Culture and Literature of the Germanic Tribes
Much of our knowledge of the early Germanic tribes comes from Roman historians. The reason why other sources are limited is because the tribes didn’t have a written alphabet. Due to the fact that their legends were spread mostly by word of mouth, most knowledge about their culture has been lost. Fortunately, enough has been preserved that we still know the basic functions of their societies. We know about their religion, the basic way their culture functioned, and some of their stories because they were preserved for us.
One of the primary details that separated the German religion from many other religions was their belief in a matriarchy, meaning that females were central. This was much different than say the Romans, who believed that men were dominant. This view makes sense because they were more in tune with nature. They saw nature as fertility, which is also something that women also possess.
Many of their views came from their religious beliefs. Their religion was similar to every other religion in the sense that they created it to answer other phenomena, such as where the Earth came from, why there are waves, why the sun and the moon go through rotational cycles, and so forth. Their belief was that in the beginning, there was Ginnungagap, the great nothingness, where nothing seemed to exist in any direction. Eventually to great opposites collided in this nothingness; the land of ice, Niflheim, and Muspellheim, the land of fire. From this, the giant, Ymir, was formed by the mixing of both pure and impure elements.
Another being also eventually came into existence, Audhumbla. Audhumbla was different though because her formation did not come from pollution. She lived by lic...
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... Another interesting piece of literature was the Heiland. This was a compilation of the gospels found in the New Testament. However, the message was tweaked to fit into the culture. For example, Jesus and the apostles had a focus on virtue and loyalty. This was shown by Peter when he cut off the Roman soldier’s ear. This is a very different interpretation than we are familiar with.
It would be unfair to focus only on written literature. Their legends were spread by traveling bards. These legends of course would change with time because they were spread only by word of mouth. Many of these legends have logically been lost with time. However, a great tale has survived the test of time. This legend is known as the Nibelungenlied. This is a fascinating legend that is a combination between Christianity and the old religion. Aspects of both are clearly found in this work.
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