the son of Odin, surnamed the All-father, and
Jorth, the earth. He was the source of wisdom, patron of culture and of
heroes, friend of mankind and slayer of giants. He always carried a
heavy hammer, called The Crusher, with which he fought, assisted by
thunder and lightning. From Thor is derived the middle English words
Thursday (Thorsday) and Thunder.]

The statements made by Tacitus in his masterly work concerning the
various tribes of Germany and their religion, traditions, laws, customs,
and character, are gathered from men who, in Germany itself, had seen
and heard what they reported. Of this every page of the work bears
evidence, and it also proves its author to have been a man of keen
observation, veracity, and wide knowledge. The knowledge of his
reporters extends to the myths and heroic songs of the Teutons. The
latter is the characteristic means with which a gifted people, still
leading their primitive life, makes compensation for their lack of
written history in regard to the events and exploits of the past. We
find that the man he interviewed had informed himself in regard to the
contents of the songs which described the first beginning and the most
ancient adventures of the race, and he had done this with sufficient
accuracy to discover a certain disagreement in the genealogies found in
these songs of the patriarchs and tribe heroes of the Teutons--a
disagreement which we shall consider later on. But the man who had done
this had heard nothing which could bring him, and after him Tacitus, to
believe that the Teutons had immigrated from some remote part of the
world to that country which they occupied immediately before the birth
of Christ--to that Germany which Tacitus describes, and in which he
embraces that large island in the North Sea where the seafaring and
warlike Sviones dwelt. Quite the contrary. In his sources of information
Tacitus found nothing to hinder him from assuming as probable the view
he expresses--that the Teutons were aborigines, autochthones, fostered
on the soil which was their fatherland. He expresses his surprise at the
typical similarity prevailing among all the tribes of this populous
people, and at the dissimilarity existing between them on the one hand,
and the non-Teutonic peoples on the other; and he draws the conclusion
that they are entirely unmixed with other races, which, again,
presupposes that the Teutons from the most ancient times have possessed
their country for themselves, and that no foreign element has been able
to get a foothold there. He remarks that there could scarcely have been
any immigrations from that part of Asia which was known to him, or from
Africa or Italy, since the nature of Germany was not suited to invite
people from richer and more beautiful regions. But while Tacitus thus
doubts that non-Teutonic races ever settled in Germany, still he has
heard that people who desired to exchange their old homes for new ones
have come there to live. But these settlements did not, in his opinion,
result in a mixing of the race. Those early immigrants did not come by
land, but in fleets over the sea; and as this sea was the boundless
ocean which lies beyond the Teutonic continent and was seldom visited by
people living in the countries embraced in the Roman empire, those
immigrants must themselves have been Teutons. The words of Tacitus are
(Germ., 2): Germanos indigenas crediderim minimeque aliarum
gentium adventibus et hospitiis mixtos, quia nec terra olim sed
classibus advehebantur qui mutare sedes quaerebant, et immensus ultra
atque ut sic dixerim adversus Oceanus raris ab orbe nostro navibus
aditur. "I should think that the Teutons themselves are aborigines (and
not at all mixed through immigrations or connection with non-Teutonic
tribes). For those desiring to change homes did not in early times come
by land, but in ships across the boundless and, so to speak, hostile
ocean--a sea seldom visited by ships from the Roman world." This passage
is to be compared with, and is interpreted by, what Tacitus tells when
he, for the second time, speaks of this same ocean in chapter 44, where
he relates that in the very midst of this ocean lies a land inhabited by
Teutonic tribes, rich not only in men and arms, but also in fleets
(praeter viros armaque classibus valent), and having a stronger and
better organization than the other Teutons. These people formed several
communities (civitates). He calls them the Sviones, and describes
their ships. The conclusion to be drawn from his words is, in short,
that those immigrants were Northmen belonging to the same race as the
continental Teutons. Thus traditions concerning immigrations from the
North to Germany have been current among the continental Teutons already
in the first century after Christ.

But Tacitus' contribution to the Teutonic migration saga is not limited
to this. In regard to the origin of a city then already ancient and
situated on the Rhine, Asciburgium (Germ., 3), his reporter had heard
that it was founded by an ancient hero who had come with his ships from
the German Ocean, and had sailed up the Rhine a great distance beyond
the Delta, and had then disembarked and laid the foundations of
Asciburgium. His reporter had also heard such stories about this ancient
Teutonic hero that persons acquainted with the Greek-Roman traditions
(the Romans or the Gallic neighbours of Asciburgium) had formed the
opinion that the hero in question could be none else than the Greek
Ulysses, who, in his extensive wanderings, had drifted into the German
Ocean and thence sailed up the Rhine. In weighing this account of
Tacitus we must put aside the Roman-Gallic conjecture concerning
Ulysses' visit to the Rhine, and confine our attention to the fact on
which this conjecture is based. The fact is that around Asciburgium a
tradition was current concerning an ancient hero who was said to have
come across the northern ocean with a host of immigrants and founded the
above-named city on the Rhine, and that the songs or traditions in
regard to this ancient hero were of such a character that they who knew
the adventures of Ulysses thought they had good reason for regarding him
as identical with the latter. Now, the fact is that the Teutonic
mythology has a hero who to quote the words of an ancient Teutonic
document, "was the greatest of all travellers," and who on his journeys
met with adventures which in some respects remind us of Ulysses'. Both
descended to Hades; both travelled far and wide to find their beloved.
Of this mythic hero and his adventures see Nos. 96-107, and No. 107
about Asciburgium in particular.

It lies outside the limits of the present work to investigate whether
these traditions contain any historical facts. There is need of caution
in this respect, since facts of history are, as a rule, short-lived
among a people that do not keep written annals. The historical songs and
traditions of the past which the Scandinavians recorded in the twelfth
century do not go further back in time than to the middle of the ninth
century, and the oldest were already mixed with stories of the
imagination. The Hellenic historical records from a pre-literary time
were no older; nor were those of the Romans. The question how far
historically important emigrations from the Scandinavian peninsula and
Denmark to Germany have taken place should in my opinion be considered
entirely independent of the old migration traditions if it is to be
based on a solid foundation. If it can be answered in the affirmative,
then those immigrations must have been partial returns of an Aryan race
which, prior to all records, have spread from the South to the
Scandinavian countries. But the migration traditions themselves clearly
have their firmest root in myths, and not in historical memories; and at
all events are so closely united with the myths, and have been so
transformed by song and fancy, that they have become useless for
historical purposes. The fact that the sagas preserved to our time make
nearly all the most important and most numerous Teutonic tribes which
played a part in the destiny of Southern Europe during the Empire
emigrants from Scandinavia is calculated to awaken suspicion.

The wide diffusion this belief has had among the Teutons is sufficiently
explained by their common mythology--particularly by the myth
concerning the earliest age of man or of the Teutonic race. As this work
of mine advances, I shall find opportunity of presenting the results of
my investigations in regard to this myth. The fragments of it must, so
to speak, be exhumed from various mounds, and the proofs that these
fragments belong together, and once formed a unit, can only be presented
as the investigation progresses. In the division "The Myth concerning
the Earliest Period and the Emigrations from the North," I give the
preparatory explanation and the general resume (Nos. 20-43). For the
points which cannot there be demonstrated without too long digressions
the proofs will be presented in the division "The Myth concerning the
Race of Ivalde" (Nos. 96-123).

Next: The Creation Of Man The Primeval Country Scef The Bringer Of Culture

Previous: Jordanes On The Emigration Of The Goths Gepidae And Herulians The Migration Saga Of The Burgundians Traces Of An Alamannic Migration Saga

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