The Northern Way

Grimm's Teutonic Mythology

Chapter 3

(Page 11)

At grand sacrifices and banquets the god or the gods were remembered, and their minni drunk: minnis-öl (ale), Sæm. 119 (opposed to ôminnis öl), minnis-horn, minnis-full (cupfull). fôro minni mörg, ok skyldi horn dreckia î minni hvert (they gave many a m., and each had to drink a horn to the m.) um gôlf gânga at minnom 0llum, Egilss. 206. 253. minniöl signôð âsom, Olafs helga saga (ed holm.) 113. signa is the German segnen to bless, consecrate. signa full Oðni, Thôr. Oðins full, Niarðar full, Freys full drecka, Saga Hâkonar gôða cap. 16. 18. In the Herrauðs-saga cap. 11, Thôr's, Oðin's and Freya's minne is drunk. At the burial of a king there was brought up a goblet called Bragafull (funeral toast cup), before which every one stood up, took a solemn vow, and emptied it, Yngl. saga cap. 40; other passages have bragarfull, Sæm. 146. Fornald. sög. 1, 345. 417. 515. The goblet was also called minnisveig (swig, draught), Sæm. 193. After conversion they did not give up the custom, but drank the minne of Christ, Mary, and the saints: Krists minni, Michaêls minni, Fornm. sög. 1, 162. 7, 148. In the Fornm. sög. 10, 1781, St. Martin demands of Olaf that his minni be proposed instead of those of Thôr, Oðin, and the other âses.

The other races were just as little weaned fromthe practice; only where the term minne had changed its meaning, it is translated by the Lat. amor instead of memoria; (63) notably as early as in Liutprand, hist. 6, 7 (Muratori II. 1, 473), and Liutpr. hist. Ott. 12: diaboli in amorem vinum bibere. Liutpr. antapod. 2, 70: amoris salutisque mei causa bibito. Liutpr. leg. 65: potas in amore beati Johannis præcursoris. Here the Baptist is meant, not the Evangelist; but in the Fel. Faber evagat. 1, 148 it is distinctly the latter. In Eckehard casus S. Galli, Pertz 2, 84: amoreque, ut moris est, osculato et epoto, laetabundi discendunt. In the Rudlieb 2, 162:

post poscit vinum Gerdrudis amore, quod haustum

participat nos tres, postremo basia fingens,

quando vale dixit post nos gemit et benedixit.

In the so-called Liber occultus, according to the München MS., at the description of a scuffle:

hujus ad dictum nullus plus percutit ictum,

sed per clamorem poscunt Gertrudis amorem.

In the Peregrinus, a 13th cent. Latin poem, v. 335 (Leyser 2114):

et rogat ut potent sanctae Gertrudis amore,

ut possent omni prosperitate frui.

At Erek's departure: der wirt neig im an den fuoz, ze hand truog er im dô ze heiles gewinne sant Gêrtrûde minne [[the lord bowed to him at the feet (ie. bowed to his feet), to his hand he drew there Saint Gertrude's remembrance, to the gain of happiness]], Er. 4015. The armed champion 'tranc sant Johannes segen [[drank Saint John's blessing]],' Er. 8651. Hagene, while killing Etzel's child, says, Nib. 1897, 3:

    nu trinken wir die minne unde gelten sküneges win,
    iz mac anders niht gesin
    want trinkt und geltet Ezeln wîn; Helbl. 6, 160. 14. 86.
    [[now drink we the remembrance and yield the impelling one's (?) wine,

 it may not sorrow for others,

what drinks and yields Attila's wine]]

Here the very word gelten [[to yield, sacrifice]] recalls the meaning it had acquired in connexion with sacrificing; conf. Schm. 2, 40. si dô zucten di suert unde scancten eine minne [[they then drew their swords and poured a remembrance]] (drew their swords and poured out a m.), Herz. Ernst in Hoffm. fundgr. 1, 230, 35. minne schenken [[to pour a remembrance]], Berthold 276-7. sant Johannis minne geben [[to give St. John's remembrance]], Oswald 611. 1127. 1225 (see Suppl.). No doubt the same thing that was afterwards called 'einen ehrenwein shenken [[to pour an honor-wine]]'; for even in our older speech êra, êre denoted verehrung, reverence shown to higher and loved beings.

In the Mid. Ages then, it was two saints in particular that had minne drunk in honour of them, John the evangalist and Gertrude. John is said to have drunk poisoned wine without hurt, hence a drink consecrated to him prevented all danger of poisoning. Gertrude revered John above all saints, and therefore her memory seems to have been linked with his. But she was also esteemed as a peacemaker, and in the Latinarius metricus of a certain Andreas rector scholarum she is invoked:

O pia Gerdrudis, quae pacis commoda cudis

bellaque concludis, nos caeli mergito ludis!

A clerk prayed her daily, 'dass sie ihm schueffe herberg guot,' [[that they find him good lodging]] to find him lodging good; and in a MS. of the 15th cent. we are informed: aliqui dicunt, quod quando anima egressa est, tunc prima nocte pernoctabit cum beata Gerdrude, secunda nocte cum archangelis, sed tertia nocte vadit sicut diffinitum est de ea. This remarkable statement will be found further on to apply to Freya, of whom, as well as of Hulda and Berhta, Gertrude reminds us the more, as she was representing spinning. Both John's and Gertrude's minne used especially to be drunk by parting friends, travellers and lovers of peace, as the passages quoted have shown. I know of no older testimony to Gertrude's minne (which presupposes John's) than that in Rudlieb; in later centuries we find plenty of them: der brâhte mir sant Johans segen [[he brought me St. John's blessing]], La. 3, 336. sant Johans segen trinken [[to drink St. John's blessing]], Ls 2, 262. ich dâht an sant Johans minne [[I thought on St. John's remembrance]], Ls. 2, 264. varn (to fare) mit sant Gêrtrûde minne [[to fare with St. Gertrude's remembrance]], Amgb. 33. setz sant Johans ze burgen mir, daz du komst gesunt herwider shier [[set St. John's to protect me, that thou comest sound and swift back here]], Hätzl. 191. sant Johannes namen trinken [[To drink St. John's name]], Altd. bl. 413. sant Gêrtrûde minne [[St. Gertrude's remembrance]], Cod. kolocz. 72. trinken sant Johannes segen und scheiden von dem lande [[to drink St. John's blessing and part from the land]], Morolt. 3103. diz ist sancte Johans minne [[this is St. John's remembrance]], Cod. pal. 364, 158. S. Johans segen trinken [[to drink St. John's blessing]], Anshelm 3, 416. Johans segen [[John's blessing]], Fischart gesch. kl. 99. Simpliciss. 2, 262. (64)

Those Suevi then, whom Columban was approaching, were probably drinking Wuotan's minne; Jonas relates how the saint blew the whole vessel to pieces and spoilt their pleasure: manifesto datur intelligi, diabolum in eo vase fuisse occultatum, qui per profanum litatorem caperet animas sacrificantium. So by Liutprand's devil, whose minne is drunk, we may suppose a heathen god to have been meant. gefa þriggja sâlda öl Oðni (give three tuns of ale to Oðinn), Fornm. sög. 2, 16. gefa Thôr ok Oðni öl, ok signa full âsum, ibid. 1, 280. drecka minni Thôrs ok Oðins, ibid. 3, 191. As the North made the sign of Thor's hammer, christians used the cross for the blessing (segnung) of the cup; conf. poculum signare, Walthar. 225, precisely the Norse signa full.


63. The 12th cent. poem Von dem gelouben 1001 says of the institution of the Lord's Supper, whose cup is also a drink of rememberance to Christians: den cof nam er mit dem wine, unde segente darinne ein vil guote minne. Conf. loving cup, Thom's Anecd. 82.  (back)

64. Thomasius de poculo S. Johannis vulgo Johannistrunk, Lips. 1675. Scheffers Haltaus p. 165. Oberlin s. vb. Johannis minn und trunk. Schmeller 2, 593. Hannov. mag. 1830, 171-6. Ledeburs archiv 2, 189. On Gertrude espec., Huyd. op St. 2, 343-5. Clignett's bidr. 392-411. Hoffm. horae belg. 2, 41-8. Antiqvariske annaler 1, 313. Hanka's Bohem. glosses 79 132 render Johannis amor by swatá mina (holy m.). And in that Slovenic document, the Freysinger MS. (Kopitar's Glagolita xxxvii, conf. xliii) is the combination: da klanyamse, i modlimse, im i tchesti ich piyem, i obieti nashe im nesem (ut genuflectamus et precemur eis et honores eorum bibamus et obligationes nostras illis feramus); tchest is honor, timh, cultus, our old êra; but I also find slava (fame, glory) used in the sense of minne, and in a Servian song (Vuk, 1 no. 94) wine is drunk 'za slave bozhye' to the glory of God. In the Finnish mythology is mentioned an Ukkon malja, bowl of Ukko; malja = Swed. skål, strictly scutella, potatio in memoriam vel sanitatem.  (back)

Index  |  Previous page  |  Next page