Thor in the North, or Donar in Germanic continental peoples, "the Thunderer" ( noun agentis ), originally as a generic name "the thunder " (appellative) ( Old Saxon Thunaer , Old English Thunor , Old High German Donar , Old Dutch Donre , Old Norse Thorr of urnordisch þunraʀ "thunder"). The common Germanic name of God * Þunaraz is derived from this . Thor / Donar acted as the god of thunderstorms and weather for the peoples who went to sea and was a vegetation god in a further function within the peasant Germanic society . In the mythological Edda scriptures he was the protector of Midgard , the human world.
Name, etymology and origin
The name of the deity is closely related to that of other, functionally similar Indo-European deities . Iuppiter tonans , Zeus , the Celtic Taranis used the stone thunderbolt that was thrown from heaven to earth by the lightning bolt as a weapon. The fight that Indra waged is atmospherically depicted by lightning and thunder . The term heaven goes back to an Indo-European word root that means "stone" or "anvil". It is said of the common Germanic * Þunraz (analogous to Zeus ) that its thunder is like driving a cart over a vault (ags. Þunorrād "thunder ride"). Lightning and thunder herald the approach of Thor in Norse myth. Thus the Germanic name of God is identical with that of the natural phenomenon , as he specifically in words for appellatively a root word back, which is an acoustic sound of thunder and thunder wortgleichend is used; ig. * (s) th . For this purpose, as an explanatory comparison, Latin tonare "thunder", an. Þónarr "thunder", ai. tanyu "thundering", ags. Þunian , also "thundering". In the Old Norse Þórr , on the other hand, only the name of God applies, the appellative meaning thunder is generally omitted except for its occurrence in regional dialects (Norway), in which tór in turn corresponds to the meaning thunder . The two-syllable form of the name in the continental Germanic area is striking, whereas in the Nordic form the name is only monosyllabic.
The weekday Thursday ( English thursday , Danish / Swedish torsdag ) is named after Donar or Thor . The day was already dedicated to the gods Zeus and Jupiter in ancient times ( Latin dies Iovis , also French jeudi , Romanian joi , Spanish jueves , Italian giovedì ) and became when the originally Babylonian / Egyptian 7-day week was taken over by the Teutons modeled on the Latin term.
Origin and Indo-European parallels
With the Indo-European language peoples and beyond, the sky god has lightning and thunder in his power. Donar / Thor (female form Tyra) was probably created by splitting off or separating the function as ruler of the natural phenomena of lightning and thunder from this sky god. Henrich Beck does not see a separation from this heavenly deity as necessarily given. From the Indo-European primitive religion, which was only indirectly developed, the idea of the deity developed further under regional, cultural-religious fluctuations among the Germanic peoples. According to the theory of Georges Dumézil , the three main gods each have a function among the Indo-European peoples , the thundering sky god occupies the first position. With the Teutons, the figure of the thunderer has separated from that of the sky god, so that he fulfills the second function of "strength". Dumezil's "three-function theory" has found supporters in research, since the second edition of his "Old Germanic Religious History" (1956/57), particularly through Jan de Vries or through Ake V. Ströms' treatise in "Germanic [...] Religion" (1975), but also critics and skeptics. Helmut Birkhan speaks of a partial "piety", since critics rightly point to some considerable unexplained or factual facts that do not fit into Dumezil's theoretical system, especially in the comparative comparison of the Germanic and Celtic cultures .
The idea of a hammer-swinging, wagon driving weather / thunder god is an ancient image of God; the Hittite Tarḫunna is portrayed identically as a car driving deity attributed with a hammer or a club. If Thor's chariot is pulled by goats, then in Tarhunna it is bulls and in the Vedic Indra it is reddish or fawn horses. His weapon, a throwing club, was also made by a lower being. Like Mjölnir , the hammer of Thor made by the dwarf Sindri, this club returns to the hand of the god after the throw.
In numerous Scandinavian rock carvings and images in stone tombs, male figures can be found lifting a hammer or rather axes (double axes) or hatchets, often in a phallic pose (e.g. the grave of Kivik ), which is why they are interpreted as divine beings. With regard to the “hammer-swinging” figures in the rock carvings, some of which are depicted as a goat, Franz Rolf Schröder points to the depiction in Nordic mythology and the close relationship between Thor and his attributive, wagon-pulling billy goats. In the Indo-European comparison, it can be established that the thunder deities related to Thor / Donar vary between ax, hammer and club. An amulet with the representation of the Thor's hammer in the North Germanic area or the Donarskeule in the South Germanic area was considered a fertility symbol in late pagan times, especially for women (excavation finds in Haithabu ) and only appeared as such at this later time.
Another common feature with other Indo-European myths is the dragon or snake fight, which the god of thunder fights. In Thor it is the confrontation with the Midgard serpent , in the Greeks Apollo fights with python and Heracles with Hydra , in Hittite mythology Tarhunna with the serpent Illuyanka , in Iranian mythology Fereydūn and Azhi Dahaka and Rostam with a dragon, and in Indian mythology In mythology it is the battle of the god Indra with the Vritra dragon. This is praised in the Rigveden with ever new hymns. The singing of the dragon fighter and monster slayer in myth is evident in all of the cultures mentioned; it is about cult-symbolic struggles that became the formative religious type. Another mythical analogy between Thor and Indra is found in the Hrungnir myth . The fight of Thor with the giant, who has a three-pronged heart of stone, is like the fight of Indra against the three-headed monster Trisiras .
There are also striking parallels between Thor's dialogues with Odin in Hárbarðslióð and those Indras with Varuna in Rigveden. According to Dumézil , these dialogues do not represent an aggressive conflict between the different cults, but an ancient form of dialogue based on the different natures of the gods within their structural functional areas. Most of the anthropomorphic traits Thor shares with Indra in terms of how they wear their hair and beard. In the Rigveden Indra is described as blond-haired and with a blond beard, Thor is called the "red beard" ( Þrymskviða , Thrymlied), and both are considered to be philanthropic in nature.
The connection to the oak as an attribute is partly interpreted as a parallel to other Indo-European gods. The tree cult in its various forms is often associated with fertility rites. In the mythical eddischen songs Hárbarðslióð and Voluspa is Thor's mother Fjörgyn , wife Fjorgynns called (Fjörgnjar burr) . Fjorgyn (n) rarely occurs in the Old Norse sources, but it corresponds to the Lithuanian * Perkūnas and the Latvian * Perkuns . In Lithuanian and Latvian, this is the thunderstorm god, who is also ritually connected to the oak.
Early Roman Imperial Era
The anthropomorphic, so-called pole idols have been handed down from prehistoric times in northern Germany and Jutland , and they cannot be identified with a specific deity handed down by name (see Germanic religion in the Germanic article) .
This changes through the contact of the Teutons with the Roman Empire. In Chapter 9 of his work Germania , an overview of the Germanic religion, Tacitus describes at least the religious conditions that were known to the Romans from the Germania inferior location on the Rhine . He names the main Germanic gods in a Roman interpretation . Donar can be derived from the naming of Hercules , although the Germanic name can only be verified by runic inscriptions from the time of the Great Migration ( Nordendorfer Runic Primer ) and other later sources place Donar as Jupiter. On this fundamentally not unproblematic derivation Hercules = Donar, among others, Karl Helm ("Old Germanic Religious History") took a position. Ultimately, in contrast to the Germanic excursion written 150 years earlier in Caesar's De bello Gallico , according to which the Germanic peoples would only worship natural forces such as sun, moon and fire, Tacitus' report is the first concrete serious attempt to portray Germanic culture and religion, but with everything For and against and always taking into account the special Roman perspective. Tacitus drew parallels to the figure of Hercules for the comparative Roman observer, presumably on the basis that he recognized the same characteristics in Thor. As the embodiment of power, Hercules and Thor are similar in their attributes , those of the hammer and the club, and analogously in both drinking and eating, which Thor has handed down from later Nordic sources. In addition, Tacitus describes that the Teutons honored Hercules by singing "Barditus", especially before a battle. In primeval Attic times, the Athenians were advised by the Delphic oracle to sing the Paian (Παιάν) as a mythical evocation of victory. 'The singing of Paian goes back to the myth of Apollo and his victorious fight with Python. Dieter Timpe sees it through the compositional position of this Hercules mention in Chap. 3 neither as productive nor as obvious, to the naming of Hercules in chap. 9 to see a compelling theological-systematic connection.
According to Tacitus, animal sacrifices were offered to Hercules / Donar . In which religious and cultic contexts this happens, Tacitus leaves open, and he generalizes the acts of sacrifice to the effect that they serve to favor the deity.
"Deorum maxime Mercurium colunt, cui certis diebus humanis quoque hostiis litare fas habent. Herculem et Martem concessis animalibus placant. "
“Of the gods, they worship Mercury most; they consider it imperative to make human sacrifices to him on certain days . Hercules and Mars make her gracious through certain animal sacrifices. "
Consecration stones and coins from the first century AD have Latin inscriptions dedicated to Donar. He was greatly admired by the Batavians in the Nijmegen area . Most of the inscriptions reflect the form of the name Hercules Magusanus . In his annals (2, 12, 16) Tacitus names a sanctuary dedicated to Donar, which is located at a location Idistaviso east of the Weser.
“Caesar transgressus Visurgim indicio perfugae cognoscit delectum from Arminio locum pugnae; convenisse et alias nationes in silvam Herculi sacram ausurosque nocturnam castrorum oppugnationem. […] Sic accensos et proelium poscentis in campum, cui Idistaviso noun, deducunt. is medius inter Visurgim et collis, ut ripae fluminis cedunt aut prominentia montium resistunt, inaequaliter sinuatur. "
“ After crossing the Weser, Caesar ( Germanicus ) learned from a report of a defector that Arminius had chosen a battlefield, that other tribes had also come together in a grove sacred to Hercules and would dare to attack the camp at night. […] When they called for battle so enthusiastically, they were led down to an open field called Idistaviso. This lies in the middle between the Visurgis and the hills and stretches out in unequal curvatures, depending on whether the banks of the river recede or the mountain ledges advance. "
Of such sanctuaries or holy groves, which were consecrated to a "male" deity, in addition to the tribal shrine of the Semnones , also mentioned by Tacitus (Germania chap. 39), only the Cheruscan Hercules / Donar cult for this time is documented in writing. Günter Behm-Blancke evaluates in the summary of the sources from the early Roman Empire that in such sanctuaries, also related to the Hercules / Donar grove , images of gods (idols) and altars were erected, sacrificial acts were carried out and they were also used as a repository for sacred objects and spoils of war as well as a meeting place ( thing ) served.
For the Gothic peoples, no direct evidence of a thunderstorm god is possible due to the generally poor sources for the Roman imperial period and the subsequent migration period. Only a few reports from ancient chroniclers and historians allow connections to religiously motivated behavior. For example, Titus tells Livius about a battle in 179 BC. Between the Bastarnen and Thracians around a mountain occupied by them. The attacking Bastarnen were chased away by a sudden thunderstorm and, according to Livy, stated that the gods had caused their flight.
Ammianus Marcellinus reports that at the battle of Adrianople in 378 the Goths were also scattered by a thunderstorm. Whether a religious fear of a certain deity or just a superstitious fear of this natural phenomenon proves an actual reference to a deity of the Goths concerned cannot be determined - quite apart from the problem of the credibility of such reports.
Donar / Thor in the early and late medieval tradition
Source location and basic conditions
The idea of Donar / Thor is, due to a very long tradition, a relatively uniform mythical and religious subject among the Germanic peoples. Nevertheless, there were definitely developments and changes, especially in the Roman Empire and in the era of the Great Migration up to the Viking Age in Scandinavia.
In the religious systems of the West and North Germanic peoples there were changes in the ranking of the revered male high gods. The cult of Wodan / Odin , after an acceptance of parts of the research, wandering from south to north, displaced the ancient sky god Tyr , to whom Thor is also subordinate, at least in Skaldic poetry, and finally took the highest position.
In connection with the Germanic weekday naming , Helmut Birkhan pointed out that the equation Jovis / Jupiter = Donar and its antiquity suggest that Donar presumably held a priority position in the continental area of Germania. According to the sources, a special circumstance is the discussion about the function or quality of consecration activity that Donar / Thor is assigned or denied, and whether this function has existed since the earliest times.
The early and intensive Christianization of the continental Germanic tribes and peoples is accompanied by the destruction of writings and the loss of orally transmitted knowledge and traditions of non-Christian content. In-depth statements about the " Germanic paganism " so called by the Christians , especially about Donar / Thor as the primary figure and about the cult and rite concerning him on the part of the dedicants, the Germanic admirers, cannot be made because of the mainly clerical sources of the early Middle Ages .
For the mainly northwestern-Nordic-Scandinavian written sources (Edda, Saga, Skaldik) from Iceland and Norway, the problem of Christianization in tradition also applies, the filter-like filter between the unbroken religiosity of the “pagan times” and a faithful representation of religious practice in cult and rite lay. The records can be assigned to the time from the 10th to the 13th century, and the material tradition only partially dates back to the time before Christianization. This had a direct influence on the myths, which were first handed down orally, which were later codified in handwritten form , for example in the genres of Eddic writings and saga literature, materially and fictionally from the special milieu of the early settler generations in Iceland . Today's knowledge about Thor is largely taken from this literature, but has not remained untouched by Christian influences and therefore written from a Christian perspective by Christian staff.
In the Scaldic poetics or in a small part of the preserved text corpus (Þórsþula), the earliest records of which are still in a pagan context, Thor has a special meaning. For no other deity were so many Kenningars composed and especially adjectival Heiti devised. They are of particular importance in the typology of Thor, as they represent a link between the predominantly pagan ideas and those of the high medieval Christian influenced poetics and prose. The frequently cited motif of Thor's fight with the Midgard snake and the giants (Geirröðr myth) in the Skaldic and Eddic poetry, whose religious and especially mythical significance is emphasized above ("Origin and Indo-European parallels"), is striking . In principle, the informative value of the myth must be viewed separately from the verifiable informative value of the religious cult, especially when it comes to the written sources.
In addition to the written sources of different types and times, the archaeological report, the evaluation or the interpretation of finds are therefore of great importance. Runic inscriptions. and iconographies on goods and objects of different types and materials can supplement the written sources from prose and mythology on Donar / Thor, but also question them or leave them unanswered. Research on place names has made important contributions across the entire Germanic-speaking area, as it - with reservations and caution - suggests former cult sites that were dedicated to Donar / Thor. Such places are found mainly in Denmark, England, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
Continental West Germanic evidence
Jan de Vries suspects that the Merovingian Franks , who were converted to Christianity relatively early, had an after-effect of old, discarded pagan traditions that are related to Donar, which are based either on actual religious cult or at least on superstitions developed from it. Chlothar I was supposed to be murdered by his brothers in 537. Since the implementation of the plan failed due to a thunderstorm, the brothers and their entourage threw themselves to the ground and asked the Christian God for forgiveness for the attempted outrage against Chlothar.
In the presumably Alemannic " rune brooch", bow brooch from Nordendorf (early 7th century ), Donar is referred to as Wigiþonar . If the overall interpretation in the relevant scientific literature is inconsistent, the form in question is mostly given as Weihe-Donar . Deviating from this is wigi also from the Germanic meaning * wīʒan for combat derived, so as combat Donar in the transferred meaning. Heinrich Beck advocates the interpretation as consecration- donar on the basis of the Nordic formulas, on the other hand Rudolf Simek advocates the form as combat- donar and rejects the consecration interpretation. Edith Marold points out that in the first member of the name wigi- instead of g an h should be given to correspond to Germanic * wihjan (h from Germanic χ). An Old High German wigan , to beat, fight better , analogous to the Old Norse Vingþorr = Kampfthor, goes with the given sound . The Viking Age testimonies (Beck) show that Thor, in addition to the consecration function, also had a warlike component, so here is a conditional Common Germanic testimony to the character of the god and his position among the (still) pagan Alemanni in the late continental period for the southern Germanic area Paganism before.
"Loga † ore W¿dan Wigi † onar awa LeubwiniÛ"
"Loga † ore, Wodan [and] Donar, [give] divine protection to Leubwinia!"
"Loga † ore W¿dan W³g (i) † onar (A) wa (L) eubwini"
"Loga † ore (= intriguesmith) - W¿dan - W³gi † onar (= Weihe-ðonar) - Awa [and] Leubwini [give]"
"Logaþore Wōdan Wigiþonar ..."
"Wodan [and] Wigiþonar (= battle Þonar) [angry] with the Logaþor (= who dares to lie: Loki)"
The name form Donar in connection with a functional consecration or the identification of the deity with this quality for the people in the Alemannic spectrum can be found in Scandinavia in the Viking Age in runic inscriptions confirming the cultures there. The old Germanists and runologists Klaus Düwel and Wolfgang Krause, on the other hand, interpreted the phrase Logatore as a schemer (e), spokesman for lies . There is a possibility that, with reference to Donar, instead of a formula of consecration, there is a Christian spell from the time of the change of religion, which proves the affiliation to the now Christian God. At the same time as Düwel, Norbert Wagner interprets the inscription in a pagan context regarding a conflict situation with the god Loki .
"[...] end ec forsacho [...] Thunaer end Uuoden end Saxnote end allum them unholdum "
"[...] and I renounce [...] [the] Donar and Woden and Saxnot and all fiends."
The Lombard scholar Paulus Diaconus mentions the gods “Waten” and “Thonar” in a poem about the Danish king. The forms of the names show Upper German forms and not Nordic ones.
In Anglo-Saxon glosses of clerical origin, Þunor is referred to as “Jovem Þuner”, “Jupiter Þuner” and “Þor” and “Þūr”. The monosyllabic Nordic form of the name comes from the Danish-Viking influence from the time of Danelaw , as it is also partly used in place names. Place and field names in England , which can be traced back to the old English form of the name Þunor and which indicate springs or damp lowlands in the ending, suggest places of worship formerly consecrated to the deity . For example, places like “Þunres lēa” (lēa, lēah in the meaning of grove) or “Þunorslēge” and “Þunrēs feld” are mentioned in manuscripts, modern equivalents can be found in “Thundersley” in Essex and “Thundersfield” in Surrey . In the Saxon and Jutian settlement areas, the place and field names are based on the Anglo-Saxon name form, while in the Anglic area, which was later under Danish influence, the Nordic form of the name of God predominates. At Burnsall in Yorkshire , a source site was dedicated to Thor as "Thor's Well". In Gilton , Kent , graves from the 6th century were found as additions to Thor's hammers, which attest to the religious worship of orsunor. In addition to the place names and archaeological sources and the cults and myths associated with them, retrospective twists and turns in Old English literature show that the common Germanic ideas of God were shared by the Anglo-Saxons. According to Ernst Alfred Philippson, a phrase from the text of the old English story "The Prose of Salomon and Saturn" refers to these common ideas:
"Se ðunor hit (ðæt deofol) ðrysceð mid þære fyrenan æcxe"
"The thunder smashes him with a fiery ax"
Continental places and place names such as the Donnersberg in Rhineland-Palatinate suggest places of worship for Donar. In the case of the Donnersberg - not all of the Donnersberg mountains, since the natural phenomenon was definitely and usually the causative factor - the Germanic tribes presumably continued the sacred use of the place by the Celtic population who had previously resided there after its displacement. Similar patterns can be found in England and also on the continent, for example on the Heiligenberg near Heidelberg in further use for the vodan cult.
Ecclesiastical prohibition writings, such as the shortened indiculia , forbid the newly converted people from the usual and traditional cult and the sacrifices to Donar contained therein. As in the Anglo-Saxon glosses, Donar is here in the Latin form "Jovem, Jovis", ie Jupiter. In the high mediaeval old Icelandic “Barlaams saga”, which also originated from educated church authorship, Donar / Thor is compared to Jupiter in analogy to continental sources, or rather this is defined as Thor.
"Anarr guð þeira he Júpiter, he Þórr kallðr"
Probably the best known sanctuary dedicated to the god of thunder was the Donareiche (in the text: "robur Iovis") near Fritzlar in northern Hesse, which Boniface had cut down in 725. Boniface complained in a letter to Pope Gregory III. that just converted and priestly people returned to the custom of Donar sacrifices.
"De sacris Mercurii vel Jovis ... De feriis quae faciunt Jovi vel Mercurio."
"About sacrifices to Mercury (Wodan) and Jupiter (Donar) ... About celebrations that they hold for Jupiter and Mercury."
The Thorsberger Moor in the Schleswig-Holstein town of Süderbrarup is considered the central tribal sanctuary of the anglers . It was presumably dedicated to the Donar, and its current name comes from the later Danish-Nordic influence of the Viking Age, as sometimes happened in England. It remains unclear whether the fishing rods only made sacrifices to Donar or to other deities. However, the artifacts allow certain conclusions to be drawn about the special occasions or circumstances caused by, for example, weapon sacrifices. The sacrificial activity ended in the 5th century with the migration of large parts of the tribe to the British Isles.
On a Saxon burial ground in Liebenau in Lower Saxony near Nienburg on the Weser, so-called “Donarskeulen” were found as additions in the body graves of women. This shows the special function of Donar as a fertility donor and that his cultic veneration among the Saxons is comparable to that of other Germanic peoples. Another function of the "Donarskeulen", namely the defense against damage, can be derived from the role model function of Roman Hercules clubs, which were imitated or borrowed by the Germanic peoples.
North Germanic certificates
Around 1075 Adam von Bremen provided a description of the attributes and characteristics of Thor in his history of the diocese of Hamburg ( Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum ) . For example, the historiographer ascribes the control of wind and rain to him. These descriptions of Thor are related to the pagan cults around the temple of Uppsala, from the point of view of the clerical scribe .
“Thor presides in aere, qui tonitrus et fulmina, ventos imbresque serena et fruges gubernat. [...] Si pestis et fames imminent Thor idolo libatur ... "
“Thor presides in the air, he directs thunder and lightning, gives wind and rain, bright weather and fertility. [...] When the plague and famine threaten, Thor is sacrificed to the idol ... "
In Norway and Iceland Thor was worshiped as the most important god, especially by the rural population, in Old Norse "mest tignaðr ... hǫfðingi allra goða". He is, as the Swedish religious historian Ake V. Ström points out, the "son of the earth - Jarðar burr" or "Jarðar sunr" ( Lokasenna 58, Þrymskviða 1 and Haustlǫng 14) and is subsequently considered by these people to be connected to the earth and with the The fertility of fields and meadows is thought and felt in a closely related way. In Scandinavia, worshiping Odin as the highest god was primarily a courtly custom of the late pagan Scaldic poetry in the 9th and 10th centuries, which can be derived from a verse in the Eddic Hárbarðslióð (The Harbard Song), from the speech of Odin St. 24 :
"Óðinn á iarla, þá er í val falla, enn Þórr á þræla kyn."
"The servants have Thor, but the kings Odin, who fall in the field."
Nevertheless, central mythical themes can be found in some Skaldic poems that are connected with Thor and show how popular these were. In late pagan times, Thor also gained a warlike aspect or a functional significance for the Vikings , i.e. the groups of northern Germans who went on prey. Presumably because Thor embodied a force that was evident to these people.
"When they (the Normans ) set out on raids and military expeditions, they used to sacrifice in the service of their god Thur ."
Temples, springs and groves were dedicated to Thor ; Place names that go back to Thor's name are still in use today. In Sweden, Norway and Iceland they outnumber all other theophoric place names. Where one can conclude that places were named after Thor because of his popularity, the second part of the name is often the personal name of a founder. Therefore, two-part place names, which are made up of the divine name and components such as Old Norse -hof and -lund (r) , -harg , -vi or other terms with a sacred meaning , stand for a temple or grove.
"En Óðin ok þá Höfðingja tólf blótuðu menn, ok kölluðu goð sín ok trúðu á lengi síðan. Eptir Óðins nafni var kallaðr Auðun, ok hétu menn svá sonu sína, en af Þórs nafni er kallaðr Þórir eða Þórarinn, eða dregit af öðrum heitum til, svá sem Steinþórr eða Hafþórenn váta ,órr eða Hafþórenn “
“The name Audun was formed after Odin , and that is how people called their sons; the names Tore or Torars were formed after Thor, and other terms were also associated with Thor in the name; and that's how names like Steintor or Havtor and many others came about . "
"Þorgrímr travels bú um vórit at Hofi… Þar stód Þórr í miðju ok önnur goð á tvær hendr;"
"He (Thorgrim) had a large temple built in his enclosed courtyard ... In the middle stood Thor and other gods on both sides."
“… Hallstein and the people of Reykjanes had erected a temple to the gate there in the west after a large tree had drifted onto its land when it had sacrificed. And that's where they paid their contribution. "
In the southern Norwegian locality "Torshov gård" near Hamar in the province of Hedmarken there was a temple sanctuary that was dedicated to Thor and was used by the local peasant population in the sense of the function assigned to him by these people. In these temples or in other sacred places Thor, according to the sources of the saga literature, carved stakes were consecrated and votive offerings were offered. Adam von Bremen reports of a Christian Anglo-Saxon missionary, Wulfrad, who stayed on a mission with the pagan Swedes and destroyed a picture of Thor (“ydolum gentis nomine Thor”) at a thing site (“in concilio paganorum”). Thereupon he was killed by the Swedes and sunk in a (victim) bog. Statements in the saga literature and in reports by clerical medieval chroniclers about possible human sacrifice are to be considered uncertain.
“They did not offer him (Thor) domestic animals, nor cattle, nor wine or crops, but they always sacrificed human blood; because they considered it the most valuable of all the victims. "
Sacrifices of animals are more appropriate , especially with regard to the mythical connection between Thor and his billy goats Tanngnjostr and Tanngrisnir . According to Rudolf Simek, the scene of the sacrifice and subsequent resuscitation of the billy goats described below could be “reminiscences of Thor victims, which seem more archaic than the statements made by Christian authors and their fantastic accounts of human sacrifices” (“Lexikon der Germanischen Mythologie”, page 420, Stuttgart 2006). From this point of view, the report from the Landnámabók chap. 73 about a Thor victim in Iceland near the place Þórsnes , where the delinquent's spine was probably broken according to a dómr , a legal verdict, on a “Thorsteiin”. Human sacrifices were rare among the Germanic peoples over the entire spatial and temporal framework of the pagan epoch, and such sacrifices to Thor were not verifiable.
Further evidence of Thor are picture stones , rune stones and a few bracteate finds or amulets in the Scandinavian region, the latter mainly recognizable by the naming of the gods in runic inscriptions. Six stones from Denmark and Sweden bear the image of the Thor's hammer. Four Viking Age rune stones from both countries testify to the veneration of Thor with the transliterated appellative consecration formulation “Þur uiki - Thor consecrate!”. Ake V. Ström sees in these consecration formulas and similar literary motifs a clear indication of the special fertility and protective function of Thor. Edith Marold sees in the inscriptions of the 9th and 10th centuries with the reference to consecration a late new formation of Pagan religiosity under Christian influence.
"Þur uiki þisi kuml"
"Thor, consecrate this burial mound."
Picture stones are then safely related to Thor if a combination of several existing features enables identification. The mythical scene described below is depicted on the rune stone of Altuna from the Swedish region of Uppland , the Gosforth cross in northern England and on the Jutland stone block in the church of Hørdum in Thy and on the Gotland stone "Ardre VIII", the mythical scene described below, in which Thor wields a hammer the Midgard Serpent is fighting. Other picture stones take up the Hrungnir myth thematically by showing the three-pronged, angled Hrungnir heart in scenic motifs and thus indirectly clarify the mental presence of Thor among people. The runestone of Karlevi on the Swedish island of Öland could represent another interesting form of indirect reference, in which the linguistic organic entanglement and internalized deep meaning is expressed through the aspect of a mythical figure closely associated with Thor. The inscription is the praise of a deceased Danish Viking leader. In stabender Skaldic poetry, the transliterated phrase is used in the stanza: " d áðir d olga Þrúðar". Þrúðr is the daughter of Thor's Thrud , and in this textual context the phrase represents a kenning (poetic paraphrase). “Dáðir dolga Þrúdar” is translated by Klaus Düwel as: “The tree of the Thrud of struggles” or “Goddess of struggles” and means the "battle tree", a paraphrase for the warrior. An amulet from Sigtuna also relates to the battle of Thor with the giants. The inscription reads: "Þur sarriþu þursa trutin - Thor wound you, Lord of the Giants".
"Þur uigi þik þursa trutin"
"Thor consecrate (or curse) you, the Lord of the Giants."
The colonization of Iceland fell in the end of the pagan period . The later saga literature often takes up this event from the medieval-Christian perspective. In the Landnámabók (Chapter 73) it is reported how the first settler threw a wooden high seat column "öndvegissúlur" with a carved Thor's image ("þar var skroinn á Þórr") into the coastal waters to determine the ideal settlement site and had it investigated where this column landed . There the new farms were built and a new temple was built for Thor ("gerði þar hof mikil ok helgaði Þórr"). Because of the function and importance that Thor had for these people, and because of a natural feeling and awareness of religious ties, these agrarian communities placed themselves under his protection through the cultic act. One of these first settlers, Thorolf Mostrarskegg , who was a great sacrifice ("blótmaðr mikill") and admirer of Thor ("trúði á Þórr"), is reported in the saga after he has consulted an oracle:
“Many of his friends decided to go with him. He demolished the temple, taking with him most of the wood from which it was built, and also the earth under the altar on which Thor (as an idol) had sat. Then Thorolf set sail ... Then Thorolf threw overboard the pillars of the high seat that had stood in the temple; a picture of Thor was carved in one of them. He decided that he wanted to settle there in Iceland, where Thor would let them come ashore ... He took land in the south of the fjord ... Then they searched the land and found that Thor on a promontory further to the sea ... with the other pillars had come ashore. Since then it has been called "Thorness". "
About a quarter of the personal names listed in the settlers' Landnámabók are based on Thor. According to Rudolf Simek, in addition to the strong family traditions, this particularly points to the massive veneration of Thor in the country of origin, Norway. Jan de Vries explains that of the 4000 personal names that can be taken from the Landnámabók, 984 are composed with Thor, and that the meaning is particularly clear from the fact that, in contrast, only four names are based on Freyr - and not a single name on Odin is due.
"Thor is a God in whom the pagan Teuton has confidence in all his actions, whose help he is always certain, the loyal friend who accompanies him through his whole life and under whose hammer he finds the last rest."
From the time of the Christianization of the north-western regions of Scandinavia, clear forms of syncretism emerged , in which the traditional attachment to Thor, especially in emergency and dangerous situations, comes to the fore compared to the formally known Christian faith. In the late phase or in the transition period to the adoption of the Christian religion, the emerging custom of wearing the Thor's hammer belongs as a conscious act analogous to wearing the crucifix . In this comparison of Thor and Christ, Edith Marold sees Thor's consecration function as explained above. One of the settlers from the Eyrbyggja saga with the name Helgi was a Christian, but he deliberately relied on Thor for sea voyages. An excerpt from the Oláfs saga Tryggvasonar can be seen as an echo of the old pagan religion through the encounter of King Olaf Tryggvason with Thor and through the utterances of God and at the same time shows how it was put down - personified by Thor. During a sailing trip on the coast, Olaf Tryggvason meets a red-bearded handsome man (Thor) who is standing on a rock and asks him on board the ship to be told his old stories:
"Hann svarar:" Þar tek ek þá til, herra! at land þetta, er vér siglum nú fur, var byggt forðum daga af risum nǫkrachtum, en risar þeir fengu með atburð brádðan bana, svá at þeir dó náliga allir senn, svá at eigi varð meirr eptir en konur tvær; síðan tóku menn af austrlǫndum at byggja land þetta, en þær enar miklu konur veittu því fólki mikinn yfirgang ok úmaka, ok þrǫngðu þeira manna ráðí, er landit byggja land etta, en ær enar etta til er landspará hita ða ar tau hital ða ar til er lands sér, en ek greip þegar hamar minn, ok sló ek þær báðar til bana, ok hefir þetta landsfólk haldit því at kalla á mik til flutings, ef þeir hafa nǫkkurs viðþurft, alt hertil he þú hefir! mjǫk svá eytt ǫllum mínum vinum, sem hefnda væri fyrir vert! ”- Ok í þessu leit hann aptr ímóti konungi, ok glotti við, í því er hann bikti sér út af borðinu, svá skannótt sem kólfi inn aldri síðan. "
“He replied,“ I begin with that, Lord, that this land we are now sailing along was inhabited by giants in ancient times. But once the giants perished quickly, so that they almost all died at the same time and no one was left but two women. After that people from eastern countries settled here, but the big women caused them great annoyance and some violence and harassed the people who had colonized the country until they finally decided to use that red beard for help to call. Immediately I grabbed my hammer and killed them both, and the people of this country continued to call on me for assistance if necessary, until you, King, destroyed all my friends, which would be worth vengeance! " he looked back at the king and smiled bitterly, throwing himself overboard as quickly as if an arrow were shooting into the sea, and they never saw him again. "
Thor in Norse mythology
The Norse literature paints a clear picture of Thor in the so-called "Thorsmythen". The individual motifs were partially reshaped in literary terms and consequently show Thor as a joke figure in the sometimes vacillating poems of the Lieder Edda . In the summary, Thor is portrayed and described as follows:
After Odin, Thor is the highest and most feared of the gods. He is the son of Odin and Jörd (earth), his wife is the beautiful golden-haired Sif , with whom he has a daughter, Thrud (strength) . He has two sons, Magni and Modi , with the Joten maiden, Jarnsaxa , a giantess so beautiful that Thor, though a sworn enemy of the Joten (giants), sleeps with her . His favorite son is Magni, who is most like him of all in courage and strength. Thor's realm is called Thrudvangr , and the palace in it, Bilskirnir , is the largest ever built in Asgard , with 540 halls .
"Segia mun ec til nafns míns, þótt ec secr siác, oc til allz øðlis: ec em Óðins sonr, Meila bróðir, enn Magna faðir, þrúðvaldr goða; við Þór knáttu hér doma. Hins vil ec nú spyria, hvat þú heitir. "
"You shall find out my name, even if I am peaceless, and my descent too: I am Odin's son, Meili's brother and Magnis father, the Rater ruler of power ..."
"Vingþórr ec heiti - ec hefi víða ratað - sonr em ec Síðgrana .."
"My name is Wingthor - I have moved far - and I am Sidgrani's son."
Thor drives terribly in his chariot, rolling, thundering, above the clouds, pulled by the billy goats; but it is even more terrible when he buckles on his Megingjarder power belt , which gives him double strength, and when he grabs the hammer Mjolnir with his iron gloves and crushes him and steps under his enemies and those of the gods. What stands out here is his feud with the giants.
Thrym Thor once stole his hammer while it was sleeping. When Thor wakes up, he falls into a helpless rage because he feels robbed of his most important weapon. Loki flies around in Freya's plumage , spots Thor's hammer in Riesenheim and confronts Thrym. Thrym only wants to return the hammer on the condition that it is married to the goddess Freya. However, Freya gets very angry when Loki tells her this. Heimdall then suggests dressing up Thor, decorating him as a bride and presenting him to Thrym as Freya. Though Thor is concerned about being laughed at, Loki says that the Thursen will soon rule in Asgard if he doesn't get his hammer back. Both travel to Thrym disguised as bride and maid. Thor is noticed by the thunder that accompanies his journey, his piercing gaze when Thrym wants to kiss him and his unbelievable voracity at the wedding party, but Loki always knows how to calm Thrym down. To complete the festivities, the giant prince lets his bride's hammer Mjölnir lie in his lap, whereupon the god of thunder grabs his hammer and kills all the giants present, including Thrym.
"Þá qvað þat Þrymr, þursa dróttinn:" Berið inn hamar, brúði at vígia, leggit Miollni í meyiar kné, vígit ocr saman Várar hendi! " Hló Hlórriða hugr í briósti, he harðhugaðr hamar um þecþi; Þrym drap hann fyrstan, þursa dróttin, oc ætt iotuns alla lamði. "
An often quoted and commented passage describes the feeding of the billy goats pulling Thor's wagon as a team and their resuscitation (see Thor's goats ) .
Then Thor arrives, now with the accompanying group, to the castle of King Utgartloki (outside world-Loki lord of demons), who challenges him through targeted humiliation or by questioning his divine power and powers. Thor receives three tasks from the king. First the king asks Thor what he can do, to which Thor replies that he knows how to empty the drinking horn better than anyone else. But Thor fails. Even if you start it three times, it does not succeed in emptying the horn. But it gets worse. Utgartloki calls on Thor to prove his godly power by openly doubting this power. The opponent is an opponent. The old woman Elli takes on a wrestling match, and the god tries with all his might to shake her, but is unable to. Now his opponent tries her strength, and soon Thor has to go to his knees defeated. The third task is to lift a cat; God also fails in this.
Ashamed and humiliated, they move on; As soon as they have left the castle, the king explains to them that everything happened as a result of magic. Utgardloki explains that the drinking horn Thor drank from had a connection to the sea, and that the old woman was the age itself, which no one could defeat. The cat, in turn, was the enchanted Midgard serpent. He achieved something supernatural in each situation. Thor, furious at knowing he was so mistaken, reaches for his hammer, and at that moment they are all on a wide plain.
In order to wipe out this gap, Thor, accompanied by the giant Hymir , sets out to the Midgard Serpent in the sea. They drive so far out that the giant is afraid. Thor equips the hook of a fishing line with an ox head as bait. The snake bites, feels its injury and hits so hard that Thor, holding the cord in his hands, hits the railing of the boat and his godly power is so intensified that his legs pierce the hull and he stands on the seabed. where he continues to resist the train of the snake. Thor pulls the snake up and looks at it with glowing eyes. She tries to spray him with her poison. Thor grabs his hammer to slay the snake, but Hymir, shaken with fear, cuts the cord. In anger, the god throws the giant head first into the sea, so that his legs stretch upwards. Then Thor wades back to dry land. In a different version, both come ashore after Thor slapped Hymir in the face.
„Egndi á ǫngul, sá er ǫldom bergr, orms einbani, uxa hǫfði; gein við ǫngli, sú er goð fiá, umgiorð neðan allra land. Dró diarfliga dáðraccr Þórr orm eitrfán upp at borði; hamri kníði háfiall scarar, ofliótt, ofan úlfs hnitbróður "
“The head of an ox that shields people, the serpent's enemy, is speared on the hook; from the bottom greedily seized the bait that the sir hate, the earth belt. The worm, the shiny poisonous one, Sif's husband, tore vigorously to the railing; with the hammer struck the hair of the mountain whale father's son the wolf brother. "
In Ragnarok Thor is like most other Asen its end, significantly, by the Midgard Serpent. The snake attacks Thor and pollutes the sea and the air with its vapors. Thor kills her with his hammer, but stumbles back nine paces and then drowns in the streams of poison that the beast spits out.
- Anglo-Saxon religion
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- Rudolf Simek: Lexicon of Germanic Mythology. P. 420 with reference to Edith Marold
- Vladimir Orel: A Handbook of Germanic Etymology, Brill, Leiden - Boston 2003, p. 465 Germanisch * wīχjanan
- Edith Marold: Thor consecrate these runes. Pp. 203f., 221f.
- In view of the disparate and problematic source situation and the technical evaluation (Simek, Preface Lexikon der Germanischen Mythologie , 2006 VIII – X)
- Klaus Düwel: Runic inscriptions as sources of the Germanic religious history. P. 356f.
- Jan de Vries: Old Germanic history of religion. Vol. 2, p. 113.
- Ernst Alfred Philippson: Germanic paganism among the Anglo-Saxons. Pp. 139-141.
- Torsten Capelle: Archeology of the Anglo-Saxons . WBG, Darmstadt 1990, p. 81.
- Jan de Vries: Old Germanic history of religion. Vol. 1, pp. 47-49, p. 345.
- Thorsten Andersson: Place names and personal names as a source of information for the old Germanic religion. P. 510f.
- Wilhelm Boudriot called: Old Germanic religion in the church records. P. 57f.
- Karl Helm: Old Germanic history of religion. Vol. 2, part 2, p. 255.
- Walter Baetke: The religion of the Teutons in source certificates. P. 6.
- Herbert Jankuhn: Thorsberg and Nydam. Pp. 6, 23, 24.
- Torsten Capelle: Archeology of the Anglo-Saxons. P. 6.
- Hans Jürgen Häßler: A burial ground tells history ... p. 112f.
- Joachim Werner: Hercules Club and Donar Amulet . In: Yearbook of the Roman-Germanic Central Museum Mainz , vol. 11. Mainz, 1964, p. 176ff.
- Franz Rolf Schröder: The Germanic peoples. Pp. 61, 62.
- Ake V. Ström, Haralds Biezais: Germanic and Baltic religion. P. 140.
- Edith Marold: The Skaldendichtung as a source of the history of religion. Pp. 692-694.
- Walter Baetke: The religion of the Teutons in source certificates. P. 26.
- Jan de Vries: Old Germanic history of religion. Vol. 2, pp. 343-346.
- Walter Baetke: Dictionary of Norse prose literature. Pp. 266, 393.
- Jan de Vries: Old Germanic history of religion. Vol. 1, pp. 374ff., Vol. 2, pp. 118–119 (Maps of place names distribution pp. 116, 117)
- Rudolf Simek: Lexicon of Germanic Mythology. P. 421, col. 2.
- Thorsten Andersson: Place names and personal names as a source of information for the old Germanic religion. P. 528f.
- Franz Rolf Schröder: Source book for the Germanic history of religion. S. 110. Translation: Walter Baetke: The religion of the Teutons in source documents. P. 16.
- Walter Baetke: The religion of the Teutons in source certificates. P. 14.
- Jan de Vries: Old Germanic history of religion. Vol. 2, p. 119, counts 10 records for Torshov in the Oslofjord region.
- Heinrich Beck: Donar - Þorr. P. 2.
- Walter Baetke: The religion of the Teutons in source certificates. P. 26.
- Günter Behm-Blancke: Cult and Ideology. P. 363ff.
- Rudolf Simek: Religion and Mythology of the Teutons. P. 42ff.
- Entry of the Velandastein in the online register of the Swedish Riksantikvarieämbetet
- Ake V. Ström, Haralds Biezais: Germanic and Baltic religion. P. 140.
- Rudolf Simek: Lexicon of the Germanic Religion. Pp. 420-422.
- Edith Marold: Thor consecrate these runes. P. 222.
- Walter Baetke: The religion of the Teutons in source certificates. P. 59.
- Heinrich Beck: Donar - Þorr. P. 5, col. 1.
- Klaus Düwel: Runenkunde. Pp. 134-135.
- Rudolf Simek: Religion and Mythology of the Teutons. P. 135.
- Jan de Vries: Old Germanic history of religion. Vol. 2, p. 121.
- Franz Rolf Schröder: The Germanic peoples. P. 59.
- Rudolf Simek: Lexicon of Germanic Mythology. P. 419, col. 2.
- Jan de Vries: Old Germanic history of religion. Vol. 2, pp. 120, 147f.
- Edith Marold: Thor consecrate these runes. P. 221.
- Franz Rolf Schröder: Source book for the Germanic history of religion. S. 181, 182. Translation of the. Die Teutons. Pp. 73, 74.
- Rudolf Simek: Lexicon of Germanic Mythology. P. 370. "the one with a long mustache", an epithet of Odin .
- Felix Genzmer: Edda - gods and heroic songs. 1981 (Ed. Kurt Schier) former Thule Collection Volume 1, 2
- Gustav Neckel, Felix Niedner: Snorra-Edda. Thule Collection, Volume 20, reprint 1966.