Wondering if there are any original-ish documents in the original Celtic, Old English, Old Norse, or Gothic (or other related languages), telling of any of the myths or fairy tales or stories that could be along the lines of Ovid's Metamorphosis, or the Bibliotheca, or the Bible, or perhaps short stories of different sorts, such as The Little Red RidingHood (or other European stories in Old Norse, Gothic, etc.). Wondering if they can be found online anywhere such as archive.org. Looking for the stories written in the original language, rather than in English. Basically the earliest sources, even if that means in Latin or Greek too, which is maybe more likely (though Beowulf seems to be written in Old English which is more what I'm looking for).

If there aren't any, would be helpful to know if they were just not written down or if they are just not transferred from say old books into PDFs.

  • 1
    I am not specialist enough, and probably either Andejons or Soldstodir will come and put answer for the Norse/Celtic part. But for Old English (or old French), resources are sooo plentyful! The electronic beowulf: ebeowulf.uky.edu is quite the example. – Gibet Oct 22 at 7:52
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Old Norse

For Old Norse, heimskringla.no has a lot of material, including different editions (also in modern Nordic languages). The site itself is mostly in Norwegian, so it can be tricky to navigate if you don't speak a Nordic language. There are two obvious books to start with:

  • Snorri's Edda. This is usually the preferable starting point, as it is a treatise on poetics, which gives the background needed to understand and write poetry in the Old Norse style, including the myths that underlie the poetic language. There are also a lot of examples of poetry.
  • The Poetic Edda. This is a collection of poetry with mythological or legendary subject matter.

There is of course a lot of other material there as well, but those are the ones you really should check out first.

Gothic

There is very little surviving material of the Gothic language(s) at all. What exists are mainly manuscripts of Wulfila's Bible translation. These are available through the Wulfila project.

  • Awesome, that is a great Gothic find. Wondering about Celtic or any fairy tales, would be interested if any of that stuff is in Old English or Celtic. – Lance Pollard Oct 22 at 11:15
  • Came across this as well. Also wondering if Þjóðólfr is to be found on that wiki. Perhaps this. – Lance Pollard Oct 25 at 4:00
  • Here is some Celtic stuff. – Lance Pollard Oct 25 at 4:49

Gothic

As mentioned in andejons’ answer, there is not a lot of material in the Gothic language. Apart from Wulfila's Bible translation on the Wulfila project (where you can also find a calendar fragment, the Gothic signatures of the Naples and Arezzo deeds and the Skeireins fragment, a part of a commentary on the gospel of John), there is another website, www.gotica.de, which apart from the aforementioned fragments also contains some other smaller fragments in Gothic. These texts are useful to study the Gothic language and how the Goths interpreted the Bible, but we can learn very little about their mythology from these texts. The problem is that the Goths already had become Christians before most written sources mention anything about them, so we do not know much about there pre-christian stories and beliefs.

However, in Latin we do have a text known under the title De origine actibusque Getarum or Getica, by Jordanes. It mixes earlier Roman and Greek sources with oral Gothic sources, and it represents both the mythological and historical background of the Goths. However, a lot of information is drawn from sources that write about peoples who were not actually Goths but other peoples with similar names or living earlier in the same areas that where later inhabited by Goths. A Latin edition can be found online here and (together with an English translation and notes) here. A more recent scholarly edition of the Latin text with elaborate notes and a side-by-side Italian translation was published in France in 2017.

In Old-Norse, we have the Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks, in which we find a poem commonly known under the name of Hlǫðskviða, about a battle of the Goths with the Huns. This poem may or may not reflect an earlier Gothic tradition about the same events. An Old-Norse version can be found here and (together with an English translation and notes) here. You may also want to look at Wikipedia for some basic background information.

You might be interested to know that, apart from this, in later times myths about the Gothic kings Ermanaric (also mentioned in the Getica) and Theoderic (a historical ruler of the Ostrogoths) started to appear elsewhere in Europe, for example in the Latin Annals of Quedlinburg, the Old High German Hildebrandslied, the Old English poems Waldere, Deor and Widsith, the Old-Norse Þiðreks Saga and some texts in the Poetic Edda, as well as in the Middle High German Heldenbücher and the Niebelungenlied (amongst others). But note that these are no Gothic stories, they are stories of a much later date about Gothic heroes who lived several centuries earlier.

Old Irish

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts A good but limited source of Irish texts of all ages, because it (and Vanhamel below) include all forms of Irish literature, their mythology section can be wanting.

Vanhamel Codecs A good guide to get a grounding of what text is where, what language period, and related publications (papers etc).

Mary Jones' Celtic Literature Collective This used to be the best place to find Irish and Wesh language mythology with the original sources, sadly due to technical issues and hacking it's been down for a bit and may not come back up, I've put it here in case it comes back in the future.

Irish Script On Screen If you want to take it further than that and you're fluent in Sengoidelic and well versed in Insular script, Irish script on Screen has a growing collection of digitised Irish Manuscripts available online.

The Mythological Cycle of Medieval Irish Literature, John Carey, 2018 (€12) If you're willing to pay, this is one of best (and succinct) guides to medieval Irish mythology and literature, plus it's very up to date.

Ireland's Immortals, Mark Williams, 2016 (~ £20) Carey's book is short for a reason, it's because this book came out before he could finish writing his. This tackles the same subject as Carey's book but is far more in-depth and if you wanted about 400 pages more of Carey's book (more of a pamphlet) then this book is what you need.

These books don't contain the original sources or translations but make for excellent guides and'll show you exactly what you need to know.

The Perseus Project is an exceptional resource for Greek and Latin Texts (not complete, but quite comprehensive):

It's particularly useful because you can read most of the texts in either English or the original, and the ancient Greek and Latin words are all hypertext links to lexical entries.

They also have a library of "Germanic" material which is comprised of Old Norse texts:

In my experience, the Old Norse lexicon is not as robust as the Greek/Latin, but it's an ongoing project of several decades.

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.