Re: [gothic-l] Re:The Giant joke and languages
- Dear Ingemar,
I thank you for your letter. I am sorry that I haven't had
time to read your book. I am still busy studying Else Kielland's
book about viking ships and geometry that Einar recommended to me,
and that is going to keep me busy for a while. I also have not read
Wolfram's book on the Goths, which I consider - by spread of word -
to be the most authoritative at the present time. (I have however read
some other works about the Goths, but perhaps it is best to return
to that in another letter)
My referral to Thomas Hobbes was perhaps conceived of as rude
Well, since Bertil introduced the imagery of a series
of Scandinavia-originated kingdoms on whose shoulders
Europe stands, it was only a "stenkast"(Steinwurf) removed
to actually visualize this as a Giant Being, not unlike
what you see on some covers of Thomas Hobbes' book:
The image of human society as a Giant Being whose
arms and shoulders are built of myriads of tiny human
And since this list happens to be moving in the Scandinavian/
Germanic lane, so to speak, where there are plenty of examples
of such gigantic beings, it wasn't really such a far-fetched
image - I don't think. (Or allegory, if you like)
Take for example the Gundestrup Vessel, where a whole
line of warriors emerges from a sort of vessel, the
whole operation being overseen by a series of gigantic
It is even somewhat doubtful whether Bertil was the one to
invent such an image, since what he writes seems to indicate
that this is what was said in the ZDF TV series - to which he
I do not believe I spoke against a possible Scandinavian
origin of the Goths. I have never really opposed this possibility.
But since several generations of scholars and other specialists
have worked on this and related questions during perhaps a whole
century or more, I do not see how it at present can be regarded
as more than a possibility.
If any answewrs were to surface now, it would seem that they
would of necessity have to come from the area of archaeology,
since the other methods aren't really new. (Well, maybe
one should include modern physical/optical/digital methods
in the area of paleographoscopy?)
The facts do however seem to point toward more nomadic
forms of existence among the peoples outside the periphery
of the then known world. Even if they had agriculture,
perhaps the tendency was to a greater extent to move from region
to region, since cattle was moveable, and land for agriculture
was more a question of being able to live in peace than anything
Therefore, it seems as if ideas about an "urheimat" will
have to be abandoned. At least until further certainties are
reached. For example, if the European population during
the Ice Age was the same one as after the Ice Age.
Or whether the great climatic changes that then took place
also were accompanied by people moving great distances
to find suitable land to meet their needs of food and safety.
I am also a bit worried about a tendency I see towards
I kind of "opinionology", where various opinions are
laid out as if they were a deck of cards - and then one
tries to determine truth by a kind of divination.
Another idea that seems to be floating around is that
the Goths were a kind of "saviours" of European or
Roman civilisation. However, even here many will have
ambiguous feelings, about whether Roman civilisation
was actually worth saving. Of course, the Augustean idea
of a universal peace, is an important one. But when you
look at history, it seems as the Romans caused more
conflict than they actually solved. Is the world thinkable
without the Romans ? Or without the Goths, for that sake.
In all fairness, I think the greatest Giant is Rome itself.
On its shoulders then come the Franks who were the only
continental Germanic people who managed to create a society
that was stable and continued until today. Constantinople was
almost stable. Of course the Anglo Saxons aren't unimportant
The error they have made in Norwegian education is to
think it best if every one have an education as much as possible
like that of the others. That idea is probably a very
good one until a certain age, since it creates a very
egalitarian society. But they do not sufficiently take the
different learning capabilities of people into account.
Thus, for some two foreign languages is more than enough.
Others might have been able to learn four or five with the
same amount of effort. But the egalitarian principle here
says that it is the greatest common divisor that counts.
And thus every one learns only two foreign languages.
(English + another elective language)
Well, I suppose people nowadays just as often travel
half the globe, as visiting France - for example.
But from a cultural perspective French is of course
more important than, say, Chinese, because our own culture
is much more closely linked to France than to China.
And besides, it probably takes a lot less effort to
learn French than Chinese. Anyway, I do take my hat
off for those who manage to learn Chinese. There are
very few I'd say.
>you answered Bertils citation below :
>>>>>According to the editors Europe stands on the shoulders of:
>>>>>The Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy (Gothic migration from Scandinavia)
>>>>>The Visigothic kingdom of Spain (Gothic migration from Scandinavia)
>>>>>The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England (migration from Denmark or
>>>>>south of Denmark?)
>>>>>The Frankish kingdom of France
>> You say that both Italy and Spain, as well as France and England
>> stand "on the shoulders of Scandinavians". That would of necessity
>> make Scandinavia into a Giant, wouldn't it?
>> Well, I just thought it a bit comical, as if referring to
>> a cover for Thomas Hobbes.
>I think you and other are a bit too rude towards Bertil. There is no
>universal agreement that there is no connection between Goths and
>Scandinavia, and there is definitely a connection between Scandinavia
>and the Anglo-Saxons kingdoms in England. I for one maintain the opinion
>there is a connection between the Nordic countries and the Continental
>Goths, and you may easily see my arguments for that in my book
>Goterkllan whose language is easy for you to read. I have however no
>intention to go into a long discussion referring it all, because I have
>simply not time. I have already long ago sent a summary in English to
>the list and there is also a German Zusammenfassung available. Suffice
>it to say I find Bertils opinion one of several that should be
>respected, even if the editors may have exagerrated their presentation a
>bit. I never saw the program. Remenber Yurij Knysch has already made
>some new promising openings in this issue. We are all the time talking
>hypothesis and I beleive we will probably never know the truth for sure.
>Bertil however might maybe also consider to have a little more humble
>approach considering the general uncertainty in the question of origin.
>About the linguistic education in Norway that you paint so vividly I am
>indeed shocked. I thought it was bad in Sweden but in Norway it must be
>a catastroph. German is one of the major and important languages wich is
>nessecary to know to be able to cope both with business and research,
>not least historical and archaeological research, and just to be able to
>move and associate with our fellow europeans. With English, French and
>German you can go almost anywhere and be understood. If you also speak
>Spanish it is the better but those three will make it. Besides speaking
>German makes it also possible for me to read a Dutch book and understand
>it decently and my French and Latin makes it possible to read and
>understand Spanish in the same manner even if I do not speak it. I hope
>the situation in Norway will improve. Brockhaus seems interesting indeed
>if awailable on the net, but I think the Germanisches Reallexikon will
>never be outdated as a good complement.
>Best wishes/die besten Gr¸þe/ med venlig hilsen/hjrtliga
>hlsningar/salutations cordiales et c.