Jacob Grimm.

Teutonic mythology (Volume 1) online

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accessisset et cum ea delectaretur, radius solis intra vit os ejus, et tunc Karolus
vidit granum auri linguae ejus alfixum, quod fecit abscindi, et contingenti (1. in
continenti) mortua est, nee postea revixit. The grain of gold, on which the spell
hung, is evidently to explain the name of the city : later tradition (Petrarcha
epist. fara. 1, 3. Aretin's legend of Charlem. p. 89) has instead of it a ring,
which archbishop Turpin removes from the mouth of the corpse, and throws
into a lake near Aachen ; this Jake then attracts the king, and that is why he
made tlie town his favourite residence. There is no further mention of the
maiden's fairy existence. It w;x.s a popular belief (applied to the Frankish
king and gradually distorted) about the union of a wild-woman or mermaid
with a cjiristian hero. Not very ditlerently was Charles's ancestress Berhta, as
we saw above (p. 430), made into a 'good woman,' i.e. a fay. [The similarity
of names in the heroic line : Pejjin of Herstal, Charles Martel, Pepin the Little,
Charles the Great, seems to have made it doubtful whether Berhta was Charle-
magne's mother or his great-grandmother.]


Ares; in 4, 440 and 5, 518 "Epc^ dfiorov fie/xavta with Ares, who is
also followed by Ae2fio<; and ^6/3o^ (p. 207-8). And lastly, the
Charites are nearly allied ; and there was supposed to be a special
Charis of victory. Still nearer to our wood-wives stand particular
classes of nymphs, especially those whom Theocritus 5, 17 names
Ta9 Xiixvdha^ vv^t^a';, or those called vvfjic^at aKolfirjroi, Seivai deal
dypoLcoTa!,<; 13, 44. The graceful myth of swan- wives appears
indeed to be unknown to the Greeks and Romans, while we Teutons
have it in common with the Celts ; yet a trace of it remains in the
story of Zeus and Leda (p. 338), and in the swan's prophetic song,
as in the Indian Nalus too the gold-bedizened swan (hansa = anser,
goose) finds human speech (Bopp's ed. pp. 6. 7).

The Slavs have not developed any idea of goddesses of fate.^
The beautiful fiction of the vila is peculiar to Servian mythology :
she is a being half fay, half elf, whose name even resembles that
of the vala. The relation of valkyrs to christian heroes is suggested
by the fraternal bond between the vila and Marko (Vuk 2, 98. 232.
Danitza for 1826, p. 108), as also by the vilas appearing singly,
having proper names, and prophesying. In some things they come
nearer the German elfins of our next chapter : they live on hills,
love the song and the round dance (Ir. elfenm. Ixxxii), they mount
up in the air and discharge fatal arrows at men : ' ustrielila ga vila,'
the vila has shot him with her shaft. Their cry in the wood is
like the sound of the woodpecker hacking, and is expressed by the
word 'kliktati'. The vila has a right to the child whom his mother
in heedless language (diavo ye odniyo !) has consigned to the devil
(Vuk no. 394), as in similar cases the wolf or bear fetches him away.
Vile te odnele! (vilae te auferant) is a curse (Vuks sprichw. p. 36);
'kad dot'u vile k otchim' (quando vilae ante oculos veniunt) signifies
the moment of extreme distress and danger (ibid. 117). The vila
rides a seven-year old stag, and bridles him with snakes, like the
Norse enchantresses (see Suppl.).^

^ The Bohem, sudice translates parca, but it simply means judge (fem.) :
the Eussians even adopt the word parka. We must at least notice the
lichoplezi in Hanka's Glosses 21% who are said to be three, like the sirens and

- The Bulgarian samodiva or samovUa corresponds to the Servian vila.
When the wounded Pomak cries to his 'sister' samodiva, she comes and
cures him. The samodivy carry off children ; and mischief wrought by the


elements, by storms, &c., is ascribed to them. Like the Fates, they begift the
newborn : three samodivy visit the infant Jesus, one sews him a shirt, another
knits him a band, and the third trims a cap for him. Some stories about
them closely resemble those of the swan-maids. Stoyan finds three samodivy
bathing, removes their clothes, restores those of the two eldest, but takes the
youngest (Mariyka) home, and marries her. St. John christens her first
child, and asks her to dance as do the samodivy. But she cannot without her
'samodivski drekhi,' Stoyan produces them, she flies away, bathes in the
mominski fountain, and recovers her mominstvo (virginity). — Trans.

End of Vol. I.












Teutonic mythology,



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