Outline • Introduction • Part I. The Vikings • Part II. Norse mythology • Part III. Viking gods • Part IV. Influence of Viking mythology • Conclusion • References
The Vikings began to raid their southern neighbors seriously and systematically around 800
Introduction • The Vikings were one of several waves of attackers to fall on Europe during the Middle Ages • The Vikings are Nordic peoples—Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians—who raided and settled in Europe between 800 and 1100 • They attacked Russia, the British Isles, the Atlantic and North Sea shoreline of the Carolingian Empire (France, Germany, and the Low Countries) • They eventually converted to Christianity and settled in the lands they had raided
Part I. The Vikings • Scandinavia, name applied collectively to three countries of northern Europe—Norway and Sweden (which together form the Scandinavian Peninsula), and Denmark. The three countries grouped because of their historical, cultural, and linguistic affinities • The Scandinavian world never came under Roman or Christian influence before the raids, and its population was small and dispersed • Because the people of this world mostly lived along the coasts, fishing played a significant part in their lives, as did sea trade
Part I. The Vikings • The basic social structure was that of small, free farmers who owed loyalty (along with taxes) to the headman or patriarch of the family • Men being away from home often, free women enjoyed a power unique in Europe • They traveled as far as North America in the West and Russia and Constantinople in the East • Christian Europe’s ability to resist their attacks grew; the Vikings settled and converted to Christianity • They were great sailors and ferocious enemies, but also great storytellers and hard workers
Part II. Viking mythology • Pre-Christian religion, beliefs and legends of the Scandinavian people, including those who settled on Iceland • The pre-Christian religion of the Vikings was similar to that of other Germanic tribes • They worshiped a number of gods, including Odin, the god of war and leader of the Norse gods; Thor, the god of thunder; and Balder, the god of light • Viking warriors believed that if they died heroically they would be called to dwell with Odin in Valhalla • Opposing the Norse gods were a host of evil giants, led by Loki
Part II. Viking mythology • Norse mythology had no scripture. The mythology was orally transmitted in the form of long, regular poetry • Oral transmission continued through the Viking Age (793-1066 AD in Scandinavia and Britain), and our knowledge about it is mainly based on the Eddas (collection of Old Norse poems from the Icelandic mediaeval manuscript Codex Regius written around 1270) and other medieval texts written down during and after Christianisation • The origin and eventual fate of the world are described in Völuspá ("The völva's prophecy" or "The sybil's prophecy"), one of the most striking poems in the Poetic Edda
Odin, the Norse god of war and death, was accompanied by two wolves, Freki (translated as “fierce”) and Geri (translated as “greedy”).
Part II. Viking mythology • In Norse mythology, the earth is represented as a flat disc. This disk is situated in the branches of the world tree, or Yggdrasil • In ancient Germanic and Old Norse mythology, the universe was believed to consist of nine physical worlds joined together • The world of Men, the Middle-earth (or Midgard), lay in the centre of this universe. The lands of Elves, Gods, and Giants lay across an encircling sea • The land of the Dead called Niflheim lay beneath the Middle-earth and was ruled by Hel, daughter of Loki • A rainbow bridge, Bifrost Bridge, extended from Middle-earth to Asgard across the sea. An outer sea encircled the seven other worlds
Asgard • After Odin created Middle Earth, he built Asgard, the home of the gods • There were many halls in Asgard for all the gods. Odin's hall had a roof of silver, and from it he could see all the worlds • A bridge stretched from Asgard to Yggdrasill, the World Tree, and this bridge was called Bifrost, the rainbow • One hall in Asgard was called Valhalla, for the warriors who died in battle • They were chosen by the Valkyries, women who wore armour, and rode swiftly over land and sea on horseback. The Valkyries also decided who would win a battle
Ragnarok • At the end of time, the frost and fire giants will meet together to fight the gods and destroy the worlds. This time will be called Ragnarok • The wolves chasing the Sun and Moon will catch and eat them, and there will be bitter cold. The earth will shake and mountains will fall, and even Yggrasill, the World Tree will tremble • The wolf Fenrir will swallow Odin, but will be killed by Odin's son, Vadir. Thor attacks the World Serpent and kills it, but is poisoned by its venom. Loki will break free and attack Heimdall, the keeper of the rainbow bridge, which will get shattered • All the gods, monsters and giants will die, and the world will be burned, and then swallowed by the ocean. However, a new, better world will arise from the waves, lit by a new sun.
Part III. Viking gods • The dualism that exists is not evil vs. good, but order vs. chaos. The gods represent order and structure whereas the giants and the monsters represent chaos and disorder • Stories of the gods can be found in the Prose Edda (written by the Icelandic scholar and historian Snorri Sturluson around 1220) and in the Poetic Edda (collection of Old Norse poems from the Icelandic mediaeval manuscript Codex Regius) • The Eddas are the most important sources we have on Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends
Odin • Father of Thor, Tyr and Balder; Title: The Cunning God; Saxon name: Woden • Odin is a god of war and death, but also the god of poetry and wisdom • Odin was the chief and father of the gods. He had drunk from the spring of Mimir which had made him very wise • He invented Runes, the secret writing of the Saxons and Vikings, which not only stored knowledge, but could be used for magic • He was born from Ymir, the creation giant, and made Middle Earth from his body. He also built Asgard
Brynhild begs OdinAn illustration from F. L. Spence Rhine Legends (1915)
Thor • Title: Thunder God; Son of Odin; he holds Mjolnir, one of the mightiest weapons of both man and god • Married to Sif, a fertility goddess. His mistress is the giantess Jarnsaxa ("iron cutlass"), and their sons are Magni and Modi and his daughter is Thrud • He was very popular as the protector of both gods and humans against the forces of evil • Donar is his Teutonic equivalent, while the Romans see in him their god Jupiter. Thursday is named after him • At the day of Ragnarok, Thor will kill this serpent but will die from its poison. His sons will inherit his hammer after his death
Thor, god of thunder, son of Odin. "Thor's Day" is Thursday in English. He is the homologue of Zeus. Here picture of the MarvelComics Hero.
Loki • Loki is not a member of the Asgardians, but the son of Laufey, the deceased monarch of the Frost Giants, the ancient enemies of the Asgardians • Odin led the Asgardians into battle against the Frost Giants and killed Laufey in personal combat • After slaying Laufey, Odin found a small Asgardian-sized child hidden, Loki. Laufey kept him hidden from his people due to his shame over his son's small size • Odin took the boy, out of pity and because he was the son of a worthy adversary slain in honorable combat, and raised him as his son alongside his biological son Thor • Loki was not always evil; he helped Thor on many adventures; he had monstrous children, Fenrir the wolf, the World Serpent and Hel, queen of the dead
Loki is connected with fire and magic, and can assume many different shapes (horse, falcon, fly). He is directly responsible for the death of Balder, the god of light. Here fighting with Thor
Part IV. Influence of Viking mythology • Many writers borrowed extensively from Norse mythology, such as Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian, a fictional Cimmerian mercenary) and Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) • This helped fantasy fiction to develop as an unique genre. Fantasy fiction in turn provided a foundation for many role playing and computer games • Dungeons and Dragons are based on the work of various fantasy authors (including Howard and Tolkien) and many mythologies, including Norse mythology • In the Marvel Universe, the Norse Pantheon and related elements play a prominent part, especially Thor who has been one of the longest running superheroes for the company
a. Days of the week • The Germanic gods have left traces in modern English vocabulary • An example of this is some of the names of the days of the week • Modeled after the names of the days of the week in Latin (named after Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn), the names for Tuesday through to Friday were replaced with Germanic equivalents of the Roman gods • In English, Saturn (Saturday) was not replaced
English originated from the Old Saxon language and related dialects brought to Britain by Germanic settlers from various parts of northwest Germany. The original Old English language was influenced by speakers of languages in the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic family, who colonized parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries. Then by the Normans in the 11th century, who spoke a variety of French
b. Lord of the Rings • Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy saga by the British author J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973) • Tolkien, Oxford philologist well acquainted with Northern European Medieval Literature including Old Norse, Old and Middle English Texts • The Lord of the Rings began as a personal exploration by Tolkien of his interests in philology, religion, fairy tales, and Norse and Celtic mythology • The concept of a "ring of power", which granted the wearer invisibility, is present in the Norse tale of Sigurd the Volsung • Non-Christian religious motifs were strong influences in Tolkien's Middle-Earth
Conclusion • Many people are familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung, but they are not familiar with Norse mythology to which both of these works are heavily indebted • The Ring of the Nibelung is a series of four epic operas. Both the libretto and the music were written by Richard Wagner over the course of twenty-six years, from 1848 to 1874 • The four operas in the Ring cycle are: The Rhinegold; The Valkyrie; Siegfried; Twilight of the Gods
References • http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761561500/Vikings.html • http://www.pantheon.org/articles/b/brunhilde.html • http://odin.dep.no/odin/engelsk/norway/history/032005-990460/index-dok000-b-n-a.html • http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._R._R._Tolkien • http://www1.pu.edu.tw/~bmon/Fairy.htm#internet • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thor_(Marvel_Comics) • http://www.bartleby.com/61/23/O0032300.html • http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/tml/index.htm • http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=keary&book=asgard&story=_contents