The previous home of the Goths before moving to
the Black Sea steppe was the aforementioned southern Baltic
coastline, roughly in the area of modern Poland, and Kaliningrad
(East Prussia). They are recorded there as the Gutones (although
the same name has also been applied to the Cotini and Butones).
The name in that form is 'Gut', with the '-on' being a suffix,
used as a definite article (as in 'the'), and the '-es' is a
Latin plural added by Roman writers.
In his book, Das Reich und die Germanen
(1990, translated into English as The Roman Empire and its
Germanic Peoples, by Thomas Dunlap), Herwig Wolfram declares
that the royal family of the Goths, the Amali, were known as Ăsir.
The family claimed descent from a deity named Gaut. While that is
probably an invention to enhance their prestige, what is of interest
is their association with the Ăsir as reported by Wolfram.
Command of the Vistula
Well before the arrival of the Goths in Ukraine,
it appears that the Bastarnae took over all of the territory of
the Vistula-based Veneti, a tribe of awkward and very mixed
parentage. Today they are usually tagged as Slavic, but they are
much more likely to have had an Eastern Celtic origin as it
would be a few centuries (in terms of second century AD Germanic
tribal movements) before any Slavs migrated this far west.
The Germanic Bastarnae would have dominated these
Celts, but not massacred them. Indeed their identity survived into
modern times as the Wends. Linguistically it is likely that they
lost the use of Common Celtic and went through a series of adoptions
of German (Bastarnae), Iranic (Sarmatian) in the south, German a
second time in the south (Gothic), and then vanished as an
identifiable people. The Venedi survivors on the northern stretch
of the Vistula probably adopted Baltic (Old Prussian) and finally
The Bastarnae dominated the Venedi. The Sarmatians
dominated the Bastarnae. And finally the Goths dominated them all by
the early third century AD.
If we use the Norse set of deities as our guide,
then this explains their gods. The Germans took over Celts (the
Venedi, and also the Lugii and a few others), as mirrored in Norse
legend which had itself formed long before from very similar
circumstances in Scandinavia; the Ăsir supremacy over the lesser
and older gods, the Vanir.
In those legends the Venedi (Wenet) would
become the Vanir (the 'Wan' if you drop the '-ir' suffix and
pronounce the 'v' in the older manner, as a 'w'), and the Goth
leaders with their dominance over the Venedi would adopt the guise
of the Ăsir.