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Chapter 2. Mythological characters of West European barbarians

 

2.3. Mythological images in Germanic-Scandinavian culture

Images of gods in the Scandinavian mythological texts.

The Scandinavian mythological tradition fixed in 13 century gives us rather full list of the gods well identified to similar images of parallel mythological traditions. At the same time, specificity of the given mythology is shown in extreme growth of an image of the Hero and a little "novelistic" by the approach to a statement of many myths.

The god of the Clear Sky (legislative function) is Tyr. On alt-Germanic his name sounded "Tiw", that corresponds Greek Zeus , Indian Dyaus, Balt Dievas, Hittite Tiwat, Etruscan Tin, Gallic Teutat . However Tyr (similarly to Irish double Nuadu) it is not treated in references as the heavenly god. He has kept (and that not completely) a role of the patron of breeding collective. As in ancient German culture the full member of a tribe the man - soldier was, Tyr has got additional function of the god of war. He was also the patron of the military right connected with judicial process on ting (assembly of members of a tribe).

The god of Thunder who is carrying out power function, in the Scandinavian mythology, certainly, is Scandinavian Thor . To him corresponds Germanic Donner. In both "Edda" Thor the opponent World the Serpent behaves as a mighty warrior, he fights against giants and monsters. Pays on itself his familiarity to people that is not absolutely typical for Thunder god.

The god of Earth Powers at Scandinavian peoples was Freyr, embody vegetation, a crop, riches, the world. His images include features of phallic cult. In antiquity Freyr was very significant deity, however, in "Edda" he does not play an independent role. Many characteristics of the God of Earth Powers were incorporated by Odin that proves to be true on an example of comparison with Celtic tradition. Famous epithet Odin - "All father" corresponds to nickname Dahghda - " Father of all ". Cernunnos it is surrounded with animals. Odin also, according to"Edda" it is connected to animals: a horse, dears, and ravens. The victims which have been hung up on a tree were devoted to Gaulish Hes. Odin also accepted similar victims, but he has gone further and himself has sacrificed to himself, having hung nine days and night on World Tree. Freyr has got only rudimentary features: a mention of how he has killed deer horn of giant Beli (compare. History with Merlin), and also figurine Freyr from Rellinge - without horns, but with the crossed legs (in pose Cernunnos) and with the big phallus (ill. 25.).

Odin - the Cultural Hero (German Wotan, Anglo-Saxon Woden) - has occupied the Supreme position in Scandinavian pantheon. His grandiose image was considered variously. The most simple treatment - "the Supreme god", is more complex - "the god of war", is even deeper - "Apparently, Wodan in genesis - a chthonic demon, the patron of the military unions and military initiation and the god - sorcerer (shaman)." (Myths of nations of the world, 1998. т. 2, 241).

Very important for us the certificate ancient Romans, identifying Wotan with Hermes /Mercury. What has served as the reason of similar identification? Hermes

in Greek mythology the patron of wanderers, a conductor of souls died was the bulletin of gods. In last quality, he "... Carries out one of the most ancient functions of a conductor of souls died in Hades, "psyhopomp" or the assistant for a way to an empire dead (Hom. Od. 24 1 - 5). Hermes belongs to both worlds - lives and death; he is mediator meanwhile and another, as well as the mediator between gods and people. <...> His guidance on lives and death it is reinterpreted in epoch of classical mythology as protection heroes. <...> During late antiquity there was Hermes-trismegist image ("three times the greatest One") in connection with affinity Hermes to the Otherworld; with this image occult sciences and Hermetic (secret, closed, accessible only devoted) compositions" (Myths of nations of the world, 1998. т. 1, 292 - 293). Hermes has also function of the patron of herds. The given image has come and in mythology of Etruscans where existed at once relatives of the character - Herme and Turms. As if to Roman Mercury it is considered, that he originally was the god of trade and has enriched the symbolics after merge of the cult to cult Hermes.

One of major Odinn's functions was collecting souls died (but it is extreme the heroes falling in fight) in illusive palace Valhalla. He patronised brave warriors even at their live. But also the Scandinavian god has cunning and insidiousness in not a smaller degree, than Hermes. Odin was the reason of destruction of many heroes to which helped before (Sigmund, Helge, Heirred). "Danish king Harald has received the plan of military actions and the promise of numerous victories from the god. However during fight, Odin has taken his place of chariot man and has ruined Harald. In reply to a question why he has denuded promised good luck, One has answered, that "the grey wolf observes of halls of gods" (Coterell, 1997, 215). Words these partly explain perfidy of the Scandinavian god. Expecting the future fight with monstrous forces of chaos, he by all means aspired to collect in Valhalla as much as possible famous heroes. From myths we know about Odin and as about mediator. He has extracted in the world of shadows secret runes and took away from giants of honey of poetry. He goes down in the underground world and wakens from mortal dream Vala - sheprophet that she has told about destinies of the world ("Edda"). The image of the Odin-wanderer is important also, which even under the description (a raincoat, the staff, a hat) is similar Hermes.

Comparison Odin to the Greek god bears in it the big sense. You see to Hermes/Mercury the Romans equated and Celt Lugh. Means, comparison Lugh and Scandinavian owner of Valhalla is pertinent. G. Dumezil has paid attention to similarity of the Irish pair: Nuadha - Lugh and Scandinavian - Tyr - Odin. In the first case king of Tribes of Goddess Danu Nuadha in fight has lost a hand and was compelled to concede a throne to Lugh (for the sacred person of the monarch should not have physical defects). In the second - Tyr has lost his right hand in a mouth of the World Fenrir. "And consequently Tyr one-armed, and do not call his peacemaker" (Edda, 1970, 45). Both traditions have concurrence and in military attributes of considered(examined) characters. Weapon of Nuadha and Lugh the sword, weapon of Lugh and Odinn was a spear.

Odinn, being the founder of pagan fleeces and the patron of poets is close as well Oghma. And it shows that it is possible to compare to the big share of confidence Scandinavian got with ancient Celtic Smertrius. Their similarity presence at the Scandinavian god of the military function absent at Hermes speaks. Actually, it is possible to speak about two versions of the Cultural Hero: the intermediary between the worlds and the legendary hero. Probably, in genesis both they are consequence of splitting of a uniform image of progenitor. Hermes has not kept functions of an ancestor and soldier (there was Heracles in Greece, a hero and the founder of many dynasties and peoples, in pre-classic and Roman epoch esteemed as the god). Nevertheless, is primary name Hermes was translated as "phallus" (from here clearly image Hermes with ramheaded phallus, snakes as his symbol and presence of the Greek god near to Cernunnos on a monument from Rheims). One in the multilateral cult combined the basic part of symbolics of the Cultural Hero. For the benefit of a generality of origin Odin and Smertrius/Oghma enmity to them speaks both also monstrous wolves. Smertrius has won his opponent. But Odin was swallowed by World Wolf Fenrir in final fight. In opinion Hatt, the owner wolf-man, represented on the boiler from Gundestrup was Thunder god ( Celt Taranis ). However, in the Scandinavian pantheon Odin's role has extremely grown. This could be promoted partly by treatment of lord of Valhall as ancestor of some German peoples and leaders. (Eddic Odin has created primary people. Saxon historian Vidukind informed, that the god of the Saxes Woden connected to world pillar Herminsul, had a reputation for a primogenitor of the Hermyons. Probably, it is local variant of World Tree. Further, Halfred Monmut wrote that Woden was an ancestor of Saxon leaders Hengist and Hors. To Odin erected the genealogy and Danish royal dynasty. At last, he was considered as the founder of legendary dynasty of Velsungs (and an ancestor of greatest hero Sigurd

- as Lugh

was father of Ireland Cuchulain).

As, Odin became the chapter of the Scandinavian pantheon Thor has turned to his son. But, despite of it, the echo of animosities between them was kept. Odin cleverly and angrily scoffs above Thor, worth on the other coast of the river (the concept of lord Valhall, is here too important as the carrier - boatman - we shall recollect Greek Haron). Perhaps, wolf Fenrir - Odin's murderer, in initial variant of the Germanic-Scandinavian myths, also belonged to Thunder god?

Speaking about eshatology of ancient Scandinavians, it is necessary to mention that it finds out surprising similarity to similar plots of Zoroastrian Iran. Edda informs that "giant winter" which will come at the end of times. Chthonic monsters - World Wolf Fenrir and World Serpent Jormungand leaves the chasms and will be set on the world of gods. Giants will join them and demonic Loki, released from fetters. The gods and falling heroes from retinue Odin will beat against monsters and will win, but thus the majority of them will be lost.

According to Persian sacral texts ("Frashegird") there will be great disasters at last centuries of the world. All wolves will be left together and will merge in one huge wolf. People will beat with it and will win. After centuries, all snakes will be slipped together and will grow together in the huge snake. And again, people will battle to it and will win. Will pass years and held down in a muzzle of a volcano Demavend threheaded serpeent Aji-dahaka, former is no time shah, will break off circuits and will escape on light. Then Supreme god Ahuramazda call up great warrior Keresaspa and that will strike a monster. Then Dives and other demons will be destroyed.

Scandinavian and ancient Persian cultures have a line of the similar moments and besides eschatology. The plot about gold of dwarf Andvari, paid by gods is widely known as the repayment for death of his son, killed in an image of an otter. The damnation (the given plot has served as a begining to a history about Sigurd (Siegfried) and Nibelung) was imposed on this gold. And in Zoroastrian Iran above all animals the otter - "a water dog" was esteemed. For murder of an otter severe compensation in case of which default the person was cursed was imposed.

But the attention and one fundamental psychological difference of the Iranian and Scandinavian mythology pays to itself. It is in the field of morals. Great sin for ancient Persians was the lie. Therefore, their shahs tried to not break already the made peace contracts (than, by the way, used the Romans, having concerning fidelity to agreements more free representations). As the guarantor of observance of the contract god Mitra - Indo-Iranian variant of the Cultural Hero acted. Scandinavians were not so scrupulous in the given question, and as we saw, an example in it their own Cultural Hero - Odin submitted.

The great Goddess of ancient Germanics was Nertus. In "Germany", Tacitus describes her cult. A statue of the goddess kept in a sacred grove, and only priest could come there. In certain time Nertus put on a chariot, harnessed with bulls, and carried through all country. These days all wars stopped, and general fun because this goddess named "Terra Mater", returned fertility to the world began. Then the chariot and its contents were cleared in sacred lake, and ritual was so confidential, that slaves carrying out it after were betraid death. (Davidson, 1967,74).

Name Nertus is not known from the Scandinavian sources. As reflections of the Great Goddess can be considered Erd, Frigg, Freyja and even Valkyrie . Erd, whose name is meant with the ground, it is considered mother Scandinavian Thor . It is more about her it is not known. Frigg - "Beloved" was Odinn's wife and the goddess of a marriage, love, the family center. She had gift of a prediction. Frigg to some extent it is possible to correlate with Greek Hera (the same as Erd with Greek Gaia ). Like Hera, Frigg argued with the regal spouse and sometimes took above him top. According to "The History of Langobards" by Paul Diakon, in war between the Langobards and the Vandals, Frigg is helped the Langobards, and by Odinn to the Vandals. Due to cunning of the goddess, the Langobards have won.

Freyja ("Mistress") was as a matter of fact double of Frigg. She was considered as the wife the Odd (probably, variant of Odinn). Unlikely Frigg, Freyja in "Edda" concerns to Vanir - small group of gods of fertility, and is Freyr's sister. She embodied fertility, love, and beauty. Forage of that, the goddess daily divides and chooses together with Odin killed warriors. As representative of Vanir, Freyja had knowledge of magic (from Asir Odin owned to it only). There are in Scandinavia groups of women, venerated her cult, were considered owning as prophetical force. It is no wonder, that Christians considered their as witches, no less than itself Freyja, drives on a chariot, harnessed with cats.

Alex Fantalov

Characters of gods in the Scandinavian mythological art.

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