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of his- seven-span sword was even with the upright ears (Vols, saga
cap. 22. Vilk. saga cap. 166) ; a hair out of his horse's tail was
seven yards long (Nornag. saga cap. 8). — One thing hardly to bo
found in Teutonic gods, many -handedness, does occur in an ancient
hero. Wudga and llama, Witege and Heime, are always named
together. This Heimo is said to have been by rights called Studas,
like his father ("whom sOme traditions however name Adelger,
Madelger) ; not till he had slain the worm Heima,^ did he adopt its
name (Vilk. saga cap. 17). To him are expressly attributed three
hands and four elhoivs, or else tvjo hands with three elbows (Heldens.
257. Eoseng. p. xx, conf. Ixxiv) ; the extra limbs are no exaggera-
tion (Heldens. 391), rather their omission is a toning down, of the
original story. And Asprian comes out with four hands (Eoseng.
p. xii). StarkaSr, a famous godlike hero of the North, has thire
pairs of arms, and Thor cuts four of his hands off (Saxo Gram., p.
103) ; the Hervararsaga (Eafn p. 412, 513) bestows eiijlit hands on
him, and the ability to fight with four swords at once : dtta handa,
Fornald. sog. 1, 412. 3, 37. In the Swedish folk-song of Alf, ori-
ginally heathen, there is a hero Torgnejer (roaring like thunder ?),
' ban hade otta bander (Arvidss. 1, 12).^ Such cumulation of limbs
is also a mark of the giant race, and some of the heroes mentioned
do overlap these ; in the Servian songs I find a three headed hero
Balatchko (Vuk 2, no. 6, line 608) ; Pegam too in the Carniolan
lay has three heads (tri glave). — Deficiency of members is to be
found in heroes as well as gods : OSinn is one-eyed, Tfv one-
handed, Loki (= Hephaestus?) lame, Hu'5r blind, and ViSar dumb;*

1 Doggskor, S\v. doppsko, tlic heel of the sword'-s slicatli, which usually
brushes tlie dew : so tlie AUunaiins called a lame foot, that dragged through
the dewy grass, toudregil. This ride through the corn has something in it
highly mythic and suggestive of a god.

^ Heimo appears to mean worm originally, though used elsewhere of the
cricket or cicada (Reinh. cxxv), for which our present heimchen (little worm)
is better suited. A renowned Karliiig hero was also named Heimo (Reinh.
cciv). We lind again, that Madelger is in Morolt 3921 a dwarf, son of a mer-
maid, and in Rol. 58, 17 a smith.

3 In the prophecies of the North Frisian Hertje (a.d. 1400) the tradition of
such monstrosities is applied to the future : ' Wehe den minschen, de den
leven, wen de liide 4 arme kriegen und 2 par scho over de vote dragen und 2
hode up den kop hebben ! ' Heimreichs chron., Tondern 1819 ; 2, 311. It
may however refer merely to costume.

* (Joth. haihs, hanfs, halts, blinds, dumba.


SO is Hagaiio one-eyed, Walthari one-handed, Gunthari and Wie-
lant lame, of blind and dumb heroes there are j^lenty.

One thing seems peculiar to heroes, that their early years
should be clouded by some defect, and that out of this darkness
the bright revelation, the reserved force as it were, should suddenly
break forth. Under this head we may even place the blind birth
of the Welfs, and the vulgar belief about Hessians and Swabians
(p. 373). In Saxo Gram., p. 63, Uffo is dumb, and his father
Vermund blind ; to him corresponds the double Offa in the line of
Mercia, and both of these Offas are lame and dumb and blind.
According to the ' vita Ofae primi, Varmundi filii,' he was of hand-
some figure, but continued blind till his seventh year, and dumb
till his thirtieth ; when the aged Varmund was threatened with
war, all at once in the assembly Offa began to speak. The ' vita
Offae secundi' says,^ the hero was at first called Vinered (so we must
emend Pineredus), and was blind, lame and deaf, but when he
came into possession of all his senses, he was named Offa secundus.
Exactly so, in Stem. 142% HiorvarSr and Sigurlinn have a tall hand-
some son, but ' hann var ]?ogull, ecki nafn festiz viS hann '. Only
after a valkyrja has greeted him by the name of Hclgi, does he
begin to speak, and is content to answer to that name. Starkaffr
too was ]?ogull in his youth (Fornald. sog. 3, 36), and Hcdfdan was
reckoned stupid (Saxo, p. 134) ; just as slow was the heroism of
Dietleib in unfolding itself (Vilk. saga cap. 91), and that of Iliya in
the Eussian tales. Our nursery-tales take up the character as
dscherling, aschenhrodcl, ashcfis (cinderel) : the hero-youth lives
inactive and despised by the kitchen-hearth or in the cattle-stall,
out of whose squalor he emerges when the right time comes. I
do riot recollect any instance in Greek mythology of this exceed-
ingly favourite feature of our folk-lore.

Unborn children, namely those that have been cut out of the
womb, usually grow up heroes. Such was the famous Persian
liustem in Ferdusi, as well as Tristan according to the old story in
Eilhart, or the Russian hero Dobrunii Nikititch, and the Scotch
Macduff. But Volsungr concerns us more, who spoke and made
vows while yet unborn, who, after being cut out, had time to kiss
his mother before she died (Volsungas. cap. 2. 5). An obscure

^ These remarkable vitae Offae primi et secundi are printed after Watts's
Matth. Paris, i:)p. 8, 9.


passage in Fafnismul (Soem. 187*) seems to designate SigiirSr also
an ohorinn; and in one as difficult (Beow. 92), may not the 'umbor-
wesende ' which I took in a different sense on p. 370, stand for
2mJo7'-wesende, to intimate that Sceaf passed for an unborn ? The
Landnamabok 4, 4 has an Uni hinn oborni (m.), and 1, 10 an
Ulfrun in oborna (f ) ; for wise-women, prophetesses, also come into
the world the same way.^ Our Mid. Ages tell of an unborn hero
Hoyer (Benecke's Wigalois, p. 452) ; in Hesse, Eeinhart of Dalwig
was known as the unborn, being, after the ca^sarian operation,
brought to maturity in the stomachs of newly slaughtered swine.^
As early as the tenth century, Eckhart of St. Gall informs us :
Infans excisus et arvinae porci recens erutae, ubi incutesceret,
involutus, bonae indolis cum in brevi apparuisset, baptizatur et
Purchardus nominatur (Pertz 2, 120) ; this is the Burchardus
ingcnitus, afterwards abbot of St Gall. One Gebehardus, ex de-
functae matris Dietpurgae utero excisus, is mentioned in the Chron.
Petershus. p. 302, with the remark : De talibus excisis literae
testantur quod, si vita comes fuerit, felices in mundo habeantur.
To such the common standard cannot be applied, their extra-
ordinary manner of coming into the world gives presage of a higher
and mysterious destiny. Not unlike is the Greek myth of Metis
and Tritogeneia : the virgin goddess springs out of the forehead of
Zeus. The phrase about ' HloSr being born %cUh helmet, sicord and
horse ' (above, p. 76), is explained by the Hervararsaga, p. 490, to
mean, that the arms and animals which accompany the hero were
forged and born at the time of his birth. Schroter's Finnish Eunes
speak of a child that was born ar7ned : this reminds us of the
superstition about lucky children being born with hood and helmet
(see ch. XXVIII).

It was noticed about the gods (p. 321), that Balder's brother,
when scarcely born, when but one night old, rushed to vengeance,
unwashed and uncombed. This is like the children born of liten
Kerstin after long gestation : the newborn son gets up directly and
combs his hair, the new born daughter knows at once how to sew
silk. Another version makes her give birth to two sons, one of
whom combs his yellow locks, the other draws his sword, both
equipped for swift revenge (Svenska fornsanger 2, 254-6). Here

1 ITeiniroich's Nordfries. chr. 2, 341.
^ Zeitscluilt I'iir Hess, gesch. 1, 97.


combing and not combing seem to be the same characteristic, A
new born child speaks ; Norske eventyr 1, 139.

As the hirtli of beloved kings is announced to their people by
joyful phenomena, and their death by terrible, the same holds good
of heroes. Their generosity founds peace and prosperity in the
land. FroSi's reign in Denmark was a period of bliss ; in the year
of Ilakon's election the birds bred twice, and trees bore twice,
about which beautiful songs may be gleaned out of his saga, cap. 24.
On the night that Ilelgi was born, eagles cried, and holy waters
streamed from the mountains, Sam. 149^.

Sigur&'s walk and manner of appearing was impetuous, like
that of a god ; when he first approached the burg of Brynhildr,
* iorS dusaSi ok opphimin,' earth shook and heaven, Ssem. 241^ ;
and of Brynhild's laughing, as of that of the gods (p. 324), we are
told : ' hlo, boer allr dundi,' she laughed and all the castle dinned,
Ssem. 208^ A divine strength reveals itself in many deeds and
movements of heroes. Dietrich's fiery breath may be suggestive of
Donar, or perhaps only of a di^agon : * ob sin atem goebe fiur als
eines wilden trachen,' (Parz. 13-7, 18).

A widely prevalent mark of the hero race is their being sticldcd
hy leasts, or fed hy birds. A hind offers her milk to SigurSr when
exposed, Vilk. saga 142 ; a she-wolf gives suck to the infant
Dieterich (like Eomulus and liemus) together with her four blind
whelps, hence his name of Wolfdieterich. The same fellowship
with whelps seems imputed to the beginnings of the Gotlis and
8wabians, as to those of the llomans (p. 373) ; but the woodpecker
also, that Bee-wolf, brought food to the sons of Mars, and we have
come to know the Swabians as special devotees of Zio (p. 199).
The Servian hero Milosh Kobilitch was suckled by a marc (kobila),
Vuk 2, 101 ; does that throw light on the OHG. term of abuse
merihunsun, zagiinsun (EA. 643) ? A like offensive meaning
lurked in the Latin lupa.^ But it is not only to sucklings that
the god-sent animals appear ; in distress and danger also, swans,
ravens, wolves, stags, bears, lions will join the heroes, to render
them assistance ; and that is how animal figures in the scutcheons
and helmet-insignia of heroes are in many cases to be accounted for,
though they may arise from other causes too, e.g., the ability of
certain heroes to transform themselves at will into wolf or swan.

1 Fils de truie ; Garin 2, 229.


The swan's winy, tlie swan's coat, betokens another supernatural
quality which heroes share with the gods (p. 326), the power of
flying. As Wieland ties on his swan-wings, the Greek Perseus has
ivingcd shoes, talaria, Ov. met; 4, 6G7. 729, and the Servian Eelia is
called krik'it (winged), being in possession of krilo and okrilie
(wing and wing-cover), Vuk 2, 88. 90. 100. A piece of the wing
remaining, or in women a swan's foot, will at times betray the
higher nature.

The superliuman quality of heroes shines out of their eyes
(luminum vibratus, oculorum micatus, Saxo Gram. 23) : ormr i
cmga. The golden teeth of gods and heroes have been spoken of, p.
234. In the miirchen sons are born with a star on the forehead,
Kinderm. 96. Straparola 4, 3 ; or a golden star falls on the fore-
head, Pentam. 3, 10. The Dioscuri had a star or fkme shining on
their heads and helmets : this may have reference to the rays
encircling the head (p. 323), or to constellations being set in the
sky. In some cases the heroic form is disfigured by animal
peculiarities, as Siegfried's by his horny skin, and others by a
scaly ; the mtirchen have heroes with hedgehog spikes. The legend
of the Merovings, imperfectly handed down to us, must be founded
on something of the kind. AVhen Clodio the son of Faramund
with his queen went down to the shore, to cool themselves from
the sultry summer heat, there came up a monster (sea-hog ?) out of
the waves, which seized and overpowered the bathing queen. She
then bore a son of singular appearance, who was therefore named
Merovig, and his descendants, who inherited the peculiarity,
Merovings.^ Theophanes expressly declares, that the Merovings
were called Kpicndrai and Tpi,-)(opa'xaTat, because all the kings of
that house had bristles down the backbone (pax^'i), like swine.
We still find in Rol. 273, 29, where it is true they are enumerated
among iicathens,

di helde von Meres ;

vil gewis sit ir des,

daz niht kuoners mac sin :

an dem rucke tragent si horsten sum sictn.
The derivation of the name is altogether unknown. Can it possibly
have some connexion with the boar-worship of Fro, which may

p. 92

^ Fredegar's epitome (Rotiquct 2, 396), and Conradusi Ursperg., Arg. ICOi),
i. Per contra, MullenhoU" m Haupt'.s zeitschr. 6, 432.


have been especially prevalent among the Franks ? Lampr. Alex.
5368 also has : sin hut was ime bevangen al mit swincs hiirstcn (see

One principal mark to know heroes by, is their possessing
intelligent horses, and conversing with them. A succeeding chapter
will shew more fully, how heathendom saw something sacred and
divine in horses, and often endowed them with consciousness and
sympathy with the destiny of men. But to heroes they were indis-
pensable for riding or driving, and a necessary intimacy sprang up
between the two, as appears by tlie mere fact of the horses having
proper names given them. The touching conversation of Achilles
with his Xantlios and Balios (II. 19, 400 — 421) finds a complete
parallel in the beautiful Karling legend of Bayard ; compare also
Wilhelm's dialogue with Puzzdt (58, 21—59, 8), in the French
original with Bauccrd (Garin 2, 230-1), and Begon's with the same
Baucent (p. 230). In tlie Edda we have Skirnir talking with his
horse (Seem. 82^) ; and GoSrun, after SigurS's murder, with Grani
(231'^) :

ImipnaSi Grani ]?a, drap i gras hofc5i.
Well mif^ht Grani mourn, for the hero had bestridden him ever
since he led him out of Hialprek's stable (180), had ridden him
through the flames (202^), and carried off the great treasure.
Swedieli and Danish folk-songs bring in a sagacious steed Black,
witli whom conversation is carried on (Sv. vis. 2, 194. Sv. forns.
2, 257. Danske vis. 1, 323). In the poems on Artus the horses
are less attractively painted ; but how naively in the Servian,
when Mila shoes the steed (Vuk 1, 5), or Marko before his death
talks with his faithful Sharats (2, 243 seq. Danitza 1, 109). In
Mod. Greek songs there is a dialogue of Liakos with his horse
(Fauriel 1, 138), and similar ones in the Lithuanian dainos (lihesa
p. 224). The Persian Eustem's fairy steed is well-known (see

If many heroes are carried off in the bloom of life, like Achilles
or Siegfried, others attain a great age, beyond the limit of the
human. Our native legend allows Hildebrand the years of Nestor

1 A Mongolian warrior's dying song lias :

My poor cream-coloured trotter, you will get home alive.

Then tell my iiKjther, pray : ' full fiiteen wounds had he '.

And tell my father, pray : 'shot through the back was he,' &c. — Trans.


with undiminished strengtli, and to tlie Scandinavian StarkaSr is
measured out a life that runs through several generations ; the
divinely honoured GoSmuudr is said to have numbered near five
hundred years, Fornald. sog. 1, 411. 442. In the genealogies that
liave come down to us, great length of life is given to the first
ancestors, as it is in the Bil)le also. Snacrr hinoi gamli, sprung
from Kari and Jokull, is said to have attained 300 years, and
Hdlfdan gamli as many, Fornald. sug. 2, 8. The MHG. poem of
Dietrich's ancestors (18G9 — 2506) gives Didwart and Sigelicr 400
years of life each, Wolfdielericli 503, Hugdidcrich 450, and Didmar
340 ; Dietrich of Bern is the first that reaches only the ordinary
limit, Otnit the son of Sigeher was killed when young.^ The
Servian ]\larko was three hundred years old, almost like the giants
of old. On the other hand, the life of heroes is enfeebled by union
with goddesses and superhuman females. Examples will be given,
when the valkyrs are discussed ; the belief of the Greeks is
expressed in a remarkable passage of the Hymn to Venus 190,
where Anchises, after he has embraced Aphrodite, fears that he
shall lead a stricken life {afj,€V7]v6<;) among men :

eVel ov ^io6u\fxio<; avi)p
fyiyveTac, oare Oeal'i evvd^erai aOavuTgcn.
The goddess does not conceal, that age will come on him apace, and
that Zeus's thunderbolt will maim him if he boast of her favours.
The story of Staufenberger and the sea-fairy is founded on similar

Another thing in which the condition of heroes resembles that
of gods is, that particular local haunts and dwellings are assigned
them. Such abodes seem by preference to bear the name of stone,
as Gibichenstein, Brunhildenstein, Kriemhildenstein, Eigelstein,
Waskenstein ; which points to sacred rocks uninhabited by men,

I These are undoubtedly genuine myths, that lose themselves in the
deeps of time, however distorted and misplaced they may be. Sicjeher (OIIG.
Siguhari) is plainly the ON. Sigarr, from wliom the Sij^dingar or Siklingar
take their name ; Sigcher's (hiughter is called Sigclint, Sigar's daughter Signy,
but the two are identical. Hugdieterich, who in woman's clothing woos Hilde-
burg, is one with Haghariyr (Sw. Habor, Dan. Ilafbur), who likewise succeeds
in his suit for Sign;^ (Sw. Signil, Dan. Hignild), though liere the story has a
tragic end, and the names disagree ; but hug and hag, both from one root,
support each other. Sigcminne too, the wife ofWolfdieterich, who in the Ilel-
denbuch is the son of Hugdieterich, comes near to Signy. The part about
Hugdieterich in the Heldeubuch is throughout uncommonly sweet, and cer-
tainly very ancient.


and a primeval, firmly rooted worship. More rarely we find castle
or hall connected with a hero (Iringes burc, Orendelsal), a few times
ea and hum, oftener loay or street ; now, as the notion of a highway
lies close to that of a conspicuous column to which the roads led uj),
we may well connect the ' Herculis columnae,' the Irmansuli, with
the Eoland-joillars, which we come upon just in those northern
parts of Germany where heathenism prevailed latest. As king
Charles occupies Wuotan's place in certain legends, especially that
of the ' furious host,' Eoland, the noblest hero of his court, who is
to him almost exactly what Donar is to Wuotan, seems to replace
the divine vanquisher of giants. yEthelstdn-pillars have been
mentioned, p. 119. It is worthy of note, that, while Scandinavia
offers nothing else that can be likened to the Irmen-pillars, yet at
Skeningen, a town of Ostergotland, there stood erected in the
marketplace, just where Eoland-pillars do stand, the figure of a
giant or hero, which the people called Thore lang (Thuro longus),
and at which idolatry was practised in former times.^ This figure
appears far more likely to belong to the heathen god than to any
hero or king ; and probably the column in the market place of
Bavais in Hainault, from which seven roads branched off, and
which is said to have been reared in honour of a king Bavo, had a
similar meaning (see Suppl.).

According to a widely accepted popular belief, examined more
minutely in ch. XXXII on Spiriting away, certain heroes have
sunk from the rocks and fortresses they once inhabited, into clefts
and caverns of the mountains, or into subterranean springs, and are
there held \vi'apt in a seldom interrupted slumber, from which they
issue in times of need, and bring deliverance to the land. That
here again, not only Wuotan, Arminius, Dieterich and Siegfried,
but such modern heroes as Charles, Frederick Barbarossa and even
Tell are named, may assure us of the mystic light of myth which
has settled on them. It was a Norse custom, for aged heroes, dead
to the world and dissatisfied with the new order of things, to shut
themselves up in a hill: thus Herlaugr with twelve others goes
into the haugr (Egilss. p. 7), and in like manner Eticho the Welf,
accompanied by twelve nobles, retires into a mountain in the
Scherenzerwald, where no one could find him again (Deutsche

1 Olaus Mac^nus 14, 15. Stjernhook, De jure Sveon. vet., p. 326. Brooc-
mans beskrifn. 5iVer Ostergotland, Norrkoping 17 GO. 1, 190.


sagen, no. 518). Siegfried, Charles and Frederick, like King
Arthur of the Britons, abide in mountains with tlieir liost.

Be it be remarked lastly, that the heroic legend, like the divine,
is fond of running into triads. Hence, as 05in, Vili, Ve, or Har,
lafnhar and ThriSi stand together, there appear times without
number three heroic brothers together, and then also it commonly
happens, that to the third one is ascribed the greatest faculty of
success. So in the Scythian story of the three brothers Leipoxais,
Arpoxais and Kolaxais (Herod. 4, 5) : a golden plough, yoke and
sword having fallen from heaven, when the eldest son and the
second tried to seize them, the gold burned, but the tliird carried
them off. The same thing occurs in many mitrchen.


The relation of women to the gods is very different from that of
men, because men alone can found famous houses, while a woman's
family dies with her. The tale of ancestry contains the names of
heroes only ; king's daughters are either not named in it at all, or
disappear again as soon as they have been introduced as brides.
For the same reason we hear of deified sons, but not of deified
daughters ; nay, the marriage of mortals with immortals issues
almost always in the birth of sons. There are therefore no women
to be placed by the side of the heroes, whom in the preceding
chapter we have regarded as a mixture of the heavenly and earthly
natures : the distaff establishes no claim to immortality, like the
sword. To the woman and the bondman, idle in battle, busy in the
house, the Anglo-Saxons very expressively assigned the occupation
of weaving peace : heroic labours suited men.

But that which women forfeit here, is amply made up to them
in another sphere. In lieu of that distinct individuality of parts
given to heroes, which often falls without effect in the story, they
have general duties assigned them of momentous and lasting influ-
ence. A long range of charming or awful half-goddesses mediates
between men and deity : their authority is manifestly greater, their
worship more impressive, than any reverence paid to heroes. There
are not, strictly speaking, any heroines, but whatever among women
answers to heroes appears more elevated and spiritual. Brunhild
towers above Siegfried, and the swan-maid above the hero to whom
she unites herself (see Suppl.).

In other mythologies also it is observable, that in the second
rank of deities female beings predominate, while the first is reserved
almost exclusively for the male, but the divine heroes we have
spoken of come only in the third rank. I have on p. 250 partly
accounted for the longer duration of the tradition of several goddesses


by its having left more abiding, because more endearing, impressions
on the mind of the people.

There is no harder problem in these investigations, than to dis-
tinguish between goddesses and half-goddesses, Eveiy god's wife
must ipso facto pass for a real goddess ; but then there are unmarried
goddesses ; e.g., Hel. One who cannot be shown to be either wife
or daughter of a god, and who stands in a dependent relation to
higher divinities, is a half-goddess. Yet such a test will not
always serve, where a mythology has been imperfectly preserved ;
for the very reason that half-goddesses stand higher than half-gods,
the boundary-line between them and the class of gi'eat gods is
harder to hit. The line may be disturbed, by particular races
promoting divine beings of lower rank, whose worship got the
upper hand among them, to a higher; it is true the same thing
seems to occur in hero-worship, but not so often.

The mission and functions of half-goddesses then may be
roughly defined thus: to the upper gods they are handmaids, to
men revealers.

It is a significant feature in our heathenism, that women, not
men, are selected for this office. Here the Jewish and christian
view presents a contrast : prophets foretell, angels or saints from
heaven announce and execute the commands of God ; but Greek
and Teutonic gods employ both male and female messengers. To
the German way of thinking, the deciees of destiny assume a
greater sacredness in the mouth of woman, soothsaying and sorcery
in a good as well as bad sense is peculiarly a women's gift, and it
may even be a part of the same thing, that our language personifies
virtues and vices as females. If human nature in general shews a
tendency to pay a higher respect and deference to the female se.\,
this has always been specially characteristic of Teutonic nations.
Men earn deification by their deeds, women by their wisdom :

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