86 terms

German 3313 Northern Myths and Legends, Texas Tech,

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500 BCE
Proto-Germans displace Celts in northern Germany.
120 BCE
Cimbri and Teutoni, Germanic tribes, invade Roman Empire.
9
Cheruscan chieftan Arminius (Hermann) defeats Roman legions commanded by Quinctilius Varus, end of Roman
attempts to conquer Germanic territory.
100
Tacitus writes Germania, describing the lands and tribes of Germany.
375
Huns appear in Europe, overrun the Ostrogothic King Ermenrichus. He is the basis for Jormunrekof the Volsungasaga.
Beginning of dissolution of Roman Empire.
451
Battle of Catalaunian Fields, Attila defeated by combined Roman/German army
476
Scirian chieftan Odovacar deposes last emperor Romulus Augustulus, End of Roman Empire
550
Migration Period ends. Beginning of early medieval societies and states in Europe
793
Vikings loot Lindisfarne, first Viking raid recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
800
Earliest Skaldic poetry
Charlemage crowned Holy Roman Emperor, controls most of European continent
870
Vikings begin settlement of Iceland
930
Althing established on Iceland, beginning of the Republic
985
Eirik the Red sails from Iceland with a group of settlers headed to Greenland
1000
Conversion of Iceland to Christianity
1014
Brian Boru defeats Norse army in battle of Clontarf (Njal's Saga)
1066
Harold Hardrada killed at Battle of Stamford Bridge in England
William the Conquerer, great-great-great-grandson of Rollo, invades England, Battle of Hastings
End of the Viking Age
1195
Nibelungenlied written in Southern Germany
1200
Saga of the Volsungs written down. The only manuscript in existence dates from c. 1400.
1220
Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson written down
1260
Codex Regius manuscript of the Poetic Edda probably written down
1262
Iceland comes under Norwegian rule, end of the Icelandic Republic
1280
Vinland sagas (Eirik the Red's Saga and Saga of the Greenlanders) probably written down
Njal's Saga composed
Myths
-traditional story of gods or heros set in remote past
-oral phenomenon
-separate from religion and ritual, but often closely connected in cultural practice
Legend
-stories of gods or heroes
-generally more historical than divine
-tend to focus on mortal heros
Folktale
-stories about common people
-witches, giants, trolls ect
-historical basis more tenuous than legends
Fairy Tale
-reflect aspirations of the common people
-undetermined location and time
-highly individualistic and competitive struggle against limits of humankind and its mortality
Saga
-collections of narratives about a particular individual, enterprise, locale, or family
-some based closely on history others entirely fictional
How can one interpret a myth?
1. A form of cultural history or religious lore
2. As a allegory
3.As a theological or metaphorical dimension of the human condition
4.As a psychological expression
5.As a archetypical pattern
Indo-European
-polytheistic system
-"Human-like" gods
-struggle with monstrous beings
-favorable attitude towards human affairs
-amoral
-not omnipotent
Indo-European cont.
-linguistic and sescries the languages that descend from a common tongue(proto-indo-european or PIE)
-originated around 4500BCE
Proto-Indo-Eropean, PIE
-Sir William Jones found systematic similarities between sanskrit, greek and latin
-reconstructed by comparative linguistics
-spoken c. 4500 BCE
Great Consonant Shift
-probably occurred by 500 BCE
-Jacob Grimm described the sound shift, now named Grimm's Law
The Finns
-members of a diff linguistic group
-lived in present day Finland, parts of Sweden, and along the Baltic coast
The Saami
(Laplanders) are linguistically related to the Finns, but have a distinctly different cultural lifestyle. They are "indigenous" European tribes.
The Celts
originally ranged over most of Western Europe, but by recorded history had been pushed to the margins of their territory, living in Ireland, Brittany in France, Cornwall and Wales in Britain. They had great interaction with Germanic peoples.
The Slavs
inhabit large areas around the Baltic sea and throughout eastern Europe.
Merseburg Charms
Earliest recorded pre-christian germanic texts
Tacitus's Germania
-First detailed account of Germanic tribes.
-Written in Latin by Roman politician and historian Tacitus (55 - c. 120 A.D.) with probable first-hand acquaintance with Germanic tribes.
-Tacitus considered the Germans to be the most dangerous, and therefore the most important of Rome's enemies.
-Germanic tribes praised for their personal virtues, loyalty, honesty, bravery, fidelity; their few vices included drunkenness (beer) and lethargy.
-Vigorous "noble barbarian" image contrasted strongly with his condemnation of Roman vice and self-indulgence.
Tacitus's Germania cont
-Germanic gods "beyond good and evil"
-Personal bond of mutual service, trust and loyalty
-Strong concept of fate, determining the lives of men and gods alike
-No permanent temples; gods worshiped in sacred outdoor places, groves, springs, lakes
Lay of Hildebrand
-Fragment represents the absolute beginning of recorded German literature.
-Written in Old High German by two monks in monastery in Fulda around the year 810, under Charlemagne
-Warrior honor code, heroic tragedy
Northern Germanic
Scandinavian languages
Eastern Germanic
Goths, Vandals and Burgundians, all extinct groups
Western Germanic
-English, Dutch, Low and High German and their ancestors
-is actually a very diverse group with close affiliations to both Northern and Eastern Germanic.
Voluspa- The Seeress's Prophesy
-Voluspa is the first poem contained in the Codex Regius manuscript of the Poetic Edda, written down around 1270 A.D
-Possibly a "sacred text" alluding in shorthand to the central elements of Norse cosmology
-Unclear if the author of the poems still believes in the gods
Voluspa cont.
-Odin interrogates a Volva, or shamaness / seeress, about the doom of the gods.
-Odin is a magician himself and is able to compel her to speak, though she appears to do so reluctantly.
-She is able to see back to the beginning of time and forward to the end of time.
-She recounts aspects of several Norse myths known (at least partially) from other sources
Themes in Voluspa
Creation of the Earth
Yggdrasil
Ymir
The Æsir and the golden age of the gods
List of dwarfs
Creation of man and woman
Gullveig, a woman well versed in magic.
War with Vanir
Death of Baldr
Fimbulvetr
Ragnarok
Death of Odin and Thor
Rebirth after the Fire
Ymir
Frost Giant
Cow Audhumla
Licks Buri from the frost
Buri
-Son Bur, who married daughter of frost giant Bestla
-She gave birth to Odin, Vili, and Ve
Yggdrasil
the mighty ash at the center of the world
Asgard
the home of the gods, world of the Æsir
Vanaheim
original home of the Vanir, now at peace with the Æsir
Valhalla
hall of the slain warriors (Einheriar), half chosen by Odin, others to Freja (Volkfangr).
Vigrid
a vast plain, stretching 120 leagues in every direction, site of Ragnarok
Midgard
home of men, or middle earth
Bifrost
the rainbow bridge (flaming bridge) connects Midgard to Asgard
jotunheim
land of the Frost-Giants, probably located far to the east, beyond mountains
Niflheim
Niflheim is the realm of the dead (literally home of fog) "9 days ride north and down"
Hel
the offspring of Loki, half dead and half living, also her tower/realm is Niflheim, gaurdian of the dead who died without glory
Rigsthula
-Final Poem in the Codex Regius, but is concerned with the beginnings of human society.
-Heimdall calls himself "Rig," a Celtic name for king (like Latin rex).
-Heimdall visits three families and engenders three classes of society, each given symbolic names.
Rigsthula cont
see notes
Ljodahattr
-customary verse form for wisdom poetry
-Verses describe the interests, hopes and fears of Norse culture, as well as a useful catalogue of mythological figures and motifs.
Odin
-god of poetry and wisdom, war and death
-leader of aesir
-god of the elite
-treacherous god
-one-eyed, often bearded, usually disguised with a wide hat pulled over missing eye
gungnir
odins spear that always hits its mark
draupnir
odins magic arm ring
hugin and munin
odins two ravens
geri and freki
odins two wolfs
sleipnir
odins horse with eight legs
rune
-belief in the divine origin of the runes to help grant them magical powers
-odin learned the secrets of the runes while he hung on a tree
Futhark
the runic alphabet
Frigg
odins wife
Hospitality
-an important Norse virtue; a sacred obligation to care and provide for guests
-Lack of Hospitality a greater sin than tyranny and oppression, raping, looting and pillaging!
Valkyries
-warrior-maidens, literally choosers of the slain
- They also bear ale to the Einheriar in Valhall.
shamanistic rite
Ordeal by fire "might" represent a shamanistic rite, a ritual associated with Odin-worship that led to visions and occult knowledge granted by Odin to initiates in his cult (such as Agnar in the poem).
Thor
-favorite god of the vikings
-protector of ordinary men
-son of Odin
Mjollnir
Thors hammer, which returns after being thrown and is a symbol of lightning
Sif
Thors wife, golden hair
Dwarfs
often lust for goddesses, though they rarely have any success in their erotic ambitions—unless they have precious goods to trade with!
Freyia
-fertility goddess
-giants and dwarfs lust for her
-well-known promiscuity
-necklace of brisings
Loki
-is the one who often gets the gods in trouble, though he is usually clever enough to find a way out of their troubles as well.
-A very ambiguous god in many myths, he emerges as truly evil only in the Baldr episodes.
He stems from giants and mates with a giantess, though he has a wife, Sigyn, from the Æsir.
-He is blood-brother to Odin
Sami
-The Sámi (formerly called Lapps or Laplanders) are considered the only indigenous people in Europe.
-The Sámi homeland (Sápmi) is northern Europe, including parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
-Sámi languages are a member of the Uralic language family, which also includes Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian
Noaide
-shaman
-used drum contact to spirit worlk, Saivo, to learn information that his clan needed
-performend songs or chants, joiks, as part of their rituals
Freyr
-male fertility god and wealth
-one of the Vanir
-Son of Niord
-had a ship called skidbladnir, which could sail through the air and be placed in his pocket
-his chariot is drawn by two boars
Jormungand
is cast into the ocean, where it grows so large it eventually encircles the earth.
Fenris Wolf
-required a special binding because he was too dangerous to let run free. -The god Tyr loses his hand by pledging falsely that they would not try to capture him.
naglfari
a ship in niflheim construced of dead men's nails