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The Troy Saga In Heimskringla And The Prose Edda


Source: Teutonic Mythology

The sources of the traditions concerning the Asiatic immigration to the
North belong to the Icelandic literature, and to it alone. Saxo's
Historia Danica, the first books of which were written toward the
close of the twelfth century, presents on this topic its own peculiar
view, which will be discussed later. The Icelandic accounts disagree
only in unimportant details; the fundamental view is the same, and they
have flown from the same fountain vein. Their contents may be summed up

Among the tribes who after the Babylonian confusion of tongues emigrated
to various countries, there was a body of people who settled and
introduced their language in Asia Minor, which in the sagas is called
Tyrkland; in Greece, which in the sagas is called Macedonia; and in
Crete. In Tyrkland they founded the great city which was called Troy.
This city was attacked by the Greeks during the reign of the Trojan king
Priam. Priam descended from Jupiter and the latter's father Saturnus,
and accordingly belonged to a race which the idolaters looked upon as
divine. Troy was a very large city; twelve languages were spoken there,
and Priam had twelve tributary kings under him. But however powerful the
Trojans were, and however bravely they defended themselves under the
leadership of the son of Priam's daughter, that valiant hero Thor, still
they were defeated. Troy was captured and burned by the Greeks, and
Priam himself was slain. Of the surviving Trojans two parties emigrated
in different directions. They seem in advance to have been well informed
in regard to the quality of foreign lands; for Thor, the son of Priam's
daughter, had made extensive expeditions in which he had fought giants
and monsters. On his journeys he had even visited the North, and there
he had met Sibil, the celebrated prophetess, and married her. One of the
parties of Trojan emigrants embarked under the leadership of AEneas for
Italy, and founded Rome. The other party, accompanied by Thor's son,
Loride, went to Asialand, which is separated from Tyrkland by a mountain
ridge, and from Europe by the river Tanais or Tanakvisl. There they
founded a new city called Asgard, and there preserved the old customs
and usages brought from Troy. Accordingly, there was organised in
Asgard, as in Troy, a council of twelve men, who were high priests and
judges. Many centuries passed without any political contact between the
new Trojan settlements in Rome and Asgard, though both well remembered
their Trojan origin, and the Romans formed many of their institutions
after the model of the old fatherland. Meanwhile, Rome had grown to be
one of the mightiest empires in the world, and began at length to send
armies into Tyrkland. At that time there ruled in Asgard an exceedingly
wise, prophetic king, Odin, who was skilled in the magic arts, and who
was descended in the twentieth generation from the above-mentioned Thor.
Odin had waged many successful wars. The severest of these wars was the
one with a neighbouring people, the Vans; but this had been ended with
compromise and peace. In Tyrkland, the old mother country, Odin had
great possessions, which fell into the hands of the Romans. This
circumstance strengthened him in his resolution to emigrate to the north
of Europe. The prophetic vision with which he was endowed had told him
that his descendants would long flourish there. So he set out with his
many sons, and was accompanied by the twelve priests and by many people,
but not by all the inhabitants of the Asia country and of Asgard. A part
of the people remained at home; and among them Odin's brothers Vile and
Ve. The expedition proceeded through Gardarike to Saxland; then across
the Danish islands to Svithiod and Norway. Everywhere this great
multitude of migrators was well received by the inhabitants. Odin's
superior wisdom and his marvellous skill in sorcery, together with the
fact that his progress was everywhere attended by abundant harvests,
caused the peoples to look upon him as a god, and to place their thrones
at his disposal. He accordingly appointed his sons as kings in Saxland,
Denmark, Svithiod, and Norway. Gylfe, the king of Svithiod, submitted to
his superiority and gave him a splendid country around Lake Maelar to
rule over. There Odin built Sigtuna, the institutions of which were an
imitation of those in Asgard and Troy. Poetry and many other arts came
with Odin to the Teutonic lands, and so, too, the Trojan tongue. Like
his ancestors, Saturnus and Jupiter, he was able to secure divine
worship, which was extended even to his twelve priests. The religious
traditions which he scattered among the people, and which were believed
until the introduction of Christianity, were misrepresentations spun
around the memories of Troy's historical fate and its destruction, and
around the events of Asgard.

Next: Saxo's Relation Of The Story Of Troy

Previous: The Saga In Heimskringla And The Prose Edda

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