The Northern Way

Grimm's Teutonic Mythology

Chapter 33

Page 2

This application of gram, wrêth, muodag to daemons is, to my mind, a relic of heathen times, which clung to the converted Saxons as unhulþô had done to the Goths before them. Grendel is called gram, Beow. 1523, and yrremôd 1445; an ON. imprecation was 'þic hafi allan gramir!' Sæm. 80b, and 'gramir hafi Gunnar!' 208b, gramir being daemonia and exactly equiv. to the AS. gramon. Another time Sæm. 255a has 'eigi hann iötnar!' where the prose Völs. saga (Fornald. sög. 1, 214) gives gramir, so that here again comes up the affinity of devils to giants. The use of môdag (iratus) for diabolic spirits rather confirms an explanation of 'Muotes her' suggested on p. 931n.

One name, which I have held back till now, is of frequent occurrence in MHG. poets of the 12-13th

cent.: 'der vâlant,' S. Uolrich 54a. 69b. 74a. Anengenge 218b. 219a. 220b. Tundal 56, 31; 'diu vâlantinne Herôdia' (see p. 283), Fundgr. i. 139, 6; 'der vâlant,' ii. 109, 42. Roth. 3106; 'vâlandes man,' Roth. 3227. 3366; vâlant, Rol. 289, 7; 'vâlantes man' 111, 5. 189, 16; 'der übel vâlant,' Nib. 1334, 1; vâlandinne (she-devil) 1686, 4; vâlentinne 2308, 4. Gudr. 629, 4; 'der vâlant,' Nib. Lam. 625. Er. 5555. Herbort 7725. Eilhart's Trist. 2837; vâlant, Wigal. 3994. 6976. 7022; er het gehœret den vâlant, er (the sentry) sprach: 'seht, bî der mûre (wall) da hôrt ich in schrîen lût, owê! er fuor die rise alsô zetal (down), daz im die stein vast walgten nâch (stones rolled after him), ich weiz nicht war im ist sô gâch (hasty),' Frauend. 375, 12-24; 'daz in der vâlant rîten sol,' Welsch. gast 67a; 'bî sîner stimme (voice) ich hân erkant, daz ez wære der vâlant,' ibid. (Reinh. 384, 50); 'der leide vâlant,' Trist. 8909; 'des vâlandes rât' 11339; 'vâlandes man' 6217. 6910. 16069; 'vâlandes barn' 15965; 'tiuvels vâlant, schrat und wazzerber' 92; 'dô geriet in der vâlant,' Mone's Anz. 8, 52; vâlant, Ottoc. 453b. (16) Certain poets abstain from the word: Wolfram, Rudolf, Conrad. In Mod. Germ. it still lives as a proper name (Faland, Phaland, Foland, Volland), otherwise it rarely occurs: 'der böse volant,' Chr. Weise's Comödienprobe 219; 'junker Volland.' Berthold's Tageb. p. 54. In Henneberg they say 'der böse fahl' or 'fähl,' Reinw. 1, 30, at Frankfort 'der fold, fuld.' (17) In MLG. once only in Zeno 1166: 'du arge volant!' and nothing like it in M. Nethl. But neither do I find fâlant, vâlant in OHG., even as a proper name; yet one can hardly doubt its having existed, for the participial ending, as in vîant, heilant, wîgant, etc., points to an early formation. A MHG. verb vâlen, vælen, occurs only in the Martina 145. 177. 215 and Alb. Titurel, and there it means to fail, err, conf. Schm. 1, 519. Fâlant must either have meant the same as the adj. írri,' iratus, infensus, or else misleading, seducens (Goth. aírzjands, uslutônds); the AS. fælian or fælan is scandalizare, seducere, and its partic. fælend would answer to vâlant. Some such meaning may lie in the ON. fâla (Sæm. 143b. 210b gigas femina) and the verb fæla (terrere); in that case it would be credible that fâlant also referred originally to giants. But now that Phol (pp. 224-9. 614) has come upon the scene, he must not be left out of sight in attempting to explain a word so incorporated with our language: the change of a, o into â does occur in some instances, e.g. tâlanc, tolanc, and the popular forms 'voland, fold, fuld' are in its favour; the participial ending must remain an open question till further light be thrown on the obscure name of this ancient god. Even the fierce Unfalo in Teuerdank may be taken into the reckoning, as the 'un-' seems merely a prefix added to intensify the ill-repute of the word; an Unfahl occurs elsewhere too as a proper name. (18) Compare what is said of the pfahl-mauer (stake-wall) further on (19) (see Suppl.).

Many names of the Devil turn upon his outward Form. The most striking feature is his lame foot: hence the hinkende teufel (diable boiteux), hinke-bein (limping-leg); the fall from heaven to the abyss of hell seems to have lamed him, like Hephæstus hurled down by Zeus (p. 241). (20) He further resembles that god and the lame smith Wieland (Völundr p. 376) by his skill in working metals and in building, as also by his dwelling in a sooty hell. Here the antithesis to clear shining white Deity demands a dingy black hue, as the dark elves where opposed to the light. We may therefore balance the white Baltac (p. 228), the radiant Berhta (p. 272) against the gloomy powers, light-elves against black-elves, though the two principles touch, and even generate one another. The word alp seems to contain the notion of white, night and day come out of one another, Night was the mother of Day (p. 735), Halja, Demeter, Diana, Mary (p. 312-3n.) present themselves half black or wholly darkened. (21) The dark diabolic principle may be regarded as one not original, as a falling away from divine light.
The Devil is called the black: OS. mirki (tenebrosus), Hel. 31, 24. der swarze, Renner 36d. Satan exit ore torvus colore tanquam corvus, S. Gallenlied, 11, 3. er was swarz als ein rabe, Tund. 51, 17. diabolus in effigie hominis nigerrimi, Cæsar Heisterb. 7, 17. 119, 26. der helle-môr, Walth. 33, 7. der helsce môre, Fundgr. 1, 25. der helle-grâve, Anegenge 39, 46. As a dark colour hides, the evil spirit gets the name of the hidden, the secret: OS. dernea wihti (spiritus latentes), Hel. 31, 20. 92, 2. But in our folktales he is also indicated as grayman, graymanikin, conf. graa told, Dan. V. 1, 169. 180, which reminds of Wuotan and of Berhtold; I therefore lay stress on the fact, that as Berhta and Berhtolt hand empty spindles (pp. 274-9), the Mark legend tells exactly the same of the Devil: 'You must not spin of a Thursday evening, for the evil one would throw an empty spindle into your room, and call out, Spin that full as well!' Ad. Kuhn p. 379. Of shapes of animals, some are ascribed to the Devil chiefly on the ground of their black colour (see Suppl.).
Such animal shape was often not made complete, but merely indicated by some addition to a configuration mainly human, much as the Greeks and Romans represented their satyrs, fauns or Pan, and to Dionysus, Actæon or Io simply added horns. The Devil then approximates to those wood-sprites, skrats and pilosi treated of in p. 478 seq.; shaped like a man in the rest of his limbs, he is betrayed by his goat's ear, his horn, tail or horse's foot. A vâlant is thus described in Tund. 51, 33: 'er het vil der hende, (22) an des lîbes ende einen vreislîchen zagel (tail), der het manigen îsnîn nagel (iron nail), manigen haken chrumben, damit er die tumben chölt unde stichet.' Even in heathen times the gods and ghostly beings could imitate beasts in some parts of their body: the Triglav of the Slavs had three goat's-heads, and a mixture of human with animal forms is extremely common in the Indian mythology; in the Greek and Teutonic it is rare, and then but barely hinted at. Huldra comes before us with a tail (p. 271), Berhta with the goose-foot (p. 281), the nix with a slit ear, and the nixie with wet skirt (p. 491), the hero with a swan's wing (p. 428) like Hermes with his winged feet, the water-wife with a snake's or fish's tail; even the giant has (only) a finger and toe above the common (p. 527n.). The Devil's horse-foot may suggest the semi-equine centaurs, as well as the ON. nennir (p. 490).
Conversion into complete animal form might easily arise out of this; or it might be regarded as a prerogative of the higher being to transform himself into an animal for a time.

The Devil in retiring is compelled unawares to let his horsefoot be seen (p. 326); a kobold (home-sprite) is also horse-footed (p. 511). To the water-sprite the whole or half of a horse's figure is attributed; that is why horses are sacrificed to rivers. A British demon Grant, possibly connected with Grendel (p. 243), shewed himself as a foal, Gerv. Tilb. in Leibn. 980. Loki changed himself into a mare, and bore Sleipnir to Svaðilföri, Sn. 46-7. The Devil appears as a horse in the stories of Zeno and of brother Rausch, and in legends (Zappert pp. 68-71); black steeds fetch away the damned, and even convey heroes like Dieterich to hell, Vilk. saga 393. Otto Frising 5, 3 (see Suppl.).

The representation of the Devil in the shape of a he-goat goes back to a remote antiquity; what can have given it such a vigorous growth among heretics and witches? The witches all imagine their master as a black he-goat, to whom at festal gatherings they pay divine honours; conversely, the white goat atoned for and defeated diabolic influence (Haupt's Zeitschr. 3, 35). In oaths and curses of the 15-16th cent. the he-goat apes the true God: 'dass in der pock schend!' is a frequent formula in Hans Sachs; they swore ''bei bocks hulde,' grace. (23) Or can bocks here be a mere variation of 'botz, potz, kotz' for Gotts (p. 15)? It does seem singular that the 13th cent. poets never use bocks in such a sense; only Martina 156b. 184b has helleboc clearly for the Devil. According to Schm. 1, 151, bockschnitt means that bilwez-schnitt (cut through a neigbour's corn, p. 475-6), which the people ascribe to spirits and the Devil. Now the he-goat was the sacred beast of Donar, whom the modern notions of the Devil so often have in the background. In Switzerland the people will not eat goats' feet, because the Devil appears with such, or you see them when he pulls his boots off (Tobler 214); it might equally well be explained by Donar's he-goats, whom he served up for dinner, then brought the bones to life again, and was angry when one of them was broken. But in fairy-tales the Devil himself appears as a bleating goat, and already in Gregory the Great's Dial. 2, 30 as 'cornu (24) et trepidicum ferens,' which I interpret, in the shape of a three-legged goat and horned; three-legged animals being spectral and diabolic (pp. 920. 934). The posterli also shewed itself as a goat (p. 933). May it not be that the figure of the he-goat sacrificed by the heathen (p. 52) was afterwards by the christian transferred to the false god? In the goat-hallowing of the ancient Prussians (25) the victim was lifted up high.

Next to the goat the boar, which was sacred to Frô among the ancient gods, which affords food to the heroes in Walhalla, and moreover, far from irrelevantly, mingles in the stormful march of the Wild Host (p. 921-3), is a devil's animal; hence in the roar of the whirlwind, people cry sû-stert and säu-zagel (sow-tail), rebuking the Devil by that name (p. 632). In devils' buildings the sow plays another and perhaps more prominent part. The Evil One appears as a grunting sow (Schweinchen 1, 31). But the main point is, that here we again stumble on the name Phol: the MHG. fol, fal, ful in the compound urful signifies a boar, as is clear from the Schwabensp. 315 Wack., 204 Lassb., where the readings 'erfaul, urfaul, urfol, urval, wurffel' are all against 'ursûl,' which makes no more sense than 'halpswuol' in Nib. 878, 3, the variants 'halbfwol, halpfuol, helfolen' shutting us up to the combination halp-ful, halp-fol, i.e. half-swine as opposed to the full swine ur-fol, the old boar of five years. (26) Not that the god's name is to be explained by the beast's; on the contrary, in both the compounds it has been transferred to the beast, and so preserved; and as Phol is Paltar, it may now appear less venturesome to bring in as belonging here Baltero the boar's name in Reinardus.

A soul-snatching wolf the Devil was already to the Fathers (Greg. M. opp. 1, 1486). In the Laws of Cnut he is 'se wôd-freca werewulf' (Schmid. p. 148); Ditmar of Merseb. p. 253 calls him lupus vorax, and Loki's son is Fenris ûlfr; out of MHG. poets I have not noted down a hellewolf, but I hardly doubt their having used it, as Simplic. 2, 72 still does höllenwolf. And a Slavic name for the Devil, Pol. wrog, Boh. wrah, Serv. Slov. vrag, Russ. vrag, vórog, though it means malefactor, enemy, latro, is the same as the OHG. warg (lupus), Reinh. xxxvii. The Devil has monstrous jaws and throat in common with the wolf and hell: 'des tiuvels kiuwe,' Warnunge 540.

A canine conformation of the Devil is supported by many authorities: hellehunt in the old lay on Georio, Fundgr. 1, 13; des hellehundes list (cunning), Hartm. Greg. 163. Renner 289. wint (greyhound) in des tiuvels biunt, hunt in der helle grunt, Ls. 3, 124. hellerüde, Martina 32a (Diut. 2, 143), and hellewelf 111a, as the Edda already supposes a hvelpr in hell, Sæm. 94a, and the Greek religion a Cerberus (p. 814n). A fight with the hell-hound is described in Fundgr. 178, and as a dog the Devil guards treasures (p. 977). black dog, Superst. Denm. no. 149. des tiuvels rüden, Renner 23343. H. Sachs. iv. 3, 31c provides him with a quail-hound (pointer, setter, to catch souls for him?). (27) May not the Latin latro (robber) have come from the barking animal, like our warg from the wolf? It makes the Devil resemble both animals more (see Suppl.).


16. Hagene was known as the vâlant allar künige, Gudr. 168, 2. 196, 4; all kings feared him like a devil. Mone in Ndrl. volkslit. 67 makes it mean 'vaillant de tous les rois'! Back

17. In the Mehlwardein, a local farce 1837, p. 16: 'ei der Fuld!' = devil; so in another, the Bernemer Kerb p. 13. Back

18. In the Nördlingen witch-trials p. 47 an Apollonia Unfahlin. Back

19. I fear some will take it into their heads to explain phol, phal by aphæresis of the first syllable in deofol, diufal, pretty much as Eblis is derived from diabolus. Back

20. Il. 1, 592. Thor threatens to lame Loki, Sn. 130, and the lightning-flash has a maiming power. Back

21. The Romans called Pluto Jupiter niger, the black god. Silius Ital. 8, 116. Back

22. This many-handedness agrees with that of giants, but I do not remember to have seen the Devil represented with more heads than one, except in the shape of a dragon. Antichrist however was pictured with seven heads and a horse's foot, conf. Zappert ubi supra 73-4. Back

23. Appenzeller reimchr. 14. 37-9. 51. 72. 95, and Senkenberg sel. 1, 46. bocks angst und güt! Er. Alberus 21. bocks marter! 33. dass dich bocks esel schend! 23. dass dich box sners schende! Schreiber's Freib. urk. 2, 67. durch bocks tod! 3, 404. bocks lid answers to 'tiufel und sîn lit,' Mone's Anz. 8, 41. Back

24. 'To curse one leg off the devil's body, and the left horn off his head,' Garg. 232a. People still say: 'he'll deny one of the devil's ears off him and on again,' Haupt 3, 368; i.e. to curse and lie so hardily as to do the very devil's figure a damage. But what means the expression: 'ir lieget dem tiuvele an daz bein' (Roth. 3137)? you swear falsely? (p. 1008). Back

25. Luc. David 1, 87. 98. Joh. Voigt 1, 616. Back

26. In MSS. it is hard to distinguish the long f from f. Back

27. Wahtelbein (quail-bone, decoy-whistle) des tiuvels,' Berth. 225. 'sust verirret (so misleads) ez als ein wahtelbein,' Jüngl. 1210. 'in korne wart ein kündic wahtel nie sô sanfte erbeinet,' was ne'er a quail so neatly boned, Ms. 2, 206b. Back

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