A brief note today. As an undergrad, I did a course on “The Vikings in Europe,” which included a brief look at the origins of the Rurik Dynasty, rulers of the Kievan Rus and later Russia. The document that describes this legendary founder is the 12th-century Russian Primary Chronicle, also called the Tale of Bygone Years.
I don’t want to get into the Chronicle, because I am far from an expert on it, but this passage always stuck with me. It describes the “Russes,” the Scandinavian nation from which Rurik and his brothers came:
They accordingly went overseas to the Varangian Russes: these particular Varangians were known as Russes, just as some are called Swedes, and others Normans, English, and Gotlanders, for they were thus named.
I think that is literally the worst explanation I have ever heard that isn’t actually wrong.
Here is a picture of Rurik gazing heroically into the distance, as they do.