Differences between Norse/ Nordic/ Scandinavian and Germanic/ German/ Teutonic myths





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    Differences between Norse/ Nordic/ Scandinavian and Germanic/ German/ Teutonic myths

    Are there any differences between Norse/Nordic/Scandinavian and Germanic/German/Teutonic myths and legends? The terms tend to be used interchangeably in most sources I have looked at, but Germany is not Scandinavian or Norse/Nordic, so it seems a bit suspicious to me.
    Last edited by Morrus; Thursday, 4th November, 2004 at 11:36 AM.

 

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    Paraphrased from "Sagas of the Northmen Viking and German Myth" by Time-Life 1997:

    The Anglo-Saxons and Scandavians were both branches of Germanic peoples. Germanic was the term the Romans used to refer to the barbarian tribes of central and northern Europe that were not Celts. The tribes shared Germanic language that was distinct from Slavic, Celtic, or Latin. Germanic dialects later split into Dutch, Flemish, English, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic. The latter four being the North Germanic Sub-Group which split off earlier.

    I presume that since they shared language in ancient times, their mythology would be similiar.

    Hope that helps.

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    Without getting into too much detail, there were some differences, though obviously many of the basic ideas were the same. What we know as "Norse" mythology is probably more elaborate and systematized than the earlier pre-literate beliefs, thanks to the efforts of Snorri Sturluson, who wrote a manual on it called Skaldskaparmal, "Language of Poetry". The messianic overtones of the Baldur myth for instance are not strongly evidenced in Britain or in Germany. The Aesir/Vanir division is also not clear from other sources, but giants, dwarves, elves, runes (though these never penetrated much into Germany), the major Aesir (Odin, Thor, Tyr, Loki, Frey, Frigga) appear to have been common. Also, the major elements of the Volsung saga (the dwarf's treasure, the dragon, the ring of fire) seem to have been common currency. Some of the familiar myths were also widely circulated, though differing in details and characters. Religious rituals had certain clear similarites like the irminsul and cult wagons.
    Last edited by tarchon; Monday, 1st November, 2004 at 06:25 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tarchon
    ...thanks to the efforts of Snorri Sturluson, who wrote a manual on it called Skaldskaparmal, "Language of Poetry".
    On the other hand, Viktor Rydberg's Teutonic Mythology (available for reading on the internet) proposes that Sturluson warped Norse mythology, trying to conform it to a more Christian view.

    There are differences between Norse/Nordic/Scandinavian and Germanic/German/Teutonic myths and legends, but many of them are due to the time differences involved. Whereas the Norse tradition became in a sense "trapped" by such works as Sturlusson's Skaldskaparmal at the same time as it was replaced by Christianity, a "Germanic" tradition continued to evolve alongside the Christian one, entwining with it.

    But then, I'm no expert.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Algolei
    On the other hand, Viktor Rydberg's Teutonic Mythology (available for reading on the internet) proposes that Sturluson warped Norse mythology, trying to conform it to a more Christian view.

    There are differences between Norse/Nordic/Scandinavian and Germanic/German/Teutonic myths and legends, but many of them are due to the time differences involved. Whereas the Norse tradition became in a sense "trapped" by such works as Sturlusson's Skaldskaparmal at the same time as it was replaced by Christianity, a "Germanic" tradition continued to evolve alongside the Christian one, entwining with it.
    It's not just a proposition (or another hand) - Sturluson wrote at the very end of the Skaldic tradition, and his vision of Norse mythology is deeply influenced by Christian and Classical traditions. Almost everyone accepts that. Sturluslon however didn't really have very much influence on Skaldic works, coming at the end of the period as he did. His influence was more on later perceptions and derivations of the Norse mythological tradition (after it had ceased to be a living religious tradition), and his clear intention was to provide an interpretive and stylistic guide to a tradition that was rapidly transforming with the spread of Christian/Romance culture. There are much earlier sagas though that lack the deep Christian influences found in Sturluson (12thC-13th), and so provide a less altered, if patchy, picture of pre-Christian Norse beliefs.
    Norse mythology also continued to evolve into the types of romances that were popular in Germany and the rest of Europe, in much the same way as it did in various localities. The Volsungasaga (13thC) is fairly typical of this, and it obviously has many parallels to the Nibelungenlied (12-13thC), both in content and the blending of the Medieval Romance aesthetic with "Germanic" mythology. One interesting question is whether the parallels in the two are from direct influence or if they used independent local traditions, though it's most likely that both factors are responsible.
    Last edited by tarchon; Monday, 1st November, 2004 at 06:50 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roman
    Are there any differences between Norse/Nordic/Scandinavian and Germanic/German/Teutonic myths and legends? The terms tend to be used interchangeably in most sources I have looked at, but Germany is not Scandinavian or Norse/Nordic, so it seems a bit suspicious to me.
    Just look at the English language, and you see the similarities. Wednesday, from Saxon Woden, resembles more the old Franconian Wodan than the Norse Odin. On the other hand, Thursday, from Saxon Thor, is basically the same as the Norse word, and not like the German form Donar. The transition is more or less seamless, and the stories behind the gods are more or less the same .

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    Thanks everybody! So it seems that the common origin of these myths and legends ensures that although they are not exactly the same, they are similar enough to be grouped together as one mythology/legend system.

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    Pretty much. In my personal usage of the terms, I use Germanic as a larger group term which includes Norse/Scandinavian/Anglo-Saxon and a couple of others, which fits the definition ares71 used above.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roman
    Thanks everybody! So it seems that the common origin of these myths and legends ensures that although they are not exactly the same, they are similar enough to be grouped together as one mythology/legend system.
    As much as any common cultural system can be after generations and generations of spread over a large distance, evolving influences from neighbors, and gradually diverging languages. For what it's worth, we can easily create root words for proto-Germanic forms of many of the common gods of Germanic mythology -- *Thun-raz for Thorr/Thor/Donar, etc. I don't know how useful that is, though.

    I mean, it wouldn't be hard to go even further with it, and try to reconstruct a common Indo-European mythology, noting the very obvious similarities between various Indo-European thunder gods like Vedic Indra, Slavic Perkunas, Baltic Perun, Germanic Thor, etc. In fact, there are researchers, generally following in the Georges Dumezil school of thought, who publish material doing exactly that.

    So, there's no cut and dried answer, and at what point you decide, "this is too different; this is a new tradition" is pretty arbitrary. Personally, my position on it is that "Germanic" mythology is common across the entire pagan Germanic tradition, with obvious regional differences. Not only do we have the problem noted above, in which we don't know how much of the recorded Norse mythology is actually what any Norse believed vs. Sturleson's own interpretation and propoganda spin on the mythology, there are other vagaries that are interesting.

    For instance, and I really wish I could remember where I read this, Odin didn't really used to be that important of a god, and he certainly wasn't the "All-father" until his cult, which spread from Germany, actually, pushed him forward. Before that, Thor was the king of the gods in the Germanic tradition. Another intriguing proposition I've heard is that the Vanir are not a native Germanic tradition, and represent increasing contact with Celtic mythology; in other words, the Vanir are the Celtic pantheon, and the Vanir/Aesir war represent relations between Germanic and Celtic peoples! I'm not sure how much I buy that idea, but it is intriguing.

    The thing about oral tradition religion that has been "dead" for centuries is that finding the "definitive" version of it is impossible, and not even desirable, in my opinion ayway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shilsen
    Pretty much. In my personal usage of the terms, I use Germanic as a larger group term which includes Norse/Scandinavian/Anglo-Saxon and a couple of others, which fits the definition ares71 used above.
    Good, because that would be the correct usage of the term Germanic.

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