Back in mid-2018, I posted the following commentary to the Age of Darkness forum. It's recently come back up again somehow, and received some quite positive responses [as well as some understandable critiques], including a request [from Lucerne] that I cross-post it to this Alpha Legion sub-forum.
I should probably emphasize that a) it's 'descriptive rather than prescriptive' - so should perhaps be approached more as a "here's some areas where I've found cool/inspirational/useful material for thinking about the XXth, as drawn out and then expanded upon from what I've observed in official publications", rather than a "this is the be-all and end-all final word on what's going on here";
and I wrote the OP, I think from memory, over a rather short period of time during a bit of a hypomanic phase. This ... partially explains why there's a lack of coherent formatting, and a certain array of rather wild hair-trigger associations made, all in some kind of mad stream-of-consciousness rapid-fire barrage of verbiage. I am frankly a little embarrassed that the prose and organization is not up to a better standard in the OP. For which I apologize.
What follows is a somewhat lengthy post detailing a perhaps surprising pattern in the influences of the Crusade/Heresy era XXth Legion which I noticed awhile back. Namely ... that they're very heavily /Germanic/ inflected .. despite all the pseudo-Greek stylings and aesthetic.
It was originally posted in one of my project-log threads on another forum; however, following the pretty positive reception which it [and uh .. a few other lengthy thoughts I was having in the same thread] received, I figured that it might also be of interest/use to the Age of Darkness frater of B&C.
I haven't altered it from its original form, except in the form of the post-script addendum covering Hengist in England.
Now as applies the XXth Legion ...
You may be familiar with a certain Alpha Legion character by the name of Armillius Dynat. His namesake appears to be a German chieftain by the name of Arminius [funny that] who lead the Germanic tribes to a massacre victory over Augustus' legions at Teutoburg Forest [this basically causes Augustus to have a bit of a mental breakdown and start wandering his palace screaming "VARUS - GIVE ME BACK MY LEGIONS!!!"] [cunning chap's subtly changed his name to "Armillius" to reference a certain figure from Jewish myth to throw us off the scent (wile also getting across an additional layer of connotation)! In true Alpha Legion fashion!]
Now how this relates to our friendly Alphas ... is that the chap in question attained his stunning success against the Romans not simply through ambush ... but his application of the knowledge he'd picked up /while training as a Roman military commander/ in Imperial service. Or, in other words, while hie mgiht not have "infiltrated" in the conventional sense .. he still nevertheless managed to join Roman society, work his way up [being given citizenshp and Equestrian caste rank] ... and then "betray" his former side in a bloody manner by turning their own knowledge against them.
It is *particularly* Alpha that the way in which Arminius was able to lure three entire legions into the forest in question through the production of a *fake* report suggesting a rebellion which required urgent putting down by Roman forces in order to lure Varrus into the trap.
Now, the etymology of "Arminius" is itself rather intriguing for these purposes - the standard approach links it to the Her , the "warriors" .. so would simply be a "Her Man", a Fighting Man. However, as it's unlikley to have been his *actual* name amongst his own people, but rather one adopted for the purposes of his operation in Roman society at his citizenship ... i suppose you could look upon it as a Nom-De-Guerre in at least two senses of the term
[there's also, iirc, an "ermena" root in Proto-Germanic which owrks out as "universal" ... which while not directly relevant, amuses me because of the implication "I am everywhere!"]
Although that's not the "intriguing" bit. Instead, I suspect that a linkage to the "Irmin" may also be in evidence - although this is my own theorizing rather than anything I'vve picked up from academic sources. Which, apart from being part of a cluster of words in Germanic that i've briefly mentioned above , relating to "great" or "large" [or, potentially, "Arya(n)"] , *also* turns up in connectoin to Germanic [particularly Saxon/Continental-Germanic more so htan Nordic, so much] figure connected to "Odin".
More on that in a moment; as it's just re-entered my memory that the same root , in the form of "Jormunn" is the first half of the name "Jormungandr" [which uh ... well, it's a kenning - "Great Staff" , for .. well, you know] - which again has some rather interesting implications as applies the Alpha Legion.
ANyway. Irmin is linked to Odin, like I said earlier. Which ... is often misinterpreted/misremembered in modern culture fo a number of reasons. Work we have done [and which, to be proper, has also beend one by a number of other academics over the decades, however it's fallen by the wayside a lot these days for a number of reasons] links Odin/Wotan and such ... to Vata [also known in Vedic Sanskrit as "Vayu" ] , with the Indo-European linguistics involved hinging around a "Va-" particle that works out as Wind.
Why does this matter? Weeeelll .. the "winnowing wind" is a pretty apt descriptor for the Alpha Legion, imo - particularly in light of a quotation by a Scythian [there I go again...] leader during the course of a Persian invasion of his lands, taunting the latter that they were the wind .. and good luck attempting to catch the wind!
Wind wanders, and as anybody who's spent awhile in an older house of wood or wicker will note .. it's interminably hard to keep out the wind...
Further, and going back to Odin ... we see quite some emphasis upon Odin adopting various disguises, running under assumed names, cyphers, riddles - taking quite a delight in such, in fact [and we see in the i think third Black Book the Alpha Legion doing exacty this in rather amusing fashion to the Sons of Horus following Paramar V or whatever it was [thanks /tg/ for tracking down where the quote came from as well as its salience ] . Literally a defining feature of the deity in question.
It gets additionally intriguing when we consider how the Interpretatio Romanum attempted to account for Odin [I uh ... I won't go into a discursion around Greco-Roman religions being the Odd People Out as applies a conflation of Dumezilian 1st and 2nd function deities and hte folding of Sky Father into Storm Lord , in contrast to both Nordic and Vedic systems of belief ... but you get the idea] - by connecting Odin to Mercury/Hermes.
After all, what's the Staff of Hermes look like [and c.f also what I said earlir about "Jormungandr" - a great staff, a staff being of potenetially magical import [as well as the whole 'staff of office' angle, ] .. a serpent-staff .. , although this is me being "poetic" so to speak" ... and leads me off in another direction with the Baltic/Slavic "Veles" ...] In addition ot the connotations of the possessoin of secret knowledge, the liminal, and psychopomp[ous] roles ands uch.
[relating to Armin .. making a note to potentially incorporate an "Ariobarzanes" .. but again, side-issue]
But anyway, lest I be accused of making far too much out of a single name and letting my imagination run wild [spoiler: I am ] ... there are other points of coterminity which must be considered also.
For a start, consider the Alpha Legion's use of the term "Harrow". This is, once again, a Germanic-origin term. And you can see a similar derivation in English in the term "harry" [also, potentially, "Harass" .. see where i'm going with this?]. Both have their partial origins in the word "Her" I've mentioned earlier [see, for example, th same word turning up in "Einherjar" - variously translated by scholars as "One Man Army" or a sort of army of one (purpose) from many, or possibly a force meant for a single purpose/time/combat .. but I digress] [antoher more modern example being the German word "Heer", that'll be familiar to our WWII-aware types]; but it goes bigger and deeper than that in terms of connotation. Specifically, the way in which it came to mean to "plunder", or to "overrun" - to subjugate, in other words, with overwhelming force or via other means, to the point that they'd be in ur supply-linez raidin ur stuffz.
Hence the various mentions about the time [a thousand years ago or more] wherein you see mention of the Germanic peoples "harrying" as raiders and such - finding weak-points, turning up, plundering, etc. then withdrawing before strong resistance could be organized.
As a point of interest, "Herzog", today a German (sur)name, and in the Heresy the surname of at least one Alpha Legionnaire ... welllll, it originates from a Proto-Germanic "Harjatugo: which translates as "Harrow-Master"
Now, [forgot what i was putting here]
But back to Odin ...
There is a figure by the name of Herla; again, with etymology tied up with "Her" , in the sense of "Warrior" or "host" - and if i recall, linking closelywith a Theonym of Odin as the "Lord of the Host" [Harjan] , as well as "Hari". I mention him for two reasons - first up, this is speculated t obe an etymological origin-point for "Harlequin" [yes, *those* Harlequins .. by way of Hellequin]. Or, phrased another way ... 'trickster' types .. wearing masks [or half-masks, in some tellings - potentially, and potentially also etymologically linking to "Hel" in the Germanic senses] .. who may be diabolic emissaries , actors [and in a dramatic context, often 'self-aware', dancing atop fourth wall, and with an intriguing linkage to "politics"]; but also, second, due to the suggestion that the figure in question may mythically speaking have been the Devil or Odin. [ther's also a few historical figures of the Hellequin and related names who may further be of use]. "Devil" and "Odin", well, you can see how that's relevant to the XXth. Particularly given, iirc, the connection to a certain "off-greenish colour" of this Hellequin figure.
[although interestingly, in at least one of hte old Herle myths, it's *this* figure that is the victim of subterfuge and trickery rather htan other way around...]
[as a brief side-note, there's a related set of Germanic terms which work out more as "Elf-King" and such .. and connect to, well, "Elf" spirits, which may or may not also be trickster, kidnapper, hidden, illusion-weaving etc. .. but I digress. It's Alpha Legion relevant but also Eldar relevant - just as Harlequins, i guess, should be.
Hmm, i should probably look into "Alb" etc - the idea of Elves in Nordic myth being .. actually, i'll get on to that later. ONWARD!]
Probably also worth noting the potential connection with the Wild Hunt - you know, ghostly apparitions in the sky sweeping with the force of the wind and supernatural import.
But where I was *actually* going with the above was with the "Harii" talked about in Tacitus. Why? Well, take a look at how they're described in said work. We'll leave aside the fact they're literally described as [using] "black shields" , but n.b how they deliberately work to obscure their appearance by painting htemselves all-over in black - the better to avail their night-attacks and subterfuge [the better to facilitate their precision-strikes of significant force and such] .. quoth Tacitus - "in every battle, the eyes are the first to be conquered".
But where it gets *particularly* intriguing is the description, also in Tacitus, of these guys as a "ghost army" [partially, iirc, in reference to their use of terror and the sowing of panic as weapons themselves and sudden apparitions and hte like from outta nowhere, to quot the meme].
Although I should probably mention at this juncture, an associate's pointing out that it's rather unlikely there was actually a Germanic tribe called the "Harii". Instead, what is possible to have happened is that Tacitus or some other Roman got the wrong end of the stick about some German he was talking to; and so we have this relic of a group of people who may very well have self-identified hwen asked as "warriors" [Herii] , being instead described as a tribe of the same name.
[The uh .. the mind boggles as applies the Bastarnae acquiring *that* as an ethonym]
Or, in true Alpha Legion style, it's a false-name deliberately given, perhaps because identifying *your entire people* as being warriors is an intimidation-factor.
Particularly if they're, you know, GHOST-WARRIORS apparently.
I would also note that in, i think it's in the Lay of Rig [Rigsthula] there's an attestation for Jarl having "eyes like a serpent shon" - the idea being both that he's in possession of much knowledge [consider dragons in, like Tolkien etc. ] and cunning.
There is additionally, now that I look through my notes on the subject, an ancient Nordic kenning-ish "joke" which uh ... let me put it this way - it involves the strike of a serpent, and something like the modern ENglish idioms of being "caught with one's pants down" or "bite us in the arse". This connects with the Icelandic "Hoggormr" - a "serpent['s] strike", which iirc is a proscribed conduct in hte law-code in question as undignified, ungentlemanly etc.
Oh, another side-note - the Ursinus character ... again, Germanic, despite Latinization. Both in terms of its use as a Germanic name in the (Post-)Medieval period; and its name relating to "Bears". Now, Bear-warriors, of course .. again, Ber-Serkers - Bear-Skinned [I wonder if the idea of Alpha Legion adopting the "skins" of others may be relevant ... ] . [although the Echion surname - well, take a quick google. Another few very apt connotations and connections ]
Also, a *bit* of a loose one ... Autilon Skorr - weeell, you might have heard of one Otto Skorzeny not least due to this chap's various conduct both during and after WWII that was straight-up XXth Legion. I mean, hwere to begin. Not just hte commando raids and stuff like Operation Longjump [the attempt to assassinate the Big Three Allied leaders all at once], the daring rescue of Mussolini or Operation Panzerfaust [the abduction of a Hungarian VIP to attempt to assert political leverage on the regime in question], the stuff around Operation Greif [Skorzeny et co - comprised of volunteers capable of speaking excelleng [indeed, American-Idiomatic] English and wearing captured Allied uniforms, driving vehicles ['Panzer Brigade 150'] that had been "disguised' as American etc. hardware [somewhat .. haphazardly, admittedly] .... BUT ALSO , the post-War incident wherein he wound up working for Mossad, assassinating German targets in Egyptian etc. employ by using his reputation and familiarity with the high-value individuals in questiion t oget close and 'betray' [from their perspective] them in Israeli service.
There's also, now that I think upon it, been a number of mentions in recent scholarship of Viking and other Germanic peoples making quite a point of employing "unconventional" for hte time military approaches, including outright deception or betrayal [of non-Germanics] as necessary. I'm trying to remember the Anglo-Saxon incidence of this which first got me thinking about "Harrow" in the first place. Will maybe write it up if/when I do.
Oh, and finally ... what is a "German" - well, there are a number of etymologies .. but one which is rather directly relevant here is the implication of them being a "man of the spear" ['Ger' as 'Spear'] ... now what's Alpharius armed with
Anyway, there are no doubt more connections that could be made; and while I'm not for a moment claiming that the Alpha Legion are *exclusively* Germanic in origin ... I do think that there's quite some Germanic influence going on with them that gets a bit 'lost' under all the Classical/Greek aesthetic, the mythical serpents, and the Greco-Roman naming bits and pieces.
I should probably tidy all this up and write it as a proper article rather than "here's a rant I penned in the last hour for some reason about a Crusade/Heresy era thing in the Unification Wars thread"
If you've made it this far, thanks for bearing with me.
Addendum: I went back and asked our research institute's resident Germanic expert about the Anglo-Saxon incident briefly mentioned above. His reply:
"Hengist employed the original "Night of the Long Knives" in his conquering of Britain.
The nutshell version is that he feigned peace with his enemies, married his daughter to the rival general and had his warriors sit around the campfire and feast with the soldiers.
Except his daughter was in on it, promptly slit her new husbands throat and opened the gates to the complex, where the germanic feasters employed the use of the Sax Knives to kill their erstwhile allies."