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CHAPTER I X.
THE TEUTONIC AND SCANDINAVIAN RELIGION.
§ 1. The Land and the Race. § 2. Idea of the Scandinavian Religion.
$ 3. The Eddas and their Contents. § 4. The Gods of Scandinavia. $ 5. Resemblance of the Scandinavian Mythology to that of Zoroaster. Š 6. Scandinavian Worship. $ 7. Social Character, Maritime Discove eries, and Political Institutions of the Scandinavians. § 8. Relation of this System to Christianity.
§ 1. The Land and the Race. THE great Teutonic or German division of the Indo
European family entered Europe subsequently to the Keltic tribes, and before the Slavic immigration. people overspread and occupied a large part of Northern Central Europe, from which the attempts of the Romans to dispossess them proved futile. Of their early history we know
very little. Bishop Percy contrasts their love of making records, as shown by the Runic inscriptions, with the Keltic law of secrecy. The Druids forbade any communication of their mysteries by writing ; but the German Scalds put all their belief into popular songs, and reverenced literature as a gift of the gods. Yet we have received very little information concerning these tribes before the days of Cæsar and Tacitus. Cæsar describes them as warlike, huge in stature; having reverence for women, who were their augurs and diviners; worshipping the Sun, the Moon, and Fire ; having no regular priests, and paying little regard to sacrifices. He says that they occupied their lives in hunting and war, devoting themselves from childhood to severe labors. They reverenced chastity, and considered it as conducive to health and strength. They were rather a pastoral than agricultural people; no one owning land, but each having it assigned to him temporarily. The object of this provision was said to be to prevent accumulation of wealth and the loss of warlike habits. They fought with cavalry supported by infantry. In the time of Augustus all attempts at conquering Germany were relinquished, and war was maintained only in the hope of revenging the destruction of Varus and his three legions by the famous German chief Arminius, or Herrman.*
Tacitus freely admits that the Germans were as warlike as the Romans, and were only inferior in weapons and discipline. He pays a generous tribute to Arminius, whom he declares to have been “ beyond all question the liberator of Germany," dying at thirty-seven, unconquered in war.f Tacitus quotes from some ancient German ballads or hymns (“the only historic monuments," says he, “ that they possess ") the names of Tuisto, a god born from the earth, and Mannus, his son. Tacitus was much struck with the physical characteristics of the race, as being so uniform. There was a family likeness, he says, among them all, --stern blue eyes, yellow hair, large bodies. Their wealth was in their flocks and herds. “ Gold and silver are kept from them by the anger, or perhaps by the favor, of Heaven.” Their rulers were elective, and their power was limited. Their judges were the priests. They saw something divine in woman, and her judgments were accepted as oracles. Such women as Veleda and Aurinia were reverenced as prophets ; " but not adored or made into goddesses,” says Tacitus, with a side-glance at some events at home. Their gods, Tacitus chooses to call Mercury, Hercules, and Mars; but he distinctly says that the Germans had neither idols nor temples, but worshipped in sacred groves. He also says that the Germans divined future events by pieces of sticks, by the duel, and by the movements of sacred horses. Their leaders might decide the less important matters, but the principal questions were settled at public meetings. These assemblies were held at regular intervals, were opened by the priest, were presided over by the chief, and decided all public affairs. Tacitus remarks
* Caesar, Bell. Gall., I. 36, 39, 48, 50; VI. 21, 22, 23. of “Præliis ambiguus, bello non victus.' - Annals, II. 88. # Tacitus, Germania, &$ 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9.
that the spirit of liberty goes to such an extreme among the Germans as to destroy regularity and order. They will not be punctual at their meetings, lest it should seem as if they attended because commanded to come.* Marriage was sacred, and, unlike other heathen nations, they were contented with one wife. They were affectionate and constant to the marriage vow, which meant to the pure German woman one husband, one life, one body, and one soul.
The ancient Germans, like their modern de. scendants, drank beer and Rhenish wine, and were divided into numerous tribes, who afterward reappeared for the destruction of the Roman Empire, as the Goths, Vandals, Lombards, and Franks.
The Scandinavians were a branch of the great German family. Their language, the old Norse, was distinguished from the Alemannic, or High German tongue, and from the Saxonic, or Low German tongue. From the Norse have been derived the languages of Iceland, of the Ferroe Isles, of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. From the Germanic branch have come German, Dutch, AngloSaxon, Mæso-Gothic, and English. It was in Scandinavia that the Teutonic race developed its special civilization and religion. Cut off from the rest of the world by stormy seas, the people could there unfold their ideas, and become themselves. It is therefore to Scandinavia that we must go to study the German religion, and to find the influence exercised on modern civilization and the present character of Europe. This influence has been freely acknowledged by great historians.
"The great prerogative of Scandinavia is, that it afforded the great resource to the liherty of Europe, that is, to almost all of liberty there is among men. The Goth Jornandes calls the North of Europe the forge of mankind. I would rather call it the forge of those instruments which broke the fetters manufactured in the South.” Geijer, in his Swedish History, tells us :
“Illud ex libertate vitium, quod non simul, nec ut jussi, conveniunt.”—Germania, & 11.
+ Esprit des Loix.
“The recollections which Scandinavia has to add to those of the Germanic race are yet the most antique in character and comparatively the most original. They offer the completest remaining example of a social state existing previously to the reception of influences from Rome, and in duration stretching onward so as to come within the sphere of historical light."
We do not know how much of those old Northern ideas may be still mingled with our ways of thought.. The names of their gods we retain in those of our weekdays, — Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Their popular assemblies, or Things, were the origin of our Parliament, our Congress, and our general assemblies. If from the South came the romantic admiration of woman, from the North came a better respect for her rights and the sense of her equality. Our trial by jury was immediately derived from Scandinavia ; and, according to Montesquieu, as we have seen, we owe to the North, as the greatest inheritance of all, that desire for freedom which is so chief an element in Christian civilization.
Scandinavia proper consists of those regions now occupied by the kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The geographical peculiarity of this country is its proximity everywhere to the sea, and the great extent of its coast line. The great peninsula of Sweden and Norway, with the Northern Ocean on its west, the Baltic and Gulf of Bothnia on its east, penetrated everywhere by creeks, friths, and arms of the sea, surrounded with innumerable islands, studded with lakes, and cleft with rivers, is also unrivalled, except by Switzerland, in the sublime and picturesque beauty of its mountains. The other peninsula, that of Denmark, surrounded and penetrated also everywhere by the sea, differs in being almost level; rising nowhere, at its highest point, more than a thousand feet above the ocean. Containing an area of only twenty-two thousand square miles, it is so penetrated with bays and creeks as to have four thousand miles of coast. Like the northern peninsula, it is also surrounded with a multitude of islands, which are so crowded together, especially on its eastern coast, as to make an archipelago
It is impossible to look at the map of Europe, and not be struck with the resemblance in these particulars between its northern and southern geography. The Baltic Sea is the Mediterranean of Northern Europe. The peninsula of Denmark, with its multitudinous bays and islands, corresponds to Greece, the Morea, and its archipelago. We have shown in our chapter on Greece that modern geography teaches that the extent of coast line, when compared with the superficial area of a country, is one of the essential conditions of civilization. Who can fail to see the hand of Providence in the adaptation of races to the countries they are to inhabit ? The great tide of human life, flowing westward from Central Asia, was divided into currents by the Caspian and Black Seas, and by the lofty range of mountains which, under the name of the Caucasus, Carpathian Mountains, and Alps, extends almost in an unbroken line from the western coast of the Caspian to the porthern limits of Germany. The Teutonic races, Germans, Saxons, Franks, and Northmen, were thus determined to the north, and spread themselves along the coast and peninsulas of the Northern Mediterranean. The other branch of the great Indo-European variety was distributed through Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Southern France, Italy, and Spain. Each of these vast European families, stimulated to mental and moral activity by its proximity to water, developed its own peculiar forms of national character, which were afterwards united in modern European society. The North developed individual freedom, the South social organization. The North gave force, the South culture. From Southern Europe came literature, philosophy, laws, arts; from the North, that respect for individual rights, that sense of personal dignity, that energy of the single soul, which is the essential equipoise of a high social culture. These two elements, of freedom and civilization, always antagonist, have been in most ages hostile. The individual freedom of the North has been equivalent to barbarism, and from time to time has rolled down a destroying deluge over the South, almost sweeping away its civilization, and overwhelming in a common ruin arts, literature, and laws. On the