Re: Language - Area - Routes

From: tgpedersen@...
Message: 6111
Date: 2001-02-14

--- In cybalist@..., jekl@... wrote:
> --- In cybalist@..., tgpedersen@... wrote:
> >
> > Some more stuff:
> >
> > H.E.Davidsons commentaries to her translation of Saxo:
> >
> > 1.1
> > The phrase "รก stodhum Danpar", by the shores of the Dniepr, is
> found
> > in the Icelandic poem The Battle of the Goths and the Huns,8 and
> the
> > name also appears in Atlakvidha 5. There is a king Danpr in the
> > Icelandic genealogies. The latin abstract of the lost Skjoldunga
> > saga, composed around 1200, refers to a king Dan I, with a son
> Danpr
> > and a daughter Dana, who married Rigr and had a son who was Dan
> > Chronicon Lethrense: Dan saved the Danes from an attack by (an?)
> > emperor Augustus, and the Jutes then chose him for a king,
> > with the men of Fyn and Scania, so that the country of Denmark
> > his name.
> There were always people looking for some old glory for their people
> as you do now, including historians. There exists some chronicles
> written in Poland by a famous monk about the same time (a bit later
> actually) in which he talks about Polish princes fighting
> Alexander the Great armies, Rome and so on... The stories you cite
> must fall into the same category...
A more meticulous answer:
This is what I think happened in general with those medieval
Soon after a people is forced (by constant harassment by its
Christian neighbors) to convert to Christianity, the leaders of that
country become worried about losing their roots (as everybody says
today) and assigns a monk from one of the newly-formed monasteries to
write down the history of that people, inasmuch as it can be
reconstructed. To that end the monk is suplied with the best books by
(late) classical authors, unlimited access to collections of sayings,
old poems, the king's best bards etc. From this, the chronicler
attempts to create a coherent history for his people. He tries to
equate events mentioned in different sources, he tries to etymologize
diffcult old words in old poems from old people's memory, in short:
he does no more and no less than what we are all doing in this list.
Some generations later, great plague, Renaissance; the church has won
the battle for the minds of people, all the non-classical sources
have dried up. Everybody discovers the classical (Roman and Greek)
sources, and everybody is ashamed of what those medieval monks wrote
in their own countries, since there is now nothing to corroborate
that which deviates from classical sources. This is called Humanism
and it lasts to this day: Only classical sources should be listened
to (this is of course a parody, but there is a core of truth to it).
In your place, instead of dismissing that Polish medieval chronicler
out of hand, I would ask questions like: How close have the Pre-Slavs
been to Roman armies? Is there possibly a people which changed from
some Iranian language to a Slavic one which may be the source of the
Alexander stories. Has the chronicler mistakenly identified some Pre-
Slav hero with Alexander (comparing his sources)?
As for the modus operandi of chroniclers, my description is taken
from Saxo's own description of it, in the preface to Gesta Danorum.

This to counter your remark that the stories I cite must fall into
the same category, namely, I asssume, that of old monks' tales. But
those guys were no dumber than you and I. I think that they
undeservedly got a bad name, for reasons of European Renaissance


> /Jerzy