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TEUTONIC MYTH AND LEGEND


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« on: April 17, 2009, 01:07:47 pm »


TEUTONIC MYTH AND LEGEND
by Donald A. Mackenzie
An Introduction to the Eddas & Sagas, Beowulf, The Nibelungenlied, etc.
[1912?]
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2009, 01:08:02 pm »

This is Donald Mackenzie's able retelling of the Northern mythological cycle. He weaves a coherent narrative from the Eddas, the Niebelunglied, the Volsung Saga, Beowulf, the primordial Hamlet myths, and Medieval German tales of chivalry. MacKenzie also wrote Egyptian Myth and Legend and Myths of Crete and Pre-Hellenic Europe.

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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2009, 01:08:27 pm »

TEUTONIC MYTH AND LEGEND
by DONALD A. MACKENZIE
An Introduction to the Eddas & Sagas, Beowulf, The Nibelungenlied, etc.
London, Gresham Publications
[1912?]
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2009, 01:08:54 pm »



THE PUNISHMENT OF LOKE
From the painting by J. Doyle Penrose, R.H.A., By permission of the artist.

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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2009, 01:09:23 pm »



Title Page Colophon
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2009, 01:09:55 pm »

p. vii

PREFACE
This volume deals with the myths and legends of the Teutonic peoples--Norsemen, Goths, Vandals, Burgundians, Franks, Angles, Saxons, and all the other Germanic tribes whose descendants now occupy England, Northern France, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. The volume might have been called Northern European Myth and Legend. It is the body of folk tales, epics and religious beliefs which all Anglo-Saxons have inherited directly from their ancestors, and find most deeply embedded in every-day words and thoughts such as names for the days of the week, names recalling the gods and goddesses of our forefathers.

In France and Switzerland--after the Roman conquest--the folk lays were influenced by the higher and milder civilization which prevailed. Where the Roman influence extended the tribal songs were welded into detailed narratives, and each had for a central figure a popular hero like Dietrich of Bern.

A similar process subsequently prevailed in the north. Thus originated the "saga cycles," distributed over a wide area by wandering minstrels, who altered and adapted them to meet the requirements of time and locality. The highest literary development occurred when educated poets made still freer use of the subject matter of tribal lays and produced epic narratives which were not sung, but recited before cultured

p. viii

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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2009, 01:11:33 pm »

audiences. These were later revised and committed to manuscripts for reading. To this class belong two of outstanding merit--the German Nibelungenlied and the distinctive Anglo-Saxon Beowulf.

In the following pages our readers are afforded a comprehensive survey of the divine and heroic literature of Northern Europe. The drama of Norse myth has been reconstructed, so far as possible, in continuous narrative form, with the inclusion of the old Svipdag myth, which exercised so marked an influence on Middle Age romance. We have grouped together the various adventurous journeys made by heroes to Hela, so that our readers may be familiarized with our ancestors' conceptions of the Other World. The prose renderings of heroic narratives include the Beowulf epic, the Balder-Hother romance, the Hamlet legend, the saga of the Volsungs, and the less familiar Dietrich legends, in which the deeds of the primitive Thor are attached to the memory of the Gothic Emperor of Rome.

The folk tales and folk beliefs of Northern Europe have not a few points of contact with those of Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Brittany. We have therefore dealt in our Introduction with the archaic giant lore of Scotland, which links with that of Cornwall, and drawn attention to the "Seven Sleepers" legends of the Highlands which have hitherto been overlooked. Some of the striking resemblances must be traced to remoter influences than those prevailing in the Viking Age. Both Celts and Teutons were blends of the same ancient races--the Alpine "broad heads" and the Northern "long heads." They had therefore a common heritage of beliefs. But Teutonic lore is mainly "father-kin" in character, while Celtic is mainly "mother-kin." The deities of the north are

p. ix

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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2009, 01:11:43 pm »

controlled by a Great Father and their elves by a King. The deities of the Celts are children of a Great Mother and their fairies are ruled over by a Queen.

In the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf, the story regarding Grendel and his mother is of special interest in this connection because it is "mother-kin" lore of Celtic character. The inference is that the poet who gave the epic its final shape in England had a Celtic mother, or at any rate, came under the influence of Celtic ideas. Like Shakespeare, who utilized old plays, he may have re-fashioned an earlier Anglian poem, appropriated its geographical setting and infused the whole with the fire of his genius.



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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2009, 01:12:13 pm »

p. xi

CONTENTS

CHAP.
 
 Page
 
 
 INTRODUCTION
 xvii
 
I.
 STORY OF CREATION
 1
 
II.
 THE NINE WORLDS
 11
 
III.
 THE DEEDS OF ODIN
 21
 
IV.
 HOW EVIL ENTERED ASGARD
 29
 
V.
 THE WINTER WAR
 44
 
VI.
 TRIUMPH OF LOVE
 53
 
VII.
 THE LOST SWORD OF VICTORY
 64
 
VIII.
 FALL OF ASGARD
 72
 
IX.
 THE GODS RECONCILED
 82
 
X.
 LOKE'S EVIL PROGENY
 90
 
XI.
 THOR'S GREAT FISHING
 98
 
XII.
 THE CITY OF ENCHANTMENTS
 112
 
XIII.
 THOR IN PERIL
 126
 
XIV.
 THE GREAT STONE GIANT
 137
 
XV.
 BALDER THE BEAUTIFUL
 146
 
XVI.
 THE BINDING OF LORE
 165
 
XVII.
 THE DUSK OF THE GODS
 177
 
XVIII.
 THE COMING OF BEOWULF
 187
 
XIX.
 CONFLICT WITH DEMONS
 197
 
XX.
 BEOWULF AND THE DRAGON
 210
 
XXI.
 HOTHER AND BALDER
 221
 
XXII.
 THE TRADITIONAL HAMLET
 232
 
p. xii
 
 
 
XXIII.
 HAMLET'S STORM-MILL
 246
 
XXIV.
 LAND OF THE NOT-DEAD AND MANY MARVELS
 254
 
XXV.
 THE DOOM OF THE VOLSUNGS
 282
 
XXVI.
 HOW SIGMUND WAS AVENGED
 292
 
XXVII.
 HELGI HUNDINGSBANE
 299
 
XXVIII.
 SIGURD THE DRAGON SLAYER
 309
 
XXIX.
 BRYNHILD AND GUDRUN
 322
 
XXX.
 THE LAST OF THE VOLSUNGS
 338
 
XXXI.
 GUDRUN'S VENGEANCE
 343
 
XXXII.
 SIEGFRIED AND THE NIBELUNGS
 354
 
XXXIII.
 THE PROMISE OF KRIEMHILD
 362
 
XXXIV.
 HOW BRUNHILD AND KRIEMHILD WERE WON
 372
 
XXXV.
 THE BETRAYAL OF SIEGFRIED
 382
 
XXXVI.
 THE NIBELUNGEN TRAGEDY
 391
 
XXXVII.
 DIETRICH OF BERN
 404
 
XXXVIII.
 THE LAND OF GIANTS
 415
 
XXXIX.
 THE WONDERFUL ROSE GARDEN
 424
 
XL.
 VIRGINAL, QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAINS
 434
 
XLI.
 DIETRICH IN EXILE
 439
 
XLII.
 THE KING'S HOMECOMING
 448
 
 
 INDEX
 455
 


 



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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2009, 01:12:45 pm »

. xiii

PLATES IN COLOR
 
 Facing Page
 
THE PUNISHMENT OF LOKE
           From the painting by J. Doyle Penrose, R.H.A.
 Frontispiece
 
IDUN AND THE APPLES
           From the painting by J. Doyle Penrose, R.H.A.
 58
 
FREYJA AND THE NECKLACE
           From the painting by J. Doyle Penrose, R.H.A.
 94
 
HUNDINGSBANE'S RETURN TO VALHAL
           From the painting by E. Wallcousins
 268
 


 



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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2009, 01:13:25 pm »

p. xv

PLATES IN MONOCHROME
 
 Facing Page
 
ODIN
         From the design by Sir E. Burne-Jones
 8
 
ODIN
         From the statue by B. E. Fogelberg
 16
 
THOR AND THE GIANTS
         From the painting by M. E. Winge
 24
 
A VALKYRIE
         From the sculpture by Sinding
 48
 
FREYJA
         From the painting by N. J. O. Blommér
 56
 
FREY
         From the design by Sir E. Burne-Jones
 64
 
THOR
         From the statue by B. E. Fogelberg
 104
 
LOKE AND HODUR
         From the sculpture by C. G. Qvarnström
 152
 
LOKE AT ÆGER'S FEAST
         From the painting by Constantin Hansen
 172
 
THE DUSK OF THE GODS
         From the painting by P. N. Arbo
 184
 
VIKING SHIP FROM GOKSTAD
         Now in the University, Christiania
 192
 
VIKING RELICS
 200
 
VIKING ORNAMENTS
 208
 
ENTRANCE TO PASSAGE-GRAVE AT UBY, DENMARK
 216
 
RORIK
         From the painting by H. W. Koekkoek
 232
 
p. xvi"
 
 
"AND ALL THAT PRESS DID ROUND ABOUT HER SWELL"
         After the drawing by Walter Crane
 272
 
WOOD PORTALS FROM A CHURCH AT HILLESTAD, NORWAY
         Carved with scenes from the Volsung Saga
 312
 
SIGURD THE DRAGON SLAYER
         From the painting by E. Nielsen
 320
 
BRYNHILD
         From the statue by Bissen
 336
 
KRAKE
         From the painting by M. E. Winge
 342
 
THE NIBELUNGENLIED
         From the fresco by Professor E. Ille
 354
 
SIEGFRIED
         From the painting by F. Leeke
 360
 
KING GUNTHER WELCOMES SIEGFRIED
         From the painting by Schnorr von Carolsfeld
 364
 
SIEGFRIED AND KRIEMHILD
         From the painting by Schnorr von Carolsfeld
 368
 
BRUNHILD'S ARRIVAL AT WORMS
         From the painting by Schnorr von Carolsfeld
 378
 
KING GUNTHER AND BRUNHILD
         From the painting by Schnorr von Carolsfeld
 384
 
THE DEATH OF SIEGFRIED
         From the painting by F. Leeke
 390
 
THE FIGHT ON THE STAIRS OF ETZEL'S PALACE
         From the painting by Schnorr von Carolsfeld
 400
 
DIETRICH OVERCOMES HAGEN
         From the painting by Schnorr von Carolsfeld
 402
 
DIETRICH
         From the statue in the Church of the Franciscans at Innsbruck
 408
 
RETURN OF VICTORIOUS TEUTONS
         From the painting by P. Thumann
 416
 

 



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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2009, 01:13:53 pm »

p. xvii

INTRODUCTION
"Teutonic Myth and Legend" applies to the ancient religious conceptions and traditional tales of the "non-Celtic" northern peoples, whom Continental scholars prefer to call "Germanic" in the widest sense of the term. The myths varied in different districts and at different periods. It is doubtful if there ever was in any particular age complete uniformity of religious belief over a wide area of separated States. In fact, there are indications that sects and creeds were at least as numerous among Teutonic peoples in early times as at the present day. Stories repeated orally were also subject to change; they were influenced by popular taste, and rendered more effective by the introduction of local colouring.

Teutonic Mythology survives in its most concrete form in Scandinavian literature. On that account it has to be considered from the northern point of view, although much of it is clearly not of northern origin. Our principal sources of knowledge of this great Pagan religious system are the two Eddas of Iceland.

These Eddas are collections of mythical and heroic poems and stories. One is called the Elder or Poetic Edda; the other, Snorri's or the Prose Edda. The latter was discovered first; it came into the possession of appreciative scholars in the seventeenth century, by whom it was studied and carefully preserved.

p. xviii

The Prose Edda is a synopsis of Northern Mythology, with poetic quotations from lost poems and references to an earlier work. It was partly written and partly compiled by the great Icelandic scholar, Snorri Sturlason. He was born some time between 1179 and 1181, and was the son of a chief. Adopted by the learned Jon Loptsson, grandson of Saemund the Wise, he passed his early years at Oddi, where his literary tendencies were fostered and cultivated. He married a wealthy heiress, and settled in 1206 at Reykjaholt, where he lived in comparative luxury. Nominally a Christian, he was in reality an educated Pagan. He was a poet and historian, a lawyer and a politician; he combined great ambition with want of courage, and avarice with "aversion from effort"; he was also of loose morals. In 1215 he became President of Iceland, and afterwards resided for a time in Norway, where he was a Court poet. In 1222 he was again President of his native island. He held office for about ten years, and exercised his influence at every opportunity to enrich himself. He obtained a divorce from his wife, after living with her for twenty-five years, and married an heiress. It is not surprising, therefore, to find him involved in serious quarrels with his kinsmen. There were also political complications which had a tragic sequel. He was murdered by his son-in-law in 1241, at the instigation of the King of Norway.

In addition to the Prose Edda, Snorri's works included Heimskringla, or Sagas of Norse Kings, which opens with Ynglinga Saga, and the History of Olaf.

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« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2009, 01:14:09 pm »

The discovery of Snorri's Edda in the seventeenth century caused a search to be made for the older collection to which it referred. Happily the quest was fruitful, and the lost manuscript came into the hands

p. xix

of an Icelandic bishop, who called it for the first time the "Edda of Saemund".

Saemund was a scion of the royal house of Norway, who was born in 1056 and died in 1133. He studied in France and Germany, and was afterwards parish priest of Oddi in Iceland. According to tradition, he was the author of a prose work on mythology which unfortunately perished. It is probable, however, that Snorri was acquainted with the lost manuscript while resident at Oddi, and he may have used it when compiling the Prose Edda. At any rate, scholars are now agreed that Saemund was neither the author nor compiler of the particular Edda which was long associated with his name.

The Elder Edda is a collection of mythical and heroic poems--lays of the gods and lays of the Volsung and other heroes--by various unknown authors. They are valuable treasures of antiquity, for they throw great light on northern beliefs and manners and customs. Some survive in fragments; others are fairly complete, and are introduced by brief prose summaries. A portion of them were evidently of pre-Christian origin.

As literary productions they are of unequal merit. They are all ear-poems, composed to be sung or recited, and therefore melodious, musically vowelled, and clear, as compared with the eye-poems of many modern authors, which have more harmony than melody, and are composed for the reader. A particular group of these Eddic poems are more dramatic and imaginative than the others, and certain critics are inclined to hold that their high development was caused by Celtic influence. Iceland was peopled not only from Norway, but also from the Hebrides, where the Vikings mingled with the people and married the island maidens. Many

p. xx

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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2009, 01:14:23 pm »

settlers were also of mixed Irish descent. Nor was the old English element absent, as certain borrowed words show clearly. But, when these facts are given adequate consideration, it must be borne in mind that literature, and especially poetry, owes usually more to the individual than to the race. If we knew as little of Keats as we do of the author of Beowulf, it might be held that he was a son of Greek parents who settled in England.

The survival of these Pagan Eddic poems in Christian times is suggestive of the slow extinction of old beliefs. Christianity was adopted in Iceland in 1000, a century after it had spread throughout Norway, and two hundred years before the people of Sweden can be said to have abandoned their ancient religion. It must not be inferred, however, that the Icelanders were exemplary Christians in Saemund's day or even in Snorri's. The bulk of them were, no doubt, half-Pagan, like those Ross-shire Highlanders in the vicinity of Loch Maree, who, as late as the seventeenth century, offered up sacrifices of bulls and performed other heathenish rites, to the horror of the Presbytery of Dingwall. The Icelanders must have clung, long after the introduction of Christianity, to the Pagan beliefs and practices of the great sea kings. They continued, we know, to chant the lays and recite the old traditional tales about the gods and ocean heroes of the mother country. The collectors may, indeed, have had more than a literary appreciation of oral song and haunting tradition.

When Snorri was a boy, a Danish priest named Saxo was engaged writing a history of his native land. The first nine books are like the Histories of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth, for they are founded on the traditional poems and tales of the time. Saxo Grammaticus ("the Lettered") writes of Odin and the

p. xxi

other gods as if they were men, and when he refers to them as "gods" he takes occasion to scorn the hollowness of the claim, rarely failing to comment on the absurdity of the beliefs entertained by ignorant people. His history is a quarry of folklore and romance. To it we owe our Shakespeare's Hamlet, for the story which is retold in these pages from the Danish priest's immortal work, was the original source of our great poet's inspiration.

This "history" is indispensable to students of Scandinavian religion. Rydberg, the poet and folklorist of Sweden, is the author of a monumental work on Teutonic Mythology, 1 in which he made exhaustive and critical examination of the tales embedded in Saxo's works, showing their relation to the Eddas and Sagas and existing oral poems of the north, and making masterly endeavour by their aid to reconstruct the great mythological drama of the northern peoples. He has not escaped criticism, but his reputation has withstood much of it. On every point he has raised he cannot be regarded as conclusive, but no scholar before or since has shown greater aptitude for restoring form from mythological chaos. His intimate knowledge of his native lore gave him special equipment for his work. Not infrequently scholars, by a process of detached reasoning, miss the mark when dealing with folklore, because their early years, unlike Rydberg's, were not passed in its strange atmosphere. The theorist is never as reliable as he who was aforetime a faithful believer in giants and elves, spirit voices and awesome omens.

"No one," wrote Frederick York Powell, 2 "has



p. xxii

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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2009, 01:14:42 pm »

commented upon Saxo's mythology with such brilliancy, such minute consideration, and such success as the Swedish scholar, Victor Rydberg. . . . Sometimes he stumbles badly, but he has placed the whole subject on a fresh footing, and much that is to follow will be drawn from his Teutonic Mythology."

To Rydberg the writer owns his indebtedness in the present work, a portion of which is constructed according to his conclusions.

Edda is a word of uncertain origin. In a twelfth-century poem it is used to mean "great grandmother", and it is suggested that late sceptical compilers applied it to signify "old wives' tales". The theory has a somewhat modern note, for in legends, especially those of Scotland, the "old wife" is either feared or respected. The Hag, who is the terrible mother of giants, is called Cailleach Mor, "the big old wife", and the wise witch who imparts secrets and powers to men is simply "old wife".

Edda became associated in Iceland with the technical rules of verse. "Never to have seen Edda" signified a complete ignorance of poetic art, so it may be that among a mingled people the "great grandmother" was an imported Muse of a Matriarchal tribe. Saga, we know, was individualized as a maiden, and was wooed by Odin. A recent theory 1 is that Edda is derived from "Oddi", the place where Saemund preached and Snorri studied.

The Eddas are, of course, the collected folk-songs and folk-tales of the northern peoples. In addition we have also available, for purposes of study, other old manuscripts and a considerable mass of valuable lore gleaned in recent years from oral sources, as well as the renowned surviving Sagas and minor poems of the skalds (song-smiths), which abound with mythological references.


p. xxiii

Some folk-tales are fragments of forgotten mythologies; others are part of the floating material from which mythologies were made. The two classes should therefore be studied together for purposes of elucidation, while consideration must ever be given to folk-customs which also enshrine ancient religious beliefs. The gods evolved from beliefs, and these loomed vast and vague on man's mental horizon ere they were given definite and symbolic expression. Indeed, detached stories of gods, especially Nature-gods, must have existed for indefinite periods ere they were subjected to a unifying process and embraced in a complete philosophy of life. A Mythology, therefore, must not be regarded as a spontaneous creation of a particular Age, but rather as a growth which had of necessity a history like, for instance, the Art of a finely sculptured stone, or that of the shapely and decorated Celtic bronze shield found embedded in Thames mud.

Matthew Arnold regarded poetry as a "criticism of life". That definition may, in a restricted sense, be applied to a Mythology, especially one of highly developed and complicated construction. We can conclude that it evolved from a school of thought which made critical selection of existing material when the work was undertaken of systematizing religious beliefs to suit the needs of a particular Age. As religion and law had in ancient times most intimate association, an official religion was ever a necessity in a well-organized State, and especially in one composed of mingled peoples. A Mythology, therefore, was probably the product of a national movement, and closely connected with the process of adjusting laws and uniting tribes under a central government. In the union and classification of gods we have suggested the union of peoples and the

p. xxiv

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