- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
62

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - III. The mountain peoples near the military road

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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
62
that Odin had great possessions south of the "great
mountain-belt", that is, the Caucasus (just where
some of the Ossetes now dwell), and that "at that
time the Roman Emperors went far abroad in the
world, and brought all the peoples under them
selves". The far-sighted Odin then went away,
"and all his gods with him and many other peoples",
first westwards to Gardarike (= Russia), then
southwards to Saksland (= Germany), and then
northwards.
Philologists derive the word ass or ass, Old Ger
manic ans—ansu, from the root ans = "to breathe"
or "blow" ; so that ass would then more or less mean
a wind-god, or a spirit. But this would not prevent
the nåme being in some way or other related later
with the Ossetes, who also may have had an
Æ-sound in their nåme (compare the Sea of Azov).
Most of the Ossetes are now nominally Christians
—Orthodox Greeks—and about a fourth of them
are Mohammedans ; but like the Khevsurs they are
all still more or less heathen, and worship their old
gods and spirits. That some of these have been
given saints’ names has hardly made them less
heathen. Thus the god of thunder and lightning is
called Samt Elias, but seems to have a likeness with
our thunder god Thor. When anyone is killed by
lightning, he has been struck by Samt Eliasfor håving
offended him. The dead man is buried either where
he was killed or on the spot the body happens to be
drawn to when it has been laid on a two-wheeled
cart harnessed to two rams. At the grave a black
ram is slaughtered, and the skin is hung up on a

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