Origo Gentis Langobardorum

The Origo Gentis Langobardorum is a seventh century text regarding the founding myth of the Lombards. It is the sole source of our knowledge of the Lombardic reflex of Proto-Germanic *Wōdanaz, known here as Godan, and of Proto-Germanic *Frijjō, known here as Frea.

This text is used by Paul the Deacon in his Historia Langobardorum more than a century later. It survived with over a hundred copies, while the referenced text only survived in three copies.

Est insula qui dicitur scadanan, quod interpretatur excidia, in partibus aquilonis, ubi multae gentes habitant; inter quos erat gens parva quae winnilis vocabatur. Et erat cum eis mulier nomine gambara, habebatque duos filios, nomen uni ybor et nomen alteri agio; ipsi cum matre sua nomine gambara principatum tenebant super winniles. Moverunt se ergo duces wandalorum, id est ambri et assi, cum exercitu suo, et dicebant ad winniles: ” Aut solvite nobis tributa, aut praeparate vos ad pugnam et pugnate nobiscum”. Tunc responderunt ybor et agio cum matre sua gambara: “Melius est nobis pugnam praeparare, quam wandalis tributa persolvere”. Tunc ambri et assi, hoc est duces wandalorum, rogaverunt godan, ut daret eis super winniles victoriam. Respondit godan dicens: “Quos sol surgente antea videro, ipsis dabo victoriam”. Eo tempore gambara cum duobus filiis suis, id est ybor et agio, qui principes erant super winniles, rogaverunt fream, uxorem godam, ut ad winniles esset propitia. Tunc frea dedit consilium, ut sol surgente venirent winniles et mulieres eorum crines solutae circa faciem in similitudinem barbae et cum viris suis venirent. Tunc luciscente sol dum surgeret, giravit frea, uxor godan, lectum ubi recumbebat vir eius, et fecit faciem eius contra orientem, et excitavit eum. Et ille aspiciens vidit winniles et mulieres ipsorum habentes crines solutas circa faciem; et ait: “Qui sunt isti longibarbae” ? Et dixit frea ad godan: “Sicut dedisti nomen, da illis et victoriam”. Et dedit eis victoriam, ut ubi visum esset vindicarent se et victoriam haberent. Ab illo tempore winnilis langobardi vocati sunt.

There is an island that is called Scadanan, which is interpreted “destruction,” in the regions of the north, where many people dwell. Among these there was a small people that was called the Winniles. And with them was a woman, Gambara by name, and she had two sons. Ybor was the name of one and Agio the name of the other. They, with their mother, Gambara by name, held the sovereignty over the Winniles. Then the leaders of the Vandals, that is, Ambri and Assi, moved with their army, and said to the Winniles: ‘Either pay us tribute or prepare yourselves for battle and fight with us.’ Then answered Ybor and Agio, with their mother Gambara: ‘It is better for us to make ready the battle than to pay tributes to the Vandals.’ Then Ambri and Assi, that is, the leaders of the Vandals, asked Godan that he should give them the victory over the Winniles. Godan answered, saying: ‘Whom I shall first see when at sunrise, to them will I give the victory.’ At that time Gambara with her two sons, that is, Ybor and Agio, who were chiefs over the Winniles, besought Frea, the wife of Godan, to be propitious to the Winniles. Then Frea gave counsel that at sunrise the Winniles should come, and that their women, with their hair let down around the face in the likeness of a beard, should also come with their husbands. Then when it became bright, while the sun was rising, Frea, the wife of Godan, turned around the bed where her husband was lying and put his face towards the east and awakened him. And he, looking at then, saw the Winniles and their women having their hair let down around the face. And he says, ‘Who are these Long-beards?’ And Frea said to Godan, ‘As you have given them a name, give them also the victory.’ And he gave them the victory, so that they should defend themselves according to his counsel and obtain the victory. From that time the Winniles were called Langobards.

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