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Re: Early Germanic place-names in today Poland

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  • Ryszard Derdzinski
    ... can be used to prove the existence of Goths in modern Poland at the time of the Hunnic empire. Both sources that you cited are literature not history. You
    Message 1 of 12 , Aug 23, 2002
      Dirk wrote:

      > I would be highly sceptical that Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse source
      can be used to prove the existence of Goths in modern Poland at the
      time of the Hunnic empire. Both sources that you cited are literature not

      You are right OE and ON sources are usually mere fantasy tales and that they
      shouldn't be treated like historical resources, chronicles, etc. On the
      other hand mythological tales and sagas about the ancient heros contain some
      seed of truth, echo of real historical events. When we treat them with great
      care and scepticism they can tell us interesting things about beliefs,
      events and persons not known from the chronicles of the historians of old.

      Ancient storytellers of the North didn't know the "Roman authors of the
      first century". Their knowledge about the their kinsmen from the East must
      have come from the inter-tribal relations. When we find names like _Gifðas_
      and _Wendlas_ in "Beowulf" (v.v. 2494 and 348) we can imagine that very long
      ago some information about Gepids and Vandals must have been heard among the
      ancestors of the English. "Widsið" is a very special source. It is more a
      catalogue of the ancient heros and peoples than a mere literature. I cannot
      imagine that its author simply invented _Wulfhere_ and _Wyrmhere_, the
      _Wistle_ and the _Hræda here_. He knew these names from ancient lore, maybe
      from his teachers' teachings or from his fathers' tales. This source seems
      to be less fantastic than Jordanes' "Getica" fragments full of fantasies
      about the witches, demons, etc.

      In Poland there are plenty of Germanic place-names (see my earlier
      messages). If the Slavic tribes arrived to the vales of Wisla (Vistula) and
      Odra in 5th/6th c.c. who taught them the names of rivers, hills and other
      places. Polish plains and valleys must not have been completely empty on
      that time. In the area of earlier Wielbark and Przeworsk cultures the Slavic
      inviders must have met many East Germans, for example the rests of
      _Vidivarii_ mentioned only in Jordanes' book.

      > In fact, Jordanes/Cassiodorus tell us with the 'image of the broken
      bridge' that all links with a Gothic history at the Vistula was lost,
      saying that nobody could ever go back north.

      Even if Jordanes/Cassiodorus say this, it doesn't need to be the only truth.
      There may have been many things they didn't know about the Goths and Vandals
      in the Odra/Vistula country. Have you ever heard about a small statue of
      goddess Isis found in the Przeworsk culture excavations or about the North
      African amphoras found in Sietesz near Przemysl? - some archeologists (e.g.
      Jacek Andrzejowski) say about the possible contacts between the Vandals in
      Africa and the rests of Vandals in today Poland in 5th and 6th c.c. Gothic
      traditions in Dacia must have been very vivid when Wulfilas translated his
      Arian Bible - its Gothic language is rather pure, free of influences. It is
      possible when you look after your native literature - if the Goths in 4th c.
      didn't take care of their native linguistic traditions connected with
      ancient sagas and poetry Wulfilas' Gothic wouldn't be so pure.

      > Since Theoderic had
      contact with many peoples, including the Baltic Galindi, he would
      clearly have boasted of Goths at the Vistula if there were any.

      Yes, but you don't know all his correspondence with the peoples of the
      North. You cannot tell there were no Goths in the north because such people
      is not known from the late Roman writings. In the times of Theoderic the
      north Goths may have been part of the "Aestii" or of "Vidivarii". We know
      also that there were Gotar, probably akin to the ancient Goths from before
      the migration, who lived in the North, in today Sweden.

      The most important question is who were the Germanic peoples from whom the
      Slaves inherited the Germanic place-names in today Poland. If they were not
      Goths, Gepids and Vandals, who they were?


      (Ryszard Derdzinski)

      maggot@... or galadhorn@...

      "Gwaith-i-Phethdain" http://www.elvish.org/gwaith
      "Polish Tolkien Society" http://www.parmadili.w.pl
      "Silesian Homeland" http://necik.mag.com.pl/~galadhorn/slask/index.htm
      "Sindarin Dictionary": http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/gobeth.htm
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