Culture of the Teutons

Culture of the Teutons

About this book

Genre: Culture, History
Year of first publication: 1909
Estimated reading time: 23 hours

The culture of the Teutons was first published between 1909 to 1912. It’s orignal Danish title is Vor folkeæt i oldtiden. Although this work by the Danish cultural historian Vilhelm Grønbech is now more than 100 years old, The culture of the Teutons is still one of the most important works on the history of Germanic paganism.

The term Germanic is ordinarily used to denote the racial stem of which the Scandinavians, the modern Germans, Austrians, Dutch, Flemish, and English, are ramifications. The name itself is probably of extraneous origin, given to the Germanics by outsiders.

We do not know what it means. Presumably, it was first intended to denote but a small fraction of these peoples, the fringe adjoining the Celts; in course of time, however, it came to be accepted as a general designation for the whole. The Romans, having learned to distinguish between the inhabitants of Gallia and their eastern neighbours, called the latter Germani, thus rightly emphasising the close friendship which from the earliest times united the northern and southern inhabitants of the Baltic regions and the riparian and forest-dwelling peoples of North Germany, a kinship evident, not only in language, but fully as much in culture, even to its innermost corners.

The Teutons make their entry suddenly upon the stage of history. Their appearance falls at the time when Rome was working out the result of its long and active life; crystallising the striving and achievements of the classical world into the form in which the culture of antiquity was to be handed down to posterity. Into this light they come, and it must be admitted that its brilliance shows them poor and coarse by comparison.

There is little splendour to be found here, it would seem.

We see them first from without, with Roman eyes, looking in upon them as into a strange country. And the eye’s first impression is of a foaming flood of men, a wave of warriors, pouring in with the elemental fury of the sea over eastern Gaul, to break upon the front of Cæsar’s legions, and be smoothed away in a mighty backwash of recoil. Thus, roughly, Cæsar’s first encounter with these barbarians appears in the description of the great Roman himself.

And beyond this flood we look into a land, dark, barren and forbidding, bristling with unfriendly forests and spread with marshes. In it we are shown groups of men who, in the intervals of their wars and forays, lie idling on couches of skins or sit carousing noisily by daylight, and for sheer lack of occupation gamble away their few possessions; horses and women, even their very lives and freedom, down to the pelt upon their back.

And between the groups go tall, sturdy women with ungentle eyes and scornful mien. In among all this shouting and raving sounds here and there a voice of mystery; an old crone making prophecy to an awed stillness round; a vague suggestion that these riotous men at moments give themselves up in breathless silence to the worship of their gods. But what are they busied with in the gloom of their sacred groves? Some slaughtering of men, no doubt: horrible sacrifice and drinking, for shouting and screaming can be heard far off.

To the peoples of the South, these dwellers in the northern wastes were simply barbarians. The Romans and the Greeks regarded their existence as the mere negation of civilized life.

In The culture of the Teutons Vilhelm Grønbech takes us on a journey to explore the culture and customs of our Germanic anscestors. For those that wish to learn more about the role Germanic paganism played in the daily life of the Germanic people of old, this book offers an excellent starting point. A more in depth review of The culture of the Teutons can be found on Iwobrand’s blog.

Heathengods has made sure this book is available in print once more. Any profits made from this book, will be used by Heathengods to build a Hof and Hall in the Heartland of the United States. So if you’d like to have a paper copy of this book, pick up the version published by Heathengods!

(The above description is largely based on the introduction of the book)

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