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email = emailprotectedpublish = yessubject= MYTHOLOGYtitle = Norse Mythologypapers = The book entitled “NorseMythology” by KarlMortensen, is the book I chose to read for my firstbook report for this semester. The book wastranslated from the Danishby A. Clinton Crowell.Karl Mortensen was a doctor of philosophy whomattended the University of Copenhagen.The first part of the book isthe generalintroduction.
Here, you find the author’s meaningof “Norsemythology” and where he got hisinformation. He says,By “Norse mythology” we mean theinformationwe have concerning thereligious conceptions and usagesof ourheathen forefathers, their faith andmanner of worshipping the gods, and alsotheir legends and songsabout the godsand heroes. The importation ofChristianity drove out the old heathenfaith, butremnants or memories of itlong endured in the superstitiousideasof the common people, and can even betracedin our own day.In the general introduction, the author tellsus why we teach Norse mythology. He tells us thatfor us, Norse mythologyhas in any case theadvantage of being the religion of our ownforefathers,and through it we learn to know thatreligion.
This is necessary if wewish tounderstand the history and poetry of our antiquityand to comprehendwhat good characteristics andwhat faults Christianity encountered whenit wasproclaimed in the North. Finally, it is necessaryto know themost important points of the heathenfaith of our fathers in order to appreciateandenjoy many of the words of our best poets.”Norse Mythology”is comprised of four mainsections. The first section contains the creationmyth, which is extremely confusing because it talksabout brother’saunt’s cousin’s children fromsecond marriages and what importance theywere inthose golden times. It’s quite hard to understand,and I hadto read it over twice to make sure Iunderstood. The second part of thefirst sectiondiscusses the creation of the gods and the storiesoftheir lives. And the last part is entitledRagnorak, which stands for theenemies of the gods.
All of this was quite interesting to read.The second section of the book talks aboutcommon popular belief. It saysthat ourforefathers, like other heathen people, found oneof the plainestproofs of the soul’s independenceof the body and its ability to take ahand in theaffairs of living men in the nightmare and dream,as theylacked all other means of explaining thosethings. They therefore tookit for granted thatthey were spirits, usually in the form of animalsor men.
Through the smallest crack or crevice thenightmare slips to thesleeping one, and tormentsand troubles him so sadly that he becomes illorthat it causes his death. It is felt as anoppressing weight uponthe breast or throat; themare “treads” or “rides” the sleeping one fromhislegs up to his body and thrusts his tongue into thevictim’s throatto hinder him from crying out. TheNorthern people have clung this veryday to theirbelief in the “mare” as a supernatural femalebeing, andmany legends about it have arisen. A”mare” can slip out only by the sameway that itcame in; if one stops up the opening, it is caught.Thesame thing happens if one names its name.
In the Ynglinga Sagait is told ofKing Vanlandi, who had betrayed hisFinnish bride, Drifa, that he inpunishmentfor that had been killed by a’mare’ with which the magic artsof theFinns had tormented him. He becamesuddenly sleepy and lay down to rest,but when he had slepta little he criedthat a ‘mare’ was treading him. Theking’s men hastened to his assistance,but when theyturned to his head, the’mare’ trod upon his legs so that theywere nearly broken, and if they went tothe legs,she was directly occupied atthe head; and so the king was actuallytortured to death.Also found in the second sectionare chief godsand myths of the gods. Here, there are stories toldof Thor, Odin, Frey and Njorth, Heimdall andBaldur, and Loki.
It commentson the variousthresholds crossed by these great gods, and thethingsthat they accomplished.The third section is rather short, but it issolely focused on the forms of worship andreligious life. It tellsof the Norse temples, orHofs, which means in general “a holy place.” TheHofs were large square, occasionally round, houses,built in the samestyle and of the same kind ofmaterial as the common dwelling houses.Just inside the door of the Hofstood the posts of the high seat, inwhich were fixedgreat nails, but themeaning of these is not known. At theopposite end (the Korrunding or apse)stoodthe images of the gods, and infront of them or underthem thesplendidly ornamented Stall, which oneof the Icelandic sagas compares with theChristian altar.Upon its iron-coveredupper side burned the sacred fire whichmust never be extinguished, and therealso laythe open silver or gold ringupon which all oaths must be sworn.
Thering was moistened in the blood of thevictim,and on all festive occasions theGothi had to wear it upon hisarm. Uponthe Stall stood also a large copper bowlwith a sprinkler (hlautbolli andhlauttein). In thebowl the blood of thevictim_animal or man_was caught andsprinkled over those who were present.The Stallalso, perhaps the wholeinterior of the temple, was reddenedwith it. The statues of the gods weremost oftenclumsy images carved fromwood, and were set up on the Stallorupon a pedestal, and dressed inaccordancewith the festal costume ofthe period. That there was alwaysahammer in the hand of Thor’s image therecanbe no doubt.
The last section of the chosen book is full ofhero sagas. You’ll find the stories of TheVolsungs, the Helgi sagas, Volunthe Smith, TheHjathningar, and Beowulf. These are great storiesthatbeautifully follow the hero cycle.The conclusion of the book talksabout howthese stories reflect on us. It comments on ourstrengthsand our weaknesses.
It also refers to thepeople’s beliefs concerning death,courage,respect, and faith.I absolutely love this book. It’s extremelyold_copyright 1913! It really made me look deepinto myself. I am ofNorwegian origin and it wasquite interesting to learn about what myforefathers believed and how they worshipped. Myabsolute favorite Norsehero has to be Thor. Herepresents power.
He’s extremely powerful andcourageous. He also doesn’t have too muchcompassion for his enemies.He never hesitates tocrush them with his almighty hammer. Thor is myhero_let his stories live long!Do I recommend the book?Absolutely.You can find it atthe OSU library. It’s on themain floor and the callnumberis BL860.
Be careful with it,though, the pages are fallingout.BibliographyMortensen, Karl. “Norse Mythology.” ThomasY.
CrowellCompany, New York, NY. 1913.