Gods will be Gods
For many years the debate on what, or who, were the first gods of man raged. Great comparisons have been made between the gods of the North and the gods of the Greeks and Romans. Personally I find the gods of Romans and Greeks lacking any relationship with the Norse gods. So have the sources I've read. They suggest that the gods of the Greeks that were prototype for Roman gods, were in fact taken from an earlier set of gods. Is this possible? Well, let's look at their argument. Professor Jesse Byock of the University of California says that the oldest god in the Norse pantheon was Tyr. This has been suggested or stated as a fact by several other writers such as Johannes Brondsted and Tacitus.
Tacitus wrote of the Germanic peoples in the year 100ce (ad) said the principal gods were; Odin (Mercury), Thor (Hercules), Tyr (Mars). Tyr was spelled several ways; Ty, Tir and Ti, just to list a few. His position was at one time very high in standing, on par with Zeus, Jupiter and Dyaus. How great you ask? Well, again we can look at Historical things, like place names. We are about to enter the Mediterranean be sure to grab your map. First stop is Italy the home of Jupiter. The sea on the east side is called the Tyrrhenian Sea. Now on to Albania and the city Tirone, and then to Israel and the city Tyre. Let's stop here or all we'll have is a list. The names listed here are very old before Israel or Greece. The town of Tyre was part of Phoenica or pre-Greek. The god Tyr seems to have had a following from here (Tyre) to the North and west in early BCE (BC) times as the chief god. That Tyr was a very old god at the time of Phoenica goes without saying. During the Viking age this once powerful god, pushed from the throne by the young upstart Odin, seems to have slipped farther down in importance. Not much is said of Tyr in Viking history. He seems to be a god left behind by a people on the move.
Baal and Bel are to more gods of the area around what is now Israel. Most historians I've read seem to say that they are the same god, only with a different "twist". Their death and resurrection, like Christ's, have marked differences. They do have a lot in common with Baldar though. Baldar also has been placed on the list of "old" gods. Two historical writers (there may be more I haven't read yet) have listed Baldar as a pre-Odin god. This has left more than one person with the idea that Baldar, Baal and Bel are in fact the same god, and with the same little "twist" I wrote of before.
The old gods of the Germanic people were Old gods, so old as to pre-date the gods of the Greeks. They may have even been the prototypes for their gods. Now wouldn't that be something. This would make for a relationship between the gods of the Vikings and the Greeks but not the way some would have us think. The truth to the matter is we may never know the answer to, "which came first, the chicken or the egg". Someone once said "A nation gets the kind of gods it deserves". Maybe the people didn't deserve them anymore.
© 2005 Gary Anderson