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it, yet it bore within itself a germ of disorganisation and disrup-
tion, which, even without the intervention of Christian teaching,
would have shattered and dissolved it.^ I liken heathenism to a
strange plant whose brilliant fragrant blossom we regard with
wonder ; Christianity to the crop of nourishing grain that covers
wide expanses. To the heathen too was germinating the true God,
who to the Christians had matured into fruit.

At the time when Christianity began to press forward, many of
the heathen seem to have entertained the notion, which the mis-
sionaries did all in their power to resist, of combining the new
doctrine with their ancient faith, and even of fusing them into one.
Of Norsemen as well as of Anglo-Saxons we are told, that some
believed at the same time in Christ and in heathen gods, or at least
continued to invoke the latter in particular cases in which they

1 Old Norse sagas and songs have remarkable passages in winch the gods'
are coarsely derided. A good deal in Lokasenna and Harbard's song may
pass for rough joking, -which still leaves the holiest things unshaken (see
Suppl.). But faith has certainly grown fainter, when a daring poet can com-
pare OSinn and Freyja to dogs (Fornm. sog. 2, 207. Islend. sog. 1, 11. ed. nov.
372. Nialss. IGO) : when another calls the gods rangeyg (squint-eyed, unfair)
and rokindusta (Fornm. sog. 2, 154). When we come to Freyr, I shall quote a
story manifestly tending to lessen the reverence for him ; but here is a pas-
sage from Oswald 2913 : 'din got der ist ein junger tor (fool), ich wil glouben
an den alten.' — If we had a list of old and favourite dogs' -names, I believe we
should find that the designations of several deities were bestowed upon the
brute by way of degradation. Vilk. saga, cap. 230. 235, has handed down
Tlwr (butcf. ed. nov., cap. 263) and Paron, one being the O.N., the other the
Slav name in the Slovak form Parom = Perun ch. VIII. With the Saxon
herdsmen or hunters Thunar was doubtless in nse for dogs, as perhaps Donner
is to this day. One sort of dog is called hj the Poles Grzviilas (Linde 1, 7'i9a.
2, 798), by the Bohemians Hrmiles (Jungm". 1, 759) = Thunder, Forest-thunder.
In Helbling 4, 441 seq. I find a dog IVunsc^i (not Wiinsch). Similar to this is
the transference of national names to dogs : the Bohemian BoJrok is a dog's
name, but signifies an Obotrite (Jungm. 1, 150) ; Sumr in the Nialssaga seems
to mean a Same, Sabme = Lapp ; Hell)ling 4, 458 has a Frank (see Suppl.).



8 INTRODUCTION.

had formerly proved helpful to them. So even by christians much
later, the old deities seem to have been named and their aid
invoked in enchantments and spells. Landnfimabok 3, 12 says of
Helgi : ' hann truSi a Krist, en ]?6 het hann a Thor til seefara ok
harSrseSa ok alls ]7ess, er honnm ]?otti mestu varSa' ; he believed in
Christ, and yet he called upon Thor in voyages and difficulties,
&c. Hence the poets too transferred heathen ei^ithets to Christ.
Beda 1, 15 relates of Eedwald, an East- Anglian king in the begin-
ing of the 7th century : ' rediens domum ab uxore sua, a quibusdam
perversis doctoribus seductus est, atque a sinceritate fidei depravatus,
habuit posteriora pejora prioribus, ita ut in morem antiquorum
Samaritanorum, et Christo servire videretur et diis quibus antea
serviebat, atque in eodem fano et altare habebat in sacrificium
Ohristi et arulam ad victimas daemoniorum' (see Suppl.). This
helps to explain the relapses into paganism.

The history of heathen doctrines and ideas is easier to write,
according as particular races remained longer outside the pale of
baptism. Our more intimate acquaintance with the Greek and
Koman religion rests upon writings which existed before the rise of
Christianity; we are oftener at fault for information as to the
altered shape which that religion had assumed among the common
people in Greece and Italy during the first centuries of our era.
Eesearch has yet to penetrate, even deeper than it has done, into
the old Celtic faith ; we must not shrink from recomizino- and ex-
amining Celtic monuments and customs on ground now occupied
by Germans. Leo's important discovery on the real bearings of the
Malberg glossary may lead to much. The religion of the Slavs and
Lithuanians would be far more accurately known to us, if these
nations, in the centuries immediately following their conversion,
had more carefully preserved the memory of their antiquities ; as it
is, much scattered detail only wants collecting, and traditions still
alive in many districts aftbrd rich material. On the Finnish
mythology we possess somewhat fuller information.

Germany holds a middle place, peculiar to herself and not un-
favourable. While the conversion of Gaul and that of Slavland
were each as a whole decided and finished in the course of a very
few centuries, the Teutonic races forsook the faith of their fathers
very gradually and slowly, from the 4th to the 11th century.
Eemains of their lano;uage too have been preserved more fully and



INTRODUCTION. 9

from the successive periods. Besides wliicli we possess in the
works of Eoman writers, and especially Tacitus, accounts of the
earlier undisturbed time of Teutonic heathenism, which, though
scanty and from a foreign source, are yet exceedingly important,
nay invaluable.

The religion of the East and South German races, which were
converted first, is more obscure to us than that of the Saxons ;
about the Saxons again we know incomparably less than about the
Scandinavians. What a far different insight we should get into the
character and contents of the suppressed doctrine, how vastly the
picture we are able to form of it would gain in clearness, if some
clerk at Fulda, Eegensburg, Eeichenau or St. Gall, or one at
Bremen, Corvei or IMagdeburg, had in the eighth, ninth or tenth
century, hit upon the plan of collecting and setting before us, after
the manner of Saxo Grammaticus, the still extant traditions of his
tribe on the beliefs and superstitions of their forefathers ! Let no
one tell me, that by that time there was nothing more to be had ;
here and there a footmark plainly shows that such recollections
could not really have died out.^ And who will show me in Sweden,
which clung to heathenism longer and more tenaciously, such a
composition as actually appeared in Denmark during the twelftli
century ? But for this fact, would not the doubters declare such a
thing impossible in Sweden ? In truth, the first eight books of
Saxo are to me the most welcome monument of the Norse mytho-
logy, not only for their intrinsic worth, but because they show in
what an altered light the ancient faith of the people had to be
placed before the recent converts. I especially remark, that Saxo
suppresses all mention of some prominent gods ; what right have
we then to infer from the non-mention of many deities in the far
scantier records of inland Germany, that they had never been heard
of there ?

Then, apart from Saxo, we find a purer authority for the Norse
religion preserved for us in the remotest corner of the North,
whither it had fled as it were for more perfect safety, — namely, in
Iceland. It is preserved not only in the two Eddas, but in a
multitude of Sagas of various shape, which, but for that emigration

1 As late as the tenth century the heroic tale of Walther and Hildegimd was
poetized in Latin at St. Gall, aiid arelie of heathen poetry was \\Titten down iu
German [dcutlich, a misprint for deutsch I], probably at Merseburg.



10 INTKODUCTION.

coming to the rescue, would probably have perished in Norway,
Sweden and Denmark.

To assail the genuineness of the Norse mythology is as much as
to cast doubt on the genuineness and independence of the Norse
language. That it has been handed down to us both in a clearer
and an obscurer shape, through older and more modern authoriti-es,
makes it all the easier to study it from many sides and mqre
historically.

Just as little can we fail to perceive the kinship and close con-
nexion of the Norse mythology with the rest of Teutonic mythology.
I have undertaken to collect and set forth all that can now be
known of German heathenism, and that exclusively of the complete
system of Norse mythology. By such limitation I hope to gain
clearness and space, and to sharpen our vision for a criticism of
the Old German faith, so far as it stands opposed to the Norse, or
aloof from it ; so that we need only concern ourselves with -the
latter, where in substance or tendency it coincides with that of
inland Germany.

The antiquity, originality and affinity of the German and Norse
mythologies rest on the following grounds :

1. The undisputed and very close affinity of speech between the
two races, and the now irrefutably demonstrated identity of form
in their oldest poetry. It is impossible that nations speaking
languages which had sprung from the same stock,' whose songs all
wore the badge of an alliteration either unknown or quite differently
applied by their neighbours, should have differed materially in their
religious belief. Alliteration seems to give place to christian
rhyme, first in Upper Germany, and then in Saxony, precisely
because it had been the characteristic of heathen songs then still
existing. Without prejudice to their original affinity, it is quite
true that the German and the Norse dialects and poetries have
their peculiarities of form and finish ; but it would seem incredible
that the one race should have had gods and the other none, or that
the chief divinities of the two should have been really different
from one another. There were marked differences no doubt, but
not otherwise than in their language ; and as the Gothic, Anglo-
Saxon and Old High German dialects have their several points of
superiority over the Old Norse, so may the faitli of inland Germany
liave in many points its claims to distinction and individuality.



INTKODUCTIOxN'. 11

2. The joint possession, by all Teutonic tongues, of many terms
relating to religious worship. If we are able to produce a word
used by the Goths in the 4th century, by the Alamanni in the
8th, in exactly the same form and sense as it continues to bear in
the Norse authorities of the 12th or 13th century, the affinity of
the German faith with the Norse, and the antiquity of the latter,
are thereby vindicated.

3. The identity of mythic notions and nomenclature, which
ever and anon breaks out: thus the agreement of the O.H.G.
muspilli, 0. Sax. mudspelli, with the Eddie muspell, of the O.H.G.
itis, A. Sax. ides, with the Eddie dis, or of the A. Sax. brosinga mene
with the Eddie brisinga men, affords perfectly conclusive evidence.

4. The precisely similar way in which both there and here the
religious mythus tacks itself on to the heroic legend. As the
Gothic, Fraukish and Norse genealogies all run into one another,
we can scarcely deny the connexion of the veiled myths also which
stand in the background.

5. The mingling of the mythic element with names of plants
and constellations. This is an uneffaced vestige of the primeval
intimate union between religious worship and nature.

6. The gradual transformation of the gods into devils, of the
wise women into witches, of the worship into superstitious customs.
The names of the gods have found a last lurking-place in disguised
ejaculations, oaths, curses, protestations.^ There is some analogy
between this and the transfer of heathen myths from goddesses
and gods to IVIary and the saints, from elves to angels. Heathen
festivals and customs were transformed into christian, spots which
heathenism had already consecrated were sometimes retained for
churches and courts of justice. The popular religion of the Catho-
lics, particularly in the adoration of saints, includes a good many
and often graceful and pleasing relics of paganism (see SuppL).

7. The evident deposit from god-myths, which is found to this
day in various folk-tales, nursery-tales, games, saws, curses, ill-
understood names of days and months, and idiomatic phrases.

8. The undeniable intermixture of the old religious doctrine
with the system of law ; for the latter, even after the adoption of



^ Conf. our ' donner ! hammer ! ' the Sei-v. ' lele ! lado ! ' the Lat. ' pol !
aedepol ! me herole ! me castor ! medius^lidius,' &c.



12 INTRODUCTION.

tlie new faith, would not part with certain old forms and usages
(see SuppL).

In unravelling these complex relations, it appears indispensable
not to overlook the mythologies of neighbouring nations, especially
of the Celts, Slavs, Lithuanians and Finns, wherever they afford
confirmation or elucidation. This extension of our scope would
find ample reason and justification in the mere contact (so fruitful
in many ways) of the languages of those nationalities with Teu-
tonic ones, particularly of the Celtic with Old Frankish, of the
Finnish and Lithuanian with Gothic, and of the Slavic with High
German. But also the myths and superstitions of these very
nations are peculiarly adapted to throw light on the course taken
by our domestic heathenism in its duration and decadence.

Against the error which has so frequently done damage to the
study of the Norse and Greek mythologies, I mean the mania of
foisting metaphysical or astronomical solutions on but half-dis-
covered historical data, I am sufficiently guarded by the incomplete-
ness and loose connexion of all that has been preserved. My object
is, faithfully and simply to collect what the distortions early
introduced by the nations themselves, and afterwards the scorn and
aversion of christians have left remaining of heathenism ; and to
enlist fellow-labourers in the slow task of securing a more solid
store of facts, without which a general view of the substance and
worth of our mythology is not to be attained (see SuppL).



CHAPTER IL
GOD.

In all Teutonic tongues the Supreme Being has always with
one consent been called by the general name God. The dialectic
varieties are : Goth. gu&, A.S., O.S., O. Fris. god, O.H.G. cot, 0.
Norse gocf ; Swed. Dan. gud, M.H.G. got, M.L.G. god ; and here
there is a grammatical remark to make. Though all the dialects,
even the Norse, use the word as masculine (hence in O.H.G. the ace.
sing, cotan ; I do not know of a M.H.G. goten), yet in Gothic and
0. Norse it lacks the nom. sing, termination (-s, -r) of a masc. noun,
and the Gothic gen. sing, is formed guffs w^ithout. the connecting
vowel i, agreeing therein with the three irreg. genitives mans,
fadrs, br6(5rs. Now, as O.H.G. has the same three genitives irreg.,
man, fatar, pruodar, we should have expected the gen. cot to bear
them company, and I do not doulit its having existed, though I
have nowhere met with it, only with the reg. cotes, as indeed
mannes and fateres also occur. It is more likely that the sanctity
of the name had .preserved the oldest form inviolate, than that fre-
quent use had worn it down.^ The same reason preserved the
O.H.G. spelling cot (Gramm. 1, 180), the M. Dut. god (1, 486), and
perhaps the Lat. vocative deus (1, 1071).- Moreover, God and
other names of divine beings- reject every article (4, 383. 394. 404.
424. 432) ; they are too firmly established as proper nouns to
need any such distinction. The dcr got in MS. 2, 260a. is said of a
heathen deity.

On the radical meaning of the word Gqd we have not yet
arrived at certainty f it is not immediately connected with the adj.

^ The drift of these remarks seems to be this : The word, though used as a
masc, has a neut. form ; is this an archaism, pointing to a time when the
word was really neuter ; or a mere irregularity diie to abtrition, the word
having always been masc. ? — Trans.

^ Sa.xo does not inflect Tlior ; Uhland p. 198.

3 The Slav, hugh is connected with the Sanskr. bhaga felicitas, bhakta
devotus, and bhaj colere ; perhaps also with the obscure bahts in the Goth,
andbahts minister. ciMtor ; conf. p. 20, note on boghat, dives. Of 6e6s, deus
we shall have to speak in ch, IX.



14 GOD.

good, Goth, gods, O.N", goor, A.S. god, O.Ii.G. cuot, M.H.G., guot, as
the difference of vowel shows ; we should first have to show an
intermediacy of the gradations gida gad, and gada god, which
does take place in some other cases ; and certainly God is called the
Good.i ll is still farther removed from the national name of the
Goths, who called themselves Gutans (O.H.G. Kuzun, O.N. Gotar),
and who must be distinguished from O.N. Gautar (A. S. Geatas,
O.H.G. Koza ; Goth. Gautos ?).

The word God has long been compared with the Pers. Kliocld
(Bopp, comp. gram., p. 35). If the latter be, as has been , supposed,
a violent contraction of the Zend qvadata (a se datus, increatus,
Sanskr. svadata, conf. Devadatta &e6SoTo<;, Mitradatta 'HXl6Soto<;,
Sridatta), then our Teutonic word must have been originally a com-
pound, and one with a very apt meaning, as the Servians also
address God as samozazdani bozhe ! self-created God ; Vuk 741.

The O.H.G. cot forms the first half of many proper names, as
Cotadio, Cotascalh, Cotafrit, Cotahram, Cotakisal, Cotaperaht,
Cotalint, but not so that we can infer anything as to its meaning j
they are formed like Irmandio, Hiltiscalh, Sikufrit, and may just as
well carry the general notion of the Divine Being as a more definite
one. When cot forms the last syllable, the compound can only
stand for a god, not a man, as in Irmincot, Hellicot.

In derivatives Ulphilas exchanges the TH for a D, which ex-
plains the tenuis in O.H.G. ; thus guda-faurhts (god-fearing) Luke
2, 25, gagudei (godliness) Tit. 1, 1 ; though the dat. sing, is invari-
ably guSa.^ Likewise in speaking of many gods, which to Christians
would mean idols, he spells gtida, using it as a neuter, John 10,
34-5. The A.S. god has a neut. pi. godic, when idols are meant
(cod. exon. 250,2. 254,9. 278,16.). In like manner the O.H.G. and
M.H.G. compound apcot, ajjtcot (false god) is commonly neuter, and
forms its pi. apcotir ; whether the M.H.G. ' dcr aptgot ' in Geo.
3254. 3302 can be correct, is questionable ; we have taken to



1 ovbeh ayados d jj.!] (Is 6 Oeos, I\raik 10, 18, Luke 18, 19, wliich inGothic
is rendered 'ni livashuii ]nuSeigs alja ains GuS', but in A.S, ' nis nan man
god Ijuton God ana'. God is the giver of all good, and himself the highest
good, smnmum bonum. Thiis Plato names him ro dyadoi/. y

2 In Gothic the rule is to change TH into D belore a vowel in inflection,
as, faSs, fadis, fada, fuS ; haubi'S, -dis, -da, -S. The peculiarity of guS is
that it retains TH throughout the sing., guS, guSs, guSa, guS ; though in pi.
and in derivatives it falls under rule asain. — Teans.



GOD. 15

usiug ahgott as a masc. throughout, yet our pi. gutter itself
can only be explained as originally^neuter. since the_true God_js
one, and can have no plural ; and the O.H.G. cota, M.H.G. gote
contain so far a contradiction. In Ulph. afguds is only an adj., and
denotes impius Sk. 44, 22 ; afgudei impietas, Eom. 11, 26 ; eihwXa
he translates by galiuga (figmenta), 1 Cor. 5, 10. 10, 20. 28, or by
galiiicjaguda, 1 Cor. 10, 20 ; and elhtoXeiov by galiuge staOs, 1 Cor.
8, 10. Another N.H.G. expression gotze I have discussed, Gramni,
3, 694 ; Luther has in Deut. 12, 3 ' die gotzen ihrer goiter, making
gotze rridolum. In Er. Alberus fab. 23, the gotz is a demigod ^ (see
Suppl.). The O.N. language distinguished the neut. goff idolum
from the masc. gud' deus. Snorri 119 says of Sif ' it harfagra goS,'
the fairhaired god ; I do not know if a heathen would have said it.

In curses and exclamations, our people, from fear of desecrating
the name of God, resort to some alteration of it-? poiz wetter!
potz tausend ! or, kotz tausend ! Mz wunder ! instead of Gottes ;
but I cannot trace the custom back to our ancient speech. The
similar change of the Fr. dieu into Ueu, hlcu, guicu^ seems to be
older (see Suppl.).

Some remarkable uses of the word God in our older speech and
that of the common people ^may also have a connexion with
heathen notions.

Thus it is thrown in, as it were, to intensify a personal pronoun ^
(see Suppl.). Poems in ]\I.H.G. have, by way of giving a hearty
welcome : gote unde mir willekomen ; Trist. 504. Frib. Trist. 497.

1 Writers of the 16-1 7th centuries use olgotze for statue (Stieler says, from
an allegorical representation of the apostles asleep on the Mount of Olives,
61 = oil). Hans Sachs freqiiently has ' den olgotzen tragen ' for doing house
drudgery, I. 5, 418'i 528^. III. 3, 24* 49^ IV. 3, 37"^ 99^ The O.H.G. coz,
simpuvium Numae (Juvenal 6, 343), which Graff 4, 154 would identify with
gotze, was a vessel, and belongs to giozan=fundere.

2 Such a fear may arise from two causes : a holy name must not be abused,
or an unholy dreaded name, e.g., that of the devil, has to be softened down by
modifying its form ; see Chap.'XXXIII, how the people call formidable animals
by another name, and for Donner preier to say donnerwetter (Dan. tordenveir
for Thursday), donnerwettstein (wetterstein or wetzstein 1), donnerkeil, donner-
wasche, dummer. In Fornm. sog. 10, 283 we have Oddiuer for OSinn ; per-
haps Wuotansheer (Woden's host) was puqiosely changed into Mutesheer ;
whether Phol into Falant, is worth considering.

* Sangbieu (sang de Dieu), corbieu (corps dc D.) vertuldeu (vertu de D.),
morbleu (mort de D.), parbleu (par D.), vertuguieu, vertugoi (vertu de D.),
niorguoi (mort de D.), &c. As early as Renart 18177, por la char bieu. So
the Engl, cock's bones, 'od's bones, 'od's wouuds, 'zouutls, «S:c. Conf. Weber
metr. rom. 3, 284.



16 GOD.

gote suit ir willekomen sin, iurem lande uncle niir (ye shall be
welcome to God, your country, and me) ; Trist. 5186. got alrest,
dar nacli mir, west willekomen ; Parz. 305, 27. wis willekomen
mir und got ; Frauend. 128, 13. sit mir gote wilkomen^ ; Eilh.
Trist. 248. rehte got wilkomen mir ; Dietr. 5200. Nu sit ouch
mir got wilkomen ; Dietr. 5803. sit willekomen got und oueh mir ;
Dietr. 4619. nu wis mir got wilkomen ; Oswalt 208. 406. 1163.
1268. 1393. 2189. du solt groz willekomen sin dem richen got
unde mir ; Lanz. 1082. wis mir unde ouch got wilkomen ; Ls. 1,
514. Occasionally gote stands alone : diu naht si gote willekomen ;
Iw. 7400, explained in the note, p. 413, as 'devoted to God,' though
it only means ' to-night be (thou) welcome '. Upper Germany has
to this day retained the greeting 'gottwilche, gottwillkem, gotti-
kum, skolkuom' (Staid. 1, 467. Schm. 2, 84). I do not find it in
Romance poems ; but the Saxon-Latin song of the 10th century
on Otto I. and his brother Heinrich has : sid wilicomo bethiu goda
ende tni. The Supreme Being is conceived as omnipresent, and is
expected, as much as the host himself, to take the new-comer under
his protection ; so the Sloveny say to the arriving guest ' bogh th
vsprimi, God receive you ! ' ^ and we to the parting guest ' God
guide, keep, bless you ! ' We call it commending or committing
one to God, M.H.G. gote ergeben, Er. 3598. I compare with these
the Hail ! called out to one who arrives or departs (heill ver ]?u !
Stem. 67"' 86''), with which are also associated the names of helpful
gods : heill ]?u farir, heill ]?u dsyniom ser ! fare thou well, be thou
well by (the aid of) the Asynior; Stem. 31*. heill scaltu Agnarr,
allz Jjic lieilan biSr vera tyr vera ! Srem. 40.

In the same way the name of the omniscient God emphasizes
an assurance of knowledge or ignorance : daz weiz got unde ich ;
Trist. 4151. den schatz weiz nu nieman wan (except) got unde
mill ; Nib. 2308, 3.^ This comfortable combination of / with God
has for its counterpart the opprobrious one of a tJioii with devil, ch.
XXXIII. Here too the got alone is enough : ingen vet min sorg
utan gud ; Svenska visor 2, 7. That we are fully justified in

1 The Dmission of and between the two datives is archaic, conf. Zeitschr.
f. d. a. 2, 190.

2 Bilge waz primi, gralva Venus ! Frauend. 192, 20 ; conf. 177, 14.

3 hie haert uns anders nieman dan got unde diu waltvogelltn ; Ecke 96.
niemen bevinde daz wan er und ich und ein kleinez vogellin, das mac wol
getriuwe sin ; Walth. 40, 15. Birds play the spy on men's privacy.



GOD. 17

referring these modes of speech so far back as to the heathen time,
is shown by a remarkable passage in Fornald. sog. 1, 380 : ek hugSa
engan kunna nema mik ok Offinn. By secrets which none can
know save OSinn and to whomsoever he has whispered them, his
divinity is at once revealed, Sa^m. 38"- ^ 95^ Fornald. siig. 1, 487. Not
quite parallel are phrases such as: daz geloube gote unde w?r ;
Amis 989. iu unde ffote von himile klage ich unser leit ; Nib.
1889, 3. ik klage gode unde iu; Eichtsteig landr. 11. 16. 37. sane



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