Slaves sacrificed to Nerthus

Why am I not surprised?

Our story begins with a human sacrifice. Stranger than this, it starts in a Danish swamp. Perhaps strangest of all, we owe this information about the violent origins of the English-speaking world to the Roman historian Tacitus, the author of Germania, ‘On the Origin and Character of Germany’. The German tribes, wrote Tacitus, love freedom, their women are chaste, and there is no public extravagance; the Tencteri excel in horsemanship; the Suebi ‘tie their hair in a knot’, and so on. But no picture is perfect. There are, Tacitus continues, seven tribes about whom there is ‘nothing noteworthy’ to say, except that they worship Nerthus, the goddess Mother Earth, ‘a ceremony performed by slaves who are immediately afterwards drowned in the lake’. One of these seven barbarous tribes was ‘the Anglii’, better known to history as the Angles.

Lingua Globa: How English Became ‘Globish’

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3 thoughts on “Slaves sacrificed to Nerthus

  1. What is your point? Is it religions make for barbaric practices? I agree, the Pagans, to the Jews, who slaughtered entire cities in the Bible. To the Christians who slaughtered Pagans and those who didn’t except their beliefs and now Muslim suicide bombers.

  2. Worshippers of Mother Earth in the past enslaved people and then sacrificed those slaves to Mother Earth. This is despite their reverence for all life and their peace-loving, pre-industrial culture, which was at that time uncorrupted by the vicious imperialism of science, philosophy, or McDonald’s.

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