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Cythraul
Thursday, September 11th, 2008, 02:22 PM
Another thread (http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?t=100797&page=4) veered off into discussing whether ancient Germanics were materialistic or not. I put forward my belief that we (not just Germanics but most of mankind) have grown increasingly materialistic since our inception (or since the beginning of this 'age' for the more esoterically-inclined). Most documented accounts that attest to the materialistic priorities of Germanics are relatively recent and often post-Christian. I put forward that if we go back further, we will find a culture and people who accept the importance of the material world, but whose primary concern is spiritual in nature.

I think it's a worthwhile discussion which could conjur all manner of interesting insight from Skadi members. What are your thoughts?

Maelstrom
Thursday, September 11th, 2008, 03:02 PM
I am not sure whether or not this is true or not. Nor do I recall where I heard it from, however I'd like to share.

In Ancient Europe the climate was rather inhospitable in comparison with the rest of the world at that time. I had always been told that the inhospitable climate and limited resources had contributed to the European peoples making things to last and treasuring them. In Asia there is a great abundance of natural resources so the mentality was different. I suppose the best example of this would be bamboo.

I am unsure whether or not this is still reflected in modern society, though I find that European peoples tend to hold onto appliances and other pieces of technology for a longer time span than Asian people.

Thrymheim
Thursday, September 11th, 2008, 03:02 PM
I think we have become more materialistic as our surroundings have become more complicated. What I mean by that is that in the past, we were of course concerned with who had more horses land etc, who had the best dowry chest or candle holders, but there was a limit to how much you could have, there weren't 30 types of car to collect and the age of such items did not matter, so there was no going and buying a new knife every year. Other items such as clothes had to be handmade so again there was a limit to the number and colours that were possible. I also believe that the advent of capitalism had to a great extent increased our desire for materialistic goods.

Through clever advertising the search for status has switched from being the fastest runner; best swordsman or best embroiderer to having the largest TV. The onus has changed from being the best to simply being the richest.

Maelstrom
Thursday, September 11th, 2008, 03:16 PM
In the past things were used, or enabled the user, to complete a fuction. The worth of an item was defined by how well it enabled it's possessor to complete a task.

Of course some things also gained sentimental or even mythological value. One of the best examples being King Arthur's sword Excalibur, though this is an extreme case.

For example: If I was a warrior and I attributed some of my prowess in battle to the craftmanship of my sword then others would no doubt envy my sword and its value would most probably increase.

So, while on the one hand it might sound nice to imagine a time where material items were only valued for their functionality, I highly doubt such a time ever existed.

Psychonaut
Thursday, September 11th, 2008, 05:52 PM
The idealized view of our ancestors that Cythraul is positing seems akin to the Golden Age types of historical views that Evola espoused. I would be very interested to see if anyone could come up with examples of historical Germanics that were decidedly non-materialistic. As I said in the previous thread, Beowulf, Egil's Saga, Njal's Saga, etc. all show Germanic heroes acquiring wealth for the sake of acquiring it.

Further, we can look at the Rune poems relating to the "F" Rune (Feoh, Fé, Fehu). According to the Anglo-Saxons:


Wealth is a comfort to all men;
yet must every man bestow it freely,
if he wish to gain honour in the sight of the Lord.

and the Icelanders:


Wealth
source of discord among kinsmen
and fire of the sea
and path of the serpent.

and the Norwegians:


Wealth is a source of discord among kinsmen;
the wolf lives in the forest.

None of these speak of wealth in terms that are specifically non-materialistic, quite the opposite in fact. They give quite practical advice (on the surface that is) that is still applicable today.




Source (http://www.ragweedforge.com/poems.html) for Rune poems.

Patrioten
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 01:12 AM
I recall my grandmother's stories of how her deeply religious father viewed the travelling salesmen, their livelihood, and the worthless nicknacks which they sold, with contempt. People who did not work with their hands, creating something while earning a living, were not worthy of respect. At the same time, there were those in the village who desired the items that they sold, even if most of them had very little money. Historically, the people have been forced to get by with what they had, with what they could create themselves, or what they could aquire through inheritance or marriage. Buying and even trading with objects of no value to their livelihood as farmers has not been available to the common man for very long.

There have been geopgraphical differences too of course. Those living closer to trade centers, cities, market places, would of course be in a better position to aquire new items compared to people living in more isolated areas. If there is no supply, there is also little demand. Historically, supply has been low to non-existant, and demand has been thereafter. With increased supply we have seen a dramatic increase in demand. I would think that this "greed" for "worthless nicknack" as it would have been called by my great grandfather, has been latent in our peoples, and more so in some than in others. No man throughout history would have said no to better and more fertile land of greater areals, more cattle and stronger healthier horses, but they lacked the means to aquire them. Most of them would probably have shrugged at things that weren't necessary for their livelihood however, being men of practicality and a certain mindsetting. There might also be an inherant difference inbetween the sexes when it comes to the type of materialism that they value.

SwordOfTheVistula
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 06:39 AM
If you look at burial goods they have found, it would appear that acquiring material goods was a goal even back then.

Jute
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 07:34 AM
If the Germanics of old were materialistic, they would have eagerly jumped into the lucrative Roman Empire. It was definitely "good for business". It would give them good trade opportunities and markets across the Mediterranean world.

But they did not do this. They chose instead to fight for their liberty and for their existence as a free people, even at the expense of their own wealth. The nobles who led the long struggle against Rome usually experienced Roman materialism firsthand and rejected it, returning home convinced of the need to resist. We all know that Arminius was fluent in Latin, for example.

History justified the antiRoman Germanic nobles, because it was materialism (and miscegenation and degeneracy) that caused the serious decline to Rome.

Psychonaut
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 09:45 AM
If the Germanics of old were materialistic, they would have eagerly jumped into the lucrative Roman Empire...But they did not do this. They chose instead to fight for their liberty and for their existence as a free people, even at the expense of their own wealth.


Really? Did you forget about the Foederatii (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foederatii)?



Later the sense of the term foederati and its usage and meaning was extended by the Roman practice of subsidizing entire barbarian tribes — which included the Attacotti, Franks, Vandals, Alans and, best known, the Visigoths — in exchange for providing soldiers to fight in the Roman armies. Alaric began his career leading a band of Gothic foederati.



In 376 certain Goths asked Emperor Valens to allow them to settle on the southern bank of the Danube river, and were accepted into the empire as foederati. In 378 AD the Goths then rose in rebellion and defeated the Romans in the Battle of Adrianople. The serious loss of military manpower forced the Roman Empire to rely much more on foederati thereafter.


By the fifth century lacking the riches of the Eastern Empire needed to pay a professional army, the Western Roman military strength was almost completely based upon foederati units. In 451, Attila the Hun was defeated only with help of the foederati (who included the Visigoths and Alans). The foederati delivered the fatal blow to the dying Roman Empire in 476 when their commander Odoacer deposed the last Western Roman emperor Romulus Augustulus.

While it is certainly true that the Germanics were quite fickle and unreliable in their alliances with the Romans, the fact remains that the hired out their service to the Empire as mercenaries time and time again. Why does a mercenary do a job if not for the money? Why else would the Goths have been petitioning Valens to emigrate from Germania to Rome?

Cythraul
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 10:50 AM
I think it might be worthwhile to re-assess the definition of 'materialism' that we're using at this point. Striving for wealth (land, horses, precious items) is perfectly understandable in terms of wanting security and prosperity for one's family. I don't see this as materialistic. Materialism is the veneration of wealth for wealth's sake - like the Romans are famous for. It is decadance and a complete worship of material goods, as if existence is defined by how many objects you own. This is our modern attitude. One must have the latest iPod, cellphone, expensive car, Armani jeans, etc. As Thrymheim rightly pointed out: "the search for status has switched from being the fastest runner; best swordsman or best embroiderer to having the largest TV. The onus has changed from being the best to simply being the richest." Our worth as humans is no longer measured by our intelligence or abilities, or spiritual insight. It is measured by our fortune. Could our priorities be more skewed?

I say that historically, Germanics have only put importance in material goods that facilitate their and their family's ability to develop, grow and prosper, and this includes strengthening their spiritual prospects. For example, a mightier sword might help them reach Valhalla, a better home and more land might allow them to procreate more thus pleasing the gods, and certain jewellery might hold religious significance. And wherever there is reference to Germanics seeking wealth for wealth's sake, I would bet that it is a relatively recent, post-Christian reference - at a time when the old meaningful religion had been eradicated and a new, false religion detaching its adherents from the spirit-world had dominated. Our ancestors weren't like the strict Buddhists whose goal it is to completely detach themselves from the material world, they knew the importance of the material world in aiding the development of their eternal spirit.

Psychonaut
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 11:09 AM
Materialism is the veneration of wealth for wealth's sake

This is a fair distinction to make.


I say that historically, Germanics have only put importance in material goods that facilitate their and their family's ability to develop, grow and prosper, and this includes strengthening their spiritual prospects


And wherever there is reference to Germanics seeking wealth for wealth's sake, I would bet that it is a relatively recent, post-Christian reference

Assertions about the way things were in any specific time period can only be verified by archaeological evidence or first and second hand accounts. From the archaeological finds that we've unearthed (particularly those of the Franks, Alemanni, and Anglo-Saxons) we find men and women alike buried with large amounts of treasure, most of which has no apparent religious function. Nearly all of the first and second hand accounts that we have of the Germanics indicate at least a moderate materialist mindset. As Tacitus says in Germanic (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/tacitus-germanygord.html), "To wealth also, amongst them, great veneration is paid." So, in the absence of either textual or physical evidence to support the view of a type of quasi-mystical view of the material as being a vehicle for the eternal (an idea which strikes me as Neoplatonic), how is it that you are determining their perspective?

SwordOfTheVistula
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 11:15 AM
I don't know that those things are really that prevalent amongst the masses, 'One must have the latest iPod, cellphone, expensive car, Armani jeans, etc', at least on a large scale, generally veneration of wealth only comes from the upper class which makes up tiny portion of society. Most expensive items have at least some form of convenience, for example a large screen TV is more enjoyable to watch than a small one, I don't have a cell phone but once a month or so I run into a situation in which one would be useful, and a new car is likely to develop mechanical problems than an old one. Even amongst the upper classes, Warren Buffet (2nd wealthiest man in the world) lives in a modest house in the midwest, Bill Gates is not ostentatious either. There are indeed people who pay $1000 for a cheeseburger or buy a $30 million yacht just to show the world they can, but it's only a tiny fraction of society. Sure, there's lots of petty materialism, reflexively judging a man in a suit as more able than one in dirty jeans, boots, and a torn-shirt for example, but there's no evidence that this was not also present in ancient societies.

Cythraul
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 11:57 AM
So, in the absence of either textual or physical evidence to support the view of a type of quasi-mystical view of the material as being a vehicle for the eternal (an idea which strikes me as Neoplatonic), how is it that you are determining their perspective?
40-50,0000 years ago the human animal became the human being. That is to say that all of a sudden, we developed art, religion and culture - as if out of nowhere. Our communities became largely Shamanic, governed by the belief that there is a spirit-world viewable only by Shamans and those who chose to partake in the necessary rituals to journey there. In the spirit-world we encountered the gods for the first time and were taught about the very nature of existence. This is the root of Paganism. It was probably a globally universal belief (though obviously mankind probably reached this cultural stage at different points in different places). This is all supported by the archaeological evidence. Cave art pertains to otherwordly beings and remnants of Amazonian, Aboriginal and African tribes still practice the same Shamanism that their ancient ancestors did. We in Europe were no different. We used hallucinogenic mushrooms to visit the spirit-world.

Basically, Paganism is the belief that there IS a spirit-world and that this spirit-world affects us in the physical world. When we get sick it's because of malevolent spirits, when we prosper it's because the gods in the 'otherworld' have made it so here in our perceivable world, and when we die here, we live on in the spirit-world. It is essential to interact with the spirit-world in order to keep our physical world healthy. So wherever a society was Pagan by religion, it follows that spiritual development is of enormous importance.

Psychonaut
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 12:13 PM
So wherever a society was Pagan by religion, it follows that spiritual development is of enormous importance.

You posted a depiction of shamanism, which was a phase of development that all peoples went through at one point (at least according to Eliade). However, by the time we are talking about Germanics proper as being something separate from the Indo-Europeans, they'd already moved well past the shamanic period and had a highly organized and structured metaphysical schema based around established deity cults. Already by the Iron age (750 B.C.E.) we find a highly structured and stratified societies in which the wealthy were already being buried with vast amounts of treasure. To impose a Neolithic type of primitive shamanic perspective one what was a developed culture seems out of place. The cults of Nerthus, Tuisto, Seaxnot, etc. that were present in the pre-Roman times hardly bear any resemblance to what we know of authentic European shamanism. Thus it wouldn't necessarily follow that shamanic ideas about materialism would've survived into these civilized times.

Patrioten
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 12:15 PM
From the archaeological finds that we've unearthed (particularly those of the Franks, Alemanni, and Anglo-Saxons) we find men and women alike buried with large amounts of treasure, most of which has no apparent religious function. Nearly all of the first and second hand accounts that we have of the Germanics indicate at least a moderate materialist mindset. As Tacitus says in Germanic (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/tacitus-germanygord.html), "To wealth also, amongst them, great veneration is paid."The people you are talking about are individuals of higher status, either acquired through their actions or through their birth. It would be safe to assume that with a more higher status life comes also a certain level of materialism. The fact that individuals and families of our own folk, albeit of noble and higher status births, have engaged in materialistic ambitions from even before Christianity tells us that this isn't something which is foreign to us, but that the spreading of this way of life, or mindsetting, has been naturally restricted historically to the upper levels or classes of society. But when a supply of goods became available to the common man, he too engaged in materialistic ambitions. The difference between the nobility of old and the common man today is the fact that the nobility in many cases (not all of course, no class is or has ever been exempt from sins) also had virtues, deep religious beliefs and other amiable traits which would balance out their materialism.

Psychonaut
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 12:19 PM
The people you are talking about are individuals of higher status, either acquired through their actions or through their birth. It would be safe to assume that with a more higher status life comes also a certain level of materialism. The fact that individuals and families of our own folk, albeit of noble and higher status births, have engaged in materialistic ambitions from even before Christianity tells us that this isn't something which is foreign to us, but that the spreading of this way of life, or mindsetting, has been naturally restricted historically to the upper levels or classes of society. But when a supply of goods became available to the common man, he too engaged in materialistic ambitions. The difference between the nobility of old and the common man today is the fact that the nobility in many cases (not all of course, no class is or has ever been exempt from sins) also had virtues, deep religious beliefs and other amiable traits which would balance out their materialism.

I'm certainly not saying that all of our ancient ancestors were Coca-Cola drinking consumerist fatties. What I'm trying to get across is that the evidence available shows that they weren't too dissimilar from ourselves. I've still not seen any historical evidence posted to back up the opinion that ancient Germanics were some type of mystical anti-materialists.

Patrioten
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 12:22 PM
I'm certainly not saying that all of our ancient ancestors were Coca-Cola drinking consumerist fatties. What I'm trying to get across is that the evidence available shows that they weren't too dissimilar from ourselves. I've still not seen any historical evidence posted to back up the opinion that ancient Germanics were some type of mystical anti-materialists.I agree with you fully, my post was meant to be a continuation of your own argument.

Cythraul
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 12:51 PM
You posted a depiction of shamanism, which was a phase of development that all peoples went through at one point (at least according to Eliade). However, by the time we are talking about Germanics proper as being something separate from the Indo-Europeans, they'd already moved well past the shamanic period and had a highly organized and structured metaphysical schema based around established deity cults.
You say that the Shamanic belief system had passed by the time a Germanic culture had emerged. I say that Germanic culture emerged not only because of the Indo-European Shamanic tradition but while it was still happening. The fundamental Shamanic/Pagan belief system did not die out that long ago and as I mentioned earlier, is still alive and well in some parts of the world. We need look no further than the Druids for proof of recent Shaman-like practice in Europe. Obviously the Druid cult was not related to Germanicism, but they did believe in the transmigration of souls and probably practiced rituals similar or identical to earlier Shamanic ones. They survived long into the age of Pisces (Christianity) and are proof that original Paganism (not just empty deity worship) was alive and well in Europe until quite recently. And that's just one example.


Already by the Iron age (750 B.C.E.) we find a highly structured and stratified societies in which the wealthy were already being buried with vast amounts of treasure.
I meant to pick up on this point before. I've always been taught that the tradition of burying the wealthy with their treasure was absolutely spiritual in function. As far as I'm concerned, this actually supports my argument. What other reason could there be for burying valuables forever unless they were of greater importance to dead souls than to the living flesh? If wealth was only significant in the material world, why throw away all that precious gold and silver? What use would it be to a dead nobleman? It was buried with the dead because it was a symbol of achievement that could be taken to the other side. It was a badge of honour for the soul. Thus proving my point - material goods were important, but important because of what they could do for the development of the spirit.

Vingolf
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 04:49 PM
Why does a mercenary do a job if not for the money?
Glory, perhaps? Nobody has so far mentioned the Germanic *economy of honour*. Honour outranked wealth in the Germanic axiological hierarchy.

Vingolf
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 04:57 PM
Materialism is the veneration of wealth for wealth\'s sake - like the Romans are famous for.
Imo, your definition is too limited. What kind of world view does *materialism* subscribe to? From a philosophical point of view, materialism refers to the view that all facts (including facts about the human mind and will and the course of human history) are causally dependent upon physical processes, or even reducible to them.

Cythraul
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 06:23 PM
Imo, your definition is too limited. What kind of world view does *materialism* subscribe to? From a philosophical point of view, materialism refers to the view that all facts (including facts about the human mind and will and the course of human history) are causally dependent upon physical processes, or even reducible to them.
But by your wider definition, every logical action is materialistic. Strictly speaking, you are right - EVERYTHING concerns the material. But in order to validify the existence of the word 'materialism', it must have some use. And in order for the word to have some use it must describe a specific action or belief system, not merely anything that is bound by the law of physics.

I hope that made sense.

Vingolf
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 07:22 PM
But in order to validify the existence of the word \'materialism\', it must have some use. And in order for the word to have some use it must describe a specific action or belief system, not merely anything that is bound by the law of physics.
Exactly: a belief system, as already mentioned... And from such a philosophical and cosmological/historical point of view, I do not regard materialism as particularly Germanic in any sense.

Psychonaut
Friday, September 12th, 2008, 10:40 PM
Honour outranked wealth in the Germanic axiological hierarchy.

Have you got a source on that? That's a pretty big assertion to make unless you've got something to back it up, and the whole of the Viking Age seems quite contrary to it.


Obviously the Druid cult was not related to Germanicism, but they did believe in the transmigration of souls

According to H.R. Ellis in The Road to Hel, Germanic ideas of reincarnation were not as widespread as with the Celts. When they were present, all primary sources indicate that reincarnation only took place within the family line, as can be evidenced by the figure of Starkađr in who was born with his grandfather's scars. The evidence available, however does not point to widespread belief in reincarnation, rather to a myriad of disparate beliefs about the afterlife including becoming a part of the land, the belief that dwarves were dead souls, beliefs in Hel and Valhalla, etc.


I say that Germanic culture emerged not only because of the Indo-European Shamanic tradition but while it was still happening.

I took a look at the chapter on Germanic shamanism in Eliade's Shamanism, and all of the shamanic traits present in Germanic myth and practice were relegated to the magicians. The religious practices that we know of (Blot and Symbel) aren't particularly shamanic in nature. Granted, all religions do seem to develop from shamanism, but the level of sophistication and abstraction that had already occurred by the Iron Age is enough to keep scholars from classifying Germanic religion as shamanic proper.


I've always been taught that the tradition of burying the wealthy with their treasure was absolutely spiritual in function...It was buried with the dead because it was a symbol of achievement that could be taken to the other side.

I'd like to see a source on that. The whole idea of "development of the spirit" after death (particularly through reincarnation as you say earlier) does not seem to have been an idea present amongst early Germanics. Reincarnation within a family line can hardly be seen as development towards some type of great spiritual state; it is much more likely a mode of continuity of the familial soul. All of the other Germanic afterlife beliefs also seem to point towards death as being a finality of sorts, which is why our material life was so important. As Óđinn himself says in the Hávamál:


Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one's self;
One thing now | that never dies,
The fame of a dead man's deeds.

Psychonaut
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 03:40 AM
Pick up just about any scholarly work on the Middle Ages. Try Dumézil, for instance, who emphasized the trifunctional schema as characteristic of the medieval West (“oratores, bellatores, laboratores” - i.e. those who pray, those who fight, and those who work: priests, warriors, and peasants). War (and glory/honour) was far more importance than accumulation of wealth in traditional Germanic societies.

I'm not really sure how bringing up Dumézil's trifunctional hypothesis which is more of a controversal philological theory than anything else has much bearing on your statement, "Honour outranked wealth in the Germanic axiological hierarchy." Idealized views of warrior castes of the past are damaging to an accurate understanding of their motives. The examples I posted above show that ancient Germanics functioned as mercenaries from the very beginning. This was a tradition that carried over into the Renaissance with the German Landsknechte and Swiss Reisläufer. Perhaps you could provide a specific quote from Dumézil that gives some credence to there being historical evidence for wars being fought for the sheer sake of honor as opposed to their being fought for profit or in self defense.



Could you be more specific?

I'm speaking specifically about the raiding that happened all along the British and Northern Continental coasts. It would be laughable to think that raiding monasteries and farms is an activity more connected with honor than accumulation of wealth.

Jute
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 03:46 AM
While it is certainly true that the Germanics were quite fickle and unreliable in their alliances with the Romans, the fact remains that the hired out their service to the Empire as mercenaries time and time again. Why does a mercenary do a job if not for the money? Why else would the Goths have been petitioning Valens to emigrate from Germania to Rome?These are not examples of materialism as I understand that term. The Germanic spirit has always valued hard work and NOT valued wealth-accumulation. We can still see this today; it is our genetic heritage. Ironically, this has made our societies much more successful. (Hard work without care for personal enrichment causes a tide that lifts all boats).

I would say that any Germanic who is/was very materialistic is a traitor to this Spirit. Perhaps "spiritually deGermanicized" fits. Just as there were many romanized Germanics...When our people were fighting in the forests against Roman legions, many of our kinsmen were Priests of the Roman Religion in the Roman fort-cities on the Rhine. Arminius' own brother was even pro-Roman. ....This civil-war or "Kulturkampf" among the Germanics for more than 2,000 years now has been this: Should we be 'romanized Germanics' or should we be totally 'free Germanics'? (As in AD9 as in AD1517). But this is starting to wander into another subject...

Jute
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 03:56 AM
Perhaps you could provide a specific quote from Dumézil that gives some credence to there being historical evidence for wars being fought for the sheer sake of honor as opposed to their being fought for profit or in self defense.I am not sure why you regard serving a military for pay makes one "materialistic"?

Even if it did, those men did not bring their "materialism" back home. Germanic societies have simply never had an Arab level of wealth-attainment-obsession. We are not out to cheat our neighbors so that we can enrich ourselves. This is something totally foreign to us, and something widely hated...whereas in materialist societies it is revered as a shrewd trait. Can you imagine we Germanics ever making a businessman like Mohammed into a pseudo-god figure?

Psychonaut
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 03:59 AM
The Germanic spirit has always valued hard work and NOT valued wealth-accumulation.

Where are you getting this? Can you show any historical examples of Germanic peoples working for the sake of work? That's ridiculous. No one plows a field unless he expects to harvest a crop, this is wealth of one sort. No one tends to herds of animals without the expectation of getting meat and/or milk from them, this is wealth of another sort. No one goes on a raiding party unless he expects to bring back treasure, this is wealth of yet another sort. No one goes to war unless it is in defense of property/persons or in hopes of acquiring more property/persons, this is also wealth. People in general value hard work because it pays off, not because the work itself has intrinsic value.

Psychonaut
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 04:12 AM
I am not sure why you regard serving a military for pay makes one "materialistic"?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines materialism as, "The theory or attitude that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life." Can you think of any primary (or even secondary) sources that portray the military service of the ancient Germanics in terms contrary to this (Evola's books don't count ;))? The idea that our ancestors fought for ideals rather than things is a very romanticized notion that no one in this thread has provided a primary source to back up.


We are not out to cheat our neighbors so that we can enrich ourselves.

Well, that's kind of exactly what happened when the Gods tricked the Giants into building Asgard, isn't it? Come to think about it, wasn't that a common tactic during the colonial era too? :-O Now, I'm not condemning this type of activity at all. I'm just saying that we shouldn't look at historical events through rose colored glasses.

Vingolf
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 10:27 AM
I\\\'m not really sure how bringing up Dumezils trifunctional hypothesis which is more of a controversal philological theory than anything else has much bearing on your statement, Honour outranked wealth in the Germanic axiological hierarchy.
1) I mentioned Dumezil as one example of a huge body of research on ancient and medieval Germanic history, 2) Dumezils theories within the realm of history of religion cannot be reduced to what you call *controversial philology*, 3) societal structures usually reflect an axiological hierarchy. Priests, warriors, or peasants are to my knowledge not known to have been particularly focused on accumulation of wealth.


I\\\'m speaking specifically about the raiding that happened all along the British and Northern Continental coasts. It would be laughable to think that raiding monasteries and farms is an activity more connected with honor than accumulation of wealth.
It would be far more *laughable* - at least beyond selected circles of diehard Marxists - to think that the Viking expansion (a complex phenomenon including trade, exploration, warfare, colonization etc) was solely or primarily motivated by some kind of petit-bourgeois accumulation of wealth.

Vingolf
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 10:35 AM
The American Heritage Dictionary defines materialism as, \\\"The theory or attitude that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life.\\\" [...] The idea that our ancestors fought for ideals rather than things is a very romanticized notion that no one in this thread has provided a primary source to back up.
As already mentioned: pick up just about any scholarly *non-Marxist* work on ancient and medieval Germanic history, and you will see that your materialistic theories are absurd, contrafactual and *anti-historical* (you seem to project your own bourgeois prejudices and concepts on to our ancient ancestors).

Psychonaut
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 11:22 AM
1) I mentioned Dumezil as one example of a huge body of research on ancient and medieval Germanic history, 2) Dumezils theories within the realm of history of religion cannot be reduced to what you call *controversial philology*, 3) societal structures usually reflect an axiological hierarchy. Priests, warriors, or peasants are to my knowledge not known to have been particularly focused on accumulation of wealth.

I'll give you the priests, who (ideally) shouldn't be concerned with wealth; but warriors and peasants? So, a peasant works his land just for the fun of it? He doesn't hope to reap any rewards for his toil? A warrior doesn't hope to conquer peoples, take their stuff, and rule their land?


It would be far more *laughable* - at least beyond selected circles of diehard Marxists - to think that the Viking expansion (a complex phenomenon including trade, exploration, warfare, colonization etc) was solely or primarily motivated by some kind of petit-bourgeois accumulation of wealth.


As already mentioned: pick up just about any scholarly *non-Marxist* work on ancient and medieval Germanic history, and you will see that your materialistic theories are absurd, contrafactual and *anti-historical* (you seem to project your own bourgeois prejudices and concepts on to our ancient ancestors).


"In the late 8th century, the Vikings began to venture from their homelands of Norway, Denmark and Sweden in search of treasure and better farmland...their targets were monasteries, but later they attacked coastal towns...local rulers bought them off with large amounts of silver and gold."
-Evans, Charlotte The Kingfisher Illustrated History of the World, p. 216

"Following the capture of the territories collectively known as the Danelaw...Guthorm and his allied leaders captured Exeter on the Western border of Wessex, and extracted tribute in return for leaving the land in peace."
-Konstam, Angus The Historical Atlas of the Viking World, p. 68

"Raids on isolated villages, then on towns, followed the first attacks on coastal and riverine monastic settlements. These Vikings were merely a vanguard. Increasingly large fleets of raiders came to plunder, and then to colonize. What had begun as a series of raids from Scandinavia south and west into the rest of Europe had turned into a cultural migration and a military campaign of conquest by the start of the tenth century."
-Konstam, Angus The Historical Atlas of the Viking World, p. 58

"In the early 790s Norwegian and Danish raiders appeared in the western seas. Historians tell of them as despoilers of monasteries, who raided, stole, killed, ravaged, disappearing quickly from the scene to raid elsewhere."
-Wilson, David The Northern World: The History and Heritage of Northern Europe AD400-1100, p. 170

Here are three accounts from history textbooks. All three portray the Viking raiders as men whose goals were first the attainment of plunder, and later the conquest of land. Naught is said of lofty and honorable intentions or dreams of spiritual perfection through battle. If you wish to smear my sources as "Marxist," whatever. However, you still have yet to provide a single quotation from a reliable source to back up your generalizations. If you're going to denigrate my sources with ad hominim attacks, you could at least give me the courtesy of providing at least one quote from one of the non-Marxist histories which are so readily available.

SwordOfTheVistula
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 11:28 AM
the Viking expansion (a complex phenomenon including trade, exploration, warfare, colonization etc) was solely or primarily motivated by some kind of petit-bourgeois accumulation of wealth.

It all led back to some sort of wealth and power though. They didn't do it for kicks.

In past times when most production was agricultural, which required land space, warfare for control of land was a way to accumulate wealth by gaining control over the means of production, which wasn't damaged much in the process-you could plant a crop over land that had been the site of a savage battle a few months before. In the modern world, that won't work, marching to Arkansas and storming the headquarters of WalMart with guns blazing and grenades flying is not going to get you any wealth aside from perhaps a boardroom table and some computers which still run Windows 95. After WWII military technology became so destructive, that people decided waging massive wars was no longer worth it especially since wealth now came from industrial networks instead of agricultural land. The only realm in which violence still leads to wealth&power is the criminal underworld, and thus we see the old Germanic warrior spirit today in the 1%-er motorcycle clubs like the Hell's Angels and the Outlaws, and not much elsewhere.

Cythraul
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 11:44 AM
According to H.R. Ellis in The Road to Hel, Germanic ideas of reincarnation were not as widespread as with the Celts. When they were present, all primary sources indicate that reincarnation only took place within the family line, as can be evidenced by the figure of Starkađr in who was born with his grandfather's scars.
Agreed. And actually, from what I've read, the Celts also believed that the soul reincarnated along the bloodline. It also seems to be the case that Germanics were less involved with spirit-world interaction than other Pagan peoples. Religion was deduced to festival and superstition rather than magic and ritual. Though I like to think that this conclusion has only been reached because of a lack of documentation.


the level of sophistication and abstraction that had already occurred by the Iron Age is enough to keep scholars from classifying Germanic religion as shamanic proper.
Again, I agree. Germanic religion as a whole cannot be described accurately as 'Shamanic'. But like you said, Shamanism is at the root of all religion. We've gradually moved further from it, so the further back we go, the closer we get to that kind of belief system. It's now just a question of whether a unique Germanic culture emerged before or after Shamanic tradition had died in central and northern Europe.


I'd like to see a source on that. The whole idea of "development of the spirit" after death (particularly through reincarnation as you say earlier) does not seem to have been an idea present amongst early Germanics.
I'm afraid the most reliable reference I can find is Wikipedia, though if I had all my old school history books, I could scan them and show you that this is exactly what we are taught in English schools.

It was common to leave gifts with the deceased. Both men and women received grave goods, even if the corpse was to be burnt on a pyre. The amount and the value of the goods depended on which social group the dead person came from.[1] It was important to bury the dead in the right way so that he could join the afterlife with the same social standing that he had had in life, and to avoid becoming a homeless soul that wandered eternally.
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_funeral)


All of the other Germanic afterlife beliefs also seem to point towards death as being a finality of sorts, which is why our material life was so important. As Óđinn himself says in the Hávamál:
I suspect that your Hávamál quote is concerned with death and rememberance in this world only. Of course the Germanics didn't believe that when our body dies our soul perishes also. I'm sure you're not seriously suggesting that to be the case because it's obvious how knowledgable you are. Valhalla and Hel weren't empty promises, they were real and every adherent of the old religion understood that their soul was destined for one or other of the afterlife worlds. It was their responsibility in life to live in a way that would not only bring honour to their memory, but to bring honour to their soul. They took material possessions with them to the afterlife because they believed they would need them there - thus the suggestion that those material goods were as important to their soul as to their body.

Psychonaut
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 12:10 PM
Agreed. And actually, from what I've read, the Celts also believed that the soul reincarnated along the bloodline. It also seems to be the case that Germanics were less involved with spirit-world interaction than other Pagan peoples. Religion was deduced to festival and superstition rather than magic and ritual. Though I like to think that this conclusion has only been reached because of a lack of documentation.

Yeah, I didn't have De Bello Gallico on hand when I posted, but I suspected as much. Lack of documentation does seem to be an impasse that we reach quite often with Germanic studies, but I usually prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to making statements about the beliefs of our ancestors. Informed conjecture and educated developments of ancient thought are invaluable in living our lives today and in the practice of any type of reconstructed religion, but I shy away from them when discussing purely historical matters.


Again, I agree. Germanic religion as a whole cannot be described accurately as 'Shamanic'. But like you said, Shamanism is at the root of all religion. We've gradually moved further from it, so the further back we go, the closer we get to that kind of belief system. It's now just a question of whether a unique Germanic culture emerged before or after Shamanic tradition had died in central and northern Europe.

Yeah, I'm not sure that you and I would be able to make much headway in this area at this time either or if there is even enough concrete evidence to definitively say one way or the other.


I'm afraid the most reliable reference I can find is Wikipedia, though if I had all my old school history books, I could scan them and show you that this is exactly what we are taught in English schools.

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_funeral)

First, thank you very much for posting a source for your argument!!! Second, your source seems to, in a way, agree with my argument. The reasons for them being buried with their wealth was so that they wouldn't be some sort of hobo spirit, so that they'd have social standing, a place to go, stuff to use in the afterlife. These needs really aren't so different from the need for wealth in the physical world; the only difference being the lack of corporality.



I suspect that your Hávamál quote is concerned with death and rememberance in this world only. Of course the Germanics didn't believe that when our body dies our soul perishes also. I'm sure you're not seriously suggesting that to be the case because it's obvious how knowledgable you are. Valhalla and Hel weren't empty promises, they were real and every adherent of the old religion understood that their soul was destined for one or other of the afterlife worlds. It was their responsibility in life to live in a way that would not only bring honour to their memory, but to bring honour to their soul. They took material possessions with them to the afterlife because they believed they would need them there - thus the suggestion that those material goods were as important to their soul as to their body.

The quote is perhaps only concerned with Midgard, but only Óđinn knows for sure ;). However, this verse complements what we know of the way the Norsemen lived, which was very practical, and it seems that, by their standards, a wealthy man had a better chance of being remembered well (or even being remembered at all). This ended up being entirely the case. Who else but the wealthy had Sagas written about them so that their memory lives on?

Lyfing
Saturday, September 13th, 2008, 03:11 PM
Most documented accounts that attest to the materialistic priorities of Germanics are relatively recent and often post-Christian.

Rydberg wrote this (http://www.northvegr.org/lore/rydberg/095.php) in Teutonic Mythology (http://www.northvegr.org/lore/rydberg/index.php)..


The division into two parts, líf og sála, líkami og sála, body and soul, came with Christianity

...

Another assumption, likewise incorrect in estimating the anthropological-eschatological belief of the Teutons, is that they are supposed to have distinguished between matter and mind, which is a result reached by the philosophers of the Occident in their abstract studies. It is, on the contrary, certain that such a distinction never enitered the system of heathen Teutonic views. In it all things were material, an efni of coarse or fine grain, tangible or intangible, visible or invisible. The imperishable factors of man were, like the perishable, material, and a force could not be conceived which was not bound to matter, or expressed itself in matter, or was matter.


40-50,0000 years ago the human animal became the human being. That is to say that all of a sudden, we developed art, religion and culture - as if out of nowhere.

I like the 2 million years ago notion...


TWO MILLION YEARS AGO:
THE ORIGINS OF ART AND SYMBOL

James B. Harrod

It is generally accepted that the human species invented art, symbol and religion during the Upper Paleolithic, as evidenced, for instance, in the cave art and female figurines of Europe, dating from about 40,000 to 10,000 years before the present. Some, such as Teilhard de Chardin, have suggested that the tools and fire-making associated with Homo erectus permit an inference of “mind” or “spirit” several hundred thousand years ago. In this essay I will indicate how the birth of art, symbol, and religion, of the human “mind,” “spirit,” and “psyche,” occurred over two million years ago.

http://originsnet.org/old.pdf

And, besides I think everything has religion..even the katydid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katydid) in his leaf costume.

Oh, and even chimpanzees seem to think about Thor as they "brandish branches" and carry on..



Gombe. At the onset of thunderstorms or sudden wind gusts chimpanzee males’ hair bristles; they perform spectacular aggression displays, charging, swaying back and forth, breaking off and brandishing branches. Such displays are performed more often toward the beginning of the rainy season. Incidents range from single individual solitary events to a single individual participant within a social group, to multiple participant events. Dominance plays a secondary role (if any) in most of these displays. Sometimes even females participate (Wallauer 2002). “Often I am asked whether I think the chimpanzees have any kind of religion…Are they defying the elements? Awed and excited by the pounding of the rain on the canopy, the jagged flashes of lightning, the crashing of thunder? We do not know what emotion underlies this behavior.” “If they had spoken language, the chimpanzees could
discuss the feeling that prompted these displays. Is it something like awe? If the chimpanzee could share his feelings and questions with the others, might these wild elemental displays become ritualized into some form of animistic religion? Would they worship the falls, the deluge from the sky, the thunder and lightning -- the gods of the elements? So all-powerful; so incomprehensible” (Goodall 2001).

Multiple sites. Rain dance is habitual at Tai Forest and Budongo and customary at Gombe, Mahale-M, Mahale-K and Kibale (Whiten et al 1999).

http://originsnet.org/chimpspiritdatabase.pdf

Standing in awe being the first function of mythology according to Joseph Campbell.

Anyhow..

Later,
-Lyfing

Thrymheim
Sunday, September 14th, 2008, 05:26 AM
Here are three accounts from history textbooks. All three portray the Viking raiders as men whose goals were first the attainment of plunder, and later the conquest of land. Naught is said of lofty and honorable intentions or dreams of spiritual perfection through battle.


However most of the historical texts that these were based on were written by the plundered, i.e the Christian monks, and they certainly weren't going to say anything nice about the raiders were they?

Psychonaut
Sunday, September 14th, 2008, 06:30 AM
However most of the historical texts that these were based on were written by the plundered, i.e the Christian monks, and they certainly weren't going to say anything nice about the raiders were they?

Possibly, but we have to go with the sources that we've got. Replacing textual and archaeological sources with idealized fantasies doesn't help us in understanding our ancestors. I'm not saying that our ancestors were nothing more than a bunch of grubby barbarians with treasure on their minds 24/7. I'm merely trying to point out that our available sources seem to show that their priorities, indeed human priorities, weren't too different from our own.

Vingolf
Sunday, September 14th, 2008, 07:58 PM
I'll give you the priests, who (ideally) shouldn't be concerned with wealth; but warriors and peasants? So, a peasant works his land just for the fun of it? He doesn't hope to reap any rewards for his toil? A warrior doesn't hope to conquer peoples, take their stuff, and rule their land?
Rhetorical questions. Where are your merchants in the above mentioned hierarchies and societal structures? And so far, you give me no reason to take your sources seriously, since they do not seem to corroborate your rather bold materialistic scheme or meta-theories.

As for religion, the Germanic gods, much more than the Greek
or the Roman, were immersed in war. Even though Thor is specifically
the warrior god, war fascinates Odin, the Teutonic high god, much more
than it does Zeus in the Iliad. Odin is sometimes called a warrior himself,
while the Teutonic afterlife, is overwhelmingly organized as a wonderland
for warriors. In contrast with the Greek or Roman vision of the underworld, where warriors are sometimes present but rarely the whole show, Valhalla is a specifically military place.


Here are three accounts from history textbooks. All three portray the Viking raiders as men whose goals were first the attainment of plunder, and later the conquest of land.
Your sources - none of which are primary - “portray” deeds/actions, not motives and values.


Naught is said of lofty and honorable intentions or dreams of spiritual perfection through battle.
The warrior's aristocratic code of honour is a constant leitmotif in the majority of primary and secundary sources from the Germanic Middle Ages.


Who else but the wealthy had Sagas written about them so that their memory lives on?
They were not portrayed because of their wealth, but of their heroic deeds, boldness and moral stature, their distinguished genealogies and great military achievements. Read Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla or other Icelandic sources.


I'm merely trying to point out that our available sources seem to show that their priorities, indeed human priorities, weren't too different from our own.
This is exactly what imo qualifies as an *anti-historical* sin of omission. As a materialist - Marxist or not - you blindfold refuse to accept the basic fact that mentalities, values and priorities have changed considerably since the Middle Ages. The old Germanic tribal structure based on ties of kinship and clan, for instance, transformed gradually into permanently class-divided states during antiquity and the early Middle Ages. You have lofty aspirations on behalf of history, yet your views seem fundamentally *anti-historical*.

Psychonaut
Sunday, September 14th, 2008, 11:04 PM
Your sources - none of which are primary - “portray” (sic) deeds/actions, not motives and values.


The warrior's aristocratic code of honour is a constant leitmotif in the majority of primary and secundary (sic) sources from the Germanic Middle Ages.

If these sources backing up your opinions are so plentiful then why don't you post some of them?


They were not portrayed because of their wealth, but of their heroic deeds, boldness and moral stature, their distinguished genealogies and great military achievements. Read Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla or other Icelandic sources.

Sure, these men did great things. However, the point I was making in that instance was that paupers, regardless of the greatness of their deeds, were not afforded the name fame. If you have a counter example of a Saga written about a peasant or thrall, I'd love to see it.


This is exactly what imo qualifies as an *anti-historical* sin of omission. As a materialist - Marxist or not - you blindfold refuse to accept the basic fact that mentalities, values and priorities have changed considerably since the Middle Ages. The old Germanic tribal structure based on ties of kinship and clan, for instance, transformed gradually into permanently class-divided states during antiquity and the early Middle Ages. You have lofty aspirations on behalf of history, yet your views seem fundamentally *anti-historical*.

Omission? Omission? You who have yet to provide a single direct reference to back your assertions are accusing me of omission? Again, if you have some sources to back up your ideas, I'd love to see them.

Psychonaut
Monday, September 15th, 2008, 01:59 AM
Your sources - none of which are primary - “portray” (sic) deeds/actions, not motives and values.


Since I'm feeling generous today, I dug out a copy of Egil's Saga and found an account of a raid in Chapter 46:


Ţórólf and Egil stayed with Ţórir in high favour; but in the spring they made ready a large longship and hired a crew. That summer they went raiding in the Baltic; they won a great deal of booty and fought many battles.


They decided to go ashore there and split up into groups...they plundered and killed


There was a farm not far away and they made for it, and when they reached it they charged into the buildings. They found no one there, and took whatever was lying loose.


Egil stopped and said, 'This is a poor and unsoldierly raid. We have stolen the farmer's property without him knowing about it. We must not allow ourselves to be shamed like this. Let us go back to the farms and let the people know what has happened.'


The people sitting and drinking inside knew nothing before the rafters were ablaze. They made a rush for the door but there was no easy way out, both because of the blazing timbers and because Egil was guarding the door. He cut men down both inside the doorway and outside it. In no time at all the whole hall was on fire and fell in. Everyone inside perished.


Egil claimed as his private booty the treasure chest he had taken; it turned out to be full of silver.

So, in summary, Egil and his crew go to raid a village. They do so. Then they go raid a farmer. They steal his stuff, but feel that this in and of itself is "unsoldierly," so they set his house on fire and kill everyone who tries to flee the fire. Are these acts which are principally concerned with profit or honor? Where is the honor in stealing from and murdering a farmer?

Vingolf
Monday, September 15th, 2008, 10:28 PM
If these sources backing up your opinions are so plentiful then why dont you post some of them?
Because: 1) you are the one peddling bold statements on insufficient grounds - hence, the evidential burden is on you; 2) your own sources support my views:

Egil stopped and said, \'This is a poor and unsoldierly raid. We have stolen the farmers property without him knowing about it. We must not allow ourselves to be shamed like this. Let us go back to the farms and let the people know what has happened.\' [...] Are these acts which are principally concerned with profit or honor? Where is the honor in stealing from and murdering a farmer?
As already mentioned a couple of times: you are projecting your own contemporary, modern values and prejudices on to the Middle Ages. This is exactly what qualifies as an *anti-historical* sin of omission. You blindfold refuse to accept the basic fact that mentalities, values and priorities have changed considerably since the Middle Ages. Your own example (Egil & co) demonstrates the point of my initial statement that *honour outranked wealth*. Theft/burglary per se was regarded as dishonourable, mean and unmanly. Belligerence, putting up a good fight, was not. Wealth is only good if it is convertible into the *currency of honour*.


However, the point I was making in that instance was that paupers, regardless of the greatness of their deeds, were not afforded the name fame.
Not much of a point, though. Was Eric the Red a wealthy man? He was an outcast of society, an outlaw.

Leonhardt
Monday, September 15th, 2008, 10:55 PM
The ancient Germanics believed in both status and honor.

The chief, who had the most possessions and status, who give a sword or other war item to the warriors who pledged allegiance to him (honor). The sword, or body armor would give the warrior more status. The chief would gain more status by winning the majority of his battles, thus gaining more possessions to hand out to more warriors.

If the warrior chose to change tribes, then they would be expected to give back their sword to the chief. (honor)

Psychonaut
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008, 12:42 AM
As already mentioned a couple of times: you are projecting your own contemporary, modern values and prejudices on to the Middle Ages. This is exactly what qualifies as an *anti-historical* sin of omission. You blindfold refuse to accept the basic fact that mentalities, values and priorities have changed considerably since the Middle Ages.

More unsourced assertions about the "mentalities, values and priorities" of the Middle Ages.


Your own example (Egil & co) demonstrates the point of my initial statement that *honour outranked wealth*. Theft/burglary per se was regarded as dishonourable, mean and unmanly. Belligerence, putting up a good fight, was not. Wealth is only good if it is convertible into the *currency of honour*.

So, in your opinion, setting someone's house on fire while whey are inside and cutting them down as they try to escape the fire equates to "putting up a good fight," and is honorable?


Was Eric the Red a wealthy man? He was an outcast of society, an outlaw.

Wrong. Eric was an outcast of Icelandic society, but was the founder and chieftain of the Greenlandic settlement.


Because: 1) you are the one peddling bold statements on insufficient grounds - hence, the evidential burden is on you

This is quite a cop out. Throughout the entire course of this debate, you've not sourced any of your opinions. This is fine if you are talking about an issue which is purely a mental exercise. However, we are talking about history, and the only way to have any kind of honest discourse about past events is to back up whatever it is you are saying with sources. Since you are either unwilling or unable to do so, I am done speaking with you.

Vingolf
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008, 07:44 AM
More unsourced assertions about the "mentalities, values and priorities" of the Middle Ages.
Do I need external, secondary sources to confirm that you are projecting your own contemporary, modern values and prejudices on to the Middle Ages? This is obvious, and you are my best - and primary - source:

So, in your opinion, setting someone's house on fire while whey are inside and cutting them down as they try to escape the fire equates to "putting up a good fight," and is honorable?
Your answer is an admission of failure and clearly demonstrates your *anti-historical* approach - a leitmotif recycled throughout the entire course of this debate. It is, of course, entirely irrelevant what you or I think about this. The only thing that matters is what Egil & co did and thought, and why. As I said: Your own example (Egil & co) demonstrates the point of my initial statement that *honour outranked wealth*. Theft/burglary per se was regarded as dishonourable, mean and unmanly. Belligerence was not. Wealth was only good if it was convertible into the *currency of honour*.


Throughout the entire course of this debate, you've not sourced any of your opinions.
This discussion is still at an early stage, and my opponent gives me no incentive to seek out my bookcase, since his bold statements tend to be contrafactual, anti-historical and absurd, unsubstantiated by his very own sources. Some discussions never take off: blindfold creationists and Marxists are, for instance, usually incurable.


However, we are talking about history, and the only way to have any kind of honest discourse about past events is to back up whatever it is you are saying with sources.
True, but why do you betray that *honest discourse* by presenting sources backing up the views of your opponent without admitting that you are wrong?


Wrong. Eric was an outcast of Icelandic society, but was the founder and chieftain of the Greenlandic settlement.
He was an outcast of Norwegian and Icelandic society, yes. Was he a wealthy man? Can you give me a name of someone portrayed in the Icelandic sagas because of his wealth?

SwordOfTheVistula
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008, 08:15 AM
The chief, who had the most possessions and status, who give a sword or other war item to the warriors who pledged allegiance to him (honor). The sword, or body armor would give the warrior more status. The chief would gain more status by winning the majority of his battles, thus gaining more possessions to hand out to more warriors.

If the warrior chose to change tribes, then they would be expected to give back their sword to the chief. (honor)

Sounds like the modern day investors-they give the ambitious of society the tools they need to succeed, and in the end receive wealth :D

Dagna
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009, 06:14 PM
Being materialistic is only a sin in the eyes of Christians, if you consider monk orders would choose to chastize themselves and live in poverty. However, considering the churches were some of the richest institutions, it is hypocrisy. Ancient Germanics did not have a problem with acquiring wealth and they were very talented at the art of making jewelry. Some even took it with them to the graves, believing it would accompany them in the afterlife. What differs today is that there is less community feeling and less spirituality, I believe.

thricelost
Friday, April 17th, 2009, 07:17 PM
I do remember reading (but not where, so I have no useful references) that the Roman historians who first came into contact with Germanic tribes were stunned and disgusted that the Germanic "barbarians" seemed to be completely uninterested in money. Naturally, a society uninterested in personal wealth and prestige was a threat to the Roman system, for how else could it be controlled?

I think it was Tacitus who observed that the Germans seemed to care only about reputation, based upon personal exploits and communal respect. Men fought not for mercenary ends, but due to oaths, loyalty bonds, and for personal glory. Villages were based upon barter, and generosity increased one's personal reputation.

Hierwend
Friday, April 17th, 2009, 07:42 PM
Cattle die, and kinsmen die.
Thyself eke soon wilt die;
but fair fame will fade never,
I ween, for him who wins it.

-Odin, the Havamal


Germanics were materialistic in the sense that they lived and thrived in a material world but they weren't hyper materialistic like we were today. They lived for honor nor for next years luxury car or a fancy vacation.

rainman
Saturday, April 18th, 2009, 03:20 AM
I think these values are less racial and have more to do with tribalism. Just about everywhere in humanity exept maybe the extremely primitive tribes of Africa where you have a tribal society (such as say feudal Japan, Native Americans, Middle East etc.) there is this great sense of the community organism and reputation is everything. Even in a small town this is present. Once you strip people of their family bonds and put them in this huge impersonal urban setting all that is lost and materialism, individualism etc. begins to replace the sense of honor and tribe that once existed.

For example in America today without money you are nothing. You aren't respected, you don't live well etc. In the tribal days without your family you were nothing. The farm work wouldn't get done, you wouldn't eat etc.

That's why I feel tribalism is inseperable from folkish/racial values. I do feel that organically Germanics would have a) kept their population low anyway so it would have been a fairly rural society b) organically applied tribal values and clanish customs even to more urban settings.

The reason we have been developing the way we have for the past several hundred years is the influence of the urban jew. He did not evolve in a tribe in the traditional sense like the rest of humanity. He always evolved as an urban people living amongst others whereas, much like a parasite the emphasis was on personal gain and feeding your own children. The concept of community, honor etc. was missing. These values of individualism, greed etc. have been imprinted onto our culture and begun to negatively effect our genes even.