Ginnungagap, with the icy realm of
Niflhelm and the fiery realm of Muspell
Maurisoft. “Ginnungagap.” Abc Dioses. 29 Jan. 2002. 1 Oct. 2003
Ymir nourishing himself on
Audhumia’s milk
Giacobazzi, Frederic. “Classical Norse: Ymir.” Image Gallery for the Study of Myth 26 Feb.
2001. 29 Sep. 2003 < http://www.kirtland.cc.mi.us/honors/goddess/images/ymir.jpg>.
Bowern, Steven. 29 Sep. 2003 <http://www.stevenbowerman.com>.
• Scandinavia refers to three Northern European
countries: Sweden and Norway (together form
Scandinavian Peninsula), Denmark
– Classified as such due to linguistic, cultural &
historical similarities
– Sometimes term includes Iceland; less frequently
inclusion of Finland because not linguistically
related
• Scandinavians speak closely connected groupings of
Germanic languages: Swedish, Norwegian, Danish,
Icelandic, Faeroese
Scandinavian Peninsula
• Comprised of two of three
Scandinavian countries: Sweden
& Norway
– Denmark physiographical is
part of North European Plain
rather than peninsula itself
• Almost ¼ of peninsula exists
north of Arctic Circle
• Bordered by Atlantic & Arctic
Oceans, the North & Baltic Seas,
the Gulf of Bothnia, & the
Skagerrak & Kattegat straits
• Mountainous in western region
• Western coast of peninsula
intensely grooved by fjords
CadêJur. 29 Sep. 2003
<www.cadejur.com.br/html/busca/
mapa_scandinavia.asp>.
• 9th – 11th century Scandinavian
warriors invaded British Isles &
European coasts
– 800 A.D. -1050 A.D.: known as the
Viking Age
• Systematic raids of neighbors
progressively changed to ruthless
forays
• Initially Vikings most superior
sailors & shipbuilders in world
• Reasons driven from own lands:
overpopulation, internal
disagreement, pursuit of trade,
desire for adventure
– Several Scandinavian kingdoms
arose: Sweden, Norway, Denmark
Social Norms
• Extended family
• Head of Household
responsible for family wellbeing
• Women had significant role in
society: wife of ‘head of
household’ saw to food & farm
animals, making medicine
from herbs, cared for sick &
wounded, ran farm in
husband’s absence
Hinds, Margaret. 3 Sep. 2003. 29 Sep.
2003
<osfodin.ksc.nasa.gov/>.
• Fundamental economy of Scandinavia was
agriculture (grain, cattle, stock grazing); also
fishing & sea trade
• Lived by fishing, farming, trading mainly by sea
• Vikings international tradesmen, trading spices
& silk for slaves, trading furs, skins & walrus
tusk ivory
• Slavery performed important role in economy
• Vikings encouraged urban growth
• Scandinavian artisans
masters of wood carving &
metalwork
– Samples of artwork
survived from 10th & 11th
century
• Know little about sounds
of Viking music
– Vikings knew nothing about
musical notation so culture
progressively became part
of Christian European
culture
• Greatest degree conserved in Old Norse
literature of Icelandic writings within the
Eddas, sagas, skaldic poetry, & ballads
• Writings not present until after Christianity
founded (c. 1000 A.D.)
• c. 1100-c. 1350 A.D.: oral poetry & new
compositions laid down
• Iceland’s loss of independence to Norway in
13th century led to disappearance of literary
activity
The Key Concept of Belief
• Freedom of Divine Will in its clash with nature’s
conflicting forces
• Soul’s free struggle against material barriers
• Polytheistic (belief in more than one god)
– Gods perpetually at war
• Systems of dualism: summer, sunshine, growth
in constant combat with winter, snow, ocean,
terrestrial fire
Religious Ritual
• Worship initially
performed outdoors near
sacred wells or stones or
beneath guardian trees
• Wooden temples adorned
with altars & carvings of
gods used later on
– Most prominent temple
at Old Uppsala,
Sweden where
sacrificial animals &
humans met demise
Malcolm, R. Brown, Jr. “Gamla Uppsala, Sweden.” 30 Apr.
2002. 27 Sep. 2003<www.botany.utexas.edu/.../sweden/
OldUppsala/default.htm>.
• Vikings encountered Christianity when Olav
Tryggvason journeyed from England with ships in 995
A.D. to claim Norway’s throne & bring Christianity to
land
• Danes long before were already familiar with
Christianity
– Reason why conversion to Christianity so swift?
• Viking Age ceased with intro of Christianity into
Scandinavia, the creation of the three kingdoms, &
with European states’ ability to defend against
intrusions
Basic Information
• Substantiation is profuse, but incomplete &
scattered
• Origins rooted in Germanic peoples’ mythology
• Extracted from Germanic mythology own myths &
legends concerning gods, archaic heroes, &
universe’s creation & ruin
• Pre-Christian beliefs of Scandinavians
• Uncertainty regarding original pagan religious
beliefs, habits, sentiments
Gods
• Principle gods of Scandinavian
mythology:
– Odin: chief of gods
– Thor: god of thunder &
protector
– Frey: god of fertility & prosperity
Mythological Heroes
Bulfinch, Thomas. “Northern Mythology.”
Bulfinch’s Mythology. 1996-1999. 27 Sep. 2003
<http://www.bulfinch.org/fables/bull38.html>
• Believed to be descendents of
gods
• Possibly derived from factual
persons
• Vikings left legacy of archaeological remains:
ship burials of men & women, in burial site
treasures, & memorial stones depicting mythical
scenes
• Bestowed place names, fieldnames, family
names
• Local dialect, customs, folk tales, oral traditions,
genetic makeup of local peoples
• Several English words, as well as German,
Dutch, Irish, & French, are descended directly
from Viking words
How is Scandinavia’s culture
reflected in its mythology?
THESIS: Given that the Scandinavians identified closely with the
gods, their tendencies to overpower neighbors, which
exhibited the importance of strength within the society, are
mirrored in the Creation Myth by the brutal slaying of Ymir by
his three grandsons and the transfer of power to Odin and his
two brothers.
In order for Odin and the brothers to overthrow Ymir, they required
physical strength and courage of mind. “As the gods, so the people (Clarke,
James Freeman, D.D )”. These qualities are a reflection in Viking society
demonstrated through their determination to uphold power through the
aggressive accumulation of land and in their display of passing on the authority
from the Head of the Household to the eldest son to sustain the family legacy.
And so, one can see how mythological beliefs, as with religious beliefs, can
have a profound influence on the ways of a civilization because there is always
a strong link between how a society exists and the beliefs of its peoples.
Clarke, James Freeman, D.D. “2. Idea of Scandinavian Religion from ‘The Ten Great
Religions’” The Teutonic and Scandinavian Religion 1899. 22 Sep. 2003
Celts.” Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2003. CD-ROM.
Microsoft Corporation.
1993-2002.
Cherry, Nicole. “Creation Myth.” Norse Mythology 4 Feb.
2001. 24 Sep. 2003
<http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~cherryne/myth.cgi/Creat
ion.html>.
Clarke, James Freeman, D.D. “2. Idea of Scandinavian
Religion from ‘The Ten Great
Religions’” The Teutonic and Scandinavian Religion
1899. 22 Sep. 2003
< http://www.vikingage.com/vac/religion2.html>.
Friis, Erik J. “Swedish Literature.” Microsoft Encarta
Reference Library 2003. CD- ROM.
Microsoft Corporation. 1993-2002.
“Kjølen Mountains.” Microsoft Encarta Reference Library
2003. CD-ROM. Microsoft
Corporation. 1993-2002.
Morley, David and Wigo Skråmm. “The Vikings.” The Viking
Network 3 Aug. 2001. 27 Sep.
2003< http://www.viking.no/e/index.html>.
“Norwegian Literature.” Microsoft Encarta Reference Library
2003. CD- ROM. Microsoft
Corporation. 1993-2002.
Nyholm, Jens. “Danish Language.” Microsoft Encarta
Reference Library 2003. CD- ROM.
Microsoft Corporation. 1993-2002.
Nyholm, Jens. “Danish Literature.” Microsoft Encarta
Reference Library 2003. CD-ROM.
Microsoft Corporation. 1993-2002.
“
Nyholm, Jens. “Norwegian Language.” Microsoft Encarta
Reference Library 2003. CD-ROM.
Microsoft Corporation. 1993-2002.
“Old Norse Literature.” Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth
Edition. 2003. 27 Sep. 2003
<http://encyclopedia.com/html/O/OldN1orse.asp>.
Rosenthal, Joel T. “The Vikings.” Microsoft Encarta
Reference Library 2003. CD-ROM.
Microsoft Corporation. 1993-2002.
“Scandinavia.” Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth Edition.
2003. 27 Sep. 2003
<http://encyclopedia.com/html/s/scandinv.asp>.
“Scandinavian Mythology.” Microsoft Encarta Reference
Library 2003. CD-ROM. Microsoft
Corporation. 1993-2002.
“Vikings.” Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth Edition. 2003.
27 Sep. 2003
<http://encyclopedia.com/html/v/vikings.asp>.
“Vikings.” Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2003. CDROM. Microsoft Corporation.
1993-2002.
“Viking Art.” Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2003.
CD-ROM. Microsoft Corporation.
1993-2002.
“Wood Carving.” Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth Edition.
2003. 27 Sep. 2003
< http://encyclopedia.com/html/w1/woodcarv.asp>.
Bowern, Steven. 29 Sep. 2003 <http://www.stevenbowerman.com>.
Bulfinch, Thomas. “Northern Mythology.” Bulfinch’s Mythology. 1996-1999. 27 Sep. 2003
<http://www.bulfinch.org/fables/bull38.html>
CadêJur. 29 Sep. 2003 <www.cadejur.com.br/html/busca/mapa_scandinavia.asp>.
“Celts.” Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2003. CD-ROM. Microsoft Corporation.
1993-2002.
Edwards, Marc B. 29 Sep. 2003 <www.marcedwards.com/company_history_info.htm>.
Giacobazzi, Frederic. “Classical Norse: Ymir.” Image Gallery for the Study of Myth 26
Feb.
2001. 29 Sep. 2003 < http://www.kirtland.cc.mi.us/honors/goddess/images/ymir.jpg>.
Hinds, Margaret. 3 Sep. 2003. 29 Sep. 2003 <osfodin.ksc.nasa.gov/>.
Landry, Michel. 29 Sep. 2003 <www.cvm.qc.ca/mlandry/folklore/vikings.JPG>.
Malcolm, R. Brown, Jr. “Gamla Uppsala, Sweden.” 30 Apr. 2002. 27 Sep. 2003
<www.botany.utexas.edu/.../sweden/OldUppsala/default.htm>.
Maurisoft. “Ginnungagap.” Abc Dioses. 29 Jan. 2002. 1 Oct. 2003
<http://abcdioses.noneto.com/escan/dioses1/ginungagap.htm>.
“Scandinavian Mythology.” Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2003. CD-ROM.
Microsoft
Corporation. 1993-2002.
“Viking Art.” Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2003. CD-ROM. Microsoft
Corporation.
1993-2002.
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