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  1. #1
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    Roman Gods in Germanic Tribes

    I've been doing some research into the Gods that were worshipped in the area that I live in and I come across several Gods that have the same name but are different and are somewhat intermixed with other Gods.
    I'm confused...

    An altarstone for Mars Halamardus was found near the town where I live. When I research him I find a reference in the Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Myth Folklore and Magic that states that oftentimes Mars can be seen as a Roman interpretation of Tyr, like Mars Thingsus. But Mars Halamardus is most likely not?

    How can you have multiple gods called Mars, that are somehow related to Tyr, but not all. Are these different Mars' all different Gods, or representations of the Mars we know from the Roman pantheon?

    How I look at it now is that Romans invaded Europe and brought with them their gods. And when people try to intermingle they look for similarities, right? The Roman and Germanic Gods Tyr and Mars were kind of similar. So one God blends into the other. But maybe not always? And not always the same or in the same measure? Is Mars Halamardus a pure Roman God?

    Sorry for the rambling.
    Anybody care to help me shed some light on this?
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    Re: Roman Gods in Germanic Tribes

    Quote Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
    I've been doing some research into the Gods that were worshipped in the area that I live in and I come across several Gods that have the same name but are different and are somewhat intermixed with other Gods.
    I'm confused...

    An altarstone for Mars Halamardus was found near the town where I live. When I research him I find a reference in the Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic Myth Folklore and Magic that states that oftentimes Mars can be seen as a Roman interpretation of Tyr, like Mars Thingsus. But Mars Halamardus is most likely not?

    How can you have multiple gods called Mars, that are somehow related to Tyr, but not all. Are these different Mars' all different Gods, or representations of the Mars we know from the Roman pantheon?

    How I look at it now is that Romans invaded Europe and brought with them their gods. And when people try to intermingle they look for similarities, right? The Roman and Germanic Gods Tyr and Mars were kind of similar. So one God blends into the other. But maybe not always? And not always the same or in the same measure? Is Mars Halamardus a pure Roman God?

    Sorry for the rambling.
    Anybody care to help me shed some light on this?
    Confusion is an entirely appropriate response to this situation. I think a significant contribution to this confusion is the somewhat differing notions of divinity of Germanic and Roman cultures at this time. While the Romans seemed to (at least sometimes) believe that there Gods were universal (hence reinterpreting other cultures Gods as "really" being Mars, etc.) Germanic cultures had many "local" deities who were only tied to one specific cultural group and/or geographical region.

    It is possible that Mars Halamardus was a local deity involved with war and/or agriculture who became associated with Mars due to Roman cultural influence. Depending on the perspective of the person thinking about him, Mars Halamardus may have been interpreted as;

    - the universal God Mars as he is worshiped in a particular area
    - the universal God Tyr as he is worshiped in a particular area
    - a local God who fulfills the "role" of Mars for a particular culture or location

    My guess would be something like option 3, a local God who has become associated with, but not completely identical to the Roman God in the eyes of his worshipers.
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    Re: Roman Gods in Germanic Tribes

    Quote Originally Posted by Megatherium View Post
    Confusion is an entirely appropriate response to this situation. ...

    My guess would be something like option 3, a local God who has become associated with, but not completely identical to the Roman God in the eyes of his worshipers.
    Consider also that certain concepts are universal across cultures... justice, truth, defensive war, natural events (thunder, rain, fertility of the Earth, etc.). That's what leads me to think of such various deities as Thor, Perun, Perkunas, Donar, Indra, being the same deity seen through different cultural lenses, with some attributes and facets missing or added as seen (or not) by various cultures. However, that doesn't mean all deities sharing certain attributes are the same deity. For example, while Mars and Tyr (and Kartikeya, for that matter) may be the same god, I don't believe Ares is. He's definitely not Kartikeya!
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    Re: Roman Gods in Germanic Tribes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jainarayan View Post
    Consider also that certain concepts are universal across cultures... justice, truth, defensive war, natural events (thunder, rain, fertility of the Earth, etc.). That's what leads me to think of such various deities as Thor, Perun, Perkunas, Donar, Indra, being the same deity seen through different cultural lenses, with some attributes and facets missing or added as seen (or not) by various cultures. However, that doesn't mean all deities sharing certain attributes are the same deity. For example, while Mars and Tyr (and Kartikeya, for that matter) may be the same god, I don't believe Ares is. He's definitely not Kartikeya!
    Consider this possibility*: Someone has put, say, the domain of the weather "up for bid." Thor won the contract in the Norse countries; Zeus won it in Greece; and so forth. Over the years since then there have been mergers and acquisitions, of course; Thor Partners LLC now controls the territory and trademarks of Zeus, Inc., but still provides support to legacy users. Just need to be aware of any plans for a hostile takeover....

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    Re: Roman Gods in Germanic Tribes

    Quote Originally Posted by ehbowen View Post
    Consider this possibility*: Someone has put, say, the domain of the weather "up for bid." Thor won the contract in the Norse countries; Zeus won it in Greece; and so forth. Over the years since then there have been mergers and acquisitions, of course; Thor Partners LLC now controls the territory and trademarks of Zeus, Inc., but still provides support to legacy users. Just need to be aware of any plans for a hostile takeover....

    [*Disclaimer: For Entertainment Purposes Only. Professional Theological Speculator On Closed Reality Course. Kids, Don't Try This At Home....]
    Now that's really updated to modern times!
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    Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - The Yajurveda

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    Re: Roman Gods in Germanic Tribes

    Quote Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
    How can you have multiple gods called Mars, that are somehow related to Tyr, but not all. Are these different Mars' all different Gods, or representations of the Mars we know from the Roman pantheon?
    The Interpretatio Romano was not an exact science. The Romans were interested in commonalities for political reasons, not because they were great cultural scholars interested in a different religion for its own sake. A lot of the commonalities that the Romans used for their basis in the Interpretatio seem quite superficial and forced.

    Further, keep in mind the Germanic peoples didn't exactly have a united pantheon. Every tribe could have its own spin on the gods.

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    Re: Roman Gods in Germanic Tribes

    Thank you for all your insights. They're very helpful!


    Quote Originally Posted by ehbowen View Post
    Consider this possibility*: Someone has put, say, the domain of the weather "up for bid." Thor won the contract in the Norse countries; Zeus won it in Greece; and so forth. Over the years since then there have been mergers and acquisitions, of course; Thor Partners LLC now controls the territory and trademarks of Zeus, Inc., but still provides support to legacy users. Just need to be aware of any plans for a hostile takeover....

    [*Disclaimer: For Entertainment Purposes Only. Professional Theological Speculator On Closed Reality Course. Kids, Don't Try This At Home....]
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    Re: Roman Gods in Germanic Tribes

    Quote Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
    Eric, I swear you crack me up every time.
    Glad you enjoyed it. But, in all seriousness, while I'm not saying that's how things really are now, is it possibly a workable scenario for the future? That when you note local distinctions and specifics, you're actually speaking with a different local desk/supervisor of "Thor Partners LLC?"

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    Re: Roman Gods in Germanic Tribes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jainarayan View Post
    leads me to think of such various deities as Thor, Perun, Perkunas, Donar, Indra, being the same deity seen through different cultural lenses ... that doesn't mean all deities sharing certain attributes are the same deity.
    Interesting. How do you address the seeming disparity in level of power of those deities within their respective pantheons? How can Thor be subservient to Odin, while Perun and Indra* were rulers of their Pantheons?

    *(In Vedic times. Modern Hindus have varying and often contradictory views of Indra)

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    Re: Roman Gods in Germanic Tribes

    Quote Originally Posted by EnderDragonFire View Post
    Interesting. How do you address the seeming disparity in level of power of those deities within their respective pantheons? How can Thor be subservient to Odin, while Perun and Indra* were rulers of their Pantheons?

    *(In Vedic times. Modern Hindus have varying and often contradictory views of Indra)
    Pantheons, the importance of individual deities and their respective mythologies vary though time, place and social group. It is unlikely that Odin was always the head of the Norse pantheon, he may have supplanted Tyr, whose name literally translates as god.

    Adam of Bremen's description of Uppsala places Thor as the "mightiest' god ahead of Odin and from archeology and toponomy it appears that the cult of Thor was more widespead than that of Odin.

    I doubt one god was seen as more powerful than or subservient to another but more likely as more relevant in a specific situation and to a specific group. Such as the engraving to Mars Halamardus, this would likely have been made by foederati who were looking for success in war.

    Mythologies often contain contradictory accounts that is the nature of mythology.

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