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Why Odin Was Given Antenor's Place As Leader Of The Trojan Emigration


Source: Teutonic Mythology

So long as the Franks were the only ones of the Teutons who claimed
Trojan descent, it was sufficient that the Teutonic-Trojan immigration
had the father of a Frankish chief as its leader. But in the same degree
as the belief in a Trojan descent spread among the other Teutonic tribes
and assumed the character of a statement equally important to all the
Teutonic tribes, the idea would naturally present itself that the leader
of the great immigration was a person of general Teutonic importance.
There was no lack of names to choose from. Most conspicuous was the
mythical Teutonic patriarch, whom Tacitus speaks of and calls Mannus
(Germania, 2), the grandson of the goddess Jord (Earth). There can be
no doubt that he still was remembered by this (Mann) or some other name
(for nearly all Teutonic mythic persons have several names), since he
reappears in the beginning of the fourteenth century in Heinrich
Frauenlob as Mennor, the patriarch of the German people and German
tongue.[5] But Mannus had to yield to another universal Teutonic mythic
character, Odin, and for reasons which we shall now present.

As Christianity was gradually introduced among the Teutonic peoples, the
question confronted them, what manner of beings those gods had been in
whom they and their ancestors so long had believed. Their Christian
teachers had two answers, and both were easily reconcilable. The common
answer, and that usually given to the converted masses, was that the
gods of their ancestors were demons, evil spirits, who ensnared men in
superstition in order to become worshipped as divine beings. The other
answer, which was better calculated to please the noble-born Teutonic
families, who thought themselves descended from the gods, was that these
divinities were originally human persons--kings, chiefs, legislators,
who, endowed with higher wisdom and secret knowledge, made use of these
to make people believe that they were gods, and worship them as such.
Both answers could, as stated, easily be reconciled with each other, for
it was evident that when these proud and deceitful rulers died, their
unhappy spirits joined the ranks of evil demons, and as demons they
continued to deceive the people, in order to maintain through all ages a
worship hostile to the true religion. Both sides of this view we find
current among the Teutonic races through the whole middle age. The one
which particularly presents the old gods as evil demons is found in
popular traditions from this epoch. The other, which presents the old
gods as mortals, as chiefs and lawmakers with magic power, is more
commonly reflected in the Teutonic chronicles, and was regarded among
the scholars as the scientific view.

Thus it followed of necessity that Odin, the chief of the Teutonic gods,
and from whom their royal houses were fond of tracing their descent,
also must have been a wise king of antiquity and skilled in the magic
arts, and information was of course sought with the greatest interest in
regard to the place where he had reigned, and in regard to his origin.
There were two sources of investigation in reference to this matter. One
source was the treasure of mythic songs and traditions of their own
race. But what might be history in these seemed to the students so
involved in superstition and fancy, that not much information seemed
obtainable from them. But there was also another source, which in regard
to historical trustworthiness seemed incomparably better, and that was
the Latin literature to be found in the libraries of the convents.

During centuries when the Teutons had employed no other art than poetry
for preserving the memory of the life and deeds of their ancestors, the
Romans, as we know, had had parchment and papyrus to write on, and had
kept systematic annals extending centuries back. Consequently this
source must be more reliable. But what had this source--what had the
Roman annals or the Roman literature in general to tell about Odin?
Absolutely nothing, it would seem, inasmuch as the name Odin, or Wodan,
does not occur in any of the authors of the ancient literature. But this
was only an apparent obstacle. The ancient king of our race, Odin, they
said, has had many names--one name among one people, and another among
another, and there can be no doubt that he is the same person as the
Romans called Mercury and the Greeks Hermes.

The evidence of the correctness of identifying Odin with Mercury and
Hermes the scholars might have found in Tacitus' work on Germany, where
it is stated in the ninth chapter that the chief god of the Germans is
the same as Mercury among the Romans. But Tacitus was almost unknown in
the convents and schools of this period of the middle age. They could
not use this proof, but they had another and completely compensating
evidence of the assertion.

Originally the Romans did not divide time into weeks of seven days.
Instead, they had weeks of eight days, and the farmer worked the seven
days and went on the eighth to the market. But the week of seven days
had been in existence for a very long time among certain Semitic
peoples, and already in the time of the Roman republic many Jews lived
in Rome and in Italy. Through them the week of seven days became
generally known. The Jewish custom of observing the sacredness of the
Sabbath, the first day of the week, by abstaining from all labour, could
not fail to be noticed by the strangers among whom they dwelt. The Jews
had, however, no special name for each day of the week. But the
Oriental, Egyptian, and Greek astrologers and astronomers, who in large
numbers sought their fortunes in Rome, did more than the Jews to
introduce the week of seven days among all classes of the metropolis,
and the astrologers had special names for each of the seven days of the
week. Saturday was the planet's and the planet-god Saturnus' day;
Sunday, the sun's; Monday, the moon's; Tuesday, Mars'; Wednesday,
Mercury's; Thursday, Jupiter's; Friday, Venus' day. Already in the
beginning of the empire these names of the days were quite common in
Italy. The astrological almanacs, which were circulated in the name of
the Egyptian Petosiris among all families who had the means to buy them
contributed much to bring this about. From Italy both the taste for
astrology and the adoption of the week of seven days, with the
above-mentioned names, spread not only into Spain and Gaul, but also
into those parts of Germany that were incorporated with the Roman
Empire, Germania superior and inferior, where the Romanising of the
people, with Cologne (Civitas Ubiorum) as the centre, made great
progress. Teutons who had served as officers and soldiers in the Roman
armies, and were familiar with the everyday customs of the Romans, were
to be found in various parts of the independent Teutonic territory, and
it is therefore not strange if the week of seven days, with a separate
name given to each day, was known and in use more or less extensively
throughout Teutondom even before Christianity had taken root east of the
Rhine, and long before Rome itself was converted to Christianity. But
from this introduction of the seven-day week did not follow the adoption
of the Roman names of the days. The Teutons translated the names into
their own language, and in so doing chose among their own divinities
those which most nearly corresponded to the Roman. The translation of
the names is made with a discrimination which seems to show that it was
made in the Teutonic border country, governed by the Romans, by people
who were as familiar with the Roman gods as with their own. In that
border land there must have been persons of Teutonic birth who
officiated as priests before Roman altars. The days of the sun and moon
were permitted to retain their names. They were called Sunday and
Monday. The day of the war-god Mars became the day of the war-god Tyr,
Tuesday. The day of Mercury became Odin's day, Wednesday. The day of the
lightning-armed Jupiter became the day of the thundering Thor, Thursday.
The day of the goddess of love Venus became that of the goddess of love
Freyja, Friday. Saturnus, who in astrology is a watery star, and has his
house in the sign of the waterman, was among the Romans, and before them
among the Greeks and Chaldaeans, the lord of the seventh day. Among the
North Teutons, or at least, among a part of them, his day got its name
from laug,[6] which means a bath, and it is worthy of notice in this
connection that the author of the Prose Edda's Foreword identifies
Saturnus with the sea-god Njord.

Here the Latin scholars had what seemed to them a complete proof that
the Odin of which their stories of the past had so much to tell was--and
was so recognised by their heathen ancestors--the same historical person
as the Romans worshipped by the name Mercury.

At first sight it may seem strange that Mercury and Odin were regarded
as identical. We are wont to conceive Hermes (Mercury) as the Greek
sculptors represented him, the ideal of beauty and elastic youth, while
we imagine Odin as having a contemplative, mysterious look. And while
Odin in the Teutonic mythology is the father and ruler of the gods,
Mercury in the Roman has, of course, as the son of Zeus, a high rank,
but his dignity does not exempt him from being the very busy messenger
of the gods of Olympus. But neither Greeks nor Romans nor Teutons
attached much importance to such circumstances in the specimens we have
of their comparative mythology. The Romans knew that the same god among
the same people might be represented differently, and that the local
traditions also sometimes differed in regard to the kinship and rank of
a divinity. They therefore paid more attention to what Tacitus calls
vis numinis--that is, the significance of the divinity as a symbol of
nature, or its relation to the affairs of the community and to human
culture. Mercury was the symbol of wisdom and intelligence; so was
Odin. Mercury was the god of eloquence; Odin likewise. Mercury had
introduced poetry and song among men; Odin also. Mercury had taught men
the art of writing; Odin had given them the runes. Mercury did not
hesitate to apply cunning when it was needed to secure him possession of
something that he desired; nor was Odin particularly scrupulous in
regard to the means. Mercury, with wings on his hat and on his heels,
flew over the world, and often appeared as a traveller among men; Odin,
the ruler of the wind, did the same. Mercury was the god of martial
games, and still he was not really the war-god; Odin also was the chief
of martial games and combats, but the war-god's occupation he had left
to Tyr. In all important respects Mercury and Odin, therefore, resembled
each other.

To the scholars this must have been an additional proof that this, in
their eyes, historical chief, whom the Romans called Mercury and the
Teutons Odin, had been one and the same human person, who had lived in a
distant past, and had alike induced Greeks, Romans, and Goths to worship
him as a god. To get additional and more reliable information in regard
to this Odin-Mercury than what the Teutonic heathen traditions could
impart, it was only necessary to study and interpret correctly what
Roman history had to say about Mercury.

As is known, some mysterious documents called the Sibylline books were
preserved in Jupiter's temple, on the Capitoline Hill, in Rome. The
Roman State was the possessor, and kept the strictest watch over them,
so that their contents remained a secret to all excepting those whose
position entitled them to read them. A college of priests, men in high
standing, were appointed to guard them and to consult them when
circumstances demanded it. The common opinion that the Roman State
consulted them for information in regard to the future is incorrect.
They were consulted only to find out by what ceremonies of penance and
propitiation the wrath of the higher powers might be averted at times
when Rome was in trouble, or when prodigies of one kind or another had
excited the people and caused fears of impending misfortune. Then the
Sibylline books were produced by the properly-appointed persons, and in
some line or passage they found which divinity was angry and ought to be
propitiated. This done, they published their interpretation of the
passage, but did not make known the words or phrases of the passage, for
the text of the Sibylline books must not be known to the public. The
books were written in the Greek tongue.

The story telling how these books came into the possession of the Roman
State through a woman who sold them to Tarquin--according to one version
Tarquin the Elder, according to another Tarquin the Younger--is found in
Roman authors who were well known and read throughout the whole middle
age. The woman was a Sibylla, according to Varro the Erythreian, so
called from a Greek city in Asia Minor; according to Virgil the Cumaean,
a prophetess from Cumae in southern Italy. Both versions could easily be
harmonised, for Cumae was a Greek colony from Asia Minor; and we read in
Servius' commentaries on Virgil's poems that the Erythreian Sibylla was
by many regarded as identical with the Cumaean. From Asia Minor she was
supposed to have come to Cumae.

In western Europe the people of the middle age claimed that there were
twelve Sibyllas: the Persian, the Libyan, the Delphian, the Cimmerinean,
the Erythreian, the Samian, the Cumaean, the Hellespontian or Trojan, the
Phrygian and Tiburtinian, and also the Sibylla Europa and the Sibylla
Agrippa. Authorities for the first ten of these were the Church father
Lactantius and the West Gothic historian Isodorus of Sevilla. The last
two, Europa and Agrippa, were simply added in order to make the number
of Sibyllas equal to that of the prophets and the apostles.

But the scholars of the middle ages also knew from Servius that the
Cumaean Sibylla was, in fact, the same as the Erythreian; and from the
Church father Lactantius, who was extensively read in the middle ages,
they also learned that the Erythreian was identical with the Trojan.
Thanks to Lactantius, they also thought they could determine precisely
where the Trojan Sibylla was born. Her birthplace was the town
Marpessus, near the Trojan Mount Ida. From the same Church father they
learned that the real contents of the Sibylline books had consisted of
narrations concerning Trojan events, of lives of the Trojan kings, &c.,
and also of prophecies concerning the fall of Troy and other coming
events, and that the poet Homer in his works was a mere plagiator, who
had found a copy of the books of the Sibylla, had recast and falsified
it, and published it in his own name in the form of heroic poems
concerning Troy.

This seemed to establish the fact that those books, which the woman from
Cumae had sold to the Roman king Tarquin, were written by a Sibylla who
was born in the Trojan country, and that the books which Trojan bought
off her contained accounts and prophecies--accounts especially in regard
to the Trojan chiefs and heroes afterwards glorified in Homer's poems.
As the Romans came from Troy, these chiefs and heroes were their
ancestors, and in this capacity they were entitled to the worship which
the Romans considered due to the souls of their forefathers. From a
Christian standpoint this was of course idolatry; and as the Sibyllas
were believed to have made predictions even in regard to Christ, it
might seem improper for them to promote in this manner the cause of
idolatry. But Lactantius gave a satisfactory explanation of this matter.
The Sibylla, he said, had certainly prophesied truthfully in regard to
Christ; but this she did by divine compulsion and in moments of divine
inspiration. By birth and in her sympathies she was a heathen, and when
under the spell of her genuine inspirations, she proclaimed heathen and
idolatrous doctrines.

In our critical century all this may seem like mere fancies. But careful
examinations have shown that an historical kernel is not wanting in
these representations. And the historical fact which lies back of all
this is that the Sibylline books which were preserved in Rome actually
were written in Asia Minor in the ancient Trojan territory; or, in
other words, that the oldest known collection of so-called Sibylline
oracles was made in Marpessus, near the Trojan mountain Ida, in the time
of Solon. From Marpessus the collection came to the neighbouring city
Gergis, and was preserved in the Apollo temple there; from Gergis it
came to Cumae, and from Cumae to Rome in the time of the kings. How it
came there is not known. The story about the Cumaean woman and Tarquin is
an invention, and occurs in various forms. It is also demonstrably an
invention that the Sibylline books in Rome contained accounts of the
heroes in the Trojan war. On the other hand, it is absolutely certain
that they referred to gods and to a worship which in the main were
unknown to the Romans before the Sibylline books were introduced there,
and that to these books must chiefly be attributed the remarkable change
which took place in Roman mythology during the republican centuries. The
Roman mythology, which from the beginning had but few gods of clear
identity with the Greek, was especially during this epoch enlarged, and
received gods and goddesses who were worshipped in Greece and in the
Greek and Hellenised part of Asia Minor where the Sibylline books
originated. The way this happened was that whenever the Romans in
trouble or distress consulted the Sibylline books they received the
answer that this or that Greek-Asiatic god or goddess was angry and must
be propitiated. In connection with the propitiation ceremonies the god
or goddess was received in the Roman pantheon, and sooner or later a
temple was built to him; and thus it did not take long before the
Romans appropriated the myths that were current in Greece concerning
these borrowed divinities. This explains why the Roman mythology, which
in its oldest sources is so original and so unlike the Greek, in the
golden period of Roman literature comes to us in an almost wholly Greek
attire; this explains why Roman and Greek mythology at that time might
be regarded as almost identical. Nevertheless the Romans were able even
in the later period of antiquity to discriminate between their native
gods and those introduced by the Sibylline books. The former were
worshipped according to a Roman ritual, the latter according to a Greek.
To the latter belonged Apollo, Artemis, Latona, Ceres, Hermes, Mercury,
Proserpina, Cybile, Venus, and Esculapius; and that the Sibylline books
were a Greek-Trojan work, whose original home was Asia Minor and the
Trojan territory, was well known to the Romans. When the temple of the
Capitoline Jupiter was burned down eighty-four years before Christ, the
Sibylline books were lost. But the State could not spare them. A new
collection had to be made, and this was mainly done by gathering the
oracles which could be found one by one in those places which the Trojan
or Erythreian Sibylla had visited, that is to say, in Asia Minor,
especially in Erythrae, and in Ilium, the ancient Troy.

So far as Hermes-Mercury is concerned, the Roman annals inform us that
he got his first lectisternium in the year 399 before Christ by order
from the Sibylline books. Lectisternium was a sacrifice: the image of
the god was laid on a bed with a pillow under the left arm, and beside
the image was placed a table and a meal, which as a sacrifice was
offered to the god. About one hundreds years before that time,
Hermes-Mercury had received his first temple in Rome.

Hermes-Mercury seemed, therefore, like Apollo, Venus, Esculapius, and
others, to have been a god originally unknown to the Romans, the worship
of whom the Trojan Sibylla had recommended to the Romans.

This was known to the scholars of the middle age. Now, we must bear in
mind that it was as certain to them as an undoubted scientific fact that
the gods were originally men, chiefs, and heroes, and that the deified
chief whom the Romans worshipped as Mercury, and the Greeks as Hermes,
was the same as the Teutons called Odin, and from whom distinguished
Teutonic families traced their descent. We must also remember that the
Sibylla who was supposed to have recommended the Romans to worship the
old king Odin-Mercurius was believed to have been a Trojan woman, and
that her books were thought to have contained stories about Troy's
heroes, in addition to various prophecies, and so this manner of
reasoning led to the conclusion that the gods who were introduced in
Rome through the Sibylline books were celebrated Trojans who had lived
and fought at a time preceding the fall of Troy. Another inevitable and
logical conclusion was that Odin had been a Trojan chief, and when he
appears in Teutonic mythology as the chief of gods, it seemed most
probable that he was identical with the Trojan king Priam, and that
Priam was identical with Hermes-Mercury.

Now, as the ancestors of the Romans were supposed to have emigrated from
Troy to Italy under the leadership of AEneas, it was necessary to assume
that the Romans were not the only Trojan emigrants, for, since the
Teutons worshipped Odin-Priamus-Hermes as their chief god, and since a
number of Teutonic families traced their descent from this Odin, the
Teutons, too, must have emigrated from Troy. But, inasmuch as the
Teutonic dialects differed greatly from the Roman language, the Trojan
Romans and the Trojan Teutons must have been separated a very long time.

They must have parted company immediately after the fall of Troy and
gone in different directions, and as the Romans had taken a southern
course on their way to Europe, the Teutons must have taken a northern.
It was also apparent to the scholars that the Romans had landed in
Europe many centuries earlier than the Teutons, for Rome had been
founded already in 754 or 753 before Christ, but of the Teutons not a
word is to be found in the annals before the period immediately
preceding the birth of Christ. Consequently, the Teutons must have made
a halt somewhere on their journey to the North. This halt must have been
of several centuries' duration, and, of course, like the Romans, they
must have founded a city, and from it ruled a territory in commemoration
of their fallen city Troy. In that age very little was known of Asia,
where this Teutonic-Trojan colony was supposed to have been situated,
but, both from Orosius and, later, from Gregorius of Tours, it was known
that our world is divided into three large divisions--Asia, Europe, and
Africa--and that Asia and Europe are divided by a river called Tanais.
And having learned from Gregorius of Tours that the Teutonic Franks were
said to have lived in Pannonia in ancient times, and having likewise
learned that the Moeotian marshes lie east of Pannonia, and that the
Tanais empties into these marshes, they had the course marked out by
which the Teutons had come to Europe--that is, by way of Tanais and the
Moeotian marshes. Not knowing anything at all of importance in regard to
Asia beyond Tanais, it was natural that they should locate the colony of
the Teutonic Trojans on the banks of this river.

I think I have now pointed out the chief threads of the web of that
scholastic romance woven out of Latin convent learning concerning a
Teutonic emigration from Troy and Asia, a web which extends from
Fredegar's Frankish chronicle, through the following chronicles of the
middle age, down into Heimskringla and the Foreword of the Younger Edda.
According to the Frankish chronicle, Gesta regum Francorum, the
emigration of the Franks from the Trojan colony near the Tanais was
thought to have occurred very late; that is, in the time of
Valentinianus I., or in other words, between 364 and 375 after Christ.
The Icelandic authors very well knew that Teutonic tribes had been far
into Europe long before that time, and the reigns they had constructed
in regard to the North indicated that they must have emigrated from the
Tanais colony long before the Franks. As the Roman attack was the cause
of the Frankish emigration, it seemed probable that these
world-conquerors had also caused the earlier emigration from Tanais;
and as Pompey's expedition to Asia was the most celebrated of all the
expeditions made by the Romans in the East--Pompey even entered
Jerusalem and visited its Temple--it was found most convenient to let
the Asas emigrate in the time of Pompey, but they left a remnant of
Teutons near the Tanais, under the rule of Odin's younger brothers Vile
and Ve, in order that this colony might continue to exist until the
emigration of the Franks took place.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the Trojan migration saga, as born
and developed in antiquity, does not indicate by a single word that
Europe was peopled later than Asia, or that it received its population
from Asia. The immigration of the Trojans to Europe was looked upon as a
return to their original homes. Dardanus, the founder of Troy, was
regarded as the leader of an emigration from Etruria to Asia (AEneid,
iii. 165 ff., Serv. Comm.). As a rule the European peoples regarded
themselves in antiquity as autochthones if they did not look upon
themselves as immigrants from regions within Europe to the territories
they inhabited in historic times.

[Footnote 5:

"Mennor der erste was genant,
Dem diutische rede got tet bekant."

Later on in this work we shall discuss the traditions of the Mannussaga
found in Scandinavia and Germany.]

[Footnote 6: Saturday is in the North called Loeverdag, Loerdag--that is,

Next: The Materials Of The Icelandic Troy Saga

Previous: The Origin Of The Story In Regard To The Trojan Descent Of The Franks

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