Tolkien saw in this literature a great, unsung moment in the birth of the West. Like the Baron de Montesquieu, Tolkien saw as specifically “Nordic” the individualism and hatred for tyranny that pervades these sagas, which set medieval and modern man apart from the obedient subjects of Rome and Byzantium. (See David Gress’ From Plato to NATO for more on this fascinating connection.)
I’ve read Gress’ book, it was very erudite. But I’m always perplexed by this idea that Germans barbarians introduced the idea of freedom to the west. What happened to those Greeks who resisted the Persians? The Roman Republic conquering decadent Oriental despotisms? Or the idea that National Socialism took root in Germany because of its authoritarian cultural orientation?
Both the Greeks and Romans did move toward authoritarian despotisms. And Scandinavia and Germany have moved toward “Social Democracy” and the “Social Market” polities. Is there much of a difference?