Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/153

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ARMINIUS. 147


may have been bitterly hostile to him, and have opposed his authority with the tribe by open violence, and, when that seemed ineffectual, by secret assassination.

Arminius left a name which the historians of the nation against which he combated so long and so gloriously have delighted to honor. It is from the most indisputable source, from the lips of enemies, that we know his exploits.* His countrymen made history, but did not write it. But his memory lived among them in the lays of their bards, who recorded

The deeds he did, the fields he won, The freedom he restored.

Tacitus, writing years after the death of Arminius, says of him, "Canitur adhuc barbaras apud gentes." As time passed on, the gratitude of ancient Germany to her great deliverer grew into adoration, and divine honors wore paid for centuries to Arminius by every tribe of the Low Germanic division of the Teutonic races. The Irmin-sul, or the column of Herman, near Eresburgh, the modern Stadtberg, was the chosen object of worship to the descendants of the Cherusci, the Old Saxons, and in defense of which they fought most desperately against Charlemagne and his Christianized Franks. "Irmin, in the cloudy Olympus of Teutonic belief, appears as a king and a warrior; and the pillar, the 'Irmin-sul,' bearing the statue, and considered as the symbol of the deity, was the Palladium of the Saxon nation until the temple of Eresburgh was destroyed by Charlemagne, and the column itself transferred to the monastery of Corbey, where perhaps a portion of the rude rock idol yet remains, covered by the ornaments of the Gothic era."† Traces of the worship of Arminius are to be found among our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, after their settlement in this island. One of the four great highways was held to be under the protection of the deity, and was called the "Irmin street." The name Arminius is, of course, the mere Latinized form of "Herman," the name by which the hero and the deity were known by every man of Low German blood on either side of the German Sea. It means, etymologically, the "War-man," the "man of hosts." No other explanation of the worship of the "Irmin-sul," and of the name of the "Irmin

  • See Tacitus, "Ann.," lib. ii., sec. 88; Velleius Paterculus, lib. ii.,

sec. 118.

† Palgrave on the "English Commonwealth," vol. ii., p. 140.