TO HIS MAJESTY KING OSCAR II.,
THE RULER OF THE ARYAN PEOPLE OF THE SCANDINAVIAN PENINSULA,
THE PROMOTER OF THE SCIENCES,
THE CROWNED POET,
THIS WORK IS MOST RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED
BY THE AUTHOR, AND TRANSLATOR,
VIKTOR RYDBERG. RASMUS B. ANDERSON.
STOCKHOLM, November 20, 1887.
HON. RASMUS B. ANDERSON,
United States Minister, Copenhagen, Denmark.
It gives me pleasure to authorise you to translate into English my work entitled "Researches in Teutonic Mythology," being convinced that no one could be found better qualified for this task than yourself. Certainly no one has taken a deeper interest than you in spreading among our Anglo-Saxon kinsmen, not only a knowledge of our common antiquity, but also of what modern Scandinavia is contributing to the advancement of culture—a work in which England and the United States of America are taking so large a share.
A. THE ANCIENT ARYANS.
THE WORDS GERMAN AND GERMANIC.
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 German ia—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.
THE ARYAN FAMILY OF LANGUAGES.
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.
THE HYPOTHESIS CONCERNING THE ASIATIC ORIGIN OF THE 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.
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.
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.
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.
THE HYPOTHESIS CONCERNING THE EUROPEAN ORIGIN OF THE ARYANS.
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.