World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Prussian mythology

Article Id: WHEBN0029430101
Reproduction Date:

Title: Prussian mythology  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Romuva (temple), List of mythologies, Proto-Indo-European religion, Balts, Oak
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Prussian mythology

Image of the temple of Romuva according to the unreliable description by Simon Grunau

The Prussian mythology was a polytheistic religion of the Old Prussians, indigenous peoples of Prussia before the Prussian Crusade waged by the Teutonic Knights. It was closely related to other Baltic faiths, the Lithuanian and Latvian mythologies. Its myths and legends did not survive as Prussians became Germanized and extinct in the early 18th century. Fragmentary information on gods and rituals can be found in various medieval chronicles, but most of them are unreliable. No sources document pagan religion before the forced Christianization in the 13th century. Most of what is known about Prussian religion is obtained from dubious 16th-century sources (Sudovian Book and Simon Grunau).

Historical background and sources

The Teutonic Knights, a crusading military order, began the Prussian Crusade in the 1220s. Their goal was to conquer and convert pagan Prussians to Christianity. The Knights built log and stone fortresses, which proved to be impregnable to the Prussians. Despite five Prussian uprisings, conquest of Prussia was then complete by the 1280s. German colonists repopulated the decimated region. It is estimated that by around 1400, Prussians numbered 100,000 and comprised about half of the total population in Prussia. The Prussians were subject to Germanization and assimilation and eventually became extinct sometime after the 16th century. The Knights regarded paganism as evil, worthy of complete eradication and not study. Therefore they showed no interest in local customs and produced no detailed accounts of Prussian mythology. Bits and pieces of accidental, fragmentary, but reliable, mentions of gods and traditions can be found in official Teutonic documents and chronicles, such as the 1248 Treaty of Christburg, Chronicle of Peter von Dusburg, correspondence with the Pope.

Affected by the [2]

Simon Grunau (died ca. 1530) is much-criticized for using dubious and falsified sources and often augmenting facts with his own imagination. Modern scholars often dismiss the chronicle as a work of fiction, though Lithuanian researchers tend to be more careful and attempt to find its redeeming qualities. The work is responsible for the introduction and popularization of several major legends: King Widewuto, a 6th-century king of the Cimbri, the temple of Romuva, the pagan trinity (Peckols, Potrimpo, and Perkūnas), the high priest (krivė krivaitis) and female waidelinns (similar to Roman vestales).

Various later authors simply copied information from Grunau and the Sudovian Book adding no or very little new information.

Prussian pantheon

Early lists

The 1249 Treaty of Christburg mentioned Curche, an idol worshiped during harvest festivals. Scholars were unable to positively determine its gender, function, or etymology. Various suggested functions include god of food (Simon Grunau), smithing god (similar to Slavic Svarog and Greek Hephaestus), god creator (derived from related Lithuanian word kurti – to create), god of harvest and grain, evil spirit, god of fire. Some even doubted whether it was a god at all and suggested that it was a name given to a corn dolly.

Another reliable source is a 1418 memorandum (Collato Episcopi Varmiensis) written by Bishop of Warmia to Pope Martin V. The letter reminded the Pope about Teutonic achievements in Christianizing Prussians, who no longer worshiped Patollu and Natrimpe. Most scholars interpret this as two different gods, but patollu could also be an adjective (evil, hellish) to describe Natrimpe.[3] Based on later works, patollu is usually identified as Peckols, angry god of the underworld, and Natrimpe as Potrimpo, god of seas or grain.

In addition to the trinity of Peckols, Potrimpo, and Perkūnas, Grunau mentioned three minor gods: Wurschayto or Borszkayto and Szwaybrotto were personifications of Widewuto and Bruteno, and Curcho was god of food (borrowed from the Treaty of Christburg).

Sudovian Book and Constitutiones Synodales

Constitutiones listed ten Prussian gods and provided their classical Roman equivalents. Note that none of these are female goddesses and that Curche is missing. The list was closely mirrored in the Sudovian Book.

Constitutiones Synodales[2] Sudovian Book[4] Function[4] Roman equivalent[2]
Occopirmus Ockopirmus Chief sky god Saturn
Suaixtix Swayxtix God of light Sol
Ausschauts Auschauts God of the sick Aesculapius
Autrympus Autrimpus God of seas Castor
Potrympus Potrimpus God of running water Pollux
Bardoyas Bardoayts God of ships Neptune
Pergrubrius God of plants
Piluuytus Pilnitis God of abundance Ceres
Parcuns Parkuns God of thunder Jupiter
Pecols and Pocols Peckols and Pockols God of hell, evil spirit Pluto, Furies
Puschkayts God of earth
Barstucke and Markopole Servants of Puschkayts


  1. ^ Kregždys, Rolandas (2009). "Sūduvių knygelė – vakarų baltų religijos ir kultūros šaltinis. I dalis: formalioji analizė". Lituanistica (in Lietuvių) 3–4 (79–80): 179–187.  
  2. ^ a b c Bojtár, Endre (1999). Foreword to the Past: A Cultural History of the Baltic People. CEU Press. p. 315.  
  3. ^ Bojtár, Endre (1999). Foreword to the Past: A Cultural History of the Baltic People. CEU Press. pp. 308–309.  
  4. ^ a b Schmalstieg, William R. (2003). "Review. Baltų religijos ir mitologijos šaltiniai 2". Archivum Lithuanicum 5: 364–365.  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.