Sigfred Arminius and other papers

By Guðbrandur Vigfússon

Genre:
Folklore
History
First published in:
1886

About this book

Excerpt:

In looking at the long bede-roll of the heroes of Teutonic Song and Legend, Sigfred, Ermanaric, Theodric of Verona, Hygelac the Goth, Gundahari the Burgundian, ^Ifwine the Lombard, Charles the Great and his marquis Hruodland, Lodbrok, ^Elfraed of Wessex, Harold fairhair, down to Olaf Tryggwason, one cannot but be struck by the fact that in every case but one we have contemporary accounts, which not only give the means of clearing the legendary deposit crystallized by imagin- ation about these great men, but also help to discover by what facts of character and achievement the hero was able to impress his greatness upon the mind of his own age. Of one single name, however, most famous of all, most widely known, most deeply stamped upon the Teuton imagination, we seem to have no historical record — Sigfred. Of all the others, as the annexed table will show, we have a double record, one popular, fanciful, imaginative, the other plain, often bald, but his- torical. For instance, a few lines of Ammianus, the con- temporary of Ermanaric, give the facts, which Jordanes, Saxo and the Eddie Lays preserve in poetical dress concerning that mighty King of the Goths. A dozen words of Eginhard prove that the Roland who died at Roncesvaux is no poetic myth. The brief sentence of Bishop Gregory of Tours confirms the legendary tale of the old English Epic of Beowulf, and reveals Chochilaicus in the flesh, a real king fighting and dying in a raid against the Frisones