Discussion: Ice Skates and Winged Shoes in Medieval Germanic Literature

Bev Thurber, Assistant Professor of Humanities and Natural Sciences at Shimer College, will present a lecture titled, “Ice Skates and Winged Shoes in Medieval Germanic Literature” at 3:15 pm on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at Shimer College in the Cinderella Lounge.

During this talk, Thurber will summarize the archaeological and literary evidence and make an etymological argument for a connection between ice skates and winged shoes.

The ancestor of the German word for ice skate is used to refer to winged shoes, including the famous pair used by Mercury, in two of the medieval Germanic dialects. It seems likely that real-life ice skates provided the basis for the Germanic understanding of literary winged shoes. Archaeological evidence shows that ice skates made from the leg bones of animals were readily available to speakers of Germanic languages during the Middle Ages.