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Albruna (Latin Albrinia, Aurinia) (fl. 1st Century AD) was a Germanic seer (a prophetess and soothsayer of the Germanic peoples).[1] She is mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus in his Germania.[2] Apparently she was observed several times during the campaign of Drusus and Tiberius (9 BC–14 AD) and therefore appears in Tacitus' account. Other than her name nothing further is known of her. Her function as a seeress is implied by the etymology of the name and by her association with the seeress Veleda, according to sources.

Albruna means "Possessor of the secret wisdom of the elves." (de:"die mit Geheimwissen der Alben versehene")[3] The name *Albruna is a nineteenth century proposal from the handwritten forms Aurinia Albrinia, and Flurinia, which was made scientifically mainstream by Wilhelm Wackernagel[4] and Karl Müllenhoff.[5] Today This proposal is regarded as problematic, and the handwritten form of Aurinia is increasingly advocated.[6]

vidimus sub divo Vespasiano Veledam diu apud plerosque numinis loco habitam; sed et olim Albrunam et compluris alias venerati sunt, non adulatione nec tamquam facerent deas.[2]

We ourselves in the reign of the divine Vespasian saw Valeda, who was considered for a long time by many as a sort of divinity; and formerly also Albruna and many others were venerated, though not out of servility nor as though they were deified mortals.[7]

The name *Albruna – Aurinia[edit]

In the various manuscripts of Germania the common Latin rendering Aurinia varies in essential aspects:

Auriniam (manuscripts: b,B,C,E)
Fluriniam (c)
Albriniam (B,E in the margin; b, c above the line)
Β = Codex Vaticanus Lat. 1862
b = Codex Leidensis Perizonianus[8]
C = Codex Vaticanus Lat. 1518
c = Codex Neapolitanus IV C 21
Ε = Codex Aesinas

Etymology of Aurinia[edit]

Gottfried Schramm interpreted the names of the seeresses Veleda and Aurinia in Tacitus as having a Germanic origin. For Aurinia, he posits Germanic *Aurini related to the root *auraz ("water") similar to Old Icelandic aurr for "sand" or "luster". The final ending -ia is a latinized Germanic i consistent with the suffix formation -ini.[9] Robert Nedoma rejected Schramm's interpretation as unconvincing, pointing to the weakness of Schramm's explanation, saying that that the suffix formation, and therefore the convergence to the handwritten German result Aurinia, "means nothing".[10]

Roland Schuhmann also rejected Schramm's interpretation of Aurinia as a genuinely Germanic form. He similarly points to the celtic origin of the name Veleda and to Nedoma's criticism of Schramm.[11] Schuhmann himself sees in Aurinia a mixed Celtic-Latin form consisting of the Latin prefix aurum, borrowed from Celtic as in aurum for "gold" and the genuinely Celtic suffix -inios, -inia. He refers, among other things, to a male form of Auriniacus.[12] According to him, therefore, Aurinia had the original meaning "Goldine".[13]

An older attempt at an etymology is that of Gilbert Trathnigg cited by Helmut Birkhan.[14] Trathnigg, who calls Aurinia the correct form, associates the name with the Old English éar (wave, lake).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wolfgang Spickermann: Albruna p. 442
  2. ^ a b Cornelius, Tacitus. Germania VIII. p. 7. 
  3. ^ Rudolf Much: Die Germania des Tacitus. 3. Auflage, S. 169 f.; Rudolf Simek: Lexikon der Germanischen Mythologie. 3. Auflage, S. 11.
  4. ^ Wilhelm Wackernagel: Schweizerisches Museum für historische Wissenschaften 1, 1839, S. 109.
  5. ^ Karl Müllenhoff: Zur Runenlehre, 1852, S. 51 ff.
  6. ^ Ånders Hultgard: Seherinnen. S. 114.
  7. ^ Herlihy, David (Jun 18, 1968). Medieval Culture and Society. Springer. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-349-00011-1. Retrieved August 2, 2017. 
  8. ^ ""Aurinia" snippet from Codex Leidensis Perizonianus". Retrieved August 3, 2017. 
  9. ^ Gottfried Schramm: Die germanische Seherin Aurinia bei Tacitus, S. 578, 581.
  10. ^ Robert Nedoma: Personennamen in südgermanischen Runeninschriften, S. 170.
  11. ^ Roland Schuhmann: Geographischer Raum und Lebensform der Germanen Kommentar zu Tacitus’ Germania, c. 1–20. S. 273.
  12. ^ Roland Schuhmann: Geographischer Raum und Lebensform der Germanen Kommentar zu Tacitus’ Germania, c. 1–20. S. 273.
  13. ^ Roland Schuhmann: Aurinia und Veleda: zwei germanische Seherinnen?..., S. 136.
  14. ^ Helmut Birkhan: Germanen und Kelten bis zum Ausgang der Römerzeit. S. 553 Anm. 1737 zu G. Trathnigg in: Germanien 12 (1940) S. 270 f.