صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

THE HEROES OF ASGARD.

INTRODUCTION.

If we would understand the religion of the ancient Scandinavians, we ought to study at the same time the myths of all Teutonic nations. A drawing together of these, and a comparison of one with another, has been most beautifully effected by Simrock, in his Handbuch der Deutschen Mythologie, where he tells us that whilst the Scandinavian records are richer and more definite, they are also younger than those of Germany, which latter may be compared to ancient half choked-up streams from which the fuller river flows, but which, it is to be remarked, that

B

river has mingled in its flowing. Grimm says that both religions—the German and the Northernwere in the main identical, though in details they varied; and as heathenism lingered longer in Scandinavia than in any other part of Europe, it is not surprising that there, rather than anywhere else, we should find the old world wants and hopes and fears, dark guesses, crude imaginings, childlike poetic expressions, crystalised into a pretty definite system of belief and worship. Yes, we can walk through the glittering ice halls of the old frozen faith, and count its gems and wonder at

fearful images; but the warm heart-reachings from which they alike once flowed, we can only darkly feel, at best but narrowly pry into here and there. Ah! if we could but break up the poem again into the syllables of the far off years.

The little tales which follow, drawn from the most striking and picturesque of the Northern myths, are put together in the simplest possible form, and were written only with a design to make the subject interesting to children. By-and

its

H a

bye, however, as we through their means become in a slight degree acquainted with the characters belonging to, and the parts played by, the various deities of this mythology, it will not be uninteresting to consider what their meaning may be, and to try if we can trace the connection of one with another. At present it seems best, as an introduction to them—and without it they would be scarcely intelligible—to give a very slight sketch of the Northern mythology, as it is gathered from the earliest Scandinavian sources, as well as short account of the sources from which it is gathered.

Laing, in the introduction to his Translation of the Heimskringla Saga, says,—“A nation's literature is its breath of life, without which a nation has no existence, is but a congregation of individuals. During the five centuries in which the Northmen were riding over the seas, and conquering wheresoever they landed, the literature of the people they overcame was locked up in a dead language, and within the walls of monasteries. But the Northmen had a literature of their own, rude

« السابقةمتابعة »