Gothic Holy Men

X99Lynx at X99Lynx at
Fri Mar 2 15:59:01 UTC 2001

In a message dated 2/24/2001 4:10:43 AM, dlwhite at writes:
<< No, it would be /gutan-/, from earlier /gotan-/, before the
characteristically Gothic change of /o/ to /u/. >>

There is another variation of the "pour" concept in Greek that yields
something that might be related.  Although the story below from Jordanes is
apparently considered a mere association with the Getae, it may be relevant
that this tradition of wailing holy men facing an army is also associated
with other Germans and Celts (e.g., Agricola faces such a similar
demonstration on the isle of Mona [Anglsey].)  (Also, a son of a later
Macedonian Phillip will deal with the Bastarnae, who may have been a
Germanic-speaking people from just north of the Danube.  He may have taken a
Bastarnae wife and did make an alliance with them (with an eye to invading
Rome) and had expansionist tendencies.)

Jordanes writes:
"Then Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, made alliance with the Goths
and took to wife Medopa, the daughter of King Gudila, so that he might render
the kingdom of Macedon more secure by the help of this marriage. It was at
this time, as the historian Dio relates, that Philip, suffering from need of
money, determined to lead out his forces and sack Odessus, a city of Moesia,
which was then subject to the Goths by reason of the neighboring city of Tomi.

"Thereupon those priests of the Goths that are called the Holy Men suddenly
opened the gates of Odessus and came forth to meet them. They bore harps and
were clad in snowy robes, and chanted in suppliant strains to the gods of
their fathers that they might be propitious and repel the Macedonians. When
the Macedonians saw them coming with such confidence to meet them, they were
astonished and, so to speak, the armed were terrified by the unarmed."

Whenever we meet the Goths outside of battle, there are always strong
religious overtones and issues, even down to Arianism and the burial rites
attributed to them.  The broader Germanic tradition of priest as
battle-chanters and rune-writers and Odin as magician may also come to mind.

In this connection there is a string of possible "pour" words (in the sense
of sound pouring out) in Greek that are unique in their meaning:

<goe:s, goe:tos>, sorcerer, wizard,. juggler ("magos kai goe:tos")

<goe:te:s, goe:tou>, wailer

<goos>, weeping, wailing

<goe:teuo:>, bewitch, beguile (in Plato)

<goe:tikos> skilled in witchcraft, juggling

<goe:tis> bewitching, AP12.192 (Strat.). ("goe:tos (sic) is prob.f.l.for PHib.52.18 (iii B. C.) - L&S)

<goe:teia>, witchcraft, jugglery, (in a milder sense) finesse, the magic [of

<goe:teuma>, spell, charm

<goe:teusis>, sorcery

<goe:teutikos> = <goe:tikos>

<goe:teutria>, sorceress; (pass), fascinate; (abs), play the wizard

Cf., Gr., <ko:kutos>, shrieking, wailing; <mageutikos>, magic (Plato); of
persons, addicted to magic

Cf., Gothic: <ga:uno:thus> mourning, lamentation; <gudja> priest; (Old
Norse), <godr>

Steve Long

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