History of Medieval and of Modern Civilization to the End of the Seventeenth Century

By Charles Seignobos; James Alton James | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE GERMANS AND CHRISTIANITY

THE RELIGION OF THE GERMANS

The Gods of the Germans. --Like the Greeks and Romans, the Germans worshipped many deities and represented them under human form. The Germanic pantheon constituted a family.

Woden, "the father of the gods and the lord of battles," is a one-eyed warrior, armed with a lance that cuts the air, riding unseen on a white horse. Thor, one of his sons, with red beard, god of the thunder and the storm, rolls along in his chariot and hurls the destroying hammer that returns to his hand. Another, Tyr, or Sax-not, is the god of the sword and of combat. Freyr, on the contrary, is the good god, peaceful, gracious, who ripens the crops and heals the sick. Balder is the wise god, just and mild, who directs the counsels of the other gods. Feminine counterparts of these are the goddesses: Friga, wife of Woden, stern and venerable, who presides over marriage; Freya, young, beautiful, and gracious, the sight of whom rejoices the gods.

Walhalla. --This divine family inhabits a lofty hall with walls of gold and roof of silver--Walhalla. A bridge unites it with the land of men--the rainbow, on which the gods pass to and fro. In this hall sits

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