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aut rcsponsa negiigunt. And before that, Caesar 1. 50 : Quod apud
Germanos ea consuetudo esset, ut matres fam. eorum sortihns et
vaticinationibus declararent, utrum proelium committi ex usu esset,
necne ; eas ita dicere : non esse fas Germanos superare,, si ante
novam lunam proelio contendissent (see Suppl.).

While history has not preserved the name of one German vates,
it has those of several prophetesses. Tac. Germ. 8 : Vidimus sub
divo Vespasiano Veledam (as a prisoner in his triumph) diu apud
plerosque num.inis loco habitam. Hist. 4, 61 : Ea virgo nationis
Bructerae, late imiKritalat, vetere apud Germanos more, quo
plerasque feminarum/a^idJz'cas, et augescente superstitions arbitrantur
dcas. Tuncque Veledae auctoritas adolevit ; nam ' prosperas
Germanis res et excidium legionum ' praedixerat. In 4, 65, when
the people of Cologne were making an alliance with the Tencteri
they made the offer : Arbitrum habebimus Civilem et Veledam
apud quos pacta sancientur. Sic lenitis Tencteris, legati ad Civilem
et Veledam missi cum donis, cuncta ex voluntate Agrippinensium
perpetravere. Sed coram adire, alloquique Veledam negatum.
Arcebantur aspectu, quo venerationis plus inesset. Ipsa edita in
turrc ; delectus e propinquis consulta responsacjitc ut internuntius
numinis portabat. 5, 22 : Praetoriam triremem flumine Luppia
donum Veledae traxere. 5, 25 ; Veledam propinquosque monebat.
Her captivity was probably related in the lost chapters of the fifth
book.2 This Velcda had been preceded by others : Sed et oKm
Auriniam (hardly a translation of any Teutonic name, such as the
ON. Gullveig, gold-cup ; some have guessed Aliruna, Olrun,
Albruna) et complures alias venerati sunt, non adulatione nee
tamquam facerent dcas. Germ. 8. A later one, named Ganna, is

1 A ^\^l(l force of phantasy, and the state called clairvoyance, have shown
themselves preeminently in women.

- Statius silv. I. 4, 90 : Captivaeque preces Veledae ; he scans the first
two syllables as short, which seems more correct than Dio's BeX^Sa. Zeuss 436
thinks BeXe'Sa, BtXtSa = Vilida. Graff has a n. prop. Wallodu 1, 800. I would
suggest the Gothic fern, name Ka/ftf^rtmarca in Jornandescap. 48, and the Thur-
ingiau name of a place JFalada in Pertz I. 308.


cited by Dio Cassius, 67, 5 ;i and in the year 577 Gunthcramnus
consulted a woman ' habentem spiritum pldtonis, ut ei quae erant
eventura narraret,' Greg. Tur. 5, 14 (in Aimoin 3, 22 she is mulier
phytonissa, i.e. irvdoivhaaa). One much later still, TMota, who had
come to Mentz out of Alamannia, is noticed in the Annals of Fulda,
anno 847 (Pertz 1, 365).- As Cassandra foretold the fall of Troy,
our prophetesses predict the end of the world (v, infra) ; and
Tacitus Ann. 14, 32 speaks of British druidesses in these words :
Feminae in furore turbatae adesse cxitium canebant ; conf. 14, 30.
But we have the sublimest example before us in the Voluspa (see

Those grayhaired, barefooted Cimbrian priestesses in Strabo (v.
supra, p. 55) in white robe and linen doublet, begirt with brazen
clasps, slaughtering the prisoners of war and prophesying from

^ Vavva (al. Tavva) rrapdevos fiera T7]u Bf\rj8av iv rrj lifXriKr} deia^ovcra,
conf. the masc. name Gannascus in Ann. 11, 18. 19 ; the fern. Ganna, dat. Gan-
nane, in a Lothr. urk., as hxte as 709, Don Calmet, ed. 1728, torn. 1. preuves p.

2 Traditions, which Hubertus Thomas of Luttich, private secretary to the
Elector Palatine, according to his book De Timgris et Ebnronibiis 1541, pro-
fesses to have received fi'om an antiquary Joan. Berger out of an old book
(libello vetustissimis characteribus descripto), and which he gives in his treatise
De Heidelbergae antiquitatibus, relate as follows : Quo tempore Velleda virgo
in Bruchteris imperitabat, vetula quaedam, cui nomen Jettha, eum coUem,
ubi nunc est arx Heidelbergensis et Jetthae collis etiam nunc nomen
liabet, inhabitabat, vetustissim unique ^:»/iamtm incolebat, cujus fragmenta adhuc
nuper vidimus, dum comes palatiniis Fridericus factus elector egregiam domura
construxit, quam novam aulam ajjpellant. Haec mulier vaticiniis inclyta, et
quo venerabilior foret, raro in conspectum hominum prodiens, volentibus con-
silium ab ea petere, de fenestra, non 'prodeunte viiltu, respondebat. Et inter cetera
praedixit, ut inconditis versibus canebat, suo colli a fatis esse datum, ut futuris
temporibus regiis viris, quos nominatim recensebat, inhabitaretur et templis
celeberrimis ornaretur, Sed ut tandem fabulosae antiquitati valedicamus, lubet
adscribere quae is liber de infelici morte ipsius Jetthae continebat. Egressa
quondam amoenissimo tempore plumum, ut deambulatione recrearetur, progre-
diebatur juxta montes, donee pervenit in locum, quo montes intra convallem
declinant et multis locis scaturiebant pulcherrimi fontes, quibus vehementer
ilia coepit delectari, et assidens ex illis bibebat, cmn ecce lupa famelica cum
catulis e silva prorupit, quae conspectam mulierem nequicquam divos invocan-
tem dilaniat et frustatim discerpsit, quae casu suo fonti nomen dedit, vocaturque
quippe in hodiernum diem fons lujwrum ob amoenitatem loci omnibus notus.
It is scarcely worth while trying to settle how much in this may be genuine
tradition, and how much the erudition of the 16th century foisted in, to the
glorification of the new palace at Heidelberg ( = Heidberg) ; the very mndow
on the hill Avould seem to have been copied from Veleda's tower, though
Brynhild too resides upon her rock, and has a high tower (Vols, saga, cap. 20,
24, 25 ; conf. MenglotS, OHG. Maniklata 1) on the rock, with nine virgins at
her knees (Siem. 110. 111). If the enchantress's name were Hcida instead of
Jettha, it would suit the locality better, and perhaps be an echo of the ON.


their blood in the sacrificial cauldron, appear as frightful witches by
the side of the Bructerian IMaid ; together with divination they
exercise the priestly oftice. Their minutely described apparel, we
may suppose, resembled that of the priests.

While in Tac. Germ. 40 it is a 'priest that attends the goddess,
and guides the team of kine in her car ; in the North conversely,
we have handmaids waiting upon gods. From a remarkable story
in the Olaf Tryggv. saga (Fornm. sog. 2, 73 seq.), which the
christian composer evidently presents in an odious light, we at all
events gather that in Sweden a virgin attended the car of Freyr on
its travels among the people : Frey var fengin til J?ionosto hona
ung ok friS (into Frey's service was taken a woman young and
fair), and she is called hona Freys. Otherwise a priestess is
called gyffja, Iwfgycfja, corresponding to goSi, hofgoSi ; ^ see TuriSr
hofgySja, Islend. sog. 1, 205. Jjorlaug gySja, Landn. 1, 21.
Steinvor and FridgerSr, Sagabibl. 1, 99. 3, 268.

But the Norse authorities likewise dwell less on the priestly
functions of women, than on their higher gift, as it seems, of
divination: Perita angurii femina, Saxo Gram. 121. A''aldamarr
konungr atti moSur miok gamla ok orvasa, sva at hun la i rekkju,
en ]70 var hun framsyn af Fitons anda, sem margir heiSnir menn
(King V. had a mother very old and feeble, so that she lay in bed,
and there was she seized by a spirit of Python, like many heathen
folk), Fornm. sog. 1, 76. — Of like import seems to be a term whicli
borders on the notion of a higher and supernatural being, as in the
case of Veleda ; and that is dis (nympha, numen). It may be not
accidental, that the spakona in several instances bears the proper
name Tliordis (Vatnsd. p. 186 seq. Fornm. sog. 1, 2.55. Islend. sog.
1, 140. Kormakkss. p. 204 seq.) ; dis however, a very early word,
which I at one time connected with the Gothic filudeisei (astutia,
dolus), appears to be no other than our OHG. itis, OS. idis, AS.
ides (femina, nympha). — As famous and as widely spread was the
term volva^ which first denotes any magic- wielding soothsayeress
(Vatnsd. p. 44. Fornm. sog. 3, 214. Fornald. sog. 2, 165-6. 50G),
and is afterwards attached to a particular mythic Volva, of whom
one of the oldest Eddie songs, the Vuluspd, treats. Either volu

^ Can our gotte, gothe, goth for godmother (taufpathin, susccptrix e saci'O
fonte) be the sur\ival of an old heathen term '} Murolt 3184 has gode of the
baptized vir;^in.

"^ The Slavic volkhv magus. — Trans.



stands here for volvu, or the claim of the older form Vala may be
asserted ; to each of them woiild correspond an OHG. Walawa or
Wala, which suggests the Walada above, being only derived in a
different way. In the saga Eiriks ranSa we come upon Thorhiorg,
the little Vala (Edda Ssem. Hafn. 3, 4). — Hei&r is the name not
only of the volva in the Edda (Ssem. 4^, conf. 118^) but also of the
one in the Orvarodssaga (conf. Sagabibl. 3, 155). — Hyndla (canicula)
is a prophetess that rides on wolves, and dwells in a cave. — I guess
also that the virgins Thorger&r and Ir-pa (Fornm. sog. 2, 108. 3, 100.
11, 134-7. 142. 172), to whom all but divine honours were paid,
and the title of horgabruSr (nympha lucorum) and even the name
of guS (numen) was accorded, Nialss. cap. 89, are not to be excluded
from this cii'cle. So in the valkyrs, beside their godhood, there
resides somewhat of the priestly, e.g. their virginity (see ch. XVI
and Suppl.).

We shall return to these ' gleg ' and ' wise ' women (and they
have other names besides), who, in accordance with a deeply
marked feature of our mythology, trespass on the superhuman.
Here we had to set forth their connexion with sacrifice, divination
and the priesthood.


Now, I think, we are fully prepared for the inquiry, whether
real gods can be claimed for Germany in the oldest time. All the
branches of our language have the same general name for deity,
and have retained it to the present day ; all, or at any rate most of
them, so far as the deficiency of documents allows the chain of
evidence to be completed, show the same or but slightly varying
terms for the heathen notions of worship, sacrifice, temples and
priesthood. Above all there shines forth an unmistakable analogy
between the Old Norse terminology and the remains, many cen-
turies older, of the other dialects : the Norse ffisir, biota, horgr,
goSi were known long before, and with the same meanings, to the
Goths, Alamanns, Franks and Saxons. And this identity or
similarity extends beyond the words to the customs themselves :
in sacred groves the earliest human and animal victims were
offered, priests conducted sacrifices and divinations, ' wise women '
enjoyed all but divine authority.

The proof furnished by the sameness of language is of itself
sufficient and decisive. When the several divisions of a nation
speak one and the same language, then, so long as they are left to
their own nature and are not exposed to violent influences from
without, they always have the same kind of belief and worship.

The Teutonic race lies midway between Celts, Slavs, Lithu-
anians, Finns, all of them populations that acknowledge gods,
and practise a settled worship. The Slav nations, spread over
■widely distant regions, have their principal gods in common ; how
should it be otherwise in Teutondom ?

As for demanding proofs of the genuineness of Norse mythology,
we have really got past that now. All criticism cripples and anni-
hilates itself, that sets out with denying or doubting what is trea-
sured up in song and story born alive and propagated amongst an
entire people, and which lies before our eyes. Criticism can but
collect and arrange it, and unfold the materials in their historical

100 GODS.

Then the only question that can ftirly be raised, is : Whether
the gods of the North, no longer disputable, hold good for the rest
of Teutondom ? To say yea to the question as a whole, seems,
from the foregoing results of our inquiry, altogether reasonable
and almost necessary,

A negative answer, if it knew what it was about, Avould try to
maintain, that the circle of Norse gods, in substance, were formerly
common to all Germany, but by the earlier conversion were extin-
guished and annihilated here. But a multitude of exceptions and
surviving vestiges would greatly limit the assertion, and materially
alter what might be made out of the remainder.

In the meanwhile a denial has been attempted of quite another
kind, and the opinion upheld, that those divinities have never
existed at all in Germany proper, and that its earliest inhabitants
knew nothing better than a gross worship of nature without gods.

This view, drawing a fundamental distinction between German
and Scandinavian heathenism, and misapprehending all the clues
which discover themselves to unprejudiced inquiry as infallible
evidence of the unity of two branches of a nation, lays special stress
upon a few statements on the nature of the heathen faith, dating
from about the sixth century and onwards. These for the most
part proceed from the lips of zealous christians, who did not at all
concern themselves to understand or faithfully portray the paganism
they were assailing, whose purpose was rather to set up a warning
against the grosser manifestations of its cultus as a detestable abo-
mination. It will be desirable to glance over the principal passages
in their uniformity and one-sidedness.

Agathias (i* before 582), himself a newly converted Greek, who
could only know from christianly coloured reports what he had
heard about the distant Alamanns, thus exhibits the Alamannic
worship as opposed to the Frankish : SiuSpa re yap rtva IXdaKovTat,
Kol peWpa TTora/xMV koX \d(f)ov<i koX (f)dpa'y>ya<;, Kai rovTOi<; wairep
oaia BpMvre'i 28, 4. Then foUow the words quoted on p. 47 about
their equine sacrifices.

But his contrast to the Franks breaks down at once, when
we hear almost exactly the same account of thc7n from the lips of
their first historian Gregory : Sed haec generatio fanaticis semper
cultibus visa est obsequium praebuisse, nee prorsus agnovere Deum,
sibique silvarum atque aquarum, avium bestiarumque et alioruui

GODS. 101

quoque elementorum finxere formas, ipsasque ut deum colere eisque
sacrificia delibare consueti. Greg. Tur. 2, 10. — Similarly, Einliard
(^ginhard) in Vita Caroli cap. 7, about the Saxons : Sicut onmes
fere Gerraaniam incolentes nationes et natura feroces et cidtui
daemonum dediti, nostraeque religion! contrarii. — Ruodolf of Fuld,
after quoting Tacitus and Einhard, adds (Pertz 2, 676) : Nam et
frondosis arboribus fontibusque venerationem exhibebant ;^ and then
mentions the Irminsfd, which I shall deal with hereafter (see
Suppl.). — Lastly, Helmold 1, 47 affirms of the Holsteiners : Nihil
de religione nisi nomen tantum christianitatis habentes ; nam
lucoruui et fontiuni ceterarumque superstitionum multiplex error
apud eos habetur . . . Vicelinus . . . lucos et onmes
ritus sacrilegos destruens, &c.'

Conceived in exactly the same spirit are the prohibitions of
heathenish and idolatrous rites in decrees of councils and in laws.
Concil. Autissiod. anno 586, can. 3 : Non licet inter sentes aut ad
arbores sacrivos vel ad fontes vota exsolvere ; conf. Concil. Turon.
II. anno 566, can. 22. — Leges Liutpr. 6, 30 : Simili modo et qui ad
arborem, quam rustici sanguinum (al. sanctivam, sacrivam) vocant,
atque ad fontanas adoraverit. — Capit. de partibus Sax. 20 : Si quis
ad fontes aut arbores vel lucos votum fecerit, aut aliquid more
gentilium obtulerit et ad honorem daemonum comederit. And tlie
converters, the christian clergy, had for centuries to pour out their
wrath against the almost ineradicable folly. — It is sufficient merely
to allude to the sermons of Caesarius episcopus Arelatensis (f 542)
' Contra sacrilegos et aruspices, contra kalendarum quoque pagan-
issimos ritus, coutraque augures lignicolas, fonticolas,' Acta Bened.
sec. 1, p. 668.

All these passages contain, not an untruth, yet not the whole
truth. That German heathenism was destitute of gods, they can-
not possibly prove; for one thing, because they all date from
periods when heatlienism no longer had free and undisturbed sway,
but had been hotly assailed by the new doctrine, and was well-
nigh overmastered. The general exercise of it had ceased, isolated
partizans cherished it timidly in usages kept up by stealth ; at the
same time there were christians who in simplicity or error con-
tinued to practise superstitious ceremonies by the side of christian
ones. Such doings, not yet extinct here and there among the

^ Adain of Bremen again copies Ruodolf, Pertz 9, 286.

102 GODS.

common people, but withdrawn from all regulating guidance by
heathen priests, could not fail soon to become vulgarized, and to
appear as the mere dregs of an older faith, which faith we have no
right to measure by them. As we do not fail to recognise in the
devils and witches of more modern times the higher purer fancies of
antiquity disguised, just as little ought we to feel any scruple about
tracing back the pagan practices in question to the untroubled foun-
tainhead of the olden time. Prohibitions and preachings kept strictly
to the practical side of the matter, and their very purpose was to put
down these last hateful remnants of the false religion. A sentence
in Cnut's AS. laws (Schmid 1, 50) shows, that fountain and tree
worship does not exclude adoration of the gods themselves :
HseGenscipe biS, Jjset man deofolgild weorSige, J?ait is, ]?a3t man
weorSige haeSene godas, and sunnan oSSe monan, fyre o55e floSwse-
ter, wyllas oGCe stfmas oSSe teniges cynnes wudutreowa; conf
Homil. 1, 366. Just so it is said of Olaf the Saint, rornm, sog. 5,
239, that he abolished the heathen sacrifices and gods : Ok morg
onnur (many other) blotskapar skrimsl, bseSi hamra ok horga,
skoga, votn ok tre ok oil onnur blot, baeSi meiri ok minni.

But we can conceive of another reason too, why on such occa-
sions the heathen gods, perhaps still unforgotten, are passed over in
silence : christian priests avoided uttering their names or describing
their worship minutely. It was thought advisable to include them
aU under the general title of demons or devils, and utterly uproot
their influence by laying an interdict on whatever yet remained
of their worship. The Merseburg poems show how, by way of
exception, the names of certain gods were still able to transmit
themselves in formulas of conjuring.

Pictures of heathenism in its debasement and decay have no
right to be placed on a level with the report of it given by Tacitus
from five to eight centuries before, when it was yet in the fulness
of its strength. If the adoration of trees and rivers still lingering
in the habits of the people no longer bears witness to the existence
of gods, is it not loudly enougli proclaimed in those imperfect and
defective sketches by a Ptoman stranger ? When he expressly tells
us of a deus terra editus, of heroes and descendants of the god
(plures dco ortos), of the god who rules in war (velut deo imperante),
of the names of gods (deorum nominibus) which the people trans-
ferred to sacred groves, of the priest who cannot begin a divination



without invoking the gods (precatus deos) and who regards himself
as a servant of the gods (niinistros deorum), of a regnator omnium
dens, of the gods of Germany (Germaniae deos in aspectu, Hist. 5,
17), of the diis patriis to whom the captured signa Eomana were
hung up (Ann. 1, 59) ; when he distinguishes between penetrates
Germaniae deos or dii penatcs (Ann. 2, 10. U, 16), communes dii
(Hist. 4, 64), and conjugalcs dii (Germ. 18) ; when he even distin-
guishes individual gods, and tries to suit them with Eoman names,
and actually names (interpretatione Eomana) a Mars, Mercurius,
Hercules, Castor and Pollux, Isis, nay, has preserved the German
appellations of the deus terra editus and of his son, and of a goddess,
the terra mater ; how is it possible to deny that at that time the
Germans worshipped veritable gods ? How is it possible, when we
take into account all the rest that we know of the language, the
liberty, the manners, and virtues of the Germani, to maintain the
notion that, sunk in a stolid fetishism, they cast themselves down
before logs and puddles, and paid to them their simple adoration ?

The opinion of C?esar,^ who knew the Germans more super-
ficially than Tacitus a hundred and fifty years later, cannot be
allowed to derogate from the truth. He wants to contrast our
ancestors with the Gauls, with whom he had had more familiar
converse ; but the personifications of the sun, fire, and the moon,
to which he limits the sum total of their gods, will hardly bear even
a forced ' interpretatio Eomana'. If in the place of sun and moon
we put Apollo and Diana, they at once contradict that deeply rooted
])eculiarity of the Teutonic way of thinking, which conceives of the
sun as a female, and of the moon as a male being, which could not
have escaped the observation of the Eoman, if it had penetrated
deeper. And Vulcan, similar to the Norse Loki, but one of those
divinities of whom there is least trace to be found in the rest of
Teutondom, had certainly less foundation than the equally visible
and helpful deities of the nourishing earth, and of the quickening,
fish-teeming, ship-sustaining water. I can only look upon Caesar's
statements as a half-true and roughcast opinion, which, in the face
of the more detailed testimony of Tacitus, hardly avails to cast a

^ Dporum nimiero eos solos ducimt, quos eernuiit, et quorum opibus aperte
juvantur, Solan et Vulcaiuim et Lunam ; reliquos lie fania quideiii acceperuiit.
li.G. G, 21. Compare witli this B.G. 4, 7 where the Uisiiietes and Tenchtheri
say to Cjesar : Sese iinis Suevis concedere, quibus no dii quideia imiiwrtales
pares esse possint.

104 GODS.

doubt on other gods, much less to prove a bare worship of elements
among the Germani.

All the accounts that vouch for the early existence of individual
gods, necessarily testify at the same time to their great number and
their mutual relationship. When Procopius ascribes a ttoXu? Oewv
o/xiXo'i to the Heruli, this ' great host ' must also be good for the
Goths, just those of whom we know the fewest particulars, and for
all the Germans together. Jornandes would have us believe that
Diceneus was the first to make the Goths acquainted with gods,
cap. 11 : Elegit ex eis tunc nobilissimos prudentiores viros, quos
theologian! instruens numina quaedam et sacella venerari suasit ;
here evidently we see the ruler who promoted the service of
particular gods. But that Jornandes himself credited his Goths
with unmistakably native gods, is plain from cap. 10 : Unde et
sacerdotes Gothorum aliqui, illi qui pii vocabantur, subito patefactis
portis cum citharis et vestibus candidis obviam sunt Qg\Q?>^\ patcrnis
d'iis, ut sibi propitii Macedones repellerent voce supplici modulantes.
The fact here mentioned may even have been totally alien to the
real Goths, but anyhow we gather from it the opinion of Jornandes.
And if we also want evidence about a race lying quite at the
opposite extremity of Germany, one that clung with great fidelity
to their old-established faith, we have it in the Lex Frisionum,
addit. tit. 13, where the subject is the penalty on temple-breakers :
Immolatur diis quorum templa violavit.

We have now arrived at the following result.' In the first
century of our era the religion of the Germans rested mainly upon
gods ; a thousand or twelve hundred years later, among the northern
section of the race, which was the last to exchange the faith of its
fathers for a new one, the old system of gods is preserved the most
perfectly. Linked by language and unbroken tradition to either
extremity of heathenism, both its first appearance in history and its
fall, stands central Germany from the fifth to the ninth century.
During this period the figures of the heathen gods, in the feeble
and hostile light thrown upon them by the reports of recent con-
verts, come before us faded and indistinct, but still always as gods.

I must here repeat, that Tacitus knows no simulacrum of
German gods, no image ^ moulded in human shape ; what he had

^ Grk. (iyaXfia, signum, statue ; Gotli. manleika, OHG. manaUhho, ON.
Ukneski (see Suppl.) ; can the Sloven, malik, idol, have sprung from manleika?


stated generally in cap. 9, ho asserts of a particular case in cap. 43,
and we have no ground for disbelieving his assertion. The exist-
ence of real statues at that time in Germany, at least in the parts
best known to them, would hardly have escaped the researches of
the Romans. He knows of nothing but signa and foTvias, appar-

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