Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte * Richard Moritz Meyer (1910/? Athanaion/Phaidon * ISBN: 3888512107 / 3884002244)

When looking for the famous work with the same title by the Dutch scholar Jan de Vries (1890-1957), I found out that there are more works with the same title and also about the fact that there are two versions of the work of De Vries. De Vries had a pre-war version (1937) and a massively expanded and revised post-war version in two books (1956/7). I can’t find copies of either work. With the same title there is a 1934 work by Carl Clemen (1865-1940), a 1913-1953 book by Karl Helm (1871-?), many articles and coproductions with the title “Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte” and then of course this 1910 work by Richard Meyer (1860-?). Some of these works are still available in some way (second hand or in reprint), but as I said, I can’t find the De Vries version which I was actually looking for. Via Amazon Germany I found a cheap “second hand” version of the book of Meyer which proved to be a brandnew, undamaged reprint with a hard cover. E 15,- (including shipping) for a 650 page book. Not bad, right? Of course it is in German.

The book gives you exactly what the title proves “history of the old-German religion”. You get an overview of the subject, an introduction into (the investigation of) mythology in general and then Meyer starts with the history of gods and divine beings, folklore, etc. In the case of for example “Tyr” (Tiuz/Tiwaz), Meyer says that he is an Indo-European god (in contradiction to for example Wodan/Odin or Thor/Donar) who began as main god, but was surpassed in popularity by Wodan/Odin. Meyer gives the origin of his name, history of his functions, etc. Most of the book is filled with this kind of information. At the same time you of course get much information of different sources of mythology and the like. For some strange reason in the first 2/3rd part of the book, Meyer doesn’t give all of his sources (no references to places in the Edda for example), in the last part of the book this gets better. There is a massive index and even though the book isn’t exactly what I was looking for, it is extremely interesting and usefull when you want to learn more about Germanic (or “Teutonic” in English) religion, mythology and folklore. I am sure that I missed much information because of the German language. My German isn’t bad, but it is far from being being my second or third tongue, but I will just reread the book in a while.

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