Re: Odin as a Trojan Prince

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 8728
Date: 2001-08-24

--- In cybalist@..., tgpedersen@... wrote:

[Piotr:] Maciej of Miechów's extremely influential _Tractatus de
Duabus Sarmatiis, Asiana et Europiana_ (1517) gave rise to
the "Sarmatian myth", according to which Polish noble families
derived from Sarmatian warriors.

[Torsten:] The latter idea is obviously preposterous, since had it
been true there would have been a lot of Indo-Iranian loanwords in
Polish and indeed Slavic - eg. "bog".

Dear Torsten,

The Slavic homeland was so close to areas controlled by the Iranians
that contact was inevitable and the presence of Iranian cultural
loans in Slavic is both expected and well documented. I also suspect
there might be borrowings in the opposite direction (the "egg" word
seems to me to be one of them). Maciej of Miechów was interested in
something different from tracing cultural influences -- he attempted
to trace the origin of a whole social class in Poland to Iranian
roots. Basing his opinion on vague mentions in Roman geographical
sources he claimed that the Polish/Lithuanian Commonwealth was a
direct successor of the Sarmatian empire and that the Polish gentry
were Sarmatian in a very literal sense. Well, that's a myth if ever
was one.

To give you some idea of what our early historians were concerned
with, and how reliable their sagas are, here is my faithful summary
of a few episodes from Master Vincent's chronicle (1202).


After the death of Queen Wanda, daughter of King Gracchus (a.k.a.
Krak, the founder of Kraków), Alexander the Great sent ambassadors to
the Lekhites (Poles), demanding tribute. The Lekhites refused to pay
and the ambassadors were ruthlessly put to death. In retalialion,
Alexander descended upon Pannonia and then led his armies through
Moravia into Poland, ravaging and plundering the land. Prospects
appeared gloomy for the Poles at first, but Alexander was outwitted
and his military plans were thwarted thanks to one man's ingenuity. A
certain local artisan fashioned a large number of wooden helmets and
shields, painted them gold and silver so that they would gleam in the
sun, and arranged them on a hill so that they would be visible from
afar, looking for all the world like a line of well-equipped
warriors. With this simple decoy, an enemy patrol was lured and
ambushed. The rest was relatively easy: Lekhites dressed up in the
battle-gear of slain Macedonians infiltrated the camp of their foes
and launched a surprise attack, resulting in the abject defeat and
inglorious flight of Alexander. The resourceful artisan, who assumed
the name Lestek (meaning "a cunning one"), was then elected chieftain
by his grateful countrymen and eventually came to the throne of
Poland as Lestek I.


Years later, Julius Caesar planned to invade Poland, but was repelled
in three battles by Lestek III, a mighty monarch whose power extended
as far as the lands of the Greeks and the Parthians. It was he, by
the way, who had defeated Crassus in Parthia. Like James Bond, Lestek
had a penchant for witty remarks at dramatic moments: "Thirsty for
gold? Here, drink some," he said, while pouring molten metal down
Crassus' throat -- but I am digressing. Caesar was so captivated by
Lestek's military genius and sense of humour that he gave his sister
Julia to him in marriage to cement their frienship. He granted her
Bavaria as dowry, and Lestek added Serbia as a wedding gift. Alas,
the Roman Senate was vehemently hostile to the marriage, and the
alliance was nipped in the bud: Caesar tried to withdraw from the
contract and would have Bavaria back. Lestek, embittered by his
brother-in-law's lack of loyalty, repudiated Julia and sent her back
to Rome, but their little son Pompilius stayed with the father and
later became Pompilius I of Poland.

KING POPIEL AND MICE (all Polish schoolchildren know this story, as
it sets the stage for the foundation myth of the historical Piast

Nothing of substance is known about Pompilius I, but his successor
Pompilius II (better known as Popiel) was by all accounts a
treacherous, cowardly and sadistic character. Fearing that his
uncles, who governed the provinces and dependencies of his kingdom,
might be plotting to overthrow him, he invited them to a feast. Sure
enough, specially prepared drinks were served, and after the first
round the uncles collapsed, writhing in their death throes, while
Popiel rubbed his hands and chuckled. He ordered that the corpses
should be left unburied for dogs and crows to lunch on. However, a
plague of mice swarmed out of the dead bodies. Popiel and his family
ran away and sought safety in a tall tower, but the mice nibbled
their way through the gate and stormed inside, squeaking horribly and
devouring everyone. If you visit Kruszwica on Lake Goplo in central
Poland, you will be shown the Mouse Tower, the supposed scene of the