Ancient Germanic Culture
The distribution of the primary Germanic
dialect groups in Europe in around AD 1:
In its broadest sense, the term Ancient Germanic culture can be used to refer to any culture as practiced by speakers of either the Common Germanic language or one of its daughter dialects (Gothic, Vandalic, Burgundian, Lombardic, Old High German, Old Frankish, Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old English, and Old Norse) at any time during the roughly two millennia between the emergence of Proto-Germanic in the Nordic Bronze Age (ca. 1000–500 BC) until the Early Middle Ages (ca. 500–1000 AD). Although 'Germanic' can only be used with any sort of definition in a linguistic sense, the degree of cohesion and relative conformity which existed in ancient times between the various groups of Germanic speaking peoples in terms of mythology, religion, customs, social structure and material culture is seen to justify the use of the term to refer to the culture of those peoples as a whole.
The ancient Germanic people made a considerable impact on the development of ancient Europe, particularly through their interactions with the Roman Empire. They have been variously portrayed in the annals of history; sometimes as 'barbarian hordes', ultimately responsible for the Fall of Rome; at other times, as 'noble savages' living in blissful ignorance of the evils of civilization; at still other times, as Rome’s most enthusiastic supporters and eventual successors. Regardless of how one judges them, it is certain that the ancient Germanic peoples changed the face of Europe – and through their descendants, the world – dramatically.
is a creature of Germanic mythology
. The elves were originally imagined as a race of minor nature and fertility gods
, who are often pictured as youthful-seeming men and women of great beauty living in forests
and underground places and caves
, or in wells and springs. They have been portrayed to be long-lived or immortal
and as beings of magical
powers. Following J. R. R. Tolkien
's influential The Lord of the Rings
, wherein a wise, immortal and humanoid people named Elves
have a significant role, elves became staple characters
of modern fantasy
(see Elves in fantasy fiction and games
The English word elf is from Old English ælf (also ylf), from a Proto-Germanic *albo-z, *albi-z, whence also Old Norse álfr, Middle High German elbe. In Middle English, until the 14th century, elf was the masculine, while the corresponding feminine was elven (Old English ælfen, from *albinnja).
The word's ultimate etymology may be the Proto-Indo-European root *albh- meaning "white", from which also stems the Latin albus "white". Alternatively, a connection to the Rbhus, semi-divine craftsmen in Indian mythology, has also been suggested (OED). In this case, a Latin etymological root cognate would be labor.
A 19th century artist's rendition of campaigning Goths as described by their 3rd - 4th century Roman adversaries.
Did you know...
- ... that Pope Boniface II (papacy 530 to 532) was an Ostrogoth?
- ... that Arminius, the Cheruscan warrior who successfully united several Germanic tribes (Cherusci, Marsi, Chatti , Bructeri , Chauci and Sicambri) to fight against and eventually defeat three Roman legions in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, had been trained as a Roman military commander and possessed Roman citizenship?
- ... that the parapets of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul are known to contain two Viking age runic inscriptions?
- ... that, according to Tacitus, Germanic people were piously monogamous, and that an adulteress was driven from her home by her husband wielding a whip?
- ... Germanic warriors would bring family members along to battles, to urge them on during the fight?
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Selected runic artifact
Culture: Ásatrú Theology, Norse mythology, The Pagan Beliefs Surrounding Christmas
History: World History (contains / will contain chapters about ancient Germanic cultures)
Germanic Languages: Danish, Dutch, English, German, Icelandic, Faroese, Norwegian, Swedish, Gothic (extinct), Proto Germanic (extinct, coming soon)
Ancient Germanic languages