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WODEN, a deity of the Anglo-Saxons, the name being the Anglo-Saxon counterpart of the Scandinavian Odin (?..). In German the same god was called Wodan or Wuotan. Owing to the very small amount of information which has come down to us regarding the gods of ancient England and Germany, it cannot be determined how far the character and adventures attributed to Odin in Scandinavian mythology were known to other Teutonic peoples. It is clear, however, that the god was credited with special skill in magic, both in England and Germany, while the story of the Langobardic migration (see LOMBARDS) represents him as the dispenser of victory. From Woden also most of the anglo-Saxon royal families traced their descent. By the Romans he was identified at an early date with Mercurius, whence our name " Wednesday " (Woden's day) as a translation of dies Mercurii. Tacitus states that the ancient Germans worshipped Mercurius more than any other god, and that they offered him human sacrifices. Many scholars connect the origin of the deity with the popular German and Swedish belief in a raging host (in Germany called das ivutende Heer or Wutes Heer, but in Sweden Odens Jagt) , which passes through the forests on stormy nights. There is evidence, however, that deities similar to Woden were known to some of the ancient peoples of central Europe, e.g. the Gauls and Thracians. See TEUTONIC PEOPLES, ad fin. (H. M. C.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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