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VOLUSPA. "At the beginning of time, when noth "ing was yet formed, neither fhore, nor fea, nor "foundations beneath; the earth was no where to be "found below, nor the heaven above: All was one "vaft abyfs (D), without plant or verdure." Jafnhar added, Many winters before the earth was made, Niflheim (E) or Hell was formed, and in the middle of it is a fountain named Hvergelmer. From this fountain run the following rivers, Anguish, the Enemy of Joy, the Abode of Death, Perdition, the Gulph, the Tempeft, the Whirlwind, the Bellowing and Howling, the Abyss. That which is called the Roaring runs near the gates of the Abode of Death.



This fable is remarkable upon also given him by the Scandinavimary accounts. It throws great light upon one of the principal doctrines of the ancient religion ' of Europe *;' and in particular, confirms what Tacitus tells us, concerning the idea which the Germans entertained of the Supreme God: Regnator omnium deus, catera fubje&a atque parentia. Germ. c. 39. The Germans and Scandinavians at first called this divinity, Tis, Tuis, or Teut, a word to which the Gauls added that of Tad, or Tat, which fignifies FATHER at this day in the British language. (v. Rofrenen Diction. Celt. p. 712.) We see in the Edda that the name of Father was

ans. In future ages, and doubtless.
after the time of Tacitus, thefe
people accustomed themselves to
call him by an appellative name,
God, or Guodan, i. e. THE GOOD:
This, by degrees, they changed in-
to ODIN, which the Anglo-Saxons
pronounced WODAN.
(fays Paulus Diaconus. Rer. Lan-
gobard. 1. I. c. 3.) quem, adje&ta li-
tera Guodan dixere, ab univerfis Ger-
mania gentibus, ut Deus adoratur.-
Confult, on this fubject, Pelloutier
Hift. des Celtes, tom ii. p. 74. &

(A) "He hath twelve names."] These twelve names are enumer

Fr. La Religion Celtique.


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ated in the Edda; but I did not chufe to interrupt the text with a lift of fuch harsh and unufual founds: I fhall therefore give them here for the curious, together with fome conjectures that have been made by the learned concerning their fignifications. 1. Alfader (the Father of all.) 2. Herian (the Lord, or rather, the Warrior.) 3. Nikader (the fupercilious.) 4. Nikuder (the God of the sea.) 5. Fiolner (he who knoweth much.) 6. Omi (the fonorous.) 7. Bifid (the agile, or nimble) 8. Vidrer (the munificent.) 9. Suidrer (the exterminator.) 10. Suidur (the deftroyer by fire.) 11. Ofki (he who chufes fuch as are to die.) 12. Salkir (the happy, or bleffed.) The name of Alfader is what occurs moft frequently in the EDDA, I have tranflated it Universal Father.

(B) To difplay his glory."] These are important queftions; but the answers are still more remarkable: From their conformity with the christian doctrines, one would be tempted to believe that Snorro had here embellished the religion of his Pagan ancestors, by Bringing it as near as poffible to the Gospel, if we did not find the fame unfolded fyftem literally expreffed in the Volufpa, a poem of undoubted antiquity, and which

Les Celtes. Fr. Orig.


was compofed long before the name of Christianity was known in the north; and also if the fame fyftem were not continually referred to in every other place of the EDDA. But what ought to remove every remaining doubt, is that we know from other proofs, that the belief of the Gothic and' Celtic nations upon most of these points, was much the fame with what we have read in the text. I fhall give many proofs of this below.

(c)" He was then with the gi"ants."] It is not easy to tran flate the original word The

Gothic ** nations had Giants and Spirits of many different orders, which we want terms to diftin-. guish. Thofe mentioned in the text are called in the original Icelandic Rymthufe, from the word Rym, Froft, and Thufs, a Giant or Satyr. We fhall fee presently the origin of this denomination. With respect to the word Thus, it may serve to show, by the bye, the conformity of thinking between the • German and Gaulifh people,' even upon the most trivial subjects. The Gauls, as well as the northern nations, believed the existence of the Thusses, and gave them the fame names. Only the Thuffes, or Satyrs of the Gauls, feem to have becn fomewhat more difpofed to gallantry

Gothic and' Celtic. Firft Edit.

gallantry than thofe of the north; which we fhall not be furprized at. Many of the fathers of the church speak of the strange liberties which these gentry took with women: They called them in Latin Dufii. St. Auguftin, in particular, tells us, he had been affured by fo many perfons that thofe beings fought a commerce with women, and feduced them; that none but an imprudent perfon could pretend to disbelieve it. De Civit. Dei, l. 15. c. 23. If it were not for incurring this imputation, I should have been tempted to look upon these stories as only fo many excufes, which love invents to cover the faults it induces frail females to commit.

(D) " All was one vast abyss."] It will not, I hope, be expected of me here, that I should heap together all the paffages of Greek and Latin authors, which are analogous to this in the text. Nobody is ignorant of them. Almost all the ancient fects agree in the doctrine of the Primitive Chaos. To create Matter out of Nothing, appeared in ages fo little metaphyfical as those, a thing incomprehenfible or inpoffible. I fhall only remark, that of all the fyftems we know, that of the ancient Perfians bears the greatest resemblance to

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this of the EDDA. I fhall have occafion more than once to repeat this obfervation, which confirms what has been advanced by fome of the learned, That the Goths and' Celts were formerly the fame people with the Perfians.

Is it not fingular, that all those who have treated of the religion of these people, fhonld have given themselves fo much trouble to guess at what they thought concerning the creation of the world, and fhould at length conclude that they could know nothing about it, but what was very uncertain; when at the fame time, they had at their elbow an authentic book, which offered them a detail of almost all the particulars they could defire to know? I cannot help making this reflection, in its utmost extent, upon reading what the learned Abbé Banier hath published concerning the religion of the Gauls, the Germans, and the nations of the north.

(E) NIFLHEIM, or Hell."] The original word " Niflheim," fignifics in the Gothic language, the abode of the wicked, or more literally, Evil-home. We fee, by this defcription of Hell, how much the genius of the ancient northern poets and' philofophers * inclined them to allegory; and it is

Des anciens Philofophes Celtes. Fr. Orig.

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very probable that almost all the fables that we fhall meet with, hereafter, contained in them fome truth, the interpretation of which they referved to themselves. This is confirmed by Cæfar and others 'concerning the Gauls;' and needs no other proof' here' than the

myfterious and fignificant name which is given to every thing. So much for the HELL of the Celtic ' and Gothic' nations, on which I shall make no farther remarks at prefent, because they will occur more naturally on many occafions hereafter.

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Of the burning World, and of Surtur.

HEN Thridi opened his mouth and faid, Yet, before all things, there exifted what we call Mufpelfheim (A) It is a world luminous, glowing, not to be dwelt in by strangers, and fituate at the extremity of the earth. Surtur, (the Black) holds his empire there. In his hands there fhines a flaming -fword. He fhall come at the end of the world; he fhall vanquish all the Gods, and give up the universe a prey to flames. Hear what the VOLUSPA fays of him. "Surtur, filled with deceitful ftratagems, com"eth from the South. A rolling Sun beams from "his fword. The Gods are troubled; men tread in "crowds the paths of death; the Heaven is fplit a"funder." But, fays Gangler, What was the state of the world, before there were families of men upon the earth, and before the nations were formed? Har anfwered him. The rivers, called Elivages, flowed fo far from their fources, that the venom which they rolled along became hard, like the fcoria of a furnace when it grows cold. Hence was formed the ice ; which ftopped and flowed no more.

Then all the ve


hom that was beginning to cover it, also became frozen: And thus many ftrata of congealed vapours were formed, one above another, in the vast abyfs. Jafnhar added: By this means that part of the abyss which lies towards the north, was filled with a mass of gelid vapours and ice; whilft the interior parts of it were replete with whirlwinds and tempefts. Directly oppofite to it, 1ofe the south part of the abyfs, formed of the lightnings and fparks which flow from the world of fire. Then Thridi proceeded, and said; By this means a dreadful freezing wind came from the quarter of Niflheim, whilft whatever lay oppofite to the burning world was heated and enlightened. And as to that part of the abyfs which lay between these two extremes; it was light and ferene like the air in a calm. A breath of heat then spreading itself over the gelid vapours, they melted into drops; and of thefe drops were formed a man, by the power of him who governed (B). This man was named YMIR; the Giants call him Aurgelmer. From him are defcended all the families of the Giants; according to that of the Volufpa; "The propheteffes are all come of Vittolfe, the spectres of Vilmode, and the Giants of Y"MIR." And in another place; "The rivers Eliva፡፡ ges have run drops of poifon; and there blew a "wind, whence a Giant was formed: From him came "all the families of the Giants." Then fpake Gangler, and faid, How did this family of YMIR fspread itself? Or do ye believe that he was a God? Jafnhar replied, we are far from believing him to have been a God; for he was wicked, as were all his pofterity. Whilft he slept, he fell into a fweat, and from the pit of his left arm were born a male and female. One of his feet begot upon the other a fon, from whom is defcended the race of the Giants, called from their original, the Giants of the Froft (c).

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