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Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe$
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Alexander O'Hara

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190857967

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190857967.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 December 2021

Drinking with Woden

Drinking with Woden

A Re-examination of Jonas’s Vita Columbani I.27

(p.189) 11 Drinking with Woden
Columbanus and the Peoples of Post-Roman Europe

Alexander O'Hara

Oxford University Press

In a widely known passage of the Vita Columbani (I.27), Jonas of Bobbio introduces the god Woden. This is the oldest mention of the deity in a narrative source. In a very brief chronological arc, two further attestations suggest the new significance assumed by the god in the seventh century. This chapter explores the evolving meaning of Woden up to the the Carolingian period. It suggests that Woden and other markers of barbarism and paganism were not a simple reflection of actual barbarism and non-Christian belief. They were part of a wider repertory of signs and habits used by military elites for self-representation. Following the rise and fall of Woden’s suitability for the barbarian aristocracies from the seventh to the ninth centuries, the chapter frames these evolving strategies of representation in the social and political landscape of Europe.

Keywords:   Jonas of Bobbio, Woden and early medieval paganism, barbarian identities and self-representation, Lombard Italy

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