Grimm Centenary: Sigfred-Arminivs and Other Papers
The history of this one word 'aiþei' is a caution to the etymologist; for it alone is sufficient to prove the absolute necessity of the historic method being used along with the analytic method; if it is neglected the pure analysts are apt to fall into error, and follow false lights.
Of the Gothic poetry that Ermanaric's exploits inspired, a torso (4) has reached us in the Hamtheow Lay, but it is enough to show that the divine poet was not absent from Danpar-stead or the halls of the Goths. And just as through the paraphrases of Paul the deacon one can feel something of the fierce cruelty and generous chivalry of the Lombard dukes and kings, so in this most antique poem one can dimly see something of the magnificence and pride of life and masterful strength of this Gothic basileuj. After hearing this lay one can get near enough to the man to sympathise with the grief which, like his noble successor Charles the Great, he felt ere he died, in dreading that much of his work would be undone, and in knowing that the very kingdom, for which he had toiled and fought so many years, was in utmost imminence of peril.
The following table will
give a skeleton, as it were, of the earlier Teutonic History as far as
we can make it out with safety. The names in Italics are those which have
not come down to us in the traditional vehicle of poetry or folk-tale.
WEST CENTRAL EAST
Ariouistus .. fl. B. C. 60
Sigfred .......... d. 21
Giferic ......fl. 300
Ermanaric ..... fl. 350
Alaric ........ d. 410
Hengest ...... fl. 430
Beowulf ...... fl. 450 Attila ............ fl. 450
Theodric ...... d. 526
Ælfwine (Alboin) d. 572
Anlaf Tretelgia fl. 675
Godfred ......... fl. 800
Charles the Great d. 814
William of Orange fl. 830
Ruric ............. fl. 860
Lodbrok's sons fl. 870
Ælfed ............. d. 901
Rollo & Harold fairhair fl. 925
Tryggwason ....... d. 1001
S. Olaf ............... d. 1030
Gretti ................ d. 1031
Cnut ................. d. 1035
July 30, 1885
þá Iormunrekr, hendi drap á kampa
breidde skegg à bringu, b......... at víni,
hann skör iarpa, hiassa skiall-hvítan,
hann ser or hendi hvarfa ker gollit.
What b-word can be concealed underneath the impossible 'bavðvaðiz' (brúnvolvi
rolling one's brows, frowning, --- þá mælti konungr, ok var nokkat svá brunvolui,
brun-ôlfi Cod. Holm. 1. c. Flat. i. 182, cp. iii. 357)? 'iarpa,' of the
old king's hair --- how can that be right?
The Lays of Attila and Hamtheow have been mixed up in the oral tradition; both are written together (seperated only by the Greenland Lay); in cod. R. all three were most probably taken down from the same person's mouth; the lines on the Rosmons (Atlakv. 70) can only belong to the Hamtheow Lay. Atlakv. ll. 50-523, one wold also suspect to refer to the brothers Hamtheow and Sarila on their way to Ermanaric's hall. There is a great gap in that lay, just after the brothers' parting from their mother. [Back]