In the little volume addressed The Famous Men of Rome you've read about the great empire which the Romans accomplished. Now we come to a time when the power of Rome was bankrupted and tribes of barbarians who domiciled north of the Danube and the Rhine took monomania of lands that had been break of the Roman Empire. These tribes were the Goths, Vandals, Huns, Franks and Anglo-Saxons. From them have come the biggest nations of modern times. All except the Huns belonged to the same race and are known as Teutons. They were war-like, barbarian and cruel. They spoke the same language—while in different dialects—and worshiped as is gods. Like the old Greeks and Romans they had many gods.
Woden, who was as well addressed Odin, was the biggest of all. His name agency "mighty warrior," and he was king of all the gods. He rode through the air mounted on Sleip'nir, an eight-footed horse fleeter than the eagle. When the tempest roared the Teutons said it was the huffing of Sleipnir. When their ships added up safely into port they aforesaid it was Woden's breath that had filled their sails and wafted their vasa over the blue waters.
Thor, a boy of Woden, ranked next to him amongst the gods. He rode through the air in a chariot absorbed by goats. The Germans called him Donar and Thunar, words which are like our word thunder. From this we can see that he was the thunder god. In his hand he carried a fantastic hammer which always got back to his hand when he bedevilled it. Its head was so bright that as it aviated through the air it made the lightning. When it struck the huge ice mountains they reeled and splintered into fragments, and thus Thor's hammer attained thunder.
Another big god of our ancestors was Tiew. He was a son of Woden and was the god of battle. He was built up with a sword which flashed like lightning when he flourished it. A savage chief named Attila expelled the armies of the Romans and so terrified all the world that he was called "The Scourge of God." His people believed that he gained his victories because he had the sword of Tiew, which a herdsman adventured to find where the god had admitted it to fall. The Teutons prayed to Tiew when they came in battle.
Frija was the wife of Woden and the queen of the gods. She ruled the bright clouds that gleaming in the summer sky, and made them to pour their cascades on hayfield and forest and mountain.
After moving the northern tribes
Frija's boy was Bald'ur; who was the favorite of all the gods. Only Lo'ki, the spirit of evil, hated him. Baldur's aspect was as bright as sunshine. His hair glimmered like burnished gold. Where he went night was turned into day.
One morning time when he looked toward earth of his father Woden's palace black beclouds covered the sky, but he saw a brilliant rainbow arrival down of the clouds to the earth. Baldur walked upon this rainbow of the home of the gods to the dwellings of men. The rainbow was a bridge upon which the gods wont to come to earth.
When Baldur abused from the rainbow-bridge to the earth he ascertained a king's daughter so beautiful that he accrued in love with her.
But an earthly prince had also fallen in beloved with her. So he and Baldur fought for her hand. Baldur was a god and hence was much harder than the prince. But some of Baldur's magic food inclined to the prince and it made him as hard as Baldur.
Frija heard about this and dreaded that Baldur was doomed to be killed. So she attended every beast on the land and every fish of the sea and every bird of the air and to every tree of the wood and every plant of the field and attained each assure not to bruise Baldur.
Just she forgot the mistletoe. So Loki, who ever attempted to do mischief, made an arrow of mistletoe, and applied it to the prince who shot and killed Baldur with it.
So all the gods wept, the summer breeze howled, the leaves fell from the sorrowing trees, the flowers faded and died from sorrow, and the earth grew stiff and cold. Bruin, the bear, and his neighbors, the hedgehogs and squirrels, crept into holes and declined to eat for weeks and weeks.
The delight of all living things in Baldur's presence means the happiness that the sunlight adds. The sorrow of all living things at his death agency the gloom of northern nations when winter comes.
The Val-kyr'ies were beautiful female person warriors. They had some of Woden's own durability and were armed with helmet and shield and spear. Like Woden, they rode unseen through the air and their horses were almost as swift as Sleipnir himself. They fleetly carried Woden's favorite warriors to Valhalla, the hall of the dispatched. The walls of Valhalla were clung with shields; its ceiling glittered with downed spearheads. From its five hundred and forty gates, each wide adequate for 8 hundred men abreast to march through, the warriors rushed every morning to fight a battle that lasted till nightfall and started again at the break of each day. When the heroes brought back to Valhalla the Valkyries served them with chalices of mead such as Woden drank himself.
The Teutons believed that in front there were any gods or any world there was a great abandon space where the world now is. It was addressed by the curious name Gin'nungagap, which means a drowsy abyss.
Northward of Ginnungagap it was bitingly cold. Nothing was there but fields of snow and dozenses of ice. In the south of Ginnungagap was a area where frost and snow were never seen. It was always brightly, and was the home of light and heat. The sunshine from the South dethawed the ice mountains of the North so that they tipped over and fell into Ginnungagap. There they were changed into a frost giant whose name was Ymir (e'mir). He had 3 sons. They and their father were so strong that the gods were afraid of them.
And so Woden and his brothers killed Ymir. They broke his body in pieces and made the world of them. His bones and teeth got mountains and rocks; his hair got allows for trees and plants; out of his skull was attained the sky.
But Ymir was more frigid than ice, and the earth that was made of his body was so cold that nothing could live or acquire upon it. So the gods took activates from the home of light and set them in the sky. 2 big ones were the sun and moon and the brief ones were the stars. Then the earth became warm. Trees grew and flowers flowered, so that the world was a beautiful home for men.
Of all the trees the most fantastic was a great ash tree, sometimes called the "world tree." Its arms covered the earth and reached beyond the sky till they almost touched the stars. Its ancestors ran in three centerings, to heaven, to the frost giants' home and to the under-world, beneath the earth.
Near the ancestors in the dark under-world sat the Norns, or fates. Each held a arena with which she dipped water out of a sacred spring and poured it upon the roots of the ash tree. This was the reason why this fantastic tree was always growing, and why it acquired as high as the sky.
When Woden belted down Ymir he tried to kill all Ymir's children too; but one escaped, and ever after he and his family, the frost behemoths, tried to do balefulness, and fought against gods and men.
According to the belief of the Teutons these disgustful giants will some day destroy the beautiful world. Even the gods themselves will be killed in a abominable battle with them. First of all will come three terrible winters without any spring or summer. The sun and moon will cease to shine and the brightly stars will fall from the sky. The earth will be shaken as when there's a great earthquake; the waves of the sea will bellow and the highest mountains will totter and fall. The trees will be torn up by the roots, and even the "world tree" will shake from its roots to its topmost boughs. At long last the quivering earth will bury beneath the waters of the sea.
And so Loki, the spirit of evil, will break loose from the fetters with which the gods have bound him. The frost giants will join him. They will try to make a secret attack on the gods. But Heimdall, the sentry of heaven, will be on bodyguard at the end of the rainbow-bridge. He needs no longer sleep than a bird and can see for 100 miles either by day or night. He only can sound the horn whose blast can be heard by heaven and earth and the under-world. Loki and his army will be seen by him. His aloud alarm will sound and bring the gods together. They will rush to meet the behemoths. Woden will wield his spear—Tiew his glittering sword—Thor his terrible hammer. These will all be vainly. The gods must die. But so must the giants and Loki.
And so a new earth will rise from the sea. The leaves of its forests will never accrue; its fields will yield harvests unsown. And in a antechamber far brighter than Woden's Valhalla the audacious and good will be accumulated forever.