Review of Lecture 1 What is a myth? • A myth is a traditional story of gods or godlike beings that is used to relate the worldview of a people or to explain a practice, a belief or a natural phenomenon. • There are many ways to interpret or understand myths. Our knowledge of Germanic mythology is incomplete and often untrustworthy, because most texts were written down by Christian authors. • Germanic myths tell us very little about the actual historical practices, ceremonies and rituals of Germanic religion. What is a Legend? • A legend is a traditional story of ostensibly historical events and mortal or semi-divine heroes, often interacting with gods. • Many legends deal with historical events, though usually in a highly fictionalized fashion. • Many legends, like myths, reflect the social or political world view or mentality of a people or a culture. • Germanic legends were originally oral tales; their transformation into written literature often occurred several hundred years after the events they describe. What is a folk tale? • Folk tales, like fairy tales, are traditional stories told usually about common people that reflect the worldview of a rural or village population. • Fantastical elements commonly appear in folk and fairy tales, but they lack the cosmological context that characterizes myths. • History is usually absent in these stories; they are typically set in an unspecified time and place. What is a saga? • A saga is a tale of Scandinavian origin, originally recounted orally but later preserved in written prose. • Many types of sagas exist, such as legendary heroic sagas, comic sagas, sagas of kings or of saints, adventure sagas, among others. • The most famous sagas are the Icelandic Family Sagas, written in the 13th to 14th century about events that typically happened in the earlier Viking age. Who are the Germans? • There is no racial, cultural, regional, or tribal characteristic that defines the Germanic people over time except their language. • Germanic languages are a family in the Indo-European language group characterized by: • The Great Consonant Shift (BDG – PTK, etc.) • Stable stress placed upon the first syllable • Early Germanic languages were not written down, making it difficult to trace linguistic developments until the fourth century, C.E. What groups are considered Germanic? • Germanic is traditionally divided into three different linguistic groups: • 1. Northern Germanic (Scandinavian languages) • 2. Eastern Germanic (Goths, Vandals and Burgundians, all extinct groups) • 3. Western Germanic (English, Dutch, Low and High German and their ancestors) • Western Germanic is actually a very diverse group with close affiliations to both Northern and Eastern Germanic. When and where did Germanic tribes appear? • The Germanic language probably split from Indo-European around 2500 BCE. • By around 500 BCE Germanic people were living in their “homeland,” southern Sweden, Denmark and northern Germany (SchleswigHolstein). • Germanic tribes enter the historical record when they make contact with Rome; the Bastarnians early in the 2nd century BCE, and the Cimbri and Teutoni in 120 BCE. Hermann the German • During the reign of Augustus (31 BCE to 14 CE), continual warfare in central Europe led to the apparent subjugation of the Germanic tribes. • Augustus envisioned a northern border of the Empire on the North Sea or along the Elbe river. • In they year 6, Publius Quinctilius Varus was appointed governor of Germania, with the command to transform the conquered territory into a regular Roman province, as had been done earlier with Gaul. Hermann the German • In 9 CE, the Cheruscan chieftain Arminius (Hermann) annihilated Varus and his three Roman legions in the battle of the Teutoburg forest– near modern day town of Kalkriese. • Most devastating defeat of a Roman army in the classical era. • Rome never again attempted to colonize Germanic territory; the Roman border remained the Rhine river to the west and the Danube (or the Limes defensive wall) in the south. • German tribes had a much contact with Rome in later years; trade along Rhine river was important. Hermannsdenkmal in Detmold The Hermannsdenkmal in Detmold is a monument in memory of the battle in the Teutoburger Forest in the year 9. In 1875 Ernst von Bandel erected the monument on the 386 m high Grotenburg. Merseburg Magic Spells • The only purely heathen texts to survive from the middle ages in Old High German. • Copied down in the early 10th century on the reverse pages of a church manuscript, probably by a monk in Fulda. • The language dates the original works to sometime prior to 800 C.E. Merseburg Magic Spells An image of the original document from the 8th – 9th century. Note that the scribe did not divide the incantation into verse, as it is reproduced below. Merseburg Spell I. eiris sâzum idisi sâzun hera duoder suma hapt heptidun suma heri lezidun suma clûbôdun umbi cuoniouuidi insprinc haptbandun invar vîgandum Once, the women (Idisis) were sitting, Sitting here and there, Some came cinching fetters, some were hindering the army, Some were picking at shackles: Escape from the bonds, get away from the enemy! Merseburg Spell II. (text stems from the early 8th century) phol ende uuodan uuorun zi holza Phol and Wodan rode into the woods. dû uuart demo balderes uolon sîn vuoz birenkit Then Balder’ foal sprained its foot. thû biguolen sinthgunt sunna era suister Then Sinthgunt cast a spell, Sunna her sister, thû biguolen frîia uolla era suister Then Freya cast a spell, Volla her sister, thû biguolen uuodan Then Wodan cast a spell, as he well knew how: sôse bênrenkî sô hê uuola conda sôse bluotrenkî sôse lidirenki Be it dislocated bone, be it diseased blood, be it a dislocated limb: bên zi bêna bluot zi bluoda Bone to bone, blood to blood, lid zi gelinden Limb to limb, as if they were glued together! sôse gelîmida sîn • Both charms have similar patters; they begin with a brief description of a mythological context, which parallels the situation of the present speaker. The magic which worked for the gods is then invoked for the speaker of the charm. Tacitus’s Germania • First detailed account of Germanic tribes and their beliefs. • Written in Latin by Roman politician and historian Tacitus (55 - c.120 CE) with probable first-hand acquaintance with Germanic tribes. • Tacitus considered the Germans to be the most dangerous, and therefore the most important of Rome’s enemies. • Text of Germania can be found easily with an internet search. Recommended reading. Tacitus’s Germania • Germanic tribes praised for their personal virtues, loyalty, honesty, bravery, fidelity; their few vices included drunkenness (beer) and lethargy. • Vigorous “noble barbarian” image contrasted strongly with his condemnation of Roman vice and self-indulgence. • Describes Germans as a pure race, fair-skinned, blue-eyed, with red-blonde hair (often painted a fiery red)! • A peasant-warrior culture, with heroic world view, living in small towns and farming villages. Religion in Germania • Original God Tuisto (from root of “two”) begat: • Mannus (man), who begat: • Ingaevones, Hermiones and Istavones (three leading tribal groups?) • Tiu (=Roman Mars, god of war–same linguistic root as Zeus!) • Donar (=Roman Hercules, strongest of the gods) • Wodan (=Roman Mercury, chief god of Germans) • Nerthus (=Isis, fertility goddess with cult following) • Alci (twin gods, =Roman Castor and Pollux) Religion in Germania • Germanic gods “beyond good and evil.” • Personal bond of mutual service, trust and loyalty. • Strong concept of fate, determining the lives of men and gods alike. • No permanent temples; gods worshiped in sacred outdoor places, groves, springs, lakes. • Animal and human sacrifices mentioned; Germans very superstitious, but not more so than Romans! • Runes and lots used to tell fortunes. Die Völkerwanderung The Migration of Peoples • Germanic tribes spread beyond their borders and overrun the Roman Empire. • Traditional date for the beginning is 375 C.E. with the appearance of the Huns from central Asia, who pressured the Germanic tribes from the east. • Actually, many earlier, smaller migrations such as Cimbri and Teutoni several centuries earlier. Tribes of the Völkerwanderung Angles and Jutes, from northern Denmark to Britain Saxons and Frisians, from north Germany to Britain Franks, from central Germany to France Burgundians, from south Sweden to Belgium and France Langobards, from Sweden to central Europe to north Italy Ostrogoths, from Gotland in Sweden, to east Europe, to Italy Visigoths, from Sweden to central Europe, to France and Spain Vandals, from Sweden to France and Spain on to north Africa Suebi, from central Germany to Spain and Portugal Thuringer, to central Germany Allemanni, to south Germany, Switzerland Bavarians and Marcomanni, to southeast Germany, Austria Many other smaller tribes were absorbed into these groups or simply vanished during these years. A brief Gothic History I. • Ostrogoths, Visigoths and Vandals were East Germanic-speaking tribes from Sweden that settled in southeastern Europe, near Bulgaria. • Contact with Eastern Roman Empire led in 341 to the conversion of the Visigoths to Christianity through the missionary Ulfilas. • He translated the bible into their Gothic language, the first and best documented record of an early Germanic language. • Ulfilas was an adherent of Arianus (256-336 in Constantinople, declared heretic at Council of Nicaea in 325). “Aryan” = Christian sect. A Brief Gothic History II. • Pressure from the Huns from 375-455 CE forced these tribes into conflict with Rome. • 378 CE Visigoths overrun Roman army at Adrianople, devastating defeat, beginning of the end of Roman Empire. • Visigoths continue west, sack Rome in 410, on to Spain where a Visigothic kingdom lasts until 711, when they were defeated by Islamic (Moorish) forces from Africa. A Brief Gothic History III. • Ostrogoths defeated by Huns, but recover quickly after Attila is defeated by combined RomanGermanic force at Catalaunian Fields (451) and dies on wedding night to German girl Ildico (453). • Scirian chieftan Odovacar deposes the last Roman Emperor in 476 CE, end of the Roman Empire. • Theoderic of Verona (Dietrich von Bern) Ostrogothic chieftain, assassinates Odovacar in 489, rules all of Italy from Ravenna until 526. • Many legends are recorded about the exploits of Theoderic and his dealings with the Huns and with other Germanic tribes. The Lay of Hildebrand • Part of a larger cycle of heroic songs about Theoderic of Verona. • Fragment represents the absolute beginning of recorded German literature. • Written in Old High German by two monks in monastery in Fulda around the year 810, under Charlemagne (Frankish king). • Hildebrand a famous “Degen” (Thane) of Theoderich. • Warrior honor code, heroic tragedy • Form of alliteration known as “Stabreim” Hildebrandslied The language dates to around 800 in Old High German (probably a Langobard dialect). The Lay of Hildebrand Ik gihorta dat seggen, dat sih urhettun ænon muotin: Hiltibrant enti Hadubrant untar heriun tuem. sunufatarungo iro saro rihtun, garutun se iro gudhamun, gurtun sih iro suert ana, helidos, ubar hringa, do sie to dero hiltiu ritun. Hiltibrant gimahalta, Heribrantes sunu, — her uuas heroro man, ferahes frotoro — her fragen gistuont fohem uuortum, hwer sin fater wari fireo in folche, "eddo hwelihhes cnuosles du sis. ibu du mi enan sages, ik mi de odre uuet, chind in chunincriche. chud ist mi al irmindeot."