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Sunday, 28 July 2013

Euhemerism, the Aesir and the Aryan Urheimat

Snorri Sturluson in his Prose/Younger Edda seeks in the Prologue to euhemerise the Germanic Gods. Euhemerism is named after a 4th century BCE Greek mythographer who sought to explain classical mythology by attributing mythological personalities and events to actual historical figures and events, thus explaining away or rationalising them. To be fair to Snorri he only does this within the Prologue and does not allow his theorising to interfere with his composition of the rest of the text which often gives important details not to be found in the Poetic/Elder Edda.

Saxo Grammaticus in  The History of the Danes Books 1-IX also carries out the same practice of euhemerism and presents the Gods as mortal heroes and kings as does Snorri. It is often remarked by scholars that this is due to either the desire to xtianise what to them is heathen and thus distasteful or they may have felt that this was the only safe way to present the myths to avoid unwanted attention from the church. However one should bear in mind that both Snorri and Saxo would have been classically educated, familiar with classical mythology and the practice of euhemerism which they applied to the northern world.

Professor L. Austine Waddell also carries forward this practice in his works. He was responsible for a very contentious translation of the Eddas which he called the British Edda. His theory was that the language of the Eddas was not Icelandic or Old Norse but rather `British-Gothic` and that the epic which is a mish mash of Norse, Arthurian and Sumerian myth is the property of the Aryans who populated Britain from ancient Troy. The concept of a colonisation from Troy can be traced back to Geoffrey of Monmouth and other mediaeval chroniclers. For those who are used to the Icelandic Eddas the British Edda will hit you like one of Thunor`s thunderbolts! It is a shock to the system and it will take many readings for you to to begin to make sense of the epic so I would recommend that you read this work last and not make the mistake that I did and read it first because this will lead to utter confusion!

Waddell draws a link between Thor, Arthur[=Ar-Thor] and the Aryan pre-xtian Holy Grail. This all fits in with his wider theme of an ancient pan-Aryan civilisation that linked Sumeria, Egypt, India and northern Europe. This is why his writings are so valuable to us today.

Snorri has his Aesir originate from Troy which he places in Asia[more strictly Asia Minor]. One must remember that prior to 1871 when Heinrich Schliemann excavated Troy the city was generally regarded as a purely mythical rather than an historical place. Of course the ancient Greeks and Romans took it for granted that this was an historical place and the Trojan War was an historical event. Geoffrey of Monmouth lived from about 1100-1155 CE and wrote his Historia Regnum Britanniae [History of the Kings of Britain] in about 1136. In addition to the works of Bede, Nennius, Gildas and William of Malmesbury these writings are collectively termed the British Chronicles by Professor Waddell and deserve closer scrutiny by us. My belief is that they preserve ancient Aryan history from these islands. The fact that scholars pay little attention to Geoffrey`s writings these days may be more to do with political correctness than objective scholarship. Snorris lived from 1179-1241 CE. To what extent he was familiar with Geoffrey`s writings I do not know. If he wasn`t then perhaps we need to pay more attention to his Prologue as this could represent a portion of ancient Aryan history from a source common to both writers but now lost.

In the 19th century it was still fashionable for scholars of Indo-European studies to posit Asia as the Urheimat of the undivided ancient Aryans. These days the general consensus is that the homeland is to be located in eastern Europe but still today theories abound and they just do not know. Troy is located in Anatolia and Anatolia is yet another speculated location for the Urheimat.
"After that Odin went north to what is now Sweden. There was a king whose name was Gylfi, and when he learned of the arrival of the men of Asia[who were called Aesir], he went to meet them and offered Odin as much power in his realm es he wished himself."[Prologue, Prose/Younger Edda][My emphasis].

Also in the commentary to Saxo`s work by Hilda Ellis Davidson she states:

"The idea that Odin ruled in Byzantium was one of the learned theories concerning the origin of the pagan gods held by Icelandic scholars in Saxo`s time. The Aesir were said to have come to Scandinavia from Asia[Asia Minor],....."

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