History · images · ritual · Rome · warfare

A Couple of Neat Nuggets of Lore

Just want to mark these down, which I found today while searching for something completely unrelated.

“They [the Goths] like to march under arms to a banquet, they will attend a funeral in white, and wear mourning at a marriage festival; they go to church in furs, and hear a litany in beaver.” –Sidonius Apollinaris, Letters, Book V, Letter VII

Note that the Roman color of mourning was black. Thus, the Goths (at least; no telling how widespread the practice was) used white as a color of mourning, and black, apparently, at weddings. I’ll have to dig up some of the wedding references in the Sagas and see if there’s anything indicating the color of the garb of any of the participants or guests.

“Here were the standards of the veteran cohorts; there the images of wild beasts, brought out of the woods and sacred groves, under the various forms which each tribe is used to follow into battle…” –Tacitus, History, Book IV, 22

Tacitus is here speaking of “the whole German nation”. The inference is clear; each tribe had a totem animal, which was represented by an image or sculpture (distinct from those at the top of Roman standards used by individual cohorts) with some definite sort of sacral function. I see a direct line between these and the famous “raven banner” (and Olav Haraldsson’s not-so-famous dragon banner) of the Viking Age. Here is perfect lore-based justification for the modern practice of tribes adopting particular animals as symbols, with continuity from the first century CE through the eleventh.

Just thought those were a couple of neat little nuggets of lore.

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