- Not to be confused with the Hyrcanic Forest
The etymology of the name is controversial. Some believe that it is derived from the Celtic root erchynn (= "high, sublime"). The American ancient historian Walter Woodburn Hyde also considers a phonetic relationship with the toponyms Harz and Erzingen to be possible. Others derive it from the proto-Celtic * perkuniā (from Indo-European * perkʷus = "oak"). This derivation is underpinned by Old High German firgunna for the Herkynische Wald, which is derived from the same word, whereby the Indo-European p has disappeared in the Celtic languages, while it has shifted to f in the course of the Germanic sound shift . Another Germanic name, which is presumably related to the Herkynischen forest, is Gothic faírguni .
In Latin texts from the Middle Ages and modern times, the Harz was sometimes referred to as silva hercyniae , for example in the treatise Hercynia Curiosa or Curiöser Harz-Wald by the author Georg Henning Behrens , the flora by the doctor Johann Thal and in the inscription Utilitati Hercyniae (translated with “To the benefit of the Harz”) in the facade of the Harzkornmagazin in Osterode am Harz .
The exact extent of the Herkynian Forest is also unclear. Although he is already in the Meteorologica of Aristotle noted, a more accurate description, however, we only in Gaius Julius Caesar Font De Bello Gallico handed down, where as part of a digression about the lifestyle of the Germans will be discussed at him. The passage (25–28) is probably pseudepigraphic , but was probably interpolated into the text in ancient times. In its presentation, it means that the forest is wide in north-south direction about nine days 'march and EXTEND to sixty days' march to the east, the area of the Helvetii to the in present-day Romania settled Dacians , the Anarten that the banks of the Tisza settled in present-day Hungary , and far beyond. If you set a day's hike of 25 kilometers, that results in a total area for the Herkynian Forest of more than 337,500 square kilometers.
With the increasing acculturation of this huge area, the Romans found a less general geographical terminology in the centuries after Christ and in future differentiated, for example, mons Taunus , saltus Teutoburgiensis , Silva Gabreta and Carpates montes . The settlement and clearing took place through the Frankish conquest and the Merovingian and Carolingian clearing waves in the 7th to 10th centuries. In another wave of clearing in the 11th century, the Slavs were to be subdued by Frankish settlers.
In Caesars De bello Gallico , three allegedly typical species of the Hercynian Forest are described. They are:
- a species of deer , which is characterized by a single, very long and strikingly straight horn between the ears, which would branch like a branch at the tip. Whether it is a unicorn or a reindeer is still controversial in research today.
- Moose described as goat-like but lacking knee joints ; That is why they would lean against bushes or trees to sleep, which the Teutons identified and sawed or burrowed down using the footprints - if the tired elk came to his usual sleeping place, he would fall over and could not get up due to the lack of knee joints. To explain this zoologically somewhat absurd information, research has long assumed that the author of the passage is reproducing hunter's Latin that Germanic scouts might have talked into him during his two excursions across the Rhine. The classical philologist Otto Seel demonstrated in 1967 that the story of the jointless animals is reported in a Byzantine supplement to the Physiologus , a handbook of animal symbolism, in almost exactly the same way, but not about elks, but about elephants . Here the report seems a little less nonsensical, because their knee joints are actually not easy to see. Since the Greek words ελεφας - the elephant and ελαφος - the deer differ only in two vowels, it is reasonable to assume that the absurd story of elks without knee joints originated here, because pseudo-Caesar himself states that he has his knowledge about the Herkynische Wald not from my own experience, but from (now lost) writings of Eratosthenes and other Greek ethnographers . So it is not about hunter's Latin, but the embellishment of a Greek ethnographic text that became incomprehensible after a transcription error.
- Aurochs , which are slightly smaller than elephants and so wild that they cannot be tamed; the Teutons would hunt them down using pitfalls and use their horns as drinking vessels.
Pliny the Elder (23 / 24–79 AD) reports in his Naturalis Historia that there are birds in the Herkynic Forest whose plumage shines like fire at night. This miracle story was spread among others by Solinus (4th century) and Isidore of Seville (approx. 560-636) and was widespread in the Middle Ages , especially in the version of Honorius Augustodunensis (approx. 1080 - approx. 1151), the in his school book De imagine mundi, however, it is located in Hyrcania .
The main outer belt asteroid (458) Hercynia is named after the Herkynian Forest.
- Walter Woodburn Hyde : The Curious Animals of the Hercynian Forest . In: The Classical Journal 13, No. 4 (1918), pp. 231–245.
- Otto Seel : To the Germanic excursion. The elk. in: ders., Caesar Studies , Stuttgart 1967, pp. 37–43.
- Rainer Henke : Hunter's Latin in Caesar's Bellum Gallicum (6.25-28) Original or forgery? In: Gymnasium. 105 (1998), pp. 117-142.
- Walter Woodburn Hyde: The Curious Animals of the Hercynian Forest . In: The Classical Journal 13, Issue 4 (1918), p. 232.
- Wolfgang Meid : Indo-European and Celtic. In: Innsbruck contributions to linguistics. Special issue 25, Institute for Comparative Linguistics of the University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck 1968.
- Indo-European dictionary, 4th edition, complete file (HTML; 1165 KiB) at www.koeblergerhard.de
- Piergiuseppe Scardigli : The Goths. Language and Culture , Florence 1964, translated by Benedikt Vollmann, Munich 1973, p. 54 ff.
- Book 6, Chapters 24-28
- Rainer Henke: Hunter's Latin in Caesar's Bellum Gallicum (6.25–28) Original or Fake? In: Gymnasium. 105 (1998), p. 121ff .; Gerhard Dobesch, On the excursus on the Hercynian forest in Caesars Bellum Gallicum (1985), in: ders., Selected writings , Volume 1, Cologne [u. a.]: Böhlau, 2001, pp. 439–452
- Walter Woodburn Hyde: The Curious Animals of the Hercynian Forest . In: The Classical Journal 13, No. 4 (1918), pp. 234-239; Curt Woyte : Notes . In: the same (ed.): Gaius Julius Caesar: The Gallic War . Reclam, Stuttgart 1975, p. 47; Heinrich and Margarethe Schmidt: The forgotten imagery of Christian art. A guide to understanding animal, angel, and Mary symbolism. Beck, Munich 1981, p. 47; René Bloch: Unicorn . The New Pauly Encyclopedia of Antiquity . Metzler, Stuttgart 2010, vol. 3, col. 916.
- Otto Seel: To the Germanic excursion. The elk. in: ders., Caesar Studies, Stuttgart 1967, pp. 37–43.
- Pliny the Elder: Naturalis Historia 10, 132 ( online on Wikisource , accessed July 13, 2015).
- Christian Hünemörder : Hercyniae aves. In: Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 110, H. 4 (1967), pp. 371–384.
- Lutz D. Schmadel : Dictionary of Minor Planet Names . Fifth Revised and Enlarged Edition. Ed .: Lutz D. Schmadel. 5th edition. Springer Verlag , Berlin , Heidelberg 2003, ISBN 978-3-540-29925-7 , pp. 186 (English, 992 pp., Link.springer.com [ONLINE; accessed on October 23, 2019] Original title: Dictionary of Minor Planet Names . First edition: Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg 1992): “1982 SA. Discovered 1982 Sept. 20 by EF Helin at Palomar. "