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Beowulf - Norse Mythology

Uploaded by Quest4Glory on Jul 05, 2004

The Norse World

In Beowulf, many beliefs had to do with Norse mythology, from the way they buried their dead to their thoughts on war and violence. In Norse mythology, a person’s honor depends on the way they die; a hero proves himself by dying while fighting the forces of evil, not by conquering it. (Hamilton, 444). Beowulf becomes a hero by dying while fighting the dragon. In most religions, Mythology is used to explain the world in which a person lives. For the Anglo-Saxons, the world was filled with war and violence. Norse mythology explains the world, and justifies the kind of people that they are. The gods and goddesses live in a hostile environment filled with war and violence. As Yves Cohat said, "Viking gods (Norse Gods), like the individuals who created them, were violent, ardent, and passionate. They displayed the qualities the Vikings valued in themselves-brutality, anger, lust, humor, strength and guile." (Cohat, 105). Inevitably the whole religion as well as the people who practiced it are doomed to destruction.

The gods were created by their worshipers, and were therefore very much like the Norsemen. The gods and humans had very close relations and were even thought of as companions (Cohat 10). No one had complete control over the other. If a god did not perform to a worshipers expectation, then the human would not hold back, but turn away from the god, abuse him, or even kill the priest involved! This made the gods even more like the humans; they had to worry about pleasing the people who worshiped them, and what might happen if they did not perform to expectation.

In the Norse pantheon, Odin is the god of war and knowledge. He is the head god, and leader of everyone. He is the wisest of all the gods (http://www.anglo-saxon). On each shoulder sat a raven, one named Thought (Hugin) and the other Memory (Munin). All day they would fly around gaining knowledge, and then came back to Odin reciting everything they had come across. He did anything to obtain knowledge; once in exchange for knowledge, he gave one of his eyes to the giant Mimir. Human sacrifices were also part of his worshiping. "It was believed that the god once hung on a gallows, wounded with the thrust of a spear, and thus gained wisdom." (http:/www.angol-saxon). This was after the crucifixion of Christ, and much of...

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Uploaded by:   Quest4Glory

Date:   07/05/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   7 pages (1,505 words)

Views:   11114

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