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Thread: From Godan to Wotan: An Examination of two Langobardic mythological Texts

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    From Godan to Wotan: An Examination of two Langobardic mythological Texts

    As most of our knowledge of the gods and myths of the North is from Scandinavian and particularly Icelandic sources, occasionally the curtain is lifted to give us a tantalising glimpse of a facet of the world of the ancient Germanic gods south of Dannevirke.

    On this occasion I intend to revisit the mysterious mention of the god, Godan, in two ancient Italian accounts in Latin of how the Langobards won their name after a battle with the rival Vandals to determine territorial possession.

    The first mention of this god is an anonymous text entitled Origo gentis Langobardorum, dated in the seventh century and the second in the eighthcentury text, Historia Langobardorum, by Paul the Deacon.
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    Re: From Godan to Wotan

    In certain languages, the hard G is prononced as W.

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    AW: From Godan to Wotan

    yes and it is typical that several pieces of information which where gathered by simple soldiers get manipulated by their missing skill in understanding the foreign culture/language/rites.

    it could be that they heard from some germanic slaves/soldiers the word "Wotan" but identified it as "godan" or it has been a victim of colloquial expressions or they simply made fun of it!

    hail to you!

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    Re: AW: From Godan to Wotan

    It's just an orthographic problem. Nothing more.

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    Re: From Godan to Wotan

    Quote Originally Posted by georgepohl View Post
    In certain languages, the hard G is prononced as W.
    It's the other way around: the Germanic sound /w-/ did not exist in Latin (and does not - as a rule - in Romance languages), so it was pronounced by native speakers of Latin/Romance dialects as /gw-/, which in in modern Italian is preserved before /-a/ and /-e/ ('guarda'; 'guerra'), in modern Spanish before /-a/ ('guardia';'guapa'), but not /-e/ ('guerrilla'=/gerilja/), and in modern French in all positions became /g-/ (only the spelling retains <gu-> before /-e/ ('guerre'=/ger:/) (although French shows the exemtive word 'ouest' = Germanic 'west', which has no /g-/).
    Because after /gw-/ follows /-o-/, the semivowel is not indicated in the spelling, maybe also already had merged with the vowel so that it really was no longer pronounced, at least not distinctively.

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    Re: From Godan to Wotan

    This is, I believe, a phonetic shift known even in parts of Germany. Take for example the town of Bad Godesberg. In the early middle ages its name was Wodenesberg, before it changed to Gudenesberg, and then Godesberg, as a result.

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    From a previous post I made:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulf View Post
    The interchange of male and female deities is, luckily for us
    here, set in a clear light, by the prayers and rhymes to Wuotan as god
    of harvest, which we have quoted above (p. 155 seq.), being in other
    Low German districts handed over straight to a goddess. When
    the cottagers, we are told, are mowing rye, they let some of the
    stalks stand, tie flowers among them, and when they have finished
    work, assemble round the clump left standing, take hold of the ears
    of rye, and shout three times over :

    Lady Gaue, keep you some fodder,
    This year on the wagon,
    Next year on the wheelbarrow.

    Whereas Wode had better fodder promised him for the next year,
    Dame Gaue seems to receive notice of a falling off in the quantity

    of the gift presented. In both cases I see the shyness of the
    Christians at retaining a heathen sacrifice : as far as words go, the
    old gods are to think no great things of themselves in future.

    In the Prignitz they say fru Gode, and call the bunch of ears
    left standing in each field vergodendeelsstrûss, i.e., dame Gode's portion bunch. Ver is a common contraction for frau [as in jungfer] ; but a dialect which says fauer instead of foer, foder, will equally have Gaue for Gode, Guode. This Guode can be no other than Gwode, Wode ; and, explaining fru by the older fro, fro Woden or fro Gaue (conf. Gaunsdag for Wonsdag, p. 125) will denote a lord and god, not a goddess, so that the form of prayer completely coincides with those addressed to Wuotan, and the fruh Wod subjoined in the note on p. 156 (see Suppl.). If one prefer the notion of a female divinity, which, later at all events, was undoubtedly attached to the term fru, we might perhaps bring in the ON. Goi (Sn. 358. Fornald. sog. 2, 17), a mythic maiden, after whom February was named.
    Also interesting to note:

    Leader of the Wild Hunt

    In German legend, Holda held her court within the Hörselberg, and from this mountain would issue the Wild Hunt, with her at its head. The faithful Eckhart was said to sit at the base of the mountain warning travellers to return whence they came; he also rode ahead of the Wild Hunt warning people to seek shelter from the coming storm. While Holda in northern Germany is described as leading a procession of the dead, her close counterpart in southern Germany, Perchta, is described as being surrounded by the souls of unborn children, or children who died before they were baptised. This points to Holda's dual role as protectress of souls both entering and leaving this world.

    As mistress of the Wild Hunt, she is alternately known as frau Gode, frau Gaue, and frau Woden, demonstrating her connection to Odin.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holda#L..._the_Wild_Hunt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurd View Post
    This is, I believe, a phonetic shift known even in parts of Germany. Take for example the town of Bad Godesberg. In the early middle ages its name was Wodenesberg, before it changed to Gudenesberg, and then Godesberg, as a result.
    There may be a parallel in Kent, for what it's worth (probably not much);

    Quote Originally Posted by toponymic dictionary
    Wormshill Kent. Godeselle 1086 (Domesday Book), Wotnesell c.1225, Worneshelle 1254. Possibly 'Hill of Woden'. OE god-name + hyll.
    Alternatively 'shelter for a herd of pigs', OE weorn + *(ge)sell.

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    Also, maybe interesting..

    In German legend, Holda held her court within the Hörselberg, and from this mountain would issue the Wild Hunt, with her at its head.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holda
    ...

    As the wind was believed to rest in a hill in calm weather and to come forth in a storm, so the Furious Host sometimes comes from a hill and goes to a hill. If we regard the dead as following in the train of the Host or of Wodan, then we may conceive of them as dwelling in a hollow hill ruled over by the god. To this corresponds the numerous mountain names such as Wodenesberg, Wodnesbeorh (mons Wodeni), Othensberg, Odensberg, Gudenesberg.28 When Regin and Sigurd were in a storm at sea, a man was seen standing on a mountain. As the ship passed he asked who they were, and when Regin told him and demanded his name, he replied that he was called Hnikar, “Thruster,” but now they must call him Karl af berge, “the man of the mountain.” He was Odin. Gudrun speaks of Sigtyr’s (“the Victory-god’s) mountain in Atlakvitha.29 In this conception of Odin or Wodan as god of a mountain and of the mountain as a place of the dead, may be seen the germ of the Valhall myth as developed in the Viking age (see p. 315). To die was “to journey to Odin” (til Odins fara), or “to be a guest with Odin,” or “to visit Odin,” and similar phrases with the same meaning were used of Valhall. Saxo tells how Odin, as a man of amazing height called Rostarus, cured Siward’s wounds on condition of his consecrating to him the souls of all slain by him in battle. So the Landnama-bok tells how Helgi said, when Thorgrim was slain: “I gave Asmod’s heir to Odin.”30

    Eddic Mythology, page 44
    Later,
    -Lyfing

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