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Viktor Rydberg, Ph.D.

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Title: Teutonic Mythology,  Vol. 1 of 3
       Gods and Goddesses of the Northland

Author: Viktor Rydberg, Ph.D.

Translator: Rasmus B. Anderson, LL.D.

Release Date: October 29, 2011 [EBook #37876]

Language: English

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Teutonic Mythology

Gods and Goddesses of the Northland











OF THE Viking Edition

There are but six hundred and fifty sets made for the world, of which this is

No. 99




(From an etching by Lorenz Frölich.)
Idun was the beautiful goddess who in Asgard was keeper
of the apples which the gods ate to preserve eternal youth.
She is most generally regarded as the wife of Brage.

Heimdal, the son of nine mothers, was guardian against the
giants of the bridge of the gods, Bifröst. With a trumpet he
summoned all the gods together at Ragnarok when he and Loke
slew each other. He was the god of light.

Loke though beautiful in form was like Lucifer in character
and was hence called the god of destruction. By the giantess
Angerboda he had three offspring, viz: the Midgard serpent,
the Fenris-wolf, and Hela, the latter becoming goddess of Hel.

Brage was the son of Odin and being represented as the chief skald in Valhalla he is called the god of poetry.




 Introduction—The Ancient Aryans1
(a)The Aryan Family of Languages3
 Hypothesis of Asiatic Origin of the Aryans5
 Hypothesis of European Origin of the Aryans15
 The Aryan Land of Europe20
(b)Ancient Teutondom26
(a)Medićval Migration Sagas32
 The Troy Saga and Prose Edda44
 Saxo's Relation to the Story of Troy47
 Older Periods of the Troy Saga50
 Story of the Origin of Trojan Descent of the Franks60
 Odin as Leader of the Trojan Emigration67
 Materials of the Icelandic Troy Saga83
 Result of Foregoing Investigations96
(b)Popular Traditions of the Middle Ages99
 Saxon and Swabian Migration Saga107
 The Frankish Migration Saga111
 Migration Saga of the Burgundians113
 Teutonic Emigration Saga119
 Myths Concerning the Creation of Man126
 Scef, the Original Patriarch135
 Borgar-Skjold, the Second Patriarch143
 Halfdan, the Third Patriarch147
 Halfdan's Enmity with Orvandel and Svipdag151
 Halfdan's Identity with Mannus153
 Sacred Runes Learned from Heimdal159
 Sorcery, the Reverse of Sacred Runes165
 Heimdal and the Sun Goddess167
 Loke Causes Enmity Between Gods and Creators171
 Halfdan Identical with Helge180
 The End of the Age of Peace185
 War with the Heroes from Svarin's Mound194
 Review of the Svipdag Myth200
 The World-War and its Causes204
 Myth Concerning the Sword Guardian213
 Breach Between Asas Vans. Siege of Asgard235
 Significance of the World-War252
 The War in Midgard. Hadding's Adventures255
 Position of the Divine Clans to the Warriors262
 Hadding's Defeat268
 Loke's Punishment273
 Original Model of the Bravalla Battle281
 The Dieterich Saga285
 Myth in Regard to the Lower World306
 Gudmund, King of the Glittering Plains309
 Ruler of the Lower World312
 Fjallerus and Hadingus in the Low World317
 A Frisian Saga, Adam of Bremen319
 Odainsaker and the Glittering Plains321
 Identification of Odainsaker336
 Gudmund's Identity with Mimer339
 Mimer's Grove341


Idun, Heimdal, Loke, and Brage.Frontispiece
Thor the Thunder God122
Giant Thjasse in the Guise of an Eagle Carries off Loke174
Odin Punishes the Monstrous Progeny of Loke301

Stockholm, November 20, 1887.

Hon. Rasmus B. Anderson,
United States Minister,
Copenhagen, Denmark.

Dear Sir,

It gives me pleasure to authorise you to translate into English my work entitled "Researches in Teutonic Mythology," being convinced that no one could be found better qualified for this task than yourself. Certainly no one has taken a deeper interest than you in spreading among our Anglo-Saxon kinsmen, not only a knowledge of our common antiquity, but also of what modern Scandinavia is contributing to the advancement of culture—a work in which England and the United States of America are taking so large a share.

Yours faithfully,


[Pg 1]






Already at the beginning of the Christian era the name Germans was applied by the Romans and Gauls to the many clans of people whose main habitation was the extensive territory east of the Rhine, and north of the forest-clad Hercynian Mountains. That these clans constituted one race was evident to the Romans, for they all had a striking similarity in type of body; moreover, a closer acquaintance revealed that their numerous dialects were all variations of the same parent language, and finally, they resembled each other in customs, traditions, and religion. The characteristic features of the physical type of the Germans were light hair, blue eyes, light complexion, and tallness of stature as compared with the Romans.

Even the saga-men, from whom the Roman historian Tacitus gathered the facts for his Germania—an invaluable work for the history of civilisation—knew that in[Pg 2] the so-called Svevian Sea, north of the German continent, lay another important part of Germany, inhabited by Sviones, a people divided into several clans. Their kinsmen on the continent described them as rich in weapons and fleets, and in warriors on land and sea (Tac., Germ., 44). This northern sea-girt portion of Germany is called Scandinavia—Scandeia by other writers of the Roman Empire; and there can be no doubt that this name referred to the peninsula which, as far back as historical monuments can be found, has been inhabited by the ancestors of the Swedes and the Norwegians. I therefore include in the term Germans the ancestors of both the Scandinavian and Gothic and German (tyske) peoples. Science needs a sharply-defined collective noun for all these kindred branches sprung from one and the same root, and the name by which they make their first appearance in history would doubtless long since have been selected for this purpose had not some of the German writers applied the terms German and Deutsch as synonymous. This is doubtless the reason why Danish authors have adopted the word "Goths" to describe the Germanic nation. But there is an important objection to this in the fact that the name Goths historically is claimed by a particular branch of the family—that branch, namely, to which the East and West Goths belonged, and in order to avoid ambiguity, the term should be applied solely to them. It is therefore necessary to re-adopt the old collective name, even though it is not of Germanic origin, the more so as there is a prospect that a more correct use of the words German and Germanic is about to prevail in Germany[Pg 3] itself, for the German scholars also feel the weight of the demand which science makes on a precise and rational terminology.[1]



It is universally known that the Teutonic dialects are related to the Latin, the Greek, the Slavic, and Celtic languages, and that the kinship extends even beyond Europe to the tongues of Armenia, Irania, and India. The holy books ascribed to Zoroaster, which to the priests of Cyrus and Darius were what the Bible is to us; Rigveda's hymns, which to the people dwelling on the banks of the Ganges are God's revealed word, are written in a language which points to a common origin with our own. However unlike all these kindred tongues may have grown with the lapse of thousands of years, still they remain as a sharply-defined group of older and younger sisters as compared with all other language groups of the world. Even the

[Pg 4]

Semitic languages are separated therefrom by a chasm so broad and deep that it is hardly possible to bridge it.

This language-group of ours has been named in various ways. It has been called the Indo-Germanic, the Indo-European, and the Aryan family of tongues. I have adopted the last designation. The Armenians, Iranians, and Hindoos I call the Asiatic Aryans; all the rest I call the European Aryans.

Certain it is that these sister-languages have had a common mother, the ancient Aryan speech, and that this has had a geographical centre from which it has radiated. (By such an ancient Aryan language cannot, of course, be meant a tongue stereotyped in all its inflections, like the literary languages of later times, but simply the unity of those dialects which were spoken by the clans dwelling around this centre of radiation.) By comparing the grammatical structure of all the daughters of this ancient mother, and by the aid of the laws hitherto discovered in regard to the transition of sounds from one language to another, attempts have been made to restore this original tongue which many thousand years ago ceased to vibrate. These attempts cannot, of course, in any sense claim to reproduce an image corresponding to the lost original as regards syntax and inflections. Such a task would be as impossible as to reconstruct, on the basis of all the now spoken languages derived from the Latin, the dialect used in Latium. The purpose is simply to present as faithful an idea of the ancient tongue as the existing means permit.

In the most ancient historical times Aryan-speaking people were found only in Asia and Europe. In seeking[Pg 5] for the centre and the earliest conquests of the ancient Aryan language, the scholar may therefore keep within the limits of these two continents, and in Asia he may leave all the eastern and the most of the southern portion out of consideration, since these extensive regions have from prehistoric times been inhabited by Mongolian and allied tribes, and may for the present be regarded as the cradle of these races. It may not be necessary to remind the reader that the question of the original home of the ancient Aryan tongue is not the same as the question in regard to the cradle of the Caucasian race. The white race may have existed, and may have been spread over a considerable portion of the old world, before a language possessing the peculiarities belonging to the Aryan had appeared; and it is a known fact that southern portions of Europe, such as the Greek and Italian peninsulas, were inhabited by white people before they were conquered by Aryans.



When the question of the original home of the Aryan language and race was first presented, there were no conflicting opinions on the main subject.[2] All who took any interest in the problem referred to Asia as the cradle of the Aryans. Asia had always been regarded as the cradle of the human race. In primeval time, the yellow Mongo[Pg 6]lian, the black African, the American redskin, and the fair European had there tented side by side. From some common centre in Asia they had spread over the whole surface of the inhabited earth. Traditions found in the literatures of various European peoples in regard to an immigration from the East supported this view. The progenitors of the Romans were said to have come from Troy. The fathers of the Teutons were reported to have immigrated from Asia, led by Odin. There was also the original home of the domestic animals and of the cultivated plants. And when the startling discovery was made that the sacred books of the Iranians and Hindoos were written in languages related to the culture languages of Europe, when these linguistic monuments betrayed a wealth of inflections in comparison with which those of the classical languages turned pale, and when they seemed to have the stamp of an antiquity by the side of which the European dialects seemed like children, then what could be more natural than the following conclusion: The original form has been preserved in the original home; the farther the streams of emigration got away from this home, the more they lost on the way of their language and of their inherited view of the world; that is, of their mythology, which among the Hindoos seemed so original and simple as if it had been watered by the dews of life's dawn.

To begin with, there was no doubt that the original tongue itself, the mother of all the other Aryan languages, had already been found when Zend or Sanscrit was discovered. Fr. v. Schlegel, in his work published in 1808,[Pg 7] on the Language and Wisdom of the Hindoos, regarded Sanscrit as the mother of the Aryan family of languages, and India as the original home of the Aryan family of peoples. Thence, it was claimed, colonies were sent out in prehistoric ages to other parts of Asia and to Europe; nay, even missionaries went forth to spread the language and religion of the mother-country among other peoples. Schlegel's compatriot Link looked upon Zend as the oldest language and mother of Sanscrit, and the latter he regarded as the mother of the rest; and as the Zend, in his opinion, was spoken in Media and surrounding countries, it followed that the highlands of Media, Armenia, and Georgia were the original home of the Aryans, a view which prevailed among the leading scholars of the age, such as Anquetil-Duperron, Herder, and Heeren, and found a place in the historical text-books used in the schools from 1820 to 1840.

Since Bopp published his epoch-making Comparative Grammar the illusion that the Aryan mother-tongue had been discovered had, of course, gradually to give place to the conviction that all the Aryan languages, Zend and Sanscrit included, were relations of equal birth. This also affected the theory that the Persians or Hindoos were the original people, and that the cradle of our race was to be sought in their homes.

On the other hand, the Hindooic writings were found to contain evidence that, during the centuries in which the most of the Rigveda songs were produced, the Hindooic Aryans were possessors only of Kabulistan and Pendschab, whence, either expelling or subjugating an[Pg 8] older black population, they had advanced toward the Ganges. Their social condition was still semi-nomadic, at least in the sense that their chief property consisted in herds, and the feuds between the clans had for their object the plundering of such possessions from each other. Both these facts indicated that these Aryans were immigrants to the Indian peninsula, but not the aborigines, wherefore their original home must be sought elsewhere. The strong resemblance found between Zend and Sanscrit, and which makes these dialects a separate subdivision in the Aryan family of languages, must now, since we have learned to regard them as sister-tongues, be interpreted as a proof that the Zend people or Iranians and the Sanscrit people or Hindoos were in ancient times one people with a common country, and that this union must have continued to exist long after the European Aryans were parted from them and had migrated westwards. When, then, the question was asked where this Indo-Iranian cradle was situated, the answer was thought to be found in a chapter of Avesta, to which the German scholar Rhode had called attention already in 1820. To him it seemed to refer to a migration from a more northerly and colder country. The passage speaks of sixteen countries created by the fountain of light and goodness, Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda), and of sixteen plagues produced by the fountain of evil, Ahriman (Angra Mainyu), to destroy the work of Ormuzd. The first country was a paradise, but Ahriman ruined it with cold and frost, so that it had ten months of winter and only two of summer. The second country, in the name of which Sughda Sogdiana[Pg 9] was recognised, was rendered uninhabitable by Ahriman by a pest which destroyed the domestic animals. Ahriman made the third (which by the way, was recognised as Merv) impossible as a dwelling on account of never-ceasing wars and plunderings. In this manner thirteen other countries with partly recognisable names are enumerated as created by Ormuzd, and thirteen other plagues produced by Ahriman. Rhode's view, that these sixteen regions were stations in the migration of the Indo-Iranian people from their original country became universally adopted, and it was thought that the track of the migration could now be followed back through Persia, Baktria and Sogdiana, up to the first region created by Ormuzd, which, accordingly, must have been situated in the interior highlands of Asia, around the sources of the Jaxartes and Oxus. The reason for the emigration hence was found in the statement that, although Ormuzd had made this country an agreeable abode, Ahriman had destroyed it with frost and snow. In other words, this part of Asia was supposed to have had originally a warmer temperature, which suddenly or gradually became lower, wherefore the inhabitants found it necessary to seek new homes in the West and South.

The view that the sources of Oxus and Jaxartes are the original home of the Aryans is even now the prevailing one, or at least the one most widely accepted, and since the day of Rhode it has been supported and developed by several distinguished scholars. Then Julius v. Klaproth pointed out, already in 1830, that, among the many names of various kinds of trees found in India, there is a single[Pg 10] one which they have in common with other Aryan peoples, and this is the name of the birch. India has many kinds of trees that do not grow in Central Asia, but the birch is found both at the sources of the Oxus and Jaxartes, and on the southern spurs of the Himalaya mountains. If the Aryan Hindoos immigrated from the highlands of Central Asia to the regions through which the Indus and Ganges seek their way to the sea, then it is natural, that when they found on their way new unknown kinds of trees, then they gave to these new names, but when they discovered a tree with which they had long been acquainted, then they would apply the old familiar name to it. Mr. Lassen, the great scholar of Hindooic antiquities, gave new reasons for the theory that the Aryan Hindoos were immigrants, who through the western pass of Hindukush and through Kabulistan came to Pendschab, and thence slowly occupied the Indian peninsula. That their original home, as well as that of their Iranian kinsmen, was that part of the highlands of Central Asia pointed out by Rhode, he found corroborated by the circumstance, that there are to be found there, even at the present time, remnants of a people, the so-called Tadchiks, who speak Iranian dialects. According to Lassen, these were to be regarded as direct descendants of the original Aryan people, who remained in the original home, while other parts of the same people migrated to Baktria or Persia and became Iranians, or migrated down to Pendschab and became Hindoos, or migrated to Europe and became Celts, Greco-Italians, Teutons, and Slavs. Jacob Grimm, whose name will always be men[Pg 11]tioned with honour as the great pathfinder in the field of Teutonic antiquities, was of the same opinion; and that whole school of scientists who were influenced by romanticism and by the philosophy of Schelling made haste to add to the real support sought for the theory in ethnological and philological facts, a support from the laws of natural analogy and from poetry. A mountain range, so it was said, is the natural divider of waters. From its fountains the streams flow in different directions and irrigate the plains. In the same manner the highlands of Central Asia were the divider of Aryan folk-streams, which through Baktria sought their way to the plains of Persia, through the mountain passes of Hindukush to India, through the lands north of the Caspian Sea to the extensive plains of modern Russia, and so on to the more inviting regions of Western Europe. The sun rises in the east, ex oriente lux; the highly-gifted race, which was to found the European nations, has, under the guidance of Providence, like the sun, wended its way from east to west. In taking a grand view of the subject, a mystic harmony was found to exist between the apparent course of the sun and the real migrations of people. The minds of the people dwelling in Central and Eastern Asia seemed to be imbued with a strange instinctive yearning. The Aryan folk-streams, which in prehistoric times deluged Europe, were in this respect the forerunners of the hordes of Huns which poured in from Asia, and which in the fourth century gave the impetus to the Teutonic migrations, and of the Mongolian hordes which in the thirteenth century invaded our continent. The[Pg 12] Europeans themselves are led by this same instinct to follow the course of the sun: they flow in great numbers to America, and these folk-billows break against each other on the coasts of the Pacific Ocean. "At the breast of our Asiatic mother," thus exclaimed, in harmony with the romantic school, a scholar with no mean linguistic attainments—"at the breast of our Asiatic mother, the Aryan people of Europe have rested; around her as their mother they have played as children. There or nowhere is the playground; there or nowhere is the gymnasium of the first physical and intellectual efforts on the part of the Aryan race."

The theory that the cradle of the Aryan race stood in Central Asia near the sources of the Indus and Jaxartes had hardly been contradicted in 1850, and seemed to be secured for the future by the great number of distinguished and brilliant names which had given their adhesion to it. The need was now felt of clearing up the order and details of these emigrations. All the light to be thrown on this subject had to come from philology and from the geography of plants and animals. The first author who, in this manner and with the means indicated, attempted to furnish proofs in detail that the ancient Aryan land was situated around the Oxus river was Adolphe Pictet. There, he claimed, the Aryan language had been formed out of older non-Aryan dialects. There the Aryan race, on account of its spreading over Baktria and neighbouring regions, had divided itself into branches of various dialects, which there, in a limited territory, held the same geographical relations to each other as[Pg 13] they hold to each other at the present time in another and immensely larger territory. In the East lived the nomadic branch which later settled in India; in the East, too, but farther north, that branch herded their flocks, which afterwards became the Iranian and took possession of Persia. West of the ancestors of the Aryan Hindoos dwelt the branch which later appears as the Greco-Italians and north of the latter the common progenitors of Teutons and Slavs had their home. In the extreme West dwelt the Celts, and they were also the earliest emigrants to the West. Behind them marched the ancestors of the Teutons and Slavs by a more northern route to Europe. The last in this procession to Europe were the ancestors of the Greco-Italians, and for this reason their languages have preserved more resemblance to those of the Indo-Iranians who migrated into Southern Asia than those of the other European Aryans. For this view Pictet gives a number of reasons. According to him, the vocabulary common to more or less of the Aryan branches preserves names of minerals, plants, and animals which are found in those latitudes, and in those parts of Asia which he calls the original Aryan country.

The German linguist Schleicher has to some extent discussed the same problem as Pictet in a series of works published in the fifties and sixties. The same has been done by the famous German-English scientist Max Müller. Schleicher's theory, briefly stated, is the following: The Aryan race originated in Central Asia. There, in the most ancient Aryan country, the original Aryan tongue was spoken for many generations. The people[Pg 14] multiplied and enlarged their territory, and in various parts of the country they occupied, the language assumed various forms, so that there were developed at least two different languages before the great migrations began. As the chief cause of the emigrations, Schleicher regards the fact that the primitive agriculture practised by the Aryans, including the burning of the forests, impoverished the soil and had a bad effect on the climate. The principles he laid down and tried to vindicate were: (1) The farther East an Aryan people dwells, the more it has preserved of the peculiarities of the original Aryan tongue. (2) The farther West an Aryan-derived tongue and daughter people are found, the earlier this language was separated from the mother-tongue, and the earlier this people became separated from the original stock. Max Müller holds the common view in regard to the Asiatic origin of the Aryans. The main difference between him and Schleicher is that Müller assumes that the Aryan tongue originally divided itself into an Asiatic and an European branch. He accordingly believes that all the Aryan-European tongues and all the Aryan-European peoples have developed from the same European branch, while Schleicher assumes that in the beginning the division produced a Teutonic and Letto-Slavic branch on the one hand, and an Indo-Iranian, Greco-Italic, and Celtic on the other.

This view of the origin of the Aryans had scarcely met with any opposition when we entered the second half of our century. We might add that it had almost ceased to be questioned. The theory that the Aryans were[Pg 15] cradled in Asia seemed to be established as an historical fact, supported by a mass of ethnographical, linguistic, and historical arguments, and vindicated by a host of brilliant scientific names.



In the year 1854 was heard for the first time a voice of doubt. The sceptic was an English ethnologist, by name Latham, who had spent many years in Russia studying the natives of that country. Latham was unwilling to admit that a single one of the many reasons given for the Asiatic origin of our family of languages was conclusive, or that the accumulative weight of all the reasons given amounted to real evidence. He urged that they who at the outset had treated this question had lost sight of the rules of logic, and that in explaining a fact it is a mistake to assume too many premises. The great fact which presents itself and which is to be explained is this: There are Aryans in Europe and there are Aryans in Asia. The major part of Aryans are in Europe, and here the original language has split itself into the greatest number of idioms. From the main Aryan trunk in Europe only two branches extend into Asia. The northern branch is a new creation, consisting of Russian colonisation from Europe; the southern branch, that is, the Iranian-Hindooic, is, on the other hand, prehistoric, but was still growing in the dawn of history, and the branch was then[Pg 16] growing from West to East, from Indus toward Ganges. When historical facts to the contrary are wanting, then the root of a great family of languages should naturally be looked for in the ground which supports the trunk and is shaded by the crown, and not underneath the ends of the farthest-reaching branches. The mass of Mongolians dwell in Eastern Asia, and for this very reason Asia is accepted as the original home of the Mongolian race. The great mass of Aryans live in Europe, and have lived there as far back as history sheds a ray of light. Why, then, not apply to the Aryans and to Europe the same conclusions as hold good in the case of the Mongolians and Asia? And why not apply to ethnology the same principles as are admitted unchallenged in regard to the geography of plants and animals? Do we not in botany and zoology seek the original home and centre of a species where it shows the greatest vitality, the greatest power of multiplying and producing varieties? These questions, asked by Latham, remained for some time unanswered, but finally they led to a more careful examination of the soundness of the reasons given for the Asiatic hypothesis.

The gist of Latham's protest is, that the question was decided in favour of Asia without an examination of the other possibility, and that in such an examination, if it were undertaken, it would appear at the very outset that the other possibility, that is, the European origin of the Aryans—is more plausible, at least from the standpoint of methodology.

This objection on the part of an English scholar did not even produce an echo for many years, and it seemed to[Pg 17] be looked upon simply as a manifestation of that fondness for eccentricity which we are wont to ascribe to his nationality. He repeated his protest in 1862, but it still took five years before it appeared to have made any impression. In 1867, the celebrated linguist Whitney came out, not to defend Latham's theory that Europe is the cradle of the Aryan race, but simply to clear away the widely spread error that the science of languages had demonstrated the Asiatic origin of the Aryans. As already indicated, it was especially Adolphe Pictet who had given the first impetus to this illusion in his great work Origines indo-européennes. Already, before Whitney, the Germans Weber and Kuhn had, without attacking the Asiatic hypothesis, shown that the most of Pictet's arguments failed to prove that for which they were intended. Whitney now came and refuted them all without exception, and at the same time he attacked the assumption made by Rhode, and until that time universally accepted, that a record of an Aryan emigration from the highlands of Central Asia was to be found in that chapter of Avesta which speaks of the sixteen lands created by Ormuzd for the good of man, but which Ahriman destroyed by sixteen different plagues. Avesta does not with a single word indicate that the first of these lands which Ahriman destroyed with snow and frost is to be regarded as the original home of the Iranians, or that they ever in the past emigrated from any of them. The assumption that a migration record of historical value conceals itself within this geographical mythological sketch is a mere conjecture, and yet it was made[Pg 18] the very basis of the hypothesis so confidently built upon for years about Central Asia as the starting-point of the Aryans.

The following year, 1868, a prominent German linguist—Mr. Benfey—came forward and definitely took Latham's side. He remarked at the outset that hitherto geological investigations had found the oldest traces of human existence in the soil of Europe, and that, so long as this is the case, there is no scientific fact which can admit the assumption that the present European stock has immigrated from Asia after the quaternary period. The mother-tongues of many of the dialects which from time immemorial have been spoken in Europe may just as well have originated on this continent as the mother-tongues of the Mongolian dialects now spoken in Eastern Asia have originated where the descendants now dwell. That the Aryan mother-tongue originated in Europe, not in Asia, Benfey found probably on the following grounds: In Asia, lions are found even at the present time as far to the north as ancient Assyria, and the tigers make depredations over the highlands of Western Iran, even to the coasts of the Caspian Sea. These great beasts of prey are known and named even among Asiatic people who dwell north of their habitats. If, therefore, the ancient Aryans had lived in a country visited by these animals, or if they had been their neighbours, they certainly would have had names for them; but we find that the Aryan Hindoos call the lion by a word not formed from an Aryan root, and that the Aryan Greeks borrowed the word lion (lis, leon) from a Semitic language.[Pg 19] (There is, however, division of opinion on this point.) Moreover, the Aryan languages have borrowed the word camel, by which the chief beast of burden in Asia is called. The home of this animal is Baktria, or precisely that part of Central Asia in the vicinity of which an effort has been made to locate the cradle of the Aryan tongue. Benfey thinks the ancient Aryan country has been situated in Europe, north of the Black Sea, between the mouth of the Danube and the Caspian Sea.

Since the presentation of this argument, several defenders of the European hypothesis have come forward, among them Geiger, Cuno, Friedr. Müller, Spiegel, Pösche, and more recently Schrader and Penka. Schrader's work, Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte, contains an excellent general review of the history of the question, original contributions to its solution, and a critical but cautious opinion in regard to its present position. In France, too, the European hypothesis has found many adherents. Geiger found, indeed, that the cradle of the Aryan race was to be looked for much farther to the west than Benfey and others had supposed. His hypothesis, based on the evidence furnished by the geography of plants, places the ancient Aryan land in Germany. The cautious Schrader, who dislikes to deal with conjectures, regards the question as undecided, but he weighs the arguments presented by the various sides, and reaches the conclusion that those in favour of the European origin of the Aryans are the stronger, but that they are not conclusive. Schrader himself, through his linguistic and historical investigations, has been led to believe that the Aryans, while they[Pg 20] still were one people, belonged to the stone age, and had not yet become acquainted with the use of metals.



On one point—and that is for our purpose the most important one—the advocates of both hypotheses have approached each other. The leaders of the defenders of the Asiatic hypothesis have ceased to regard Asia as the cradle of all the dialects into which the ancient Aryan tongue has been divided. While they cling to the theory that the Aryan inhabitants of Europe have immigrated from Asia, they have well-nigh entirely ceased to claim that these peoples, already before their departure from their Eastern home, were so distinctly divided linguistically that it was necessary to imagine certain branches of the race speaking Celtic, others Teutonic, others, again, Greco-Italian, even before they came to Europe. The prevailing opinion among the advocates of the Asiatic hypothesis now doubtless is, that the Aryans who immigrated to Europe formed one homogeneous mass, which gradually on our continent divided itself definitely into Celts, Teutons, Slavs, and Greco-Italians. The adherents of both hypotheses have thus been able to agree that there has been a European-Aryan country. And the question as to where it was located is of the most vital importance, as it is closely connected with the question of the original home of the Teutons, since the ancestors of the Teutons must have inhabited this ancient European-Aryan country.[Pg 21]

Philology has attempted to answer the former question by comparing all the words of all the Aryan-European languages. The attempt has many obstacles to overcome; for, as Schrader has remarked, the ancient words which to-day are common to all or several of these languages are presumably a mere remnant of the ancient European-Aryan vocabulary. Nevertheless, it is possible to arrive at important results in this manner, if we draw conclusions from the words that remain, but take care not to draw conclusions from what is wanting.

The view gained in this manner is, briefly stated, as follows:

The Aryan country of Europe has been situated in latitudes where snow and ice are common phenomena. The people who have emigrated thence to more southern climes have not forgotten either the one or the other name of those phenomena. To a comparatively northern latitude points also the circumstance that the ancient European Aryans recognised only three seasons—winter, spring, and summer. This division of the year continued among the Teutons even in the days of Tacitus. For autumn they had no name.

Many words for mountains, valley, streams, and brooks common to all the languages show that the European-Aryan land was not wanting in elevations, rocks, and flowing waters. Nor has it been a treeless plain. This is proven by many names of trees. The trees are fir, birch, willow, elm, elder, hazel, and a beech called bhaga, which means a tree with eatable fruit. From this word bhaga is derived the Greek phegos, the Latin fagus, the[Pg 22] German Buche, and the Swedish bok. But it is a remarkable fact that the Greeks did not call the beech but the oak phegos, while the Romans called the beech fagus. From this we conclude that the European Aryans applied the word bhaga both to the beech and the oak, since both bear similar fruit; but in some parts of the country the name was particularly applied to the beech, in others to the oak. The beech is a species of tree which gradually approaches the north. On the European continent it is not found east of a line drawn from Königsberg across Poland and Podolia to Crimea. This leads to the conclusion that the Aryan country of Europe must to a great extent have been situated west of this line, and that the regions inhabited by the ancestors of the Romans, and north of them by the progenitors of the Teutons, must be looked for west of this botanical line, and between the Alps and the North Sea.

Linguistic comparisons also show that the Aryan territory of Europe was situated near an ocean or large body of water. Scandinavians, Germans, Celts, and Romans have preserved a common name for the ocean—the Old Norse mar, the Old High German mari, the Latin mare. The names of certain sea-animals are also common to various Aryan languages. The Swedish hummer (lobster) corresponds to the Greek kamaros, and the Swedish säl (seal) to the Greek selachos.

In the Aryan country of Europe there were domestic animals—cows, sheep, and goats. The horse was also known, but it is uncertain whether it was used for riding or driving, or simply valued on account of its flesh and[Pg 23] milk. On the other hand, the ass was not known, its domain being particularly the plains of Central Asia.

The bear, wolf, otter, and beaver certainly belonged to the fauna of Aryan Europe.

The European Aryans must have cultivated at least one, perhaps two kinds of grain; also flax, the name of which is preserved in the Greek linon (linen), the Latin linum, and in other languages.

The Aryans knew the art of brewing mead from honey. That they also understood the art of drinking it even to excess may be taken for granted. This drink was dear to the hearts of the ancient Aryans, and its name has been faithfully preserved both by the tribes that settled near the Ganges, and by those who emigrated to Great Britain. The Brahmin by the Ganges still knows this beverage as madhu, the Welchman has known it as medu, the Lithuanian as medus; and when the Greek Aryans came to Southern Europe and became acquainted with wine, they gave it the name of mead (methu).

It is not probable that the European Aryans knew bronze or iron, or, if they did know any of the metals, had any large quantity or made any daily use of them, so long as they linguistically formed one homogeneous body, and lived in that part of Europe which we here call the Aryan domain. The only common name for metal is that which we find in the Latin aes (copper), in the Gothic aiz, and in the Hindooic áyas. As is known, the Latin aes, like the Gothic aiz, means both copper and bronze. That the word originally meant copper, and afterwards came to signify bronze, which is an alloy of copper and[Pg 24] tin, seems to be a matter of course, and that it was applied only to copper and not to bronze among the ancient Aryans seems clear not only because a common name for tin is wanting, but also for the far better and remarkable reason particularly pointed out by Schrader, that all the Aryan European languages, even those which are nearest akin to each other and are each other's neighbours, lack a common word for the tools of a smith and the inventory of a forge, and also for the various kinds of weapons of defence and attack. Most of all does it astonish us, that in respect to weapons the dissimilarity of names is so complete in the Greek and Roman tongues. Despite this fact, the ancient Aryans have certainly used various kinds of weapons—the club, the hammer, the axe, the knife, the spear, and the crossbow. All these weapons are of such a character that they could be made of stone, wood, and horn. Things more easily change names when the older materials of which they were made give place to new hitherto unknown materials. It is, therefore, probable that the European Aryans were in the stone age, and at best were acquainted with copper before and during the period when their language was divided into several dialects.

Where, then, on our continent was the home of this Aryan European people in the stone age? Southern Europe, with its peninsulas extending into the Mediterranean, must doubtless have been outside of the boundaries of the Aryan land of Europe. The Greek Aryans have immigrated to Hellas, and the Italian Aryans are immigrants to the Italian peninsula. Spain has even within historical times been inhabited by Iberians and[Pg 25] Basques, and Basques dwell there at present: If, as the linguistic monuments seem to prove, the European Aryans lived near an ocean, this cannot have been the Mediterranean Sea. There remain the Black and Caspian Sea on the one hand, the Baltic and the North Sea on the other. But if, as the linguistic monuments likewise seem to prove, the European Aryans for a great part, at least, lived west of a botanical line indicated by the beech in a country producing fir, oak, elm, and elder, then they could not have been limited to the treeless plains which extend along the Black Sea from the mouth of the Danube, through Dobrudscha, Bessarabia, and Cherson, past the Crimea. Students of early Greek history do not any longer assume that the Hellenic immigrants found their way through these countries to Greece, but that they came from the north-west and followed the Adriatic down to Epirus; in other words, they came the same way as the Visigoths under Alarik, and the Eastgoths under Theodoric in later times. Even the Latin tribes came from the north. The migrations of the Celts, so far as history sheds any light on the subject, were from the north and west toward the south and east. The movements of the Teutonic races were from north to south, and they migrated both eastward and westward. Both prehistoric and historic facts thus tend to establish the theory that the Aryan domain of Europe, within undefinable limits, comprised the central and north part of Europe; and as one or more seas were known to these Aryans, we cannot exclude from the limits of this knowledge the ocean penetrating the north of Europe from the west.[Pg 26]

On account of their undeveloped agriculture, which compelled them to depend chiefly on cattle for their support, the European Aryans must have occupied an extensive territory. Of the mutual position and of the movements of the various tribes within this territory nothing can be stated, except that sooner or later, but already away back in prehistoric times, they must have occupied precisely the position in which we find them at the dawn of history and which they now hold. The Aryan tribes which first entered Gaul must have lived west of those tribes which became the progenitors of the Teutons, and the latter must have lived west of those who spread an Aryan language over Russia. South of this line, but still in Central Europe, there must have dwelt another body of Aryans, the ancestors of the Greeks and Romans, the latter west of the former. Farthest to the north of all these tribes must have dwelt those people who afterwards produced the Teutonic tongue.





The northern position of the ancient Teutons necessarily had the effect that they, better than all other Aryan people, preserved their original race-type, as they were less exposed to mixing with non-Aryan elements. In the south, west, and east, they had kinsmen, separating them[Pg 27] from non-Aryan races. To the north, on the other hand, lay a territory which, by its very nature, could be but sparsely populated, if it was inhabited at all, before it was occupied by the fathers of the Teutons. The Teutonic type, which doubtless also was the Aryan in general before much spreading and consequent mixing with other races had taken place, has, as already indicated, been described in the following manner: Tall, white skin, blue eyes, fair hair. Anthropological science has given them one more mark—they are dolicocephalous, that is, having skulls whose anterior-posterior diameter, or that from the frontal to the occipital bone, exceeds the transverse diameter. This type appears most pure in the modern Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, and to some extent the Dutch, in the inhabitants of those parts of Great Britain that are most densely settled by Saxon and Scandinavian emigrants; and in the people of certain parts of North Germany. Welcker's craniological measurements give the following figures for the breadth and length of Teutonic skulls:

Swedes and Hollanders,75—71
Icelanders and Danes,76—71
Hanoverians, The vicinity of Jena, Bonn, and Cologne,77—72

Thus the dolicocephalous form passes in Middle and Southern Germany into the brachycephalous. The inves[Pg 28]tigations made at the suggestion of Virchow in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria, in regard to blonde and brunette types, are of great interest. An examination of more than nine million individuals showed the following result:

Germany,31.80% blonde, 14.05% brunette, 54.15% mixed.
Austria,19.79% blonde, 23.17% brunette, 57.04% mixed.
Switzerland,11.10% blonde, 25.70% brunette, 61.40% mixed.

Thus the blonde type has by far a greater number of representatives in Germany than in the southern part of Central Europe, though the latter has German-speaking inhabitants. In Germany itself the blonde type decreases and the brunette increases from north to south, while at the same time the dolicocephalous gives place to the brachycephalous. Southern Germany has 25% of brunettes, North Germany only 7%.

If we now, following the strict rules of methodology which Latham insists on, bear in mind that the cradle of a race- or language-type should, if there are no definite historical facts to the contrary, especially be looked for where this type is most abundant and least changed, then there is no doubt that the part of Aryan Europe which the ancestors of the Teutons inhabited when they developed the Aryan tongue into the Teutonic must have included the coast of the Baltic and the North Sea. This theory is certainly not contradicted, but, on the other hand, supported by the facts so far as we have any knowledge of them. Roman history supplies evidence that the same parts of Europe in which the Teutonic type predominates at the present time were Teutonic already at the beginning[Pg 29] of our era, and that then already the Scandinavian peninsula was inhabited by a North Teutonic people, which, among their kinsmen on the Continent, were celebrated for their wealth in ships and warriors. Centuries must have passed ere the Teutonic colonisation of the peninsula could have developed into so much strength—centuries during which, judging from all indications, the transition from the bronze to the iron age in Scandinavia must have taken place. The painstaking investigations of Montelius, conducted on the principle of methodology, have led him to the conclusion that Scandinavia and North Germany formed during the bronze age one common domain of culture in regard to weapons and implements. The manner in which the other domains of culture group themselves in Europe leaves no other place for the Teutonic race than Scandinavia and North Germany, and possibly Austria-Hungary, which the Teutonic domain resembles most. Back of the bronze age lies the stone age. The examinations, by v. Düben, Gustaf Retzius, and Virchow, of skeletons found in northern graves from the stone age prove the existence at that time of a race in the North which, so far as the characteristics of the skulls are concerned, cannot be distinguished from the race now dwelling there. Here it is necessary to take into consideration the results of probability reached by comparative philology, showing that the European Aryans were still in the stone age when they divided themselves into Celts, Teutons, etc., and occupied separate territories, and the fact that the Teutons, so far back as conclusions may be drawn from historical knowledge have occupied[Pg 30] a more northern domain than their kinsmen. Thus all tends to show that when the Scandinavian peninsula was first settled by Aryans—doubtless coming from the South by way of Denmark—these Aryans belonged to the same race, which, later in history, appear with a Teutonic physiognomy and with Teutonic speech, and that their immigration to and occupation of the southern parts of the peninsula took place in the time of the Aryan stone age.

For the history of civilisation, and particularly for mythology, these results are important. It is a problem to be solved by comparative mythology what elements in the various groups of Aryan myths may be the original common property of the race while the race was yet undivided. The conclusions reached gain in trustworthiness the further the Aryan tribes, whose myths are compared, are separated from each other geographically. If, for instance, the Teutonic mythology on the one hand and the Asiatic Aryan (Avesta and Rigveda) on the other are made the subject of comparative study, and if groups of myths are found which are identical not only in their general character and in many details, but also in the grouping of the details and the epic connection of the myths, then the probability that they belong to an age when the ancestors of the Teutons and those of the Asiatic Aryans dwelt together is greater, in the same proportion as the probability of an intimate and detailed exchange of ideas after the separation grows less between these tribes on account of the geographical distance. With all the certainty which it is possible for research to arrive at in this field, we may assume that these common groups[Pg 31] of myths—at least the centres around which they revolve—originated at a time when the Aryans still formed, so to speak, a geographical and linguistic unity—in all probability at a time which lies far back in a common Aryan stone age. The discovery of groups of myths of this sort thus sheds light on beliefs and ideas that existed in the minds of our ancestors in an age of which we have no information save that which we get from the study of the finds. The latter, when investigated by painstaking and penetrating archćological scholars, certainly give us highly instructive information in other directions. In this manner it becomes possible to distinguish between older and younger elements of Teutonic mythology, and to secure a basis for studying its development through centuries which have left us no literary monuments.[Pg 32]






In the preceding pages we have given the reasons which make it appear proper to assume that ancient Teutondom, within certain indefinable limits, included the coasts of the Baltic and the North Sea, that the Scandinavian countries constituted a part of this ancient Teutondom, and that they have been peopled by Teutons since the days of the stone age.

The subject which I am now about to discuss requires an investigation in reference to what the Teutons themselves believed, in regard to this question, in the earliest times of which we have knowledge. Did they look upon themselves as aborigines or as immigrants in Teutondom? For the mythology, the answer to this question is of great weight. For pragmatic history, on the other hand, the answer is of little importance, for whatever they believed gives no reliable basis for conclusions in regard to historical facts. If they regarded themselves as aborigines, this does not hinder their having immigrated in[Pg 33] prehistoric times, though their traditions have ceased to speak of it. If they regarded themselves as immigrants, then it does not follow that the traditions, in regard to the immigration, contain any historical kernel. Of the former we have an example in the case of the Brahmins and the higher castes in India: their orthodoxy requires them to regard themselves as aborigines of the country in which they live, although there is evidence that they are immigrants. Of the latter the Swedes are an example: the people here have been taught to believe that a greater or less portion of the inhabitants of Sweden are descended from immigrants who, led by Odin, are supposed to have come here about one hundred years before the birth of Christ, and that this immigration, whether it brought many or few people, was of the most decisive influence on the culture of the country, so that Swedish history might properly begin with the moment when Odin planted his feet on Swedish soil.

The more accessible sources of the traditions in regard to Odin's immigration to Scandinavia are found in the Icelandic works, Heimskringla and the Prose Edda. Both sources are from the same time, that is, the thirteenth century, and are separated by more than two hundred years from the heathen age in Iceland.

We will first consider Heimskringla's story. A river, by name Tanakvisl, or Vanakvisl, empties into the Black Sea. This river separates Asia from Europe. East of Tanakvisl, that is to say, then in Asia, is a country formerly called Asaland or Asaheim, and the chief citadel or town in that country was called Asgard. It was a great[Pg 34] city of sacrifices, and there dwelt a chief who was known by the name Odin. Under him ruled twelve men who were high-priests and judges. Odin was a great chieftain and conqueror, and so victorious was he, that his men believed that victory was wholly inseparable from him. If he laid his blessing hand on anybody's head, success was sure to attend him. Even if he was absent, if called upon in distress or danger, his very name seemed to give comfort. He frequently went far away, and often remained absent half-a-year at a time. His kingdom was then ruled by his brothers Vile and Ve. Once he was absent so long that the Asas believed that he would never return. Then his brothers married his wife Frigg. Finally he returned, however, and took Frigg back again.

The Asas had a people as their neighbours called the Vans. Odin made war on the Vans, but they defended themselves bravely. When both parties had been victorious and suffered defeat, they grew weary of warring, made peace, and exchanged hostages. The Vans sent their son Njord and his son Frey, and also Kvaser, as hostages to the Asas; and the latter gave in exchange Honer and Mimer. Odin gave Njord and Frey the dignity of priests. Frey's sister, too, Freyja, was made a priestess. The Vans treated the hostages they had received with similar consideration, and created Honer a chief and judge. But they soon seemed to discover that Honer was a stupid fellow. They considered themselves cheated in the exchange, and, being angry on this account, they cut off the head, not of Honer, but of his wise brother Mimer, and sent it to Odin. He embalmed the head,[Pg 35] sang magic songs over it, so that it could talk to him and tell him many strange things.

Asaland, where Odin ruled is separated by a great mountain range from Tyrkland, by which Heimskringla means Asia Minor, of which the celebrated Troy was supposed to have been the capital. In Tyrkland, Odin also had great possessions. But at that time the Romans invaded and subjugated all lands, and many rulers fled on that account from their kingdoms. And Odin, being wise and versed in the magic art, and knowing, therefore, that his descendants were to people the northern part of the world, he left his kingdom to his brothers Vile and Ve, and migrated with many followers to Gardarike, Russia. Njord, Frey, and Freyja, and the other priests who had ruled under him in Asgard, accompanied him, and sons of his were also with him. From Gardarike he proceeded to Saxland, conquered vast countries, and made his sons rulers over them. From Saxland he went to Funen, and settled there. Seeland did not then exist. Odin sent the maid Gefion north across the water to investigate what country was situated there. At that time ruled in Svithiod a chief by name Gylfe. He gave Gefion a ploughland,[3] and, by the help of four giants changed into oxen, Gefion cut out with the plough, and dragged into the sea near Funen that island which is now called Seeland. Where the land was ploughed away there is now a lake called Logrin. Skjold, Odin's son, got this land, and married Gefion. And when Gefion informed Odin that Gylfe possessed a good land, Odin went thither,

[Pg 36]

and Gylfe, being unable to make resistance, though he too was a wise man skilled in witchcraft and sorcery, a peaceful compact was made, according to which Odin acquired a vast territory around Logrin; and in Sigtuna he established a great temple, where sacrifices henceforth were offered according to the custom of the Asas. To his priests he gave dwellings—Noatun to Njord, Upsala to Frey, Himminbjorg to Heimdal, Thrudvang to Thor, Breidablik to Balder, &c. Many new sports came to the North with Odin, and he and the Asas taught them to the people. Among other things, he taught them poetry and runes. Odin himself always talked in measured rhymes. Besides, he was a most excellent sorcerer. He could change shape, make his foes in a conflict blind and deaf; he was a wizard, and could wake the dead. He owned the ship Skidbladner, which could be folded as a napkin. He had two ravens, which he had taught to speak, and they brought him tidings from all lands. He knew where all treasures were hid in the earth, and could call them forth with the aid of magic songs. Among the customs he introduced in the North were cremation of the dead, the raising of mounds in memory of great men, the erection of bauta-stones in commemoration of others; and he introduced the three great sacrificial feasts—for a good year, for good crops, and for victory. Odin died in Svithiod. When he perceived the approach of death, he suffered himself to be marked with the point of a spear, and declared that he was going to Gudheim to visit his friends and receive all fallen in battle. This the Swedes believed. They have since worshipped him in the belief[Pg 37] that he had an eternal life in the ancient Asgard, and they thought he revealed himself to them before great battles took place. On Svea's throne he was followed by Njord, the progenitor of the race of Ynglings. Thus Heimskringla.

We now pass to the Younger Edda,[4] which in its Foreword gives us in the style of that time a general survey of history and religion.

First, it gives from the Bible the story of creation and the deluge. Then a long story is told of the building of the tower of Babel. The descendants of Noah's son, Ham, warred against and conquered the sons of Sem, and tried in their arrogance to build a tower which should aspire to heaven itself. The chief manager in this enterprise was Zoroaster, and seventy-two master-masons and joiners served under him. But God confounded the tongues of these arrogant people so that each one of the seventy-two masters with those under him got their own language, which the others could not understand, and then each went his own way, and in this manner arose the seventy-two different languages in the world. Before that time only one language was spoken, and that was Hebrew. Where they tried to build the tower a city was founded and called Babylon. There Zoroaster became a king and ruled over many Assyrian nations, among which he introduced idolatry, and which worshiped him as Baal. The tribes that departed with his master-workmen also fell into idolatry, excepting the

[Pg 38]

one tribe which kept the Hebrew language. It preserved also the original and pure faith. Thus, while Babylon became one of the chief altars of heathen worship, the island Crete became another. There was born a man, by name Saturnus, who became for the Cretans and Macedonians what Zoroaster was for the Assyrians. Saturnus' knowledge and skill in magic, and his art of producing gold from red-hot iron, secured him the power of a prince on Crete; and as he, moreover, had control over all invisible forces, the Cretans and Macedonians believed that he was a god, and he encouraged them in this faith. He had three sons—Jupiter, Neptunus, and Plutus. Of these, Jupiter resembled his father in skill and magic, and he was a great warrior who conquered many peoples. When Saturnus divided his kingdom among his sons, a feud arose. Plutus got as his share hell, and as this was the least desirable part he also received the dog named Cerberus. Jupiter, who received heaven, was not satisfied with this, but wanted the earth too. He made war against his father, who had to seek refuge in Italy, where he, out of fear of Jupiter, changed his name and called himself Njord, and where he became a useful king, teaching the inhabitants, who lived on nuts and roots, to plough and plant vineyards.

Jupiter had many sons. From one of them, Dardanus, descended in the fifth generation Priamus of Troy. Priamus' son was Hektor, who in stature and strength was the foremost man in the world. From the Trojans the Romans are descended; and when Rome had grown to be a great power it adopted many laws and customs which[Pg 39] had prevailed among the Trojans before them. Troy was situated in Tyrkland, near the centre of the earth. Under Priamus, the chief ruler, there were twelve tributary kings, and they spoke twelve languages. These twelve tributary kings were exceedingly wise men; they received the honour of gods, and from them all European chiefs are descended. One of these twelve was called Munon or Mennon. He was married to a daughter of Priamus, and had with her the son Tror, "whom we call Thor." He was a very handsome man, his hair shone fairer than gold, and at the age of twelve he was full-grown, and so strong that he could lift twelve bear-skins at the same time. He slew his foster-father and foster-mother, took possession of his foster-father's kingdom Thracia, "which we call Thrudheim," and thenceforward he roamed about the world, conquering berserks, giants, the greatest dragon, and other prodigies. In the North he met a prophetess by name Sibil (Sibylla), "whom we call Sif," and her he married. In the twentieth generation from this Thor, Vodin descended, "whom we call Odin," a very wise and well-informed man, who married Frigida, "whom we call Frigg."

At that time the Roman general Pompey was making wars in the East, and also threatened the empire of Odin. Meanwhile Odin and his wife had learned through prophetic inspiration that a glorious future awaited them in the northern part of the world. He therefore emigrated from Tyrkland, and took with him many people, old and young, men and women, and costly treasures. Wherever they came they appeared to the inhabitants[Pg 40] more like gods than men. And they did not stop before they came as far north as Saxland. There Odin remained a long time. One of his sons, Veggdegg, he appointed king of Saxland. Another son, Beldegg, "whom we call Balder," he made king in Westphalia. A third son, Sigge, became king in Frankland. Then Odin proceeded farther to the north and came to Reidgothaland, which is now called Jutland, and there took possession of as much as he wanted. There he appointed his son Skjold as king; then he came to Svithiod.

Here ruled king Gylfe. When he heard of the expedition of Odin and his Asiatics he went to meet them, and offered Odin as much land and as much power in his kingdom as he might desire. One reason why people everywhere gave Odin so hearty a welcome and offered him land and power was that wherever Odin and his men tarried on their journey the people got good harvests and abundant crops, and therefore they believed that Odin and his men controlled the weather and the growing grain. Odin went with Gylfe up to the lake "Logrin" and saw that the land was good; and there he chose as his citadel the place which is called Sigtuna, founding there the same institutions as had existed in Troy, and to which the Turks were accustomed. Then he organised a council of twelve men, who were to make laws and settle disputes. From Svithiod Odin went to Norway, and there made his son Sćming king. But the ruling of Svithiod he had left to his son Yngve, from whom the race of Ynglings are descended. The Asas and their sons married the women of the land of which they had taken[Pg 41] possession, and their descendants, who preserved the language spoken in Troy, multiplied so fast that the Trojan language displaced the old tongue and became the speech of Svithiod, Norway, Denmark, and Saxland, and thereafter also of England.

The Prose Edda's first part, Gylfaginning, consists of a collection of mythological tales told to the reader in the form of a conversation between the above-named king of Sweden, Gylfe, and the Asas. Before the Asas had started on their journey to the North, it is here said Gylfe had learned that they were a wise and knowing people who had success in all their undertakings. And believing that this was a result either of the nature of these people, or of their peculiar kind of worship, he resolved to investigate the matter secretly, and therefore betook himself in the guise of an old man to Asgard. But the foreknowing Asas knew in advance that he was coming, and resolved to receive him with all sorts of sorcery, which might give him a high opinion of them. He finally came to a citadel, the roof of which was thatched with golden shields, and the hall of which was so large that he scarcely could see the whole of it. At the entrance stood a man playing with sharp tools, which he threw up in the air and caught again with his hands, and seven axes were in the air at the same time. This man asked the traveller his name. The latter answered that he was named Ganglere, that he had made a long journey over rough roads, and asked for lodgings for the night. He also asked whose the citadel was. The juggler answered that it belonged to their king, and conducted Gylfe into the hall,[Pg 42] where many people were assembled. Some sat drinking, others amused themselves at games, and still others were practising with weapons. There were three high-seats in the hall, one above the other, and in each high-seat sat a man. In the lowest sat the king; and the juggler informed Gylfe that the king's name was Har; that the one who sat next above him was named Jafnhar; and that the one who sat on the highest throne was named Thride (thridi). Har asked the stranger what his errand was, and invited him to eat and drink. Gylfe answered that he first wished to know whether there was any wise man in the hall. Har replied that the stranger should not leave the hall whole unless he was victorious in a contest in wisdom. Gylfe now begins his questions, which all concern the worship of the Asas, and the three men in the high-seats give him answers. Already in the first answer it appears that the Asgard to which Gylfe thinks he has come is, in the opinion of the author, a younger Asgard, and presumably the same as the author of Heimskringla places beyond the river Tanakvisl, but there had existed an older Asgard identical with Troy in Tyrkland, where, according to Heimskringla, Odin had extensive possessions at the time when the Romans began their invasions in the East. When Gylfe with his questions had learned the most important facts in regard to the religion of Asgard, and had at length been instructed concerning the destruction and regeneration of the world, he perceived a mighty rumbling and quaking, and when he looked about him the citadel and hall had disappeared, and he stood beneath the open sky. He returned to Svit[Pg 43]hiod and related all that he had seen and heard among the Asas; but when he had gone they counselled together, and they agreed to call themselves by those names which they used in relating their stories to Gylfe. These sagas, remarks Gylfaginning, were in reality none but historical events transformed into traditions about divinities. They described events which had occurred in the older Asgard—that is to say, Troy. The basis of the stories told to Gylfe about Thor were the achievements of Hektor in Troy, and the Loke of whom Gylfe had heard was, in fact, none other than Ulixes (Ulysses), who was the foe of the Trojans, and consequently was represented as the foe of the gods.

Gylfaginning is followed by another part of the Prose Edda called Bragaroedur (Brage's Talk), which is presented in a similar form. On Lessö, so it is said, dwelt formerly a man by name Ćgir. He, like Gylfe, had heard reports concerning the wisdom of the Asas, and resolved to visit them. He, like Gylfe, comes to a place where the Asas receive him with all sorts of magic arts, and conduct him into a hall which is lighted up in the evening with shining swords. There he is invited to take his seat by the side of Brage, and there were twelve high-seats in which sat men who were called Thor, Njord, Frey, &c., and women who were called Frigg, Freyja, Nanna, &c. The hall was splendidly decorated with shields. The mead passed round was exquisite, and the talkative Brage instructed the guest in the traditions concerning the Asas' art of poetry. A postscript to the treatise warns young skalds not to place confidence in the stories told to Gylfe[Pg 44] and Ćgir. The author of the postscript says they have value only as a key to the many metaphors which occur in the poems of the great skalds, but upon the whole they are deceptions invented by the Asas or Asiamen to make people believe that they were gods. Still, the author thinks these falsifications have an historical kernel. They are, he thinks, based on what happened in the ancient Asgard, that is, Troy. Thus, for instance, Ragnarok is originally nothing else than the siege of Troy; Thor is, as stated, Hektor; the Midgard-serpent is one of the heroes slain by Hektor; the Fenris-wolf is Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, who slew Priam (Odin); and Vidar, who survives Ragnarok, is Ćneas.




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 thus:

Among the tribes who after the Babylonian confusion of tongues emigrated to various countries, there was a[Pg 45] 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 Ćneas 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. Accord[Pg 46]ingly, 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,[Pg 47] 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 Mćlar 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.



Such is, in the main, the story which was current in Iceland in the thirteenth century, and which found its way to Scandinavia through the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, concerning the immigration of Odin and the Asas. Somewhat older than these works is Historia Danica, by the Danish chronicler Saxo. Sturlason, the author of Heimskringla, was a lad of eight years when Saxo began to write his history, and he (Sturlason) had[Pg 48] certainly not begun to write history when Saxo had completed the first nine books of his work, which are based on the still-existing songs and traditions found in Denmark, and of heathen origin. Saxo writes as if he were unacquainted with Icelandic theories concerning an Asiatic immigration to the North, and he has not a word to say about Odin's reigning as king or chief anywhere in Scandinavia. This is the more remarkable, since he holds the same view as the Icelanders and the chroniclers of the Middle Ages in general in regard to the belief that the heathen myths were records of historical events, and that the heathen gods were historical persons, men changed into divinities; and our astonishment increases when we consider that he, in the heathen songs and traditions on which he based the first part of his work, frequently finds Odin's name, and consequently could not avoid presenting him in Danish history as an important character. In Saxo, as in the Icelandic works, Odin is a human being, and at the same time a sorcerer of the greatest power. Saxo and the Icelanders also agree that Odin came from the East. The only difference is that while the Icelandic hypothesis makes him rule in Asgard, Saxo locates his residence in Byzantium, on the Bosphorus; but this is not far from the ancient Troy, where the Prose Edda locates his ancestors. From Byzantium, according to Saxo, the fame of his magic arts and of the miracles he performed reached even to the north of Europe. On account of these miracles he was worshipped as a god by the peoples, and to pay him honour the kings of the North once sent to Byzantium a golden image, to which[Pg 49] Odin by magic arts imparted the power of speech. It is the myth about Mimer's head which Saxo here relates. But the kings of the North knew him not only by report; they were also personally acquainted with him. He visited Upsala, a place which "pleased him much." Saxo, like the Heimskringla, relates that Odin was absent from his capital for a long time; and when we examine his statements on this point, we find that Saxo is here telling in his way the myth concerning the war which the Vans carried on successfully against the Asas, and concerning Odin's expulsion from the mythic Asgard, situated in heaven (Hist. Dan., pp. 42-44; vid. No. 36). Saxo also tells that Odin's son, Balder, was chosen king by the Danes "on account of his personal merits and his respect-commanding qualities." But Odin himself has never, according to Saxo, had land or authority in the North, though he was there worshipped as a god, and, as already stated, Saxo is entirely silent in regard to any immigration of an Asiatic people to Scandinavia under the leadership of Odin.

A comparison between him and the Icelanders will show at once that, although both parties are Euhemerists, and make Odin a man changed into a god, Saxo confines himself more faithfully to the popular myths, and seeks as far as possible to turn them into history; while the Icelanders, on the other hand, begin with the learned theory in regard to the original kinship of the northern races with the Trojans and Romans, and around this theory as a nucleus they weave about the same myths told as history as Saxo tells.[Pg 50]



How did the belief that Troy was the original home of the Teutons arise? Does it rest on native traditions? Has it been inspired by sagas and traditions current among the Teutons themselves, and containing as kernel "a faint reminiscence of an immigration from Asia," or is it a thought entirely foreign to the heathen Teutonic world, introduced in Christian times by Latin scholars? These questions shall now be considered.

Already in the seventh century—that is to say, more than five hundred years before Heimskringla and the Prose Edda were written—a Teutonic people were told by a chronicler that they were of the same blood as the Romans, that they had like the Romans emigrated from Troy, and that they had the same share as the Romans in the glorious deeds of the Trojan heroes. This people were the Franks. Their oldest chronicler, Gregorius, bishop of Tours, who, about one hundred years before that time—that is to say, in the sixth century—wrote their history in ten books, does not say a word about it. He, too, desires to give an account of the original home of the Franks (Hist. Franc., ii. 9), and locates it quite a distance from the regions around the lower Rhine, where they first appear in the light of history; but still not farther away than to Pannonia. Of the coming of the Franks from Troy neither Gregorius knows anything nor the older authors, Sulpicius Alexander and others, whose works he studied to find information in regard to the early[Pg 51] history of the Franks. But in the middle of the following century, about 650, an unknown author, who for reasons unknown, is called Fredegar, wrote a chronicle, which is in part a reproduction of Gregorius' historical work, but also contains various other things in regard to the early history of the Franks, and among these the statement that they emigrated from Troy. He even gives us the sources from which he got this information. His sources are, according to his own statement, not Frankish, not popular songs or traditions, but two Latin authors—the Church father Hieronymus and the poet Virgil. If we, then, go to these sources in order to compare Fredegar's statement with his authority, we find that Hieronymus once names the Franks in passing, but never refers to their origin from Troy, and that Virgil does not even mention Franks. Nevertheless, the reference to Virgil is the key to the riddle, as we shall show below. What Fredegar tells about the emigration of the Franks is this: A Frankish king, by the name Priam, ruled in Troy at the time when this city was conquered by the cunning of Ulysses. Then the Franks emigrated, and were afterwards ruled by a king named Friga. Under his reign a dispute arose between them, and they divided themselves into two parties, one of which settled in Macedonia, while the other, called after Friga's name Frigians (Phrygians), migrated through Asia and settled there. There they were again divided, and one part of them migrated under king Francio into Europe, travelled across this continent, and settled, with their women and children, near the Rhine, where they began building a city which they called Troy,[Pg 52] and intended to organise in the manner of the old Troy, but the city was not completed. The other group chose a king by name Turchot, and were called after him Turks. But those who settled on the Rhine called themselves Franks after their king Francio, and later chose a king named Theudemer, who was descended from Priam, Friga, and Francio. Thus Fredegar's chronicle.

About seventy years later another Frankish chronicle saw the light of day—the Gesta regum Francorum. In it we learn more of the emigration of the Franks from Troy. Gesta regum Francorum (i) tells the following story: In Asia lies the city of the Trojans called Ilium, where king Ćneas formerly ruled. The Trojans were a strong and brave people, who waged war against all their neighbours. But then the kings of the Greeks united and brought a large army against Ćneas, king of the Trojans. There were great battles and much bloodshed, and the greater part of the Trojans fell. Ćneas fled with those surviving into the city of Ilium, which the Greeks besieged and conquered after ten years. The Trojans who escaped divided themselves into two parties. The one under king Ćneas went to Italy, where he hoped to receive auxiliary troops. Other distinguished Trojans became the leaders of the other party, which numbered 12,000 men. They embarked in ships and came to the banks of the river Tanais. They sailed farther and came within the borders of Pannonia, near the Mœotian marshes (navigantes pervenerunt intra terminos Pannoniarum juxta Mœotidas paludes), where they founded a city, which they called Sicambria, and here they remained[Pg 53] many years and became a mighty people. Then came a time when the Roman emperor Valentinianus got into war with that wicked people called Alamanni (also Alani). He led a great army against them. The Alamanni were defeated, and fled to the Mœotian marshes. Then said the emperor, "If anyone dares to enter those marshes and drive away this wicked people, I shall for ten years make him free from all burdens." When the Trojans heard this they went, accompanied by a Roman army, into the marshes, attacked the Alamanni, and hewed them down with their swords. Then the Trojans received from the emperor Valentinianus the name Franks, which, the chronicle adds, in the Attic tongue means the savage (feri), "for the Trojans had a defiant and indomitable character."

For ten years afterwards the Trojans or Franks lived undisturbed by Roman tax-collectors; but after that the Roman emperor demanded that they should pay tribute. This they refused, and slew the tax-collectors sent to them. Then the emperor collected a large army under the command of Aristarcus, and strengthened it with auxiliary forces from many lands, and attacked the Franks, who were defeated by the superior force, lost their leader Priam, and had to take flight. They now proceeded under their leaders Markomir, Priam's son, and Sunno, son of Antenor, away from Sicambria through Germany to the Rhine, and located there. Thus this chronicle.

About fifty years after its appearance—that is, in the time of Charlemagne, and, to be more accurate, about the[Pg 54] year 787—the well-known Longobardian historian Paulus Diaconus wrote a history of the bishops of Metz. Among these bishops was the Frank Arnulf, from whom Charlemagne was descended in the fifth generation. Arnulf had two sons, one of whom was named Ansgisel, in a contracted form Ansgis. When Paulus speaks of this he remarks that it is thought that the name Ansgis comes from the father of Ćneas, Anchises, who went from Troy to Italy; and he adds that according to evidence of older date the Franks were believed to be descendants of the Trojans. These evidences of older date we have considered above—Fredegar's Chronicle and Gesta regum Francorum. Meanwhile this shows that the belief that the Franks were of Trojan descent kept spreading with the lapse of time. It hardly needs to be added that there is no good foundation for the derivation of Ansgisel or Ansgis from Anchises. Ansgisel is a genuine Teutonic name. (See No. 123 concerning Ansgisel, the emigration chief of the Teutonic myth.)

We now pass to the second half of the tenth century, and there we find the Saxon chronicler Widukind. When he is to tell the story of the origin of the Saxon people, he presents two conflicting accounts. The one is from a Saxon source, from old native traditions, which we shall discuss later; the other is from a scholastic source, and claims that the Saxons are of Macedonian descent. According to this latter account they were a remnant of the Macedonian army of Alexander the Great, which, as Widukind had learned, after Alexander's early death, had spread over the whole earth. The Macedonians were[Pg 55] at that time regarded as Hellenicised Trojans. In this connection I call the reader's attention to Fredegar's Chronicle referred to above, which tells that the Trojans, in the time of king Friga, disagreed among themselves, and that a part of them emigrated and settled in Macedonia. In this manner the Saxons, like the Franks, could claim a Trojan descent; and as England to a great extent was peopled by Saxon conquerors, the same honour was of course claimed by her people. In evidence of this, and to show that it was believed in England during the centuries immediately following Widukind's time, that the Saxons and Angles were of Trojan blood, I will simply refer here to a pseudo-Sibylline manuscript found in Oxford and written in very poor Latin. It was examined by the French scholar Alexandre (Excursus ad Sibyllina, p. 298), and in it Britain is said to be an island inhabited by the survivors of the Trojans (insulam reliquiis Trojanorum inhabitatam). In another British pseudo-Sibylline document it is stated that the Sibylla was a daughter of king Priam of Troy; and an effort has been made to add weight and dignity to this document by incorporating it with the works of the well known Church historian Beda, and thus date it at the beginning of the eighth century, but the manuscript itself is a compilation from the time of Frederick Barbarossa (Excurs. ad Sib., p. 289). Other pseudo-Sibylline documents in Latin give accounts of a Sibylla who lived and prophesied in Troy. I make special mention of this fact, for the reason that in the Foreword of the Prose Edda it is similarly stated that Thor, the son of Priam's daughter, was married to Sibil (Sibylla).[Pg 56]

Thus when Franks and Saxons had been made into Trojans—the former into full-blooded Trojans and the latter into Hellenicised Trojans—it could not take long before their northern kinsmen received the same descent as a heritage. In the very nature of things the beginning must be made by those Northmen who became the conquerors and settlers of Normandy in the midst of "Trojan" Franks. About a hundred years after their settlement there they produced a chronicler, Dudo, deacon of St. Quentin. I have already shown that the Macedonians were regarded as Hellenicised Trojans. Together with the Hellenicising they had obtained the name Danai, a term applied to all Greeks. In his Norman Chronicle, which goes down to the year 996, Dudo relates (De moribus et gestis, &c., lib. i.) that the Norman men regarded themselves as Danai, for Danes (the Scandinavians in general) and Dania was regarded as the same race name. Together with the Normans the Scandinavians also, from whom they were descended accordingly had to be made into Trojans. And thus the matter was understood by Dudo's readers; and when Robert Wace wrote his rhymed chronicle, Roman de Rou, about the northern conquerors of Normandy, and wanted to give an account of their origin, he could say, on the basis of a common tradition:

"When the walls of Troy in ashes were laid,
And the Greeks exceedingly glad were made,
Then fled from flames on the Trojan strand
The race that settled old Denmark's land;
And in honour of the old Trojan reigns,
The people called themselves the Danes."
[Pg 57]

I have now traced the scholastic tradition about the descent of the Teutonic races from Troy all the way from the chronicle where we first find this tradition recorded, down to the time when Are, Iceland's first historian, lived, and when the Icelander, Sćmund, is said to have studied in Paris, the same century in which Sturlason, Heimskringla's author, developed into manhood. Saxo rejected the theory current among the scholars of his time, that the northern races were Danai-Trojans. He knew that Dudo in St. Quentin was the authority upon which this belief was chiefly based, and he gives his Danes an entirely different origin, quanquam Dudo, rerum Aquitanicarum scriptor, Danos a Danais ortos nuncupatosque recenseat. The Icelanders on the other hand, accepted and continued to develop the belief, resting on the authority of five hundred years, concerning Troy as the starting-point for the Teutonic race; and in Iceland the theory is worked out and systematised as we have already seen, and is made to fit in a frame of the history of the world. The accounts given in Heimskringla and the Prose Edda in regard to the emigration from Asgard form the natural denouement of an era which had existed for centuries, and in which the events of antiquity were able to group themselves around a common centre. All peoples and families of chiefs were located around the Mediterranean Sea, and every event and every hero was connected in some way or other with Troy.

In fact, a great part of the lands subject to the Roman sceptre were in ancient literature in some way connected with the Trojan war and its consequences: Macedonia[Pg 58] and Epirus through the Trojan emigrant Helenus; Illyria and Venetia through the Trojan emigrant Antenor; Rhetia and Vindelicia through the Amazons, allies of the Trojans, from whom the inhabitants of these provinces were said to be descended (Servius ad Virg., i. 248); Etruria through Dardanus, who was said to have emigrated from there to Troy; Latium and Campania through the Ćneids; Sicily, the very home of the Ćnean traditions, through the relation between the royal families of Troy and Sicily; Sardinia (see Sallust); Gaul (see Lucanus and Ammianus Marcellinus); Carthage through the visit of Ćneas to Dido; and of course all of Asia Minor. This was not all. According to the lost Argive History by Anaxikrates, Scamandrius, son of Hektor and Andromache, came with emigrants to Scythia and settled on the banks of the Tanais; and scarcely had Germany become known to the Romans, before it, too, became drawn into the cycle of Trojan stories, at least so far as to make this country visited by Ulysses on his many journeys and adventures (Tac., Germ.). Every educated Greek and Roman person's fancy was filled from his earliest school-days with Troy, and traces of Dardanians and Danaians were found everywhere, just as the English in our time think they have found traces of the ten lost tribes of Israel both in the old and in the new world.

In the same degree as Christianity, Church learning, and Latin manuscripts were spread among the Teutonic tribes, there were disseminated among them knowledge of and an interest in the great Trojan stories. The native stories telling of Teutonic gods and heroes received[Pg 59] terrible shocks from Christianity, but were rescued in another form on the lips of the people, and continued in their new guise to command their attention and devotion. In the class of Latin scholars which developed among the Christianised Teutons, the new stories learned from Latin literature, telling of Ilium, of the conflicts between Trojans and Greeks, of migrations, of the founding of colonies on foreign shores and the creating of new empires, were the things which especially stimulated their curiosity and captivated their fancy. The Latin literature which was to a greater or less extent accessible to the Teutonic priests, or to priests labouring among the Teutons, furnished abundant materials in regard to Troy both in classical and pseudo-classical authors. We need only call attention to Virgil and his commentator Servius, which became a mine of learning for the whole middle age, and among pseudo-classical works to Dares Phrygius' Historia de Excidio Trojć (which was believed to have been written by a Trojan and translated by Cornelius Nepos!), to Dictys Cretensis' Ephemeris belli Trojani (the original of which was said to have been Phœnician, and found in Dictys' alleged grave after an earthquake in the time of Nero!), and to "Pindari Thebani," Epitome Iliados Homeri.

Before the story of the Trojan descent of the Franks had been created, the Teuton Jordanes, active as a writer in the middle of the sixth century, had already found a place for his Gothic fellow-countrymen in the events of the great Trojan epic. Not that he made the Goths the descendants either of the Greeks or Trojans. On the[Pg 60] contrary, he maintained the Goths' own traditions in regard to their descent and their original home, a matter which I shall discuss later. But according to Orosius, who is Jordanes' authority, the Goths were the same as the Getć, and when the identity of these was accepted, it was easy for Jordanes to connect the history of the Goths with the Homeric stories. A Gothic chief marries Priam's sister and fights with Achilles and Ulysses (Jord., c. 9), and Ilium, having scarcely recovered from the war with Agamemnon, is destroyed a second time by Goths (c. 20).



We must now return to the Frankish chronicles, to Fredegar's and Gesta regum Francorum, where the theory of the descent from Troy of a Teutonic tribe is presented for the first time, and thus renews the agitation handed down from antiquity, which attempted to make all ancient history a system of events radiating from Troy as their centre. I believe I am able to point out the sources of all the statements made in these chronicles in reference to this subject, and also to find the very kernel out of which the illusion regarding the Trojan birth of the Franks grew.

As above stated, Fredegar admits that Virgil is the earliest authority for the claim that the Franks are descended from Troy. Fredegar's predecessor, Gregor[Pg 61]ius of Tours, was ignorant of it, and, as already shown, the word Franks does not occur anywhere in Virgil. The discovery that he nevertheless gave information about the Franks and their origin must therefore have been made or known in the time intervening between Gregorius' chronicle and Fredegar's. Which, then, can be the passage in Virgil's poems in which the discoverer succeeded in finding the proof that the Franks were Trojans? A careful examination of all the circumstances connected with the subject leads to the conclusion that the passage is in Ćneis, lib. i., 242ff.:

"Antenor potuit, mediis elapsus Achivis,
Illyricos penetrare sinus atque intima tutus
Regna Liburnorum, et fontem superare Timavi:
Unde per ora novem vasto cum murmere montis
It mare proruptum, et pelago premit arva sonanti.
Hic tamen ille urbem Patavi sedesque locavit

"Antenor having escaped from amidst the Greeks, could with safety penetrate the Illyrian Gulf and the inmost realms of Liburnia, and overpass the springs of Timavus, whence, through nine months, with loud echoing from the mountain, it bursts away, a sea impetuous, and sweeps the fields with a roaring deluge. Yet there he built the city of Padua and established a Trojan settlement."

The nearest proof at hand, that this is really the passage which was interpreted as referring to the ancient history of the Franks, is based on the following circumstances:

Gregorius of Tours had found in the history of Sulpicius Alexander accounts of violent conflicts, on the west[Pg 62] bank of the Rhine, between the Romans and Franks, the latter led by the chiefs Markomir and Sunno (Greg., Hist., ii. 9).

From Gregorius, Gesta regum Francorum has taken both these names. According to Gesta, the Franks, under the command of Markomir and Sunno, emigrate from Pannonia, near the Mœotian marshes, and settle on the Rhine. The supposition that they had lived in Pannonia before their coming to the Rhine, the author of Gesta had learned from Gregorius. In Gesta, Markomir is made a son of the Trojan Priam, and Sunno a son of the Trojan Antenor.

From this point of view, Virgil's account of Antenor's and his Trojans' journey to Europe from fallen Troy refers to the emigration of the father of the Frankish chief Sunno at the head of a tribe of Franks. And as Gesta's predecessor, the so-called Fredegar, appeals to Virgil as his authority for this Frankish emigration, and as the wanderings of Antenor are nowhere else mentioned by the Roman poet, there can be no doubt that the lines above quoted were the very ones which were regarded as the Virgilian evidence in regard to a Frankish emigration from Troy.

But how did it come to be regarded as an evidence?

Virgil says that Antenor, when he had escaped the Achivians, succeeded in penetrating Illyricos sinus, the very heart of Illyria. The name Illyricum served to designate all the regions inhabited by kindred tribes extending from the Alps to the mouth of the Danube and from the Danube to the Adriatic Sea and Hćmus (cp.[Pg 63] Marquardt Röm. Staatsverwalt, 295). To Illyricum belonged the Roman provinces Dalmatia, Pannonia, and Mœsia, and the Pannonians were an Illyrian tribe. In Pannonia Gregorius of Tours had located the Franks in early times. Thus Antenor, with his Trojans, on their westward journey, traverses the same regions from which, according to Gregorius, the Franks had set out for the Rhine.

Virgil also says that Antenor extended his journeys to the Liburnian kingdoms (regna Liburnorum). From Servius' commentary on this passage, the middle age knew that the Liburnian kingdoms were Rhetia and Vindelicia (Rhetia Vindelici ipsi sunt Liburni). Rhetia and Vindelicia separate Pannonia from the Rhine. Antenor, accordingly, takes the same route toward the West as the Franks must have taken if they came from Pannonia to the Rhine.

Virgil then brings Antenor to a river, which, it is true, is called Timavus, but which is described as a mighty stream, coming thundering out of a mountainous region, where it has its source, carrying with it a mass of water which the poet compares with a sea, forming before it reaches the sea a delta, the plains of which are deluged by the billows, and finally emptying itself by many outlets into the ocean. Virgil says nine; but Servius interprets this as meaning many: "finitus est numerus pro infinito."

We must pardon the Frankish scribes for taking this river to be the Rhine; for if a water-course is to be looked for in Europe west of the land of the Liburnians, which answers to the Virgilian description, then this must be[Pg 64] the Rhine, on whose banks the ancestors of the Franks for the first time appear in history.

Again, Virgil tells us that Antenor settled near this river and founded a colony—Patavium—on the low plains of the delta. The Salian Franks acquired possession of the low and flat regions around the outlets of the Rhine (Insula Batavorum) about the year 287, and also of the land to the south as far as to the Scheldt; and after protracted wars the Romans had to leave them in control of this region. By the very occupation of this low country, its conquerors might properly be called Batavian Franks. It is only necessary to call attention to the similarity of the words Patavi and Batavi, in order to show at the same time that the conclusion could scarcely be avoided that Virgil had reference to the immigration of the Franks when he spoke of the wanderings of Antenor, the more so, since from time out of date the pronunciation of the initials B and P have been interchanged by the Germans. In the conquered territory the Franks founded a city (Ammian. Marc., xvii. 2, 5).

Thus it appears that the Franks were supposed to have migrated to the Rhine under the leadership of Antenor. The first Frankish chiefs recorded, after their appearance there, are Markomir and Sunno. From this the conclusion was drawn that Sunno was Antenor's son; and as Markomir ought to be the son of some celebrated Trojan chief, he was made the son of Priam. Thus we have explained Fredegar's statement that Virgil is his authority for the Trojan descent of these Franks. This seemed to be established for all time.[Pg 65]

The wars fought around the Mœotian marshes between the emperor Valentinianus, the Alamanni, and the Franks, of which Gesta speaks, are not wholly inventions of the fancy. The historical kernel in this confused semi-mythical narrative is that Valentinianus really did fight with the Alamanni, and that the Franks for some time were allies of the Romans, and came into conflict with those same Alamanni (Ammian. Marc., libs, xxx., xxxi.). But the scene of these battles was not the Mœotian marshes and Pannonia, as Gesta supposes, but the regions on the Rhine.

The unhistorical statement of Gregorius that the Franks came from Pannonia is based only on the fact that Frankish warriors for some time formed a Sicambra cohors, which about the year 26 was incorporated with the Roman troops stationed in Pannonia and Thracia. The cohort is believed to have remained in Hungary and formed a colony, where Buda now is situated. Gesta makes Pannonia extend from the Mœotian marshes to Tanais, since according to Gregorius and earlier chroniclers, these waters were the boundary between Europe and Asia, and since Asia was regarded as a synonym of the Trojan empire. Virgil had called the Trojan kingdom Asia: Postquam res Asić Priamique evertere gentem, &c., (Ćneid, iii. 1).

Thus we have exhibited the seed out of which the fable about the Trojan descent of the Franks grew into a tree spreading its branches over all Teutonic Europe, in the same manner as the earlier fable, which was at least developed if not born in Sicily, in regard to the Trojan[Pg 66] descent of the Romans had grown into a tree overshadowing all the lands around the Mediterranean, and extending one of its branches across Gaul to Britain and Ireland. The first son of the Britons, "Brutus," was, according to Galfred, great-grandson of Ćneas, and migrated from Alba Longa to Ireland.

So far as the Gauls are concerned, the incorporation of Cis-Alpine Gaul with the Roman Empire, and the Romanising of the Gauls dwelling there, had at an early day made way for the belief that they had the same origin and were of the same blood as the Romans. Consequently they too were Trojans. This view, encouraged by Roman politics, gradually found its way to the Gauls on the other side of the Rhine; and even before Cćsar's time the Roman senate had in its letters to the Ćduans, often called them the "brothers and kinsmen" of the Romans (fratres consanguineique—Cćsar, De Bell. Gall., i. 33, 2). Of the Avernians Lucanus sings (i. 427): Averni ... ausi Latio se fingere fratres, sanguine ab Iliaco populi.

Thus we see that when the Franks, having made themselves masters of the Romanised Gaul, claimed a Trojan descent, then this was the repetition of a history of which Gaul for many centuries previously had been the scene. After the Frankish conquest the population of Gaul consisted for the second time of two nationalities unlike in language and customs, and now as before it was a political measure of no slight importance to bring these two nationalities as closely together as possible by the belief in a common descent. The Roman Gauls and the Franks[Pg 67] were represented as having been one people in the time of the Trojan war. After the fall of the common fatherland they were divided into two separate tribes, with separate destinies, until they refound each other in the west of Europe, to dwell together again in Gaul. This explains how it came to pass that, when they thought they had found evidence of this view in Virgil, this was at once accepted, and was so eagerly adopted that the older traditions in regard to the origin and migrations of the Franks were thrust aside and consigned to oblivion. History repeats itself a third time when the Normans conquered and became masters of that part of Gaul which after them is called Normandy. Dudo, their chronicler, says that they regarded themselves as being ex Antenore progenitos, descendants of Antenor. This is sufficient proof that they had borrowed from the Franks the tradition in regard to their Trojan descent.



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[Pg 68] 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 [Pg 69]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.[Pg 70]

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[Pg 71] 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[Pg 72] 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 Chaldćans, the lord of the seventh day. Among the North Teutons, or at least, among a part of them, his[Pg 73] 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 [Pg 74]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,[Pg 75] 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 Cumćan, a prophetess from Cumć in southern Italy. Both versions could easily be harmonised, for Cumć was a Greek colony from Asia Minor; and we read in Ser[Pg 76]vius' commentaries on Virgil's poems that the Erythreian Sibylla was by many regarded as identical with the Cumćan. From Asia Minor she was supposed to have come to Cumć.

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 Cumćan, 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 Cumćan 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[Pg 77] 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 Cumć 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[Pg 78] 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 Cumć, and from Cumć to Rome in the time of the kings. How it came there is not known. The story about the Cumćan 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[Pg 79] 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 Erythrć, 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[Pg 80] 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.[Pg 81]

Now, as the ancestors of the Romans were supposed to have emigrated from Troy to Italy under the leadership of Ćneas, 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 divis[Pg 82]ions—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 Mœotian 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 Mœotian 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[Pg 83] 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 (Ćneid, 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.



We trust the facts presented above have convinced the reader that the saga concerning the immigration of Odin and the Asas to Europe is throughout a product of[Pg 84] the convent learning of the middle ages. That it was born and developed independently of the traditions of the Teutonic heathendom shall be made still more apparent by the additional proofs that are accessible in regard to this subject. It may, however, be of some interest to first dwell on some of the details in the Heimskringla and in the Younger Edda and point out their source.

It should be borne in mind that, according to the Younger Edda, it was Zoroaster who first thought of building the Tower of Babel, and that in this undertaking he was assisted by seventy-two master-masons. Zoroaster is, as is well known, another form for the Bactrian or Iranian name Zarathustra, the name of the prophet and religious reformer who is praised on every page of Avesta's holy books, and who in a prehistoric age founded the religion which far down in our own era has been confessed by the Persians, and is still confessed by their descendants in India, and is marked by a most serious and moral view of the world. In the Persian and in the classical literatures this Zoroaster has naught to do with Babel, still less with the Tower of Babel. But already in the first century of Christianity, if not earlier, traditions became current which made Zoroaster the founder of all sorcery, magic, and astrology (Plinius, Hist. Nat., xxx. 2); and as astrology particularly was supposed to have had its centre and base in Babylon, it was natural to assume that Babel had been the scene of Zoroaster's activity. The Greek-Roman chronicler Ammianus Marcellinus, who lived in the fourth century after Christ, still knows that Zoroaster was a man from Bactria, not from[Pg 85] Babylon, but he already has formed the opinion that Zoroaster had gotten much of his wisdom from the writings of the Babylonians. In the Church fathers the saga is developed in this direction, and from the Church fathers it got into the Latin chronicles. The Christian historian Orosius also knows that Zoroaster was from Bactria, but he already connects Zoroaster with the history of Nineveh and Babylon, and makes Ninus make war against him and conquer him. Orosius speaks of him as the inventor of sorcery and the magic arts. Gregorius of Tours told in his time that Zoroaster was identical with Noah's grandson, with Chus, the son of Ham, that this Chus went to the Persians, and that the Persians called him Zoroaster, a name supposed to mean "the living star." Gregorius also relates that this Zoroaster was the first person who taught men the arts of sorcery and led them astray into idolatry, and as he knew the art of making stars and fire fall from heaven, men paid him divine worship. At that time, Gregorius continues, men desired to build a tower which should reach to heaven. But God confused their tongues and brought their project to naught. Nimrod, who was supposed to have built Babel, was, according to Gregorius, a son of Zoroaster.

If we compare this with what the Foreword of the Younger Edda tells, then we find that there, too, Zoroaster is a descendant of Noah's son Cham and the founder of all idolatry, and that he himself was worshipped as a god. It is evident that the author of the Foreword gathered these statements from some source[Pg 86] related to Gregorius' history. Of the 72 master-masons who were said to have helped Zoroaster in building the tower, and from whom the 72 languages of the world originated, Gregorius has nothing to say, but the saga about these builders was current everywhere during the middle ages. In the earlier Anglo-Saxon literature there is a very naďve little work, very characteristic of its age, called "A Dialogue between Saturn and Solomon," in which Saturnus tests Solomon's knowledge and puts to him all sorts of biblical questions, which Solomon answers partly from the Bible and partly from sagas connected with the Bible. Among other things Saturnus informs Solomon that Adam was created out of various elements, weighing altogether eight pounds, and that when created he was just 116 inches long. Solomon tells that Shem, Noah's son, had thirty sons, Cham thirty, and Japhet twelve—making 72 grandsons of Noah; and as there can be no doubt that it was the author's opinion that all the languages of the world, thought to be 72, originated at the Tower of Babel, and were spread into the world by these 72 grandsons of Noah, we here find the key to who those 72 master-masons were who, according to the Edda, assisted Zoroaster in building the tower. They were accordingly his brothers. Luther's contemporary, Henricus Cornelius Agrippa, who, in his work De occulta Philosophia, gathered numerous data in regard to the superstition of all ages, has a chapter on the power and sacred meaning of various numbers, and says in speaking of the number 72: "The number 72 corresponds to the 72 languages, the 72 elders in the syn[Pg 87]agogue, the 72 commentators of the Old Testament, Christ's 72 disciples, God's 72 names, the 72 angels who govern the 72 divisions of the Zodiac, each division of which corresponds to one of the 72 languages." This illustrates sufficiently how widespread was the tradition in regard to the 72 master-masons during the centuries of the middle ages. Even Nestor's Russian chronicle knows the tradition. It continued to enjoy a certain authority in the seventeenth century. An edition of Sulpicius Severus' Opera Omnia, printed in 1647, still considers it necessary to point out that a certain commentator had doubted whether the number 72 was entirely exact. Among the doubters we find Rudbeck in his Atlantica.

What the Edda tells about king Saturnus and his son, king Jupiter, is found in a general way, partly in the Church-father Lactantius, partly in Virgil's commentator Servius, who was known and read during the middle age. As the Edda claims that Saturnus knew the art of producing gold from the molten iron, and that no other than gold coins existed in his time, this must be considered an interpretation of the statement made in Latin sources that Saturnus' was the golden age—aurea secula, aurea regna. Among the Romans Saturnus was the guardian of treasures, and the treasury of the Romans was in the temple of Saturnus in the Forum.

The genealogy found in the Edda, according to which the Trojan king Priam, supposed to be the oldest and the proper Odin, was descended in the sixth generation from Jupiter, is taken from Latin chronicles. Herikon of the[Pg 88] Edda, grandson of Jupiter, is the Roman-Greek Erichtonius; the Edda's Lamedon is Laomedon. Then the Edda has the difficult task of continuing the genealogy through the dark centuries between the burning of Troy and the younger Odin's immigration to Europe. Here the Latin sources naturally fail it entirely, and it is obliged to seek other aid. It first considers the native sources. There it finds that Thor is also called Lorride, Indride, and Vingthor, and that he had two sons, Mode and Magne; but it also finds a genealogy made about the twelfth century, in which these different names of Thor are applied to different persons, so that Lorride is the son of Thor, Indride the son of Lorride, Vingthor the son of Indride, &c. This mode of making genealogies was current in Iceland in the twelfth century, and before that time among the Christian Anglo-Saxons. Thereupon the Edda continues its genealogy with the names Bedvig, Atra, Itrman, Heremod, Skjaldun or Skold, Bjćf, Jat, Gudolf, Fjarlaf or Fridleif, and finally Odin, that is to say, the younger Odin, who had adopted this name after his deified progenitor Hermes-Priam. This whole genealogy is taken from a Saxon source, and can be found in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle name for name. From Odin the genealogy divides itself into two branches, one from Odin's son, Veggdegg, and another from Odin's son, Beldegg or Balder. The one branch has the names Veggdegg, Vitrgils, Ritta, Heingest. These names are found arranged into a genealogy by the English Church historian Beda, by the English chronicler Nennius, and in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle. From[Pg 89] one of these three sources the Edda has taken them, and the only difference is that the Edda must have made a slip in one place and changed the name Vitta to Ritta. The other branch, which begins with Balder or Beldegg, embraces eight names, which are found in precisely the same order in the Anglo-Saxon chronicle.

In regard to Balder, the Edda says that Odin appointed him king in Westphalia. This statement is based on the tradition that Balder was known among the heathen Germans and Scandinavians by the name Fal (Falr, see No. 92), with its variation Fol. In an age when it was believed that Sweden got its name from a king Sven, Götaland from a king Göt, Danmark from a king Dan, Angeln from a king Angul, the Franks from a duke Francio, it might be expected that Falen (East- and West-Phalia) had been named after a king Fal. That this name was recognised as belonging to Balder not only in Germany, but also in Scandinavia, I shall give further proof of in No. 92.

As already stated, Thor was, according to the Edda, married to Sibil, that is to say, the Sibylla, and the Edda adds that this Sibil is called Sif in the North. In the Teutonic mythology Thor's wife is the goddess Sif. It has already been mentioned that it was believed in the middle age that the Cumćan or Erythreian Sibylla originally came from Troy, and it is not, therefore, strange that the author of the Younger Edda, who speaks of the Trojan descent of Odin and his people, should marry Thor to the most famous of Trojan women. Still, this marriage is not invented by the author. The statement[Pg 90] has an older foundation, and taking all circumstances into consideration, may be traced to Germany, where Sif, in the days of heathendom, was as well known as Thor. To the northern form Sif corresponds the Gothic form Sibba, the Old English Sib, the Old Saxon Sibbia, and the Old High German Sibba, and Sibil, Sibilla, was thought to be still another form of the same name. The belief, based on the assumed fact that Thor's wife Sif was identical with the Sibylla, explains a phenomenon not hitherto understood in the saga-world and church sculpture of the middle age, and on this point I now have a few remarks to make.

In the Norse mythology several goddesses or dises have, as we know, feather-guises, with which they fly through space. Freyja has a falcon-guise; several dises have swan-guises (Volundarkv. Helreid. Brynh., 6). Among these swan-maids was Sif (see No. 123). Sif could therefore present herself now in human form, and again in the guise of the most beautiful swimming bird, the swan.

A legend, the origin of which may be traced to Italy, tells that when the queen of Saba visited king Solomon, she was in one place to cross a brook. A tree or beam was thrown across as a bridge. The wise queen stopped, and would not let her foot touch the beam. She preferred to wade across the brook, and when she was asked the reason for this, she answered that in a prophetic vision she had seen that the time would come when this tree would be made into a cross on which the Saviour of the world was to suffer.[Pg 91]

The legend came also to Germany, but here it appears with the addition that the queen of Saba was rewarded for this piety, and was freed while wading across the brook from a bad blemish. One of her feet, so says the German addition, was of human form, but the other like the foot of a water-bird up to the moment when she took it out of the brook. Church sculpture sometimes in the middle age represented the queen of Saba as a woman well formed, except that she had one foot like that of a water-bird. How the Germans came to represent her with this blemish, foreign to the Italian legend, has not heretofore been explained, although the influence of the Greek-Roman mythology on the legends of the Romance peoples, and that of the Teutonic mythology on the Teutonic legends, has been traced in numerous instances.

During the middle ages the queen of Saba was called queen Seba, on account of the Latin translation of the Bible, where she is styled Regina Seba, and Seba was thought to be her name. The name suggested her identity, on the one hand, with Sibba, Sif, whose swan-guise lived in the traditions; on the other hand, with Sibilla, and the latter particularly, since queen Seba had proved herself to be in possession of prophetic inspiration, the chief characteristic of the Sibylla. Seba, Sibba, and Sibilla were in the popular fancy blended into one. This explains how queen Seba among the Germans, but not among the Italians, got the blemish which reminds us of the swan-guise of Thor's wife Sibba. And having come to the conclusion that Thor was a Trojan, his wife Sif also ought to be a Trojan woman. And as it[Pg 92] was known that the Sibylla was Trojan, and that queen Seba was a Sibylla, this blending was almost inevitable. The Latin scholars found further evidence of the correctness of this identity in a statement drawn originally from Greek sources to the effect that Jupiter had had a Sibylla, by name Lamia, as mistress, and had begotten a daughter with her by name Herophile, who was endowed with her mother's gift of prophecy. As we know, Mercury corresponds to Odin, and Jupiter to Thor, in the names of the days of the week. It thus follows that it was Thor who stood in this relation to the Sibylla.

The character of the anthropomorphosed Odin, who is lawgiver and king, as represented in Heimskringla and the Prose Edda, is only in part based on native northern traditions concerning the heathen god Odin, the ruler of heaven. This younger Odin, constructed by Christian authors, has received his chief features from documents found in the convent libraries. When the Prose Edda tells that the chief who proceeded from Asgard to Saxland and Scandinavia did not really bear the name Odin, but had assumed this name after the elder and deified Odin-Priam of Troy, to make people believe that he was a god, then this was no new idea. Virgil's commentator, Servius, remarks that ancient kings very frequently assumed names which by right belonged only to the gods, and he blames Virgil for making Saturnus come from the heavenly Olympus to found a golden age in Italy. This Saturnus, says Servius, was not a god from above, but a mortal king from Crete who had taken the god Saturnus' name. The manner in which Saturnus,[Pg 93] on his arrival in Italy and the vicinity of Rome, was received by Janus, the king ruling there, reminds us of the manner in which Odin, on his arrival in Svithiod, was received by king Gylfe. Janus is unpretentious enough to leave a portion of his territory and his royal power to Saturnus, and Gylfe makes the same concessions to Odin. Saturnus thereupon introduces a higher culture among the people of Latium, and Odin brings a higher culture to the inhabitants of Scandinavia. The Church father Lactantius, like Servius, speaks of kings who tried to appropriate the name and worship of the gods, and condemns them as foes of truth and violators of the doctrines of the true God.

In regard to one of them, the Persian Mithra, who, in the middle age, was confounded with Zoroaster, Tertulianus relates that he (Mithra), who knew in advance that Christianity would come, resolved to anticipate the true faith by introducing some of its customs. Thus, for example, Mithra, according to Tertulianus, introduced the custom of blessing by laying the hands on the head or the brow of those to whom he wished to insure prosperity, and he also adopted among his mysteries a practice resembling the breaking of the bread in the Eucharist. So far as the blessing by the laying on of hands is concerned, Mithra especially used it in giving courage to the men whom he sent out as soldiers to war. With these words of Tertulianus it is interesting to compare the following passage in regard to Odin in the Heimskringla: "It was his custom when he sent his men to war, or on some errand, to lay his hands on their heads[Pg 94] and give them bjannak." Bjannak is not a Norse word, not even Teutonic, and there has been uncertainty in regard to its significance. The well-known Icelandic philologist, Vigfusson, has, as I believe, given the correct definition of the word, having referred it to the Scottish word bannock and the Gaelic banagh, which means bread. Presumably the author of Heimskringla has chosen this foreign word in order not to wound the religious feelings of readers with a native term, for if bjannak really means bread, and if the author of Heimskringla desired in this way to indicate that Odin, by the aid of sacred usages, practised in the Christian cult—that is, by the laying on of hands and the breaking of bread—had given his warriors assurance of victory, then it lay near at hand to modify, by the aid of a foreign word for bread, the impression of the disagreeable similarity between the heathen and Christian usages. But at the same time the complete harmony between what Tertulianus tells about Mithra and Heimskringla about Odin is manifest.

What Heimskringla tells about Odin, that his spirit could leave the body and go to far-off regions, and that his body lay in the meantime as if asleep or dead, is told, in the middle age, of Zoroaster and of Hermes-Mercurius.

New Platonian works had told much about an originally Egyptian god, whom they associated with the Greek Hermes and called Hermes-Trismegistus—that is, the thrice greatest and highest. The name Hermes-Trismegistus became known through Latin authors even to the scholars in the middle age convents, and, as a mat[Pg 95]ter of course, those who believed that Odin was identical with Hermes also regarded him as identical with Hermes-Trismegistus. When Gylfe sought Odin and his men he came to a citadel which, according to the statement of the gatekeeper, belonged to king Odin, but when he had entered the hall he there saw not one throne, but three thrones, the one above the other, and upon each of the thrones a chief. When Gylfe asked the names of these chiefs, he received an answer that indicates that none of the three alone was Odin, but that Odin the sorcerer, who was able to turn men's vision, was present in them all. One of the three, says the doorkeeper, is named Hár, the second, Jafnhár, and the one on the highest throne is Thridi. It seems to me probable that what gave rise to this story was the surname "the thrice-highest," which in the middle age was ascribed to Mercury, and, consequently, was regarded as one of the epithets which Odin assumed. The names Third and High seem to point to the phrase "the thrice-highest." It was accordingly taken for granted that Odin had appropriated this name in order to anticipate Christianity with a sort of idea of trinity, just as Zoroaster, his progenitor, had, under the name Mithra, in advance imitated the Christian usages.

The rest that Heimskringla and the Younger Edda tell about the king Odin who immigrated to Europe is mainly taken from the stories embodied in the mythological songs and traditions in regard to the god Odin who ruled in the celestial Valhal. Here belongs what is told about the war of Odin and the Asiatics with the Vans. In the myth, this war was waged around the walls built[Pg 96] by a giant around the heavenly Asgard (Völusp., 25). The citadel in which Gylfe finds the triple Odin is decorated in harmony with the Valhal described by the heathen skalds. The men who drink and present exercises in arms are the einherjes of the myth. Gylfe himself is taken from the mythology, but, to all appearances, he did not play the part of a king, but of a giant, dwelling in Jotunheim. The Fornmanna sagas make him a descendant of Fornjótr, who, with his sons, Hlér, Logi, and Kári, and his descendants, Jökull, Snćr, Geitir, &c., doubtless belong to Jotunheim. When Odin and the Asas had been made immigrants to the North, it was quite natural that the giants were made a historical people, and as such were regarded as the aborigines of the North—an hypothesis which, in connection with the fable about the Asiatic emigration, was accepted for centuries, and still has its defenders. The story that Odin, when he perceived death drawing near, marked himself with the point of a spear, has its origin in the words which a heathen song lays on Odin's lips: "I know that I hung on the wind-tossed tree nine nights, by my spear wounded, given to Odin, myself given to myself" (Havam., 138).



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[Pg 97] 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[Pg 98] 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[Pg 99] 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.




What there still remains of migration sagas from the middle ages, taken from the saga-treasure of the Teutons themselves, is, alas! but little. Among the Franks the stream of national traditions early dried up, at least among the class possessing Latin culture. Among the Longobardians it fared better, and among them Christianity was introduced later. Within the ken of Roman history they appear in the first century after Christ, when Tiberius invaded their boundaries.

Tacitus speaks of them with admiration as a small people whose paucity, he says, was balanced by their unity and warlike virtues, which rendered them secure in the midst of the numerous and mighty tribes around them. The Longobardians dwelt at that time in the most northern[Pg 100] part of Germany, on the lower Elbe, probably in Luneburg. Five hundred years later we find them as rulers in Pannonia, whence they invade Italy. They had then been converted to Christianity. A hundred years after they had become settled in North Italy, one of their Latin scholars wrote a little treatise, De Origine Longobardorum, which begins in the following manner: "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Here begins the oldest history of our Longobardian people. There is an island called Skadan, far in the north. There dwelt many peoples. Among them was a little people called the Vinnilians, and among the Vinnilians was a woman by name Gambara. Gambara had two sons: one by name Ibor, the other named Ajo. She and these sons were the rulers among the Vinnilians. Then it came to pass that the Vandals, with their dukes Ambri and Assi, turned against the Vinnilians, and said to them: 'Pay ye tribute unto us. If ye will not, then arm yourselves for war!' Then made answer Ibor and Ajo and their mother Gambara: 'It is better for us to arm ourselves for war than to pay tribute to the Vandals'. When Ambri and Assi, the dukes of the Vandals, heard this, they addressed themselves to Odin (Godan) with a prayer that he should grant them victory. Odin answered and said: 'Those whom I first discover at the rising of the sun, to them I shall give victory'. But at the same time Ibor and Ajo, the chiefs of the Vinnilians, and their mother Gambara, addressed themselves to Frigg (Frea), Odin's wife, beseeching her to assist them. Then Frigg gave the advice that the Vinnilians should[Pg 101] set out at the rising of the sun, and that the women should accompany their husbands and arrange their hair so that it should hang like a beard under their chins. When the sky cleared and the sun was about to rise, Frigg, Odin's wife, went to the couch where her husband was sleeping and directed his face to the east (where the Vinnilians stood), and then she waked him. And as he looked up he saw the Vinnilians, and observed the hair hanging down from the faces of their women. And then said he: 'What long-beards are they?' Then said Frigg to Odin: 'My lord, as you now have named them, you must also give them victory!' And he gave them victory, so that they, in accordance with his resolve, defended themselves well, and got the upper hand. From that day the Vinnilians were called Longobardians—that is to say, long-beards. Then the Longobardians left their country and came to Golaida, and thereupon they occupied Aldonus, Anthaib, Bainaib, and Burgundaib."

In the days of Charlemagne the Longobardians got a historian by name Paulus Diaconus, a monk in the convent Monte Cassino, and he was himself a Longobardian by birth. Of the earliest history of his people he relates the following: The Vinnilians or Longobardians, who ruled successfully in Italy, are of Teutonic descent, and came originally from the island Scandinavia. Then he says that he has talked with persons who had been in Scandinavia, and from their reports he gives some facts, from which it is evident that his informants had reference to Scania with its extensive coast of lowlands and[Pg 102] shallow water. Then he continues: "When the population on this island had increased beyond the ability of the island to support them, they were divided into three parts, and it was determined by lot which part should emigrate from the native land and seek new homes. The part whose destiny it became to leave their native land chose as their leaders the brothers Ibor and Ajo, who were in the bloom of manhood and were distinguished above the rest. Then they bade farewell to their friends and to their country, and went to seek a land in which they might settle. The mother of these two leaders was called Gambara, who was distinguished among her people for her keen understanding and shrewd advice, and great reliance was placed on her prudence in difficult circumstances." Paulus makes a digression to discuss many remarkable things to be seen in Scandinavia: the light summer nights and the long winter nights, a maelstrom which in its vortex swallows vessels and sometimes throws them up again, an animal resembling a deer hunted by the neighbours of the Scandinavians, the Scritobinians (the Skee[7] Finns), and a cave in a rock where seven men in Roman clothes have slept for centuries (see Nos. 79-81, and No. 94). Then he relates that the Vinnilians left Scandinavia and came to a country called Scoringia, and there was fought the aforesaid battle, in which, thanks to Frigg's help, the Vinnilians conquered the Vandals, who demanded tribute from them.

[Pg 103]

The story is then told how this occurred, and how the Vinnilians got the name Longobardians in a manner corresponding with the source already quoted, with the one addition, that it was Odin's custom when he awoke to look out of the window, which was open, to the east toward the rising sun. Paulus Diaconus finds this Longobardian folk-saga ludicrous, not in itself, but because Odin was, in the first place, he says, a man, not a god. In the second place, Odin did not live among the Teutons, but among the Greeks, for he is the same as the one called by the Romans Mercury. In the third place, Odin-Mercury did not live at the time when the Longobardians emigrated from Scandinavia, but much earlier. According to Paulus, there were only five generations between the emigration of the Longobardians and the time of Odoacer. Thus we find in Paulus Diaconus the ideas in regard to Odin-Mercury which I have already called attention to. Paulus thereupon relates the adventures which happened to the Longobardians after the battle with the Vandals. I shall refer to these adventures later on. They belong to the Teutonic mythology, and reappear in mythic sources (see No. 112), but in a more original form, and as events which took place in the beginning of time in a conflict between the Asas and Vans on the one hand, and lower beings on the other hand; lower, indeed, but unavoidable in connection with the well-being of nature and man. This conflict resulted in a terrible winter and consequent famine throughout the North. In this mythological description we shall find Ajo and Ibor, under whose leadership the Longobardians emigrated,[Pg 104] and Hengist, under whom the Saxons landed in Britain.

It is proper to show what form the story about the Longobardian emigration had assumed toward the close of the twelfth century in the writings of the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus. The emigration took place, he says, at a time when a Danish king, by name Snö, ruled, and when there occurred a terrible famine. First, those starving had resolved to kill all the aged and all children, but this awful resolve was not carried out, thanks to a good and wise woman, by name Gambaruc, who advised that a part of the people should emigrate. This was done under the leadership of her sons Aggo and Ebbo. The emigrants came first to Blekingia (Blekinge), then they sailed past Moringia (Möre) and came to Gutland, where they had a contest with the Vandals, and by the aid of the goddess Frigg they won the victory, and got the name Longobardians. From Gutland they sailed to Rugen, and thence to the German continent, and thus after many adventures they at length became masters of a large part of Italy.

In regard to this account it must be remarked that although it contains many details not found in Paulus Diaconus, still it is the same narrative that has come to Saxo's knowledge. This Saxo also admits, and appeals to the testimony of Paulus Diaconus. Paulus' Gambara is Saxo's Gambaruc; Ajo and Ibor are Aggo and Ebbo. But the Longobardian monk is not Saxo's only source, and the brothers Aggo and Ebbo, as we shall show, were known to him from purely northern sources, though not as leaders of the Longobardians, but as mythic charac[Pg 105]ters, who are actors in the great winter which Saxo speaks of.

The Longobardian emigration saga—as we find it recorded in the seventh century, and then again in the time of Charlemagne—contains unmistakable internal evidence of having been taken from the people's own traditions. Proof of this is already the circumstance, that although the Longobardians had been Christians for nearly 200 years when the little book De Origine Longobardorum appeared, still the long-banished divinities, Odin and Frigg, reappear and take part in the events, not as men, but as divine beings, and in a manner thoroughly corresponding with the stories recorded in the North concerning the relations between Odin and his wife. For although this relation was a good and tender one, judging from expressions in the heathen poems of the North (Völusp., 51; Vafthr., 1-4), and although the queen of heaven, Frigg, seems to have been a good mother in the belief of the Teutons, this does not hinder her from being represented as a wily person, with a will of her own which she knows how to carry out. Even a Norse story tells how Frigg resolves to protect a person whom Odin is not able to help; how she and he have different favourites among men, and vie with each other in bringing greater luck to their favourites. The story is found in the prose introduction to the poem "Grimnismŕl," an introduction which in more than one respect reminds us of the Longobardian emigration saga. In both it is mentioned how Odin from his dwelling looks out upon the world and observes what is going on. Odin has a favourite by name[Pg 106] Geirrod. Frigg, on the other hand, protects Geirrod's brother Agnar. The man and wife find fault with each other's protégés. Frigg remarks about Geirrod, that he is a prince, "stingy with food, so that he lets his guests starve if they are many." And the story goes on to say that Geirrod, at the secret command of Odin, had pushed the boat in which Agnar was sitting away from shore, and that the boat had gone to sea with Agnar and had not returned. The story looks like a parable founded on the Longobardian saga, or like one grown in a Christian time out of the same root as the Longobardian story. Geirrod is in reality the name of a giant, and the giant is in the myth a being who brings hail and frost. He dwells in the uttermost North, beyond the mythical Gandvik (Thorsdrapa, 2), and as a mythical winter symbol he corresponds to king Snö in Saxo. His "stinginess of food when too many guests come" seems to point to lack of food caused by the unfavourable weather, which necessitated emigrations, when the country became over-populated. Agnar, abandoned to the waves of the sea, is protected, like the Longobardians crossing the sea, by Frigg, and his very name, Agnar, reminds us of the names Aggo, Acho, and Agio, by which Ajo, one of the leaders of the Longobardians, is known. The prose introduction has no original connection with Grimnismŕl itself, and in the form in which we now have it, it belongs to a Christian age, and is apparently from an author belonging to the same school as those who regarded the giants as the original inhabitants of Scandinavia, and turned winter giants like Jökull, Snćr, &c., into historical kings of Norway.[Pg 107]

The absolutely positive result of the Longobardian narratives written by Longobardian historians is that the Teutonic race to which they belonged considered themselves sprung, not from Troy or Asia, but from an island, situated in the ocean, which washes the northern shores of the Teutonic continent, that is to say, of Germany.



From the Longobardians I now pass to the great Teutonic group of peoples comprised in the term the Saxons. Their historian, Widukind, who wrote his chronicle in the tenth century, begins by telling what he has learned about the origin of the Saxons. Here, he says, different opinions are opposed to each other. According to one opinion held by those who knew the Greeks and Romans, the Saxons are descended from the remnants of Alexander the Great's Macedonian army; according to the other, which is based on native traditions, the Saxons are descended from Danes and Northmen. Widukind so far takes his position between these opinions that he considers it certain that the Saxons had come in ships to the country they inhabited on the lower Elbe and the North Sea, and that they landed in Hadolaun, that is to say, in the district Hadeln, near the mouth of the Elbe, which, we may say in passing, still is distinguished for its remarkably vigorous population, consisting of peasants whose ancestors throughout the middle ages preserved[Pg 108] the communal liberty in successful conflict with the feudal nobility. Widukind's statement that the Saxons crossed the sea to Hadeln is found in an older Saxon chronicle, written about 860, with the addition that the leader of the Saxons in their emigration was a chief by name Hadugoto.

A Swabian chronicle, which claims that the Swabians also came from the North and experienced about the same adventures as the Saxons when they came to their new home, gives from popular traditions additional details in regard to the migration and the voyage. According to this account, the emigration was caused by a famine which visited the Northland situated on the other side of the sea, because the inhabitants were heathens who annually sacrificed twelve Christians to their gods. At the time when the famine came there ruled a king Rudolph over that region in the Northland whence the people emigrated. He called a convention of all the most noble men in the land, and there it was decided that, in order to put an end to the famine, the fathers of families who had several sons should slay them all except the one they loved most. Thanks to a young man, by name Ditwin, who was himself included in this dreadful resolution, a new convention was called, and the above resolution was rescinded, and instead, it was decided to procure ships, and that all they who, according to the former resolution, were doomed to die, should seek new homes beyond the sea. Accompanied by their female friends, they embarked, and they had not sailed far before they were attacked by a violent storm, which carried them to a Danish[Pg 109] harbour near a place, says the author, which is called Slesvik. Here they went ashore, and to put an end to all discussion in regard to a return to the old dear fatherland, they hewed their ships into pieces. Then they wandered through the country which lay before them, and, together with much other booty, they gathered 20,000 horses, so that a large number of the men were able to ride on horseback. The rest followed the riders on foot. Armed with weapons, they proceeded in this manner through the country ruled by the Danes, and they came to the river Alba (Elbe), which they crossed; after which they scattered themselves along the coast. This Swabian narrative, which seems to be copied from the Saxon, tells, like the latter, that the Thuringians were rulers in the land to which the immigrants came, and that bloody battles had to be fought before they got possession of it. Widukind's account attempts to give the Saxons a legal right, at least to the landing-place and the immediate vicinity. This legal right, he says, was acquired in the following manner: While the Saxons were still in their ships in the harbour, out of which the Thuringians were unable to drive them, it was resolved on both sides to open negotiations, and thus an understanding was reached, that the Saxons, on the condition that they abstained from plundering and murder, might remain and buy what they needed and sell whatever they could. Then it occurred that a Saxon man, richly adorned with gold and wearing a gold necklace, went ashore. There a Thuringian met him and asked him: "Why do you wear so much gold around your lean neck?" The youth[Pg 110] answered that he was perishing from hunger, and was seeking a purchaser of his gold ornaments. "How much do you ask?" inquired the Thuringian. "What do you bid?" answered the Saxon. Near by was a large sand-hill, and the Thuringian said in derision: "I will give you as much sand as you can carry in your clothes." The Saxon said he would accept this offer. The Thuringian filled the skirts of his frock with sand; the Saxon gave him his gold ornaments and returned to the ships. The Thuringians laughed at this bargain with contempt, and the Saxons found it foolish; but the youth said: "Go with me, brave Saxons, and I will show you that my foolishness will be your advantage." Then he took the sand he had bought and scattered it as widely as possible over the ground, covering in this manner so large an area that it gave the Saxons a fortified camp. The Thuringians sent messengers and complained of this, but the Saxons answered that hitherto they had faithfully observed the treaty, and that they had not taken more territory than they had purchased with their gold. Thus the Saxons got a firm foothold in the land.

Thus we find that the sagas of the Saxons and the Swabians agree with those of the Longobardians in this, that their ancestors were supposed to have come from a northern country beyond the Baltic. The Swabian version identifies this country distinctly enough with the Scandinavian peninsula. Of an immigration from the East the traditions of these tribes have not a word to say.[Pg 111]



We have already stated that the Frankish chronicles, unlike those of the other Teutonic tribes, wholly ignore the traditions of the Franks, and instead present the scholastic doctrine concerning the descent of the Franks from Troy and the Mœotian marshes. But I did not mean to say that we are wholly without evidence that another theory existed among the Franks, for they, too, had traditions in harmony with those of the other Teutonic tribes. There lived in the time of Charlemagne and after him a Frankish man whose name is written on the pages of history as a person of noble character and as a great educator in his day, the abbot in Fulda, later archbishop in Mayence, Hrabanus Maurus, a scholar of the distinguished Alcuin, the founder of the first library and of the first large convent school in Germany. The fact that he was particularly a theologian and Latinist did not prevent his honouring and loving the tongue of his fathers and of his race. He encouraged its study and use, and he succeeded in bringing about that sermons were preached in the churches in the Teutonic dialect of the church-goers. That a Latin scholar with so wide a horizon as his also was able to comprehend what the majority of his colleagues failed to understand—viz., that some value should be attached to the customs of the fathers and to the old memories from heathen times—should not surprise us. One of the proofs of his interest in this matter he has given us in his treatise De invocatione lin[Pg 112]guarum, in which he has recorded a Runic alphabet, and added the information that it is the alphabet used by the Northmen and by other heathen tribes, and that songs and formulas for healing, incantation, and prophecy are written with these characters. When Hrabanus speaks of the Northmen, he adds that those who speak the German tongue trace their descent from the Northmen. This statement cannot be harmonised with the hypothesis concerning the Asiatic descent of the Franks and other Teutons, except by assuming that the Teutons on their immigration from Asia to Europe took a route so far to the north that they reached the Scandinavian peninsula and Denmark without touching Germany and Central Europe, and then came from the North to Germany. But of such a view there is not a trace to be found in the middle age chronicles. The Frankish chronicles make the Franks proceed from Pannonia straight to the Rhine. The Icelandic imitations of the hypothesis make Odin and his people proceed from Tanais to Saxland, and found kingdoms there before he comes to Denmark and Sweden. Hrabanus has certainly not heard of any such theory. His statement that all the Teutons came from the North rests on the same foundation as the native traditions which produced the sagas in regard to the descent of the Longobardians, Saxons, and Swabians from the North. There still remains one trace of the Frankish migration saga, and that is the statement of Paulus Diaconus, made above, concerning the supposed identity of the name Ansgisel with the name Anchises. The identification is not made by Paulus himself, but was found in the Frank[Pg 113]ish source which furnished him with what he tells about the ancestors of Charlemagne, and the Frankish source, under the influence of the hypothesis regarding the Trojan descent of the Franks, has made an emigration leader mentioned in the popular traditions identical with the Trojan Anchises. This is corroborated by the Ravenna geographer, who also informs us that a certain Anschis, Ansgisel, was a Teutonic emigration leader, and that he was the one under whose leadership the Saxon tribes left their old homes. Thus it appears that, according to the Frankish saga, the Franks originally emigrated under the same chief as the Saxons. The character and position of Ansgisel in the heathen myth will be explained in No. 123.



The most populous and mighty of all the Teutonic tribes was during a long period the Gothic, which carried victorious weapons over all eastern and southern Europe and Asia Minor, and founded kingdoms between the Don in the East and the Atlantic ocean and the Pillars of Hercules in the West and South. The traditions of the Goths also referred the cradle of the race to Scandinavia. Jordanes, a Romanised Goth, wrote in the sixth century the history of his people. In the North, he says,[Pg 114] there is a great ocean, and in this ocean there is a large island called Scandza, out of whose loins our race burst forth like a swarm of bees and spread over Europe. In its capacity as cradle of the Gothic race, and of other Teutonic tribes, this island Scandza is clearly of great interest to Jordanes, the more so since he, through his father Vamod or Alano-Vamut, regarded himself as descended from the same royal family as that from which the Amalians, the famous royal family of the East Goths, traced their ancestry. On this account Jordanes gives as complete a description of this island as possible. He first tells what the Greek and Roman authors Claudius Ptolemy and Pomponius Mela have written about it, but he also reports a great many things which never before were known in literature, unless they were found in the lost Historia Gothorum by Cassiodorus—things which either Jordanes himself or Cassiodorus had learned from Northmen who were members of the large Teutonic armies then in Italy. Jordanes also points out, with an air of superiority, that while the geographer Ptolemy did not know more than seven nations living on the island Scandza, he is able to enumerate many more. Unfortunately several of the Scandinavian tribe-names given by him are so corrupted by the transcriber that it is useless to try to restore them. It is also evident that Jordanes himself has had a confused notion of the proper geographical or political application of the names. Some of them, however, are easily recognisable as the names of tribes in various parts of Sweden and Norway, as, for instance, Vagoth, Ostrogothć, Finnaithć (inhabi[Pg 115]tants of Finved), Bergio, Hallin, Raumaricii, Ragnaricii, Rani. He gives us special accounts of a Scandinavian people, which he calls sometimes Svehans and sometimes Svethidi, and with these words there is every reason to believe that he means the Swedes in the wider or more limited application of this term. This is what he tells about the Svehans or Svethidi: The Svehans are in connection with the Thuringians living on the continent, that Teutonic people which is particularly celebrated for their excellent horses. The Svehans are excellent hunters, who kill the animals whose skins through countless hands are sent to the Romans, and are treasured by them as the finest of furs. This trade cannot have made the Svehans rich. Jordanes gives us to understand that their economical circumstances were not brilliant, but all the more brilliant were their clothes. He says they dressed ditissime. Finally, he has been informed that the Svethidi are superior to other races in stature and corporal strength, and that the Danes are a branch of the Svethidi. What Jordanes relates about the excellent horses of the Swedes is corroborated by the traditions which the Icelanders have preserved. The fact that so many tribes inhabited the island Scandza strengthens his conviction that this island is the cradle of many of the peoples who made war on and invaded the Roman Empire. The island Scandza, he says, has been officina gentium, vagina nationum—the source of races, the mother of nations. And thence—he continues, relying on the traditions and songs of his own people—the Goths, too, have emigrated. This emigration occurred under the leadership of a chief[Pg 116] named Berig, and he thinks he knows where they landed when they left their ships, and that they, like the Longobardians, on their progress came in conflict with the Vandals before they reached the regions north of the Black Sea, where they afterwards founded the great Gothic kingdom which flourished when the Huns invaded Europe.

The saga current among the Goths, that they had emigrated from Scandinavia, ascribed the same origin to the Gepidć. The Gepidć were a brave but rather sluggish Teutonic tribe, who shared the fate of the Goths when the Huns invaded Europe, and, like the Goths, they cast off the Hunnish yoke after the death of Attila. The saga, as Jordanes found it, stated that when the ancestors of the Goths left Scandza, the whole number of the emigrants did not fill more than three ships. Two of them came to their destination at the same time; but the third required more time, and therefore the first-comers called those who arrived last Gepanta (possibly Gepaita), which, according to Jordanes, means those tarrying, or the slow ones, and this name changed in course of time into Gepidć. That the interpretation is taken from Gothic traditions is self-evident.

Jordanes has heard a report that even the warlike Teutonic Herulians had come to Germany from Scandinavia. According to the report, the Herulians had not emigrated voluntarily from the large islands, but had been driven away by the Svethidi, or by their descendants, the Danes. That the Herulians themselves had a tradition concerning their Scandinavian origin is corroborated by history.[Pg 117] In the beginning of the sixth century, it happened that this people, after an unsuccessful war with the Longobardians, were divided into two branches, of which the one received land from the emperor Anastasius south of the Danube, while the other made a resolve, which has appeared strange to all historians, viz., to seek a home on the Scandinavian peninsula. The circumstances attending this resolution make it still more strange. When they had passed the Slavs, they came to uninhabited regions—uninhabited, probably, because they had been abandoned by the Teutons, and had not yet been occupied by the Slavs. In either case, they were open to the occupation of the Herulians; but they did not settle there. We misunderstand their character if we suppose that they failed to do so from fear of being disturbed in their possession of them. Among all the Teutonic tribes none were more distinguished than the Herulians for their indomitable desire for war, and for their rash plans. Their conduct furnishes evidence of that thoughtlessness with which the historian has characterised them. After penetrating the wilderness, they came to the landmarks of the Varinians, and then to those of the Danes. These granted the Herulians a free passage, whereupon the adventurers, in ships which the Danes must have placed at their disposal, sailed over the sea to the island "Thule," and remained there. Procopius, the East Roman historian who records this (De Bello Goth., ii., 15), says that on the immense island Thule, in whose northern part the midnight sun can be seen, thirteen large tribes occupy its inhabitable parts, each tribe having its own king. Ex[Pg 118]cepting the Skee Finns, who clothe themselves in skins and live from the chase, these Thulitic tribes, he says, are scarcely to be distinguished from the people dwelling farther south in Europe. One of the largest tribes is the Gauts (the Götar). The Herulians went to the Gauts and were received by them.

Some decades later it came to pass that the Herulians remaining in South Europe, and dwelling in Illyria, were in want of a king. They resolved to send messengers to their kinsmen who had settled in Scandinavia, hoping that some descendant of their old royal family might be found there who was willing to assume the dignity of king among them. The messengers returned with two brothers who belonged to the ancient family of rulers, and these were escorted by 200 young Scandinavian Herulians.

As Jordanes tells us that the Herulians actually were descended from the great northern island, then this seems to me to explain this remarkable resolution. They were seeking new homes in that land which in their old songs was described as having belonged to their fathers. In their opinion, it was a return to the country which contained the ashes of their ancestors. According to an old middle age source, Vita Sigismundi, the Burgundians also had old traditions about a Scandinavian origin. As will be shown further on, the Burgundian saga was connected with the same emigration chief as that of the Saxons and Franks (see No. 123).

Reminiscences of an Alamannic migration saga can be traced in the traditions found around the Vierwaldstädter[Pg 119] Lake. The inhabitants of the Canton Schwitz have believed that they originally came from Sweden. It is fair to assume that this tradition in the form given to it in literature has suffered a change, and that the chroniclers, on account of the similarity between Sweden and Schwitz, have transferred the home of the Alamannic Switzians to Sweden, while the original popular tradition has, like the other Teutonic migration sagas, been satisfied with the more vague idea that the Schwitzians came from the country in the sea north of Germany when they settled in their Alpine valleys. In the same regions of Switzerland popular traditions have preserved the memory of an exploit which belongs to the Teutonic mythology, and is there performed by the great archer Ibor (see No. 108), and as he reappears in the Longobardian tradition as a migration chief, the possibility lies near at hand, that he originally was no stranger to the Alamannic migration saga.



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, Gepidć, 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[Pg 120] 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.

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 [Pg 121] 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[Pg 122] crediderim minimeque aliarum gentium adventibus et hospitiis mixtos, quia nec terra olim sed classibus advehebantur qui mutare sedes qućrebant, 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 (prćter 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.


(From the painting by M. E. Winge.)

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.

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[Pg 123] 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 inves[Pg 124]tigate 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[Pg 125]—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 résumé (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).[Pg 126]





The human race, or at least the Teutonic race, springs, according to the myth, from a single pair, and has accordingly had a centre from which their descendants have spread over that world which was embraced by the Teutonic horizon. The story of the creation of this pair has its root in a myth of ancient Aryan origin, according to which the first parents were plants before they became human beings. The Iranian version of the story is preserved in Bundehesh, chap. 15. There it is stated that the first human pair grew at the time of the autumnal equinox in the form of a rheum ribes with a single stalk. After the lapse of fifteen years the bush had put forth fifteen leaves. The man and woman who developed in and with it were closely united, forming one body, so that it could not be seen which one was the man and which one was the woman, and they held their hands close to their ears. Nothing revealed whether the splendour of[Pg 127] Ahuramazda—that is to say, the soul—was yet in them or not. Then said Ahuramazda to Mashia (the man) and to Mashiana (the woman): "Be human beings; become the parents of the world!" And from being plants they got the form of human beings, and Ahuramazda urged them to think good thoughts, speak good words and do good deeds. Still, they soon thought an evil thought and became sinners. The rheum ribes from which they sprang had its own origin in seed from a primeval being in human form, Gaya Maretan (Gayo-mert), which was created from perspiration (cp. Vafthrudnersmal, xxxiii. 1-4), but was slain by the evil Angra Mainyu. Bundehesh then gives an account of the first generations following Mashia and Mashiana, and explains how they spread over the earth and became the first parents of the human race.

The Hellenic Aryans have known the myth concerning the origin of man from plants. According to Hesiodus, the men of the third age of the world grew from the ash tree (ek meleon); compare the Odyssey, xix, 163.

From this same tree came the first man according to the Teutonic myth. Three asas, mighty and worthy of worship, came to Midgard (at húsi, Völusp., 16; compare Völusp., 4, where Midgard is referred to by the word salr) and found á landi Ask and Embla. These beings were then "of little might" (litt megandi) and "without destiny" (örlögslausir); they lacked önd, they lacked ódr, they had no lá or lćti or litr goda, but Odin gave them önd, Honor gave them ódr, Loder gave them and litr goda. In reference to the meaning of these words I[Pg 128] refer my readers to No. 95, simply noting here that litr goda, hitherto defined as "good colour" (godr litr), signifies "the appearance (image) of gods." From looking like trees Ask and Embla got the appearance which before them none but the gods had assumed. The Teutons, like the Greeks and Romans, conceived the gods in the image of men.

Odin's words in Havamál, 43, refer to the same myth.

The passage explains that when the Asa-god saw the modesty of the new-made human pair he gave them his own divine garments to cover them. When they found themselves so beautifully adorned it seems to indicate the awakening sense of pride in the first human pair. The words are: "In the field (velli at) I gave my clothes to the two wooden men (tveim tremönnum). Heroes they seemed to themselves when they got clothes. The naked man is embarrassed."

But the expressions á landi and velli at should be observed. That the trees grew on the ground, and that the acts of creating and clothing took place there is so self-evident that these words would be meaningless if they were not called for by the fact that the authors of these passages in Havamál and Völuspâ had in their minds the ground along the sea, that is, a sea-beach. This is also clear from a tradition given in Gylfaginning, chapter 9, according to which the three asas were walking along the sea-beach (med sćvarströndu) when they found Ask and Embla, and created of them the first human pair.

Thus the first human pair were created on the beach of an ocean. To which sea can the myth refer? The[Pg 129] question does not concern the ancient Aryan time, but the Teutonic antiquity, not Asia, but Europe; and if we furthermore limit it to the Christian era there can be but one answer. Germany was bounded in the days of Tacitus, and long before his time, by Gaul, Rhœtia, and Pannonia on the west and south, by the extensive territories of the Sarmatians and Dacians on the east, and by the ocean on the north. The so-called German Ocean, the North Sea and the Baltic, was then the only body of water within the horizon of the Teutons, the only one which in the days of Jordanes, after the Goths long had ruled north of the Black Sea, was thought to wash the primeval Teutonic strands. The myth must therefore refer to the German Ocean. It is certain that the borders of this ocean where the myth has located the creation of the first human pair, or the first Teutonic pair, was regarded as the centre from which their descendants spread over more and more territory. Where near the North Sea or the Baltic was this centre located?

Even this question can be answered, thanks to the mythic fragments preserved. A feature common to all well-developed mythological systems is the view that the human race in its infancy was under the special protection of friendly divinities, and received from them the doctrines, arts, and trades without which all culture is impossible. The same view is strongly developed among the Teutons. Anglo-Saxon documents have rescued the story telling how Ask's and Embla's descendants received the first blessings of culture from the benign gods. The story has come to us through Christian hands, which,[Pg 130] however, have allowed enough of the original to remain to show that its main purpose was to tell us how the great gifts of culture came to the human race. The saga names the land where this took place. The country was the most southern part of the Scandinavian peninsula, and especially the part of it bordering on the western sea. Had these statements come to us only from northern sources, there would be good reason for doubting their originality and general application to the Teutonic tribes. The Icelandic-Norwegian middle-age literature abounds in evidence of a disposition to locate the events of a myth and the exploits of mythic persons in the author's own land and town. But in this instance there is no room for the suspicion that patriotism has given to the southern-most part of the Scandinavian peninsula a so conspicuous prominence in the earliest history of the myth. The chief evidence is found in the traditions of the Saxons in England, and this gives us the best clue to the unanimity with which the sagas of the Teutonic continent, from a time prior to the birth of Christ far down in the middle ages, point out the great peninsula in the northern sea as the land of the oldest ancestors, in conflict with the scholastic opinion in regard to an emigration from Troy. The region where the myth located the first dawn of human culture was certainly also the place which was regarded as the cradle and centre of the race.

The non-Scandinavian sources in question are: Beowulf's poem, Ethelwerdus, Willielmus Malmesburiensis, Simeon Dunelmensis, and Matthćus Monasteriensis. A closer examination of them reveals the fact that they have[Pg 131] their information from three different sources, which again have a common origin in a heathen myth. If we bring together what they have preserved of the story we get the following result:[8]

One day it came to pass that a ship was seen sailing near the coast of Scedeland or Scani,[9] and it approached the land without being propelled either by oars or sails. The ship came to the sea-beach, and there was seen lying in it a little boy, who was sleeping with his head on a sheaf of grain, surrounded by treasures and tools, by glaives and coats of mail. The boat itself was steady and beautifully decorated. Who he was and whence he came nobody had any idea, but the little boy was received as if he had been a kinsman, and he received the most constant and tender care. As he came with a sheaf of grain to their country the people called him Scef, Sceaf.[10] (The Beowulf poem calls him Scyld, son of Sceaf, and gives Scyld the son Beowulf, which originally was another name of Scyld.) Scef grew up among this people, became their benefactor and king, and ruled most honourably for many years. He died far advanced in age. In accordance with his own directions, his body was borne down to the strand where he had landed as a child. There in a little harbour lay the same boat in which he had come. Glittering from hoar-frost and ice, and eager to return to the sea, the boat was waiting to receive the dead king, and around him the grateful and sorrowing people laid no fewer treasures than those with which Scef had come. And when all was finished the boat went out upon the sea, and no one knows where it landed. He left a son Scyld (according to the Beowulf poem, Beowulf son of Scyld), who ruled after him. Grandson of the boy who came with the sheaf was Healfdene—Halfdan, king of the Danes (that is, according to the Beowulf poem).

[Pg 132]

The myth gives the oldest Teutonic patriarchs a very long life, in the same manner as the Bible in the case of Adam and his descendants. They lived for centuries (see below). The story could therefore make the culture introduced by Scef spread far and wide during his own reign, and it could make his realm increase with the culture. According to scattered statements traceable to the Scef-saga, Denmark, Angeln, and at least the northern part of Saxland, have been populated by people who obeyed his sceptre. In the North Götaland and Svealand were subject to him.

The proof of this, so far as Denmark is concerned, is that, according to the Beowulf poem, its first royal family was descended from Scef through his son Scyld (Skjold). In accordance herewith, Danish and Icelandic genealogies make Skjold the progenitor of the first dynasty in Denmark, and also make him the ruler of the land to which his father came, that is, Skane. His origin as a divinely-born patriarch, as a hero receiving divine worship, and as the ruler of the original Teutonic country, appears also in[Pg 133] Fornmannasögur, v. 239, where he is styled Skáninga god, the god of the Scanians.

Matthćus Westmonast. informs us that Scef ruled in Angeln.

According to the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, the dynasty of Wessex came from Saxland, and its progenitor was Scef.

If we examine the northern sources we discover that the Scef myth still may be found in passages which have been unnoticed, and that the tribes of the far North saw in the boy who came with the sheaf and the tools the divine progenitor of their celebrated dynasty in Upsala. This can be found in spite of the younger saga-geological layer which the hypothesis of Odin's and his Trojan Asas' immigration has spread over it since the introduction of Christianity. Scef's personality comes to the surface, we shall see, as Skefill and Skelfir.

In the Fornalder-sagas, ii. 9, and in Flateyarbók, i. 24, Skelfir is mentioned as family patriarch and as Skjold's father, the progenitor of the Skjoldungs. There can, therefore, be no doubt that Scef, Scyld's father, and through him the progenitor of the Skjoldungs, originally is the same as Skelfir, Skjold's father, and progenitor of the Skjoldungs in these Icelandic works.

But he is not only the progenitor of the Skjoldungs, but also of the Ynglings. The genealogy beginning with him is called in the Flateryarbók, Skilfinga ćtt edr skjoldunga ćtt. The Younger Edda also (i. 522) knows Skelfir, and says he was a famous king whose genealogy er köllut skilvinga ćtt. Now the Skilfing race in the[Pg 134] oldest sources is precisely the same as the Yngling race both from an Anglo-Saxon and from a heathen Norse standpoint. The Beowulf poem calls the Swedish kings scilfingas, and according to Thjodulf, a kinsman of the Ynglings and a kinsman of the Skilfing, Skilfinga nidr, are identical (Ynglingatal, 30). Even the Younger Edda seems to be aware of this. It says in the passage quoted above that the Skilfing race er i Austrvegum. In the Thjodulf strophes Austrvegar means simply Svealand, and Austrkonungur means Swedish king.

Thus it follows that the Scef who is identical with Skelfir was in the heathen saga of the North the common progenitor of the Ynglinga and of the Skjoldunga race. From his dignity as original patriarch of the royal families of Sweden, Denmark, Angeln, Saxland, and England, he was displaced by the scholastic fiction of the middle ages concerning the immigration of Trojan Asiatics under the leadership of Odin, who as the leader of the immigration also had to be the progenitor of the most distinguished families of the immigrants. This view seems first to have been established in England after this country had been converted to Christianity and conquered by the Trojan immigration hypothesis. Wodan is there placed at the head of the royal genealogies of the chronicles, excepting in Wessex, where Scef is allowed to retain his old position, and where Odin must content himself with a secondary place in the genealogy. But in the Beowulf poem Scef still retains his dignity as ancient patriarch of the kings of Denmark.

From England this same distortion of the myth comes[Pg 135] to the North in connection with the hypothesis concerning the immigration of the "Asiamen," and is there finally accepted in the most unconcerned manner, without the least regard to the mythic records which were still well known. Skjold, Scef's son, is without any hesitation changed into a son of Odin (Ynglingasaga, 5; Foreword to Gylfag., 11). Yngve, who as the progenitor of the Ynglings is identical with Scef, and whose very name, perhaps, is or has been conceived as an epithet indicating Scef's tender age when he came to the coast of Scandia—Yngve-Scef is confounded with Frey, is styled Yngve-Frey after the appellation of the Vana-god Ingunar Frey, and he, too, is called a son of Odin (Foreword to Gylfag., c. 13), although Frey in the myth is a son of Njord and belongs to another race of gods than Odin. The epithet with which Are Frode in his Schedć characterises Yngve, viz., Tyrkiakonungr, Trojan king, proves that the lad who came with the sheaf of grain to Skane is already in Are changed into a Trojan.



But in one respect Are Frode or his authority has paid attention to the genuine mythic tradition, and that is by making the Vana-gods the kinsmen of the descendants of Yngve. This is correct in the sense that Scef-Yngve, the son of a deity transformed into a man, was in the myth a Vana-god. Accordingly every member of the Yngling[Pg 136] race and every descendant of Scef may be styled a son of Frey (Freys áttungr), epithets applied by Thjodulf in Ynglingatal in regard to the Upsala kings. They are gifts from the Vana-gods—the implements which point to the opulent Njord, and the grain sheaf which is Frey's symbol—which Scef-Yngve brings with him to the ancient people of Scandia, and his rule is peaceful and rich in blessings.

Scef-Yngve comes across the ocean. Vanaheim was thought to be situated on the other side of it, in the same direction as Ćgir's palace in the great western ocean and in the outermost domain of Jormumgrund (see 93). This is indicated in Lokasenna, 34, where Loke in Ćgir's hall says to the Van Njord: "You were sent from here to the East as a hostage to the gods (thu vart austr hedan gisl um sendr at godum)". Thus Njord's castle Noatun is situated in the West, on a strand outside of which the swans sing (Gylfag., 23). In the faded memory of Scef, preserved in the saga of the Lower Rhine and of the Netherlands, there comes to a poverty-stricken people a boat in which there lies a sleeping youth. The boat is, like Scef's, without sails or oars, but is drawn over the billows by a swan. From Gylfaginning, 16, we learn that there are myths telling of the origin of the swans. They are all descended from that pair of swans which swim in the sacred waters of Urd's fountain. Thus the descendants of these swans that sing outside of the Vanapalace Noatun and their arrival to the shores of Midgard seems to have some connection with the coming of the Van Scef and of culture.[Pg 137]

The Vans most prominent in the myths are Njord, Frey, and Heimdal. Though an Asa-god by adoption, Heimdal is like Njord and Frey a Vana-god by birth and birthplace, and is accordingly called both áss and vanr (Thrymskv., 15). Meanwhile these three divinities, definitely named Vans, are only a few out of many. The Vans have constituted a numerous clan, strong enough to wage a victorious war against the Asas (Völusp.). Who among them was Scef-Yngve? The question can be answered as follows:

(1) Of Heimdal, and of him alone among the gods, it is related that he lived for a time among men as a man, and that he performed that which is attributed to Scef—that is, organised and elevated human society and became the progenitor of sacred families in Midgard.

(2) Rigsthula relates that the god Heimdal, having assumed the name Rig, begot with an earthly woman the son Jarl-Rig, who in turn became the father of Konr-Rig. Konr-Rig is, as the very name indicates and as Vigfusson already has pointed out, the first who bore the kingly name. In Rigsthula the Jarl begets the king, as in Ynglingasaga the judge (Dómarr) begets the first king. Rig is, according to Ynglingasaga, ch. 20, grandfather to Dan, who is a Skjoldung. Heimdal-Rig is thus the father of the progenitor of the Skjoldungs, and it is the story of the divine origin of the Skjoldungs Rigsthula gives us when it sings of Heimdal as Jarl's father and the first king's grandfather. But the progenitor of the Skjoldungs is, according to both Anglo-Saxon and the northern sources above quoted, Scef. Thus Heimdal and Scef are identical.[Pg 138]

These proofs are sufficient. More can be presented, and the identity will be established by the whole investigation.

As a tender boy, Heimdal was sent by the Vans to the southern shores of Scandinavia with the gifts of culture. Hyndla's lay tells how these friendly powers prepared the child for its important mission, after it was born in the outermost borders of the earth (vid jardar thraum), in a wonderful manner, by nine sisters (Hyndla's Lay, 35; Heimdallar Galdr., in the Younger Edda; compare No. 82, where the ancient Aryan root of the myth concerning Heimdal's nine mothers is pointed out).

For its mission the child had to be equipped with strength, endurance, and wisdom. It was given to drink jardar magn svalkaldr sćr and Sonar dreyri. It is necessary to compare these expressions with Urdar magn, svalkaldr sćr and Sónar dreyri in Gudrunarkivda, ii. 21, a song written in Christian times, where this reminiscence of a triple heathen-mythic drink reappears as a potion of forgetfulness allaying sorrow. The expression Sónar dreyri shows that the child had tasted liquids from the subterranean fountains which water Yggdrasil and sustain the spiritual and physical life of the universe (cp. Nos. 63 and 93). Són contains the mead of inspiration and wisdom. In Gylfaginning, which quotes a satire of late origin, this name is given to a jar in which Suttung preserves this valuable liquor, but to the heathen skalds Són is the name of Mimer's fountain, which contains the highest spiritual gifts, and around whose rush-bordered edge the reeds of poetry grow (Eilif Gudrunson, Skáld[Pg 139]skaparmál). The child Heimdal has, therefore, drunk from Mimer's fountain. Jardar magn (the earth's strength) is in reality the same as Urdar magn, the strength of the water in Urd's fountain, which keeps the world-tree ever green and sustains the physical life of creation (Völusp.). The third subterranean fountain is Hvergelmer, with hardening liquids. From Hvergelmer comes the river Sval, and the venom-cold Elivogs (Grimner's Lay, Gylfaginning). Svalkaldar sćr, cool sea, is an appropriate designation of this fountain.

When the child has been strengthened in this manner for its great mission, it is laid sleeping in the decorated ship, gets the grain-sheaf for its pillow, and numerous treasures are placed around it. It is certain that there were not only weapons and ornaments, but also workmen's tools among the treasures. It should be borne in mind that the gods made on the plains of Ida not only ornaments, but also tools (tangir skópu ok tol gördu). Evidence is presented in No. 82 that Scef-Heimdal brought the fire-auger to primeval man who until that time had lived without the blessings produced by the sacred fire.

The boy grows up among the inhabitants on the Scandian coast, and, when he has developed into manhood, human culture has germinated under his influence and the beginnings of classes in society with distinct callings appear. In Rigsthula, we find him journeying along "green paths, from house to house, in that land which his presence has blessed." Here he is called Rigr—it is true of him as of nearly all mythological persons, that he has[Pg 140] several names—but the introduction to the poem informs us that the person so called is the god Heimdal (einhverr af asum sá er Heimdallr het). The country is here also described as situated near the sea. Heimdal journeys framm med sjofarströndu. Culture is in complete operation. The people are settled, they spin and weave, perform handiwork, and are smiths, they plough and bake, and Heimdal has instructed them in runes. Different homes show different customs and various degrees of wealth, but happiness prevails everywhere. Heimdal visits Ai's and Edda's unpretentious home, is hospitably received, and remains three days. Nine months thereafter the son Träl (thrall) is born to this family. Heimdal then visits Ave's and Amma's well-kept and cleanly house, and nine months thereafter the son Karl (churl) is born in this household. Thence Rig betakes himself to Fadir's and Modir's elegant home. There is born, nine months later, the son Jarl. Thus the three Teutonic classes—the thralls, the freemen, and the nobility—have received their divine sanction from Heimdal-Rig, and all three have been honoured with divine birth.

In the account of Rig's visit to the three different homes lies the mythic idea of a common fatherhood, an idea which must not be left out of sight when human heroes are described as sons of gods in the mythological and heroic sagas. They are sons of the gods and, at the same time, from a genealogical standpoint, men. Their pedigree, starting with Ask and Embla, is not interrupted by the intervention of the visiting god, nor is there developed by this intervention a half-divine, half-human[Pg 141] middle class or bastard clan. The Teutonic patriarch Mannus is, according to Tacitus, the son of a god and the grandson of the goddess Earth. Nevertheless he is, as his name indicates, in the full physical sense of the word, a man, and besides his divine father he has had a human father. They are the descendants of Ask and Embla, men of all classes and conditions, whom Völuspa's skald gathered around the seeress when she was to present to them a view of the world's development and commanded silence with the formula: "Give ear, all ye divine races, great and small, sons of Heimdal." The idea of a common fatherhood we find again in the question of Fadir's grandson, as we shall show below. Through him the families of chiefs get the right of precedence before both the other classes. Thor becomes their progenitor. While all classes trace their descent from Heimdal, the nobility trace theirs also from Thor, and through him from Odin.

Heimdal-Rig's and Fadir's son, begotten with Módir, inherits in Rigsthula the name of the divine co-father, and is called Rig Jarl. Jarl's son, Kon, gets the same name after he has given proof of his knowledge in the runes introduced among the children of men by Heimdal, and has even shown himself superior to his father in this respect. This view that the younger generation surpasses the older points to the idea of a progress in culture among men, during a time when they live in peace and happiness protected by Heimdal's fostering care and sceptre, but must not be construed into the theory of a continued progress based on the law and nature of things,[Pg 142] a theory alike strange to the Teutons and to the other peoples of antiquity. Heimdal-Rig's reign must be regarded as the happy ancient age, of which nearly all mythologies have dreamed. Already in the next age following, that is, that of the second patriarch, we read of men of violence who visit the peaceful, and under the third patriarch begins the "knife-age, and axe-age with cloven shields," which continues through history and receives its most terrible development before Ragnarok.

The more common mythical names of the persons appearing in Rigsthula are not mentioned in the song, not even Heimdal's. In strophe 48, the last of the fragment, we find for the first time words which have the character of names—Danr and Danpr. A crow sings from the tree to Jarl's son, the grandson of Heimdal, Kon, saying that peaceful amusement (kyrra fugla) does not become him longer, but that he should rather mount his steed and fight against men; and the crow seeks to awaken his ambition or jealousy by saying that "Dan and Danp, skilled in navigating ships and wielding swords, have more precious halls and a better freehold than you." The circumstance that these names are mentioned makes it possible, as shall be shown below, to establish in a more satisfactory manner the connection between Rigsthula and other accounts which are found in fragments concerning the Teutonic patriarch period.

The oldest history of man did not among the Teutons begin with a paradisian condition. Some time has elapsed between the creation of Ask and Embla, and Heimdal's coming among men. As culture begins with[Pg 143] Heimdal, a condition of barbarism must have preceded his arrival. At all events the first generations after Ask and Embla have been looked upon as lacking fire; consequently they have been without the art of the smith, without metal implements, and without knowledge of agriculture. Hence it is that the Vana-child comes across the western sea with fire, with implements, and with the sheaf of grain. But the barbarous condition may have been attended with innocence and goodness of heart. The manner in which the strange child was received by the inhabitants of Scandia's coast, and the tenderness with which it was cared for (diligenti animo, says Ethelwerd) seem to indicate this.

When Scef-Heimdal had performed his mission, and when the beautiful boat in which he came had disappeared beyond the western horizon, then the second mythic patriarch-age begins.



Ynglingasaga, ch. 20, contains a passage which is clearly connected with Rigsthula or with some kindred source. The passage mentions three persons who appear in Rigsthula, viz., Rig, Danp, and Dan, and it is there stated that the ruler who first possessed the kingly title in Svithiod was the son of a chief, whose name was Judge (Dómarr), and Judge was married to Drott (Drótt), the daughter of Danp.

That Domar and his royal son, the latter with the[Pg 144] epithet Dyggvi, "the worthy," "the noble," were afterwards woven into the royal pedigree in Ynglingasaga, is a matter which we cannot at present consider. Vigfusson (Corpus Poet. Bor.) has already shown the mythic symbolism and unhistorical character of this royal pedigree's Visburr, the priest, son of a god; of Dómaldr-Dómvaldr, the legislator; of Dómarr, the judge; and of Dyggvi, the first king. These are not historical Upsala kings, but personified myths, symbolising the development of human society on a religious basis into a political condition of law culminating in royal power. It is in short the same chain of ideas as we find in Rigsthula, where Heimdal, the son of a god and the founder of culture, becomes the father of the Jarl-judge, whose son is the first king. Dómarr, in the one version of the chain of ideas, corresponds to Rig Jarl in the other, and Dyggvi corresponds to Kon. Heimdal is the first patriarch, the Jarl-judge is the second, and the oldest of kings is the third.

Some person, through whose hands Ynglingasaga has passed before it got its present form in Heimskringla, has understood this correspondence between Dómarr and Rig-Jarl, and has given to the former the wife which originally belonged to the latter. Rigsthula has been rescued in a single manuscript. This manuscript was owned by Arngrim Jonsson, the author of Supplementum Historić Norvegić, and was perhaps in his time, as Bugge (Norr. Fornkv.) conjectures, less fragmentary than it now is. Arngrim relates that Rig Jarl was married to a daughter of Danp, lord of Danpsted. Thus the representative of the Jarl's dignity, like the representative[Pg 145] of the Judge's dignity in Ynglingasaga, is here married to Danp's daughter.

In Saxo, a man by name Borgar (BorcarusHist. Dan. 336-354) occupies an important position. He is a South Scandinavian chief, leader of Skane's warriors (Borcarus cum Scanico equitatu, p. 350), but instead of a king's title, he holds a position answering to that of the Jarl. Meanwhile he, like Skjold, becomes the founder of a Danish royal dynasty. Like Skjold he fights beasts and robbers, and like him he wins his bride, sword in hand. Borgar's wife is Drott (Drotta, Drota), the same name as Danp's daughter. Skjold's son Gram and Borgar's son Halfdan are found on close examination (see below) to be identical with each other, and with king Halfdan Berggram in whom the names of both are united. Thus we find:

(1) That Borgar appears as a chief in Skane, which in the myth is the cradle of the human race, or of the Teutonic race. As such he is also mentioned in Script. rer. Dan. (pp. 16-19, 154), where he is called Burgarus and Borgardus.

(2) That he has performed similar exploits to those of Skjold, the son of Scef-Heimdal.

(3) That he is not clothed with kingly dignity, but has a son who founds a royal dynasty in Denmark. This corresponds to Heimdal's son Rig Jarl, who is not himself styled king, but whose son becomes a Danish king and the progenitor of the Skjoldungs.

(4) That he is married to Drott, who, according to Ynglingasaga, is Danp's daughter. This corresponds[Pg 146] to Heimdal's son Rig Jarl, who takes a daughter of Danp as his wife.

(5) That his son is identical with the son of Skjold, the progenitor of the Skjoldungs.

(6) That this son of his is called Halfdan, while in the Anglo-Saxon sources Scef, through his son Scyld (Skjold), is the progenitor of Denmark's king Healfdene.

These testimonies contain incontestible evidence that Skjold, Borgar, and Rig Jarl are names of the same mythic person, the son of the ancient patriarch Heimdal, and himself the second patriarch, who, after Heimdal, determines the destiny of his race. The name Borgarr is a synonym of Skjöldr. The word Skjöldr has from the beginning had, or has in the lapse of past ages acquired, the meaning "the protecting one," "the shielding one," and as such it was applied to the common defensive armour, the shield. Borgarr is derived from bjarga (past. part. borginn; cp. borg), and thus has the same meaning, that is, "the defending or protecting one." From Norse poetry a multitude of examples can be given of the paraphrasing of a name with another, or even several others, of similar meaning.

The second patriarch, Heimdal's son, thus has the names Skjold, Borgar, and Rig Jarl in the heathen traditions, and those derived therefrom.

In German poems of the middle age ("Wolfdieterich," "König Ruther," and others) Borgar is remembered by the name Berchtung, Berker, and Berther. His mythic character as ancient patriarch is there well preserved.[Pg 147] He is der grise mann, a Teutonic Nestor, wears a beard reaching to the belt, and becomes 250 years old. He was fostered by a king Anzius, the progenitor of the Amelungs (the Amalians). The name Anzius points to the Gothic ansi (Asa-god). Borgar's fostering by "the white Asa-god" has accordingly not been forgotten. Among the exercises taught him by Anzius are daz werfen mit dem messer und schissen zu dem zil (compare Rig Jarl's exercises, Rigsthula, 35). Like Borgar, Berchtung is not a king, but a very noble and greatly-trusted chief, wise and kind, the foster-father and counsellor of heroes and kings. The Norse saga places Borgar, and the German saga places Berchtung, in close relation to heroes who belong to the race of Hildings. Borgar is, according to Saxo, the stepfather of Hildeger; Berchtung is, according to "Wolfdieterich," Hildebrand's ancestor. Of Hildeger Saxo relates in part the same as the German poem tells of Hildebrand. Berchtung becomes the foster-father of an Amalian prince; with Borgar's son grows up as foster-brother Hamal (Helge Hund., 2; see Nos. 29, 42), whose name points to the Amalian race. The very name Borgarr, which, as indicated, in this form refers to bjarga, may in an older form have been related to the name Berchter, Berchtung.



The Identity of Gram, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson.

In the time of Borgar and his son, the third patriarch,[Pg 148] many of the most important events of the myth take place. Before I present these, the chain of evidence requires that I establish clearly the names applied to Borgar in our literary sources. Danish scholars have already discovered what I pointed out above, that the kings Gram Skjoldson, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson mentioned by Saxo, and referred to different generations, are identical with each other and with Halfdan the Skjoldung and Halfdan the Old of the Icelandic documents.

The correctness of this view will appear from the following parallels:[11]

[Pg 149]

{Saxo: Gram slays king Sictrugus, and marries Signe,
{  daughter of Sumblus, king of the Finns.
{Hyndluljod: Halfdan Skjoldung slays king Sigtrygg, and
1. { marries Almveig with the consent of Eymund.
{Prose Edda: Halfdan the Old slays king Sigtrygg, and
{  marries Alveig, daughter of Eyvind.
{Fornald. S.: Halfdan the Old slays king Sigtrygg, and
{  marries Alfny, daughter of Eymund.

{Saxo: Gram, son of Skjold, is the progenitor of the Skjoldungs.
{Hyndluljod: Halfdan Skjoldung, son or descendant of
{    Skjold, is the progenitor of the Skjoldungs, Ynglings,
2. { Odlungs, &c.
{Prose Edda: Halfdan the Old is the progenitor of the
{    Hildings, Ynglings, Odlungs, &c.
{Saxo: Halfdan Bogarson is the progenitor of a royal
{    family of Denmark.

{Saxo: Gram uses a club as a weapon. He kills seven
{    brothers and nine of their half-brothers.
{Saxo: Halfdan Berggram uses an oak as a weapon. He
3. { kills seven brothers.
{Saxo: Halfdan Borgarson uses an oak as a weapon. He
{    kills twelve brothers.

[Pg 150]

{Saxo: Gram secures Groa and slays Henricus on his wedding-day.
{Saxo: Halfdan Berggram marries Sigrutha, after having
4. { slain Ebbo on his wedding-day.
{Saxo: Halfdan Borgarson marries Guritha, after having
{    killed Sivarus on his wedding-day.

{Saxo: Gram, who slew a Swedish king, is attacked in war
{    by Svipdag.
{Saxo: Halfdan Berggram, who slew a Swedish king, is
5. { attacked by Ericus.
{Combined sources: Svipdag is the slain Swedish king's
{    grandson (daughter's son).
{Saxo: Ericus is the son of the daughter of the slain Swedish
{    king.

These parallels are sufficient to show the identity of Gram Skjoldson, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson. A closer analysis of these sagas, the synthesis possible on the basis of such an analysis, and the position the saga (restored in this manner) concerning the third patriarch, the son of Skjold-Borgar, and the grandson of Heimdal, assumes in the chain of mythic events, gives complete proof of this identity.

[Pg 151]



Saxo relates in regard to Gram that he carried away the royal daughter Groa, though she was already bound to another man, and that he slew her father, whereupon he got into a feud with Svipdag, an irreconcilably bitter foe, who fought against him with varying success of arms, and gave himself no rest until he had taken Gram's life and realm. Gram left two sons, whom Svipdag treated in a very different manner. The one named Guthormus (Gudhormr), who was a son of Groa, he received into his good graces. To the other, named Hadingus, or Hadding, and who was a son of Signe, he transferred the deadly hate he had cherished towards the father. The cause of the hatred of Svipdag against Gram, and which could not be extinguished in his blood, Saxo does not mention, but this point is cleared up by a comparison with other sources. Nor does Saxo mention who the person was from whom Gram robbed Groa, but this, too, we learn in another place.

The Groa of the myth is mentioned in two other places: in Groagalder and in Gylfaginning. Both sources agree in representing her as skilled in good, healing, harm-averting songs; both also in describing her as a tender person devoted to the members of her family. In Gylfaginning she is the loving wife who forgets everything in her joy that her husband, the brave archer Orvandel, has been saved by Thor from a dangerous adventure. In Groa[Pg 152]galder she is the mother whose love to her son conquers death and speaks consoling and protecting words from the grave. Her husband is, as stated, Orvandel; her son is Svipdag.

If we compare the statements in Saxo with those in Groagalder and Gylfaginning we get the following result:

Saxo: King Sigtrygg has a daughter Groa.
Gylfaginning: Groa is married to the brave Orvandel.
Groagalder: Groa has a son Svipdag.
Saxo: Groa is robbed by Gram-Halfdan.
Saxo:               } Hostilities on account of the robbing of
Hyndluljod:      }    the woman. Gram-Halfdan kills
Skaldskap.mal:}    Groa's father Sigtrygg.
Saxo: With Gram-Halfdan Groa has the son Gudhorm.
Gram-Halfdan is separated from Groa. He courts
Signe (Almveig in Hyndluljod; Alveig in Skaldskaparmál),
daughter of Sumbel, king of the Finns.
Groagalder: Groa with her son Svipdag is once more with
her first husband. Groa dies. Svipdag's father Orvandel
marries a second time. Before her death Groa
has told Svipdag that he, if need requires her help,
must go to her grave and wake her out of the sleep
of death.
The stepmother gives Svipdag a task which he thinks surpasses
his strength. He then goes to his mother's
grave. From the grave Groa sings protecting incantations
over her son.
Saxo: Svipdag attacks Gram-Halfdan. After several conflicts
he succeeds in conquering him and gives him a
deadly wound.
Svidpdag pardons the son Gram-Halfdan has had with
Groa, but persecutes his son with Signe (Alveig).

In this connection we find the key to Svipdag's irreconcilable conflict with Gram-Halfdan. He must revenge[Pg 153] himself on him on his father's and mother's account. He must avenge his mother's disgrace, his grandfather Sigtrygg's death, and, as a further investigation shows, the murder also of his father Orvandel. We also find why he pardons Gudhorm: he is his own half-brother and Groa's son.

Sigtrygg, Groa, Orvandel, and Svipdag have in the myth belonged to the pedigree of the Ynglings, and hence Saxo calls Sigtrygg king in Svithiod. Concerning the Ynglings, Ynglingasaga remarks that Yngve was the name of everyone who in that time was the head of the family (Yngl., p. 20). Svipdag, the favourite hero of the Teutonic mythology, is accordingly celebrated in song under the name Yngve, and also under other names to which I shall refer later, when I am to give a full account of the myth concerning him.



With Gram-Halfdan the Teutonic patriarch period ends. The human race had its golden age under Heimdal, its copper age under Skjold-Borgar, and the beginning of its iron age under Halfdan. The Skilfinga-Ynglinga race has been named after Heimdal-Skelfir himself, and he has been regarded as its progenitor. His son Skjold-Borgar has been considered the founder of the Skjoldungs. With Halfdan the pedigree is divided into three through his stepson Yngve-Svipdag, the latter's half-brother Gudhorm, and Gudhorm's half-brother Had[Pg 154]ing or Hadding. The war between these three—a continuation of the feud between Halfdan and Svipdag—was the subject of a cycle of songs sung throughout Teutondom, songs which continued to live though greatly changed with the lapse of time, on the lips of Germans throughout the middle ages (see Nos. 36-43).

Like his father, Halfdan was the fruit of a double fatherhood, a divine and a human. Saxo was aware of this double fatherhood, and relates of his Halfdan Berggram that he, although the son of a human prince, was respected as a son of Thor, and honoured as a god among that people who longest remained heathen; that is to say, the Swedes (Igitur apud Sveones tantus haberi cćpit, ut magni Thor filius existimatus, divinis a populo honoribus donaretur ac publico dignus libamine censeretur). In his saga, as told by Saxo, Thor holds his protecting hand over Halfdan like a father over his son.

It is possible that both the older patriarchs originally were regarded rather as the founders and chiefs of the whole human race than of the Teutons alone. Certain it is that the appellation Teutonic patriarch belonged more particularly to the third of the series. We have a reminiscence of this in Hyndluljod, 14-16. To the question, "Whence came the Skjoldungs, Skilfings, Andlungs, and Ylfings, and all the free-born and gentle-born?" the song answers by pointing to "the foremost among the Skjoldungs"—Sigtrygg's slayer Halfdan—a statement which, after the memory of the myths had faded and become confused, was magnified in the Younger Edda into the report that he was the father of eighteen sons, nine of[Pg 155] which were the founders of the heroic families whose names were at that time rediscovered in the heathen-heroic songs then extant.

According to what we have now stated in regard to Halfdan's genealogical position there can no longer be any doubt that he is the same patriarch as the Mannus mentioned by Tacitus in Germania, ch. 2, where it is said of the Germans: "In old songs they celebrate Tuisco, a god born of Earth (Terra; compare the goddess Terra Mater, ch. 40), and his son Mannus as the source and founder of the race. Mannus is said to have had three sons, after whose names those who dwell nearest the ocean are called Ingćvonians (Ingćvones), those who dwell in the centre Hermionians (Hermiones, Herminones), and the rest Istćvonians (Istćvones)." Tacitus adds that there were other Teutonic tribes, such as the Marsians, the Gambrivians, the Svevians, and the Vandals, whose names were derived from other heroes of divine birth.

Thus Mannus, though human, and the source and founder of the Teutonic race, is also the son of a god. The mother of his divine father is the goddess Earth, mother Earth. In our native myths we rediscover this goddess—polyonomous like nearly all mythic beings—in Odin's wife Frigg, also called Fjorgyn and Hlodyn. As sons of her and Odin only Thor (Völusp.) and Balder (Lokasenna) are definitely mentioned.

In regard to the goddess Earth (Jord), Tacitus states (ch. 40), as a characteristic trait that she is believed to take a lively interest and active part in the affairs of men and nations (eam intervenire rebus hominum, invehi[Pg 156] populis arbitrantur), and he informs us that she is especially worshipped by the Longobardians and some of their neighbours near the sea. This statement, compared with the emigration saga of the Longobardians (No. 15), confirms the theory that the goddess Jord, who, in the days of Tacitus, was celebrated in song as the mother of Mannus' divine father, is identical with Frigg. In their emigration saga the Longobardians have great faith in Frigg, and trust in her desire and ability to intervene when the fate of a nation is to be decided by arms. Nor are they deceived in their trust in her; she is able to bring about that Odin, without considering the consequences, gives the Longobardians a new name; and as a christening present was in order, and as the Longobardians stood arrayed against the Vandals at the moment when they received their new name, the gift could be no other than victory over their foes. Tacitus' statement, that the Longobardians were one of the races who particularly paid worship to the goddess Jord, is found to be intimately connected with, and to be explained by, this tradition, which continued to be remembered among the Longobardians long after they became converted to Christianity, down to the time when Origo Longobardorum was written.

Tacitus calls the goddess Jord Nerthus. Vigfusson (and before him J. Grimm) and others have seen in this name a feminine version of Njördr. Nor does any other explanation seem possible. The existence of such a form is not more surprising than that we have in Freyja a feminine form of Frey, and in Fjorgyn-Frigg a feminine form[Pg 157] of Fjörgynr. In our mythic documents neither Frigg nor Njord are of Asa race. Njord is, as we know, a Van. Frigg's father is Fjörgynr (perhaps the same as Parganya in the Vedic songs), also called Annarr, Ánarr, and Ónarr, and her mother is Narve's daughter Night. Frigg's high position as Odin's real and lawful wife, as the queen of the Asa world, and as mother of the chief gods Thor and Balder, presupposes her to be of the noblest birth which the myth could bestow on a being born outside of the Asa clan, and as the Vans come next after the Asas in the mythology, and were united with them from the beginning of time, as hostages, by treaty, by marriage, and by adoption, probability, if no other proof could be found, would favour the theory that Frigg is a goddess of the race of Vans, and that her father Fjörgyn is a clan-chief among the Vans. This view is corroborated in two ways. The cosmogony makes Earth and Sea sister and brother. The same divine mother Night (Nat), who bears the goddess Jord, also bears a son Udr, Unnr, the ruler of the sea, also called Audr (Rich), the personification of wealth. Both these names are applied among the gods to Njord alone as the god of navigation, commerce, and wealth. (In reference to wealth compare the phrase audigr sem Njördr—rich as Njord.) Thus Frigg is Njord's sister. This explains the attitude given to Frigg in the war between the Asas and Vans by Völuspa, Saxo, and the author of Ynglingasaga, where the tradition is related as history. In the form given to this tradition in Christian times and in Saxo's hands, it is disparaging to Frigg as Odin's wife; but the pith of[Pg 158] Saxo's narrative is, that Frigg in the feud between the Asas and Vans did not side with Odin but with the Vans, and contributed towards making the latter lords of Asgard. When the purely heathen documents (Völusp., Vafthr., Lokas.) describe her as a tender wife and mother, Frigg's taking part with the Vans against her own husband can scarcely be explained otherwise than by the Teutonic principle, that the duties of the daughter and sister are above the wife's, a view plainly presented in Saxo (p. 353), and illustrated by Gudrun's conduct toward Atle.

Thus it is proved that the god who is the father of the Teutonic patriarch Mannus is himself the son of Frigg, the goddess of earth, and must, according to the mythic records at hand, be either Thor or Balder. The name given him by Tacitus, Tuisco, does not determine which of the two. Tuisco has the form of a patronymic adjective, and reappears in the Norse Tívi, an old name of Odin, related to Dios divus, and devas, from which all the sons of Odin and gods of Asgard received the epithet tívar. But in the songs learned by Saxo in regard to the northern race-patriarch and his divine father, his place is occupied by Thor, not by Balder, and "Jord's son" is in Norse poetry an epithet particularly applied to Thor.

Mannus has three sons. So has Halfdan. While Mannus has a son Ingćvo, Halfdan has a stepson Yngve, Inge (Svipdag). The second son of Mannus is named Hermio. Halfdan's son with Groa is called Gudhormr. The second part of this name has, as Jessen has already pointed out, nothing to do with ormr. It may be that[Pg 159] the name should be divided Gudhormr, and that hormr should be referred to Hermio. Mannus' third son is Istćvo. The Celtic scholar Zeuss has connected this name with that of the Gothic (more properly Vandal) heroic race Azdingi, and Grimm has again connected Azdigni with Hazdiggo (Haddingr). Halfdan's third son is in Saxo called Hadingus. Whether the comparisons made by Zeuss and Grimm are to the point or not (see further, No. 43) makes but little difference here. It nevertheless remains as a result of the investigation that all is related by Tacitus about the Teutonic patriarch Mannus has its counterpart in the question concerning Halfdan, and that both in the myths occupy precisely the same place as sons of a god and as founders of Teutonic tribes and royal families. The pedigrees are:

Tacitus.                  Norse documents.

Tivi and the goddess Jord.               Tivi=Odin and the goddess
|                                             Jord.
|                                                  |
Tivi's son (Tiusco).                              Tivi's son Thor.
|                                                   |
Mannus, progenitor of the                   Halfdan, progenitor of the
Teutonic tribes.                          royal families.
+————+————+            +————-+————-+
|                  |                  |              |                  |                  |
Ingćvo.       Hermio.      Istćvo.       Yngve. Gudhormr.     Hadding.



The mythic ancient history of the human race and of the Teutons may, in accordance with the analysis above[Pg 160] given, be divided into the following epochs:—(1) From Ask and Ernbla's creation until Heimdal's arrival; (2) from Heimdal's arrival until his departure; (3) the age of Skjold-Borgar; (4) Halfdan's time; (5) The time of Halfdan's sons.

And now we will discuss the events of the last three epochs.

In the days of Borgar the moral condition of men grows worse, and an event in nature takes place threatening at least the northern part of the Teutonic world with destruction. The myth gives the causes of both these phenomena.

The moral degradation has its cause, if not wholly, yet for the greater part, in the activity among men of a female being from the giant world. Through her men become acquainted with the black art, the evil art of sorcery, which is the opposite of the wisdom drawn from Mimer's holy fountain, the knowledge of runes, and acquaintance with the application of nature's secret forces for good ends (see Nos. 34, 35).

The sacred knowledge of runes, the "fimbul-songs," the white art, was, according to the myth, originally in the possession of Mimer. Still he did not have it of himself, but got it from the subterranean fountain, which he guarded beneath the middle root of the world-tree (see No. 63)—a fountain whose veins, together with the deepest root of the world-tree, extends to a depth which not even Odin's thought can penerate (Havam., 138). By self-sacrifice in his youth Odin received from Bestla's brother (Mimer; see No. 88) a drink from the precious[Pg 161] liquor of this fountain and nine fimbul-songs (Havam., 140; cp. Sigrdr., 14), which were the basis of the divine magic of the application of the power of the word and of the rune over spiritual and natural forces, in prayer, in sacrifices and in other religious acts, in investigations, in the practical affairs of life, in peace and in war (Havam., 144 ff.; Sigrdr., 6 ff.). The character and purpose of these songs are clear from the fact that at the head is placed "help's fimbul-song," which is able to allay sorrow and cure diseases (Havam., 146).

In the hands of Odin they are a means for the protection of the power of the Asa-gods, and enable them to assist their worshippers in danger and distress. To these belong the fimbul-song of the runes of victory; and it is of no little interest that we, in Havamál, 156, find what Tacitus tells about the barditus of the Germans, the shield-song with which they went to meet their foes—a song which Ammianus Paulus himself has heard, and of which he gives a vivid description. When the Teutonic forces advanced to battle the warriors raised their shields up to a level with the upper lip, so that the round of the shield formed a sort of sounding-board for their song. This began in a low voice and preserved its subdued colour, but the sound gradually increased, and at a distance it resembled the roar of the breakers of the sea. Tacitus says that the Teutons predicted the result of the battle from the impression the song as a whole made upon themselves: it might sound in their ears in such a manner that they thereby became more terrible to their enemies, or in such a manner that they were overcome by despair. The[Pg 162] above-mentioned strophe of Havamál gives us an explanation of this: the warriors were roused to confidence if they, in the harmony of the subdued song increasing in volume, seemed to perceive Valfather's voice blended with their own. The strophe makes Odin say: Ef ec scal til orrostu leitha langvini, undir randir ec gel, en their meth ríki fara heilir hildar til, heilir hildi frá—"If I am to lead those to battle whom I have long held in friendship, then I sing under their shields. With success they go to the conflict, and successfully they go out of it." Völuspa also refers to the shield-song in 47, where it makes the storm-giant, Hrymr, advancing against the gods, "lift his shield before him" (hefiz lind fyrir), an expression which certainly has another significance than that of unnecessarily pointing out that he has a shield for protection. The runes of victory were able to arrest weapons in their flight and to make those whom Odin loved proof against sword-edge and safe against ambush (Havam., 148, 150). Certain kinds of runes were regarded as producing victory and were carved on the hilt and on the blade of the sword, and while they were carved Tyr's name was twice named (Sigrdr., 6).

Another class of runes (brimrúnar, Sigrdr., 10; Havam., 150) controlled the elements, purified the air from evil beings (Havm., 155), gave power over wind and waves for good purposes—as, for instance, when sailors in distress were to be rescued—or power over the flames when they threatened to destroy human dwellings (Havam., 152). A third kind of runes (málrúnar) gave speech to the mute and speechless, even to those[Pg 163] whose lips were sealed in death (see No. 70). A fourth kind of runes could free the limbs from bonds (Havam., 149). A fifth kind of runes protected against witchcraft (Havam., 151). A sixth kind of runes (ölrúnar) takes the strength from the love-potion prepared by another man's wife, and from every treachery mingled therein (Sigrdr., 7, 8). A seventh kind (bjargrúnar and limrúnar) helps in childbirth and heals wounds. An eighth kind gives wisdom and knowledge (hugrúnar, Sigrdr., 13; cp. Havam., 159). A ninth kind extinguishes enmity and hate, and produces friendship and love (Havam., 153, 161). Of great value, and a great honour to kings and chiefs, was the possession of healing runes and healing hands; and that certain noble-born families inherited the power of these runes was a belief which has been handed down even to our time. There is a distinct consciousness that the runes of this kind were a gift of the blithe gods. In a strophe, which sounds as if it were taken from an ancient hymn, the gods are beseeched for runes of wisdom and healing: "Hail to the gods! Hail to the goddesses! Hail to the bounteous Earth (the goddess Jord). Words and wisdom give unto us, and healing hands while we live!" (Sigrdr., 4).

In ancient times arrangements were made for spreading the knowledge of the good runes among all kinds of beings. Odin taught them to his own clan; Dáinn taught them to the Elves; Dvalinn among the dwarfs; Ásvinr (see No. 88) among the giants (Havam., 143). Even the last-named became participators in the good gift, which, mixed with sacred mead, was sent far and wide,[Pg 164] and it has since been among the Asas, among the Elves, among the wise Vans, and among the children of men (Sigrdr., 18). The above-named Dvalinn, who taught the runes to his clan of ancient artists, is the father of daughters, who, together with dises of Asa and Vana birth, are in possession of bjargrúnar, and employ them in the service of man (Fafnism., 13).

To men the beneficent runes came through the same god who as a child came with the sheaf of grain and the tools to Scandia. Hence the belief current among the Franks and Saxons that the alphabet of the Teutons, like the Teutons themselves, was of northern origin. Rigsthula expressly presents Heimdal as teaching runes to the people whom he blessed by his arrival in Midgard. The noble-born are particularly his pupils in runic lore. Of Heimdal's grandson, the son of Jarl Borgar, named Kon-Halfdan, it is said:

En Konr ungr
kunni runar,
ok alldrrunar.
Meir kunni hann
monnum bjarga,
eggjar deyfa,
ćgi legia,
klok nam fugla,
kyrra ellda,
sćva ok svefia,
sorgir lćgia.

But Kon the young
taught himself runes,
runes of eternity
and runes of earthly life.
Then he taught himself
men to save,
the sword-edge to deaden,
the sea to quiet,
bird-song to interpret,
fires to extinguish,
to soothe and comfort,
sorrows to allay.

The fundamental character of this rune-lore bears distinctly the stamp of nobility. The runes of eternity united with those of the earthly life can scarcely have any[Pg 165] other reference than to the heathen doctrines concerning religion and morality. These were looked upon as being for all time, and of equal importance to the life hereafter. Together with physical runes with magic power—that is, runes that gave their possessors power over the hostile forces of nature—we find runes intended to serve the cause of sympathy and mercy.



But already in the beginning of time evil powers appear for the purpose of opposing and ruining the good influences from the world of gods upon mankind. Just as Heimdal, "the fast traveller," proceeds from house to house, forming new ties in society and giving instruction in what is good and useful, thus we soon find a messenger of evil wandering about between the houses in Midgard, practising the black art and stimulating the worst passions of the human soul. The messenger comes from the powers of frost, the enemies of creation. It is a giantess, the daughter of the giant Hrimnir (Hyndlulj., 32), known among the gods as Gulveig and by other names (see Nos. 34, 35), but on her wanderings on earth called Heidr. "Heid they called her (Gulveig) when she came to the children of men, the crafty, prophesying vala, who practised sorcery (vitti ganda), practised the evil art, caused by witchcraft misfortunes, sickness, and[Pg 166] death (leikin, see No. 67), and was always sought by bad women." Thus Völuspa describes her. The important position Heid occupies in regard to the corruption of ancient man, and the consequences of her appearance for the gods, for man, and for nature (see below), have led Völuspa's author, in spite of his general poverty of words, to describe her with a certain fulness, pointing out among other things that she was the cause of the first war in the world. That the time of her appearance was during the life of Borgar and his son shall be demonstrated below.

In connection with this moral corruption, and caused by the same powers hostile to the world, there occur in this epoch such disturbances in nature that the original home of man and culture—nay, all Midgard—is threatened with destruction on account of long, terrible winters. A series of connected myths tell of this. Ancient artists—forces at work in the growth of nature—personifications of the same kind as Rigveda's Ribhus, that had before worked in harmony with the gods, become, through the influence of Loke, foes of Asgard, their work becoming as harmful as it before was beneficent, and seek to destroy what Odin had created (see Nos. 111 and 112). Idun, with her life-renewing apples, is carried by Thjasse away from Asgard to the northernmost wilderness of the world, and is there concealed. Freyja, the goddess of fertility, is robbed and falls into the power of giants. Frey, the god of harvests, falls sick. The giant king Snow and his kinsmen Thorri (Black Frost), Jökull (the Glacier), &c., extend their sceptres over Scandia.[Pg 167]

Already during Heimdal's reign, after his protégé Borgar had grown up, something happens which forebodes these terrible times, but still has a happy issue.



In Saxo's time there was still extant a myth telling how Heimdal, as the ruler of the earliest generation, got himself a wife. The myth is found related as history in Historia Danica, pp. 335-337. Changed into a song of chivalry in middle age style, we find it on German soil in the poem concerning king Ruther.

Saxo relates that a certain king Alf undertook a perilous journey of courtship, and was accompanied by Borgar. Alf is the more noble of the two; Borgar attends him. This already points to the fact that the mythic figure which Saxo has changed into a historical king must be Heimdal, Borgar's co-father, his ruler and fosterer, otherwise Borgar himself would be the chief person in his country, and could not be regarded as subject to anyone else. Alf's identity with Heimdal is corroborated by "King Ruther," and to a degree also by the description Saxo makes of his appearance, a description based on a definite mythic prototype. Alf, says Saxo, had a fine exterior, and over his hair, though he was young, a so remarkably white splendour was diffused that rays of light seemed to issue from his silvery locks (cujus etiam[Pg 168] insignem candore cćsariem tantus comć decor asperierat, ut argenteo crine nitere putaretur). The Heimdal of the myth is a god of light, and is described by the colour applied to pure silver in the old Norse literature to distinguish it from that which is alloyed; he is hvíti áss (Gylfag., 27) and hvítastr ása (Thrymskvida, 5); his teeth glitter like gold, and so does his horse. We should expect that the maid whom Alf, if he is Heimdal, desires to possess belongs like himself to the divinities of light. Saxo also says that her beauty could make one blind if she was seen without her veil, and her name Alfhild belongs, like Alfsol, Hild, Alfhild Solglands, Svanhild Guldfjćder, to that class of names by which the sundises, mother and daughter, were transferred from mythology to history. She is watched by two dragons. Suitors who approach her in vain get their heads chopped off and set up on poles (thus also in "King Ruther"). Alf conquers the guarding dragons; but at the advice of her mother Alfhild takes flight, puts on a man's clothes and armour, and becomes a female warrior, fighting at the head of other Amazons. Alf and Borgar search for and find the troop of Amazons amid ice and snow. It is conquered and flies to "Finnia," Alf and Borgar pursue them thither. There is a new conflict. Borgar strikes the helmet from Alfhild's head. She has to confess herself conquered, and becomes Alf's wife.

In interpreting the mythic contents of this story we must remember that the lad who came with the sheaf of grain to Scandia needed the help of the sun for the seed which he brought with him to sprout, before it could give[Pg 169] harvests to the inhabitants. But the saga also indicates that the sun-dis had veiled herself, and made herself as far as possible unapproachable, and that when Heimdal had forced himself into her presence she fled to northern ice-enveloped regions, where the god and his foster-son, sword in hand, had to fetch her, whereupon a happy marriage between him and the sun-dis secures good weather and rich harvests to the land over which he rules. At the first glance it might seem as if this myth had left no trace in our Icelandic records. This is, however, not the case. Its fundamental idea, that the sun at one time in the earliest ages went astray from southern regions to the farthest north and desired to remain there, but that it was brought back by the might of the gods who created the world, and through them received, in the same manner as Day and Night, its course defined and regularly established, we find in the Völuspa strophe, examined with so great acumen by Julius Hoffory, which speaks of a bewilderment of this kind on the part of the sun, occurring before it yet "knew its proper sphere," and in the following strophe, which tells how the all-holy gods thereupon held solemn council and so ordained the activity of these beings, that time can be divided and years be recorded by their course. Nor is the marriage into which the sun-dis entered forgotten. Skaldskaparmal quotes a strophe from Skule Thorsteinson where Sol[12] is called Glenr's wife. That he whom the skald characterises by this epithet is a god is a matter of course. Glenr signifies "the shining one," and this epithet was badly chosen

[Pg 170]

if it did not refer to "the most shining of the Asas," hvítastr ása—that is, Heimdal.

The fundamental traits of "King Ruther" resemble Saxo's story. There, too, it is a king who undertakes a perilous journey of courtship and must fight several battles to win the wondrous fair maiden whose previous suitors had had to pay for their eagerness by having their heads chopped off and fastened on poles. The king is accompanied by Berter, identical with Berchtung-Borgar, but here, as always in the German story, described as the patriarch and adviser. A giant, Vidolt—Saxo's Vitolphus, Hyndluljod's Vidolfr—accompanies Ruther and Berter on the journey; and when Vitolphus in Saxo is mentioned under circumstances which show that he accompanied Borgar on a warlike expedition, and thereupon saved his son Halfdan's life, there is no room for doubt that Saxo's saga and "King Ruther" originally flowed from the same mythic source. It can also be demonstrated that the very name Ruther is one of those epithets which belong to Heimdal. The Norse Hrútr is, according to the Younger Edda (i. 588, 589), a synonym of Heimdali, and Heimdali is another form of Heimdall (Isl., i. 231). As Hrútr means a ram, and as Heimdali is an epithet of a ram (see Younger Edda, i. 589), light is thrown upon the bold metaphors, according to which "head," "Heimdal's head," and "Heimdal's sword" are synonyms (Younger Edda, i. 100, 264; ii. 499). The ram's head carries and is the ram's sword. Of the age of this animal symbol we give an account in No. 82. There is reason for believing that Heimdal's helmet has[Pg 171] been conceived as decorated with ram's horns.[13] A strophe quoted in the Younger Edda (i. 608) mentions Heimdal's helmet, and calls the sword the fyllr of Heimdal's helmet, an ambiguous expression, which may be interpreted as that which fills Heimdal's helmet; that is to say, Heimdal's head, but also as that which has its place on the helmet. Compare the expression fyllr hilmis stóls as a metaphor for the power of the ruler.



The danger averted by Heimdal when he secured the sun-dis with bonds of love begins in the time of Borgar. The corruption of nature and of man go hand in hand. Borgar has to contend with robbers (pugiles and piratć), and among them the prototype of pirates—that terrible character, remembered also in Icelandic poetry, called Rodi (Saxo, Hist., 23, 345). The moderate laws given by Heimdal had to be made more severe by Borgar (Hist., 24, 25).

While the moral condition in Midgard grows worse, Loke carries out in Asgard a cunningly-conceived plan, which seems to be to the advantage of the gods, but is

[Pg 172]

intended to bring about the ruin of both the gods and man. His purpose is to cause enmity between the original artists themselves and between them and the gods.

Among these artists the sons of Ivalde constitute a separate group. Originally they enjoyed the best relations to the gods, and gave them the best products of their wonderful art, for ornament and for use. Odin's spear Gungnir, the golden locks on Sif's head, and Frey's celebrated ship Skidbladner, which could hold all the warriors of Asgard and always had favourable wind, but which also could be folded as a napkin and be carried in one's pocket (Gylfaginning), had all come from the workshop of these artists.

Ivalda synir
gengu i ardaga
Scidbladni at skapa,
scipa bezt,
scirom Frey,
nytom Njardar bur.

The sons of Ivalde
went in ancient times
to make Skidbladner,
among ships the best,
for the shining Frey,
Njord's useful son.



Another group of original artists were Sindre and his kinsmen, who dwelt on Nida's plains in the happy domain of the lower world (Völusp., Nos. 93, 94). According to the account given in Gylfaginning, ch. 37, Loke meets Sindre's brother Brok, and wagers his head that Sindre cannot make treasures as good as the above-named gifts from Ivalde's sons to the Asas. Sindre then made in his smithy the golden boar for Frey, the ring Draupner for Odin, from which eight gold rings of equal weight drop every ninth night, and the incomparable hammer Mjolner for Thor. When the treasures were finished, Loke cun[Pg 173]ningly gets the gods to assemble for the purpose of deciding whether or not he has forfeited his head. The gods cannot, of course, decide this without at the same time passing judgment on the gifts of Sindre and those of Ivalde's sons, and showing that one group of artists is inferior to the other. And this is done. Sindre's treasures are preferred, and thus the sons of Ivalde are declared to be inferior in comparison. But at the same time Sindre fails, through the decision of the gods, to get the prize agreed on. Both groups of artists are offended by the decision.

Gylfaginning does not inform us whether the sons of Ivalde accepted the decision with satisfaction or anger, or whether any noteworthy consequences followed or not. An entirely similar judgment is mentioned in Rigveda (see No. 111). The judgment there has the most important consequences: hatred toward the artists who were victorious, and toward the gods who were the judges, takes possession of the ancient artist who was defeated, and nature is afflicted with great suffering. That the Teutonic mythology has described similar results of the decision shall be demonstrated in this work.

Just as in the names Alveig and Almveig, Bil-röst and Bifröst, Arinbjörn and Grjótbjorn, so also in the name Ivaldi or Ivaldr, the latter part of the word forms the permanent part, corresponding to the Old English Valdere, the German Walther, the Latinised Waltharius.[14]

[Pg 174]

The former part of the word may change without any change as to the person indicated: Ívaldi, Allvaldi, Ölvaldi, Audvaldi, may be names of one and the same person. Of these variations Ívaldi and Allvaldi are in their sense most closely related, for the prefix Í (Id) and All may interchange in the language without the least change in the meaning. Compare all-líkr, ílikr, and idglíkr; all-lítill and ilítill; all-nóg, ígnog and idgnog. On the other hand, the prefixes in Ölvaldi and Audvaldi produce different meanings of the compound word. But the records give most satisfactory evidence that Ölvaldi and Audvaldi nevertheless are the same person as Allvaldi (Ivaldi). Thjasse's father is called in Harbardsljod (19) Allvaldi; in the Younger Edda (i. 214) Ölvaldi and Audvaldi. He has three sons, Ide, Gang, also called Urner (the Grotte-song), and the just-named Thjasse, who are the famous ancient artists, "the sons of Ivalde" (Ivalda synir). We here point this out in passing. Complete statement and proof of this fact, so important from a mythological standpoint, will be given in Nos. 113, 114, 115.

Nor is it long before it becomes apparent what the consequences are of the decision pronounced by the Asas on Loke's advice upon the treasures presented to the gods. The sons of Ivalde regarded it as a mortal offence, born of the ingratitude of the gods. Loke, the originator of the scheme, is caught in the snares laid by Thjasse in a manner fully described in Thjodolf's poem "Haustlaung," and to regain his liberty he is obliged to assist him (Thjasse) in carrying Idun away from Asgard.


(From an etching by Lorenz Frölich.)

Thjasse was known as the storm-giant who having been
born in deformity was ever seeking golden apples from
Idun to cure his ugliness. Upon one occasion assuming the
form of an eagle he interrupted a feast of Odin, Honer and
Loke and when the latter attempted to strike the voracious bird
with a stake found himself fastened to both stake and eagle
and was borne away shrieking for mercy. Thjasse promised
to release Loke if he would bring to him Idun and her golden
apples. Loke in fulfillment of his promise beguiled Idun out of
Asgard whereupon Thjasse in the form of an eagle seized the
goddess in his talons and bore her away to his castle, Thrymheim.
He was soon afterwards killed by the gods, and Idun was

[Pg 175]

Idun, who possesses "the Asas' remedy against old age," and keeps the apples which symbolise the ever-renewing and rejuvenating force of nature, is carried away by Thjasse to a part of the world inaccessible to the gods. The gods grow old, and winter extends its power more and more beyond the limits prescribed for it in creation. Thjasse, who before was the friend of the gods, is now their irreconcilable foe. He who was the promoter of growth and the benefactor of nature—for Sif's golden locks, and Skidbladner, belonging to the god of fertility, doubtless are symbols thereof—is changed into "the mightiest foe of earth," dolg ballastan vallar (Haustl., 6), and has wholly assumed the nature of a giant.

At the same time, with the approach of the great winter, a terrible earthquake takes place, the effects of which are felt even in heaven. The myth in regard to this is explained in No. 81. In this explanation the reader will find that the great earthquake in primeval time is caused by Thjasse's kinswomen on his mother's side (the Grotte-song)—that is, by the giantesses Fenja and Menja, who turned the enormous world-mill, built on the foundations of the lower world, and working in the depths of the sea, the prototype of the mill of the Grotte-song composed in Christian times; that the world-mill has a möndull, the mill-handle, which sweeps the uttermost rim of the earth, with which handle not only the mill-stone but also the starry heavens are made to whirl round; and that when the mill was put in so violent a motion by the angry giantesses that it got out of order, then the starry constellations were also disturbed. The ancient terrible winter[Pg 176] and the inclination of the axis of heaven have in the myth been connected, and these again with the close of the golden age. The mill had up to this time ground gold, happiness, peace, and good-will among men; henceforth it grinds salt and dust.

The winter must of course first of all affect those people who inhabited the extensive Svithiod north of the original country and over which another kinsman of Heimdal, the first of the race of Skilfings or Ynglings, ruled. This kinsman of Heimdal has an important part in the mythology, and thereof we shall give an account in Nos. 89, 91, 110, 113-115, and 123. It is there found that he is the same as Ivalde, who, with a giantess, begot the illegitimate children Ide, Urner, and Thjasse. Already before his sons he became the foe of the gods, and from Svithiod now proceeds, in connection with the spreading of the fimbul-winter, a migration southward, the work at the same time of the Skilfings and the primeval artists. The list of dwarfs in Völuspa has preserved the record of this in the strophe about the artist migration from the rocks of the hall (Salar steinar) and from Svarin's mound situated in the north (the Völuspa strophe quoted in the Younger Edda; cp. Saxo., Hist., 32, 33, and Helg. Hund., i. 31, ii. to str. 14). The attack is directed against aurvanga sjöt, the land of the clayey plains, and the assailants do not stop before they reach Jöruvalla the Jara plains, which name is still applied to the south coast of Scandinavia (see No. 32). In the pedigree of these emigrants[Pg 177]

their er sóttu
frŕ Salar steina (or Svarins haugi)
aurvanga sjot
til Jöruvalla—

occur the names Álfr and Yngvi, who have Skilfing names; Fjalarr, who is Ivalde's ally and Odin's enemy (see No. 89); Finnr, which is one of the several names of Ivalde himself (see No. 123); Frosti, who symbolises cold; Skirfir, a name which points to the Skilfings; and Virfir, whom Saxo (Hist. Dan., 178, 179) speaks of as Huyrvillus, and the Icelandic records as Virvill and Vifill (Fornalders. ii. 8; Younger Edda, i. 548). In Fornalders. Vifill is an emigration leader who married to Loge's daughter Eymyrja (a metaphor for fire—Younger Edda, ii. 570), betakes himself from the far North and takes possession of an island on the Swedish coast. That this island is Oland is clear from Saxo, 178, where Huyrvillus is called Holandić princeps. At the same time a brother-in-law of Virfir takes possession of Bornholm, and Gotland is colonised by Thjelvar (Thjálfi of the myth), who is the son of Thjasse's brother (see Nos. 113, 114, 115). Virfir is allied with the sons of Finnr (Fyn—Saxo, Hist., 178). The saga concerning the emigration of the Longobardians is also connected with the myth about Thjasse and his kinsmen (see Nos. 112-115).

From all this it appears that a series of emigration and colonisation tales have their origin in the myth concerning the fimbul-winter caused by Thjasse and concerning the therewith connected attack by the Skilfings and Thjasse's kinsmen on South Scandinavia, that is, on the clayey[Pg 178] plains near Jaravall, where the second son of Heimdal, Skjold-Borgar, rules. It is the remembrance of this migration from north to south which forms the basis of all the Teutonic middle-age migration sagas. The migration saga of the Goths, as Jordanes heard it, makes them emigrate from Scandinavia under the leadership of Berig. (Ex hac igitur Scandza insula quasi officina gentium aut certe velut vagina nationum cum rege suo Berig Gothi quondam memorantur egressi—De Goth. Orig., c. 4. Meminisse debes, me de Scandzć insulć gremio Gothos dixisse egressos cum Berich suo rege—c. 17.) The name Berig, also written Berich and Berigo, is the same as the German Berker, Berchtung, and indicates the same person as the Norse Borgarr. With Berig is connected the race of the Amalians; with Borgar the memory of Hamal (Amala), who is the foster-brother of Borgar's son (cp. No. 28 with Helge Hund., ii.). Thus the emigration of the Goths is in the myth a result of the fate experienced by Borgar and his people in their original country. And as the Swedes constituted the northernmost Teutonic branch, they were the ones who, on the approach of the fimbul-winter, were the first that were compelled to surrender their abodes and secure more southern habitations. This also appears from saga fragments which have been preserved; and here, but not in the circumstances themselves, lies the explanation of the statements, according to which the Swedes forced Scandinavian tribes dwelling farther south to emigrate. Jordanes (c. 3) claims that the Herulians were driven from their abode in Scandza by the Svithidians, and that the Danes are of Svithidian[Pg 179] origin—in other words, that an older Teutonic population in Denmark was driven south, and that Denmark was repeopled by emigrants from Sweden. And in the Norse sagas themselves, the centre of gravity, as we have seen, is continually being moved farther to the south. Heimdal, under the name Scef-Skelfir, comes to the original inhabitants in Scania. Borgar, his son, becomes a ruler there, but founds, under the name Skjold, the royal dynasty of the Skjoldungs in Denmark. With Scef and Skjold the Wessex royal family of Saxon origin is in turn connected, and thus the royal dynasty of the Goths is again connected with the Skjold who emigrated from Scandza, and who is identical with Borgar. And finally there existed in Saxo's time mythic traditions or songs which related that all the present Germany came under the power of the Teutons who emigrated with Borgar; that, in other words, the emigration from the North carried with it the hegemony of Teutonic tribes over other tribes which before them inhabited Germany. Saxo says of Skjold-Borgar that omnem Alamannorum gentem tributaria ditione perdomuit; that is, "he made the whole race of Alamanni tributary." The name Alamanni is in this case not to be taken in an ethnographical but in a geographical sense. It means the people who were rulers in Germany before the immigration of Teutons from the North.

From this we see that migration traditions remembered by Teutons beneath Italian and Icelandic skies, on the islands of Great Britain and on the German continent, in spite of their wide diffusion and their separation in time,[Pg 180] point to a single root: to the myth concerning the primeval artists and their conflict with the gods; to the robbing of Idun and the fimbul-winter which was the result.

The myth makes the gods themselves to be seized by terror at the fate of the world, and Mimer makes arrangements to save all that is best and purest on earth for an expected regeneration of the world. At the very beginning of the fimbul-winter Mimer opens in his subterranean grove of immortality an asylum, closed against all physical and spiritual evil, for the two children of men, Lif and Lifthrasir (Vafthr., 45), who are to be the parents of a new race of men (see Nos. 52, 53).

The war begun in Borgar's time for the possession of the ancient country continues under his son Halfdan, who reconquers it for a time, invades Svithiod, and repels Thjasse and his kinsmen (see Nos. 32, 33).



The main outlines of Halfdan's saga reappears related as history, and more or less blended with foreign elements, in Saxo's accounts of the kings Gram, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson (see No. 23). Contributions to the saga are found in Hyndluljod (str. 14, 15, 16) and in Skaldskaparmal (Younger Edda, i. 516 ff.), in what they tell about Halfdan Skjoldung and Halfdan the Old. The juvenile adventures of the hero have, with some modifications, furnished the materials for both[Pg 181] the songs about Helge Hundingsbane, with which Saxo's story of Helgo Hundingicida (Hist., 80-110) and Volsungasaga's about Helge Sigmundson are to be compared. The Grotte-song also (str. 22) identifies Helge Hundingsbane with Halfdan.

For the history of the origin of the existing heroic poems from mythic sources, of their relation to these and to each other, it is important to get the original identity of the hero-myth, concerning Halfdan and the heroic poems concerning Helge Hundingsbane, fixed on a firm foundation. The following parallels suffice to show that this Helge is a later time's reproduction of the mythic Halfdan:

Halfdan-Gram, sent on a
warlike expedition, meets
Groa, who is mounted on
horseback and accompanied
by other women on horseback
(Saxo, 26, 27).

Helge Hundingsbane, sent
on a warlike expedition,
meets Sigrun, who is mounted
on horseback and is accompanied
by other women
on horseback (Helge Hund.,
i. 16; Volsungasaga, c. 9).

The meeting takes place in
a forest (Saxo, 26).

Halfdan-Gram is on the
occasion completely wrapped
in the skin of a wild beast, so
that even his face is concealed
(Saxo, 26).

The meeting takes place in
a forest (Vols., c. 9).

Helge is on the occasion
disguised. He speaks frá
úlfidi "from a wolf guise"
(Helge Hund., i. 16), which
expression finds its interpretation
in Saxo, where Halfdan
appears wrapped in the
skin of a wild beast.

Conversation is begun between
Halfdan-Gram and
Groa. Halfdan pretends to be
[Pg 182]a person who is his brother-at-arms
(Saxo, 27).

Conversation is begun between
Helge and Sigrun.
Helge pretends to be a person
who is his foster-brother
(Helge Hund., ii. 6).

Groa asks Halfdan-Gram:
Quis, rogo, vestrum
dirigit agmen,
quo duce signa
bellica fertis?
(Saxo, 27.)

Sigrun asks Helge:
Hverir lata fljota
fley vid backa,
hvar hermegir
heima eigud?
(Helge Hund., ii. 5.)

Halfdan-Gram invites Groa
to accompany him. At first
the invitation is refused
(Saxo, 27).

Helge invites Sigrun to accompany
him. At first the invitation
is rebuked (Helge
Hund., i. 16, 17).

Groa's father had already
given her hand to another
(Saxo, 26).

Sigrun's father had already
promised her to another
(Helge Hund., i. 18).

Halfdan-Gram explains
that this rival ought not to
cause them to fear (Saxo, 28).

Helge explains that this
rival should not cause them to
fear (Helge Hund., i., ii.).

Halfdan-Gram makes war
on Groa's father, on his rival,
and on the kinsmen of the latter
(Saxo, 32).

Helge makes war on Sigrun's
father, on his rival, and
on the kinsmen of the latter
(Helge Hund., i., ii.).

Halfdan-Gram slays Groa's
father and betrothed, and
many heroes who belonged to
his circle of kinsmen or were
subject to him (Saxo, 32).

Helge kills Sigrun's father
and suitors, and many heroes
who were the brothers or
allies of his rival (Helge
Hund., ii.).

Halfdan-Gram marries Groa
(Saxo, 33).

Helge marries Sigrun (Helge
Hund., i. 56).

Halfdan-Gram conquers a
king Ring (Saxo, 32).

Helge conquers Ring's sons
(Helge Hund., i. 52).

Borgar's son has defeated
and slain king Hunding
(Saxo, 362; cp. Saxo, 337).

Helge has slain king Hunding,
and thus gotten the
name Hundingsbane (Helge
Hund., i. 10).[Pg 183]

Halfdan-Gram has felled
Svarin and many of his brothers.
Svarin was viceroy under
Groa's father (Saxo, 32).

Helge's rival and the many
brothers of the latter dwell
around Svarin's grave-mound.
They are allies or subjects of
Sigrun's father.

Halfdan-Gram is slain by
Svipdag, who is armed with
an Asgard weapon (Saxo, 34,
to be compared with other
sources. See Nos. 33, 98, 101,

Helge is slain by Dag, who
is armed with an Asgard
weapon (Helge Hund., ii.).

Halfdan-Berggram's father
is slain by his brother Frode,
who took his kingdom (Saxo,

Helge's father was slain by
his brother Frode, who took
his kingdom (Rolf Krake's

Halfdan Berggram and his
brother were in their childhood
protected by Regno
(Saxo, 320).

Helge and his brother were
in their childhood protected
by Regin (Rolf Krake's saga).

Halfdan Berggram and his
brother burnt Frode to death
in his house (Saxo, 323).

Helge and his brothers
burnt Frode to death in his
house (Rolf Krake's saga).

Halfdan Berggram as a
youth left the kingdom to his
brother and went warfaring
(Saxo, 320 ff).

Helge Hundingsbane as a
youth left the kingdom to his
brother and went warfaring
(Saxo, 80).

During Halfdan's absence
Denmark is attacked by an
enemy, who conquers his
brother in three battles and
slays him in a fourth (Saxo,

During Helge Hundingsbane's
absence Denmark is attacked
by an enemy, who conquers
his brother in three
battles and slays him in a
fourth (Saxo, 82).

Halfdan, the descendant of
Scef and Scyld, becomes the
father of Rolf (Beowulf

Helge Hundingsbane became
the father of Rolf
(Saxo, 83; compare Rolf
Krake's saga).[Pg 184]

Halfdan had a son with his
own sister Yrsa (Grotte-song,
22; mon Yrsu sonr vid Half-dana
hefna Froda; sa mun
hennar heitinn vertha börr oc

Helge Hundingsbane had a
son with his own sister Ursa
(Saxo, 82). The son was Rolf
(compare Rolf Krake's saga).

A glance at these parallels is sufficient to remove every doubt that the hero in the songs concerning Helge Hundingsbane is originally the same mythic person as is celebrated in the song or songs from which Saxo gathered his materials concerning the kings, Gram Skjoldson, Halfdan Berggram, and Halfdan Borgarson. It is the ancient myth in regard to Halfdan, the son of Skjold-Borgar, which myth, after the introduction of Christianity in Scandinavia, is divided into two branches, of which the one continues to be the saga of this patriarch, while the other utilises the history of his youth and transforms it into a new saga, that of Helge Hundingsbane. In Saxo's time, and long before him, this division into two branches had already taken place. How this younger branch, Helge Hundingsbane's saga, was afterwards partly appropriated by the all-absorbing Sigurdsaga and became connected with it in an external and purely genealogical manner, and partly did itself appropriate (as in Saxo) the old Danish local tradition about Rolf, the illegitimate son of Halfdan Skjoldung, and, in fact, foreign to his pedigree; how it got mixed with the saga about an evil Frode and his stepsons, a saga with which it formerly had no connection;—all these are questions which I shall discuss fully in a second part of this work, and in a[Pg 185] separate treatise on the heroic sagas. For the present, my task is to show what influence this knowledge of Halfdan and Helge Hundingsbane's identity has upon the interpretation of the myth concerning the antiquity of the Teutons.



The first strophes of the first song of Helge Hundingsbane distinguish themselves in tone and character and broad treatment from the continuation of the song, and have clearly belonged to a genuine old mythic poem about Halfdan, and without much change the compiler of the Helge Hundingsbane song has incorporated them into his poem. They describe Halfdan's ("Helge Hundingsbane's") birth. The real mythic names of his parents, Borgar and Drott, have been retained side by side with the names given by the compiler, Sigmund and Borghild.

Ar var alda;
that er arar gullo,
hnigo heilog votn
af himinfjollum;
thá hafthi Helga
inn hugom stora
Borghildr borit
i Bralundi.

It was time's morning,
eagles screeched,
holy waters fell
from the heavenly mountains.
Then was the mighty
Helge born
by Borghild
in Bralund.

Nott varth i bœ,
nornir qvomo,
ther er authlingi
[Pg 186]aldr urn scopo;
thann batho fylci
frćgstan vertha
oc buthlunga
beztan ticcia.

It was night,
norns came,
they who did shape
the fate of the nobleman;
they proclaimed him
best among Budlungs,
and most famed
among princes.

Snero ther af afli
tha er Borgarr braut
i Brálundi;
ther um greiddo
gullin simo
oc und manasal
mithian festo.

With all their might the threads
of fate they twisted,
when Borgar settled
in Bralund;
of gold they made
the warp of the web,
and fastened it directly
'neath the halls of the moon.

ther austr oc vestr
enda fálo:
thar átti lofdungr
land a milli;
brá nipt Nera
a nordrevega
einni festi
ey bath hon halda.

In the east and west
they hid the ends:
there between
the chief should rule;
Nere's[15] kinswoman
northward sent
one thread and bade it
hold for ever.

Eitt var at angri
Ylfinga nith
oc theirre meyio
er nunuth fćddi;
hrafn gvath at hrafni
—sat a hám meithi
andvanr áto:—
"Ec veit noccoth!

One cause there was
of alarm to the Yngling (Borgar),
and also for her
who bore the loved one.
Hungry cawed
raven to raven
in the high tree:
"Hear what I know!

"Stendr i brynio
burr Sigmundar,
dœgrs eins gamall,
[Pg 187] nu er dagr kominn;
hversir augo
sem hildingar,
sa er varga vinr,
vith scolom teitir."

"In coat of mail
stands Sigmund's son,
one day old,
now the day is come;
sharp eyes of the Hildings
has he, and the wolves'
friend he becomes,
We shall thrive."

Drótt thotti sa
dauglingr vera
quado meth gumnom
god-ár kominn;
sialfr gecc visi
or vig thrimo
ungum fćra
itrlauc grami.

Drott, it is said, saw
In him a dayling,[16]
saying, "Now are good seasons
come among men;"
to the young lord
from thunder-strife
came the chief himself
with a glorious flower.

Halfdan's ("Helge Hundingsbane's") birth occurs, according to the contents of these strophes, when two epochs meet. His arrival announces the close of the peaceful epoch and the beginning of an age of strife, which ever since has reigned in the world. His significance in this respect is distinctly manifest in the poem. The raven, to whom the battle-field will soon be as a wellspread table, is yet suffering from hunger (andvanr átu); but from the high tree in which it sits, it has on the day after the birth of the child, presumably through the window, seen the newcomer, and discovered that he possessed "the sharp eyes of the Hildings," and with prophetic vision it has already seen him clad in coat of mail. It proclaims its discovery to another raven in the same tree, and foretells that theirs and the age of the wolves has come: "We shall thrive."

The parents of the child heard and understood what

[Pg 188]

the raven said. Among the runes which Heimdal, Borgar's father, taught him, and which the son of the latter in time learned, are the knowledge of bird-speech (Konr ungr klök nam fugla—Rigsthula, 43, 44). The raven's appearance in the song of Helge Hundingsbane is to be compared with its relative the crow in Rigsthula; the one foretells that the new-born one's path of life lies over battle-fields, the other urges the grown man to turn away from his peaceful amusements. Important in regard to a correct understanding of the song, and characteristic of the original relation of the strophes quoted to the myth concerning primeval time, is the circumstance that Halfdan's ("Helge Hundingsbane's") parents are not pleased with the prophecies of the raven; on the contrary they are filled with alarm. Former interpreters have been surprised at this. It has seemed to them that the prophecy of the lad's future heroic and blood-stained career ought, in harmony with the general spirit pervading the old Norse literature, to have awakened the parents' joy and pride. But the matter is explained by the mythic connection which makes Borgars' life constitute the transition period from a happy and peaceful golden age to an age of warfare. With all their love of strife and admiration for warlike deeds, the Teutons still were human, and shared with all other people the opinion that peace and harmony is something better and more desirable than war and bloodshed. Like their Aryan kinsmen, they dreamed of primeval Saturnia regna, and looked forward to a regeneration which is to restore the reign of peace. Borgar, in the myth, established the community, was the[Pg 189] legislator and judge. He was the hero of peaceful deeds, who did not care to employ weapons except against wild beasts and robbers. But the myth had also equipped him with courage and strength, the necessary qualities for inspiring respect and interest, and had given him abundant opportunity for exhibiting these qualities in the promotion of culture and the maintenance of the sacredness of the law. Borgar was the Hercules of the northern myth, who fought with the gigantic beasts and robbers of the olden time. Saxo (Hist., 23) has preserved the traditions which tell how he at one time fought breast to breast with a giant bear, conquering him and bringing him fettered into his own camp.

As is well known, the family names Ylfings, Hildings, Budlungs, &c., have in the poems of the Christian skalds lost their specific application to certain families, and are applied to royal and princely warriors in general. This is in perfect analogy with the Christian Icelandic poetry, according to which it is proper to take the name of any viking, giant, or dwarf, and apply it to any special viking, giant, or dwarf, a poetic principle which scholars even of our time claim can also be applied in the interpretation of the heathen poems. In regard to the old Norse poets this method is, however, as impossible as it would be in Greek poetry to call Odysseus a Peleid, or Achilleus a Laertiatid, or Prometheus Hephćstos, or Hephćstos Dćdalos. The poems concerning Helge Hundingsbane are compiled in Christian times from old songs about Borgar's son Halfdan, and we find that the patronymic appellations Ylfing, Hilding, Budlung, and Lofdung are copiously[Pg 190] strewn on "Helge Hundingsbane." But, so far as the above-quoted strophes are concerned, it can be shown that the appellations Ylfing, Hilding, and Budlung are in fact old usage and have a mythic foundation. The German poem "Wolfdieterich und Sabin" calls Berchtung (Borgar) Potelung—that is, Budlung; the poem "Wolfdieterich" makes Berchtung the progenitor of the Hildings, and adds: "From the same race the Ylfings have come to us"—von dem selbe geslehte sint uns die wilfinge kumen (v. 223).

Saxo mentions the Hilding Hildeger as Halfdan's half-brother, and the traditions on which the saga of Asmund Kćmpebane is based has done the same (compare No. 43). The agreement in this point between German, Danish, and Icelandic statements points to an older source common to them all, and furnishes an additional proof that the German Berchtung occupied in the mythic genćlogies precisely the same place as the Norse Borgar.

That Thor is one of Halfdan's fathers, just as Heimdal is one of Borgar's, has already been pointed out above (see No. 25). To a divine common fatherhood point the words: "Drott it is said, saw in him (the lad just born) a dayling (son of a god of light), a son divine." Who the divine partner-father is, is indicated by the fact that a storm has broken out the night when Drott's son is born. There is a thunder-strife vig thrimo, the eagles screech, and holy waters fall from the heavenly mountains (from the clouds). The god of thunder is present, and casts his shadow over the house where the child is born.[Pg 191]



The myths and heroic poems are not wanting in ideal heroes, who are models of goodness of heart, justice, and the most sensitive nobleness. Such are, for example, the Asa-god Balder, his counter part among heroes, Helge Hjorvardson, Beowulf, and, to a certain degree also, Sigurd Fafnesbane. Halfdan did not belong to this group. His part in the myth is to be the personal representative of the strife-age that came with him, of an age when the inhabitants of the earth are visited by the great winter and by dire misfortunes, when the demoralisation of the world has begun along with disturbances in nature and when the words already are applicable, "hart er i heimi" (hard is the world). Halfdan is guilty of the abduction of a woman—the old custom of taking a maid from her father by violence or cunning is illustrated in his saga. It follows, however, that the myth at the same time embellished him with qualities which made him a worthy Teutonic patriarch, and attractive to the hearers of the songs concerning him. These qualities are, besides the necessary strength and courage, the above-mentioned knowledge of runes, wherein he even surpasses his father (Rigsth.), great skaldic gifts (Saxo, Hist., 325), a liberality which makes him love to strew gold about him (Helge Hund., i. 9), and an extraordinary, fascinating physical beauty—which is emphasised by Saxo (Hist., 30), and which is also evident from the fact that the Teutonic myth makes him, as the Greek myth[Pg 192] makes Achilleus, on one occasion don a woman's attire, and resemble a valkyrie in this guise (Helge Hund., ii.). No doubt the myth also described him as the model of a faithful foster-brother in his relations to the silent Hamal, who externally was so like him that the one could easily be taken for the other (cp. Helge Hund., ii. 1, 6). In all cases it is certain that the myth made the foster-brotherhood between Halfdan and Hamal the basis of the unfailing fidelity with which Hamal's descendants, the Amalians, cling to the son of Halfdan's favourite Hadding, and support his cause even amid the most difficult circumstances (see Nos. 42, 43). The abduction of a woman by Halfdan is founded in the physical interpretation of the myth, and can thus be justified. The wife he takes by force is the goddess of vegetation, Groa, and he does it because her husband Orvandel has made a compact with the powers of frost (see Nos. 33, 38, 108, 109).

There are indications that our ancestors believed the sword to be a later invention than the other kinds of weapons, and that it was from the beginning under a curse. The first and most important of all sword-smiths was, according to the myth, Thjasse,[17] who accordingly is called fadir mörna, the father of the swords (Haustlaung, Younger Edda, 306). The best sword made by him is intended to make way for the destruction of the gods (see Nos. 33, 98, 101, 103). After various fortunes it comes into the possession of Frey, but is of no service to Asgard. It is given to the parents of the giantess Gerd, and in Ragnarok it causes the death of Frey.

[Pg 193]

Halfdan had two swords, which his mother's father, for whom they were made, had buried in the earth, and his mother long kept the place of concealment secret from him. The first time he uses one of them he slays in a duel his noble half-brother Hildeger, fighting on the side of the Skilfings, without knowing who he is (cp. Saxo, Hist., 351, 355, 356, with Asmund Kćmpebane's saga). Cursed swords are several times mentioned in the sagas.

Halfdan's weapon, which he wields successfully in advantageous exploits, is in fact, the club (Saxo, Hist., 26, 31, 323, 353). That the Teutonic patriarch's favourite weapon is the club, not the sword; that the latter, later, in his hand, sheds the blood of a kinsman; and that he himself finally is slain by the sword forged by Thjasse, and that, too, in conflict with a son (the stepson Svipdag—see below), I regard as worthy of notice from the standpoint of the views cherished during some of the centuries of the Teutonic heathendom in regard to the various age and sacredness of the different kinds of weapons. That the sword also at length was looked upon as sacred is plain from the fact that it was adopted and used by the Asa-gods. In Ragnarok, Vidar is to avenge his father with a hjörr and pierce Fafner's heart (Völuspa). Hjörr may, it is true, also mean a missile, but still it is probable that it, in Vidar's hand, means a sword. The oldest and most sacred weapons were the spear, the hammer, the club, and the axe. The spear which, in the days of Tacitus, and much later, was the chief weapon both for foot-soldiers and cavalry in the Teutonic armies, is wielded by the Asa-father himself, whose Gungner was[Pg 194] forged for him by Ivalde's sons before the dreadful enmity between the gods and them had begun.

The hammer is Thor's most sacred weapon. Before Sindre forged one for him of iron (Gylfaginning), he wielded a hammer of stone. This is evident from the very name hamarr, a rock, a stone. The club is, as we have seen, the weapon of the Teutonic patriarch, and is wielded side by side with Thor's hammer in the conflict with the powers of frost. The battle-axe belonged to Njord. This is evident from the metaphors found in the Younger Edda, p. 346, and in Islend. Saga, 9. The mythological kernel in the former metaphor is Njördrklauf Herjan's hurdir, i.e., "Njord cleaved Odin's gates" (when the Vans conquered Asgard); in the other the battle-axe is called Gaut's megin-hurdar galli, i.e., "the destroyer of Odin's great gate." The bow is a weapon employed by the Asa-gods Hödr and Ullr, but Balder is slain by a shot from the bow, and the chief archer of the myth is, as we shall see, not an Asa-god, but a brother of Thjasse. (Further discussion of the weapon-myth will be found in No. 39.)



In regard to the significance of the conflicts awaiting Halfdan, and occupying his whole life, when interpreted[Pg 195] as myths of nature, we must remember that he inherits from his father the duty of stopping the progress southward of the giant-world's wintry agents, the kinsmen of Thjasse, and of the Skilfing (Yngling) tribes dwelling in the north. The migration sagas have, as we have seen, shown that Borgar and his people had to leave the original country and move south to Denmark, Saxland, and to those regions on the other side of the Baltic in which the Goths settled. For a time the original country is possessed by the conquerors who according to Völuspa, "from Svarin's Mound attacked and took (sótti) the clayey plains as far as Jaravall." But Halfdan represses them. That the words quoted from Völuspa really refer to the same mythic persons with whom Halfdan afterwards fights is proved by the fact that Svarin and Svarin's Mound are never named in our documents except in connection with Halfdan's saga. In Saxo it is Halfdan-Gram who slays Svarin and his numerous brothers; in the saga of "Helge Hundingsbane" it is again Halfdan, under the name Helge, who attacks tribes dwelling around Svarin's Mound, and conquers them. To this may be added, that the compiler of the first song about Helge Hundingsbane borrowed from the saga-original, on which the song is based, names which point to the Völuspa strophe concerning the attack on the south Scandinavian plains. In the category of names, or the genealogy of the aggressors, occur, as has been shown already, the Skilfing names Alf and Yngve. Thus also in the Helge-song's list of persons with whom the conflict is waged in the vicinity of Svarin's Mound. In the Vö1[Pg 196]uspa's list Moinn is mentioned among the aggressors (in the variation in the Prose Edda); in the Helge-song, strophe 46, it is said that Helge-Halfdan fought á Móinsheimom against his brave foes, whom he afterwards slew in the battle around Svarin's Mound. In the Völuspa's list is named among the aggressors one Haugspori, "the one spying from the mound"; in the Helge-song is mentioned Sporvitnir, who from Svarin's Mound watches the forces of Helge-Halfdan advancing. I have already (No. 28B), pointed out several other names which occur in the Völuspa list, and whose connection with the myth concerning the artists, frost-giants, and Skilfings of antiquity and their attack on the original country, can be shown.

The physical significance of Halfdan's conflicts and adventures is apparent also from the names of the women, whom the saga makes him marry. Groa (grow), whom he robs and keeps for some time, is, as her very name indicates, a goddess of vegetation. Signe-Alveig, whom he afterwards marries, is the same. Her name signifies "the nourishing drink." According to Saxo she is the daughter of Sumblus, Latin for Sumbl, which means feast, ale, mead, and is a synonym for Ölvaldi, Ölmódr, names which belonged to the father of the Ivalde sons (see No. 123).

According to a well-supported statement in Forspjallsljod (see No. 123), Ivalde was the father of two groups of children. The mother of one of these groups is a giantess (see Nos. 113, 114, 115). With her he has three sons, viz., the three famous artists of antiquity—Ide, Gang-Urnir, and Thjasse. The mother of the other[Pg 197] group is a goddess of light (see No. 123). With her he has daughters, who are goddesses of growth, among them Idun and Signe-Alveig. That Idun is the daughter of Ivalde is clear from Forspjallsljod (6), álfa ćttar Ithunni hčto Ivallds ellri ýngsta barna.

Of the names of their father Sumbl, Ölvaldi, Ölmódr, it may be said that, as nature-symbols, "öl" (ale) and "mjöd" (mead), are in the Teutonic mythology identical with soma and somamadhu in Rigveda and haoma in Avesta, that is, they are the strength-developing, nourishing saps in nature. Mimer's subterranean well, from which the world-tree draws its nourishment, is a mead-fountain. In the poem "Haustlaung" Idun is called Ölgefn; in the same poem Groa is called Ölgefion. Both appellations refer to goddesses who give the drink of growth and regeneration to nature and to the gods. Thus we here have a family, the names and epithets of whose members characterise them as forces, active in the service of nature and of the god of harvests. Their names and epithets also point to the family bond which unites them. We have the group of names, Idvaldi, Idi, Idunn, and the group, Ölvaldi (Ölmódr), Ölgefn, and Ölgefion, both indicating members of the same family. Further on (see Nos. 113, 114, 115), proof shall be presented that Groa's first husband, Orvandel the brave, is one of Thjasse's brothers, and thus that Groa, too, was closely connected with this family.

As we know, it is the enmity caused by Loke between the Asa-gods and the lower serving, yet powerful, divinities of nature belonging to the Ivalde group, which pro[Pg 198]duces the terrible winter with its awful consequences for man, and particularly for the Teutonic tribes. These hitherto beneficent agents of growth have ceased to serve the gods, and have allied themselves with the frost-giants. The war waged by Halfdan must be regarded from this standpoint. Midgard's chief hero, the real Teutonic patriarch, tries to reconquer for the Teutons the country of which winter has robbed them. To be able to do this, he is the son of Thor, the divine foe of the frost-giants, and performs on the border of Midgard a work corresponding to that which Thor has to do in space and in Jotunheim. And in the same manner as Heimdal before secured favourable conditions of nature to the original country, by uniting the sun-goddess with himself through bonds of love, his grandson Halfdan now seeks to do the same for the Teutonic country, by robbing a hostile son of Ivalde, Orvandel, of his wife Groa, the growth-giver, and thereupon also of Alveig, the giver of the nourishing sap. A symbol of nature may also be found in Saxo's statement, that the king of Svithiod, Sigtrygg, Groa's father, could not be conquered unless Halfdan fastened a golden ball to his club (Hist., 31). The purpose of Halfdan's conflicts, the object which the norns particularly gave to his life, that of reconquering from the powers of frost the northernmost regions of the Teutonic territory and of permanently securing them for culture, and the difficulty of this task is indicated, it seems to me, in the strophes above quoted, which tell us that the norns fastened the woof of his power in the east and west, and that he from the beginning, and undisputed, extended the[Pg 199] sceptre of his rule over these latitudes, while in regard to the northern latitudes, it is said that Nere's kinswoman, the chief of the norns (see Nos. 57-64, 85), cast a single thread in this direction and prayed that it might hold for ever:

ther austr oc vestr
enda fâlo,
thar átti lofdungr
land a milli;
brá nipt Nera
a nordrvega
einni festi,
ey bath hon halda.

The norns' prayer was heard. That the myth made Halfdan proceed victoriously to the north, even to the very starting-point of the emigration to the south caused by the fimbul-winter, that is to say, to Svarin's Mound, is proved by the statements that he slays Svarin and his brothers, and wins in the vicinity of Svarin's Mound the victory over his opponents, which was for a time decisive. His penetration into the north, when regarded as a nature-myth, means the restoration of the proper change of seasons, and the rendering of the original country and of Svithiod inhabitable. As far as the hero, who secured the "giver of growth" and the "giver of nourishing sap," succeeds with the aid of his father Thor to carry his weapons into the Teutonic lands destroyed by frost, so far spring and summer again extend the sceptre of their reign. The songs about Helge Hundingsbane have also preserved from the myth the idea that Halfdan and his forces penetrating northward by land and by sea are accompanied in the air by "valkyries," "goddesses from the[Pg 200] south," armed with helmets, coats of mail, and shining spears, who fight the forces of nature that are hostile to Halfdan, and these valkyries are in their very nature goddesses of growth, from the manes of whose horses falls the dew which gives the power of growth back to the earth and harvests to men. (Cp. Helg. Hund., i. 15, 30; ii., the prose to v. 5, 12, 13, with Helg. Hjörv., 28.) On this account the Swedes, too, have celebrated Halfdan in their songs as their patriarch and benefactor, and according to Saxo they have worshipped him as a divinity, although it was his task to check the advance of the Skilfings to the south.

Doubtless it is after this successful war that Halfdan performs the great sacrifice mentioned in Skaldskaparmal, ch. 64, in order that he may retain his royal power for three hundred years. The statement should be compared with what the German poems of the middle ages tell about the longevity of Berchtung-Borgar and other heroes of antiquity. They live for several centuries. But the response Halfdan gets from the powers to whom he sacrificed is that he shall live simply to the age of an old man, and that in his family there shall not for three hundred years be born a woman or a fameless man.



When Halfdan secured Groa, she was already the bride[Pg 201] of Orvandel the brave, and the first son she bore in Halfdan's house was not his, but Orvandel's. The son's name is Svipdag. He develops into a hero who, like Halfdan himself, is the most brilliant and most beloved of those celebrated in Teutonic songs. We have devoted a special part of this work to him (see Nos. 96-107). There we have given proofs of various mythological facts, which I now already must incorporate with the following series of events in order that the epic thread may not be wanting:

(a) Groa bears with Halfdan the son Guthorm (Saxo, Hist., Dan., 34).

(b) Groa is rejected by Halfdan (Saxo, Hist. Dan., 33). She returns to Orvandel, and brings with her her own and his son Svipdag.

(c) Halfdan marries Signe-Alveig (Hyndluljod, 15; Prose Edda, i. 516; Saxo Hist., 33), and with her becomes the father of the son Hadding (Saxo, Hist. Dan., 34).

(d) Groa dies, and Orvandel marries again (Grógaldr, 3). Before her death Groa has told her son that if he needs her help he must go to her grave and invoke her (Grógaldr, 1).

(e) It is Svipdag's duty to revenge on Halfdan the disgrace done to his mother and the murder of his mother's father Sigtrygg. But his stepmother bids Svipdag seek Menglad, "the one loving ornaments" (Grógaldr, 3).

(f) Under the weight of these tasks Svipdag goes to his mother's grave, bids her awake from her sleep of[Pg 202] death, and from her he receives protecting incantations (Grógaldr, 1).

(g) Before Svipdag enters upon the adventurous expedition to find Menglad, he undertakes, at the head of the giants, the allies of the Ivaldesons (see Fjölsvinsm, 1, where Svipdag is called thursathjodar sjólr), a war of revenge against Halfdan (Saxo, 33 ff., 325; cp. Nos. 102, 103). The host of giants is defeated, and Svipdag, who has entered into a duel with his stepfather, is overcome by the latter. Halfdan offers to spare his life and adopt him as his son. But Svipdag refuses to accept life as a gift from him, and answers a defiant no to the proffered father-hand. Then Halfdan binds him to a tree and leaves him to his fate (Saxo, Hist., 325; cp. No. 103).

(h) Svipdag is freed from his bonds through one of the incantations sung over him by his mother (Grógaldr, 10).

(i) Svipdag wanders about sorrowing in the land of the giants. Gevarr-Nökkve, god of the moon (see Nos. 90, 91), tells him how he is to find an irresistible sword, which is always attended by victory (see No. 101). The Sword is forged by Thjasse, who intended to destroy the world of the gods with it; but just at the moment when the smith had finished his weapon he was surprised in his sleep by Mimer, who put him in chains and took the sword. The latter is now concealed in the lower world (see Nos. 98, 101, 103).

(j) Following Gevarr-Nökkve's directions, Svipdag goes to the northernmost edge of the world, and finds there a descent to the lower world; he conquers the guard[Pg 203] of the gates of Hades, sees the wonderful regions down there, and succeeds in securing the sword of victory (see Nos. 53, 97, 98, 101, 103, 112).

(k) Svipdag begins a new war with Halfdan. Thor fights on his son's side, but the irresistible sword cleaves the hammer Mjolner; the Asa-god himself must yield. The war ends with Halfdan's defeat. He dies of the wounds he has received in the battle (see Nos. 101, 103; cp. Saxo, Hist., 34).

(l) Svipdag seeks and finds Menglad, who is Freyja who was robbed by the giants. He liberates her and sends her pure and undefiled to Asgard (see Nos. 96, 98, 100, 102).

(m) Idun is brought back to Asgard by Loke. Thjasse, who is freed from his prison at Mimer's, pursues, in the guise of an eagle, Loke to the walls of Asgard, where he is slain by the gods (see the Eddas).

(n) Svipdag, armed with the sword of victory, goes to Asgard, is received joyfully by Freyja, becomes her husband, and presents his sword of victory to Frey. Reconciliation between the gods and the Ivalde race. Njord marries Thjasse's daughter Skade. Orvandel's second son Ull, Svipdag's half-brother (see No. 102), is adopted in Valhal. A sister of Svipdag is married to Forsete (Hyndluljod, 20). The gods honour the memory of Thjasse by connecting his name with certain stars (Harbardsljod, 19). A similar honour had already been paid to his brother Orvandel (Prose Edda).

From this series of events we find that, although the Teutonic patriarch finally succumbs in the war which he[Pg 204] waged against the Thjasse-race and the frost-powers led by Thjasse's kinsmen, still the results of his work are permanent. When the crisis had reached its culminating point; when the giant hosts of the fimbul-winter had received as their leader the son of Orvandel, armed with the irresistible sword; when Halfdan's fate is settled; when Thor himself, Midgard's veorr (Völusp.), the mighty protector of earth and the human race, must retreat with his lightning hammer broken into pieces, then the power of love suddenly prevails and saves the world. Svipdag, who, under the spell of his deceased mother's incantations from the grave, obeyed the command of his stepmother to find and rescue Freyja from the power of the giants, thereby wins her heart and earns the gratitude of the gods. He has himself learned to love her, and is at last compelled by his longing to seek her in Asgard. The end of the power of the fimbul-winter is marked by Freyja's and Idun's return to the gods, by Thjasse's death, by the presentation of the invincible sword to the god of harvests (Frey), by the adoption of Thjasse's kinsmen, Svipdag, Ull, and Skade in Asgard, and by several marriage ties celebrated in commemoration of the reconciliation between Asgard's gods and the kinsmen of the great artist of antiquity.



Thus the peace of the world and the order of nature[Pg 205] might seem secured. But it is not long before a new war breaks out, to which the former may be regarded as simply the prelude. The feud, which had its origin in the judgment passed by the gods on Thjasse's gifts, and which ended in the marriage of Svipdag and Freyja, was waged for the purpose of securing again for settlement and culture the ancient domain and Svithiod, where Heimdal had founded the first community. It was confined within the limits of the North Teutonic peninsula, and in it the united powers of Asgard supported the other Teutonic tribes fighting under Halfdan. But the new conflict rages at the same time in heaven and in earth, between the divine clans of the Asas and the Vans, and between all the Teutonic tribes led into war with each other by Halfdan's sons. From the standpoint of Teutonic mythology it is a world war; and Völuspa calls it the first great war in the world—folcvig fyrst i heimi (str. 21, 25).

Loke was the cause of the former prelusive war. His feminine counterpart and ally Gullveig-Heidr, who gradually is blended, so to speak, into one with him, causes the other. This is apparent from the following Völuspa strophes:

Str. 21. That man hon folcvig
fyrst i heimi
er Gullveig
geirum studdu
oc i haull Hárs
hana brendo.

Str. 22. Thrysvar brendo
thrysvar borna
[Pg 206]opt osialdan
tho hon en lifir.

Str. 23. Heida hana heto
hvars til husa com
vólo velspá
vitti hon ganda
seid hon kuni
seid hon Leikin,
e var hon angan
illrar brudar.

Str. 24. Thá gengo regin oll
a raukstola
ginheilog god
oc um that gettuz
hvart scyldo esir
afrad gialda
etha scyldo godin aull
gildi eiga.

Str. 25. Fleygde Odin
oc i folc um scáut
that var en folcvig
fyrst i heimi.

Brotin var bordvegr
borgar asa
knatto vanir vigspa
vollo sporna.

The first thing to be established in the interpretation of these strophes is the fact that they, in the order in which they are found in Codex Regius, and in which I have given them, all belong together and refer to the same mythic event—that is, to the origin of the great world war. This is evident from a comparison of strophe 21 with 25, the first and last of those quoted. Both speak of[Pg 207] the war, which is called fólkvig fyrst i heimi. The former strophe informs us that it occurred as a result of, and in connection with, the murder of Gulveig, a murder committed in Valhal itself, in the hall of the Asa-father, beneath the roof where the gods of the Asa-clan are gathered around their father. The latter strophe tells that the first great war in the world produced a separation between the two god-clans, the Asas and Vans, a division caused by the fact that Odin, hurling his spear, interrupted a discussion between them; and the strophe also explains the result of the war: the bulwark around Asgard was broken, and the Vans got possession of the power of the Asas. The discussion or council is explained in strophe 24. It is there expressly emphasised that all the gods, the Asas and Vans, regin oll, godin aull, solemnly assemble and seat themselves on their raukstola to counsel together concerning the murder of Gullveig-Heidr. Strophe 23 has already described who Gulveig is, and thus given at least one reason for the hatred of the Asas towards her, and for the treatment she receives in Odin's hall. It is evident that she was in Asgard under the name Gulveig, since Gulveig was killed and burnt in Valhal; but Midgard, the abode of man, has also been the scene of her activity. There she has roamed about under the name Heidr, practising the evil arts of black sorcery (see No. 27) and encouraging the evil passions of mankind: ć var hon angan illrar brudar. Hence Gulveig suffers the punishment which from time immemorial was established among the Aryans for the practice of the black art: she was burnt. And her mysteriously terrible and[Pg 208] magic nature is revealed by the fact that the flames, though kindled by divine hands, do not have the power over her that they have over other agents of sorcery. The gods burn her thrice; they pierce the body of the witch with their spears, and hold her over the flames of the fire. All is in vain. They cannot prevent her return and regeneration. Thrice burned and thrice born, she still lives.

After Völuspa has given an account of the vala who in Asgard was called Gullveig and on earth Heidr, the poem speaks, in strophe 24, of the dispute which arose among the gods on account of her murder. The gods assembled on and around the judgment-seats are divided into two parties, of which the Asas constitute the one. The fact that the treatment received by Gulveig can become a question of dispute which ends in enmity between the gods is a proof that only one of the god-clans has committed the murder; and since this took place, not in Njord's, or Frey's, or Freyja's halls, but in Valhal, where Odin rules and is surrounded by his sons, it follows that the Asas must have committed the murder. Of course, Vans who were guests in Odin's hall might have been the perpetrators of the murder; but, on the one hand, the poem would scarcely have indicated Odin's hall as the place where Gulveig was to be punished, unless it wished thereby to point out the Asas as the doers of the deed, and, on the other hand, we cannot conceive the murder as possible, as described in Völuspa, if the Vans were the ones who committed it, and the Asas were Gulveig's protectors; for then the latter, who were the[Pg 209] lords in Valhal, would certainly not have permitted the Vans quietly and peaceably to subject Gulveig to the long torture there described, in which she is spitted on spears and held over the flames to be burnt to ashes.

That the Asas committed the murder is also corroborated by Völuspa's account of the question in dispute. One of the views prevailing in the consultation and discussion in regard to the matter is that the Asas ought to afrád gjalda in reference to the murder committed. In this afrád gjalda we meet with a phrase which is echoed in the laws of Iceland, and in the old codes of Norway and Sweden. There can be no doubt that the phrase has found its way into the language of the law from the popular vernacular, and that its legal significance was simply more definite and precise than its use in the vernacular. The common popular meaning of the phrase is to pay compensation. The compensation may be of any kind whatsoever. It may be rent for the use of another's field, or it may be taxes for the enjoyment of social rights, or it may be death and wounds for having waged war. In the present instance, it must mean compensation to be paid by the Asas for the slaying of Gullveig-Heidr. As such a demand could not be made by the Asas themselves, it must have been made by the Vans and their supporters in the discussion. Against this demand we have the proposition from the Asas that all the gods should gildi eiga. In regard to this disputed phrase at least so much is clear, that it must contain either an absolute or a partial counter-proposition to the demand of the Vans, and its purpose must be that the Asas ought not—at least, not alone—to[Pg 210] pay the compensation for the murder, but that the crime should be regarded as one in reference to which all the gods, the Asas and the Vans, were alike guilty, and as one for which they all together should assume the responsibility.

The discussion does not lead to a friendly settlement. Something must have been said at which Odin has become deeply offended, for the Asa-father, distinguished for his wisdom and calmness, hurls his spear into the midst of those deliberating—a token that the contest of reason against reason is at an end, and that it is to be followed by a contest with weapons.

The myth concerning this deliberation between Asas and Vans was well known to Saxo, and what he has to say about it (Hist., 126 ff.), turning myth as usual into history, should be compared with Völuspa's account, for both these sources complement each other.

The first thing that strikes us in Saxo's narrative is that sorcery, the black art, plays, as in Völuspa, the chief part in the chain of events. His account is taken from a mythic circumstance, mentioned by the heathen skald Kormak (seid Y ggr til Rindar—Younger Edda, i. 236), according to which Odin, forced by extreme need, sought the favour of Rind, and gained his point by sorcery and witchcraft, as he could not gain it otherwise. According to Saxo, Odin touched Rind with a piece of bark on which he had inscribed magic songs, and the result was that she became insane (Rinda ... quam Othinus cortice carminibus adnotato contingens lymphanti similem reddidit). In immediate connection herewith it is related[Pg 211] that the gods held a council, in which it was claimed that Odin had stained his divine honour, and ought to be deposed from his royal dignity (dii ... Othinum variis majestatis detrimentis divinitatis gloriam maculasse cernentes, collegio suo submovendum duxerunt—Hist., 129). Among the deeds of which his opponents in this council accused him was, as it appears from Saxo, at least one of which he ought to take the consequences, but for which all the gods ought not to be held responsible ( ... ne vel ipsi, alieno crimine implicati, insontes nocentis crimine punirentur—Hist., 129; in omnium caput unius culpam recidere putares, Hist., 130). The result of the deliberation of the gods is, in Saxo as in Völuspa, that Odin is banished, and that another clan of gods than his holds the power for some time. Thereupon he is, with the consent of the reigning gods, recalled to the throne, which he henceforth occupies in a brilliant manner. But one of his first acts after his return is to banish the black art and its agents from heaven and from earth (Hist., 44).

Thus the chain of events in Saxo both begins and ends with sorcery. It is the background on which both in Saxo and in Völuspa those events occur which are connected with the dispute between the Asas and Vans. In both the documents the gods meet in council before the breaking out of the enmity. In both the question turns on a deed done by Odin, for which certain gods do not wish to take the responsibility. Saxo indicates this by the words: Ne vel ipsi, alieno crimine implicati innocentes nocentis crimine punirentur. Völuspa indicates it by letting the Vans present, against the proposition that godin[Pg 212] öll skyldu gildi eiga, the claim that Odin's own clan, and it alone, should afrád gjalda. And while Völuspa makes Odin suddenly interrupt the deliberations and hurl his spear among the deliberators, Saxo gives us the explanation of his sudden wrath. He and his clan had slain and burnt Gulveig-Heid because she practised sorcery and other evil arts of witchcraft. And as he refuses to make compensation for the murder and demands that all the gods take the consequences and share the blame, the Vans have replied in council, that he too once practised sorcery on the occasion when he visited Rind, and that, if Gulveig was justly burnt for this crime, then he ought justly to be deposed from his dignity stained by the same crime as the ruler of all the gods. Thus Völuspa's and Saxo's accounts supplement and illustrate each other.

One dark point remains, however. Why have the Vans objected to the killing of Gulveig-Heid? Should this clan of gods, celebrated in song as benevolent, useful, and pure, be kindly disposed toward the evil and corrupting arts of witchcraft? This cannot have been the meaning of the myth. As shall be shown, the evil plans of Gulveig-Heid have particularly been directed against those very Vana-gods who in the council demand compensation for her death. In this regard Saxo has in perfect faithfulness toward his mythic source represented Odin on the one hand, and his opponents among the gods on the other, as alike hostile to the black art. Odin, who on one occasion and under peculiar circumstances, which I shall discuss in connection with the Balder myth, was guilty of the practise of sorcery, is nevertheless the[Pg 213] declared enemy of witchcraft, and Saxo makes him take pains to forbid and persecute it. The Vans likewise look upon it with horror, and it is this horror which adds strength to their words when they attack and depose Odin, because he has himself practised that for which he has punished Gulveig.

The explanation of the fact is, as shall be shown below, that Frey, on account of a passion of which he is the victim (probably through sorcery), was driven to marry the giant maid Gerd, whose kin in that way became friends of the Vans. Frey is obliged to demand satisfaction for a murder perpetrated on a kinswoman of his wife. The kinship of blood demands its sacred right, and according to Teutonic ideas of law, the Vans must act as they do regardless of the moral character of Gulveig.



The duty of the Vana-deities becomes even more plain, if it can be shown that Gulveig-Heid is Gerd's mother; for Frey, supported by the Vana-gods, then demands satisfaction for the murder of his own mother-in-law. Gerd's mother is, in Hyndluljod, 30, called Aurboda, and is the wife of the giant Gymer:

Freyr atti Gerdi,
Hon vor Gymis dottir,
iotna ćttar
ok Aurbodu.
[Pg 214]

It can, in fact, be demonstrated that Aurboda is identical with Gulveig-Heid. The evidence is given below in two divisions. (a) Evidence that Gulveig-Heid is identical with Angerboda, "the ancient one in the Ironwood;" (b) evidence that Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda is identical with Aurboda, Gerd's mother.

(a) Gulveid-Heid identical with Angerboda.

Hyndluljod, 40, 41, says:

Ol ulf Loki
vid Angrbodu,
(enn Sleipni gat
vid Svadilfara);
eitt thotti skars
allra feiknazst
that var brodur fra
Byleistz komit.

Loki af hiarta
lindi brendu,
fann hann haalfsuidinn
hugstein konu;
vard Loptr kvidugr
af konu illri;
thadan er aa folldu
flagd hvert komit.

From the account we see that an evil female being (ill kona) had been burnt, but that the flames were not able to destroy the seed of life in her nature. Her heart had not been burnt through or changed to ashes. It was only half-burnt (hálfsvidinn hugsteinn), and in this condition it had together with the other remains of the cremated woman been thrown away, for Loke finds and swallows the heart.[Pg 215]

Our ancestors looked upon the heart as the seat of the life principle, of the soul of living beings. A number of linguistic phrases are founded on the idea that goodness and evil, kindness and severity, courage and cowardice, joy and sorrow, are connected with the character of the heart; sometimes we find hjarta used entirely in the sense of soul, as in the expression hold ok hjarta, soul and body. So long as the heart in a dead body had not gone into decay, it was believed that the principle of life dwelling therein still was able, under peculiar circumstances, to operate on the limbs and exercise an influence on its environment, particularly if the dead person in life had been endowed with a will at once evil and powerful. In such cases it was regarded as important to pierce the heart of the dead with a pointed spear (cp. Saxo, Hist., 43, and No. 95).

The half-burnt heart, accordingly, contains the evil woman's soul, and its influence upon Loke, after he has swallowed it, is most remarkable. Once before when he bore Sleipner with the giant horse Svadilfare, Loke had revealed his androgynous nature. So he does now. The swallowed heart redeveloped the feminine in him (Loki lindi af brendu hjarta). It fertilised him with the evil purposes which the heart contained. Loke became the possessor of the evil woman (kvidugr af konu illri), and became the father of the children from which the trolls (flagd) are come which are found in the world. First among the children is mentioned the wolf, which is called Fenrir, and which in Ragnarok shall cause the death of the Asa-father. To this event point Njord's[Pg 216] words about Loke, in Lokasenna, str. 33: ass ragr er hefir born of borit. The woman possessing the half-burnt heart, who is the mother or rather the father of the wolf, is called Angerboda (ól ulf Loki vid Angrbodu). N. M. Peterson and other mythologists have rightly seen that she is the same as "the old one," who in historical times and until Ragnarok dwells in the Ironwood, and "there fosters Fenrer's kinsmen" (Völuspa, 39), her own offspring, which at the close of this period are to issue from the Ironwood, and break into Midgard and dye its citadels with blood (Völuspa, 30).

The fact that Angerboda now dwells in the Ironwood, although there on a former occasion did not remain more of her than a half-burnt heart, proves that the attempt to destroy her with fire was unsuccessful, and that she arose again in bodily form after this cremation, and became the mother and nourisher of were-wolves. Thus the myth about Angerboda is identical with the myth about Gulveig-Heid in the two characteristic points:

Unsuccessful burning of an evil woman.
Her regeneration after the cremation.

These points apply equally to Gulveig-Heid and to Angerboda, "the old one in the Ironwood."

The myth about Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, as it was remembered in the first period after the introduction of Christianity, we find in part recapitulated in Helgakvida Hundingsbane, i. 37-40, where Sinfjotle compares his opponent Gudmund with the evil female principle in the heathen mythology, the vala in question, and where[Pg 217] Gudmund in return compares Sinfjotle with its evil masculine principle, Loke.

Sinfjotle says:

Thu vart vaulva
i Varinseyio,
scollvis kona
bartu scrauc saman;

Thu vart, en scetha,
scass valkyria,
autul, amátlig
at Alfaudar;
mundo einherjar
allir beriaz,
svevis kona,
um sakar thinar.
Nio attu vith
a neri Sagu
ulfa alna
ec var einn fathir theirra.

Gudmund's answer begins:

Fadir varattu

The evil woman with whom one of the two heroes compares the other is said to be a vala, who has practised her art partly on Varin's Isle partly in Asgard at Alfather's, and there she was the cause of a war in which all the warriors of Asgard took part. This refers to the war between the Asas and Vans. It is the second feud among the powers of Asgard.[Pg 218]

The vala must therefore be Gulveig-Heid of the myth, on whose account the war between the Asas and Vans broke out, according to Völuspa. Now it is said of her in the lines above quoted, that she gave birth to wolves, and that these wolves were "fenrisulfar." Of Angerboda we already know that she is the mother of the real Fenris-wolf, and that she, in the Ironwood, produces other wolves which are called by Fenrer's name (Fenris kindir—Völuspa). Thus the identity of Gulveig-Heid and Angerboda is still further established by the fact that both the one and the other is called the mother of the Fenris family.

The passage quoted is not the only one which has preserved the memory of Gulveig-Heid as mother of the were-wolves. Volsungasaga (c. ii. 8) relates that a giantess, Hrímnir's daughter, first dwelt in Asgard as the maid-servant of Frigg, then on earth, and that she, during her sojourn on earth, became the wife of a king, and with him the mother and grandmother of were-wolves, who infested the woods and murdered men. The fantastic and horrible saga about these were-wolves has, in Christian times and by Christian authors been connected with the poems about Helge Hundingsbane and Sigurd Fafnersbane. The circumstance that the giantess in question first dwelt in Asgard and thereupon in Midgard, indicates that she is identical with Gulveig-Heid, and this identity is confirmed by the statement that she is a daughter of the giant Hrímnir.

The myth, as it has come down to our days, knows only one daughter of this giant, and she is the same as[Pg 219] Gulveig-Heid. Hyndluljod states that Heidr is Hrímnir's daughter, and mentions no sister of hers, but, on the other hand, a brother Hrossthiofr (Heidr ok Hrorsthiofr Hrimnis kindar—Hyndl., 30). In allusion to the cremation of Gulveig-Heid fire is called in Thorsdrapa Hrimnis drósar lyptisylgr, "the lifting drink of Hrimner's daughter," the drink which Heid lifted up on spears had to drink. Nowhere is any other daughter of Hrimner mentioned. And while it is stated in the above-cited strophe that the giantess who caused the war in Asgard and became the mother of fenris-wolves was a vala on Varin's Isle (vaulva i Varinseyio), a comparison of Helgakv. Hund., i. 26, with Volsungasaga, c. 2, shows that Varin's Isle and Varin's Fjord were located in that very country, where Hrimner's daughter was supposed to have been for some time the wife of a king and to have given birth to were-wolves.

Thus we have found that the three characteristic points—

unsuccessful cremation of an evil giantess,
her regeneration after the cremation,
the same woman as mother of the Fenrer race—

are common to Gulveig-Heid and Angerboda.

Their identity is apparent from various other circumstances, but may be regarded as completely demonstrated by the proofs given. Gulveig's activity in antiquity as the founder of the diabolical magic art, as one who awakens man's evil passions and produces strife in Asgard itself, has its complement in Angerboda's activity as the[Pg 220] mother and nourisher of that class of beings in whose members witchcraft, thirst for blood, and hatred of the gods are personified. The activity of the evil principle has, in the great epic of the myth, formed a continuity spanning all ages, and this continuous thread of evil is twisted from the treacherous deeds of Gulveig and Loke, the feminine and the masculine representatives of the evil principle. Both appear at the dawn of mankind: Loke has already at the beginning of time secured access to Alfather (Lokasenna, 9), and Gulveig deceives the sons of men already in the time of Heimdal's son Borgar. Loke entices Idun from the secure grounds of Asgard, and treacherously delivers her to the powers of frost; Gulveig, as we shall see, plays Freyja into the hands of the giants. Loke plans enmity between the gods and the forces of nature, which hitherto had been friendly, and which have their personal representatives in Ivalde's sons; Gulveig causes the war between the Asas and Vans. The interference of both is interrupted at the close of the mythic age, when Loke is chained, and Gulveig, in the guise of Angerboda, is an exile in the Ironwood. Before this they have for a time been blended, so to speak, into a single being, in which the feminine assuming masculineness, and the masculine effeminated, bear to the world an offspring of foes to the gods and to creation. Both finally act their parts in the destruction of the world. Before that crisis comes Angerboda has fostered that host of "sons of world-ruin" which Loke is to lead to battle, and a magic sword which she has kept in the Ironwood is given to Surt, in whose hand it is to be the[Pg 221] death of Frey, the lord of harvests (see Nos. 89, 98, 101, 103).

That the woman who in antiquity, in various guises, visited Asgard and Midgard was believed to have had her home in the Ironwood[18] of the East during the historical age down to Ragnarok is explained by what Saxo says—viz., that Odin, after his return and reconciliation with the Vans, banished the agents of the black art both from heaven and from earth. Here, too, the connection between Gulveig-Heid and Angerboda is manifest. The war between the Asas and Vans was caused by the burning of Gulveig by the former. After the reconciliation with the Asas this punishment cannot again be inflicted on the regenerated witch. The Asas must allow her to live to the end of time; but both the clans of gods agree that she must not show her face again in Asgard or Midgard. The myth concerning the banishment of the famous vala to the Ironwood, and of the Loke progeny which she there fosters, has been turned into history by Jordanes in his De Goth. Origine, ch. 24, where it is stated that a Gothic king compelled the suspected valas (haliorunas) found among his people to take their refuge to the deserts in the East beyond the Mœotian Marsh, where they mixed with the wood-sprites, and thus became the progenitors of the Huns. In this manner the Christian Goths got from their mythic traditions an explanation of the source of the eastern hosts of horsemen, whose ugly faces and

[Pg 222]

barbarous manners seemed to them to prove an other than purely human origin. The vala Gulveig-Heid and her like become in Jordanes these haliorunć; Loke and the giants of the Ironwood become these wood-sprites; the Asa-god who caused the banishment becomes a king, son of Gandaricus Magnus (the great ruler of the Gandians, Odin), and Loke's and Angerboda's wonderful progeny become the Huns.

Stress should be laid on the fact that Jordanes and Saxo have in the same manner preserved the tradition that Odin and the Asas, after making peace and becoming reconciled with the Vans, do not apply the death-penalty and burning to Gulveid-Heid-Angerboda and her kith and kin, but, instead, sentence them to banishment from the domains of gods and men. That the tradition preserved in Saxo and Jordanes corresponded with the myth is proved by the fact that we there rediscover Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda with her offspring in the Ironwood, which was thought to be situated in the utmost East, far away from the human world, and that she remains there undisturbed until the destruction of the world. The reconciliation between the Asas and Vans has, as this conclusively shows, been based on an admission on the part of the Asas that the Vans had a right to find fault with and demand satisfaction for the murder of Gulveig-Heid. Thus the dispute which caused the war between Asas and Vans was at last decided to the advantage of the latter, while they on their part, after being satisfied, reinstate Odin in his dignity as universal ruler and father of the gods.[Pg 223]

(b) Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda identical with Aurboda.

In the Ironwood dwells Angerboda, together with a giant, who is gygjar hirdir, the guardian and watcher of the giantess. He has charge of her remarkable herds, and also guards a sword brought to the Ironwood. This vocation has given him the epithet Egther (Egtherr—Völuspa), which means sword-guardian. Saxo speaks of him as Egtherus, an ally of Finns, skilled in magic, and a chief of Bjarmians, equally skilful in magic (cp. Hist., 248, 249, with Nos. 52, 53). Bjarmians and Finns are in Saxo made the heirs of the wicked inhabitants of Jotunheim. Vilkinasaga knows him by the name Etgeir, who watches over precious implements in Isung's wood. Etgeir is a corruption of Egther, and Isung's wood is a reminiscence of Isarnvidr, Isarnho, the Ironwood. In the Vilkinasaga he is the brother of Vidolf. According to Hyndluljod, all the valas of the myth come from Vidolf. As Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda is the chief of all valas, and the teacher of the arts practised by the valas this statement in Hyndluljod makes us think of her particularly; and as Hrimnir's daughter has been born and burnt several times, she may also have had several fathers. Among them, then, is Vidolf, whose character, as described by Saxo, fits well for such a daughter. He is a master in sorcery, and also skilful in the art of medicine. But the medical art he practises in such a manner that those who seek his help receive from him such remedies as do harm instead of good. Only by threats can he be made to do good with his art (Hist., 323, 324). The statement in Vilkinasaga compared with that in Hynd[Pg 224]luljod seems therefore to point to a near kinship between Angerboda and her sword-guard. She appears to be the daughter of his brother.

In Völuspa's description of the approach of Ragnarok, Egther Angerboda's shepherd, is represented as sitting on a mound—like Aurboda's shepherd in Skirnisför—and playing a harp, happy over that which is to happen. That the giant who is hostile to the gods, and who is the guardian of the strange herds, does not play an idyl on the strings of his harp does not need to be stated. He is visited by a being in the guise of the red cock. The cock, says Völuspa, is Fjalarr (str. 44).

What the heathen records tell us about Fjalar is the following:[19]

(a) He is the same giant as the Younger Edda (i. 144 ff.) calls Utgard-Loke. The latter is a fire-giant, Loge's, the fire's ruler (Younger Edda, 152), the cause of earthquakes (Younger Edda, 144), and skilled in producing optical delusions. Fjalar's identity with Utgard-Loke is proved by Harbardsljod, str. 26, where Thor, on his way to Fjalar, meets with the same adventures as, according to the Younger Edda, he met with on his way to Utgard-Loke.

(b) He is the same giant as the one called Suttung. The giant from whom Odin robs the skaldic mead, and whose devoted daughter Gunlad he causes bitter sorrow, is called in Havamál sometimes Fjalar and sometimes Suttung (cp. strs. 13, 14, 104, 105).

[Pg 225]

(c) Fjalar is the son of the chief of the fire-giants, Surtr, and dwells in the subterranean dales of the latter. A full account of this in No. 89. Here it will suffice to point out that when Odin flies out of Fjalar's dwelling with the skaldic mead, it is "from Surt's deep dales" that he "flying bears" the precious drink (hinn er Surts or sökkdölum farmagnudr fljúgandi bar, a strophe by Eyvind, quoted in the Younger Edda, p. 242), and that this drink while it remained with Fjalar was "the drink of Surt's race" (Sylgr Surts ćttar, Fornms., iii. 3).

(d) Fjalar, with Froste, takes part in the attack of Thjasse's kinsmen and the Skilfings from Svarin's Mound against "the land of the clayey plains, to Jaravall" (Völuspa, 14, 15; see Nos. 28, 32). Thus he is allied with the powers of frost, who are foes of the gods, and who seek to conquer the Teutonic domain. The approach of the fimbul-winter was also attended by an earthquake (see Nos. 28, 81).

When, therefore, Völuspa makes Fjalar on his visit to the sword-guardian in the Ironwood appear in the guise of the red cock, then this is in harmony with Fjalar's nature as a fire-giant and as a son of Surt.

Sat thar a haugi
oc sló haurpo
gygjar hirthir
gladr Egther.
Gol um hanom
i galgvithi
fagrraudr hani
sa er Fjalar heitir (Völusp., 41).
[Pg 226]

The red cock has from time immemorial been the symbol of fire as a destructive power.

That what Odin does against Fjalar—when he robs him of the mead, which in the myth is the most precious of all drinks, and when he deceived his daughter—is calculated to awaken Fjalar's thirst for revenge and to bring about a satisfaction sooner or later, lies in the very spirit of Teutonic poetry and ethics, especially since, Odin's act, though done from a good motive, was morally reprehensible. What Fjalar's errand to Angerboda's sword-guard was appears from the fact that when the last war between the gods and their enemies is fought a short time afterwards, Fjalar's father, the chief of the fire-giants, Surt, is armed with the best of the mythical weapons, the sword which had belonged to a valtivi, one of the gods of Asgard (Völusp., 50), and which casts the splendour of the sun upon the world. The famous sword of the myth, that which Thjasse finished with a purpose hostile to the gods (see No. 87 and elsewhere), the sword concealed by Mimer (see Nos. 87, 98, 101), the sword found by Svipdag (see Nos. 89, 101, 103), the sword secured through him by Frey, the one given by Frey to Gymer and Aurboda in exchange for Gerd,—this sword is found again in the Ragnarok conflict, wielded by Surt, and causes Frey's death (Völuspa), it having been secured by Surt's son, Fjalar, in the Ironwood from Angerboda's sword-guard.

Gulli keypta
leztu Gymis dottur
oc seldir thitt sva sverth;
[Pg 227]Enn er Muspells synir
rida myrcvith yfir
veizta thu tha, vesall, hve thu vegr (Lokas., 42).

This passage not only tells us that Frey gave his sword in exchange for Gerd to the parents of the giantess, Gymer and Aurboda, but also gives us to understand that this bargain shall cause his death in Ragnarok. This bride-purchase is fully described in Skirnismal, in which poem we learn that the gods most unwillingly part with the safety which the incomparable sword secured to Asgard. They yield in order to save the life of the harvest-god, who was wasting away with longing and anxiety, but not until the giants had refused to accept other Asgard treasures, among them the precious ring Draupner, which the Asa-father once laid on the pulseless breast of his favourite son Balder. At the approach of Ragnarok, Surt's son, Fjalar, goes to the Ironwood to fetch for his father the sword by which Frey, its former possessor, is to fall. The sword is then guarded by Angerboda's shepherd, and consequently belongs to her. In other words, the sword which Aurboda enticed Frey to give her is now found in the possession of Angerboda. This circumstance of itself is a very strong reason for their identity. If there were no other evidence of their identity than this, a sound application of methodology would still bid us accept this identity rather than explain the matter by inventing a new, nowhere-supported myth, and thus making the sword pass from Aurboda to another giantess.

When we now add the important fact in the disposition[Pg 228] of this matter, that Aurboda's son-in-law, Frey, demands, in behalf of a near kinsman, satisfaction from the Asas when they had killed and burnt Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, then it seems to me that there can be no doubt in regard to the identity of Aurboda and Angerboda, the less so, since all that our mythic fragments have to tell us about Gymer's wife confirms the theory that she is the same person. Aurboda has, like Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, practised the arts of sorcery: she is one of the valas of the evil giant world. This is told to us in a strophe by the skald Refr, who calls her "Gymer's primeval cold vala" (ursvöl Gymis völva—Younger Edda, i. 326, 496). She might be called "primeval cold" (ursvöl) from the fact that the fire was not able to pierce her heart and change it to ashes, in spite of a threefold burning. Under all circumstances, the passage quoted informs us that she is a vala.

But have our mythic fragments preserved any allusion to show that Aurboda, like Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda, ever dwelt among the gods in Asgard? Asgard is a place where giants are refused admittance. Exceptions from this prohibition must have been very few, and the myths must have given good reasons for them. We know in regard to Loke's appearance in Asgard, that it is based on a promise given him by the Asa-father in time's morning; and the promise was sealed with blood (Lokasenna, 9). If, now, this Aurboda, who, like Angerboda, is a vala of giant race, and like Angerboda, is the owner of Frey's sword, and, like Angerboda, is a kinswoman of the Vans—if now this same Aurboda, in further likeness with[Pg 229] Angerboda, was one of the certainly very few of the giant class who was permitted to enter within the gates of Asgard, then it must be admitted that this fact absolutely confirms their identity.

Aurboda did actually dwell in Asgard. Of this we are assured by the poem "Fjölsvinsmal." There it is related that when Svipdag came to the gates of Asgard to seek and find Menglad-Freyja, who was destined to be his wife (see Nos. 96, 97), he sees Menglad sitting on a hill surrounded by goddesses, whose very names Eir, Björt, Blid, and Frid, tell us that they are goddesses of lower or higher rank. Eir is an asynja of the healing art (Younger Edda, i. 114). Björt, Blid, and Frid are the dises of splendour, benevolence, and beauty. They are mighty beings, and can give aid in distress to all who worship them (Fjolsv., 40). But in the midst of this circle of dises, who surround Menglad, Svipdag also sees Aurboda (Fjolsv., 38).

Above them Svipdag sees Mimer's tree—the world-tree (see No. 97), spreading its all-embracing branches, on which grow fruits which soothe kelisjukar konur and lighten the entrance upon terrestrial life for the children of men (Fjolsv., 22). Menglad-Freyja is, as we know, the goddess of love and fertility, and it is Frigg's and her vocation to dispose of these fruits for the purposes for which they are intended.

The Volsungasaga has preserved a record concerning these fruits, and concerning the giant-daughter who was admitted to Asgard as a maid-servant of the goddesses. A king and queen had long been married without getting[Pg 230] any children. They beseeched the gods for an heir. Frigg heard their prayers and sent them in the guise of a crow the daughter of the giant Hrimner, a giantess who had been adopted in Asgard as Odin's "wish-may." Hrimner's daughter took an apple with her, and when the queen had eaten it, it was not long before she perceived that her wish would come to pass (Volsungasaga, pp. 1, 2). Hrimner's daughter is, as we know, Gulveig-Heid.

Thus the question whether Aurboda ever dwelt in Asgard is answered in the affirmative. We have discovered her, though she is the daughter of a giant, in the circle around Menglad-Freyja, where she has occupied a subordinate position as maid-servant. At the same time we have found that Gulveig-Heid has for some time had an occupation in Asgard of precisely the same kind as that which belongs to a dis serving under the goddess of fertility. Thus the similarity between Aurboda and Gulveig-Heid is not confined to the fact that they, although giantesses, dwelt in Asgard, but they were employed there in the same manner.

The demonstration that Gulveig-Heid-Angerboda is identical with Aurboda may now be regarded as complete. Of the one as of the other it is related that she was a vala of giant-race, that she nevertheless dwelt for some time in Asgard, and was there employed by Frigg or Freyja in the service of fertility, and that she possessed the sword, which had formerly belonged to Frey, and by which Frey is to fall. Aurboda is Frey's mother-in-law, consequently closely related to him; and it must have been in behalf of a near relation that Frey and Njord[Pg 231] demanded satisfaction from the Asas when the latter slew Gulveig-Heid. Under such circumstances it is utterly impossible from a methodological standpoint to regard them otherwise than identical. We must consider that nearly all mythic characters are polyonomous, and that the Teutonic mythology, particularly, on account of its poetics, is burdened with a highly-developed polyonomy.

But of Gulveig-Heid's and Aurboda's identity there are also other proofs which, for the sake of completeness, we will not omit.

So far as the very names Gulveig and Aurboda are concerned the one can serve as a paraphrase of the other. The first part of the name Aurboda, the aur of many significations may be referred to eyrir, pl. aurar, which means precious metal, and is thought to be borrowed from the Latin aurum (gold). Thus Gull and Aur correspond. In the same manner veig in Gulveig can correspond to boda in Aurboda. Veig means a fermenting liquid. Boda has two significations. It can be the feminine form of bodi, meaning fermenting water, froth, foam. No other names compounded with boda occur in Norse literature than Aurboda and Angrboda.

Ynglingasaga[20] (ch. 4) relates a tradition that Freyja kendi fyrst med Ásum seid, that Freyja was the first to practise sorcery in Asgard. There is no doubt that the statement is correct. For we have seen that Gulveig-Heid, the sorceress and spreader of sorcery in antiquity, succeeded in getting admission to Asgard, and that Aurboda

[Pg 232]

is mentioned as particularly belonging to the circle of serving dises who attended Freyja. As this giantess was so zealous in spreading her evil arts among the inhabitants of Midgard, it would be strange if the myth did not make her, after she had gained Freyja's confidence, try to betray her into practising the same arts. Doubtless Völuspa and Saxo have reference to Gulveig-Heid-Aurboda when they say that Freyja, through some treacherous person among her attendants, was delivered into the hands of the giants.

In his historical account relating how Freyja (Syritha) was robbed from Asgard and came to the giants but was afterwards saved from their power, Saxo (Hist., 331; cp. No. 100) tells that a woman, who was secretly allied with a giant, had succeeded in ingratiating herself in her favour, and for some time performed the duties of a maid-servant at her home; but this she did in order to entice her in a cunning manner away from her safe home to a place where the giant lay in ambush and carried her away to the recesses of his mountain country. (Gigas fćminam subornat, quć cum obtenta virginis familiaritate, ejus aliquamdiu pedissequam egisset, hanc tandem a paternis procul penatibus, qućsita callidius digressione, reduxit; quam ipse mox irruens in arctiora montanć crepidinis septa devexit.) Thus Saxo informs us that it was a woman among Freyja's attendants who betrayed her, and that this woman was allied with the giant world, which is hostile to the gods, while she held a trusted servant's place with the goddess. Aurboda is the only woman connected with the giants in regard to whom our[Pg 233] mythic records inform us that she occupied such a position with Freyja; and as Aurboda's character and part, played in the epic of the myth, correspond with such an act of treason, there is no reason for assuming the mere possibility, that the betrayer of Freyja may have been some one else, who is neither mentioned nor known.

With this it is important to compare Völuspa, 26, 27, which not only mentions the fact that Freyja came into the power of the giants through treachery, but also informs us how the treason was punished:

Tha gengo regin oll
A ráukstola,
ginheilog god
oc um that gettuz
hverir hefdi lopt alt
levi blandit
etha ett iotuns
Oths mey gefna
thorr ein thar va
thrungin modi,
hann sialdan sitr
er hann slict um fregn.

These Völuspa lines stand in Codex Regius in immediate connection with the above-quoted strophes which speak of Gulveig-Heid and of the war caused by her between the Asas and Vans. They inform us that the gods assembled to hold a solemn counsel to find out "who had filled all the air with evil," or "who had delivered Freyja to the race of giants;" and that the person found guilty was at once slain by Thor, who grew most angry.

Now if this person is Gulveig-Aurboda, then it follows[Pg 234] that she received her death-blow from Thor's hammer, before the Asas made in common the unsuccessful attempt to change her body into ashes. We also find elsewhere in our mythic records that an exceedingly dangerous woman met with precisely this fate. There she is called Hyrrokin. A strophe by Thorbjorn Disarskald preserved in the Younger Edda, states that Hyrrokin was one of the giantesses slain by Thor. But the very appellation Hyrrokin, which must be an epithet of a giantess known by some other more common name indicates that some effort worthy of being remembered in the myth had been made to burn her, but that the effort resulted in her being smoked (rökt) rather than that she was burnt; for the epithet Hyrrokin means the "fire-smoked." For those familiar with the contents of the myth, this epithet was regarded as plain enough to indicate who was meant. If it is not, therefore, to be looked upon as an unhappy and misleading epithet, it must refer to the thrice in vain burnt Gulveig. All that we learn about Hyrrokin confirms her identity with Aurboda. In the symbolic-allegorical work of art, which toward the close of the tenth century decorated a hall at Hjardarholt, and of which I shall give a fuller account elsewhere, the storm which from the land side carried Balder's ship out on the sea is represented by the giantess Hyrrokin. In the same capacity of storm-giantess carrying sailors out upon the ocean appears Gymer's wife, Aurboda, in a poem by Refr;

Fćrir björn, thar er bára
brestr, undinna festa,
[Pg 235]

Opt i Ćgis kjopta
úrsvöl Gymis völva.

"Gymer's ancient-cold vala often carries the ship amid breaking billows into the jaws of Ćgir." Gymer, Aurboda's husband, represents in the physical interpretation of the myth the east wind coming from the Ironwood. From the other side of Eystrasalt (the Baltic) Gymer sings his song (Ynglingasaga, 36); and the same gale belongs to Aurboda, for Ćgir, into whose jaws she drives the ships, is the great open western ocean. That Aurboda represents the gale from the east finds its natural explanation in her identity with Angerboda "the old," who dwells in the Ironwood in the uttermost east, "Austr byr hin alldna i iarnvithi (Völusp.).

The result of the investigation is that Gullveig-Heidr, Aurboda, and Angrboda are different names for the different hypostases of the thrice-born and thrice-burnt one, and that Hyrrokin, "the fire-smoked," is an epithet common to all these hypostases.



When the Asas had refused to give satisfaction for the murder of Gulveig, and when Odin, by hurling his spear, had indicated that the treaty of peace between him and the[Pg 236] Vans was broken, the latter leave the assembly hall and Asgard. This is evident from the fact that they afterwards return to Asgard and attack the citadel of the Asa clan. The gods are now divided into two hostile camps: on the one side Odin and his allies, among whom are Heimdal (see Nos. 38, 39, 40), and Skade; on the other Njord, Frigg (Saxo, Hist., 42-44), Frey, Ull (Saxo, Hist., 130, 131), and Freyja and her husband Svipdag, besides all that clan of divinities who were not adopted in Asgard, but belong to the race of Vans and dwell in Vanaheim.

So far as Skade is concerned the breach between the gods seems to have furnished her an opportunity of getting a divorce from Njord, with whom she did not live on good terms. According to statements found in the myths, Thjasse's daughter and he were altogether too different in disposition to dwell in peace together. Saxo (Hist., 53 ff.) and the Younger Edda (p. 94) have both preserved the record of a song which describes their different tastes as to home and surroundings. Skade loved Thrymheim, the rocky home of her father Thjasse, on whose snow-clad plains she was fond of running on skees and of felling wild beasts with her arrows; but when Njord had remained nine days and nine nights among the mountains he was weary of the rocks and of the howling of wolves, and longed for the song of swans on the sea-strand. But when Skade accompanied him thither she could not long endure to be awakened every morning by the shrieking of sea-fowls. In Grimnismal, 11, it is said that Skade "now" occupies her father's "ancient[Pg 237] home" in Thrymheim, but Njord is not named there. In a strophe by Thord Sjarekson (Younger Edda, 262) we read that Skade never became devoted to the Vana-god (nama snotr una godbrúdr Vani), and Eyvind Skalda-spiller relates in Haleygjatal that there was a time when Odin dwelt í Manheimum together with Skade, and begat with her many sons. With Manheimar is meant that part of the world which is inhabited by man; that is to say, Midgard and the lower world, where are also found a race of menskir menn (see Nos. 52, 53, 59, 63), and the topographical counterpart of the word is Ásgardr. Thus it must have been after his banishment from Asgard, while he was separated from Frigg and found refuge somewhere in Manheimar, that Odin had Skade for his wife. Her epithet in Grimnismal, skír brúdr goda, also seems to indicate that she had conjugal relations with more than one of the gods.

While Odin was absent and deposed as ruler of the world, Ull has occupied so important a position among the ruling Vans that, according to the tradition preserved in Saxo, they bestowed upon him the task and honour which until that time had belonged to Odin (Dii ... Ollerum quendam non solum in regni, sed etiam in divinitatis infulas subrogavereHist., 130). This is explained by the fact that Njord and Frey, though valtívar and brave warriors when they are invoked, are in their very nature gods of peace and promoters of wealth and agriculture, while Ull is by nature a warrior. He is a skilful archer, excellent in a duel, and hefir hermanns atgervi (Younger Edda, i. 102). Also after the reconciliation[Pg 238] between the Asas and Vans, Thor's stepson Ull has held a high position in Asgard, as is apparently corroborated by Odin's words in Grimnismal, 41 (Ullar hylli ok allra góda).

From the mythic accounts in regard to the situation and environment of Asgard we may conclude that the siege by the Vans was no easy task. The home of the Asas is surrounded by the atmospheric ocean, whose strong currents make it difficult for the mythic horses to swim to it (see Nos. 65, 93). The bridge Bifrost is not therefore superfluous, but it is that connection between the lower worlds and Asgard which the gods daily use, and which must be captured by the enemy before the great cordon which encloses the shining halls of the gods can be attacked. The wall is built of "the limbs of Lerbrimer" (Fjolsv., 1), and constructed by its architect in such a manner that it is a safe protection against mountain-giants and frost-giants (Younger Edda, 134). In the wall is a gate wondrously made by the artist-brothers who are sons of "Solblinde" (Valgrind—Grimnism., 22; thrymgjöll—Fjölsvimsm., 10). Few there are who understand the lock of that gate, and if anybody brings it out of its proper place in the wall-opening where it blocks the way for those who have no right to enter, then the gate itself becomes a chain for him who has attempted such a thing (Forn er su grind, enn that fáir vito, hor hve er i lás um lokin—Grimn., 22. Fjöturr fastr verdr vid faranda hvern er hana hefr frá hlidi—Fjölsv., 10).

Outside of the very high Asgard cordon and around it there flows a rapid river (see below), the moat of the[Pg 239] citadel. Over the eddies of the stream floats a dark, shining ignitible mist. If it is kindled it explodes in flames, whose bickering tongues strike their victims with unerring certainty. It is the vaferloge, "the bickering flame," "the quick fire," celebrated in ancient songs—vafrlogi, vafreydi, skjót-brinni. It was this fire which the gods kindled around Asgard when they saw Thjasse approaching in eagle guise. In it their irreconcilable foe burnt his pinions, and fell to the ground. "Haustlaung," Thjodolf's poem, says that when Thjasse approached the citadel of the gods "the gods raised the quick fire and sharpened their javelins"—Hófu skjót; en skófu sköpt; ginnregin brinna. The "quick fire," skjót-brinni, is the vaferloge.[21]

The material of which the ignitible mist consists is called "black terror-gleam." It is or odauccom; that is to say, ofdauccom ognar ljoma (Fafn., 40) (cp. myrckvan vafrloga—Skirn., 8, 9; Fjolsv., 31). It is said to be "wise," which implies that it consciously aims at him for whose destruction it is kindled.

How a water could be conceived that evaporates a dark, ignitible mist we find explained in Thorsdrapa. The thunder-storm is the "storm of the vaferfire," and Thor is the "ruler of the chariot of the vaferfire-storm" (vafreyda hreggs húfstjóri). Thus the thunder-cloud contains the water that evaporates a dark material for lightning. The dark metallic colour which is peculiar to the thunder-cloud was regarded as coming from that very .[Pg 240] material which is the "black terror-gleam" of which lightning is formed. When Thor splits the cloud he separates the two component parts, the water and the vafermist; the former falls down as rain, the latter is ignited and rushes away in quick, bickering, zigzag flames—the vaferfires. That these are "wise" was a common Aryan belief. They do not proceed blindly, but know their mark and never miss it.

The river that foams around Asgard thus has its source in the thunder-clouds; not as we find them after they have been split by Thor, but such as they are originally, swollen with a celestial water that evaporates vafermist. All waters—subterranean, terrestrial, and celestial—have their source in that great subterranean fountain Hvergelmer. Thence they come and thither they return (Grimn., 26; see Nos. 59, 63, 33). Hvergelmer's waters are sucked up by the northern root of the world-tree; they rise through its trunk, spread into its branches and leaves, and evaporate from its crown into a water-tank situated on the top of Asgard, Eikthyrnir, in Grimnismal, str. 26, symbolised as a "stag"[22] who stands on the roof of Odin's hall and out of whose horns the waters stream down into Hvergelmer. Eikthyrnir is the great celestial water-tank which gathers and lets out the thunder-cloud. In this tank the Asgard river has its source, and hence it consists not only of foaming water but also of ignitible

[Pg 241]

vafermists. In its capacity of discharger of the thunder-cloud, the tank is called Eikthyrnir, the oak-stinger. Oaks struck by lightning is no unusual occurrence. The oak is, according to popular belief based on observation, that tree which the lightning most frequently strikes.

But Asgard is not the only citadel which is surrounded by vafermists. These are also found enveloping the home where dwelt the storm-giant Gymer and the storm-giantess Aurboda, the sorceress who knows all of Asgard's secrets, at the time when Frey sent Skirner to ask for the hand of their daughter Gerd. Epics which in their present form date from Christian times make vaferflames burn around castles, where goddesses, pricked by sleep-thorns, are slumbering. This is a belief of a later age.

To get over or through the vaferflame is, according to the myth, impossible for anyone who has not got a certain mythical horse to ride—probably Sleipner, the eight-footed steed of the Asa-father, which is the best of all horses (Grimn., 44). The quality of this steed, which enables it to bear its rider unscathed through the vaferflame, makes it indespensable when this obstacle is to be overcome. When Skirner is to go on Frey's journey of courtship to Gerd, he asks for that purpose mar thann er mic um myrckvan beri visan vafrloga, and is allowed to ride it on and for the journey (Skirn., 8, 9). This horse must accordingly have been in the possession of the Vans when they conquered Asgard, an assumption confirmed by what is to be stated below. (In the great epic Sigurd's horse Grane is made to inherit the qualities of this divine horse.)[Pg 242]

On the outer side of the Asgard river, and directly opposite the Asgard gate, lie projecting ramparts (forgardir) to protect the drawbridge, which from the opening in the wall can be dropped down across the river (see below). When Svipdag proceeded toward Menglad's abode in Asgard, he first came to this forgardir (Fjöls., i. 3). There he is hailed by the watch of the citadel, and thence he gets a glimpse over the gate of all the glorious things which are hid behind the high walls of the citadel.

Outside the river Asgard has fields with groves and woods (Younger Edda, 136, 210).

Of the events of the wars waged around Asgard, the mythic fragments, which the Icelandic records have preserved, give us but very little information, though they must have been favourite themes for the heathen skaldic art, which here had an opportunity of describing in a characteristic manner all the gods involved, and of picturing not only their various characters, but also their various weapons, equipments, and horses. In regard to the weapons of attack we must remember that Thor at the outbreak of the conflict is deprived of the assistance of his splendid hammer: it has been broken by Svipdag's sword of victory (see Nos. 101, 103)—a point which it was necessary for the myth to assume, otherwise the Vans could hardly he represented as conquerors. Nor do the Vans have the above-mentioned sword at their disposal: it is already in the power of Gymer and Aurboda. The irresistible weapons which in a purely mechanical manner would have decided the issue of the war, were disposed of in advance in order that the persons them[Pg 243]selves, with their varied warlike qualities, might get to the foreground and decide the fate of the conflict by heroism or prudence, by prescient wisdom or by blind daring. In this war the Vans have particularly distinguished themselves by wise and well calculated strategies. This we learn from Völuspa, where it makes the final victors conquer Asgard through vígspá, that is, foreknowledge applied to warlike ends (str. 26). The Asas, as we might expect from Odin's brave sons, have especially distinguished themselves by their strength and courage. A record of this is found in the words of Thorbjorn Disarskald (Younger Edda, 256).

Thórr hefir Yggs med árum
Ásgard of threk vardan.

"Thor with Odin's clan-men defended Asgard with indomitable courage."

But in number they must have been far inferior to their foes. Simply the circumstance that Odin and his men had to confine themselves to the defence of Asgard shows that nearly all other divinities of various ranks had allied themselves with his enemies. The ruler of the lower world (Mimer) and Honer are the only ones of whom it can be said that they remained faithful to Odin; and if we can trust the Heimskringla tradition, which is related as history and greatly corrupted, then Mimer lost his life in an effort at mediation between the contending gods, while he and Honer were held as hostages among the Vans (Ynglingas., ch. 4).[Pg 244] Asgard was at length conquered. Völuspa, str. 25, relates the final catastrophe:

brotin var bordvegr
borgar asa
knatto vanir vigspa
vollo sporna.

Broken was the bulwark
of the asaburg;
Through warlike prudence were the Vans able
its fields to tread.

Völuspa's words seem to indicate that the Vans took Asgard by strategy; and this is confirmed by a source which shall be quoted below. But to carry out the plan which chiefly involved the finding of means for crossing the vaferflames kindled around the citadel and for opening the gates of Asgard, not only cunning but also courage was required. The myth has given the honour of this undertaking to Njord, the clan-chief of the Vans and the commander of their forces. This is clear from the above-quoted passage: Njordr klauf Herjans hurdir—"Njord broke Odin's doors open," which should be compared with the poetical paraphrase for battle-axe: Gauts megin-hurdar galli—"the destroyer of Odin's great gate,"—a paraphrase that indicates that Njord burst the Asgard gate open with the battle-axe. The conclusion which must be drawn from these utterances is confirmed by an account with which the sixth book of Saxo begins, and which doubtless is a fragment of the myth concerning the conquest of Asgard by the Vans corrupted and told as history.[Pg 245]

The event is transferred by Saxo to the reign of King Fridlevus II. It should here be remarked that every important statement made by Saxo about this Fridlevus, on a closer examination, is found to be taken from the myth concerning Njord.

There were at that time twelve brothers, says Saxo, distinguished for courage, strength, and fine physical appearance. They were "widely celebrated for gigantic triumphs." To their trophies and riches many peoples had paid tribute. But the source from which Saxo received information in regard to Fridlevus' conflict with them did not mention more than seven of these twelve, and of these seven Saxo gives the names. They are called Bjorn, Asbjorn, Gunbjorn, &c. In all the names is found the epithet of the Asa-god Bjorn.

The brothers had had allies, says Saxo further, but at the point when the story begins they had been abandoned by them, and on this account they had been obliged to confine themselves on an island surrounded by a most violent stream which fell from the brow of a very high rock, and the whole surface of which glittered with raging foam. The island was fortified by a very high wall (prćaltum vallum), in which was built a remarkable gate. It was so built that the hinges were placed near the ground between the sides of the opening in the wall, so that the gate turning thereon could, by a movement regulated by chains, be lowered and form a bridge across the stream.

Thus the gate is, at the same time, a drawbridge of that kind with which the Germans became acquainted during the[Pg 246] war with the Romans already before the time of Tacitus (cp. Annal., iv. 51, with iv. 47). Within the fortification there was a most strange horse, and also a remarkably strong dog, which formerly had watched the herds of the giant Offotes. The horse was celebrated for his size and speed, and it was the only steed with which it was possible for a rider to cross the raging stream around the island fortress.

King Fridlevus now surrounds this citadel with his forces. These are arrayed at some distance from the citadel, and in the beginning nothing else is gained by the siege than that the besieged are hindered from making sallies into the surrounding territory. The citadel cannot be taken unless the above-mentioned horse gets into the power of Fridlevus. Bjorn, the owner of the horse, makes sorties from the citadel, and in so doing he did not always take sufficient care, for on one occasion when he was on the outer side of the stream, and had gone some distance away from his horse, he fell into an ambush laid by Fridlevus. He saved himself by rushing headlong over the bridge, which was drawn up behind him, but the precious horse became Fridlevus' booty. This was of course a severe loss to the besieged, and must have diminished considerably their sense of security. Meanwhile, Fridlevus was able to manage the matter in such a way that the accident served rather to lull them into increased safety. During the following night the brothers found their horse, safe and sound, back on the island. Hence it must have swum back across the stream. And when it was afterwards found that the dead body of a[Pg 247] man, clad in the shining robes of Fridlevus, floated on the eddies of the stream, they took it for granted that Fridlevus himself had perished in the stream.

But the real facts were as follows: Fridlevus, attended by a single companion, had in the night ridden from his camp to the river. There his companion's life had to be sacrificed, in order that the king's plan might be carried out. Fridlevus exchanged clothes with the dead man, who, in the king's splendid robes, was cast into the stream. Then Fridlevus gave spur to the steed which he had captured, and rode through the eddies of the stream. Having passed this obstacle safely, he set the horse at liberty, climbed on a ladder over the wall, stole into the hall where the brothers were wont to assemble, hid himself under a projection over the hall door, listened to their conversation, saw them go out to reconnoitre the island, and saw them return, secure in the conviction that there was no danger at hand. Then he went to the gate and let it fall across the stream. His forces had, during the night, advanced toward the citadel, and when they saw the drawbridge down and the way open, they stormed the fortress and captured it.

The fact that we here have a transformation of the myth, telling how Njord at the head of the Vans conquered Asgard, is evident from the following circumstances:

(a) The conqueror is Fridlevus. The most of what Saxo relates about this Fridlevus is, as stated, taken from the myth about Njord, and told as history.

(b) The brothers were, according to Saxo, originally twelve, which is the well-established number of Odin's[Pg 248] clansmen: his sons, and the adopted Asa-gods. But when the siege in question takes place, Saxo finds in his source only seven of the twelve mentioned as enclosed in the citadel beseiged by Fridlevus. The reason for the diminishing of the number is to be found in the fact that the adopted gods—Njord, Frey, and Ull—had left Asgard, and are in fact identical with the leaders of the besiegers. If we also deduct Balder and Hödr, who, at the time of the event, are dead and removed to the lower world, then we have left the number seven given. The name Bjorn, which they all bear, is an Asa epithet (Younger Edda, i. 553). The brothers have formerly had allies, but these have abandoned them (deficientibus a se sociis), and it is on this account that they must confine themselves within their citadel. The Asas have had the Vans and other divine powers as allies, but these abandon them, and the Asas must defend themselves on their own fortified ground.

(c) Before this the brothers have made themselves celebrated for extraordinary exploits, and have enjoyed a no less extraordinary power. They shone on account of their giganteis triumphis—an ambiguous expression which alludes to the mythic sagas concerning the victories of the Asas over Jotunheim's giants (gigantes), and nations have submitted to them as victors, and enriched them with treasures (trophćis gentium celebres, spoliis locupletes).

(d) The island on which they are confined is fortified, like the Asa citadel, by an immensely high wall (prćaltum vallum), and is surrounded by a stream which is impass[Pg 249]able unless one possesses a horse which is found among the brothers. Asgard is surrounded by a river belt covered with vaferflames, which cannot be crossed unless one has that single steed which um myrckvan beri visan vafrloga, and this belongs to the Asas.

(e) The stream which roars around the fortress of the brothers comes ex summis montium cacuminibus. The Asgard stream comes from the collector of the thunder-cloud, Eikthynir, who stands on the summit of the world of the gods. The kindled vaferflames, which did not suit an historical narration, are explained by Saxo to be a spumeus candor, a foaming whiteness, a shining froth, which in uniform, eddying billows everywhere whirl on the surface of the stream, (tota alvei tractu undis uniformiter turbidatis spumeus ubique candor exuberat).

(f) The only horse which was able to run through the shining and eddying foam is clearly one of the mythic horses. It is named along with another prodigy from the animal kingdom of mythology, viz., the terrible dog of the giant Offotes. Whether this is a reminiscence of Fenrir which was kept for some time in Asgard, or of Odin's wolf-dog Freki, or of some other saga-animal of that sort, we will not now decide.

(g) Just as Asgard has an artfully contrived gate, so has also the citadel of the brothers. Saxo's description of the gate implies that any person who does not know its character as a drawbridge, but lays violent hands on the mechanism which holds it in an upright position, falls, and is crushed under it. This explains the words of Fjölsvinnsmal about the gate to that citadel, within which[Pg 250] Freyja-Menglad dwells: Fjöturr fastr verdr vid faranda hvern, er hana hefr frá hlidi.

(h) In the myth, it is Njord himself who removes the obstacle, "Odin's great gate," placed in his way. In Saxo's account, it is Fridlevus himself who accomplishes the same exploit.

(i) In Saxo's narration occurs an improbability, which is explained by the fact that he has transformed a myth into history. When Fridlevus is safe across the stream, he raises a ladder against the wall and climbs up on to it. Whence did he get this ladder, which must have been colossal, since the wall he got over in this manner is said to be prćaltum? Could he have taken it with him on the horse's back? Or did the besieged themselves place it against the wall as a friendly aid to the foe, who was already in possession of the only means for crossing the stream? Both assumptions are alike improbable. Saxo had to take recourse to a ladder, for he could not, without damaging the "historical" character of his story, repeat the myth's probable description of the event. The horse which can gallop through the bickering flame can also leap over the highest wall. Sleipner's ability in this direction is demonstrated in the account of how it, with Hermod in the saddle, leaps over the wall to Balder's high hall in the lower world (Younger Edda, 178). The impassibility of the Asgard wall is limited to mountain-giants and frost-giants; for a god riding Odin's horse the wall was no obstacle. No doubt the myth has also stated that the Asas, after Njord had leaped over the wall and sought out the above-mentioned place of concealment,[Pg 251] found within the wall their precious horse again, which lately had become the booty of the enemy. And where else should they have found it, if we regard the stream with the bickering flames as breaking against the very foot of the wall?

Finally, it should be added, that our myths tell of no other siege than the one Asgard was subjected to by the Vans. If other sieges have been mentioned, they cannot have been of the same importance as this one, and consequently they could not so easily have left traces in the mythic traditions adapted to history or heroic poetry; nor could a historicised account of a mythic siege which did not concern Asgard have preserved the points here pointed out, which are in harmony with the story of the Asgard siege.

When the citadel of the gods is captured, the gods are, as we have seen, once more in possession of the steed, which, judging from its qualities, must be Sleipner. Thus Odin has the means of escaping from the enemy after all resistance has proved impossible. Thor has his thundering car, which, according to the Younger Edda, has room for several besides the owner, and the other Asas have splendid horses (Grimnism., Younger Edda), even though they are not equal to that of their father. The Asas give up their throne of power, and the Vans now assume the rule of the world.[Pg 252]



In regard to the significance of the change of administration in the world of gods, Saxo has preserved a tradition which is of no small interest. The circumstance that Odin and his sons had to surrender the reign of the world did not imply that mankind should abandon their faith in the old gods and accept a new religion. Hitherto the Asas and Vans had been worshipped in common. Now, when Odin was deposed, his name, honoured by the nations, was not to be obliterated. The name was given to Ull, and, as if he really were Odin, he was to receive the sacrifices and prayers that hitherto had been addressed to the banished one (Hist., 130). The ancient faith was to be maintained, and the shift involved nothing but the person; there was no change of religion. But in connection with this information, we also learn, from another statement in Saxo, that the myth concerning the war between Asas and Vans was connected with traditions concerning a conflict between various views among the believers in the Teutonic religion concerning offerings and prayers. The one view was more ritual, and demanded more attention paid to sacrifices. This view seems to have gotten the upper hand after the banishment of Odin. It was claimed that sacrifices and hymns addressed at the same time to several or all of the gods, did not have the efficacy of pacifying and reconciling[Pg 253] angry deities, but that to each one of the gods should be given a separate sacrificial service (Saxo, Hist., 43). The result of this was, of course, an increase of sacrifices and a more highly-developed ritual, which from its very nature might have produced among the Teutons the same hierarchy as resulted from an excess of sacrifices among their Aryan-Asiatic kinsmen. The correctness of Saxo's statement is fully confirmed by strophe 145 in Havamál, which advocates the opposite and incomparably more moderate view in regard to sacrifices. This view came, according to the strophe, from Odin's own lips. He is made to proclaim it to the people "after his return to his ancient power."

Betra er obethit
en se ofblothit
ey ser til gildis giof;
betra er osennt
enn se ofsóit.
Sva thundr um reist
fyr thiotha rauc,
thar hann up um reis
er hann aptr of kom.

The expression, thar hann up um reis, er hann apter of kom, refers to the fact that Odin had for some time been deposed from the administration of the world, but had returned, and that he then proclaimed to the people the view in regard to the real value of prayers and sacrifices which is laid down in the strophe. Hence it follows that before Odin returned to his throne another more exacting doctrine in regard to sacrifices had, according to the myth, secured prevalence. This is precisely what Saxo tells us.[Pg 254] It is difficult to repress the question whether an historical reminiscence is not concealed in these statements. May it not be the record of conflicting views within the Teutonic religion—views represented in the myth by the Vana-gods on the one side and the Asas on the other? The Vana views, I take it, represented tendencies which had they been victorious, would have resulted in hierarchy, while the Asa doctrine represented the tendencies of the believers in the time-honoured Aryan custom of those who maintained the priestly authority of the father of the family, and who defended the efficacy of the simple hymns and sacrifices which from time out of mind had been addressed to several or all of the gods in common. That the question really has existed among the Teutonic peoples, at least as a subject for reflection, spontaneously suggests itself in the myth alluded to above. This myth has discussed the question, and decided it in precisely the same manner as history has decided it among the Teutonic races, among whom priestcraft and ritualism have held a far less important position than among their western kinsmen, the Celts, and their eastern kinsmen, the Iranians and Hindoos. That prayers on account of their length, or sacrifices on account of their abundance, should give evidence of greater piety and fear of God, and should be able to secure a more ready hearing, is a doctrine which Odin himself rejects in the strophe above cited. He understands human nature, and knows that when a man brings abundant sacrifices he has the selfish purpose in view of prevailing on the gods to give a more abundant reward—a purpose prompted by selfishness, not by piety.[Pg 255]



The conflict between the gods has its counterpart in, and is connected with, a war between all the Teutonic races, and the latter is again a continuation of the feud between Halfdan and Svipdag. The Teutonic race comes to the front fighting under three race-representatives—(1) Yngve-Svipdag, the son of Orvandel and Groa; (2) Gudhorm, the son of Halfdan and Groa, consequently Svipdag's half-brother; (3) Hadding, the son of Halfdan and Alveig (in Saxo called Signe, daughter of Sumbel), consequently Gudhorm's half-brother.

The ruling Vans favour Svipdag, who is Freyja's husband and Frey's brother-in-law. The banished Asas support Hadding from their place of refuge. The conflict between the gods and the war between Halfdan's successor and heir are woven together. It is like the Trojan war, where the gods, divided into parties, assist the Trojans or assist the Danai. Odin, Thor, and Heimdal interfere, as we shall see, to protect Hadding. This is their duty as kinsmen; for Heimdal, having assumed human nature, was the lad with the sheaf of grain who came to the primeval country and became the father of Borgar, who begat the son Halfdan. Thor was Halfdan's associate father; hence he too had duties of kinship toward Hadding and Gudhorm, Halfdan's sons. The gods, on the[Pg 256] other hand, that favour Svipdag are, in Hadding's eyes, foes, and Hadding long refuses to propitiate Frey by a demanded sacrifice (Saxo, Hist., 49, 50).

This war, simultaneously waged between the clans of the gods on the one hand, and between the Teutonic tribes on the other, is what the seeress in Völuspa calls "the first great war in the world." She not only gives an account of its outbreak and events among the gods, but also indicates that it was waged on the earth. Then—

sa hon valkyrior
vitt um komnar
gaurvar at rida
til Godthjodar

saw she valkyries
far travelled
equipped to ride
to Goththjod.

Goththjod is the Teutonic people and the Teutonic country.

When Svipdag had slain Halfdan, and when the Asas were expelled, the sons of the Teutonic patriarch were in danger of falling into the power of Svipdag. Thor interested himself in their behalf, and brought Gudhorm and Hadding to Jotunheim, where he concealed them with the giants Hafle and Vagnhofde—Gudhorm in Hafle's rocky gard and Hadding in Vagnhofde's. In Saxo, who relates this story, the Asa-god Thor appears partly as Thor deus and Thoro pugil, Halfdan's protector, whom Saxo himself identifies as the god Thor (Hist., 324), and partly as Brac and Brache, which name Saxo formed from Thor's epithet, Asa-Bragr. It is by the name Brache that Thor appears as the protector of Halfdan's sons. The giants Hafle and Vagnhofde dwell, according to Saxo, in "Svetia" probably, since Jotunheim, the north[Pg 257]ernmost Sweden, and the most distant east were called Svithiod hinn kalda.[23]

Svipdag waged war against Halfdan, since it was his duty to avenge the disgrace of his mother Groa, and also that of his mother's father, and, as shall be shown later, the death of his father Orvandel (see Nos. 108, 109). The revenge for bloodshed was sacred in the Teutonic world, and this duty he performed when he with his irresistible sword felled his stepfather. But thereby the duty of revenge for bloodshed was transferred to Halfdan's sons—less to Gudhorm, who is himself a son of Groa, but with all its weight to Hadding, the son of Alveig, and it is his bounden duty to bring about Svipdag's death, since Svipdag had slain Halfdan. Connecting itself with Halfdan's robbery of Groa, the goddess of growth, the red thread of revenge for bloodshed extends throughout the great hero-saga of Teutonic mythology.

Svipdag makes an effort to cut the thread. He offers Gudhorm and Hadding peace and friendship, and promises them kingship among the tribes subject to him. Groa's son, Gudhorm, accepts the offer, and Svipdag makes him ruler of the Danes; but Hadding sends answer that he prefers to avenge his father's death to accepting favours from an enemy (Saxo, Hist., 35, 36).

Svipdag's offer of peace and reconciliation is in harmony, if not with his own nature, at least with that of his kinsmen, the reigning Vans. If the offer to Hadding had

[Pg 258]

been accepted, we might have looked for peace in the world. Now the future is threatened with the devastations of war, and the bloody thread of revenge shall continue to be spun if Svipdag does not prevent it by overpowering Hadding. The myth may have contained much information about the efforts of the one camp to capture him and about contrivances of the other to frustrate these efforts. Saxo has preserved a partial record thereof. Among those who plot against Hadding is also Loke (Lokerus—Saxo, Hist., 40, 41),[24] the banished ally of Aurboda. His purpose is doubtless to get into the favour of the reigning Vans. Hadding is no longer safe in Vagnhofde's mountain home. The lad is exposed to Loke's snares. From one of these he is saved by the Asa-father himself. There came, says Saxo, on this occasion a rider to Hadding. He resembled a very aged man, one of whose eyes was lost (grandćvus quidam altero orbus oculo). He placed Hadding in front of himself on the horse, wrapped his mantle about him, and rode away. The lad became curious and wanted to see whither they were going. Through a hole in the mantle he got an opportunity of looking down, and found to his astonishment and fright that land and sea were far below the hoofs of the steed. The rider must have noticed his fright, for he forbade him to look out any more.

The rider, the one-eyed old man, is Odin, and the horse is Sleipner, rescued from the captured Asgard. The

[Pg 259]

place to which the lad is carried by Odin is the place of refuge secured by the Asas during their exile i Manheimum. In perfect harmony with the myths, Saxo refers Odin's exile to the time preceding Hadding's juvenile adventures, and makes Odin's return to power simultaneous with Hadding's great victory over his enemies (Hist., 42-44). Saxo has also found in his sources that sword-slain men, whom Odin chooses during "the first great war in the world," cannot come to Valhal. The reason for this is that Odin is not at that time the ruler there. They have dwelling-places and plains for their warlike amusements appointed in the lower world (Hist., 51).

The regions which, according to Saxo, are the scenes of Hadding's juvenile adventures lie on the other side of the Baltic down toward the Black Sea. He is associated with "Curetians" and "Hellespontians," doubtless for the reason that the myth has referred those adventures to the far east.

The one-eyed old man is endowed with wonderful powers. When he landed with the lad at his home, he sang over him prophetic incantations to protect him (Hist., 40), and gave him a drink of the "most splendid sort," which produced in Hadding enormous physical strength, and particularly made him able to free himself from bonds and chains. (Compare Havamál, str. 149, concerning Odin's freeing incantations by which "fetters spring from the feet and chains from the hands.") A comparison with other passages, which I shall discuss later, shows that the potion of which the old man is lord contains[Pg 260] something which is called "Leifner's flames," and that he who has been permitted to drink it, and over whom freeing incantations have simultaneously been sung, is able with his warm breath to free himself from every fetter which has been put on his enchanted limbs (see Nos. 43, 96, 103).

The old man predicts that Hadding will soon have an opportunity of testing the strength with which the drink and the magic songs have endowed him. And the prophecy is fulfilled. Hadding falls into the power of Loke. He chains him and threatens to expose him as food for a wild beast—in Saxo a lion, in the myth presumably some one of the wolf or serpent prodigies that are Loke's offspring. But when his guards are put to sleep by Odin's magic song, though Odin is far away, Hadding bursts his bonds, slays the beast, and eats, in obedience to Odin's instructions, its heart. (The saga of Sigurd Fafnersbane has copied this feature. Sigurd eats the heart of the dragon Fafner and gets wisdom thereby.)

Thus Hadding has become a powerful hero, and his task to make war on Svipdag, to revenge on him his father's death, and to recover the share in the rulership of the Teutons which Halfdan had possessed, now lies before him as the goal he is to reach.

Hadding leaves Vagnhofde's home. The latter's daughter, Hardgrep, who had fallen in love with the youth, accompanies him. When we next find Hadding he is at the head of an army. That this consisted of the tribes of Eastern Teutondom is confirmed by documents[Pg 261] which I shall hereafter quote; but it also follows from Saxo's narrative, although he has referred the war to narrower limits than were given to it in the myth, since he, constructing a Danish history from mythic traditions, has his eyes fixed chiefly on Denmark. Over the Scandian tribes and the Danes rule, according to Saxo's own statement, Svipdag, and as his tributary king in Denmark his half-brother Gudhorm. Saxo also is aware that the Saxons, the Teutonic tribes of the German lowlands, on one occasion were the allies of Svipdag (Hist., 34). From these parts of Teutondom did not come Hadding's friends, but his enemies; and when we add that the first battle which Saxo mentions in this war was fought among the Curetians east of the Baltic, then it is clear that Saxo, too, like the other records to which I am coming later, has conceived the forces under Hadding's banner as having been gathered in the East. From this it is evident that the war is one between the tribes of North Teutondom, led by Svipdag and supported by the Vans on the one side, and the tribes of East Teutondom, led by Hadding and supported by the Asas on the other. But the tribes of the western Teutonic continent have also taken part in the first great war of mankind. Gudhorm, whom Saxo makes a tributary king in Yngve-Svipdag's most southern domain, Denmark, has in the mythic traditions had a much greater empire, and has ruled over the tribes of Western and Southern Teutondom, as shall be shown hereafter.[Pg 262]



The circumstance that the different divine clans had their favourites in the different camps gives the war a peculiar character. The armies see before a battle supernatural forms contending with each other in the starlight, and recognize in them their divine friends and opponents (Hist., 48). The elements are conjured on one and the other side for the good or harm of the contending brother-tribes. When fog and pouring rain suddenly darken the sky and fall upon Hadding's forces from that side where the fylkings of the North are arrayed, then the one-eyed old man comes to their rescue and calls forth dark masses of clouds from the other side, which force back the rain-clouds and the fog (Hist., 53). In these cloud-masses we must recognize the presence of the thundering Thor, the son of the one-eyed old man.

Giants also take part in the conflict. Vagnhofde and Hardgrep, the latter in a man's attire, contend on the side of the foster-son and the beloved Hadding (Hist., 45, 38). From Icelandic records we learn that Hafle and the giantesses Fenja and Menja fight under Gudhorm's banners. In the Grotte-song (14, 15) these maids sing:

En vit sithan
a Svidiothu
framvisar tvœr
i folk stigum;
beiddum biornu,
[Pg 263]en brutum skioldu
gengum igegnum
graserkiat lit.
Steyptom stilli,
studdum annan,
veittum gothum
Guthormi lid.

That the giant Hafle fought on the side of Gudhorm is probable from the fact that he is his foster-father, and it is confirmed by the fact that Thor paraphrased (Grett., 30) is called fangvinr Hafla, "he who wrestled with Hafle." Since Thor and Hafle formerly were friends—else the former would not have trusted Gudhorm to the care of the latter—their appearance afterwards as foes can hardly be explained otherwise than by the war between Thor's protégé Hadding and Hafle's foster-son Gudhorm. And as Hadding's foster-father, the giant Vagnhofde, faithfully supports the young chief whose childhood he protected, then the myth could scarcely avoid giving a similar part to the giant Hafle, and thus make the foster-fathers, like the foster-sons, contend with each other. The heroic poems are fond of parallels of this kind.

When Svipdag learns that Hadding has suddenly made his appearance in the East, and gathered its tribes around him for a war with Gudhorm, he descends from Asgard and reveals himself in the primeval Teutonic country on the Scandian peninsula, and requests its tribes to join the Danes and raise the banner of war against Halfdan's and Alveig's son, who, at the head of the eastern Teutons, is marching against their half-brother Gudhorm.[Pg 264] The friends of both parties among the gods, men and giants, hasten to attach themselves to the cause which they have espoused as their own, and Vagnhofde among the rest abandons his rocky home to fight by the side of his foster-son and daughter.

This mythic situation is described in a hitherto unexplained strophe in the Old English song concerning the names of the letters in the runic alphabet. In regard to the rune which answers to I there is added the following lines:

Ing väs œrest mid Eástdenum
geseven secgum od he siddan eást
ofer vćg gevât. Vćn ćfter ran;
thus Heardingas thone häle nemdon.

"Yngve (Inge) was first seen among the East-Danemen.
Then he betook himself eastward over the sea.
Vagn hastened to follow:
Thus the Heardings called this hero."

The Heardings are the Haddings—that is to say, Hadding himself, the kinsmen and friends who embraced his cause, and the Teutonic tribes who recognised him as their chief. The Norse Haddingr is to the Anglo-Saxon Hearding as the Norse haddr to the Anglo-Saxon heard. Vigfusson, and before him J. Grimm, have already identified these forms.

Ing is Yngve-Svipdag, who, when he left Asgard, "was first seen among the East-Danemen." He calls Swedes and Danes to arms against Hadding's tribes. The Anglo-Saxon strophe confirms the fact that they dwell in the East, separated by a sea from the Scandian[Pg 265] tribes. Ing, with his warriors, "betakes himself eastward over the sea" to attack them. Thus the armies of the Swedes and Danes go by sea to the seat of war. What the authorities of Tacitus heard among the continental Teutons about the mighty fleets of the Swedes may be founded on the heroic songs about the first great war not less than on fact. As the army which was to cross the Baltic must be regarded as immensely large, so the myth, too, has represented the ships of the Swedes as numerous, and in part as of immense size. A confused record from the songs about the expedition of Svipdag and his friends against the East Teutons, found in Icelandic tradition, occurs in Fornald, pp. 406-407, where a ship called Gnod, and capable of carrying 3000 men, is mentioned as belonging to a King Asmund. Odin did not want this monstrous ship to reach its destination, but sank it, so it is said, in the Lessö seaway, with all its men and contents. The Asmund who is known in the heroic sagas of heathen times is a son of Svipdag and a king among the Sviones (Saxo, Hist., 44). According to Saxo, he has given brilliant proofs of his bravery in the war against Hadding, and fallen by the weapons of Vagnhofde and Hadding. That Odin in the Icelandic tradition appears as his enemy thus corresponds with the myth. The same Asmund may, as Gisle Brynjulfsson has assumed, be meant in Grimnersmal (49), where we learn that Odin, concealing himself under the name Jalk, once visited Asmund.

The hero Vagn, whom "the Haddings so called," is Hadding's foster-father, Vagnhofde. As the word [Pg 266]höfdi constitutes the second part of a mythic name, the compound form is a synonym of that name which forms the first part of the composition. Thus Svarthöfdi is identical with Svartr, Surtr. In Hyndluljod, 33, all the mythical sorcerers (seidberendr) are said to be sprung from Svarthöfdi. In this connection we must first of all think of Fjalar, who is the greatest sorcerer in mythology. The story about Thor's, Thjalfe's, and Loke's visit to him is a chain of delusions of sight and hearing called forth by Fjalar, so that the Asa-god and his companions always mistake things for something else than they are. Fjalar is a son of Surtr (see No. 89). Thus the greatest agent of sorcery is descended from Surtr, Svartr, and, as Hyndluljod states that all magicians of mythology have come of some Svarthöfdi, Svartr and Svarthöfdi must be identical. And so it is with Vagn and Vagnhöfdi; they are different names for the same person.

When the Anglo-Saxon rune-strophe says that Vang "made haste to follow" after Ing had gone across the sea, then this is to be compared with Saxo's statement (Hist., 45), where it is said that Hadding in a battle was in greatest peril of losing his life, but was saved by the sudden and miraculous landing of Vagnhofde, who came to the battle-field and placed himself at his side. The Scandian fylkings advanced against Hadding's; and Svipdag's son Asmund, who fought at the head of his men, forced his way forward against Hadding himself, with his shield thrown on his back, and with both his hands on the hilt of a sword which felled all before it.[Pg 267] Then Hadding invoked the gods who were the friends of himself and his race (Hadingo familiarium sibi numinum prćsidia postulante subito Vagnophtus partibus ejus propugnaturus advehitur), and then Vagnhofde is brought (advehitur) by some one of these gods to the battle-field and suddenly stands by Hadding's side, swinging a crooked sword[25] against Asmund, while Hadding hurls his spear against him. This statement in Saxo corresponds with and explains the old English strophe's reference to a quick journey which Vagn made to help Heardingas against Ing, and it is also illustrated by a passage in Grimnismal, 49, which, in connection with Odin's appearance at Asmund's, tells that he once by the name Kjalar "drew Kjalki" (mic heto Jalc at Asmundar, enn tha Kialar, er ec Kialka dró). The word and name Kjálki, as also Sledi, is used as a paraphrase of the word and name Vagn.[26] Thus Odin has once "drawn Vagn" (waggon). The meaning of this is clear from what is stated above. Hadding calls on Odin, who is the friend of him and of his cause, and Odin, who on a former occasion has carried Hadding on Sleipner's back through the air, now brings, in the same or a similar manner, Vagnhofde to the battle-field, and places him near his foster-son. This episode is also interesting from the fact that we can draw from it the conclusion

[Pg 268]

that the skalds who celebrated the first great war in their songs made the gods influence the fate of the battle, not directly but indirectly. Odin might himself have saved his favourite, and he might have slain Svipdag's son Asmund with his spear Gungner; but he does not do so; instead, he brings Vagnhofde to protect him. This is well calculated from an epic standpoint, while dii ex machina, when they appear in person on the battle-field with their superhuman strength, diminish the effect of the deeds of mortal heroes, and deprive every distress in which they have taken part of its more earnest significance. Homer never violated this rule without injury to the honour either of his gods or of his heroes.



The first great conflict in which the warriors of North and West Teutondom fight with the East Teutons ends with the complete victory of Groa's sons. Hadding's fylkings are so thoroughly beaten and defeated that he, after the end of the conflict, is nothing but a defenceless fugitive, wandering in deep forests with no other companion than Vagnhofde's daughter, who survived the battle and accompanies her beloved in his wanderings in the wildernesses. Saxo ascribes the victory won over Hadding to Loke. It follows of itself that, in a war[Pg 269] whose deepest root must be sought in Loke's and Aurboda's intrigues, and in which the clans of gods on both sides take part, Loke should not be excluded by the skalds from influence upon the course of events. We have already seen that he sought to ruin Hadding while the latter was still a boy. He afterwards appears in various guises as evil counsellor, as an evil intriguer, and as a skilful arranger of the fylkings on the field of battle. His purpose is to frustrate every effort to bring about reconciliation, and by means of persuasion and falsehoods to increase the chances of enmity between Halfdan's descendants, in order that they may mutually destroy each other (see below). His activity among the heroes is the counterpart of his activity among the gods. The merry, sly, cynical, blameworthy, and profoundly evil Mefisto of the Teutonic mythology is bound to bring about the ruin of the Teutonic people like that of the gods of the Teutons.

In the later Icelandic traditions he reveals himself as the evil counsellor of princes in the forms of Blind ille, Blind bölvise (in Saxo Bolvisus); Bikki; in the German and Old English traditions as Sibich, Sifeca, Sifka. Bikki is a name-form borrowed from Germany. The original Norse Loke-epithet is Bekki, which means "the foe," "the opponent". A closer examination shows that everywhere where this counsellor appears his enterprises have originally been connected with persons who belong to Borgar's race. He has wormed himself into the favour of both the contending parties—as Blind ille with King Hadding—whereof Hromund Greipson's saga has[Pg 270] preserved a distorted record—as Bikke, Sibeke, with King Gudhorm (whose identity with Jormunrek shall be established below). As Blind bölvise he lies in waiting for and seeks to capture the young "Helge Hundingsbane," that is to say, Halfdan, Hadding's father (Helge Hund., ii.). Under his own name, Loke, he lies in waiting for and seeks to capture the young Hadding, Halfdan's son. As a cunning general and cowardly warrior he appears in the German saga-traditions, and there is every reason to assume that it is his activity in the first great war as the planner of Gudhorm's battle-line that in the Norse heathen records secured Loke the epithets sagna hrœrir and sagna sviptir, the leader of the warriors forward and the leader of the warriors back—epithets which otherwise would be both unfounded and incomprehensible, but they are found both in Thjodolf's poem Haustlaung, and in Eilif Gudrunson's Thorsdrapa. It is also a noticeable fact that while Loke in the first great battle which ends with Hadding's defeat determines the array of the victorious army—for only on this basis can the victory be attributed to him by Saxo—it is in the other great battle in which Hadding is victorious that Odin himself determines how the forces of his protégé are to be arranged, namely, in that wedge-form which after that time and for many centuries following was the sacred and strictly preserved rule for the battle-array of Teutonic forces. Thus the ancient Teutonic saga has mentioned and compared with one another two different kinds of battle-arrays—the one invented by Loke and the other invented by Odin.[Pg 271]

During his wanderings in the forests of the East Hadding has had wonderful adventures and passed through great trials. Saxo tells one of these adventures. He and Hardgrep, Vagnhofde's daughter, came late one evening to a dwelling where they got lodgings for the night. The husband was dead, but not yet buried. For the purpose of learning Hadding's destiny, Hardgrep engraved speech-runes (see No. 70) on a piece of wood, and asked Hadding to place it under the tongue of the dead one. The latter would in this wise recover the power of speech and prophecy. So it came to pass. But what the dead one sang in an awe-inspiring voice was a curse on Hardgrep, who had compelled him to return from life in the lower world to life on earth, and a prediction that an avenging Niflheim demon would inflict punishment on her for what she had done. A following night, when Hadding and Hardgrep had sought shelter in a bower of twigs and branches which they had gathered, there appeared a gigantic hand groping under the ceiling of the bower. The frightened Hadding waked Hardgrep. She then rose in all her giant strength, seized the mysterious hand, and bade Hadding cut it off with his sword. He attempted to do this, but from the wounds he inflicted on the ghost's hand there issued matter or venom more than blood, and the hand seized Hardgrep with its iron claws and tore her into pieces (Saxo, Hist., 36 ff.).

When Hadding in this manner had lost his companion, he considered himself abandoned by everybody; but the one-eyed old man had not forgotten his favourite.[Pg 272] He sent him a faithful helper, by name Liserus (Saxo, Hist., 40). Who was Liserus in our mythology?

First, as to the name itself: in the very nature of the case it must be the Latinising of some one of the mythological names or epithets that Saxo found in the Norse records. But as no such root as lis or lís is to be found in the old Norse language, and as Saxo interchanges the vowels i and y,[27] we must regard Liserus as a Latinising of Lýsir, "the shining one," "the one giving light," "the bright one." When Odin sent a helper thus described to Hadding, it must have been a person belonging to Odin's circle and subject to him. Such a person and described by a similar epithet is hinn hvíti áss, hvítastr ása (Heimdal). In Saxo's account, this shining messenger is particularly to oppose Loke (Hist., 40). And in the myth it is the keen-sighted and faithful Heimdal who always appears as the opposite of the cunning and faithless Loke. Loke has to contend with Heimdal when the former tries to get possession of Brisingamen, and in Ragnarok the two opponents kill each other. Hadding's shining protector thus has the same part to act in the heroic saga as the whitest of the Asas in the mythology. If we now add that Heimdal is Hadding's progenitor, and on account of blood kinship owes him special protection in a war in which all the gods have taken part either for or against Halfdan's and Alveig's son, then we are forced by every consideration to regard Liserus and Heimdal as identical (see further, No. 82).

[Pg 273]



Some time later there has been a change in Hadding's affairs. He is no longer the exile wandering about in the forests, but appears once more at the head of warlike hosts. But although he accomplishes various exploits, it still appears from Saxo's narrative that it takes a long time before he becomes strong enough to meet his enemies in a decisive battle with hope of success. In the meanwhile he has succeeded in accomplishing the revenge of his father and slaying Svipdag (Saxo Hist., 42)—this under circumstances which I shall explain below (No. 106). The proof that the hero-saga has left a long space of time between the great battle lost by Hadding and that in which he wins a decided victory is that he, before this conflict is fought out, has slain a young grandson (son's son) of Svipdag, that is, a son of Asmund, who was Svipdag's son (Saxo, Hist., 46). Hadding was a mere boy when Svipdag first tried to capture him. He is a man of years when he, through decided successes on the battle-field, acquires and secures control of a great part of the domain over which his father, the Teutonic patriarch, reigned. Hence he must have spent considerable time in the place of refuge which Odin opened for him, and under the protection of that subject of Odin, called by Saxo Liserus.[Pg 274]

In the time intervening important events have taken place in the world of the gods. The two clans of gods, the Asas and Vans, have become reconciled. Odin's exile lasted, according to Saxo, only ten years, and there is no reason for doubting the mythical correctness of this statement. The reconciliation must have been demanded by the dangers which their enmity caused to the administration of the world. The giants, whose purpose it is to destroy the world of man, became once more dangerous to the earth on account of the war among the gods. During this time they made a desperate effort to conquer Asgard occupied by the Vans. The memory of this expedition was preserved during the Christian centuries in the traditions concerning the great Hun war. Saxo (Hist., 231 ff.) refers this to Frotho III.'s reign. What he relates about this Frotho, son of Fridlevus (Njord), is for the greatest part a historicised version of the myth about the Vana-god Frey (see No. 102); and every doubt that his account of the war of the "Huns" against Frotho has its foundation in mythology, and belongs to the chain of events here discussed, vanishes when we learn that the attack of the Huns against Frotho-Frey's power happened at a time when an old prophet, by name Uggerus, "whose age was unknown, but exceeded every measure of human life," lived in exile, and belonged to the number of Frotho's enemies. Uggerus is a Latinised form of Odin's name Yggr, and is the same mythic character as Saxo before introduced on the scene as "the old one-eyed man," Hadding's protector. Although he had been Frotho's enemy, the aged[Pg 275] Yggr comes to him and informs him what the "Huns" are plotting, and thus Frotho is enabled to resist their assault.[28]

When Odin, out of consideration for the common welfare of mankind and the gods, renders the Vans, who had banished him, this service, and as the latter are in the greatest need of the assistance of the mighty Asa-father and his powerful sons in the conflict with the giant world, then these facts explain sufficiently the reconciliation between the Asas and the Vans. This reconciliation was also in order on account of the bonds of kinship between them. The chief hero of the Asas, Thor, was the stepfather of Ull, the chief warrior of the Vans (Younger Edda, i. 252). The record of a friendly settlement between Thor and Ull is preserved in a paraphrase, by which Thor is described in Thorsdrapa as "gulli Ullar," he who with persuasive words makes Ull friendly. Odin was invited to occupy again the high-seat in Asgard, with all the prerogatives of a paterfamilias and ruler (Saxo, Hist., 44). But the dispute which caused the conflict between him and the Vans was at the same time manifestly settled to the advantage of the Vans. They do not assume in common the responsibility for the murder of Gulveig Angerboda. She is banished to the Ironwood, but remains there unharmed until Ragnarok, and when the destruction of the world approaches, then Njord shall leave the Asas threatened with the ruin they have themselves caused and return to the "wise Vans" (i aldar rauc hann mun aptr coma heim med visom vaunom—Vafthr., 39).

[Pg 276]

The "Hun war" has supplied the answer to a question, which those believing in the myths naturally would ask themselves. That question was: How did it happen that Midgard was not in historical times exposed to such attacks from the dwellers in Jotunheim as occurred in antiquity, and at that time threatened Asgard itself with destruction? The "Hun war" was in the myth characterized by the countless lives lost by the enemy. This we learn from Saxo. The sea, he says, was so filled with the bodies of the slain that boats could hardly be rowed through the waves. In the rivers their bodies formed bridges, and on land a person could make a three days' journey on horseback without seeing anything but dead bodies of the slain (Hist., 234, 240). And so the answer to the question was, that the "Hun war" of antiquity had so weakened the giants in number and strength that they could not become so dangerous as they had been to Asgard and Midgard formerly, that is, before the time immediately preceding Ragnarok, when a new fimbul-winter is to set in, and when the giant world shall rise again in all its ancient might. From the time of the "Hun war" and until then, Thor's hammer is able to keep the growth of the giants' race within certain limits, wherefore Thor in Harbardsljod explains his attack on giants and giantesses with micil mundi ett iotna, ef allir lifdi, vetr mundi manna undir Mithgarthi.

Hadding's rising star of success must be put in connection with the reconciliation between the Asas and[Pg 277] Vans. The reconciled gods must lay aside that seed of new feuds between them which is contained in the war between Hadding, the favourite of the Asas, and Gudhorm, the favourite of the Vans. The great defeat once suffered by Hadding must be balanced by a corresponding victory, and then the contending kinsmen must be reconciled. And this happens. Hadding wins a great battle and enters upon a secure reign in his part of Teutondom. Then are tied new bonds of kinship and friendship between the hostile races, so that the Teutonic dynasties of chiefs may trace their descent both from Yngve (Svipdag) and from Borgar's son Halfdan. Hadding and a surviving grandson of Svipdag are united in so tender a devotion to one another that the latter, upon an unfounded report of the former's death, is unable to survive him and takes his own life. And when Hadding learns this, he does not care to live any longer either, but meets death voluntarily (Saxo, Hist., 59, 60).

After the reconciliation between the Asas and Vans they succeed in capturing Loke. Saxo relates this in connection with Odin's return from Asgard, and here calls Loke Mitothin. In regard to this name, we may, without entering upon difficult conjectures concerning the first part of the word, be sure that it, too, is taken by Saxo from the heathen records in which he has found his account of the first great war, and that it, in accordance with the rule for forming such epithets, must refer to a mythic person who has had a certain relation with Odin, and at the same time been his antithesis. According to Saxo, Mitothin is a thoroughly evil being, who,[Pg 278] like Aurboda, strove to disseminate the practice of witchcraft in the world and to displace Odin. He was compelled to take flight and to conceal himself from the gods. He is captured and slain, but from his dead body arises a pest, so that he does no less harm after than before his death. It therefore became necessary to open his grave, cut his head off, and pierce his breast with a sharp stick (Hist., 43).

These statements in regard to Mitothin's death seem at first glance not to correspond very well with the mythic accounts of Loke's exit, and thus give room for doubt as to his identity with the latter. It is also clear that Saxo's narrative has been influenced by the medićval stories about vampires and evil ghosts, and about the manner of preventing these from doing harm to the living. Nevertheless, all that he here tells, the beheading included, is founded on the mythic accounts of Loke. The place where Loke is fettered is situated in the extreme part of the hell of the wicked dead (see No. 78). The fact that he is relegated to the realm of the dead, and is there chained in a subterranean cavern until Ragnarok, when all the dead in the lower world shall return, has been a sufficient reason for Saxo to represent him as dead and buried. That he after death causes a pest corresponds with Saxo's account of Ugarthilocus, who has his prison in a cave under a rock situated in a sea, over which darkness broods for ever (the island Lyngvi in Amsvartner's sea, where Loke's prison is—see No. 78). The hardy sea-captain, Thorkil, seeks and finds him in his cave of torture, pulls a hair from the[Pg 279] beard on his chin, and brings it with him to Denmark. When this hair afterwards is exposed and exhibited, the awful exhalation from it causes the death of several persons standing near (Hist., 432, 433). When a hair from the beard of the tortured Loke ("a hair from the evil one") could produce this effect, then his whole body removed to the kingdom of death must work even greater mischief, until measures were taken to prevent it. In this connection it is to be remembered that Loke, according to the Icelandic records, is the father of the feminine demon of epidemics and diseases, of her who rules in Niflheim, the home of the spirits of disease (see No. 60), and that it is Loke's daughter who rides the three-footed steed, which appears when an epidemic breaks out (see No. 67). Thus Loke is, according to the Icelandic mythic fragments, the cause of epidemics. Lakasenna also states that he lies with a pierced body, although the weapon there is a sword, or possibly a spear (pic a hiorvi scola binda god—Lakas., 49). That Mitothin takes flight and conceals himself from the gods corresponds with the myth about Loke. But that which finally and conclusively confirms the identity of Loke and Mitothin is that the latter, though a thoroughly evil being and hostile to the gods, is said to have risen through the enjoyment of divine favour (cćlesti beneficio vegetatus). Among male beings of his character this applies to Loke alone.

In regard to the statement that Loke after his removal to the kingdom of death had his head separated from his body, Saxo here relates, though in his own pe[Pg 280]culiar manner, what the myth contained about Loke's ruin, which was a logical consequence of his acts and happened long after his removal to the realm of death. Loke is slain in Ragnarok, to which he, freed from his cave of torture in the kingdom of death, proceeds at the head of the hosts of "the sons of destruction." In the midst of the conflict he seeks or is sought by his constant foe, Heimdal. The shining god, the protector of Asgard, the original patriarch and benefactor of man, contends here for the last time with the Satan of the Teutonic mythology, and Heimdal and Loke mutually slay each other (Loki á orustu vid Heimdall, ok verdr hvârr annars bani—Younger Edda, 192). In this duel we learn that Heimdal, who fells his foe, was himself pierced or "struck through" to death by a head (svâ er sagt, at hann var lostinn manns höfdi i gögnum—Younger Edda, 264; hann var lostinn i hel med manns höfdi—Younger Edda, 100, ed. Res). When Heimdal and Loke mutually cause each other's death, this must mean that Loke's head is that with which Heimdal is pierced after the latter has cut it off with his sword and become the bane (death) of his foe. Light is thrown on this episode by what Saxo tells about Loke's head. While the demon in chains awaits Ragnarok, his hair and beard grow in such a manner that "they in size and stiffness resemble horn-spears" (Ugarthilocus ... cujus olentes pili tam magnitudine quam rigore corneas ćquaverant hastasHist., 431, 432). And thus it is explained how the myth could make his head act the part of a weapon. That amputated limbs continue to live and fight is a[Pg 281] peculiarity mentioned in other mythic sagas, and should not surprise us in regard to Loke, the dragon-demon, the father of the Midgard-serpent (see further, No. 82).



The mythic progenitor of the Amalians, Hamall, has already been mentioned above as the foster-brother of the Teutonic patriarch, Halfdan (Helge Hundingsbane). According to Norse tradition, Hamal's father, Hagall, had been Halfdan's foster-father (Helge Hund., ii.), and thus the devoted friend of Borgar. There being so close a relation between the progenitors of these great hero-families of Teutonic mythology, it is highly improbable that the Amalians did not also act an important part in the first great world war, since all the Teutonic tribes, and consequently surely their first families of mythic origin, took part in it. In the ancient records of the North, we discover a trace which indicates that the Amalians actually did fight on that side where we should expect to find them, that is, on Hadding's, and that Hamal himself was the field-commander of his foster-brother. The trace is found in the phrase fylkja Hamalt, occurring in several places (Sig. Faf., ii. 23; Har. Hardr., ch. 2; Fornalds. Saga, ii. 40; Fornm., xi. 304). The phrase can only be explained in one way, "arranged the battle-array[Pg 282] as Hamall first did it." To Hamal has also been ascribed the origin of the custom of fastening the shields close together along the ship's railing, which appears from the following lines in Harald Hardrade's Saga, 63:

Hamalt syndiz mčr hömlur
hildings vinir skilda.

We also learn in our Norse records that fylkja Hamalt, "to draw up in line of battle as Hamal did," means the same as svinfylkja, that is, to arrange the battalions in the form of a wedge.[29] Now Saxo relates (Hist., 52) that Hadding's army was the first to draw the forces up in this manner, and that an old man (Odin) whom he has taken on board on a sea-journey had taught and advised him to do this.[30] Several centuries later Odin, according to Saxo, taught this art to Harald Hildetand. But the mythology has not made Odin teach it twice. The repetition has its reason in the fact that Harald Hildetand, in one of the records accessible to Saxo, was a son of Halfdan Borgarson (Hist., 361; according to other records a son of Borgar himself—Hist., 337), and consequently a son of Hadding's father, the consequence of which is that features of Hadding's saga have been incorporated into the saga produced in a later time concerning the saga-hero Harald Hildetand. Thereby the Bravalla battle has obtained so universal and gigantic a character. It has been turned into an arbitrarily written version[Pg 283] of the battle which ended in Hadding's defeat. Swedes, Goths, Norsemen, Curians, and Esthonians here fight on that side which, in the original model of the battle, was represented by the hosts of Svipdag and Gudhorm; Danes (few in number, according to Saxo), Saxons (according to Saxo, the main part of the army), Livonians, and Slavs fight on the other side. The fleets and armies are immense on both sides. Shield-maids (amazons) occupy the position which in the original was held by the giantesses Hardgrep, Fenja, and Menja. In the saga description produced in Christian times the Bravalla battle is a ghost of the myth concerning the first great war. Therefore the names of several of the heroes who take part in the battle are an echo from the myth concerning the Teutonic patriarchs and the great war. There appear Borgar and Behrgar the wise (Borgar), Haddir (Hadding), Ruthar (Hrútr-Heimdal, see No. 28a), Od (Odr, a surname of Freyja's, husband, Svipdag, see Nos. 96-98, 100, 101), Brahi (Brache, Asa-Bragr, see No. 102), Gram (Halfdan), and Ingi (Yngve), all of which names we recognise from the patriarch saga, but which, in the manner in which they are presented in the new saga, show how arbitrarily the mythic records were treated at that time.

The myth has rightly described the wedge-shaped arrangement of the troops as an ancient custom among the Teutons. Tacitus (Germ., 6) says that the Teutons arranged their forces in the form of a wedge (acies per [Pg 284]cuneos componitur), and Cćsar suggests the same (De Bell. Gall., i. 52: Germani celeriter ex consuetudine sua phalange facta...). Thus our knowledge of this custom as Teutonic extends back to the time before the birth of Christ. Possibly it was then already centuries old. The Aryan-Asiatic kinsmen of the Teutons had knowledge of it, and the Hindooic law-book, called Manus', ascribes to it divine sanctity and divine origin. On the geographical line which unites Teutondom with Asia it was also in vogue. According to Ćlianus (De instr. ac., 18), the wedge-shaped array of battle was known to the Scythians and Thracians.

The statement that Harald Hildetand, son of Halfdan Borgarson, learned this arrangement of the forces from Odin many centuries after he had taught the art to Hadding, does not disprove, but on the contrary confirms, the theory that Hadding, son of Halfdan Borgarson, was not only the first but also the only one who received this instruction from the Asa-father. And as we now have side by side the two statements, that Odin gave Hadding this means of victory, and that Hamal was the first one who arranged his forces in the shape of a wedge, then it is all the more necessary to assume that these statements belong together, and that Hamal was Hadding's general, especially as we have already seen that Hadding's and Hamal's families were united by the sacred ties which connect foster-father with foster-son and foster-brother with foster-brother.[Pg 285]



The appearance of Hamal and the Amalians on Hadding's side in the great world war becomes a certainty from the fact that we discover among the descendants of the continental Teutons a great cycle of sagas, all of whose events are more or less intimately connected with the mythic kernel: that Amalian heroes with unflinching fidelity supported a prince who already in the tender years of his youth had been deprived of his share of his father's kingdom, and was obliged to take flight from the persecution of a kinsman and his assistants to the far East, where he remained a long time, until after various fortunes of war he was able to return, conquer, and take possession of his paternal inheritance. And for this he was indebted to the assistance of the brave Amalians. These are the chief points in the saga cycle about Dieterich of Bern (thjódrekr, Thidrek, Theodericus), and the fortunes of the young prince are, as we have thus seen, substantially the same as Hadding's.

When we compare sagas preserved by the descendants of the Teutons of the Continent with sagas handed down to us from Scandinavian sources, we must constantly bear in mind that the great revolution which the victory of Christianity over Odinism produced in the Teutonic world of thought, inasmuch as it tore down the ancient mythical[Pg 286] structure and applied the fragments that were fit for use as material for a new saga structure—that this revolution required a period of more than eight hundred years before it had conquered the last fastnesses of the Odinic doctrine. On the one side of the slowly advancing borders between the two religions there developed and continued a changing and transformation of the old sagas, the main purpose of which was to obliterate all that contained too much flavour of heathendom and was incompatible with Christianity; while, on the other side of the borders of faith, the old mythic songs, but little affected by the tooth of time, still continued to live in their original form. Thus one might, to choose the nearest example at hand, sing on the northern side of this faith-border, where heathendom still prevailed, about how Hadding, when the persecutions of Svipdag and his half-brother Gudhorm compelled him to fly to the far East, there was protected by Odin, and how he through him received the assistance of Hrútr-Heimdall; while the Christians, on the south side of this border, sang of how Dieterich, persecuted by a brother and the protectors of the latter, was forced to take flight to the far East, and how he was there received by a mighty king, who, as he could no longer be Odin, must be the mightiest king in the East ever heard of—that is, Attila—and how Attila gave him as protector a certain Rüdiger, whose very name contains an echo of Ruther (Heimdal), who could not, however, be the white Asa-god, Odin's faithful servant, but must be changed into a faithful vassal and "markgrave" under [Pg 287]Attila. The Saxons were converted to Christianity by fire and sword in the latter part of the eighth century. In the deep forests of Sweden heathendom did not yield completely to Christianity before the twelfth century. In the time of Saxo's father there were still heathen communities in Smaland on the Danish border. It follows that Saxo must have received the songs concerning the ancient Teutonic heroes in a far more original form than that in which the same songs could be found in Germany.

Hadding means "the hairy one," "the fair-haired;" Dieterich (thjódrekr) means "the ruler of the people," "the great ruler." Both epithets belong to one and the same saga character. Hadding is the epithet which belongs to him as a youth, before he possessed a kingdom; Dieterich is the epithet which represents him as the king of many Teutonic tribes. The Vilkinsaga says of him that he had an abundant and beautiful growth of hair, but that he never got a beard. This is sufficient to explain the name Hadding, by which he was presumably celebrated in song among all Teutonic tribes; for we have already seen that Hadding is known in Anglo-Saxon poetry as Hearding, and, as we shall see, the continental Teutons knew him not only as Dieterich, but also as Hartung. It is also possible that the name "the hairy" has in the myth had the same purport as the epithet "the fair-haired" has in the Norse account of Harald, Norway's first ruler, and that Hadding of the myth was the prototype of Harald, when the latter made the vow to let his hair grow until he was king of all Norway (Harald [Pg 288]Harfager's Saga, 4). The custom of not cutting hair or beard before an exploit resolved upon was carried out was an ancient one among the Teutons, and so common and so sacred that it must have had foothold and prototype in the hero-saga. Tacitus mentions it (Germania, 31); so does Paulus Diaconus (Hist., iii. 7) and Gregorius of Tours (v. 15).

Although it had nearly ceased to be heard in the German saga cycle, still the name Hartung has there left traces of its existence. "Anhang des Heldenbuchs" mentions King Hartung aus Reüssenlant; that is to say, a King Hartung who came from some land in the East. The poem "Rosengarten" (variant D; cp. W. Grimm, D. Heldensage, 139, 253) also mentions Hartunc, king von Riuzen. A comparison of the different versions of "Rosengarten" with the poem "Dieterichs Flucht" shows that the name Hartung von Riuzen in the course of time becomes Hartnit von Riuzen and Hertnit von Riuzen, by which form of the name the hero reappears in Vilkinasaga as a king in Russia. If we unite the scattered features contained in these sources about Hartung we get the following main outlines of his saga:

(a) Hartung is a king and dwells in an eastern country (all the records).

(b) He is not, however, an independent ruler there, at least not in the beginning, but is subject to Attila (who in the Dieterich's saga has supplanted Odin as chief ruler in the East). He is Attila's man ("Dieterichs Flucht").

(c) A Swedish king has robbed him of his land and driven him into exile.

[Pg 289](d) The Swedish king is of the race of elves, and the chief of the same race as the celebrated Velint—that is to say, Volund (Wayland)—belonged to (Vilkinasaga). As shall be shown later (see Nos. 108, 109), Svipdag, the banisher of Hadding, belongs to the same race. He is Volund's nephew (brother's son).

(e) Hartung recovers, after the death of the Swedish conqueror, his own kingdom, and also conquers that of the Swedish king (Vilkinasaga).

All these features are found in the saga of Hadding. Thus the original identity of Hadding and Hartung is beyond doubt. We also find that Hartung, like Dieterich, is banished from his country; that he fled, like him, to the East; that he got, like him, Attila the king of the East as his protector; that he thereupon returned, conquered his enemies, and recovered his kingdom. Hadding's, Hartung's and Dieterich's sagas are, therefore, one and the same in root and in general outline. Below it shall also be shown that the most remarkable details are common to them all.

I have above (No. 42) given reasons why Hamal (Amala), the foster-brother of Halfdan Borgarson, was Hadding's assistant and general in the war against his foes. The hero, who in the German saga has the same place under Dieterich, is the aged "master" Hildebrand, Dieterich's faithful companion, teacher, and commander of his troops. Can it be demonstrated that what the German saga tells about Hildebrand reveals threads that connect him with the saga of the original patriarchs, and that not only his position as Dieterich's aged friend and [Pg 290]general, but also his genealogy, refer to this saga? And can a satisfactory explanation be given of the reason why Hildebrand obtained in the German Dieterich saga the same place as Hamal had in the old myth?

Hildebrand is, as his very name shows, a Hilding,[31] like Hildeger who appears in the patriarch saga (Saxo, Hist., 356-359). Hildeger was, according to the tradition in Saxo, the half-brother of Halfdan Borgarson. They had the same mother Drot, but not the same father; Hildeger counted himself a Swede on his father's side; Halfdan, Borgar's son, considered himself as belonging to the South Scandinavians and Danes, and hence the dying Hildeger sings to Halfdan (Hist., 357):

Danica te tellus, me Sveticus edidit orbis.
Drot tibi maternum, quondam distenderat uber;
Hac genitrici tibi pariter collacteus exto.[32]

In the German tradition Hildebrand is the son of Herbrand. The Old High German fragment of the song,

[Pg 291]

about Hildebrand's meeting with his son Hadubrand, calls him Heribrantes sunu. Herbrand again is, according to the poem "Wolfdieterich," Berchtung's son (concerning Berchtung, see No. 6). In a Norse tradition preserved by Saxo we find a Hilding (Hildeger) who is Borgar's stepson; in the German tradition we find a Hilding (Herbrand) who is Borgar-Berchtung's son. This already shows that the German saga about Hildebrand was originally connected with the patriarch saga about Borgar, Halfdan, and Halfdan's sons, and that the Hildings from the beginning were akin to the Teutonic patriarchs. Borgar's transformation from stepfather to the father of a Hilding shall be explained below.

Hildeger's saga and Hildebrand's are also related in subject matter. The fortunes of both the kinsmen are at the same time like each other and the antithesis of each other. Hildeger's character is profoundly tragic; Hildebrand is happy and secure. Hildeger complains in his death-song in Saxo (cp. Asmund Kćmpebane's saga) that he has fought with and slain his own beloved son. In the Old High German song-fragment Hildebrand seeks, after his return from the East, his son Hadubrand, who believed that his father was dead and calls Hildebrand a deceiver, who has taken the dead man's name, and forces him to fight a duel. The fragment ends before we learn the issue of the duel; but Vilkinasaga and a ballad about Hildebrand have preserved the tradition in regard to it. When the old "master" has demonstrated that his Hadubrand is not yet equal to him in arms, father and son ride side by side in peace and happiness to[Pg 292] their home. Both the conflicts between father and son, within the Hilding family, are pendants and each other's antithesis. Hildeger, who passionately loves war and combat, inflicts in his eagerness for strife a deep wound in his own heart when he kills his own son. Hildebrand acts wisely, prudently, and seeks to ward off and allay the son's love of combat before the duel begins, and he is able to end it by pressing his young opponent to his paternal bosom. On the other hand, Hildeger's conduct toward his half-brother Halfdan, the ideal of a noble and generous enemy, and his last words to his brother, who, ignorant of the kinship, has given him the fatal wound, and whose mantle the dying one wishes to wrap himself in (Asmund Kćmpebane's saga), is one of the touching scenes in the grand poems about our earliest ancestors. It seems to have proclaimed that blood revenge was inadmissible, when a kinsman, without being aware of the kinship, slays a kinsman, and when the latter before he died declared his devotion to his slayer. At all events we rediscover the aged Hildebrand as the teacher and protector of the son of the same Halfdan who slew Hildeger, and not a word is said about blood revenge between Halfdan's and Hildeger's descendants.

The kinship pointed out between the Teutonic patriarchs and the Hildings has not, however, excluded a relation of subordination of the latter to the former. In "Wolfdieterich" Hildebrand's father receives land and fief from Dieterich's grandfather and carries his banner in war. Hildebrand himself performs toward Dieterich those duties which are due from a foster-father, which,[Pg 293] as a rule, show a relation of subordination to the real father of the foster-son. Among the kindred families to which Dieterich and Hildebrand belong there was the same difference of rank as between those to which Hadding and Hamal belong. Hamal's father Hagal was Halfdan's foster-father, and, to judge from this, occupied the position of a subordinate friend toward Halfdan's father Borgar. Thus Halfdan and Hamal were foster-brothers, and from this it follows that Hamal, if he survived Halfdan, was bound to assume a foster-father's duties towards the latter's son Hadding, who was not yet of age. Hamal's relation to Hadding is therefore entirely analagous to Hildebrand's relation to Dieterich.

The pith of that army which attached itself to Dieterich are Amelungs, Amalians (see "Biterolf"); that is to say, members of Hamal's race. The oldest and most important hero, the pith of the pith, is old master Hildebrand himself, Dieterich's foster-father and general. Persons who in the German poems have names which refer to their Amalian birth are by Hildebrand treated as members of a clan are treated by a clan-chief. Thus Hildebrand brings from Sweden a princess, Amalgart, and gives her as wife to a son of Amelolt serving among Dieterich's Amelungs, and to Amelolt Hildebrand has already given his sister for a wife.

The question as to whether we find threads which connect the Hildebrand of the German poem with the saga of the mythic patriarchs, and especially with the Hamal (Amala) who appears in this saga, has now been an[Pg 294]swered. Master Hildebrand has in the German saga-cycle received the position and the tasks which originally belonged to Hamal, the progenitor of the Amalians.

The relation between the kindred families—the patriarch family, the Hilding family, and the Amal family—has certainly been just as distinctly pointed out in the German saga-cycle as in the Norse before the German met with a crisis, which to some extent confused the old connection. This crisis came when Hadding-thjódrekr of the ancient myth was confounded with the historical king of the East Goths, Theoderich. The East Goth Theoderich counted himself as belonging to the Amal family, which had grown out of the soil of the myth. He was, according to Jordanes (De Goth. Orig., 14), a son of Thiudemer, who traced his ancestry to Amal (Hamal), son of Augis (Hagal).[33] The result of the confusion was:

(a) That Hadding-thjódrekr became the son of Thiudemer, and that his descent from the Teuton patriarchs was cut off.

(b) That Hadding-thjódrekr himself became a descendant of Hamal, whereby the distinction between this race of rulers—the line of Teutonic patriarchs begun with Ruther Heimdal—together with the Amal family, friendly but subject to the Hadding family, and the Hilding family was partly obscured and partly abolished. Dieterich himself became an "Amelung" like several of his heroes.

[Pg 295]

(c) That when Hamal thus was changed from an elder contemporary of Hadding-thjódrekr into his earliest progenitor, separated from him by several generations of time, he could no longer serve as Dieterich's foster-father and general; but this vocation had to be transferred to master Hildebrand, who also in the myth must have been closely connected with Hadding, and, together with Hamal, one of his chief and constant helpers.

(d) That Borgar-Berchtung, who in the myth is the grandfather of Hadding-thjódrekr, must, as he was not an Amal, resign this dignity and confine himself to being the progenitor of the Hildings. As we have seen, he is in Saxo the progenitor of the Hilding Hildeger.

Another result of Hadding-thjódrekr's confusion with the historical Theoderich was that Dieterich's kingdom, and the scene of various of his exploits, was transferred to Italy: to Verona (Bern), Ravenna (Raben), &c. Still the strong stream of the ancient myths became master of the confused historical increments, so that the Dieterich of the saga has but little in common with the historical Theoderich.

After the dissemination of Christianity, the hero saga of the Teutonic myths was cut off from its roots in the mythology, and hence this confusion was natural and necessary. Popular tradition, in which traces were found of the historical Theoderich-Dieterich, was no longer able to distinguish the one Dieterich from the other. A writer acquainted with the chronicle of Jordanes took the last step and made Theoderich's father Thiudemer the father of the mythic Hadding-thjódrekr.[Pg 296]

Nor did the similarity of names alone encourage this blending of the persons. There was also another reason. The historical Theoderich had fought against Odoacer. The mythic Hadding-thjódrekr had warred with Svipdag, the husband of Freyja, who also bore the name Ódr and Ottar (see Nos. 96-100). The latter name-form corresponds to the English and German Otter, the Old High German Otar, a name which suggested the historical Otacher (Odoacer). The Dieterich and Otacher of historical traditions became identified with thjódrekr and Ottar of mythical traditions.

As the Hadding-thjódrekr of mythology was in his tender youth exposed to the persecutions of Ottar, and had to take flight from them to the far East, so the Dieterich of the historical saga also had to suffer persecutions in his tender youth from Otacher, and take flight, accompanied by his faithful Amalians, to a kingdom in the East. Accordingly, Hadubrand says of his father Hildebrand, that, when he betook himself to the East with Dieterich, floh her Otachres nîd, "he fled from Otacher's hate." Therefore, Otacher soon disappears from the German saga-cycle, for Svipdag-Ottar perishes and disappears in the myth, long before Hadding's victory and restoration to his father's power (see No. 106).

Odin and Heimdal, who then, according to the myth, dwelt in the East and there became the protectors of Hadding, must, as heathen deities, be removed from the Christian saga, and be replaced as best they could by others. The famous ruler in the East, Attila, was better suited than anyone else to take Odin's place,[Pg 297] though Attila was dead before Theoderich was born. Ruther-Heimdal was, as we have already seen, changed into Rüdiger.

The myth made Hadding dwell in the East for many years (see above). The ten-year rule of the Vans in Asgard must end, and many other events must occur before the epic connection of the myths permitted Hadding to return as a victor. As a result of this, the saga of "Dieterich of Bern" also lets him remain a long time with Attila. An old English song preserved in the Exeter manuscript, makes Theodric remain thrittig wintra in exile at Mćringaburg. The song about Hildebrand and Hadubrand make him remain in exile sumarô enti wintro sehstic, and Vilkinasaga makes him sojourn in the East thirty-two years.

Mćringaburg of the Anglo-Saxon poem is the refuge which Odin opened for his favourite, and where the former dwelt during his exile in the East. Mćringaburg means a citadel inhabited by noble, honoured, and splendid persons: compare the Old Norse mćringr. But the original meaning of mćrr, Old German mâra, is "glittering," "shining," "pure," and it is possible that, before mćringr received its general signification of a famous, honoured, noble man, it was used in the more special sense of a man descended from "the shining one," that is to say, from Heimdal through Borgar. However this may be, these "mćringar" have, in the Anglo-Saxon version of the Hadding saga, had their antitheses in the "baningar," that is, the men of Loke-Bicke (Bekki). This appears from the expression Bekka veóld Baningum,[Pg 298] in Codex Exoniensis. The Banings are no more than the Mćrings, an historical name. The interpretation of the word is to be sought in the Anglo-Saxon bana, the English bane. The Banings means "the destroyers," "the corrupters," a suitable appellation of those who follow the source of pest, the all-corrupting Loke. In the German poems, Mćringaburg is changed to Meran, and Borgar-Berchtung (Hadding's grandfather in the myth) is Duke of Meran. It is his fathers who have gone to the gods that Hadding finds again with Odin and Heimdal in the East.

Despite the confusion of the historical Theoderich with the mythic Hadding-thjódrekr, a tradition has been handed down within the German saga-cycle to the effect that "Dieterich of Bern" belonged to a genealogy which Christianity had anathematised. Two of the German Dieterich poems, "Nibelunge Noth" and "Klage," refrain from mentioning the ancestors of their hero. Wilhelm Grimm suspects that the reason for this is that the authors of these poems knew something about Dieterich's descent, which they could not relate without wounding Christian ears; and he reminds us that, when the Vilkinasaga Thidrek (Dieterich) teases Högne (Hagen) by calling him the son of an elf, Högne answers that Thidrek has a still worse descent, as he is the son of the devil himself. The matter, which in Grimm's eyes is mystical, is explained by the fact that Hadding-thjódrekr's father in the myth, Halfdan Borgarson, was supposed to be descended from Thor, and in his capacity of a Teutonic patriarch he had received divine worship (see Nos. 23[Pg 299] and 30). Anhang des Heldenbuchs says that Dieterich was the son of a "böser geyst."

It has already been stated (No. 38) that Hadding from Odin received a drink which exercised a wonderful influence upon his physical nature. It made him recreatum vegetiori corporis firmitate, and, thanks to it and to the incantation sung over him by Odin, he was able to free himself from the chains afterwards put on him by Loke. It has also been pointed out that this drink contained something called Leifner's or Leifin's flames. There is every reason for assuming that these "flames" had the effect of enabling the person who had partaken of the potion of Leifner's flames to free himself from his chains with his own breath. Groa (Groagalder, 10) gives her son Svipdag "Leifner's fires" in order that if he is chained, his enchanted limbs may be liberated (ek lćt ther Leifnis elda fyr kvedinn legg). The record of the giving of this gift to Hadding meets us in the German saga, in the form that Dieterich was able with his breath to burn the fetters laid upon him (see "Laurin"), nay, when he became angry, he could breathe fire and make the cuirass of his opponent red-hot. The tradition that Hadding by eating, on the advice of Odin, the heart of a wild beast (Saxo says of a lion) gained extraordinary strength, is also preserved in the form, that when Dieterich was in distress, God sent him eines löwen krafft von herczenlichen zoren ("Ecken Ausfarth").

Saxo relates that Hadding on one occasion was invited to descend into the lower world and see its strange things (see No. 47). The heathen lower world, with its fields[Pg 300] of bliss and places of torture, became in the Christian mind synonymous with hell. Hadding's descent to the lower world, together with the mythic account of his journey through the air on Odin's horse Sleipner, were remembered in Christian times in the form that he once on a black diabolical horse rode to hell. This explains the remarkable dénouement of the Dieterich saga; namely, that he, the magnanimous and celebrated hero, was captured by the devil. Otto of Friesingen (first half of the twelfth century) states that Theodoricus vivus equo sedens ad inferos descendit. The Kaiser chronicle says that "many saw that the devils took Dieterich and carried him into the mountain to Vulcan."

In Saxo we read that Hadding once while bathing had an adventure which threatened him with the most direful revenge from the gods (see No. 106). Manuscripts of the Vilkinasaga speak of a fateful bath which Thidrek took, and connects it with his journey to hell. While the hero was bathing there came a black horse, the largest and stateliest ever seen. The king wrapped himself in his bath towel and mounted the horse. He found, too late, that the steed was the devil, and he disappeared for ever.

Saxo tells that Hadding made war on a King Handuanus, who had concealed his treasures in the bottom of a lake, and who was obliged to ransom his life with a golden treasure of the same weight as his body (Hist.. 41, 42, 67). Handuanus is a Latinised form of the dwarf name Andvanr, Andvani. The Sigurd saga has a record of this event, and calls the dwarf Andvari (Sig. Fafn., [Pg 301] ii.). The German saga is also able to tell of a war which Dieterich waged against a dwarf king. The war has furnished the materials for the saga of "Laurin." Here, too, the conquered dwarf-king's life is spared, and Dieterich gets possession of many of his treasures.


(From an etching by Lorenz Frölich Frölloh.)

Loke was at one time the comrade of Odin but by his mismating
with a giantess, Angerboda, he became the father
of three monsters, the Fenris Wolf, the Midgard Serpent and
the terrible Hel, at the sight of which latter living creatures
were immediately stricken dead. Odin was so enraged by these
issues of Loke's commerce with a giantess, that he had the
brood brought before him in Asgard, and seizing Hel and the
snake in his powerful arms he flung them far out into space.
Hel fell for nine days until she reached Helheim, far beneath
the earth, where she became ruler over the dead. The snake
dropped into the ocean that surrounds Midgard, where it was
to remain growing until its coils should envelop the earth and
in the end should help to bring about the destruction of the
world. The Wolf was borne away by Tyr and placed in chains,
but escaping later at Ragnarok he devoured Odin.

In the German as in the Norse saga, Hadding-thjódrekr's rival to secure the crown was his brother, supported by Otacher-Ottar (Svipdag). The tradition in regard to this, which agrees with the myth, was known to the author of Anhang des Heldenbuchs. But already in an early day the brother was changed into uncle on account of the intermixing of historical reminiscences.

The brother's name in the Norse tradition is Gudhormr, in the German Ermenrich (Ermanaricus). Ermenrich Jörmunrekr means, like thjódrekr, a ruler over many people, a great king. Jordanes already has confounded the mythic Jörmunrekr-Gudhormr with the historical Gothic King Hermanaricus, whose kingdom was destroyed by the Huns, and has applied to him the saga of Svanhild and her brothers Sarus (Sörli) and Ammius (Hamdir), a saga which originally was connected with that of the mythic Jörmunrek. The Sigurd epic, which expanded with plunder from all sources, has added to the confusion by annexing this saga.

In the Roman authors the form Herminones is found by the side of Hermiones as the name of one of the three Teutonic tribes which descended from Mannus. It is possible, as already indicated, that -horm in Gudhorm is connected with the form Hermio, and it is probable, as already pointed out by several linguists, that the Teu[Pg 302]tonic irmin (jörmun, Goth. airmana) is linguistically connected with the word Hermino. In that case, the very names Gudhormr and Jörmunrekr already point as such to the mythic progenitor of the Hermiones, Herminones, just as Yngve-Svipdag's name points to the progenitor of the Ingvćones (Ingćvones), and possibly also Hadding's to that of the Istćvones (see No. 25). To the name Hadding corresponds, as already shown, the Anglo-Saxon Hearding, the old German Hartung. The Hasdingi (Asdingi) mentioned by Jordanes were the chief warriors of the Vandals (Goth. Orig., 22), and there may be a mythic reason for rediscovering this family name among an East Teutonic tribe (the Vandals), since Hadding, according to the myth, had his support among the East Teutonic tribes. To the form Hasdingi (Goth. Hazdiggós) the words istćvones, istvćones, might readily enough correspond, provided the vowel i in the Latin form can be harmonised with a in the Teutonic. That the vowel i was an uncertain element may be seen from the genealogy in Codex La Cava, which calls Istćvo Ostius, Hostius.

As to geography, both the Roman and Teutonic records agree that the northern Teutonic tribes were Ingćvones. In the myths they are Scandinavians and neighbours to the Ingćvones. In the Beowulf poem the king of the Danes is called eodor Inguina, the protection of the Ingćvones, and freâ Inguina, the lord of the Ingćvones. Tacitus says that they live nearest to the ocean (Germ., 2); Pliny says that Cimbrians, Teutons, and Chaucians were Ingćvones (Hist. Nat., iv. 28). Pomponius Mela[Pg 303] says that the land of the Cimbrians and Teutons was washed by the Codan bay (iii. 3). As to the Hermiones and Istćvones, the former dwelt along the middle Rhine, and of the latter, who are the East Teutons of mythology, several tribes had already before the time of Pliny pressed forward south of the Hermiones to this river.

The German saga-cycle has preserved the tradition that in the first great battle in which Hadding-thjódrekr measured his strength with the North and West Teutons he suffered a great defeat. This is openly avowed in the Dieterich poem "die Klage." Those poems, on the other hand, which out of sympathy for their hero give him victory in this battle ("the Raben battle") nevertheless in fact acknowledge that such was not the case, for they make him return to the East after the battle and remain there many years, robbed of his crown, before he makes his second and successful attempt to regain his kingdom. Thus the "Raben battle" corresponds to the mythic battle in which Hadding is defeated by Ingćvones and Hermiones. Besides the "Raben battle" has from a Teutonic standpoint a trait of universality, and the German tradition has upon the whole faithfully, and in harmony with the myth, grouped the allies and heroes of the hostile brothers. Dieterich is supported by East Teutonic warriors, and by non-Teutonic people from the East—from Poland, Wallachia, Russia, Greece, &c.; Ermenrich, on the other hand, by chiefs from Thuringia, Swabia, Hessen, Saxony, the Netherlands, England, and the North, and, above all, by the Burgundians, who in the genealogy in the St. Gaelen Codex are counted among the[Pg 304] Hermiones, and in the genealogy in the La Cava Codex are counted with the Ingćvones. For the mythic descent of the Burgundian dynasty from an uncle of Svipdag I shall present evidence in my chapters on the Ivalde race.

The original identity of Hadding's and Dieterich's sagas, and their descent from the myth concerning the earliest antiquity and the patriarchs, I now regard as demonstrated and established. The war between Hadding-Dieterich and Gudhorm-Ermenrich is identical with the conflict begun by Yngve-Svipdag between the tribes of the Ingćvones, Hermiones, and Istćvones. It has also been demonstrated that Halfdan, Gudhorm's, and Hadding's father, and Yngve-Svipdag's stepfather, is identical with Mannus. One of the results of this investigation is, therefore, that the songs about Mannus and his sons, ancient already in the days of Tacitus, have, more or less influenced by the centuries, continued to live far down in the middle ages, and that, not the songs themselves, but the main features of their contents, have been preserved to our time, and should again be incorporated in our mythology together with the myth in regard to the primeval time, the main outline of which has been restored, and the final episode of which is the first great war in the world.

The Norse-Icelandic school, which accepted and developed the learned hypothesis of the middle age in regard to the immigration of Odin and his Asiamen, is to blame that the myth, in many respects important, in regard to the olden time and its events in the world of gods[Pg 305] and men—among Aryan myths one of the most important, either from a scientific or poetic point of view, that could be handed down to our time—was thrust aside and forgotten. The learned hypothesis and the ancient myth could not be harmonised. For that reason the latter had to yield. Nor was there anything in this myth that particularly appealed to the Norse national feeling, and so could claim mercy. Norway is not at all named in it. Scania, Denmark, Svithiod (Sweden), and continental Teutondom are the scene of the mythic events. Among the many causes co-operating in Christian times, in giving what is now called "Norse mythology" its present character, there is not one which has contributed so much as the rejection of this myth toward giving "Norse mythology" the stamp which it hitherto has borne of a narrow, illiberal town mythology, which, built chiefly on the foundation of the Younger Edda, is, as shall be shown in the present work, in many respects a caricature of the real Norse, and at the same time in its main outlines Teutonic, mythology.

In regard to the ancient Aryan elements in the myth here presented, see Nos. 82 and 111.[Pg 306]





Far down in Christian times there prevailed among the Scandinavians the idea that their heathen ancestors had believed in the existence of a place of joy, from which sorrow, pain, blemishes, age, sickness, and death were excluded. This place of joy was called Ódáinsakr, the-acre-of-the-not-dead, Jörd lifanda manna, the earth of living men. It was situated not in heaven but below, either on the surface of the earth or in the lower world, but it was separated from the lands inhabited by men in such a manner that it was not impossible, but nevertheless exceeding perilous, to get there.

A saga from the fourteenth century incorporated in Flateybook, and with a few textual modifications in Fornald. Saga, iii., tells the following:

Erik, the son of a petty Norse king, one Christmas Eve, made the vow to seek out Odainsaker, and the fame of it spread over all Norway. In company with a Danish prince, who also was named Erik, he betook himself[Pg 307] first to Miklagard (Constantinople), where the king engaged the young men in his service, and was greatly benefited by their warlike skill. One day the king talked with the Norwegian Erik about religion, and the result was that the latter surrendered the faith of his ancestors and accepted baptism. He told his royal teacher of the vow he had taken to find Odainsaker,—"frá honum heyrdi včr sagt a voru landi,"—and asked him if he knew where it was situated. The king believed that Odainsaker was identical with Paradise, and said it lies in the East beyond the farthest boundaries of India, but that no one was able to get there because it was enclosed by a fire-wall, which aspires to heaven itself. Still Erik was bound by his vow, and with his Danish namesake he set out on his journey, after the king had instructed them as well as he was able in regard to the way, and had given them a letter of recommendation to the authorities and princes through whose territories they had to pass. They travelled through Syria and the immense and wonderful India, and came to a dark country where the stars are seen all day long. After having traversed its deep forests, they saw when it began to grow light a river, over which there was a vaulted stone bridge. On the other side of the river there was a plain, from which came sweet fragrance. Erik conjectured that the river was the one called by the king in Miklagard Pison, and which rises in Paradise. On the stone bridge lay a dragon with wide open mouth. The Danish prince advised that they return, for he considered it impossible to conquer the dragon or to pass it. But the Norwegian Erik seized one[Pg 308] of his men by one hand, and rushed with his sword in the other against the dragon. They were seen to vanish between the jaws of the monster. With the other companions the Danish prince then returned by the same route as he had come, and after many years he got back to his native land.

When Erik and his fellow-countryman had been swallowed by the dragon, they thought themselves enveloped in smoke; but it was scattered, and they were unharmed, and saw before them the great plain lit up by the sun and covered with flowers. There flowed rivers of honey, the air was still, but just above the ground were felt breezes that conveyed the fragrance of the flowers. It is never dark in this country, and objects cast no shadow. Both the adventurers went far into the country in order to find, if possible, inhabited parts. But the country seemed to be uninhabited. Still they discovered a tower in the distance. They continued to travel in that direction, and on coming nearer they found that the tower was suspended in the air, without foundation or pillars. A ladder led up to it. Within the tower there was a room, carpeted with velvet, and there stood a beautiful table with delicious food in silver dishes, and wine in golden goblets. There were also splendid beds. Both the men were now convinced that they had come to Odainsaker, and they thanked God that they had reached their destination. They refreshed themselves and laid themselves to sleep. While Erik slept there came to him a beautiful lad, who called him by name, and said he was one of the angels who guarded the gates of Paradise,[Pg 309] and also Erik's guardian angel, who had been at his side when he vowed to go in search of Odainsaker. He asked whether Erik wished to remain where he now was or to return home. Erik wished to return to report what he had seen. The angel informed him that Odainsaker, or jörd lifanda manna, where he now was, was not the same place as Paradise, for to the latter only spirits could come, and the land of spirits, Paradise, was so glorious that, in comparison, Odainsaker seemed like a desert. Still, these two regions are on each other's borders, and the river which Erik had seen has its source in Paradise. The angel permitted the two travellers to remain in Odainsaker for six days to rest themselves. Then they returned by way of Miklagard to Norway, and there Erik was called vid-förli, the far-travelled.

In regard to Erik's genealogy, the saga states (Fornald. Saga, iii. 519) that his father's name was Thrand, that his aunt (mother's sister) was a certain Svanhvit, and that he belonged to the race of Thjasse's daughter Skade. Further on in the domain of the real myth, we shall discover an Erik who belongs to Thjasse's family, and whose mother is a swan-maid (goddess of growth). This latter Erik also succeeded in seeing Odainsaker (see Nos. 102, 103).



In the saga of Hervor, Odainsaker is mentioned, and[Pg 310] there without any visible addition of Christian elements. Gudmund (Godmundr) was the name of a king in Jotunheim. His home was called Grund, but the district in which it was situated was called the Glittering Plains (Glćsisvellir). He was wise and mighty, and in a heathen sense pious, and he and his men became so old that they lived many generations. Therefore, the story continues, the heathens believed that Odainsaker was situated in his country. "That place (Odainsaker) is for everyone who comes there so healthy that sickness and age depart, and no one ever dies there."

According to the saga-author, Jotunheim is situated north from Halogaland, along the shores of Gandvik. The wise and mighty Gudmund died after he had lived half a thousand years. After his death the people worshipped him as a god, and offered sacrifices to him.

The same Gudmund is mentioned in Herrod's and Bose's saga as a ruler of the Glittering Plains, who was very skilful in the magic arts. The Glittering Plains are here said to be situated near Bjarmaland, just as in Thorstein Bćarmagn's saga, in which king Gudmund's kingdom, Glittering Plains, is a country tributary to Jotunheim, whose ruler is Geirrod.

In the history of Olaf Trygveson, as it is given in Flateybook, the following episode is incorporated. The Northman Helge Thoreson was sent on a commercial journey to the far North on the coast of Finmark, but he got lost in a great forest. There he met twelve red-clad young maidens on horseback, and the horses' trappings shone like gold. The chief one of the maidens was[Pg 311] Ingeborg, the daughter of Gudmund on the Glittering Plains. The young maidens raised a splendid tent and set a table with dishes of silver and gold. Helge was invited to remain, and he stayed three days with Ingeborg. Then Gudmund's daughters got ready to leave; but before they parted Helge received from Ingeborg two chests full of gold and silver. With these he returned to his father, but mentioned to nobody how he had obtained them. The next Yule night there came a great storm, during which two men carried Helge away, none knew whither. His sorrowing father reported this to Olaf Trygveson. The year passed. Then it happened at Yule that Helge came in to the king in the hall, and with him two strangers, who handed Olaf two gold-plated horns. They said they were gifts from Gudmund on the Glittering Plains. Olaf filled the horns with good drink and handed them to the messengers. Meanwhile he had commanded the bishop who was present to bless the drink. The result was that the heathen beings, who were Gudmund's messengers, cast the horns away, and at the same time there was great noise and confusion in the hall. The fire was extinguished, and Gudmund's men disappeared with Helge, after having slain three of King Olaf's men. Another year passed. Then there came to the king two men, who brought Helge with them, and disappeared again. Helge was at that time blind. The king asked him many questions, and Helge explained that he had spent most happy days at Gudmund's; but King Olaf's prayers had at length made it difficult for Gudmund and his daughter to retain him, and before[Pg 312] his departure Ingeborg picked his eyes out, in order that Norway's daughters should not fall in love with them. With his gifts Gudmund had intended to deceive King Olaf; but upon the whole Helge had nothing but good to report about this heathen.



Saxo, the Danish historian, also knows Gudmund. He relates (Hist. Dan., viii.) that King Gorm had resolved to find a mysterious country in regard to which there were many reports in the North. Incredible treasures were preserved in that land. A certain Geruthus, known in the traditions, dwelt there, but the way thither was full of dangers and well-nigh inaccessible for mortals. They who had any knowledge of the situation of the land insisted that it was necessary to sail across the ocean surrounding the earth, leave sun and stars behind, and make a journey sub Chao, before reaching the land which is deprived of the light of day, and over whose mountains and valleys darkness broods. First there was a perilous voyage to be made, and then a journey in the lower world. With the experienced sailor Thorkillus as his guide, King Gorm left Denmark with three ships and a numerous company, sailed past Halogaland, and came, after strange adventures on his way, to Bjarmaland, situated beyond the known land of the same name, and anchored near its[Pg 313] coast. In this Bjarmia ulterior it is always cold; to its snow-clad fields there comes no summer warmth, through its deep wild forests flow rapid foaming rivers which well forth from the rocky recesses, and the woods are full of wild beasts, the like of which are unknown elsewhere. The inhabitants are monsters with whom it is dangerous for strangers to enter into conversation, for from unconsidered words they get power to do harm. Therefore Thorkillus was to do the talking alone for all his companions. The place for anchoring he had chosen in such a manner that they thence had the shortest journey to Geruthus. In the evening twilight the travellers saw a man of unusual size coming to meet them, and to their joy he greeted them by name. Thorkillus informed them that they should regard the coming of this man as a good omen, for he was the brother of Geruthus, Guthmundus, a friendly person and the most faithful protector in peril. When Thorkillus had explained the perpetual silence of his companions by saying that they were too bashful to enter into conversation with one whose language they did not understand, Guthmundus invited them to be his guests and led them by paths down along a river. Then they came to a place where a golden bridge was built across the river. The Danes felt a desire to cross the bridge and visit the land on the other side, but Guthmundus warned them that nature with the bed of this stream has drawn a line between the human and superhuman and mysterious, and that the ground on the other side was by a sacred order proclaimed unlawful for the feet of mor[Pg 314]tals.[34] They therefore continued the march on that side of the river on which they had hitherto gone, and so came to the mysterious dwelling of Guthmundus, where a feast was spread before them, at which twelve of his sons, all of noble appearance, and as many daughters, most fair of face, waited upon them.

But the feast was a peculiar one. The Danes heeded the advice of Thorkillus not to come into too close contact with their strange table-companions or the servants, and instead of tasting the courses presented of food and drink, they ate and drank of the provisions they had taken with them from home. This they did because Thorkillus knew that mortals who accept the courtesies here offered them lose all memory of the past and remain for ever among "these non-human and dismal beings." Danger threatened even those who were weak in reference to the enticing loveliness of the daughters of Guthmundus. He offered King Gorm a daughter in marriage. Gorm himself was prudent enough to decline the honour; but four of his men could not resist the temptation, and had to pay the penalty with the loss of their memory and with enfeebled minds.

One more trial awaited them. Guthmundus mentioned to the king that he had a villa, and invited Gorm to accompany him thither and taste of the delicious fruits. Thorkillus, who had a talent for inventing excuses, now found one for the king's lips. The host, though displeased with the reserve of the guests, still continued to show them friendliness, and when they expressed their desire to see [Pg 315] the domain of Geruthus, he accompanied them all to the river, conducted them across it, and promised to wait there until they returned.

The land which they now entered was the home of terrors. They had not gone very far before they discovered before them a city, which seemed to be built of dark mists. Human heads were raised on stakes which surrounded the bulwarks of the city. Wild dogs, whose rage Thorkillus, however, knew how to calm, kept watch outside of the gates. The gates were located high up in the bulwark, and it was necessary to climb up on ladders in order to get to them. Within the city was a crowd of beings horrible to look at and to hear, and filth and rottenness and a terrible stench were everywhere. Further in was a sort of mountain-fastness. When they had reached its entrance the travellers were overpowered by its awful aspect, but Thorkillus inspired them with courage. At the same time he warned them most strictly not to touch any of the treasures that might entice their eyes. All that sight and soul can conceive as terrible and loathsome was gathered within this rocky citadel. The door-frames were covered with the soot of centuries, the walls were draped with filth, the roofs were composed of sharp stings, the floors were made of serpents encased in foulness. At the thresholds crowds of monsters acted as doorkeepers and were very noisy. On iron benches, surrounded by a hurdle-work of lead, there lay giant monsters which looked like lifeless images. Higher up in a rocky niche sat the aged Geruthus, with his body pierced and nailed to the rock, and there lay also three[Pg 316] women with their backs broken. Thorkillus explained that it was this Geruthus whom the god Thor had pierced with a red-hot iron; the women had also received their punishment from the same god.

When the travellers left these places of punishment they came to a place where they saw cisterns of mead (dolia) in great numbers. These were plated with seven sheets of gold, and above them hung objects of silver, round as to form, from which shot numerous braids down into the cisterns. Near by was found a gold-plated tooth of some strange animal, and near it, again, there lay an immense horn decorated with pictures and flashing with precious stones, and also an arm-ring of great size. Despite the warnings, three of Gorm's men laid greedy hands on these works of art. But the greed got its reward. The arm-ring changed into a venomous serpent; the horn into a dragon, which killed their robbers; the tooth became a sword, which pierced the heart of him who bore it. The others who witnessed the fate of their comrades expected that they too, although innocent, should meet with some misfortune. But their anxiety seemed unfounded, and when they looked about them again they found the entrance to another treasury, which contained a wealth of immense weapons, among which was kept a royal mantle, together with a splendid head-gear and a belt, the finest work of art. Thorkillus himself could not govern his greed when he saw these robes. He took hold of the mantle, and thus gave the signal to the others to plunder. But then the building shook in its foundations; the voices of shrieking women were heard, who[Pg 317] asked if these robbers were longer to be tolerated; beings which hitherto had been lying as if half-dead or lifeless started up and joined other spectres who attacked the Danes. The latter would all have lost their lives had not their retreat been covered by two excellent archers whom Gorm had with him. But of the men, nearly three hundred in number, with whom the king had ventured into this part of the lower world, there remained only twenty when they finally reached the river, where Guthmundus, true to his promise, was waiting for them, and carried them in a boat to his own domain. Here he proposed to them that they should remain, but as he could not persuade them, he gave them presents and let them return to their ships in safety the same way as they had come.



Two other Danish princes have, according to Saxo, been permitted to see a subterranean world, or Odainsaker. Saxo calls the one Fjallerus, and makes him a sub-regent in Scania. The question who this Fjallerus was in the mythology is discussed in another part of this work (see No. 92). According to Saxo he was banished from the realm by King Amlethus, the son of Horvendillus, and so retired to Undensakre (Odainsaker), "a place which is unknown to our people" (Hist. Dan. iv.).

The other of these two is King Hadingus (Hist. Dan.,[Pg 318] i.), the above-mentioned Hadding, son of Halfdan. One winter's day, while Hadding sat at the hearth, there rose out of the ground the form of a woman, who had her lap full of cowbanes, and showed them as if she was about to ask whether the king would like to see that part of the world where, in the midst of winter, so fresh flowers could bloom. Hadding desired this. Then she wrapped him in her mantle and carried him away down into the lower world. "The gods of the lower world," says Saxo, "must have determined that he should be transferred living to those places, which are not to be sought until after death." In the beginning the journey was through a territory wrapped in darkness, fogs, and mists. Then Hadding perceived that they proceeded along a path "which is daily trod by the feet of walkers." The path led to a river, in whose rapids spears and other weapons were tossed about, and over which there was a bridge. Before reaching this river Hadding had seen from the path he travelled a region in which "a few" or "certain" (quidam), but very noble beings (proceres) were walking, dressed in beautiful frocks and purple mantles. Thence the woman brought him to a plain which glittered as in sunshine (loca aprica, translation of "The Glittering Plains"), and there grew the plants which she had shown him. This was one side of the river. On the other side there was bustle and activity. There Hadding saw two armies engaged in battle. They were, his fair guide explained to him, the souls of warriors who had fallen in battle, and now imitated the sword-games they had played on earth. Continuing their journey, they reached a place[Pg 319] surrounded by a wall, which was difficult to pass through or to surmount. Nor did the woman make any effort to enter there, either alone or with him: "It would not have been possible for the smallest or thinnest physical being." They therefore returned the way they had come. But before this, and while they stood near the wall, the woman demonstrated to Hadding by an experiment that the walled place had a strange nature. She jerked the head off a chicken which she had taken with her, and threw it over the wall, but the head came back to the neck of the chicken, and with a distinct crow it announced "that it had regained its life and breath."



The series of traditions above narrated in regard to Odainsaker, the Glittering Plains, and their ruler Gudmund, and also in regard to the neighbouring domains as habitations of the souls of the dead, extends, so far as the age of their recording in writing is concerned, through a period of considerable length. The latest cannot be referred to an earlier date than the fourteenth century; the oldest were put in writing toward the close of the twelfth. Saxo began working on his history between the years 1179 and 1186. Thus these literary evidences span about two centuries, and stop near the threshold of heathendom. The generation to which Saxo's father belonged witnessed the crusade which Sigurd the Crusader made in[Pg 320] Eastern Smaland, in whose forests the Asa-doctrine until that time seems to have prevailed, and the Odinic religion is believed to have flourished in the more remote parts of Sweden even in Saxo's own time.

We must still add to this series of documents one which is to carry it back another century, and even more. This document is a saga told by Adam of Bremen in De Situ Danić. Adam, or, perhaps, before him, his authority Adalbert (appointed archbishop in the year 1043), has turned the saga into history, and made it as credible as possible by excluding all distinctly mythical elements. And as it, doubtless for this reason, neither mentions a place which can be compared with Odainsaker or with the Glittering Plains, I have omitted it among the literary evidences above quoted. Nevertheless, it reminds us in its main features of Saxo's account of Gorm's journey of discovery, and its relation both to it and to the still older myth shall be shown later (see No. 94). In the form in which Adam heard the saga, its point of departure has been located in Friesland, not in Denmark. Frisian noblemen make a voyage past Norway up to the farthest limits of the Arctic Ocean, get into a darkness which the eyes scarcely can penetrate, are exposed to a maelstrom which threatens to drag them down ad Chaos, but finally come quite unexpectedly out of darkness and cold to an island which, surrounded as by a wall of high rocks, contains subterranean caverns, wherein giants lie concealed. At the entrances of the underground dwellings lay a great number of tubs and vessels of gold and other metals which "to mortals seem rare and valuable." As much[Pg 321] as the adventurers could carry of these treasures they took with them and hastened to their ships. But the giants, represented by great dogs, rushed after them. One of the Frisians was overtaken and torn into pieces before the eyes of the others. The others succeeded, thanks to our Lord and to Saint Willehad, in getting safely on board their ships.



If we consider the position of the authors or recorders of these sagas in relation to the views they present in regard to Odainsaker and the Glittering Plains, then we find that they themselves, with or without reason, believe that these views are from a heathen time and of heathen origin. The saga of Erik Vidforle states that its hero had in his own native land, and in his heathen environment, heard reports about Odainsaker. The Miklagard king who instructs the prince in the doctrines of Christianity knows, on the other hand, nothing of such a country. He simply conjectures that the Odainsaker of the heathens must be the same as the Paradise of the Christians, and the saga later makes this conjecture turn out to be incorrect.

The author of Hervor's saga mentions Odainsaker as a heathen belief, and tries to give reasons why it was believed in heathen times that Odainsaker was situated within the limits of Gudmund's kingdom, the Glittering Plains. The reason is: "Gudmund and his men be[Pg 322]came so old that they lived through several generations (Gudmund lived five hundred years), and therefore the heathens believed that Odainsaker was situated in his domain."

The man who compiled the legend about Helge Thoreson connects it with the history of King Olaf Trygveson, and pits this first king of Norway, who laboured for the introduction of Christianity, as a representative of the new and true doctrine against King Gudmund of the Glittering Plains as the representative of the heathen doctrine. The author would not have done this if he had not believed that the ruler of the Glittering Plains had his ancestors in heathendom.

The saga of Thorstein Bćarmagn puts Gudmund and the Glittering Plains in a tributary relation to Jotunheim and to Geirrod, the giant, well known in the mythology.

Saxo makes Gudmund Geirrod's (Geruthus') brother, and he believes he is discussing ancient traditions when he relates Gorm's journey of discovery and Hadding's journey to Jotunheim. Gorm's reign is referred by Saxo to the period immediately following the reign of the mythical King Snö (Snow) and the emigration of the Longobardians. Hadding's descent to the lower world occurred, according to Saxo, in an antiquity many centuries before King Snow. Hadding is, in Saxo, one of the first kings of Denmark, the grandson of Skjold, progenitor of the Skjoldungs.

The saga of Erik Vidforle makes the way to Odainsaker pass through Syria, India, and an unknown land which wants the light of the sun, and where the stars[Pg 323] are visible all day long. On the other side of Odainsaker, and bordering on it, lies the land of the happy spirits, Paradise.

That these last ideas have been influenced by Christianity would seem to be sufficiently clear. Nor do we find a trace of Syria, India, and Paradise as soon as we leave this saga and pass to the others, in the chain of which it forms one of the later links. All the rest agree in transferring to the uttermost North the land which must be reached before the journey can be continued to the Glittering Plains and Odainsaker. Hervor's saga says that the Glittering Plains and Odainsaker are situated north of Halogaland, in Jotunheim; Herrod's and Bose's saga states that they are situated in the vicinity of Bjarmaland. The saga of Thorstein Bćarmagn says that they are a kingdom subject to Geirrod in Jotunheim. Gorm's saga in Saxo says it is necessary to sail past Halogaland north to a Bjarmia ulterior in order to get to the kingdoms of Gudmund and Geirrod. The saga of Helge Thoreson makes its hero meet the daughters of Gudmund, the ruler of the Glittering Plains, after a voyage to Finmarken. Hadding's saga in Saxo makes the Danish king pay a visit to the unknown but wintry cold land of the "Nitherians," when he is invited to make a journey to the lower world. Thus the older and common view was that he who made the attempt to visit the Glittering Plains and Odainsaker must first penetrate the regions of the uttermost North, known only by hearsay.

Those of the sagas which give us more definite local descriptions in addition to this geographical information[Pg 324] all agree that the region which forms, as it were, a foreground to the Glittering Plains and Odainsaker is a land over which the darkness of night broods. As just indicated, Erik Vidforle's saga claims that the stars there are visible all day long. Gorm's saga in Saxo makes the Danish adventurers leave sun and stars behind to continue the journey sub Chao. Darkness, fogs, and mists envelop Hadding before he gets sight of the splendidly-clad proceres who dwell down there, and the shining meadows whose flowers are never visited by winter. The Frisian saga in Adam of Bremen also speaks of a gloom which must be penetrated ere one reaches the land where rich giants dwell in subterranean caverns.

Through this darkness one comes, according to the saga of Erik Vidforle, to a plain full of flowers, delicious fragrances, rivers of honey (a Biblical idea, but see Nos. 89, 123), and perpetual light. A river separates this plain from the land of the spirits.

Through the same darkness, according to Gorm's saga, one comes to Gudmund's Glittering Plains, where there is a pleasure-farm bearing delicious fruits, while in that Bjarmaland whence the Glittering Plains can be reached reign eternal winter and cold. A river separates the Glittering Plains from two or more other domains, of which at least one is the home of departed souls. There is a bridge of gold across the river to another region, "which separates that which is mortal from the superhuman," and on whose soil a mortal being must not set his foot. Further on one can pass in a boat across the river to a land which is the place of punishment for the damned and a resort of ghosts.[Pg 325]

Through the same darkness one comes, according to Hadding's saga, to a subterranean land where flowers grow in spite of the winter which reigns on the surface of the earth. The land of flowers is separated from the Elysian fields of those fallen in battle by a river which hurls about in its eddies spears and other weapons.

These statements from different sources agree with each other in their main features. They agree that the lower world is divided into two main parts by a river, and that departed souls are found only on the farther side of the river.

The other main part on this side the river thus has another purpose than that of receiving the happy or damned souls of the dead. There dwells, according to Gorm's saga, the giant Gudmund, with his sons and daughters. There are also the Glittering Plains, since these, according to Hervor's, Herrod's, Thorstein Bćarmagn's, and Helge Thoreson's sagas, are ruled by Gudmund.

Some of the accounts cited say that the Glittering Plains are situated in Jotunheim. This statement does not contradict the fact that they are situated in the lower world. The myths mention two Jotunheims, and hence the Eddas employ the plural form, Jotunheimar. One of the Jotunheims is located on the surface of the earth in the far North and East, separated from the Midgard inhabited by man by the uttermost sea or the Elivogs (Gylfaginning, 8). The other Jotunheim is subterranean. According to Vafthrudnismal (31), one of the roots of the world-tree extends down "to the frost[Pg 326]-giants." Urd and her sisters, who guard one of the fountains of Ygdrasil's roots, are giantesses. Mimer, who guards another fountain in the lower world, is called a giant. That part of the world which is inhabited by the goddesses of fate and by Mimer is thus inhabited by giants, and is a subterranean Jotunheim. Both these Jotunheims are connected with each other. From the upper there is a path leading to the lower. Therefore those traditions recorded in a Christian age, which we are here discussing, have referred to the Arctic Ocean and the uttermost North as the route for those who have the desire and courage to visit the giants of the lower world.

When it is said in Hadding's saga that he on the other side of the subterranean river saw the shades of heroes fallen by the sword arrayed in line of battle and contending with each other, then this is no contradiction of the myth, according to which the heroes chosen on the battle-field come to Asgard and play their warlike games on the plains of the world of the gods.

In Völuspa (str. 24) we read that when the first "folk"-war broke out in the world, the citadel of Odin and his clan was stormed by the Vans, who broke through its bulwark and captured Asgard. In harmony with this, Saxo (Hist., i.) relates that at the time when King Hadding reigned Odin was banished from his power and lived for some time in exile (see Nos. 36-41).

It is evident that no great battles can have been fought, and that there could not have been any great number of sword-fallen men, before the first great "folk"[Pg 327]war broke out in the world. Otherwise this war would not have been the first. Thus Valhal has not before this war had those hosts of einherjes who later are feasted in Valfather's hall. But as Odin, after the breaking out of this war, is banished from Valhal and Asgard, and does not return before peace is made between the Asas and Vans, then none of the einherjes chosen by him could be received in Valhal during the war. Hence it follows that the heroes fallen in this war, though chosen by Odin, must have been referred to some other place than Asgard (excepting, of course, all those chosen by the Vans, in case they chose einherjes, which is probable, for the reason that the Vanadis Freyja gets, after the reconciliation with Odin, the right to divide with him the choice of the slain). This other place can nowhere else be so appropriately looked for as in the lower world, which we know was destined to receive the souls of the dead. And as Hadding, who, according to Saxo, descended to the lower world, is, according to Saxo, the same Hadding during whose reign Odin was banished from Asgard, then it follows that the statement of the saga, making him see in the lower world those warlike games which else are practised on Asgard's plains, far from contradicting the myth, on the contrary is a consequence of the connection of the mythical events.

The river which is mentioned in Erik Vidforle's, Gorm's, and Hadding's sagas has its prototype in the mythic records. When Hermod on Sleipner rides to the lower world (Gylfaginning, 10) he first journeys through a dark country (compare above) and then comes[Pg 328] to the river Gjöll, over which there is the golden bridge called the Gjallar bridge. On the other side of Gjöll is the Helgate, which leads to the realm of the dead. In Gorm's saga the bridge across the river is also of gold, and it is forbidden mortals to cross to the other side.

A subterranean river hurling weapons in its eddies is mentioned in Völuspa, 33. In Hadding's saga we also read of a weapon-hurling river which forms the boundary of the Elysium of those slain by the sword.

In Vegtamskvida is mentioned an underground dog, bloody about the breast, coming from Nifelhel, the proper place of punishment. In Gorm's saga the bulwark around the city of the damned is guarded by great dogs. The word "nifel" (nifl, the German Nebel), which forms one part of the word Nifelhel, means mist, fog. In Gorm's saga the city in question is most like a cloud of vapour (vaporanti maxime nubi simile).

Saxo's description of that house of torture, which is found within the city, is not unlike Völuspa's description of that dwelling of torture called Nastrand. In Saxo the floor of the house consists of serpents wattled together, and the roof of sharp stings. In Völuspa the hall is made of serpents braided together, whose heads from above spit venom down on those dwelling there. Saxo speaks of soot a century old on the door frames; Völuspa of ljórar, air- and smoke-openings in the roof (see further Nos. 77 and 78).

Saxo himself points out that the Geruthus (Geirrödr) mentioned by him, and his famous daughters, belong to the myth about the Asa-god Thor. That Geirrod after[Pg 329] his death is transferred to the lower world is no contradiction to the heathen belief, according to which beautiful or terrible habitations await the dead, not only of men but also of other beings. Compare Gylfaginning, ch. 46, where Thor with one blow of his Mjolner sends a giant nidr undir Niflhel (see further, No. 60).

As Mimer's and Urd's fountains are found in the lower world (see Nos. 63, 93), and as Mimer is mentioned as the guardian of Heimdal's horn and other treasures, it might be expected that these circumstances would not be forgotten in those stories from Christian times which have been cited above and found to have roots in the myths.

When in Saxo's saga about Gorm the Danish adventurers had left the horrible city of fog, they came to another place in the lower world where the gold-plated mead-cisterns were found. The Latin word used by Saxo, which I translate with cisterns of mead, is dolium. In the classical Latin this word is used in regard to wine-cisterns of so immense a size that they were counted among the immovables, and usually were sunk in the cellar floors. They were so large that a person could live in such a cistern, and this is also reported as having happened. That the word dolium still in Saxo's time had a similar meaning appears from a letter quoted by Du Cange, written by Saxo's younger contemporary, Bishop Gebhard. The size is therefore no obstacle to Saxo's using this word for a wine-cistern to mean the mead-wells in the lower world of Teutonic mythology. The question now is whether he actually did so, or whether the sub[Pg 330]terranean dolia in question are objects in regard to which our earliest mythic records have left us in ignorance.

In Saxo's time, and earlier, the epithets by which the mead-wells—Urd's and Mimer's—and their contents are mentioned in mythological songs had come to be applied also to those mead-buckets which Odin is said to have emptied in the halls of the giant Fjalar or Suttung. This application also lay near at hand, since these wells and these vessels contained the same liquor, and since it originally, as appears from the meaning of the words, was the liquor, and not the place where the liquor was kept, to which the epithets Odrćrir, Bodn, and Son applied. In Havamál (107) Odin expresses his joy that Odrćrir has passed out of the possession of the giant Fjalar and can be of use to the beings of the upper world. But if we may trust Bragar, (ch. 5), it is the drink and not the empty vessels that Odin takes with him to Valhal. On this supposition, it is the drink and not one of the vessels which in Havamál is called Odrćrir. In Havamál (140) Odin relates how he, through self-sacrifice and suffering, succeeded in getting runic songs up from the deep, and also a drink dipped out of Odrćrir. He who gives him the songs and the drink, and accordingly is the ruler of the fountain of the drink, is a man, "Bolthorn's celebrated son." Here again Odrćrer is one of the subterranean fountains, and no doubt Mimer's, since the one who pours out the drink is a man. But in Forspjalsljod (2) Urd's fountain is also called Odrćrer (Odhrćrir Urdar). Paraphrases for the liquor of poetry, such as "Bodn's growing billow" (Einar Skalaglam) and "Son's reed[Pg 331]grown grass edge" (Eilif Gudrunson), point to fountains or wells, not to vessels. Meanwhile a satire was composed before the time of Saxo and Sturlason about Odin's adventure at Fjalar's, and the author of this song, the contents of which the Younger Edda has preserved, calls the vessels which Odin empties at the giant's Odhrćrir, Bodn, and Són (Brogarćdur, 6). Saxo, who reveals a familiarity with the genuine heathen, or supposed heathen, poems handed down to his time, may thus have seen the epithets Odrćrir, Bodn, and Són applied both to the subterranean mead-wells and to a giant's mead-vessels. The greater reason he would have for selecting the Latin dolium to express an idea that can be accommodated to both these objects.

Over these mead-reservoirs there hang, according to Saxo's description, round-shaped objects of silver, which in close braids drop down and are spread around the seven times gold-plated walls of the mead-cisterns.[35]

Over Mimer's and Urd's fountains hang the roots of the ash Ygdrasil, which sends its root-knots and root-threads down into their waters. But not only the rootlets sunk in the water, but also the roots from which they are suspended, partake of the waters of the fountains. The norns take daily from the water and sprinkle the stem of the tree therewith, "and the water is so holy," says Gylfaginning (16), "that everything that is put in the well (consequently, also, all that which the norns daily sprinkle with the water) becomes as white as the [Pg 332] membrane between the egg and the egg-shell." Also the root over Mimer's fountain is sprinkled with its water (Völusp., Cod. R., 28), and this water, so far as its colour is concerned, seems to be of the same kind as that in Urd's fountain, for the latter is called hvítr aurr (Völusp., 18) and the former runs in aurgum forsi upon its root of the world-tree (Völusp., 28). The adjective aurigr, which describes a quality of the water in Mimer's fountain, is formed from the noun aurr, with which the liquid is described which waters the root over Urd's fountain. Ygdrasil's roots, as far up as the liquid of the wells can get to them, thus have a colour like that of "the membrane between the egg and the egg-shell," and consequently recall both as to position, form, and colour the round-shaped objects "of silver" which, according to Saxo, hang down and are intertwined in the mead-reservoirs of the lower world.

Mimer's fountain contains, as we know, the purest mead—the liquid of inspiration, of poetry, of wisdom, of understanding.

Near by Ygdrasil, according to Völuspa (27), Heimdal's horn is concealed. The seeress in Völuspa knows that it is hid "beneath the hedge-o'ershadowing holy tree."

Veit hon Heimdallar
hljod um fólgit
undir heidvönum
helgum badmi.

Near one of the mead-cisterns in the lower world[Pg 333] Gorm's men see a horn ornamented with pictures and flashing with precious stones.

Among the treasures taken care of by Mimer is the world's foremost sword and a wonderful arm-ring, smithied by the same master as made the sword (see Nos. 87, 98, 101).

Near the gorgeous horn Gorm's men see a gold-plated tooth of an animal and an arm-ring. The animal tooth becomes a sword when it is taken into the hand.[36] Near by is a treasury filled with a large number of weapons and a royal robe. Mimer is known in mythology as a collector of treasures. He is therefore called Hoddmimir, Hoddropnir, Baugregin.

Thus Gorm and his men have on their journeys in the lower world seen not only Nastrand's place of punishment in Nifelhel, but also the holy land, where Mimer reigns.

When Gorm and his men desire to cross the golden bridge and see the wonders to which it leads, Gudmund prohibits it. When they in another place farther up desire to cross the river to see what there is beyond, he consents and has them taken over in a boat. He does not deem it proper to show them the unknown land at the golden bridge, but it is within the limits of his authority to let them see the places of punishment and those regions which contain the mead-cisterns and the treasure chambers. The sagas call him the king on the Glittering Plains, and as the Glittering Plains are situated in the lower world, he must be a lower world ruler.

[Pg 334]

Two of the sagas, Helge Thoreson's and Gorm's, cast a shadow on Gudmund's character. In the former this shadow does not produce confusion or contradiction. The saga is a legend which represents Christianity, with Olaf Trygveson as its apostle, in conflict with heathenism, represented by Gudmund. It is therefore natural that the latter cannot be presented in the most favourable light. Olaf destroys with his prayers the happiness of Gudmund's daughter. He compels her to abandon her lover, and Gudmund, who is unable to take revenge in any other manner, tries to do so, as is the case with so many of the characters in saga and history, by treachery. This is demanded by the fundamental idea and tendency of the legend. What the author of the legend has heard about Gudmund's character from older saga-men, or what he has read in records, he does not, however, conceal with silence, but admits that Gudmund, aside from his heathen religion and grudge towards Olaf Trygveson, was a man in whose home one might fare well and be happy.

Saxo has preserved the shadow, but in his narrative it produces the greatest contradiction. Gudmund offers fruits, drinks, and embraces in order to induce his guests to remain with him for ever, and he does it in a tempting manner and, as it seems, with conscious cunning. Nevertheless, he shows unlimited patience when the guests insult him by accepting nothing of what he offers. When he comes down to the sea-strand, where Gorm's ships are anchored, he is greeted by the leader of the discoverers with joy, because he is "the most pious being and man's protector in perils." He conducts them in safety to his[Pg 335] castle. When a handful of them returns after the attempt to plunder the treasury of the lower world, he considers the crime sufficiently punished by the loss of life they have suffered, and takes them across the river to his own safe home; and when they, contrary to his wishes, desire to return to their native land, he loads them with gifts and sees to it that they get safely on board their ships. It follows that Saxo's sources have described Gudmund as a kind and benevolent person. Here, as in the legend about Helge Thoreson, the shadow has been thrown by younger hands upon an older background painted in bright colours.

Hervor's saga says that he was wise, mighty, in a heathen sense pious ("a great sacrificer"), and so honoured that sacrifices were offered to him, and he was worshipped as a god after death. Herrod's saga says that he was greatly skilled in magic arts, which is another expression for heathen wisdom, for fimbul-songs, runes, and incantations.

The change for the worse which Gudmund's character seems in part to have suffered is confirmed by a change connected with, and running parallel to it, in the conception of the forces in those things which belonged to the lower world of the Teutonic heathendom and to Gudmund's domain. In Saxo we find an idea related to the antique Lethe myth, according to which the liquids and plants which belong to the lower world produce forgetfulness of the past. Therefore, Thorkil (Thorkillus) warns his companions not to eat or drink any of that which Gudmund offers them. In the Gudrun song (ii.[Pg 336] 21, 22), and elsewhere, we meet with the same idea. I shall return to this subject (see No. 50).



Is Gudmund an invention of Christian times, although he is placed in an environment which in general and in detail reflects the heathen mythology? Or is there to be found in the mythology a person who has precisely the same environment and is endowed with the same attributes and qualities?

The latter form an exceedingly strange ensemble, and can therefore easily be recognized. Ruler in the lower world, and at the same time a giant. Pious and still a giant. King in a domain to which winter cannot penetrate. Within that domain an enclosed place, whose bulwark neither sickness, nor age, nor death can surmount. It is left to his power and pleasure to give admittance to the mysterious meadows, where the mead-cisterns of the lower world are found, and where the most precious of all horns, a wonderful sword, and a splendid arm-ring are kept. Old as the hills, but yet subject to death. Honoured as if he were not a giant, but a divine being. These are the features which together characterise Gudmund, and should be found in his mythological prototype, if there is one. With these peculiar characteristics are united wisdom and wealth.[Pg 337]

The answer to the question whether a mythical original of this picture is to be discovered will be given below. But before that we must call attention to some points in the Christian accounts cited in regard to Odainsaker.

Odainsaker is not made identical with the Glittering Plains, but is a separate place on them, or at all events within Gudmund's domain. Thus according to Hervor's saga. The correctness of the statement is confirmed by comparison with Gorm's and Hadding's sagas. The former mentions, as will be remembered, a place which Gudmund does not consider himself authorized to show his guests, although they are permitted to see other mysterious places in the lower world, even the mead-fountains and treasure-chambers. To the unknown place, as to Balder's subterranean dwelling, leads a golden bridge, which doubtless is to indicate the splendour of the place. The subterranean goddess, who is Hadding's guide in Hades, shows him both the Glittering Fields (loca aprica) and the plains of the dead heroes, but stops with him near a wall, which is not opened for them. The domain surrounded by the wall receives nothing which has suffered death, and its very proximity seems to be enough to keep death at bay (see No. 47).

All the sagas are silent in regard to who those beings are for whom this wonderful enclosed place is intended. Its very name, Acre-of-the-not-dead (Odainsakr), and The field-of-the-living (Jörd lifanda manna), however, makes it clear that it is not intended for the souls of the dead. This Erik Vidforle's saga is also able to state, inasmuch as it makes a definite distinction between[Pg 338] Odainsaker and the land of the spirits, between Odainsaker and Paradise. If human or other beings are found within the bulwark of the place, they must have come there as living beings in a physical sense; and when once there, they are protected from perishing, for diseases, age, and death are excluded.

Erik Vidforle and his companion find on their journey on Odainsaker only a single dwelling, a splendid one with two beds. Who the couple are who own this house, and seem to have placed it at the disposal of the travellers, is not stated. But in the night there came a beautiful lad to Erik. The author of the saga has made him an angel, who is on duty on the borders between Odainsaker and Paradise.

The purpose of Odainsaker is not mentioned in Erik Vidforle's saga. There is no intelligible connection between it and the Christian environment given to it by the saga. The ecclesiastical belief knows an earthly Paradise, that which existed in the beginning and was the home of Adam and Eve, but that it is guarded by the angel with the flaming sword, or, as Erik's saga expresses it, it is encircled by a wall of fire. In the lower world the Christian Church knows a Hades and a hell, but the path to them is through the gates of death; physically living persons, persons who have not paid tribute to death, are not found there. In the Christian group of ideas there is no place for Odainsaker. An underground place for physically living people, who are there no longer exposed to aging and death, has nothing to do in the economy of the Church. Was there occasion for it among[Pg 339] the ideas of the heathen eschatology? The above-quoted sagas say nothing about the purposes of Odainsaker. Here is therefore a question of importance to our subject, and one that demands an answer.



I dare say the most characteristic figure of Teutonic mythology is Mimer, the lord of the fountain which bears his name. The liquid contained in the fountain is the object of Odin's deepest desire. He has neither authority nor power over it. Nor does he or anyone else of the gods seek to get control of it by force. Instances are mentioned showing that Odin, to get a drink from it, must subject himself to great sufferings and sacrifices (Völuspa, Cod. Reg., 28, 29; Havamál, 138-140; Gylfag., 15), and it is as a gift or a loan that he afterwards receives from Mimer the invigorating and soul-inspiring drink (Havamál, 140, 141). Over the fountain and its territory Mimer, of course, exercises unlimited control, an authority which the gods never appear to have disputed. He has a sphere of power which the gods recognize as inviolable. The domain of his rule belongs to the lower world; it is situated under one of the roots of the world-tree (Völuspa, 28, 29; Gylfag., 15), and when Odin, from the world-tree, asks for the precious mead of the fountain, he peers downward into the deep, and thence brings up the runes (nysta ec nithr,[Pg 340] nam ec up rúnar—Havamál, 139). Saxo's account of the adventure of Hotherus (Hist., pp. 113-115, Müller's ed.) shows that there was thought to be a descent to Mimer's land in the form of a mountain cave (specus), and that this descent was, like the one to Gudmund's domain, to be found in the uttermost North, where terrible cold reigns.

Though a giant, Mimer is the friend of the order of the world and of the gods. He, like Urd, guards the sacred ash, the world-tree (Völuspa, 28), which accordingly also bears his name and is called Mimer's tree (Mimameidr—Fjolsvinsm, 20; meidr Mima—Fjolsv., 24). The intercourse between the Asa-father and him has been of such a nature that the expression "Mimer's friend" (Mimsvinr—Sonatorrek, 22; Younger Edda, i. 238, 250, 602) could be used by the skalds as an epithet of Odin. Of this friendship Ynglingasaga (ch. 4) has preserved a record. It makes Mimer lose his life in his activity for the good of the gods, and makes Odin embalm his head, in order that he may always be able to get wise counsels from its lips. The song about Sigrdrifa (str. 14) represents Odin as listening to the words of truth which come from Mimer's head. Völuspa (str. 45) predicts that Odin, when Ragnarok approaches, shall converse with Mimer's head; and, according to Gylfaginning (56), he, immediately before the conflagration of the world, rides to Mimer's fountain to get advice from the deep thinker for himself and his friends. The firm friendship between Alfather and this strange giant of the lower world was formed in time's morning while Odin[Pg 341] was still young and undeveloped (Hav., 141), and continued until the end of the gods and the world.

Mimer is the collector of treasures. The same treasures as Gorm and his men found in the land which Gudmund let them visit are, according to mythology, in the care of Mimer. The wonderful horn (Völuspa, 28), the sword of victory, and the ring (Saxo, Hist., 113, 114; cp. Nos. 87, 97, 98, 101, 103).

In all these points the Gudmund of the middle-age sagas and Mimer of the mythology are identical. There still remains an important point. In Gudmund's domain there is a splendid grove, an enclosed place, from which weaknesses, age, and death are banished—a Paradise of the peculiar kind, that it is not intended for the souls of the dead, but for certain lifandi menn, yet inaccessible to people in general. In the myth concerning Mimer we also find such a grove.



The grove is called after its ruler and guardian, Mimer's or Treasure-Mimer's grove (Mimis holt—Younger Edda, Upsala Codex; Gylfag., 58; Hoddmimis holt—Vafthrudnism, 45; Gylfag., 58).

Gylfaginning describes the destruction of the world and its regeneration, and then relates how the earth, rising out of the sea, is furnished with human inhabitants. "During the conflagration (i Surtarloga) two[Pg 342] persons are concealed in Treasure-Mimer's grove. Their names are Lif (Lif) and Leifthraser (Leifthrasir), and they feed on the morning dews. From them come so great an offspring that all the world is peopled."

In support of its statement Gylfaginning quotes Vafthrudnersmal. This poem makes Odin and the giant Vafthrudner (Vafthrúdnir) put questions to each other, and among others Odin asks this question:

Fiolth ec for,
fiolth ec freistathac,
fiolth ec um reynda regin:
hvat lifir manna,
tha er inn mćra lithr
fimbulvetr meth firom?

"Much I have travelled, much I have tried, much I have tested the powers. What human persons shall still live when the famous fimbul-winter has been in the world?"

Vafthrudner answers:

Lif oc Leifthrasir,
enn thau leynaz muno
i holti Hoddmimis;
thau ser at mat hafa
enn thadan af aldir alaz.

"Lif and Leifthraser (are still living); they are concealed in Hodd-Mimer's grove. They have morning dews for nourishment. Thence (from Hodd-Mimer's grove and this human pair) are born (new) races."

Gylfaginning says that the two human beings, Lif and Leifthraser, who become the progenitors of the races that[Pg 343] are to people the earth after Ragnarok, are concealed during the conflagration of the world in Hodd-Mimer's grove. This is, beyond doubt, in accordance with mythic views. But mythologists, who have not paid sufficient attention to what Gylfaginning's source (Vafthrudnersmal) has to say on the subject, have from the above expression drawn a conclusion which implies a complete misunderstanding of the traditions in regard to Hodd-Mimer's grove and the human pair therein concealed. They have assumed that Lif and Leifthraser are, like all other people living at that time, inhabitants of the surface of the earth at the time when the conflagration of the world begins. They have explained Mimer's grove to mean the world-tree, and argued that when Surt's flames destroy all other mortals this one human pair have succeeded in climbing upon some particular branch of the world-tree, where they were protected from the destructive element. There they were supposed to live on morning dews until the end of Ragnarok, and until they could come down from their hiding-place in Ygdrasil upon the earth which has risen from the sea, and there become the progenitors of a more happy human race.

According to this interpretation, Ygdrasil was a tree whose trunk and branches could be grasped by human hands, and one or more mornings, with attendant morning dews, are assumed to have come and gone, while fire and flames enveloped all creation, and after the sun had been swallowed by the wolf and the stars had fallen from the heavens (Gylfag., 55; Völusp., 54)! And with this terrible catastrophe before their eyes, Lif and Leifthraser[Pg 344] are supposed to sit in perfect unconcern, eating the morning dews!

For the scientific reputation of mythical inquiry it were well if that sort of investigations were avoided when they are not made necessary by the sources themselves.

If sufficient attention had been paid to the above-cited evidence furnished by Vafthrudnersmal in this question, the misunderstanding might have been avoided, and the statement of Gylfaginning would not have been interpreted to mean that Lif and Leifthraser inhabited Mimer's grove only during Ragnarok. For Vafthrudnersmal plainly states that this human pair are in perfect security in Mimer's grove, while a long and terrible winter, a fimbul-winter, visits the earth and destroys its inhabitants. Not until after the end of this winter do giants and gods collect their forces for a decisive conflict on Vigrid's plains; and when this conflict is ended, then comes the conflagration of the world, and after it the regeneration. Anent the length of the fimbul-winter, Gylfaginning (ch. 55) claims that it continued for three years "without any intervening summer."

Consequently Lif and Leifthraser must have had their secure place of refuge in Mimer's grove during the fimbul-winter, which precedes Ragnarok. And, accordingly, the idea that they were there only during Ragnarok, and all the strange conjectures based thereon, are unfounded. They continue to remain there while the winter rages, and during all the episodes which characterise the progress of the world towards ruin, and, finally, also, as Gylfaginning reports, during the conflagration and regeneration of the world.[Pg 345]

Thus it is explained why the myth finds it of importance to inform us how Lif and Leifthraser support themselves during their stay in Mimer's grove. It would not have occurred to the myth to present and answer this question had not the sojourn of the human pair in the grove continued for some length of time. Their food is the morning dew. The morning dew from Ygdrasil was, according to the mythology, a sweet and wonderful nourishment, and in the popular traditions of the Teutonic middle age the dew of the morning retained its reputation for having strange, nourishing qualities. According to the myth, it evaporates from the world-tree, which stands, ever green and blooming, over Urd's and Mimer's sacred fountains, and drops thence "in dales" (Völuspa, 18, 28; Gylfag., 16). And as the world-tree is sprinkled and gets its life-giving sap from these fountains, then it follows that the liquid of its morning dew is substantially the same as that of the subterranean fountains, which contain the elixir of life, wisdom, and poesy (cp. Nos. 72, 82, and elsewhere).

At what time Mimer's grove was opened as an asylum for Lif and Leifthraser, whether this happened during or shortly before the fimbul-winter, or perchance long before it, on this point there is not a word in the passages quoted from Vafthrudnersmal. But by the following investigation the problem shall be solved.

The Teutonic mythology has not looked upon the regeneration of the world as a new creation. The life which in time's morning developed out of chaos is not destroyed by Surt's flames, but rescues itself, purified, for the[Pg 346] coming age of the world. The world-tree survives the conflagration, for it defies both edge and fire (Fjolsvinnsm, 20, 21). The Ida-plains are not annihilated. After Ragnarok, as in the beginning of time, they are the scene of the assemblings of the gods (Völuspa, 57; cp. 7). Vanaheim is not affected by the destruction, for Njord shall in aldar rauc (Vafthrudnersmal, 39) return thither "to wise Vans." Odin's dwellings of victory remain, and are inhabited after regeneration by Balder and Hödr (Völuspa, 59). The new sun is the daughter of the old one, and was born before Ragnarok (Vafthr., 47), which she passes through unscathed. The ocean does not disappear in Ragnarok, for the present earth sinks beneath its surface (Völuspa, 54), and the new earth after regeneration rises from its deep (Völuspa, 55). Gods survive (Völuspa, 53, 56; Vafthr. 51; Gylfag., 58). Human beings survive, for Lif and Leifthraser are destined to become the connecting link between the present human race and the better race which is to spring therefrom. Animals and plants survive—though the animals and plants on the surface of the earth perish; but the earth risen from the sea was decorated with green, and there is not the slightest reference to a new act of creation to produce the green vegetation. Its cascades contain living beings, and over them flies the eagle in search of his prey (Völuspa, 56; see further, No. 55). A work of art from antiquity is also preserved in the new world. The game of dice, with which the gods played in their youth while they were yet free from care, is found again among the flowers on the new earth (Völuspa, 8, 58; see further, No. 55).[Pg 347]

If the regeneration had been conceived as a new creation, a wholly new beginning of life, then the human race of the new era would also have started from a new creation of a human pair. The myth about Lif and Leifthraser would then have been unnecessary and superfluous. But the fundamental idea is that the life of the new era is to be a continuation of the present life purified and developed to perfection, and from the standpoint of this fundamental idea Lif and Leifthraser are necessary.

The idea of improvement and perfection are most clearly held forth in regard to both the physical and spiritual condition of the future world. All that is weak and evil shall be redeemed (bauls mun allz batna—Völuspa, 59). In that perfection of nature the fields unsown by men shall yield their harvests. To secure the restored world against relapse into the faults of the former, the myth applies radical measures—so radical, that the Asa majesty himself, Valfather, must retire from the scene, in order that his son, the perfectly blameless Balder, may be the centre in the assembly of the chosen gods. But the mythology would fail in its purpose if it did not apply equally radical measures in the choice and care of the human beings who are to perpetuate our race after Ragnarok; for if the progenitors have within them the seed of corruption, it will be developed in their descendants.

Has the mythology forgotten to meet this logical claim? The demand is no greater than that which is made in reference to every product of the fancy of whatever age. I do not mean to say that a logical claim[Pg 348] made on the mythology, or that a conclusion which may logically be drawn from the premises of the mythology, is to be considered as evidence that the claim has actually been met by the mythology, and that the mythology itself has been developed into its logical conclusion. I simply want to point out what the claim is, and in the next place I desire to investigate whether there is evidence that the claim has been honoured.

From the standpoint that there must be a logical harmony in the mythological system, it is necessary:

1. That Lif and Leifthraser when they enter their asylum, Mimer's grove, are physically and spiritually uncorrupted persons.

2. That during their stay in Mimer's grove they are protected against:

(a) Spiritual degradation.

(b) Physical degradation.

(c) Against everything threatening their very existence.

So far as the last point (2c) is concerned, we know already from Vafthrudnersmal that the place of refuge they received in the vicinity of those fountains, which, with never-failing veins, nourish the life of the world-tree, is approached neither by the frost of the fimbul-winter nor by the flames of Ragnarok. This claim is, therefore, met completely.

In regard to the second point (2b), the above-cited mythic traditions have preserved from the days of heathendom the memory of a grove in the subterranean domain of Gudmund-Mimer, set aside for living men, not[Pg 349] for the dead, and protected against sickness, aging, and death. Thus this claim is met also.

As to the third point (2a), all we know at present is that there, in the lower world, is found an enclosed place, the very one which death cannot enter, and from which even those mortals are banished by divine command who are admitted to the holy fountains and treasure chambers of the lower world, and who have been permitted to see the regions of bliss and places of punishment there. It would therefore appear that all contact between those who dwell there and those who take part in the events of our world is cut off. The realms of Mimer and the lower world have, according to the sagas—and, as we shall see later, according to the myths themselves—now and then been opened to bold adventurers, who have seen their wonders, looked at their remarkable fountains, their plains for the amusement of the shades of heroes, and their places of punishment of the wicked. But there is one place which has been inaccessible to them, a field proclaimed inviolable by divine command (Gorm's saga), a place surrounded by a wall, which can be entered only by such beings as can pass through the smallest crevices (Hadding's saga).[37] But that this difficulty of entrance also was meant to exclude the moral evil, by which the mankind of our age is stained, is not expressly stated.

Thus we have yet to look and see whether the original documents from the heathen times contain any statements which can shed light on this subject. In regard

[Pg 350]

to the point (1), the question it contains as to whether the mythology conceived Lif and Leifthraser as physically and morally undefiled at the time when they entered Mimer's grove, can only be solved if we, in the old records, can find evidence that a wise, foreseeing power opened Mimer's grove as asylum for them, at a time when mankind as a whole had not yet become the prey of physical and moral misery. But in that very primeval age in which the most of the events of mythology are supposed to have happened, creation had already become the victim of corruption. There was a time when the life of the gods was happiness and the joy of youthful activity; the condition of the world did not cause them anxiety, and, free from care, they amused themselves with the wonderful dice (Völuspa, 7, 8). But the golden age ended in physical and moral catastrophies. The air was mixed with treacherous evil; Freyja, the goddess of fertility and modesty, was treacherously delivered into the hands of the frost giants; on the earth the sorceress Heid (Heid) strutted about teaching the secrets of black magic, which was hostile to the gods and hurtful to man. The first great war broke out in the world (Völuspa, 21, 22, 26). The effects of this are felt down through the historical ages even to Ragnarok. The corruption of nature culminates in the fimbul-winter of the last days; the corruption of mankind has its climax in "the axe- and knife-ages." The separation of Lif and Leifthraser from their race and confinement in Mimer's grove must have occurred before the above catastrophies in time's beginning, if there is to be a guarantee that the[Pg 351] human race of the new world is not to inherit and develop the defects and weaknesses of the present historical generations.

(Continuation of Part IV in Volume II.)


[1] Viktor Rydberg styles his work Researches in Germanic Mythology, but after consultation with the Publishers, the Translator decided to use the word Teutonic instead of Germanic both in the title and in the body of the work. In English, the words German, Germany, and Germanic are ambiguous. The Scandinavians and Germans have the words Tyskland, tysk, Deutschland, deutsch, when they wish to refer to the present Germany, and thus it is easy for them to adopt the words German and Germanisk to describe the Germanic or Teutonic peoples collectively. The English language applies the above word Dutch not to Germany, but to Holland, and it is necessary to use the words German and Germany in translating deutsch, Deutschland, tysk, and Tyskland. Teutonic has already been adopted by Max Müller and other scholars in England and America as a designation of all the kindred branches sprung from one and the same root, and speaking dialects of the same original tongue. The words Teuton, Teutonic, and Teutondom also have the advantage over German and Germanic that they are of native growth and not borrowed from a foreign language. In the following pages, therefore, the word Teutonic will be used to describe Scandinavians, Germans, Anglo-Saxons, &c., collectively, while German will be used exclusively in regard to Germany proper.—Translator.

[2] Compare O. Schrader, Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte (1883).

[3] As much land as can be ploughed in a day.

[4] A translation of the Younger or Prose Edda was edited by R. B. Anderson and published by S. C. Griggs & Co., Chicago, in 1881.


"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.

[6] Saturday is in the North called Löverdag, Lördag—that is, Laugardag=bathday.—Tr.

[7] The snow-skate, used so extensively in the north of Europe, is called Ski in the Norse, and I have taken the liberty of introducing this word here and spelling it phonetically—skee, pl. skees. The words snow-shoes, snow-skates, hardly describe sufficiently these skees used by the Finns, Norsemen, and Icelanders. Compare the English word skid, the drag applied to a coach-wheel.—Tr.

[8] Geijer has partly indicated its significance in Svea Rikes Häfder, where he says: "The tradition anent Sceaf is remarkable, as it evidently has reference to the introduction of agriculture, and shows that it was first introduced in the most southern part of Scandinavia."

[9] The Beowulf poem has the name Scedeland (Scandia): compare the name Skâdan in De origine Longobardorum. Ethelwerd writes: "Ipse Skef cum uno dromone advectus est in insulam Oceani, quć dicitur Scani, armis circumdatus," &c.

[10] Matthćus Westmonast. translates this name with frumenti manipulus, a sheaf.

[11] The first nine books of Saxo form a labyrinth constructed out of myths related as history, but the thread of Ariadne seems to be wanting. On this account it might be supposed that Saxo had treated the rich mythical materials at his command in an arbitrary and unmethodical manner; and we must bear in mind that these mythic materials were far more abundant in his time than they were in the following centuries, when they were to be recorded by the Icelandic authors. This supposition is, however, wrong. Saxo has examined his sources methodically and with scrutiny, and has handled them with all due reverence, when he assumed the desperate task of constructing, by the aid of the mythic traditions and heroic poems at hand, a chronicle spanning several centuries—a chronicle in which fifty to sixty successive rulers were to be brought upon the stage and off again, while myths and heroic traditions embrace but few generations, and most mythic persons continue to exist through all ages. In the very nature of the case, Saxo was obliged, in order to solve this problem, to put his material on the rack; but a thorough study of the above-mentioned books of his history shows that he treated the delinquent with consistency. The simplest of the rules he followed was to avail himself of the polyonomy with which the myths and heroic poems are overloaded, and to do so in the following manner:

Assume that a person in the mythic or heroic poems had three or four names or epithets (he may have had a score). We will call this person A, and the different forms of his name A', A'', A'''. Saxo's task of producing a chain of events running through many centuries forced him to consider the three names A', A'', and A''' as originally three persons, who had performed certain similar exploits, and therefore had, in course of time, been confounded with each other, and blended by the authors of myths and stories into one person A. As best he can, Saxo tries to resolve this mythical product, composed, in his opinion, of historical elements, and to distribute the exploits attributed to A between A', A'', and A'''. It may also be that one or more of the stories applied to A were found more or less varied in different sources. In such cases he would report the same stories with slight variations about A', A'', and A'''. The similarities remaining form one important group of indications which he has furnished to guide us, but which can assure us that our investigation is in the right course only when corroborated by indications belonging to other groups, or corroborated by statements preserved in other sources.

But in the events which Saxo in this manner relates about A', A'', and A''', other persons are also mentioned. We will assume that in the myths and heroic poems these have been named B and C. These, too, have in the songs of the skalds had several names and epithets. B has also been called B', B'', B'''. C has also been styled C', C'', C'''. Out of this one subordinate person B, Saxo, by the aid of the abundance of names, makes as many subordinate persons—B', B'', and B'''—as he made out of the original chief person A—that is, the chief persons A', A'', and A'''. Thus also with C, and in this way we got the following analogies:

A' is to B' and C' as
A'' B'' C'' and as
A''' B''' C'''.

By comparing all that is related concerning these nine names, we are enabled gradually to form a more or less correct idea of what the original myth has contained in regard to A, B, and C. If it then happens—as is often the case—that two or more of the names A', B', C', &c., are found in Icelandic or other documents, and there belong to persons whose adventures are in some respects the same, and in other respects are made clearer and more complete, by what Saxo tells about A', A'', and A''', &c., then it is proper to continue the investigation in the direction thus started. If, then, every new step brings forth new confirmations from various sources, and if a myth thus restored easily dovetails itself into an epic cycle of myths, and there forms a necessary link in the chain of events, then the investigation has produced the desired result.

An aid in the investigation is not unfrequently the circumstance that the names at Saxo's disposal were not sufficient for all points in the above scheme. We then find analogies which open for us, so to speak, short cuts—for instance, as follows:

A' is to B' and C' as
A'' B' C'' and as
A''' B'' C'.

The parallels given in the text above are a concrete example of the above scheme. For we have seen—

A=Halfdan, trebled in A'=Gram, A''=Halfdan Berggram, A'''=Halfdan

B=Ebbo (Ebur, Ibor, Jöfurr), trebled in B'=Henricus, B''=Ebbo,

C doubled in C'=Svipdag, and C''=Ericus.

[12] Sol is feminine in the Teutonic tongues.—Tr.

[13] That some one of the gods has worn a helmet with such a crown can be seen on one of the golden horns found near Gallehuus. There twice occurs a being wearing a helmet furnished with long, curved, sharp pointed horns. Near him a ram is drawn and in his hand he has something resembling a staff which ends in a circle, and possibly is intended to represent Heimdal's horn.

[14] Elsewhere it shall be shown that the heroes mentioned in the middle age poetry under the names Valdere, Walther, Waltharius manufortis, and Valthere of Vaskasten are all variations of the name of the same mythic type changed into a human hero, and the same, too, as Ivalde of the Norse documents (see No. 123).

[15] Urd, the chief goddess of fate. See the treatise "Mythen om Under-jorden."

[16] Dayling = bright son of day or light.

[17] Proofs of Thjasse's original identity with Volund are given in Nos. 113-115.

[18] In Völuspa the wood is called both Jarnvidr, Gaglvidr (Cod. Reg.), and Galgvidr (Cod. Hauk.). It may be that we here have a fossil word preserved in Völuspa meaning metal. Perhaps the wood was a copper or bronze forest before it became an iron wood. Compare ghalgha, ghalghi (Fick., ii. 578) = metal, which, again, is to be compared with Chalkos. = copper, bronze.

[19] In Bragarćdur's pseudo-mythic account of the Skaldic mead (Younger Edda, 216 ff.) the name Fjalarr also appears. In regard to the value of this account, see the investigation in No. 89.

[20] Ynglingasaga is the opening chapters of Snorre Sturlason's Heimskringla.

[21] The author of Bragarćdur in the Younger Edda has understood this passage to mean that the Asas, when they saw Thjasse approaching, carried out a lot of shavings, which were kindled (!)

[22] In the same poem the elf-artist, Dáinn, and the "dwarf"-artist, Dvalinn, are symbolised as stags, the wanderer Ratr (see below) as a squirrel, the wolf-giant Grafvitner's sons as serpents, the bridge Bifrost as a fish (see No. 93), &c. Fortunately for the comprehension of our mythic records such symbolising is confined to a few strophes in the poem named, and these strophes appear to have belonged originally to an independent song which made a speciality of that sort of symbolism, and to have been incorporated in Grimnismal in later times.

[23] Filii Gram, Guthormus et Hadingus, quorum alterum Gro, alterum Signe enixa est, Svipdagero Daniam obtinente, per educatorem suum Brache nave Svetiam deportati, Vagnophto et Haphlio gigantibus non solum alendi, verum etiam defensandi traduntur (Saxo Hist., 34).

[24] The form Loki is also duplicated by the form Lokr. The latter is preserved in the sense of "effeminated man," found in myths concerning Loke. Compare the phrase "veykr Lokr" with "hinn veyki Loki."

[25] The crooked sword, as it appears from several passages in the sagas, has long been regarded by our heathen ancestors as a foreign form of weapon, used by the giants, but not by the gods or by the heroes of Midgard.

[26] Compare Fornald., ii. 118, where the hero of the saga cries to Gusi, who comes running after him with "2 hreina ok vagn"—

Skrid thu af kjalka,
Kyrr thu hreina,
seggr sidförull
seg hvattu heitir!

[27] Compare the double forms Trigo, Thrygir; Ivarus, Yvarus; Sibbo, Sybbo; Siritha, Syritha; Sivardus, Syvardus; Hibernia, Hybernia; Isora, Ysora.

[28] Deseruit eum (Hun) quoque Uggerus vates, vir ćtatis incognitć et supra humanum terminum prolixć; qui Frothonem transfugć titulo petens quidquid ab Hunis parabatur edocuit (Hist., 238).

[29] Compare the passage, Eirikr konungr fylkti svá lidi sinu, at rani (the swine-snout) var á framan á fylkinganni, ok lukt allt útan med skjaldbjorg, (Fornm., xi. 304), with the passage quoted in this connection: hildingr fylkti Hamalt lidi miklu.

[30] The saga of Sigurd Fafnersbane, which absorbed materials from all older sagas, has also incorporated this episode. On a sea-journey Sigurd takes on board a man who calls himself Hnikarr (a name of Odin). He advises him to "fylkja Hamalt" (Sig. Fafn., ii. 16-23).

[31] In nearly all the names of members of this family, Hild- or -brand, appears as a part of the compound word. All that the names appear to signify is that their owners belong to the Hilding race. Examples:—

[32] Compare in Asmund Kćmpebane's saga the words of the dying hero:

thik Drott of bar
af Danmorku
en mik sjálfan
á Svithiodu.

[33] The texts of Jordanes often omit the aspirate and write Eruli for Heruli, &c. In regard to the name-form Amal, Closs remarks, in his edition of 1886: Amal, sic, Ambr. cum Epit. et Pall, nisi quod hi Hamal aspirate.

[34] Cujus transeundi cupidos revocavit, docens, eo alveo humana a monstrosis rerum secrevisse naturam, nec mortalibus ultra fas esse vestigiis.

[35] Inde digressis dolia septem zonis aureis circumligata panduntur, quibus pensiles ex argento circuli crebros inseruerant nexus.

[36] The word biti= a tooth (cp. bite) becomes in the composition leggbiti, the name of a sword.

[37] Prodcuntibus murus aditu transcensuque difficilis obsistebat, quem femina (the subterranean goddess who is Hadding's guide) nequicquam transilire conata cum ne corrugati quidem exilitate proficeret (Saxo, Hist. Dan., i. 51).

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Teutonic Mythology,  Vol. 1 of 3, by 
Viktor Rydberg, Ph.D.


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