A new translation of Saxo Grammaticus’ account on pre-Christian religion of the Slavs


martenica Saxo Grammaticus was one of the least biased chronists of XII-XIII centuries, who gave us a most detailed description of the pagan Slavic religion he witnessed during the Danish-German conquest of the Baltic Slavs. We learn from him that Slavs had a very developed, hierarchical religious concepts, sophisticated rituals, influential class of priests, multistory wooden temples with beautiful statues and decorations.

However, translation of the particular book of his work Gesta Danorum is practically inaccessible (even libraries) in English and never existed in Russian. I started raising funds to publish a new translation of Saxo Grammaticus’ account on pre-Christian religion of the Slavs.

Anybody who would like to see it published is welcomed to pledge on Kickstarter.

Work in progress is regularly updated on academia.edu

Annotation: Among the literary sources on pre-Christian religion and mythology of the Slavs, predominantly highly fragmented and biased, the Western, German-Danish, latin texts distinguish themselves, comparing to the Arab and Old Rus’ sources, by their relative scrupulousness and a less obvious agenda. Even on the backdrop of the other Western sources, accounts of Saxo Grammaticus are specially characterized by the detailed and rigorous descriptions and the minimal use of the ideologically motivated narrative instruments. Unfortunately, the English translation of the book XIV done by Erik Christiansen is highly difficult to access, while the Oliver Elton’s translation of some related to the topic fragments, included in his edition of the books I-IX, lacks a desired level of accuracy and details of the cult description. The following translation, with all its imperfections, still, is intended to make Saxo Grammaticus’ texts more accessible for a wider circle of readers, both, specialists and not, present frequently overlooked fragments, and correct some of the errors, traditionally creeping from one of the Saxo’s account overview to another.

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