Frog, Baldr and Lemminkäinen : approaching the evolution of mythological narrative through the activating power of expression

Frog, Baldr and Lemminkäinen : approaching the evolution of mythological narrative through the activating power of expression – a case study in Germanic and Finno-Karelian cultural contact and exchange, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2010, (University College London)

Résumé :

The orientation of this study is to explore what the sources for each narrative tradition can (and cannot) tell us about their respective histories, in order to reach a point at which it becomes possible to discuss a relationship between them and the significance of that relationship. This is not intended as an exhaustive study of every element of each source or every aspect of each tradition. It will present a basic introduction to sources for each tradition (§3-4) followed by a basic context for approaching the possibility of a cultural exchange (§5-7). The APE and its “powers” are introduced with specific examples from both traditions (§8-13). This will be followed by sections on the activation and manipulation of “identities” from the level of cultural figures to textual and extra-textual entities (§14-16) followed by relationships of traditions to individuals and social groups who perform them, and the impact which this has on the evolution of tradition as a social process (§17-18). The study will then address more specific issues in relationships between source and application in the medieval and iconographic representations of the Baldr-Cycle where so little comparative material is available to provide a context (§19). This will move into issues of persistence and change in the broader tradition, opening the discussion of intertextual reference and the evolution of traditions (§20-22). The Baldr-Cycle and Lemminkäisen virsi will each be reviewed (§23-24). It will be shown that Lemminkäisen virsi most likely emerged as a direct adaptation of a version of the Baldr-Cycle as a consequence of contacts with Germanic culture in the first millennium of the present era, probably during the Viking Age. Lemminkäinen appears to have been established as a cultural figure at that time, and the adaptation was most likely intended to impact how Lemminkäinen was regarded as a cultural figure. The value of the Baldr-Cycle in this application appears attributable to existing features in the tradition ecology which allowed its motif-complexes to generate significant and relevant meanings (§25). This study is a case study approaching the evolution of mythological narrative as a historical process occurring through a conjunction of individual applications and social processes. This case study demonstrates the value of the APE and offers insight into the history of cultural contact and exchange in the Circum-Baltic region.

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