ALREADY at the beginning of the Christian era the name Germans was applied by the Romans and Gauls to the many clans of people whose main habitation was the extensive territory east of the Rhine, and north of the forest-clad Hercynian Mountains. That these clans constituted one race was evident to the Romans, for they all had a striking similarity in type of body; moreover, a closer acquaintance revealed that their numerous dialects were all variations of the same parent language, and finally, they resembled each other in customs, traditions, and religion. The characteristic features of the physical type of the Germans were light hair, blue eyes, light complexion, and tallness of stature as compared with the Romans.

Even the saga-men, from whom the Roman historian Tacitus gathered the facts for his Germania—an invaluable work for the history of civilisation—knew that in the so-called Svevian Sea, north of the German continent, lay another important part of Germany, inhabited by Sviones, a people divided into several clans. Their kinsmen on the continent described them as rich in weapons and fleets, and in warriors on land and sea (Tac., Germ., 44). This northern sea-girt portion of Germany is called Scandinavia—Scandeia by other writers of the Roman Empire; and there can be no doubt that this name referred to the peninsula

which, as far back as historical monuments can be found, has been inhabited by the ancestors of the Swedes and the Norwegians. I therefore include in the term Germans the ancestors of both the Scandinavian and Gothic and German (tyske) peoples. Science needs a sharply - defined collective noun for all these kindred branches sprung from one and the same root, and the name by which they make their first appearance in history would doubtless long since have been selected for this purpose had not some of the German writers applied the terms German and Deutsch as synonymous. This is doubtless the reason why Danish authors have adopted the word "Goths" to describe the Germanic nations. But there is an important objection to this in the fact that the name Goths historically is claimed by a particular branch of the family—that branch, namely, to which the East and West Goths belonged, and in order to avoid ambiguity, the term should be applied solely to them. It is therefore necessary to re-adopt the old collective name, even though it is not of Germanic origin, the more so as there is a prospect that a more correct use of the words German and Germanic is about to prevail in Germany itself, for the German scholars also feel the weight of the demand which science makes on a precise and rational terminology.*

* Viktor Rydberg styles his work Researches in Germanic Mythology, but after consultation with the Publishers, the Translator decided to use the word Teutonic instead of Germanic both in the title and in the body of the work. In English, the words German, Germany, and Germanic are ambiguous.. The Scandivanians and Germans have the words Tyskland, tysh, Deutschland deutsch, when they wish to refer to the present Germany, and thus it is easy for them to adopt the words Germnan and Germanisk to describe the Germanic or Teutonic peoples collectively. The English language applies the above word Dutch not to Germany, but to Holland, and it is necessary to use the words German and Germany in translating deutsch, Deutschland, tysk, and Tyskland. Teutonic has already been adopted by Max Müller and other scholars in England and America as a designation of all the kindred branches sprung from one and the same root, and speaking dialects of the same original tongue. The words Teuton, Teutonic, and Teutondom also have the advantage over German and Germanic that they are of native growth and not borrowed from a foreign language. In the following pages, therefore, the word Teutonic will be used to describe Scandivanians, Germans, Anglo-Saxons, &c., collectively, while German will line used exclusively in regard to Germany proper.— TRANSLATOR.


It is universally known that the Teutonic dialects are related to the Latin, the Greek, the Slavic, and Celtic languages, and that the kinship extends even beyond Europe to the tongues of Armenia, Irania, and India. The holy books ascribed to Zoroaster, which to the priests of Cyrus and Darius were what the Bible is to us; Rigveda’s hymns, which to the people dwelling on the banks of the Ganges are God’s revealed word, are written in a language which points to a common origin with our own. However unlike all these kindred tongues may have grown with the lapse of thousands of years, still they remain as a sharply-defined group of older and younger sisters as compared with all other language groups of the world. Even the Semitic languages are separated therefrom by a chasmn so broad and deep that it is hardly possible to bridge it.

This language-group of ours has been named in various ways. It has been called the Indo-Germanic, the Indo-European, and the Aryan family of tongues. I have adopted the last designation. The Armenians, Iranians, and Hindoos I call the Asiatic Aryans; all the rest I call the European Aryans.

Certain it is that these sister-languages have had a common mother, the ancient Aryan speech, and that this has had a geographical centre from which it has radiated. (By such an ancient Aryan language cannot, of course, be meant a tongue stereotyped in all its inflections, like the literary languages of later times, but simply the unity of those dialects which were spoken by the clans dwelling around this centre of radiation.) By comparing the grammatical structure of all the daughters of this ancient mother, and by the aid of the laws hitherto discovered in regard to the transition of sounds from one language to another, attempts have been made to restore this original tongue which many thousand years ago ceased to vibrate. These attempts cannot, of course, in any sense claim to reproduce an image corresponding to the lost original as regards syntax and inflections. Such a task would be as impossible as to reconstruct, on the basis of all the now spoken languages derived from the Latin, the dialect used in Latium. The purpose is simply to present as faithful an idea of the ancient tongue as the existing means permit.

In the most ancient historical times Aryan-speaking people were found only in Asia and Europe. In seeking for the centm and the earliest conquests of the ancient Aryan language, th scholar may therefore keep within the limits of these two con tinents, and in Asia he may leave all the eastern and the most c the southern portion out of consideration, since these extensiv regions have from prehistoric times been inhabited by Mongolian and allied tribes, and may for the present be regarded as the cradle of these races. It may not be necessary to remind the reader that the question of the original home of the ancient Aryan tongue is not the same as the question in regard to the cradle of the Caucasian race. The white race may have existed, and may have been spread over a considerable portion of the old world, before a language possessing the peculiarities belonging to the Aryan bad appeared; and it is a known fact that southern portions of Europe, such as the Greek and Italian peninsulas, were inhabited by white people before they were conquered by Aryans.


When the question of the original home of the Aryan language and race was first presented, there were no conflicting opinions on the main subject.* All who took any interest in the problem referred to Asia as the cradle of the Aryans. Asia had always been regarded as the cradle of the human race. In primeval time, the yellow Mongolian, the black African, the American redskin, and the fair European had there tented side by side. From some common centre in Asia they had spread over the whole surface of the inhabited earth. Traditions found in the literatures of various European peoples in regard to an immigration from the East supported this view. The progenitors of the Romans were said to have come from Troy. The fathers of the Teutons were reported to have immigrated from Asia, led by Odin. There was also the original home of the domestic animals and of the cultivated plants. And when the startling discovery was made that the sacred books of the Iranians and Hindoos were written in languages related to

*Compare O. Schrader, Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte (1883).

the culture languages of Europe, when these linguistic monuments betrayed a wealth of inflections in comparison with which those of the classical languages turned pale, and when they seemed to have the stamp of an antiquity by the side of which the European dialects seemed like children, then what could be more natural than the following conclusion: The original form has been preserved in the original home; the farther the streams of emigration got away from this home, the more they lost on the way of their language and of their inherited view of the world that is, of their mythology, which among the Hindoos seemed so original and simple as if it had been watered by the dews of life’s dawn.

To begin with, there was no doubt that the original tongue itself, the mother of all the other Aryan languages, had already been found when Zend or Sanscrit was discovered. Fr. v. Schlegel, in his work published in 1808, on the Language and Wisdom of the Hindoos, regarded Sanscrit as the mother of the Aryan family of languages, and India as the original honie of the Aryan family of peoples. Thence, it was claimed, colonies were sent out in prehistoric ages to other parts of Asia and to Europe; nay, even missionaries went forth to spread the language and religion of the mother-country among other peoples. Schlegel’s compatriot Link looked upon Zend as the oldest language and mother of Sanscrit, and the latter he regarded as the mother of the rest; and as the Zend, in his opinion, was spoken in Media and surrounding countries, it followed that the highlands of Media, Armenia, and Georgia were the original home of the Aryans, a view which prevailed among the leading scholars of the age, such as Anquetil-Duperron, Herder, arid Heeren, and found a place in the historical text-books used in the schools from 1820 to 1840.

Since Bopp published his epoch-making Comparative Grammar the illusion that the Aryan mother-tongue had been discovered had, of course, gradually to give place to the conviction that all the Aryan languages, Zend and Sanscrit included, were relations of equal birth. This also affected the theory that the Persians or Hindoos were the original people, and that the cradle of our race was to be sought in their homes.

On the other hand, the Hindooic writings were found to contain evidence that, during the centuries in which the most of the Rigveda songs were produced, the Hindooic Aryans were possess only of Kabulistan and Pendschab, whence, either expelling subjugating an older black population, they had advanced towa the Ganges. Their social condition was still semi-nomadic, at least in the sense that their chief property consisted in herds, and the feuds between the clans had for their object the plundering of su possessions from each other. Both these facts indicated that the Aryans were immigrants to the Indian peninsula, but not the aborigines, wherefore their original home must be sought elsewhere The strong resemblance found between Zend and Sanscrit, and whi makes these dialects a separate subdivision in the Ayran family languages, must now, since we have learned to regard them sister-tongues, be interpreted as a proof that the Zend people Iranians and the Sanscrit people or Hindoos were in ancient times one people with a common country, and that this union must have continued to exist long after the European Aryans were parted from them and had migrated westwards. When, then, the question wa asked where this Indo-Iranian cradle was situated, the answer wa thought to be found in a chapter of Avesta, to which the German scholar Rhode had called attention already in 1820. To him seemed to refer to a migration from a more northerly and colder country. The passage speaks of sixteen countries created by th fountain of light and goodness, Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda), and o sixteen plagues produced by the fountain of evil, Ahrimnan (Angra Mainyn), to destroy the work of Ormuzd. The first country wa a paradise, but Ahriman ruined it with cold and frost, so that it had ten months of winter and only two of summer. The second country, in the name of which Sughda Sogdiana was recognised was rendered uninhabitable by Ahriman by a pest which destroyed the domestic animals. Ahriman made the third (which, by the way, was recognised as Merv) impossible as a dwelling on account of never-ceasing wars and plunderings. In this manner thirteen other countries with partly recognisable names are enumerated as created by Ormuzd, and thirteen other plagues produced by Ahriman. Rhode’s view, that these sixteen regions were stations in the migration of the Indo-Iranian people from their original country became universally adopted, and it was thought that the track of the migration could now be followed back through Persis, Baktria, and Sogdiana, up to the first region created by Ormuzd, which, accordingly, must have been situated in the interior highlands of Asia, around the sources of the Jaxartes and Oxus. The reason for the emigration hence was found in the statement that, although Ormuzd had made this country an agreeable abode, Ahriman had destroyed it with frost and snow. In other words, this part of Asia was supposed to have had originally a warmer temperature, which suddenly or gradually became lower, wherefore the inhabitants found it necessary to seek new homes in the West and South.

The view that the sources of Oxus and Jaxartes are the original home of the Aryans is even now the prevailing one, or at least the one most widely accepted, and since the day of Rhode it has been supported and developed by several distinguished scholars. Then Julius v. Klaproth pointed out, already in 1830, that, among the many names of various kinds of trees found in India, there is a single one which they have in common with other Aryan peoples, and this is the name of the birch. India has many kinds of trees that do not grow in Central Asia, but the birch is found both at the sources of the Oxus and Jaxartes, and on the southern spurs of the Himalaya mountains. If the Aryan Hindoos immigrated from the highlands of Central Asia to the regions through which the Indus and Ganges seek their way to the sea, then it is natural, that when they found on their way new unknown kinds of trees, then they gave to these new names, but when they discovered a tree with which they had long been acquainted, then they would apply the old familiar name to it. Mr. Lassen, the great scholar of Hindooic antiquities, gave new reasons for the theory that the Aryan Hindoos were immigrants, who tbrough the western pass of Hindukush and through Kabulistan came to Pendschab, and thence slowly occupied the Indian peninsula. That their original home, as well as that of their Iranian kinsmen, was that part of the highlands of Central Asia pointed out by Rhode, he found corroborated by the circumstance, that there are to be found there, even at the present time, remnants of a people, the so-called Tadchiks, who speak Iranian dialects. According to Lassen, these were to be regarded as direct descendants of the original Aryan people, who remained in the original home, while other parts of the same people migrated to Baktria or Persia and became Iranians, or migrated down to Pendschab and became Hindoos, or migrated to Europe and became Celts, Greco-Italians, Teutons, and Slays. Jacob Grimm, whose name will always be mentioned with honour as the great pathfinder in the field of Teutonic antiquities, was of the same opinion; and that whole school of scientists who were influenced by romanticism and by the philosophy of Schelling made haste to add to the real support sought for the theory in ethnological and philological facts, a support from the laws of natural analogy and from poetry. A mountain range, so it was said, is the natural divider of waters. From its fountains the streams flow in different directions and irrigate the plains. In the same manner the highlands of Central Asia were the divider of Aryan folk-streams, which through Baktria sought their way to the plains of Persia, through the mountain passes of Hindukush to India, through the lands north of the Caspian Sea to the extensive plains of modern Russia, and so on to the more inviting regions of Western Europe. The sun rises in the east, ex oriente lux; the-highly gifted race, which was to found the European nations, has, under the guidance of Providence, like the sun, wended its way from east to west. In taking a grand view of the subject, a mystic harmony was found to exist between the apparent course of the sun and the real migrations of people. The minds of the people dwelling in Central and Eastern Asia seemed to be imbued with a strange instinctive yearning. The Aryan folk-streams, which in prehistoric times deluged Europe, were in this respect the forerunners of the hordes of Huns which poured in from Asia, and which in the fourth century gave the impetus to the Teutonic migrations and of the Mongolian hordes which in the thirteenth century invaded our continent. The Europeans themselves are led by this same instinct to follow the course of the sun: they flow in gre at numbers to America, and these folk-billows break against each other on the coasts of the Pacific Ocean. "At the breast of our Asiatic mother," thus exclaimed, in harmony with the romantic school, a scholar with no mean linguistic attainments "at the breast of our Asiatic mother, the Aryan people of Europe have rested; around her as their mother they have played as children. There or nowhere is the playground; there or nowhere is the gymnasium of the first physical and intellectual efforts on the part of the Aryan race."

The theory that the cradle of the Aryan race stood in Central Asia near the sources of the Indus and Jaxartes had hardly been contradicted in 1850, and seemed to be secured for the future by the great number of distinguished and brilliant names which had given their adhesion to it. The need was now felt of clearing up the order and details of these emigrations. All the light to be thrown on this subject had to come from philology and from the geography of plants and animals. The first author who, in this manner and with the means indicated, attempted to furnish proofs in detail that the ancient Aryan land was situated around the Onus river was Adolphe Pictet. There, he claimed, the Aryan language had been formed out of older non-Aryan dialects. There the Aryan race, on account of its spreading over Baktria and neighbouring regions, had divided itself into branches of various dialects, which there, in a limited territory, held the same geographical relations to each other as they hold to each other at the present time in another and immuensely larger territory. In the East lived the nomadic branch which later settled in India in the East, too, but farther north, that branch herded their flocks, which afterwards became the Iranian and took possession of Persia. West of the ancestors of the Aryan Hindoos dwelt the branch which later appears as the Greco-Italians, and north of the latter the common progenitors of Teutons and Slays had their home. In the extreme West dwelt the Celts, and they were also the earliest emigrants to the West. Behind them marched the ancestors of the Teutons and Slays by a more northern route to Europe. The last in this procession to Europe were the ancestors of the Greco-Italians, and for this reason their languages have preserved more resemblance to those of the Indo-Iranians who migrated into Southern Asia than those of the other European Aryans . For this view Pictet gives a number of reasons. According to him, the vocabulary common to more or less of the Aryan branches preserves names of minerals, plants, and animals which are found in those latitudes, and in those parts of Asia which he calls the original Aryan country.

The German linguist Schleicher has to some extent discussed the same problem as Pictet in a series of works published in the fifties and sixties. The same has been done by the famous GermanEnglish scientist Max Müller. Sehleicher’s theory, briefly stated, is the following. The Aryan race originated in Central Asia. There, in the most ancient Aryan country, the original Aryan tongue was spoken for many generations. The people multiplied and enlarged their territory, and in various parts of the country t.hey occupied, the language assumed various forms, so that there were developed at least two different languages before the great migrations began. As the chief cause of the emigrations, Schleicher regards the fact that the primitive agriculture practised by the Aryans, including the burning of the forests, impoverished the soil and had a bad effect on the climate. The principles he laid down and tried to vindicate were: (1) The farther East an Aryan people dwells, the more it has preserved of the peculiarities of the original Aryan tongue. (2) The farther West an Aryan-derived tongue and daughter people are found, the earlier this language was separated from the mother-tongue, and the earlier this people became separated from the original stock. Max Müller holds the common view in regard to the Asiatic origin of the Aryans. The main difference between him and Schleicher is that Müller assumes that the Aryan tongue originally divided itself into an Asiatic and an European branch. He accordingly believes that all the Aryan-European tongues amid all the Aryan-European peoples have developed from the same European branch, while Schleicher assumes that in the beginning the division produced a Teutonic and LettoSlavic branch on the one hand, and an Indo-Iranian, Greco-Italic, and Celtic on the other.

This view of the origin of the Aryans bad scarcely met with any opposition when we entered the second half of our century. We might add that it had almost ceased to be questioned. The theory that the Aryans were cradled in Asia seemed to be established as an historical fact, supported by a mass of ethnographical, linguistic, and historical arguments, and vindicated by a host of brilliant scientific names.


In the year 1854 was heard for the first time a voice of doubt. The sceptic was an English ethnologist, by name Latham, who had spent many years in Russia studying the natives of that country. Latham was unwilling to admit that a single one of the many reasons given for the Asiatic origin of our family of languages was conclusive, or that the accumulative weight of all the reasons given amounted to real evidence. He urged that they who at the outset had treated this question had lost sight of the rules of logic, and that in explaining a fact it is a mistake to assume too many premises. The great fact which presents itself and which is to be explained is this: There are Aryans in Europe and there are Aryans in Asia. The major part of Aryans are in Europe, and here the original language has split itself into the greatest number of idioms. From the main Aryan trunk in Europe only two branches extend into Asia. The northern branch is a new creation, consisting of Russian colonisation from Europe ; the southern branch, that is, the Iranian-Hindooic, is, on the other hand, prehistoric, but was still growing in the dawn of history, and the branch was then growing from West to East, from Indus toward Ganges. When historical facts to the contrary are wanting, then the root of a great family of languages should naturally be looked for in the ground which supports the trunk and is shaded by the crown, and not underneath the ends of the farthest-reaching branches. The mass of Mongolians dwell in Eastern Asia, and for this very reason Asia is accepted as the original home of the Mongolian race. The great mass of Aryans live in Europe, and have lived there as far back as history sheds a ray of light. Why, then, not apply to the Aryans and to Europe the same conclusions as hold good in the case of the Mongolians and Asia? And why not apply to ethnology the same principles as are admitted unchallenged in regard to the geography of plants and animals? Do we not in botany and zoology seek the original home and centre of a species where it shows the greatest vitality, the greatest power of multiplying and producing varieties? These questions, asked by Latham, remained for some time unanswered, but finally they led to a more careful examination of the soundness of the reasons given for the Asiatic hypothesis.

The gist of Latham’s protest is, that the question was decided in favour of Asia without an examination of the other possibility, and that in such an examination, if it were undertaken, it would appear at the very outset that the other possibility—that is, the European origin of the Aryans—is more plausible, at least from the standpoint of methodology.

This objection on the part of an English scholar did not even produce an echo for many years, and it seemed to be looked upon simply as a manifestation of that fondness for eccentricity which we are wont to ascribe to his nationality. He repeated his protest in 1862, but it still took five years before it appeared to have made any impression. In 1867, the celebrated linguist Whitney came out, not to defend Latham’s theory that Europe is the cradle of the Aryan race, but simply to clear away the widely spread error that the science of languages had demonstrated the Asiatic origin of the Aryans. As already indicated, it was especially Adolphe Pictet who had given the first impetus to this illusion in his great work Origines indo-européennes. Already, before Whitney, the Germans Weber and Kuhn had, without attacking the Asiatic hypothesis, shown that the most of Pictet’s arguments failed to prove that for which they were intended. Whitney now came and refuted them all without exception, and at the same time he attacked the assumption made by Rhode, and until that time universally accepted, that a record of an Aryan emigration from the highlands of Central Asia was to be found in that chapter of Avesta which speaks of the sixteen lands created by Ormuzd for the good of man, but which Ahriman destroyed by sixteen different plagues. Avesta does not with a single word indicate that the first of these lands which Ahriman destroyed with snow and frost is to be regarded as the original home of the Iranians, or that they ever in the past emigrated from any of them. The assumption that a migration record of historical value conceals itself within tbis geographical mythological sketch is a mere conjecture, and yet it was made the very basis of the hypothesis so confidently built upon for years about Central Asia as the starting-point of the Aryans.

The following year, 1868, a prominent German linguist—Mr. Benfey—came forward and definitely took Latham’s side. He remarked at the outset that hitherto geological investigations had found the oldest traces of human existence in the soil of Europe, and that, so long as this is the case, there is no scientific fact which can admit the assumption that the present European stock has immigrated from Asia after the quaternary period. The mother-tongues of many of the dialects which from time immemona1 have been spoken in Europe may just as well have originated on this continent as the mother-tongues of the Mongolian dialects now spoken in Eastern Asia have originated where the descendants now dwell. That the Aryan mother-tongue originated in Europe, not in Asia, Benfey found probably on the following grounds: In Asia, lions are found even at the present time as far to the north as ancient Assyria, and the tigers make depredations over the highlands of Western Iran, even to the coasts of the Caspian Sea. These great beasts of prey are known and named even among Asiatic people who dwell north of their habitats. If, therefore, the ancient Aryans had lived in a country visited by these animals, or if they had been their neighbours, they certainly would have had names for them; but we find that the Aryan Hindoos call the lion by a word not formed from an Aryan root, and that the Aryan Greeks borrowed the word lion (l i V l e w n ) from a Semitic language. (There is, however, division of opinion on this point.) Moreover, the Aryan languages have borrowed the word camel, by which the chief beast of burden in Asia is called. The home of this animal is Baktria, or precisely that part of Central Asia in the vicinity of which an effort has been made to locate the cradle of the Aryan tongue. Benfey thinks the ancient Aryan country has been situated in Europe, north of the Black Sea, between the mouth of the Danube and the Caspian Sea.

Since the presentation of this argument, several defenders of the European hypothesis have come forward, among them Geiger, Cuno, Friedr. Müller, Spiegel, Pösche, and more recently Schrader and Penka. Schrader’s work, Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichie, contains an excellent general review of the history of the question, original contributions to its solution, and a critical but cautious opinion in regard to its present position. In France, too, the European hypothesis has found many adherents. Geiger found, indeed, that the cradle of the Aryan race was to be looked for much farther to the west than Benfey and others had supposed. His hypothesis, based on the evidence furnished by the geography of plants, places the ancient Aryan land in Germany. The cautious Schrader, who dislikes to deal with conjectures, regards the question as undecided, but he weighs the arguments presented by the various sides, and reaches the conclusion that those in favour of the European origin of the Aryans are the stronger, but that they are not conclusive.

Schrader himself, through his linguistic and historical investigations, has been led to believe that the Aryans, while they still were one people, belonged to the stone age, and had not yet become acquainted with the use of metals.


On one point—and that is for our purpose the most important one — the advocates of both hypotheses have approached each other. The leaders of the defenders of the Asiatic hypothesis have ceased to regard Asia as the cradle of all the dialects into which the ancient Aryan tongue has been divided. While they cling to the theory that time Aryan inhabitants of Europe have immigrated from Asia, they have well — nigh entirely ceased to claim that these peoples, already before their departure from their Eastern home, were so distinctly divided linguistically that it was necessary to imagine certain branches of the race speaking Celtic, others Teutonic, others, again, Greco-Italian, even before they came to Europe. The prevailing opinion among the advocates of the Asiatic hypothesis now doubtless is, that the Aryans who immigrated to Europe formed one homogeneous mass, which gradually on our continent divided itself definitely into Celts, Teutons, Slays, and Greco-Italians. The adherents of both hypotheses have thus been able to agree that there has been a European-Aryan country. And the question as to where it was located is of the most vital importance, as it is closely connected with the question of the original home of the Teutons, since the ancestors of the Teutons must have inhabited this ancient European-Aryan country.

Philology has attempted to answer the former question by comparing all the words of all the Aryan - European languages. The attempt has many obstacles to overcome ; for, as Schrader has remarked, the ancient words which to-day are common to all or several of these languages are presumably a mere remnant of the ancient European-Aryan vocabulary. Nevertheless, it is possible to arrive at important results in this manner, if we draw conclusions from the words that remain, but take care not to draw conclusions from what is wanting. The view gained in this manner is, briefly stated, as follows

The Aryan country of Europe has been situated in latitudes where snow and ice are common phenomena. The people who have emigrated thence to more southern climes have not forgotten either the one or the other name of those phenomena. To a comparatively northern latitude points also the circumstance that the ancient European Aryans recognised only three seasons—winter, spring, and summer. This division of the year continued among the Teutons even in the days of Tacitus. For autumn they had no name.

Many words for mountains, valleys, streams, amid brooks common to all the languages show that the European-Aryan land was not wanting in elevations, rocks, and flowing waters. Nor has it been a treeless plain. This is proven by many names of trees. The trees are fir, birch, willow, elm, elder, hazel, and a beech called bhaga, which means a tree with eatable fruit. From this word bhaga is derived the Greek F h g óV the Latin fagus, the German Buche, and the Swedish bok. But it is a remarkable fact that the Greeks did not call the beech but the oak F h g óV , while the Romans called the beech fagus. From this we conclude that the European Aryans applied time word bhaga both to the beech and the oak, since both bear similar fruit; but in some parts of the country the name was particularly applied to the beech, in others to the oak. The beech is a species of tree which gradually approaches the north. On the European continent it is not found east of a line drawn from Königsberg across Poland and Podolia to Crimea. This leads to the conclusion that the Aryan country of Europe must to a great extent have been situated west of this line, and that the regions inhabited by the ancestors of the Romans, and north of them b the progenitors of the Teutons, must be looked for west of this botanical line, and between the Alps and the North Sea.

Linguistic comparisons also show that the Aryan territory of Europe was situated near an ocean or large body of water. Scandinavians, Germans, Celts, and Romans have preserved a common name for the ocean—the Old Norse mar, the Old High German mari the Latin mare. The names of certain sea-animals are also common to various Aryan languages. The Swedish hummer (lobster) corresponds to the Greek Kauár o V , and the Swedish säl (seal) to the Greek s e l a c o V .

In the Aryan country of Europe there were domestic animals— cows, sheep, and goats. The horse was also known, hut it is uncertain whether it was used for riding or driving, or simply valued on account of its flesh and milk. On the other hand, the ass was not known, its domain being particularly the plains of Central Asia. The bear, wolf, otter, and beaver certainly belonged to the fauna of Aryan Europe. The European Aryans must have cultivated at least one, perhaps two kinds of grain; also flax, the name of which is preserved in the Greek l ín o n (linen), the Latin linum, and in other languages.

The Aryans knew the art of brewing mead from honey. That they also understood the art of drinking it even to excess may be taken for granted. This drink was dear to the hearts of the ancient Aryans, and its name has been faithfully preserved both by the tribes that settled near the Ganges, and by those who emigrated to Great Britain. The Brahmin by the Ganges still knows this beverage as madhu, the Welchman has known it as meda, the Lithuanian as mnedus; and when the Greek Aryans came to Southern Europe and became acquainted with wine, they gave it the name of mead (m e q n ).

It is not probable that the European Aryans knew bronze or iron, or, if they did know any of the metals, had any large quantity or made any daily use of them, so long as they linguistically formed one homogeneous body, and lived in that part of Europe which we here call the Aryan domain. The only common name for metal is that which we find in the Latin aes (copper), in the Gothic aiz, and in the Hindooic áyas. As is known, the Latin aes, like the Gothic aiz, means both copper and bronze. That the word originally meant copper, and afterwards came to signify bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin, seems to be a matter of course, and that it was applied only to copper and not to bronze among the ancient Aryans seems clear not only because a common name for tin is wanting, but also for the far better and remarkable reason particularly pointed out by Schrader, that all the Aryan European languages, even those which are nearest akin to each other and are each other’s neighbours, lack a common word for the tools of a smith and the inventory of a forge, and also for the various kinds of weapons of defence and attack. Most of all does it astonish us, that in respect to weapons the dissimilarity of names is so complete in the Greek and Roman tongues. Despite this fact, the ancient Aryans have certainly used various kinds of weapons—the club, the hammer, the axe, the knife, the spear, and the crossbow. All these weapons are of such a character that they could be made of stone, wood, and horn. Things more easily change names when the older materials of which they were made give place to new, hitherto unknown materials. It is, therefore, probable that the European Aryans were in the stone age, and at best were acquainted with copper before and during the period when their language was divided into several dialects.

Where, then, on our continent was the home of this Aryan European people in the stone age? Southern Europe, with its peninsulas extending into the Mediterranean, must doubtless have been outside of the boundaries of the Aryan land of Europe. The Greek Aryans have immigrated to Hellas, and the Italian Aryans are immigrants to the Italian peninsula. Spain has even within historical times been inhabited by Iberians and Basques, and Basques dwell there at present. If, as the linguistic monuments seem to prove, the European Aryans lived near an ocean, this cannot have been the Mediterranean Sea. There remain the Black and Caspian Sea on the one hand, the Baltic and the North Sea on the other. But if, as the linguistic monuments likewise seem to prove, the European Aryans for a great part, at least, lived west of a botanical hue indicated by the beech in a country producing fir, oak, elm, and elder, then they could not have been limited to the treeless plains which extend along the Black Sea from the mouth of the Danube, through Dobrudscha, Bessarabia, and Cherson, past the Crimea. Students of early Greek history do not any longer assume that the Hellenic immigrants found their way through these countries to Greece, but that they came from the north-west and followed the Adriatic down to Epirus; in other words, they came the same way as the Visigoths under Alarik, and the Eastgoths under Theodoric in later times. Even the Latin tribes came from the north. The migrations of the Celts, so far as history sheds any light on the subject, were from the north and west toward the south and east. The movements of the Teutonic races were from north to south, and they migrated both eastward and westward. Both prehistoric and historic facts thus tend to establish the theory that the Aryan domain of Europe, within undefinable limits, comprised the central and north part of Europe; and as one or more seas were known to these Aryans, we cannot exclude from the limits of this knowledge the ocean penetrating the north of Europe from the west.

On account of their undeveloped agriculture, which compelled them to depend chiefly on cattle for their support, the European Aryans must have occupied an extensive territory. Of the mutual position and of the movemnents of the various tribes within this territory nothing can be stated, except that sooner or later, but already away back in prehistoric times, they must have occupied precisely the position in which we find them at the dawn of history and which they now hold. The Aryan tribes which first entered Gaul must have lived west of those tribes which became the progenitors of the Teutons, and the latter must have lived west of those who spread an Aryan language over Russia. South of this line, but still in Central Europe, there must have dwelt another body of Aryans, the ancestors of the Greeks and Romans, the latter west of the former. Farthest to the north of all these tribes must have dwelt those people who afterwards produced the Teutonic tongue.



The northern position of the ancient Teutons necessarily had the effect that they, better than all other Aryan people, preserved their original race-type, as they were less exposed to mixing with non-Aryan elements. In the south, west, and east, they had kinsmen, separating them from non-Aryan races. To the north, on the other hand, lay a territory which, by its very nature, could be but sparsely populated, if it was inhabited at all, before it was occupied by the fathers of the Teutons. The Teutonic type, which doubtless also was the Aryan in general before much spreading and consequent mixing with other races had taken place, has, as already indicated, been described in the following manner: Tall, white skin, blue eyes, fair hair. Anthropological science has given them one more mark—they are dolicocephalous, that is, having skulls whose anterioposterior diameter, or that from the frontal to the occipital bone, exceeds the transverse diameter. This type appears most pure in the modern Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, and to some extent the Dutch; in the inhabitants of those parts of Great Britain that are most densely settled by Saxon and Scandinavian emigrants; and in the people of certain parts of North Germany. Welcker’s craniological measurements give the following figures for the breadth and length of Teutonic skulls:

Swedes and Hollanders....75—71

Icelanders and Danes....76—71


Hanoverians, (The vicinity of Jena, Bonn, and Cologne)....77—72




Thus the dolicocephalous form passes in Middle and Southern Germany into the brachycephalous. The investigations made at the suggestion of Virchow in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria, in regard to blonde and brunette types, are of great interest. An examination of more than nine million individuals showed the following result:

Germany 31.80% blonde, 14.05% brunette, 54.15% mixed.

Austria 19.79% blonde, 23.17 % brunette, 57.04 % mixed.

Switzerland 11.10% blonde, 25.70 % brunette, 61.40% mixed.

Thus the blonde type has by far a greater number of representatives in Germany than in the southern part of Central Europe, though the latter has German-speaking inhabitants. In Germany itself the blonde type decreases and the brunette increases from north to south, while at the same time the dolicocephalous gives place to the brachycephalous. Southern Germany has 25 % of brunettes, North Germany only 7%

If we now, following the strict rules of methodology which Latham insists on, bear in mind that the cradle of a race- or language-type should, if there are no definite historical facts to the contrary, especially be looked for where this type is most abundant and least changed, then there is no doubt that the part of Aryan Europe which the ancestors of the Teutons inhabited when they developed the Aryan tongue into the Teutonic must have included the coast of the Baltic and the North Sea. This theory is certainly not contradicted, but, on the other hand, supported by the facts so far as we have any knowledge of them. Roman history supplies evidence that the same parts of Europe in which the Teutonic type predominates at the present time were Teutonic already at the beginning of our era, and that then already the Scandinavian peninsula was inhabited by a North Teutonic people, which, among their kinsmen on the Continent, were celebrated for their wealth in ships and warriors. Centuries must have passed ere the Teutonic colonisation of the peninsula could have developed into so much strength—centuries during which, judging from all indications, the transition from the bronze to the iron age in Scandinavia must have taken place. The painstaking investigations of Montelius, conducted on the principle of methodology, have led him to the conclusion that Scandinavia and North Germany formed during the bronze age one common domain of culture in regard to weapons and implements. The manner in which the other domains of culture group themselves in Europe leaves no other place for the Teutonic race than Scandinavia and North Germany, and possibly Austria-Hungary, which the Teutonic domain resembles most. Back of the bronze age lies the stone age. The examinations, by v. Düben, Gustaf Retzius, and Virchow, of skeletons found in northern graves from the stone age prove the existence at that time of a race in the North which, so far as the characteristics of the skulls are concerned, cannot be distinguished from the race now dwelling there. Here it is necessary to take into consideration the results of probability reached by comparative philology, showing that the European Aryans were still in the stone age when they divided themselves into Celts, Teutons, &c., and occupied separate territories, and the fact that the Teutons, so far back as conclusions may be drawn from historical knowledge, have occupied a more northern domain than their kinsmen. Thus all tends to show that when the Scandinavian peninsula was first settled by Aryans—doubtless coming from the South by way of Denmark—these Aryans belonged to the same race, which, later in history, appear with a Teutonic physiognomy and with Teutonic speech, and that their immigration to and occupation of the southern parts of the peninsula took place in the time of the Aryan stone age.

For the history of civilisation, and particularly for mythology, these results are important. It is a problem to be solved by comparative mythology what elements in the various groups of Aryan myths may be the original common property of the race while the race was yet undivided. The conclusions reached gain in trustworthiness the further the Aryan tribes, whose myths are compared, are separated from each other geographically. If, for instance, the Teutonic mythology on the one hand and the Asiatic Aryan (Avesta and Rigveda) on the other are made the subject of comparative study, and if groups of myths are found which are identical not only in their general character and in many details, but also in the grouping of the details and the epic connection of the myths, then the probability that they belong to an age when the ancestors of the Teutons and those of the Asiatic Aryans dwelt together is greater, in the same proportion as the probability of an intimate and detailed exchange of ideas after the separation grows less between these tribes on account of the geographical distance. With all the certainty which it is possible for research to arrive at in this field, we may assume that these common groups of myths—at least the centres around which they revolve-originated at a time when the Aryans still formed, so to speak, a geographical and linguistic unity—in all probability at a time which lies far back in a common Aryan stone age. The discovery of groups of myths of this sort thus sheds light on beliefs and ideas that existed in the minds of our ancestors in an age of which we have no information save that which we get from the study of the finds. The latter, when investigated by painstaking and penetrating archæological scholars, certainly give us highly instructive information in other directions. In this manner it becomes possible to distinguish between older and younger elements of Teutonic mythology, and to secure a basis for studying its development through centuries which have left us no literary monuments.




In the preceding pages we have given the reasons which make it appear proper to assume that ancient Teutondom, within certain indefinable limits, included the coasts of the Baltic and the North Sea, that the Scandinavian countries constituted a part of this ancient Teutondom, and that they have been peopled by Teutons since the days of the stone age.

The subject which I am now about to discuss requires an investigation in reference to what the Teutons themselves believed, in regard to this question, in the earliest times of which we have knowledge. Did they look upon themselves as aborigines or as immigrants in Teutondom? For the mythology, the answer to this question is of great weight. For pragmatic history, on the other hand, the answer is of little importance, for whatever they believed gives no reliable basis for conclusions in regard to historical facts. If they regarded themselves as aborigines, this does not hinder their having immigrated in prehistoric times, though their traditions have ceased to speak of it. If they regarded themselves as immigrants, then it does not follow that the traditions, in regard to the immigration, contain any historical kernel. Of the former we have an example in the case of the Brahmins and the higher castes in India: their orthodoxy requires them to regard themselves as aborigines of the country in which they live, although there is evidence that they are immigrants. Of the latter the Swedes are an example: the people here have been taught to believe that a greater or less portion of the inhabitants of Sweden are descended from immigrants who, led by Odin, are supposed to have come here about one hundred years before the birth of Christ, and that this immigration, whether it brought many or few people, was of the most decisive influence on the culture of the country, so that Swedish history might properly begin with the moment when Odin planted his feet on Swedish soil.

The more accessible sources of the traditions in regard to Odin’s immigration to Scandinavia are found in the Icelandic works, Heimskringla and the Prose Edda. Both sources are from the same time, that is, the thirteenth century, and are separated by more than two hundred years from the heathen age in Iceland.

We will first consider Heimskringla’s story. A river, by name Tanakvisl, or Vanakvisl, empties into the Black Sea. This river separates Asia from Europe. East of Tanakvisl, that is to say, then in Asia, is a country formerly called Asaland or Asaheim, and the chief citadel or town in that country was called Asgard. It was a great city of sacrifices, and there dwelt a chief who was known by the namne Odin. Under him ruled twelve men who were high-priests and judges. Odin was a great chieftain and conqueror, and so victorious was he, that his men believed that victory was wholly inseparable from him. If he laid his blessing hand on anybody’s head, success was sure to attend him. Even if he was absent, if called upon in distress or danger, his very name seemed to give comfort. He frequently went far away, and often remained absent half-a-year at a time. His kingdom was then ruled by his brothers Vile and Ve. Once he was absent so long that the Asas believed that he would never return. Then his brothers married his wife Frigg. Finally he returned, however, and took Frigg back again.

The Asas had a people as their neighbours called the Vans. Odin made war on the Vans, but they defended themselves bravely. When both parties had been victorious and suffered defeat, they grew weary of warring, made peace, and exchanged hostages. The Vans sent their best son Njord and his son Frey, and also Kvaser, as hostages to the Asas; and the latter gave in exchange Honer and Mimir. Odin gave Njord and Frey the dignity of priests. Frey’s sister, too, Freyja, was made a priestess. The Vans treated the hostages they had received with similar consideration, and created loner a chief and judge. But they soon seemed to discover that Honer was a stupid fellow. They considered themselves cheated in the exchange, and, being angry on this account, they cut off the head, not of Honer, but of his wise brother Mimir, and sent it to Odin. He embalmed the head, sang magic songs over it, so that it could talk to him and tell him many strange things.

Asaland, where Odin ruled, is separated by a great mountain range from Tyrkland, by which Heimskringla means Asia Minor, of which the celebrated Troy was supposed to have been the capital. In Tyrkland, Odin also had great possessions. But at that time the Romans invaded and subjugated all lands, and many rulers fled on that account from their kingdoms. And Odin, being wise and versed in the magic art, and knowing, therefore, that his descendants were to people the northern part of the world, he left his kingdom to his brothers Vile and Ve, and migrated with many followers to Gardarike, Russia. Njord, Frey, and Freyja, and the other priests who had ruled under him in Asgard, accompanied him, and sons of his were also with him. From Gardarike he proceeded to Saxland, conquered vast countries, and made his sons rulers over them. From Saxland he went to Funen, and settled there. Seeland did not then exist. Odin sent the maid Gefion north across the water to investigate what country was situated there. At that time ruled in Svithiod a chief by name Gylfe. He gave Gefion a ploughland,* and, by the help of four giants changed into oxen, Gefion cut out with the plough, and dragged into the sea near Funen that island which is now called Seeland. Where the land was ploughed away there is now a lake called Logrin. Skjold, Odin’s son, got this land, and married Gefion. And when Gefion informed Odin that Gylfe possessed a good land, Odin went thither, and Gylfe, being unable to make resistance, though he too was a wise man skilled in witchcraft and sorcery, a peaceful compact was made, according to which Odin acquired a vast territory around Logrin; and in Sigtuna he established a great temple, where sacrifices henceforth were offered according to the custom of the Asas. To his priests he gave dwellings—Noatun to Njord, Upsala to Frey, Himminbjorg to Heimdal, Thrudvang to Thor, Breidablik to Balder, &c. Many new sports came to the North with Odin, and he and the Asas taught them to the people. Among other things, he taught them poetry and runes. Odin himself always talked in measured rhymes. Besides, he was a most excellent sorcerer. He could change shape, make his foes in a conflict blind and deaf; he was a wizard, and could wake the dead. He owned the ship Skidbladner, which could be folded as a napkin. He had two ravens, which he had taught to speak, and they brought him tidings from all lands. He knew where all treasures were hid in the earth, and could call them

*As much land as can be ploughed in a day.

forth with the aid of magic songs. Among the customs he introduced in the North were cremation of the dead, the raising of mounds in memory of great men, the erection of bauta-stones in commemoration of others; and he introduced the three great sacrificial feasts—for a good year, for good crops, and for victory. Odin died in Svithiod. When he perceived the approach of death, he suffered himself to be marked with the point of a spear, and declared that he was going to Gudheim to visit his friends and receive all fallen in battle. This the Swedes believed. They have since worshipped him in the belief that he had an eternal life in the ancient Asgard, and they thought he revealed himself to them before great battles took place. On Svea’s throne he was followed by Njord, the progenitor of the race of Ynglings. Thus Heimskringla. We now pass to the Younger Edda,* which in its Foreword gives us in the style of that time a general survey of history and religion.

First, it gives from the Bible the story of creation and the deluge. Then a long story is told of the building of the tower of Babel. The descendants of Noah’s son, Ham, warred against and conquered the sons of Sem, and tried in their arrogance to build a tower which should aspire to heaven itself. The chief manager in this enterprise was Zoroaster, and seventy-two master-masons and joiners served under him. But God confounded the tongues of these arrogant people so that each one of the seventy-two masters with those under him got their own language, which the others could not understand, and then each went his own way, and in this manner arose the seventy-two different languages in the world. Before that time only one language was spoken, and that was Hebrew. Where they tried to build the tower a city was founded and called Babylon There Zoroaster became a king and ruled over many Assyrian nations, among which he introduced idolatry, arid which worshiped him as Baal. The tribes that departed with his master-workmen also fell into idolatry, excepting the one tribe which kept the Hebrew language. It preserved also the original and pure faith. Thus, while Babylon became one of the chief altars of heathen worship, the island Crete became another. There was

* A translation of the Younger or Prose Edda was edited by R. B. Anderson and published by S. C. Griggs & Co., Chicago, in 1881.

born a man, by name Saturnus, who became for the Cretans and Macedonians what Zoroaster was for the Assyrians. Saturnus’ knowledge and skill in magic, and his art of producing gold from red-hot iron, secured him the power of a prince on Crete; and as he, moreover, had control over all invisible forces, the Cretans and Macedonians believed that he was a god, and he encouraged them in this faith. He had three sons—Jupiter, Neptunus, and Plutus. Of these, Jupiter resembled his father in skill and magic, and he was a great warrior who conquered many peoples. When Saturnus divided his kingdom among his sons, a feud arose. Plutus got as his share hell, and as this was the least desirable part he also received the dog named Cerberus. Jupiter, who received heaven, was not satisfied with this, but wanted the earth too. He niade war against his father, who had to seek refuge in Italy, where he, out of fear of Jupiter, changed his name and called himself Njord, and where he became a useful king, teaching the inhabitants, who lived on nuts and roots, to plough and plant vineyards.

Jupiter had many sons. From one of them, Dardanus, descended in the fifth generation Priamus of Troy. Priamus’ son was Hektor, who in stature and strength was the foremost man in the world. From the Trojans the Romans are descended; and when Rome had grown to be a great power it adopted many laws and customs which had prevailed among the Trojans before them. Troy was situated in Tyrkland, near the centre of the earth. Under Priamus, the chief ruler, there were twelve tributary kings, and they spoke twelve languages. These twelve tributary kings were exceedingly wise men; they received the honour of gods, and from them all European chiefs are descended. One of these twelve was called Munon or Mennon. He was married to a daughter of Priamus, and had with her the son Tror, "whom we call Thor ". He was a very handsome man , his hair shone fairer than gold, and at the age of twelve he was full-grown, and so strong that he could lift twelve bear-skins at the same time. He slew his foster-father and foster-mother, took possession of his foster-father’s kingdom Thracia, "which we call Thrudheim," and thenceforward he roamed about the world, conquering berserks, giants, the greatest dragon, and other prodigies. In the North he met a prophetess by name Sibil (Sibylla), "whom we call Sif," and her he married. In the twentieth generation froni this Thor, Vodin descended, " whom we call Odin," a very wise and well-informed man, who married Frigida, "whom we call Frigg ".

At that time the Roman general Pompey was making wars in the East, and also threatened the empire of Odin. Meanwhile Odin and his wife had learned through prophetic inspiration that a glorious future awaited them in the northern part of the world. He therefore emigrated from Tyrkland, and took with him many people, old and yOung, men and women, and costly treasures. Wherever they came they appeared to the inhabitants more like gods than men. And they did not stop before they came as far north as Saxland. There Odin remained a long time. One of his sons, Veggdegg, he appointed king of Saxland. Another son, Beldegg, "whom we call Balder," he made king in Westphalia. A third son, Sigge, became king in Frankland. Then Odin proceeded farther to the north and came to Reidgothaland, which is now called Jutland, and there took possession of as much as he wanted. There he appointed his son Skjold as king; then he came to Svithiod.

Here ruled king Gylfe. When he heard of the expedition of Odin and his Asiatics he went to nieet them, and offered Odin as much land and as much power in his kingdom as he might desire. One reason why people everywhere gave Odin so hearty a welcome and offered him land and power was that wherever Odin and his men tarried on their journey the people got good harvests and abundant crops, and therefore they believed that Odin and his men controlled the weather amid the growing grain. Odin went with Gylfe up to the lake "Logrin" and saw that the land was good; and there he chose as his citadel the place which is called Sigtuna, founding there the same institutions as had existed in Troy, and to which the Turks were accustomed. Then he organised a council of twelve men, who were to make laws and settle disputes. From Svithiod Odin went to Norway, and there made his son Sæming king. But the ruling of Svithiod he had left to his son Yngve, from whom the race of Ynglings are descended. The Asas and their sons married the women of the land of which they had taken possession, and their descendants, who preserved the language spoken in Troy, multiplied so fast that the Trojan language displaced the old tongue and became the speech of Svithiod, Norway, Denmark, and Saxland, and thereafter also of England.

The Prose Edda’s first part, Gylfaginning, consists of a collection of mythological tales told to the reader in the form of a conversation between the above-named king of Sweden, Gylfe, and the Asas. Before the Asas had started on their journey to the North, it is here said, Gylfe had learned that they were a wise and knowing people who had success in all their undertakings. And believing that this was a result either of the nature of these people, or of their peculiar kind of worship, he resolved to investigate the matter secretly, and therefore betook himself in the guise of an old man to Asgard. But the foreknowing Asas knew in advance that he was coming, and resolved to receive him with all sorts of sorcery, which might give him a high opinion of them. He finally came to a citadel, the roof of which was thatched with golden shields, and the hall of which was so large that he scarcely could see the whole of it. At the entrance stood a man playing with sharp tools, which he threw up in the air and caught again with his hands, and seven axes were in the air at the same time. This man asked the traveller his name. The latter answered that he was named Ganglere, that he had made a long journey over rough roads, and asked for lodgings for the night. He also asked whose the citadel was. The juggler answered that it belonged to their king, and conducted Gylfe into the hail, where many people were assembled. Some sat drinking, others amused themselves at games, and still others were practising with weapons. There were three high-seats in the hall, one above the other, and in each high-seat sat a man. In the lowest sat the king; and the juggler informed Gylfe that the king’s name was Har; that the one who sat next above him was named Jafnhar; and that the one who sat on the highest throne was named Thride (þridi). Har asked the stranger what his errand was, and invited him to eat and drink. Gylfe answered that he first wished to know whether there was any wise man in the hall. Har replied that the stranger should not leave the hall whole unless he was victorious in a contest in wisdom. Gylfe now begins his questions, which all concern the worship of the Asas, and the three men in the high-seats give him answers. Already in the first answer it appears that the Asgard to which Gylfe thinks he has come is, in the opinion of the author, a younger Asgard, and presumably the same as the author of Heimskringla places beyond the river Tanakvisl, but there had existed an older Asgard identical with Troy in Tyrkland, where, according to Heimskringla, Odin had extensive possessions at the time when the Romans began their invasions in the East. When Gylfe with his questions had learned the most important facts in regard to the religion of Asgard, and had at length been instructed concerning the destruction and regeneration of the world, he perceived a mighty rumbling and quaking, and when he looked about him the citadel and hall had disappeared, and he stood beneath the open sky. He returned to Svithiod and related all that he had seen and heard among the Asas; but when he had gone they counselled together, and they agreed to call themselves by those names which they used in relating their stories to Gylfe. These sagas, remarks Gylfaginning, were in reality none but historical events transformed into traditions about divinities. They described events which had occurred in the older Asgard— that is to say, Troy. The basis of the stories told to Gylfe about Thor were the achievements of Hektor in Troy, and the Loki of whom Gylfe had heard was, in fact, none other than Ulixes (Ulysses), who was the foe of the Trojans, and consequently was represented as the foe of the gods.

Gylfaginning is followed by another part of the Prose Edda called Bragaroedur (Brage’s Talk), which is presented in a similar form. On Lessö, so it is said, dwelt formerly a man by name Ægir. He, like Gylfe, had heard reports concerning the wisdom of the Asas, and resolved to visit them. He, like Gylfe, comes to a place where the Asas receive him with all sorts of magic arts, and conduct him into a hall which is lighted up in the evening with shining swords. There he is invited to take his seat by the side of Brage, and there were twelve high-seats in which sat men who were called Thor, Njord, Frey, &c., and women who were called Frigg, Freyja, Nanna, &c. The hall was splendidly decorated with shields. The mead passed round was exquisite, and the talkative Binge instructed the guest in the traditions concerning the Asas’ art of poetry. A postscript to the treatise warns young skalds not to place confidence in the stories told to Gylfe and Ægir. The author of the postscript says they have value only as a key to the many metaphors which occur in the poems of the great skalds, but upon the whole they are deceptions invented by the Asas or Asiamen to make people believe that they were gods. Still, the author thinks these falsifications have an historical kernel. They are, he thinks, based on what happened in the ancient Asgard, that is, Troy. Thus, for instance, Ragnarok is originally nothing else than the siege of Troy; Thor is, as stated, Hektor; the Midgard-serpent is one of the heroes slain by Hektor; the Fenris-wolf is Pyrrhus, son of Achilles, who slew Priam (Odin); and Vidar, who survives Ragnarok, is Æneas.


The sources of the traditions concerning the Asiatic immigration to the North belong to the Icelandic literature, and to it alone. Saxo’s Historia Danica, the first books of which were written toward the close of the twelfth century, presents on this topic its own peculiar view, which will be discussed later. The Icelandic accounts disagree only in unimportant details; the fundamental view is the same, and they have flown froni the same fountain vein. Their contents may be summed up thus:

Among the tribes who after the Babylonian confusion of tongues emnigrated to various countries, there was a body of people who settled and introduced their language in Asia Minor, which in the sagas is called Tyrkland; in Greece, which in the sagas is called Macedonia; and in Crete. In Tyrkland they founded the great city which was called Troy. This city was attacked by the Greeks during the reign of the Trojan king Priam. Priam descended from Jupiter and the latter’s father Saturnus, and accordingly belonged to a race which the idolaters looked upon as divine. Troy was a very large city; twelve languages were spoken there, and Priam had twelve tributary kings under him. But however powerful the Trojans were, and however bravely they defended themselves under the leadership of the son of Priam’s daughter, that valiant hero Thor, still they were defeated. Troy was captured and burned by the Greeks, and Priam himself was slain. Of the surviving Trojans two parties emigrated in different directions. They seem in advance to have been well informed in regard to the quality of foreign lands; for Thor, the son of Priam’s daughter, had made extensive expeditions in which he had fought giants and monsters. On his journeys he had even visited the North, and there he had met Sibil, the celebrated prophetess, and married her. One of the parties of Trojan emigrants embarked under the leadership of Æneas for Italy, and founded Rome. The other party, accompanied by Thor’s son, Loride, went to Asialand, which is separated from Tyrkland by a mountain ridge, and from Europe by the river Tanais or Tanakvisl. There they founded a new city called Asgard, and there preserved the old customs and usages brought from Troy. Accordingly, there was organised in Asgard, as in Troy, a council of twelve men, who were high priests and judges. Many centuries passed without any political contact between the new Trojan settlements in Rome and Asgard, though both well remembered their Trojan origin, and the Romans formed many of their institutions after the model of the old fatherland. Meanwhile, Rome had grown to be one of the mightiest empires in the world, and began at length to send armies into Tyrkland. At that time there ruled in Asgard an exceedingly wise, prophetic king, Odin, who was skilled in the magic arts, and who was descended in the twentieth generation from the above-mentioned Thor. Odin had waged many successful wars. The severest of these wars was the one with a neighbouring people, the Vans; but this had been ended with compromise and peace. In Tyrkland, the old niother country, Odin had great possessions, which fell into the hands of the Romans. This circumstance strengthened him in his resolution to emigrate to the north of Europe. The prophetic vision with which he was endowed had told him that his descendants would long flourish there. So he set out with his many sons, and was accompanied by the twelve priests and by many people, but not by all the inhabitants of the Asa country and of Asgard. A part of the people remained at home; and among them Odin’s brothers Vile and Ve. The expedition proceeded through Gardarike to Saxland; then across the Danish islands to Svithiod and Norway. Everywhere this great multitude of migrators was well received by the inhabitants. Odin’s superior wisdom and his marvellous skill in sorcery, together with the fact that his progress was everywhere attended by abundant harvests, caused the peoples to look upon him as a god, and to place their thrones at his disposal He accordingly appointed his sons as kings in Saxland, Denmark, Svithiod, and Norway. Gylfe, the king of Svithiod, submitted to his superiority and gave him a splendid country around Lake Mæler to rule over. There Odin built Sigtuna, the institutions of which were an imitation of those in Asgard and Troy. Poetry and many other arts came with Odin to the Teutonic lands, and so, too, the Trojan tongue. Like his ancestors, Saturnus and Jupiter, he was able to secure divine worship, which was extended even to his twelve priests. The religious traditions which he scattered among the people, and which were believed until the introduction of Christianity, were misrepresentations spun around the memories of Troy’s historical fate and its destruction, and around the events of Asgard.


Such is, in the main, the story which was current in Iceland in the thirteenth century, and which found its way to Scandinavia through the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, concerning the immigration of Odin and the Asas. Somewhat older than these works is Historia Danica, by the Danish chronicler Saxo. Sturlason, the author of Heimskringla, was a lad of eight years when Saxo began to write his history, and be (Sturlason) had certainly not begun to write history when Saxo had completed the first nine books of his work, which are based on the still-existing songs and traditions found in Denmark, and of heathen origin. Saxo writes as if he were unacquainted with Icelandic theories concerning an Asiatic immigration to the North, and he has not a word to say about Odin’s reigning as king or chief anywhere in Scandinavia. This is the more remarkable, since he holds the same view as the Ice-landers and the chroniclers of the Middle Ages in general in regard to the belief that the heathen myths were records of historical events, and that the heathen gods were historical persons, men changed into divinities; and our astonishment increases when we consider that he, in the heathen songs and traditions on which he based the first part of his work, frequently finds Odin’s name, and consequently could not avoid presenting him in Danish history as an important character. In Saxo, as in the Icelandic works, Odin is a human being, and at the same time a sorcerer of the greatest power. Saxo and the Icelanders also agree that Odin came from the East. The only difference is that while the Icelandic hypothesis makes him rule in Asgard, Saxo locates his residence in

Byzantium, on the Bosphorus; but this is not far from the ancient Troy, where the Prose Edda locates his ancestors. From Byzantium, according to Saxo, the fame of his magic arts and of the miracles he performed reached even to the north of Europe. On account of these miracles he was worshipped as a god by the peoples, and to pay him honour the kings of the North once sent to Byzantium a golden image, to which Odin by magic arts imparted the power of speech. It is the myth about Mimir’s head which Saxo here relates. But the kings of the North knew him not only by report; they were also personally acquainted with him. He visited Upsala, a place which "pleased him much ". Saxo, like the Heimskrimigla, relates that Odin was absent from his capital for a long time; and when we examine his statements on this point, we find that Saxo is here telling in his way the myth concerning the war which the Vans carried on successfully against the Asas, and concerning Odin’s expulsion from the mythic Asgard, situated in heaven (Hist. Dan., pp. 42-44; vid. No. 36). Saxo also tells that Odin’s son, Balder, was chosen king by the Danes "on account of his personal merits and his respect-commanding qualities ". But Odin himself has never, according to Saxo, had land or authority in the North, though he was there worshipped as a god, and, as already stated, Saxo is entirely silent in regard to immigration of an Asiatic to Scandinavia any people under the leadership of Odin.

A comparison between him and the Icelanders will show at once that, although both parties are Euhemerists, and make Odin a man changed into a god, Saxo confines himself more faithfully to the popular myths, and seeks as far as possible to turn them into history; while the Icelanders, on the other hand, begin with the learned theory in regard to the original kinship of the northern races with the Trojans and Romans, and around this theory as a nucleus they weave about the same myths told as history as Saxo tells.

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