Walaz, Walhaz, and the Battle of Teutoburg Forest

The history of our predecessors, and then, the world, is written in our genetics.

It is also written in our language. 

I was born into Scandinavian milieu in Minneapolis, where I spent the earliest years of my childhood, and spent the majority of the rest of my pre-adult life in a town called Westby, which was founded by Norwegian immigrants. Westby is straight ahead Norwegian for "West village". The surrounding township was named for Norway's capital.

I'm very familiar with Norse mythology, Scandinavia, the "Viking" stories, etc. So when I heard the Polish word for an Italian is Wloch, and heard of Wallachia, and the former name of Thessaly in Greece, Vlachia, my brain was thinking about Valhalla (also known as Walhalla).

I dismissed the thought as coincidence, there was no possible way these could be related. 

And it's doubtful it could be proven one way or the other for certain.

But I'm now entertaining the thought, because looking into the etymology of these words, Valhalla, and Wallachia, you'll find they come from Proto-Germanic walaz, and walhaz respectively. The former meant "slain, dead, corpse" and the latter meant "stranger, foreigner" and came to define Latin speakers.

Whether those words are directly linked or not, they would be easy to equate and confound, especially for soldiers, in a population in which the two words exist (and sound alike) as part of their everyday vocabulary.

Which leads us to the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, apparently the defining battle for Europe, and Rome vs. the barbarians.

Just read the Wikipedia page, it's gonna be better than my attempts to summarize it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Teutoburg_Forest

I will pull this passage:

"Teutoburg Forest is commonly seen as one of the most important defeats in Roman history, bringing the triumphant period of expansion under Augustus to an abrupt end. The outcome of this battle dissuaded the Romans from their ambition of conquering Germania, and is thus considered one of the most important events in European history. The provinces of Germania Superior and Germania Inferior, sometimes collectively referred to as Roman Germania, were subsequently established in northeast Roman Gaul, while territories beyond the Rhine remained independent of Roman control. Retaliatory campaigns were commanded by Tiberius and Germanicus and would enjoy success, but the Rhine would eventually become the border between the Roman Empire and the rest of Germania."

It is the barbarian tribes, such as the Vandals, Alans, and the Suebi (for whom the later Schwabians are named) who are recognized for "overthrowing" the Italic Roman Empire. Representatives of these tribes became pseudo-Romanized themselves in the centuries before this event, which paved the way for the Italic Roman Empire to run its course.

In Norse mythology, Valhalla, their "Heaven", is being surrounded by other dead people, prepping for the greatest battle of all time. 

Compare this with Islamic mythology of the idealized afterlife, being surrounded by 70 virgins.

And Christian mythology of the afterlife, where you just hang out with your loved ones and family, while praising the nothingness that you came from.

Walhalla Temple, Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany

(constructed in the 19th c. and looking suspiciously Roman)

Walhaz or Walaz, "stranger", or "dead", I'll take Italian and Mediterranean cuisine over whatever they're serving up there in Scandinavia (and Scandinavian adjacent/influenced areas) any day.

Stateless Latin-speaking communities left in the wake of the dissolution of the Italic Roman Empire