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' Fatidicae, aiigescente superstitione dcae' p. 95 (see Su])pl.).

This Germanic reverence for woman, already emphasized by
Tacitus, is markedly expressed in our old systems of law, especially
the Alanianniau and Eavarian, by doubling the composition for
injury ;rtA. 404) : the defenceless one thereby receives protection
and consecration, nay, she is to forfeit the privilege the moment
she takes up man's weapons. And not only does a Avorsliip of
woman shew itself in the minne-songs of our Mid. Ages, but in a


remarkable formula of chivalry occurring both in folk-songs and in
court-poems : ' durch allcr fromven ere,' by all women's honour,
Wolfdiet. 104 Morolt 855. 888. 2834. Morolf 1542. Ecke 105.
117. 174. Eoseng. 2037. MsH. 3, 200=^; 'durch reiner (pure)
frouwen ere,' Ecke 112 ; 'durch luillen (for the sake) aller frouwcn)
thus one hero cries to another ' nu beite (stay), durch loillen aller
meide !' Eab. 922-4 ; 'durch wille7i sclioencr wibe,' Ecke 61 ; 'durch
andcr magci (other maids') ere' Gudr. 4863 ; ' durch dim wip,' in
the name of all women, Parz. 13, 16 ; 'ere an mir elliu wip,' respect
in me all women, Erec 957 ; ' eret an mir elliu wip ! ' says a woman
in Parz. 88, 27, to ensure attention to her prayer ; ' cdlc7i meiden
tuot ez ze eren (do it in honour of),' Gudr. 1214, 3; 'ere und minne
elliu ivi'p ! ' is the injunction on giving a sword, Trist. 5032 ; .' tuon
allez daz frouwen vnlle si,' do all that may be woman's will, Bit.
7132 ; *als liep iu q,]\.q frouwen stn,' as all women are dear to you,
Laurin 984. Their worship was placed on a par with that of
God : ' eret Got und diu wip,' Iw. 6054 ; ' durch Got und durch der
ivihe Ion (guerdon)' Wh. 381, 21 ; 'wart so mit riterschaft getan, des
Got sol danken und diu ivip,' may God and the ladies requite it,
Wh. 370, 5; 'dienen Got und alle frouwen erm,' Ms. 2,99^; of
Parzival it is even said : ' er getruwete ivihcn haz (better) dan Gote,'
Parz. 370, 18. These modes of speech, this faith, can be traced up
to a much earlier age, as in 0. i. 5, 13 : ' do sprah er erlieho ubaral,
so man zi froiciin skal' ; and v. 8, 58: ' ni sit irbolgan v)ibe' ye
shall not bully a woman, Etzels hofhalt. 92-3 ; ' sprich wiben iibel
mit nihte ' says the po.-m of the Stete ampten 286. The very word
frau is the name of a goddess, conf, p. 299 on the meanings of
frau and weib (see Suppl.).

But more than that, when the hero in stress of battle looked upon
his love (OHG.trutin,trutinna, MHG. triutinne), thouglit o/her, named
her name, he increased thereby his strength, and was sure of the
victory. We might even bring under this head the declaration of
Tacitus : memoriae proditur, quasdam acies inclinatas jam et labantes
a feminis restitutas constantia precum et objectu pectorum. From the
poems of the 13th century I will quote the principal passages only :

und als er dar zuo an saeh (on-saw, looked at)

die schoenen frowen Eniten,

daz half (holp) im vaste striten (fight hard). Er. 933.

swenne mich der muot iwcr ermant (the thought of you mans),


su ist sigesoelic (victorious) min liaut :

wand (for) iwer guote iiiiune

die steilcent mine sinne (nerve my senses),

daz mir den vil langen tac (all the long day)

nilit -wider gewesen mac (nought can vex). Er. 8SC7.

din da gcgcnicvrfic snz (who there present sat),

diu gehalf ir manne baz (she holp her man better).

ob im dehein zwivel (if ever a doubt) geschach,

swenn (whenever) er si danne wider (again) an sack,

ir schosne gap im niwe kraft (strength),

so daz er imzagehaft (undismayed)

sine sterke wider gewan (his strength regained)

und vaht (foug4it) als ein geruowet (rested) man. Er. 0171.

der gedanc (thinking) an sin sckane wip

der kreftigete im den lip (life, body). Er. 9229.

swenne im diu muoze (opportunity) geschach

daz er die maget (maid) reht ersach,

daz gap ir gesellen (to her fellow, lover)

Gawane manlich ellen (elan). Parz. 409, 13. 410, 5.

nu sack er daz si umb in was in sorgen (in fear for him),

alrest er niuwe kraft enpfant (felt). Lohengr. p. 54-5.

den Heiden minne nie verdroz (never wearied),

des (therefore) was sin herze in strite groz. Parz. 740, 7.

ern welle (if he do not) an minne doiken,

sone mag er niht entwenken (cannot escape). Parz. 740, 15.

wes sumest (wherefore delayest) du dich, Parzival,

daz du an die kiuschen liehtgemal (pure-one so bright)

niht dcniccst, ich mein din wip,

wiltu behalten (save) hie den lip? Parz. 742, 27.

der getoufte nam (the christian gained) an kreften zuo,

er ddht (thought), des was im nilit ze fruo (none too soon),

an Sin wip die kiiniginnc

unt an ir werden (worthy) minne. Parz. 743, 23.

swu ich sider (after) kom in not (difiiculty),

ze hant so ich (the moment I) an si ddhtc,

ir minne helfe brahte. Parz. 768, 27.

miiede was ir beder lip (weary were both their bodies),

niuwan daz sic (liad they not) ddhtcn an diu wip

sie wffiren bcdcsamt gelegen (both together fallen). AU.bl. 1,340.

400 ^'>'ISE WOMEN.

In the Carmen de riiyllide et Flora it is said 31, 4 : ' Ille me com-
memoraf inter ipsas caedes/ my beloved in the battle breathes my
name, to issue therefrom victorious.^ This sounds altogether
heathen, for the gods too were at your side the moment you uttered
their names. Snorri, in Yngl. saga cap. 2, says of OiSinn : ' sva var
oc um bans menu, hvar sem }?eir urSu i nauSum staddir, a sia eSa
a landi, ];a Icdllu&ii |?eir a nafn bans, oc ]?6ttiz iafnan fa af ]?vi fro,'
so was it also with his men, wherever they were in trouble, on sea
or on land, then called they on his name, and innnediately were
gladdened by it. When Hrungnir became intolerable to the Ases,
' pa nefna j^eir Tlior, }wi nsest kom Thorr i hollina,' Sn. 108. Kraka,
a semi-divine being, admonished Erich: si suprema necessitatis
violentia postularet, nominis sui nuncvijationc remedium celerius
esse quaerendum, affirmans se divina partim virtute subnixam et
quasi cousortem coelitus insitam numinis gestare potentiam, Saxo
Gram., p. 72. So the valkyrja conies to the rescue of her chosen
hero, when he calls out her name ; she is become his guardian, as if
sent by the gods to bring him aid (see Suppl.).

The mission of such women then is to announce and prepare
good or ill, victory or death to mortal men ; and we have seen that
the popular faith retained longest its connexion with fighting and
victory. Their own being itself, like that of the heroes, rests on
human nature, they seem for the most part to have sprung from
kingly and heroic families, and probably an admixture of divine
ancestors is to be presumed in their case too. But to perform their
office, they must have wisdom and supernatural powers at their
command : their wisdom spies out, nay, guides and arranges com-
plications in our destiny, warns of danger, advises in difficulty. At
the birth of man they shew themselves predicting and endowing,
in perils of war giving help and granting victory. Therefore they
are called wise toomcn, ON. spdkonor (conf. spakr, OHG. spahi,
prudens), Scot, spae wife, MHG. loisiu wip, Nib. 1473. 3. 1483, 4
(see Suppl).

1. Itis, Ides (Dis).
But I will first take an older word, which appears to me to yield

in time
favour '.

1 Philander of Sittewald 2,727, Soldatenl. p. 241, still mentions the practice
,ime of dan<^er 'of commending oneself to the loved one's grace and

iTis. 401

exactly the meaning we have just unravelled, and in its generalness
to comprehend all the particular beings to be studied more minutely
by and by. The OIIG. itis pi. itisi, OS. ides, pi. idisi, AS. ides, pi.
idesa, denotes femina in general, and can be used of maids or matrons,
rich or poor.^ Yet, like the Greek vv/x^r}, it seems even in the
earliest times to have been specially applied to superhuman beings,
who, being considered lower than goddesses and higher than earthly
women, occupy precisely that middle rank which is here in
question. Tacitus informs us, that a famous battle-field on the
Weser was called by the Cheruscans IdisiaYiso (so I emend Idis-
taviso), i.e., nympharum pratum, women's meadow ; it matters not
whether the spot bore that name before the fight with the Eomans,
or only acquired it afterwards (v. Haupt's zeitschr. 9, 248). There
at one time or another a victory was won under the lead of these
exalted dames. The Merseburg poem sets tlie idisi before us in
fall action :

sum^ hapt heptidun, suma heri lezidun,
suma clubodun umbi cuniowidi ;
Some put a check (on the fighting), as we read in Renner 20132 :
dez muoz (therefore must) ich he/ten einen haft
an dirre materie an minen danc (against my will),
wan ich fiirhte (for I fear) sie werde ze lane.
Others letted the host (hinder, make late, Goth, hari latidedun) ;
others again grasped (clawed) at chains or wreaths, i.e., withs and
twigs with which to twist shackles, or to twine garlands for the
victor. Here then their business was to bind and check, which is
also demanded by the very object of the conjuring-spell ; in striking
harmony with this are the names of two Norse valkyrs, mentioned
together in Stem. 45*, Hlock = OHG. Hlancha, i.e., catena, and
Herfiotr = OHG. Herifezzara, exercitum vinciens. But it must
have been as much in their power to set free and help on, as to
shackle and hamper. Compounded with itis we have the female
names Itispuruc (Meichelb. no. 162), Itisburg (Trad. fuld. Schannat
181), Idisburg (Lacombl. no. 87), and Itislant (Graff 1, 159); which,
like Ililtipurc, Sigipurc, Sigilant (MB. 14, 362), are proper to such
women of our olden time (see Suppl.).^

1 Freolici; meowle = ides, Cofl. exon. 479,2. ' Weras and idesa,' or 'eorlas
and idesa' are contrasted, ibid. 176, 5. 432, 2.

* Here the local meaning coincides with the personal ; we may therefore



But we obtain much fuller information as to tlieir nature from
the Norse authorities. It has been overlooked hitherto, that the
OHG. itis, AS. ides, is the same as the OK dis pi. disir ; similar
instances of aphseresis are the Eigr for Iring on p. 234, and Sangrim,
Singrim for Isangrim, Isingrim (Eeinh. ccviii). Any remaining
doubt disappears on comparing the Eddie ' dis Skioldunga,' Saem.
169* 209* with the AS. ' ides Scildinga/ Beow. 2337. The Norse
disir likewise are sometimes kind protecting beings, sometimes
hostile and hindering, Ssem. 185* 195* 254'^ 273*. An instance of
the latter sort is found in the story of ThiSrandi, whom disir
destroyed, ' thann er sagt at disir vaegi,' quem deas interfecisse
dicunt {Nialss. cap. 97), though the full narrative (Fornm. sog. 2,
195) calls them simply konur, women; so Spddisir, nymphae
vaticinantes, Vols, saga cap. 19, means just the same as spdkonur ;
and the phrase ' ecki eru allar disir dauSar enn ' in Alfs saga cap.
15, means in the most general sense, all good spirits are not dead
yet ; ' ySr munu dauSar disir allar,' to you all spirits are dead,
Fornald. sog. 2, 47. But the Norse peoj)le worshipped them, and
offered them sacrifice : the mention of disablot is very frequent,
Egilss. cap. 44 p. 205; Vigagl. saga cap. 6 p. 30 ; 'biota kumla
disir ^ deabus tumulatis sacrificare, Egilss. p. 207. This passage
implies a connexion between disir and ghosts, departed spirits,
whose reappearance portends something: 'honor hugSak daitffar
koma i nott,' dead w^omen, i.e., disir, come at night, Saem. 254*.
Herjans dis (Seem. 213^) is nympha Odini, a maiden dwelling at
Valholl in the service of OSinn; dis Skioldunga (Seem, 169* 209*),
divine maid sprung from the Skioldung stock, is an epithet both of
Sigrun and of Brynhild, conf. AS. ides Scyldinga, ides Helminga,
Beow. 1234. But Freyja herself is called Vanadis, nympha
Vanorum, Sn. 37; and another goddess, SkaSi ondurdis (walking
in wooden shoes), Sn. 28, which is equivalent to oxid.\vcgu&. Several
proper names of women are compounded with dis: Thordis,
Hiordis, Asdis, Vigdis, Halldis, Ereydis (to which might have
corresponded an OHG. Donaritis, &c.) : they prove the pretty high
antiquity of the monosyllabic form dis, which even in the Edda
invariably alliterates with D. With the orginal form idis the

compcare Magaclaburff with Idisaburg, Idisoburg, and Lslant with Itislant,
Itisolant. The Frank ish Dispargum on the contrary seems not to be Idisberg,
but Tiesberg, fanum Martis (Herm. Miiller, SaUc law, p. 33-4).


name of the goddess Idunn may j)0ssibly be connected (see

2. Veleda. Ganna. Alarun.

If, as I suppose, the generic term idis was already current in
the time of Tacitus, he gives us other more specific appellations as
mere proper names, though still a certain general meaning seems
to belong to them too. His statements about Veleda, Ganna, and
A-iirinia I have already quoted in ch. V, where the connexion
between prophetesses and the priestly office was pointed out,
Veleda appears to be almost an appellative, and akin to the Norse
Vala, Volva (p. 97-8), or even to the masc. Volundr (p. 378), per-
haps also to the name valkyrja.^ She lives on a toioer, like Jetha
(p. 96) and Brynhildr (Vols, saga cap. 24). Treaties were ratified in
her presence ; she not only prophesied, but had to settle disputes
among the people, and carry out plans. In Ssem. 4*^ 5* the Vala,
after whom the famous lay Voluspa is named, is also called Hei&r
and Gidlveig ; and as our female names Adalheid, Alpheid, &c., are
formed with -heid, Finn Magnusen p. 416^ would derive Veleda
from a supposed Valaheid, which however is nowhere found (see
Suppl.). The description given of her is an attractive one : where-
ever in the land this vala velspa (fatidica) came, she worked
witchery, she was believed to travel about and make visitations to
houses. This ' til husa koma ' reminds us of the ' drepa d vett sem
vdhvr,' pulsare aedes sicut fatidicae, Stem. 63% as in other cases also
prophesying, inspiring and boon-bestowing women were always
supposed to pass through the country, knocking at the houses of
tliose whom they would bless.

Ganna (p. 95-6) could be explained with more certainty, if the
real meaning of its root ginnan were disclosed to us : a MHG.
ginnen is secare, the ON", ginna allicere, seducere; and in Siem. 21''
we are warned not to trust the wheedling words of valas, 'volo
vilmaili trui engi maSr ' ; we shall see presently, how the AS. poets
use similar expressions about Wyrd.

When Drusus had crossed the Weser and was nearing the Elbe,

1 I fiufl lValader\c\v>. in Trad. corb. p. 364, § 'J13 ; a wild woman is called
in Wolfdieteiich 514 'die wildo n-aldin' nuA 735 ' diu iibel walledein' ; but this
seems a corruption of valaudiune, .she-devil.


there met him in the laud of the Cheruscaiis a superhuman female,
ryvvrj Ti'i fiei^cov ?) Kara avOpoiTiov (^vatv, who forbade his farther
advance, and foretold his approaching end (Dio Cass. 55, 1). Species
larharae mulieris, humana amplior, victorem tendere ultra, sermone
Latino, prohibuit (Sueton. in Claudio 1).^ There may have been
German folk-tales about this, which became known to the Eomans.
Wise-women of the fatherland, as well as heroes, rose up in their
country's need, and by their appearance terrified the foe.

Aurinia is said (p. 95) to have been famous in Germany before
Veleda ; copyists may easily have corrupted ali into ' au,' and runa
into 'rinia': we should then have Aliruna, though it would be
still more handy if Tacitus had written Alioruna. But anyhow we
cannot fail to recognise the agreement (which many have noted)
with Jornandes cap. 24, who, in accounting for the origin of the
Huns, relates of the Gothic king Filimer : ' Eepperit in populo suo
quasdam magas muliercs, quas patrio sermone aliornmnas (al.
alyrumnas, aliorunas, aliuruncas) is ipse cognominat, easque habens
suspectas de medio sui proturbat, longeque ab exercitu suo fugatas
in solitudine coegit errare. Quas silvestres homines, quos faunos
ficarios vocant, per eremum vagantes dum vidissent, et earum se
complexibus in coitu miscuissent, genus hoc ferocissimum edidere.'
Many names of women are formed with -r-iin, -runa (Gramm. 2,
517), and OHG. documents even offer, though sparingly, Alariutn
Aleruna, MB. 3,416 (an. 1140); 'Gosprecht der Alraumjn sun,'
MB. 27, 80 (an. l.')09). I have never seen Elirun, the form we
should expect from ali-.- But it is significant, that the OX. name
Olrun, Siem. 133-4, belongs precisely to a icisc-iooman ; and alruncv
(Graff 2, 523), now alrauii, from its old sense of a prophetic and
diabolic spirit, has at length passed into that of the root (mandragora,

1 A similar tale about Alexander Severus : Midier Druias eunti exclamavit
Gallico sermone, ' vadas, nee victoriam speres, nee te niiliti tuo credas ! ' Ael.
Lampridiiis in Alex. Sev. cap. 60. And Attila at the passage of tlie Lech is
said to have been scared away by a rune-maiden calling out three times ' back,
Attila ! ' Paul of Stetten's Erl. aus der gesch. Augsburgs, p. 25. Of still more
weight is the agreement of an ON. tradition in Saxo Gram. p. 15 : 'iladingum
(our mythic Harding, Hartung) obvia femina hac voce compellat :

Seu pede rura teras, seu ponto carbasa tendas,

infestos patiere deos, totum(]^ue per orbem

propositis inimica tuis elementa videbis.
'^ It throws some light on the meaning of -run, that in AS. also hirgrAna
or burgrunan stands for parcae and fiu'iae (Lye sub v., and Ul. epinal. 617).

alarOn. norni. 405

mandrake) out of wliich he is cut. Wo now turn to some other
names, about which the fountain of tradition flows more freely (see

3. ISToRNi (Fatae).

The three Fates are the subject of an independent and profound
myth in the Edda. Collectively they are called the nornir, and
singly, JJr&r, Verffandi, SJculd, Stem. 4=^. Sn. 18. The term noni
{parca^l has not been discovered hitherto in any other dialect,^
though undoubtedly it belongs to a genuine Teutonic root, and is
formed like thorn, corn, horn, &c., and would have been in OHG.
uorn, pi. norni ; but even Swedish and Danish know it no longer
(see Suppl.). In the three proper names it is impossible to mistake
the forms of verbal nouns or adjectives : Urffr is taken from the
pret. pi. of verSa (varS, urSum), to become, Verffandi is the pres.
part, of the same word, and Shdd the past part, of skula, shall, the
auxiliary by which the future tense is formed. Hence we have
what was, what is, and what shall be, or the past, present and
future, very aptly designated, and a Fate presiding over each.^ At
the same time the very names prove that the doctrine of norns was
originally not foreign to any of the Teutonic nations. A Gothic
Vaiirjjs, Vai'rSandei, Skulds, an OHG. Wurt, Werdandi, Scult, and
so on, must have been known once as personal beings ; in the OS.

1 V;

Nurnherg (mons Noricus) has nothing to do with it, it is no very old
town either (in Bohmers regest. first in 1050, no. 1607 ; conf. MB. 29, 102).
In the tiekls at Dauernheim near Nidda is a well called Nornborn, Nornhurn,
and its spring is said to flow only when there is war. But I should like to see
the name authenticated by an old document. The AS. gen. pi. neorxena, which
only occurs in ' neorxena wong ' = paradisus, has been proposed, but the ab-
breviation would be something unheard of, and even the nom. sing, neorxe or
neorxu at variance with norn i besides, the Parcac are nowhere found connected
with paradise. May we trace norn to niosan (sternutare), whose past part, is in
OHG. noran, MHG. norn, because of the prophetic virtue there is in sneezing
(ch. XXXV) •] But the special meaning in this verb [con;i. with nose] seems
older than any such general meaning, and its ON. form hniosa stands opposed.
- ' Fatinih dicunt esse quicciuid dii effantur. Fatum igitur dictum a faudo,
i.e., loquendo. Tria autem fata finguutur in colo, in fuso, digitisque fila ex
lana torquentibus, propter trina tempora : praderiium, quod in fuso jam
nctum at<|ue involutum eM, praesens, quod inter digitos nentis trahitur,/((i/(r-
v.m in lana quae colo implicata est, et quod adhuc per digitos nentis ad i'usum
tanquam praesens ad praeteritum trajiciendum est,' Isidori etym. 8, 11 § 92, a
pa.ssage pretty extensively circulated in the JNIid. Ages (v. Gl. Jun. ."^98), yet
)io proof of the Teutonic notion being borrowed from the classical. In § 93
Isidore adds: ' quas (parcas) tres esse voluerunt, unam quae vitam homiius
ordiatur, alteram quae contexat, tertiam quae rumpat '.


and AS. poetry we are able to lay our finger on the personality of
the first norn : ' thiu Wurdh is at handun ' says the Heliand 146,
2, just as ' dod is at hendi,' 92, 2 : the Fate, or death, stands so
near, that she can grasp with her hand ^ the man who is fallen due
to her ; we should say just as concretely ' is at hand, is at the
door '. Again : ' thiu Wurth uilhida thuo,' drew nigh then, Hel.
163, 16. ' Wurth ina benam,' the death-goddess took him away
66, 18. Ill, 4. Not so living is the term as used in the Hildebr.
lied 48, ' weivurt skihit,' or perhaps separately ' we ! wurt skihit,'
because ' geschehen ' to happen is used more of abstract inanimate
things. An OHG. gloss also has umrt for fatum (Graff 1, 992).
Far more vivid are the AS. phrases : ' me J^ajt Wyrcl ^ gewaf/
parca hoc mihi texuit, Cod. exon. 355 ; ' Wi/rd oft nereS unfoegne
eorl, Jjonne his ellen deah,' parca saepe servat virum, donee virtus
ejus viget (ellan taoc, Hildeb.), Beow. 1139 ; 'him wa^s Wt/jxI un-
gemete neah, se J?one gomelan gretan sceolde, sccean sawlehord,
sundur gedffilan lif wi(5 lice,' 4836 (so,' ' deaS ungemete neah ' 5453) ;
' swa him Wijrd ne gescraf,' ita ei fatum non ordinavit, decrevit,
Beow. 5145. El. 1047. conf. Boeth. ed. Eawl. p. 151; ' ealle
Wi/rd forsweop,'^ swept all away, Beow. 5624; 'hie seo Wj/rd
beswiic, forleolc and forlserde,' eos parca decepit, allexit, seduxit,
Andr. 613; 'us seo Wyrd sceSeS,' nos fatum laedit, Andr. 1561.
The instances in Csedmon are less concrete, yet in 61, 12 the Wyrd
is called 'wiilgrim,' bloodthirsty. — Of the Wi/rd then are predicated :
gretan (excitare, OHG. cruozan), scrifan (ordinare, OHG. scripan),"*
wefan (texere, OHG. wepan), beswican (decipere, OHG. pisuichan),
forlsecan (fallere, OHG. farleichan), forlseran (seducere, male
informare), sceSan (nocere). She is painted powerful, but often
cruel and warlike (see SuppL). We cannot in the same way point
out a personal application of the other two names, though the

1 MHG. 'er hat den tot an der hant,' Eeinh. 1480. 1806. Nib. 1480, 4.
Morolt. 29b. Dietp 29^ Pf. Chuonrat 3860. Karl 52\

2 With D, not Th, because the pret. of weorSan is wearS, pi. wiirdon,
which supports the derivation I' proposed ; so the OHG. Wurt, because werdan
has pret. pi. wartum.

^ So I read for the 'forsweof of the editions, conf. forswapen, Credm. 25, 9.

^ Conf. note to Elene p. 161, on a similar use of the MHG. schr'ihen, and
Klausen in Zeitschr. fiir alterth. 1840 p. 226 on the Roman notion of the
Parcae keeping a uwitten record. N. Cap. 50. 55 renders parca by hrievara, the
recorder. TertuUian, De anima cap. 39, informs us that on the last day of the
first week of a child's life they used to pray to the fata Scribunda. Fleming
479 calls the three Fates ' des verhangnis schreiberinnen '.


third, Skuld, OHG. Scult, AS. Scijld, continued in constant use as
an abstract fern, skuld, scult, scyld, in the sense of debitum, delic-
tum.^ AVhen Christianity had banished the heathen notions, one
name alone was found sufficient, and soon even that died out,
giving ])lace to new fangled terms such as schicksal, verhangnis
(destiny) and the like, far more cumbrous and unwieldy than the
old simple words. The English and especially the Scotch dialect
seems to have harboured the old word longest : we all know the
weird-sisters in ]\Iacbeth, which Shakspeare took from Hollinshed ;
they are also in Douglas's Virgil 80, 48, and the Complaynt of
Scotland (written 1548) mentions, among other fabulous stories,
that ' of the Hire ivelrdsy stirs' (Leyden's ed. Edinb. 1801, p. 99) ;
in Warner's Albions England (first printed 1616) we have ' the
vjeirdelves,' probably meaning the Parcae of the ancients. More
native apparently is * the ive'ird lady of the woods,' who, when
asked for advice, prophesies out of her cave, Percy's Eeliques 3,

Even in the North, Urd'r must have been of more consequence
than the other two, for the fountain by the sacred ash is named
after her, Ur&arhrunnr^ and beside it stands the hall from which
the three norns issue ; it is also ' Urd'ar orc5,' word (Ssem. 112*)

Online LibraryJacob GrimmTeutonic mythology (Volume 1) → online text (page 42 of 46)