was under the couch. And she is saying that she did not

time:2023-12-02 23:13:26 source:Thick-looking and affectionate network author:thanks

Nay Grimm, the German Antiquary, goes so far as to deny that any man Odin ever existed. He proves it by etymology. The word _Wuotan_, which is the original form of _Odin_, a word spread, as name of their chief Divinity, over all the Teutonic Nations everywhere; this word, which connects itself, according to Grimm, with the Latin _vadere_, with the English _wade_ and such like,--means primarily Movement, Source of Movement, Power; and is the fit name of the highest god, not of any man. The word signifies Divinity, he says, among the old Saxon, German and all Teutonic Nations; the adjectives formed from it all signify divine, supreme, or something pertaining to the chief god. Like enough! We must bow to Grimm in matters etymological. Let us consider it fixed that _Wuotan_ means _Wading_, force of _Movement_. And now still, what hinders it from being the name of a Heroic Man and _Mover_, as well as of a god? As for the adjectives, and words formed from it,--did not the Spaniards in their universal admiration for Lope, get into the habit of saying "a Lope flower," "a Lope _dama_," if the flower or woman were of surpassing beauty? Had this lasted, _Lope_ would have grown, in Spain, to be an adjective signifying _godlike_ also. Indeed, Adam Smith, in his Essay on Language, surmises that all adjectives whatsoever were formed precisely in that way: some very green thing, chiefly notable for its greenness, got the appellative name _Green_, and then the next thing remarkable for that quality, a tree for instance, was named the _green_ tree,--as we still say "the _steam_ coach," "four-horse coach," or the like. All primary adjectives, according to Smith, were formed in this way; were at first substantives and things. We cannot annihilate a man for etymologies like that! Surely there was a First Teacher and Captain; surely there must have been an Odin, palpable to the sense at one time; no adjective, but a real Hero of flesh and blood! The voice of all tradition, history or echo of history, agrees with all that thought will teach one about it, to assure us of this.

was under the couch. And she is saying that she did not

How the man Odin came to be considered a _god_, the chief god?--that surely is a question which nobody would wish to dogmatize upon. I have said, his people knew no _limits_ to their admiration of him; they had as yet no scale to measure admiration by. Fancy your own generous heart's-love of some greatest man expanding till it _transcended_ all bounds, till it filled and overflowed the whole field of your thought! Or what if this man Odin,--since a great deep soul, with the afflatus and mysterious tide of vision and impulse rushing on him he knows not whence, is ever an enigma, a kind of terror and wonder to himself,--should have felt that perhaps _he_ was divine; that _he_ was some effluence of the "Wuotan," "_Movement_", Supreme Power and Divinity, of whom to his rapt vision all Nature was the awful Flame-image; that some effluence of Wuotan dwelt here in him! He was not necessarily false; he was but mistaken, speaking the truest he knew. A great soul, any sincere soul, knows not what he is,--alternates between the highest height and the lowest depth; can, of all things, the least measure--Himself! What others take him for, and what he guesses that he may be; these two items strangely act on one another, help to determine one another. With all men reverently admiring him; with his own wild soul full of noble ardors and affections, of whirlwind chaotic darkness and glorious new light; a divine Universe bursting all into godlike beauty round him, and no man to whom the like ever had befallen, what could he think himself to be? "Wuotan?" All men answered, "Wuotan!"--

was under the couch. And she is saying that she did not

And then consider what mere Time will do in such cases; how if a man was great while living, he becomes tenfold greater when dead. What an enormous _camera-obscura_ magnifier is Tradition! How a thing grows in the human Memory, in the human Imagination, when love, worship and all that lies in the human Heart, is there to encourage it. And in the darkness, in the entire ignorance; without date or document, no book, no Arundel-marble; only here and there some dumb monumental cairn. Why, in thirty or forty years, were there no books, any great man would grow _mythic_, the contemporaries who had seen him, being once all dead. And in three hundred years, and in three thousand years--! To attempt _theorizing_ on such matters would profit little: they are matters which refuse to be _theoremed_ and diagramed; which Logic ought to know that she _cannot_ speak of. Enough for us to discern, far in the uttermost distance, some gleam as of a small real light shining in the centre of that enormous camera-obscure image; to discern that the centre of it all was not a madness and nothing, but a sanity and something.

was under the couch. And she is saying that she did not

This light, kindled in the great dark vortex of the Norse Mind, dark but living, waiting only for light; this is to me the centre of the whole. How such light will then shine out, and with wondrous thousand-fold expansion spread itself, in forms and colors, depends not on _it_, so much as on the National Mind recipient of it. The colors and forms of your light will be those of the _cut-glass_ it has to shine through.--Curious to think how, for every man, any the truest fact is modelled by the nature of the man! I said, The earnest man, speaking to his brother men, must always have stated what seemed to him a _fact_, a real Appearance of Nature. But the way in which such Appearance or fact shaped itself,--what sort of _fact_ it became for him,--was and is modified by his own laws of thinking; deep, subtle, but universal, ever-operating laws. The world of Nature, for every man, is the Fantasy of Himself. this world is the multiplex "Image of his own Dream." Who knows to what unnamable subtleties of spiritual law all these Pagan Fables owe their shape! The number Twelve, divisiblest of all, which could be halved, quartered, parted into three, into six, the most remarkable number,--this was enough to determine the _Signs of the Zodiac_, the number of Odin's _Sons_, and innumerable other Twelves. Any vague rumor of number had a tendency to settle itself into Twelve. So with regard to every other matter. And quite unconsciously too,--with no notion of building up " Allegories "! But the fresh clear glance of those First Ages would be prompt in discerning the secret relations of things, and wholly open to obey these. Schiller finds in the _Cestus of Venus_ an everlasting aesthetic truth as to the nature of all Beauty; curious:--but he is careful not to insinuate that the old Greek Mythists had any notion of lecturing about the "Philosophy of Criticism"!--On the whole, we must leave those boundless regions. Cannot we conceive that Odin was a reality? Error indeed, error enough: but sheer falsehood, idle fables, allegory aforethought,--we will not believe that our Fathers believed in these.

Odin's _Runes_ are a significant feature of him. Runes, and the miracles of "magic" he worked by them, make a great feature in tradition. Runes are the Scandinavian Alphabet; suppose Odin to have been the inventor of Letters, as well as "magic," among that people! It is the greatest invention man has ever made! this of marking down the unseen thought that is in him by written characters. It is a kind of second speech, almost as miraculous as the first. You remember the astonishment and incredulity of Atahualpa the Peruvian King; how he made the Spanish Soldier who was guarding him scratch _Dios_ on his thumb-nail, that he might try the next soldier with it, to ascertain whether such a miracle was possible. If Odin brought Letters among his people, he might work magic enough!

Writing by Runes has some air of being original among the Norsemen: not a Phoenician Alphabet, but a native Scandinavian one. Snorro tells us farther that Odin invented Poetry; the music of human speech, as well as that miraculous runic marking of it. Transport yourselves into the early childhood of nations; the first beautiful morning-light of our Europe, when all yet lay in fresh young radiance as of a great sunrise, and our Europe was first beginning to think, to be! Wonder, hope; infinite radiance of hope and wonder, as of a young child's thoughts, in the hearts of these strong men! Strong sons of Nature; and here was not only a wild Captain and Fighter; discerning with his wild flashing eyes what to do, with his wild lion-heart daring and doing it; but a Poet too, all that we mean by a Poet, Prophet, great devout Thinker and Inventor,--as the truly Great Man ever is. A Hero is a Hero at all points; in the soul and thought of him first of all. This Odin, in his rude semi-articulate way, had a word to speak. A great heart laid open to take in this great Universe, and man's Life here, and utter a great word about it. A Hero, as I say, in his own rude manner; a wise, gifted, noble-hearted man. And now, if we still admire such a man beyond all others, what must these wild Norse souls, first awakened into thinking, have made of him! To them, as yet without names for it, he was noble and noblest; Hero, Prophet, God; _Wuotan_, the greatest of all. Thought is Thought, however it speak or spell itself. Intrinsically, I conjecture, this Odin must have been of the same sort of stuff as the greatest kind of men. A great thought in the wild deep heart of him! The rough words he articulated, are they not the rudimental roots of those English words we still use? He worked so, in that obscure element. But he was as a _light_ kindled in it; a light of Intellect, rude Nobleness of heart, the only kind of lights we have yet; a Hero, as I say: and he had to shine there, and make his obscure element a little lighter,--as is still the task of us all.

We will fancy him to be the Type Norseman; the finest Teuton whom that race had yet produced. The rude Norse heart burst up into _boundless_ admiration round him; into adoration. He is as a root of so many great things; the fruit of him is found growing from deep thousands of years, over the whole field of Teutonic Life. Our own Wednesday, as I said, is it not still Odin's Day? Wednesbury, Wansborough, Wanstead, Wandsworth: Odin grew into England too, these are still leaves from that root! He was the Chief God to all the Teutonic Peoples; their Pattern Norseman;--in such way did _they_ admire their Pattern Norseman; that was the fortune he had in the world.

Thus if the man Odin himself have vanished utterly, there is this huge Shadow of him which still projects itself over the whole History of his People. For this Odin once admitted to be God, we can understand well that the whole Scandinavian Scheme of Nature, or dim No-scheme, whatever it might before have been, would now begin to develop itself altogether differently, and grow thenceforth in a new manner. What this Odin saw into, and taught with his runes and his rhymes, the whole Teutonic People laid to heart and carried forward. His way of thought became their way of thought:--such, under new conditions, is the history of every great thinker still. In gigantic confused lineaments, like some enormous camera-obscure shadow thrown upwards from the dead deeps of the Past, and covering the whole Northern Heaven, is not that Scandinavian Mythology in some sort the Portraiture of this man Odin? The gigantic image of _his_ natural face, legible or not legible there, expanded and confused in that manner! Ah, Thought, I say, is always Thought. No great man lives in vain. The History of the world is but the Biography of great men.


recommended content