Myths of the Norsemen

From the Eddas and Sagas


H. A. Guerber

Author of "The Myths of Greece and Rome" etc.


George G. Harrap & Company

15 York Street Covent Garden


Printed by Ballantyne & Co. Limited

Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, London


Chap. Page

I. The Beginning 1

II. Odin 16

III. Frigga 42

IV. Thor 59

V. Tyr 85

VI. Bragi 95

VII. Idun 103

VIII. Nioerd 111

IX. Frey 117

X. Freya 131

XI. Uller 139

XII. Forseti 142

XIII. Heimdall 146

XIV. Hermod 154

XV. Vidar 158

XVI. Vali 162

XVII. The Norns 166

XVIII. The Valkyrs 173

XIX. Hel 180

XX. AEgir 185

XXI. Balder 197

XXII. Loki 216

XXIII. The Giants 230

XXIV. The Dwarfs 239

XXV. The Elves 246

XXVI. The Sigurd Saga 251

XXVII. The Frithiof Saga 298

XXVIII. The Twilight of the Gods 329

XXIX. Greek and Northern Mythologies--A Comparison 342


Norsemen Landing in Iceland (Oscar Wergeland) Frontispiece

To face page

The Giant with the Flaming Sword (J. C. Dollman) 2

The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani (J. C. Dollman) 8

Odin (Sir E. Burne-Jones) 16

The Chosen Slain (K. Dielitz) 18

A Viking Foray (J. C. Dollman) 20

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (H. Kaulbach) 28

Odin (B. E. Fogelberg) 36

Frigga Spinning the Clouds (J. C. Dollman) 42

Tannhaeuser and Frau Venus (J. Wagrez) 52

Eastre (Jacques Reich) 54

Huldra's Nymphs (B. E. Ward) 58

Thor (B. E. Fogelberg) 60

Sif (J. C. Dollman) 64

Thor and the Mountain (J. C. Dollman) 72

A Foray (A. Malmstroem) 88

The Binding of Fenris (Dorothy Hardy) 92

Idun (B. E. Ward) 100

Loki and Thiassi (Dorothy Hardy) 104

Frey (Jacques Reich) 118

Freya (N. J. O. Blommer) 132

The Rainbow Bridge (H. Hendrich) 146

Heimdall (Dorothy Hardy) 148

Jarl (Albert Edelfelt) 152

The Norns (C. Ehrenberg) 166

The Dises (Dorothy Hardy) 170

The Swan-Maiden (Gertrude Demain Hammond, R.I.) 174

The Ride of the Valkyrs (J. C. Dollman) 176

Brunhild and Siegmund (J. Wagrez) 178

The Road to Valhalla (Severin Nilsson) 182

AEgir (J. P. Molin) 186

Ran (M. E. Winge) 190

The Neckan (J. P. Molin) 194

Loki and Hodur (C. G. Qvarnstroem) 202

The Death of Balder (Dorothy Hardy) 206

Hermod before Hela (J. C. Dollman) 210

Loki and Svadilfari (Dorothy Hardy) 222

Loki and Sigyn (M. E. Winge) 228

Thor and the Giants (M. E. Winge) 230

Torghatten 234

The Peaks of the Trolls 244

The Elf-Dance (N. J. O. Blommer) 246

The White Elves (Charles P. Sainton, R.I.) 248

Old Houses with Carved Posts 250

The Were-Wolves (J. C. Dollman) 260

A Hero's Farewell (M. E. Winge) 264

The Funeral Procession (H. Hendrich) 268

Sigurd and Fafnir (K. Dielitz) 274

Sigurd Finds Brunhild (J. Wagrez) 278

Odin and Brunhild (K. Dielitz) 280

Aslaug (Gertrude Demain Hammond, R.I.) 282

Sigurd and Gunnar (J. C. Dollman) 284

The Death of Siegfried (H. Hendrich) 288

The End of Brunhild (J. Wagrez) 290

Ingeborg (M. E. Winge) 304

Frithiof Cleaves the Shield of Helge (Knut Ekwall) 308

Ingeborg Watches her Lover Depart (Knut Ekwall) 312

Frithiof's Return to Framnaes (Knut Ekwall) 316

Frithiof at the Shrine of Balder (Knut Ekwall) 318

Frithiof at the Court of Ring (Knut Ekwall) 320

Frithiof Watches the Sleeping King (Knut Ekwall) 324

Odin and Fenris (Dorothy Hardy) 334

The Ride of the Valkyrs (H. Hendrich) 344

The Storm-Ride (Gilbert Bayes) 358


The prime importance of the rude fragments of poetry preserved in

early Icelandic literature will now be disputed by none, but there

has been until recent times an extraordinaryindifference to the

wealth of religious tradition and mythical lore which they contain.

The long neglect of these precious records of our heathen ancestors

is not the fault of the material in which all that survives of

their religious beliefs is enshrined, for it may safely be asserted

that the Edda is as rich in the essentials of national romance

and race-imagination, rugged though it be, as the more graceful

and idyllic mythology of the South. Neither is it due to anything

weak in the conception of the deities themselves, for although

they may not rise to great spiritual heights, foremost students of

Icelandic literature agree that they stand out rude and massive as the

Scandinavian mountains. They exhibit "a spirit of victory, superior

to brute force, superior to mere matter, a spirit that fights and

overcomes." [1] "Even were some part of the matter of their myths

taken from others, yet the Norsemen have given their gods a noble,

upright, great spirit, and placed them upon a high level that is all

their own." [2] "In fact these old Norse songs have a truth in them,

an inwardperennial truth and greatness. It is a greatness not of

mere body and gigantic bulk, but a rude greatness of soul." [3]

The introduction of Christianity into the North brought with it the

influence of the Classical races, and this eventually supplanted the

native genius, so that the alien mythology and literature of Greece

and Rome have formed an increasing part of the mentalequipment of the

northern peoples in proportion as the native literature and tradition

have been neglected.

Undoubtedly Northern mythology has exercised a deep influence upon

our customs, laws, and language, and there has been, therefore,

a great unconsciousinspiration flowing from these into English

literature. The most distinctive traits of this mythology are a

peculiar grim humour, to be found in the religion of no other race,

and a dark thread of tragedy which runs throughout the whole woof,

and these characteristics, touching both extremes, are writ large

over English literature.

But of conscious influence, compared with the rich draught of Hellenic

inspiration, there is little to be found, and if we turn to modern

art the difference is even more apparent.

This indifference may be attributed to many causes, but it was due

first to the fact that the religious beliefs of our pagan ancestors

were not held with any real tenacity. Hence the success of the

more or less considered policy of the early Christian missionaries

to confuse the heathen beliefs, and merge them in the new faith,

an interesting example of which is to be seen in the transference

to the Christian festival of Easter of the attributes of the pagan

goddess Eastre, from whom it took even the name. Northern mythology

was in this way arrested ere it had attained its full development,

and the progress of Christianity eventually relegated it to the limbo

of forgotten things. Its comprehensive and intelligent scheme, however,

in strong contrast with the disconnected mythology of Greece and Rome,

formed the basis of a more or less rational faith which prepared the

Norseman to receive the teaching of Christianity, and so helped to

bring about its own undoing.

The religious beliefs of the North are not mirrored with any

exactitude in the Elder Edda. Indeed only a travesty of the faith of

our ancestors has been preserved in Norse literature. The early poet

loved allegory, and his imagination rioted among the conceptions of

his fertile muse. "His eye was fixed on the mountains till the snowy

peaks assumed human features and the giant of the rock or the ice

descended with heavy tread; or he would gaze at the splendour of the

spring, or of the summer fields, till Freya with the gleaming necklace

stepped forth, or Sif with the flowing locks of gold." [4]

We are told nothing as to sacrificial and religious rites, and

all else is omitted which does not provide material for artistic

treatment. The so-called Northern Mythology, therefore, may be regarded

as a precious relic of the beginning of Northern poetry, rather than

as a representation of the religious beliefs of the Scandinavians,

and these literary fragments bear many signs of the transitional stage

wherein the confusion of the old and new faiths is easily apparent.

But notwithstanding the limitations imposed by long neglect it is

possible to reconstruct in part a plan of the ancient Norse beliefs,

and the general reader will derive much profit from Carlyle's

illuminating study in "Heroes and Hero-worship." "A bewildering,

inextricable jungle of delusions, confusions, falsehoods and

absurdities, covering the whole field of Life!" he calls them,

with all good reason. But he goes on to show, with equal truth,

that at the soul of this crude worship of distorted nature was a

spiritual force seeking expression. What we probe without reverence

they viewed with awe, and not understanding it, straightway deified

it, as all children have been apt to do in all stages of the world's

history. Truly they were hero-worshippers after Carlyle's own heart,

and scepticism had no place in their simple philosophy.

It was the infancy of thought gazing upon a universe filled with

divinity, and believing heartily with all sincerity. A large-hearted

people reaching out in the dark towards ideals which were better than

they knew. Ragnarok was to undo their gods because they had stumbled

from their higher standards.

We have to thank a curious phenomenon for the preservation of so much

of the old lore as we still possess. While foreign influences were

corrupting the Norse language, it remained practically unaltered in

Iceland, which had been colonised from the mainland by the Norsemen

who had fled thither to escape the oppression of Harold Fairhair after

his crushing victory of Hafrsfirth. These people brought with them the

poetic genius which had already manifested itself, and it took fresh

root in that barren soil. Many of the old Norse poets were natives

of Iceland, and in the early part of the Christian era, a supreme

service was rendered to Norse literature by the Christian priest,

Saemund, who industriously brought together a large amount of pagan

poetry in a collection known as the Elder Edda, which is the chief

foundation of our present knowledge of the religion of our Norse

ancestors. Icelandic literature remained a sealed book, however,

until the end of the eighteenth century, and very slowly since that

time it has been winning its way in the teeth of indifference, until

there are now signs that it will eventually come into its own. "To

know the old Faith," says Carlyle, "brings us into closer and clearer

relation with the Past--with our own possessions in the Past. For

the whole Past is the possession of the Present; the Past had always

something true, and is a precious possession."

The weighty words of William Morris regarding the Volsunga Saga

may also be fitly quoted as an introduction to the whole of this

collection of "Myths of the Norsemen": "This is the great story of

the North, which should be to all our race what the Tale of Troy was

to the Greeks--to all our race first, and afterwards, when the change

of the world has made our race nothing more than a name of what has

been--a story too--then should it be to those that come after us no

less than the Tale of Troy has been to us."


Myths of Creation

Although the Aryan inhabitants of Northern Europe are supposed by some

authorities to have come originally from the plateau of Iran, in the

heart of Asia, the climate and scenery of the countries where they

finally settled had great influence in shaping their early religious

beliefs, as well as in ordering their mode of living.

The grand and rugged landscapes of Northern Europe, the midnight

sun, the flashing rays of the aurora borealis, the ocean continually

lashing itself into fury against the great cliffs and icebergs of

the Arctic Circle, could not but impress the people as vividly as

the almost miraculous vegetation, the perpetual light, and the blue

seas and skies of their brief summer season. It is no great wonder,

therefore, that the Icelanders, for instance, to whom we owe the most

perfect records of this belief, fancied in looking about them that the

world was originally created from a strange mixture of fire and ice.

Northern mythology is grand and tragical. Its principal theme is the

perpetual struggle of the beneficent forces of Nature against the

injurious, and hence it is not graceful and idyllic in character,

like the religion of the sunny South, where the people could bask

in perpetual sunshine, and the fruits of the earth grew ready to

their hand.

It was very natural that the dangers incurred in hunting and fishing

under these inclement skies, and the suffering entailed by the long

  • greece [gri:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.希腊   (初中英语单词)
  • beginning [bi´giniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.开始,开端;起源   (初中英语单词)
  • twilight [´twailait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.黎明;黄昏   (初中英语单词)
  • comparison [kəm´pærisən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.比较;对照;比喻   (初中英语单词)
  • farewell [feə´wel] 移动到这儿单词发声  int.再见 n.&a.告别   (初中英语单词)
  • funeral [´fju:nərəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.葬礼,丧葬;困难   (初中英语单词)
  • procession [prə´seʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.队伍 v.列队行进   (初中英语单词)
  • shield [ʃi:ld] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.盾牌;防御 v.保护   (初中英语单词)
  • sleeping [´sli:piŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.睡着(的)   (初中英语单词)
  • poetry [´pəuitri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.诗;诗意   (初中英语单词)
  • literature [´litərətʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.文学;文献;著作   (初中英语单词)
  • extraordinary [ik´strɔ:dinəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.非常的;额外的   (初中英语单词)
  • tradition [trə´diʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.传统;惯例;传说   (初中英语单词)
  • neglect [ni´glekt] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.&n.疏忽;忽视;忽略   (初中英语单词)
  • safely [´seifli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.安全地;平安地   (初中英语单词)
  • spiritual [´spiritʃuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精神(上)的;神圣的   (初中英语单词)
  • exhibit [ig´zibit] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.展出 n.展览品   (初中英语单词)
  • victory [´viktəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.胜利,战胜   (初中英语单词)
  • introduction [,intrə´dʌkʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.介绍;引言;引导   (初中英语单词)
  • genius [´dʒi:niəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.天才(人物);天赋   (初中英语单词)
  • mental [´mentl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精神的;心理的   (初中英语单词)
  • equipment [i´kwipmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.装备,设备   (初中英语单词)
  • proportion [prə´pɔ:ʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.比率 vt.使成比例   (初中英语单词)
  • humour [´hju:mə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.幽默,诙谐   (初中英语单词)
  • tragedy [´trædʒidi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.悲剧;惨案;灾难   (初中英语单词)
  • conscious [´kɔnʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.意识的;自觉的   (初中英语单词)
  • confuse [kən´fju:z] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.使混乱;混淆;慌乱   (初中英语单词)
  • intelligent [in´telidʒənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.聪明的;理智的   (初中英语单词)
  • scheme [ski:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.计划;阴谋,诡计   (初中英语单词)
  • contrast [´kɔntrɑ:st] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.对比 v.使对比(照)   (初中英语单词)
  • imagination [i,mædʒi´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.想象(力)   (初中英语单词)
  • therefore [´ðeəfɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.&conj.因此;所以   (初中英语单词)
  • literary [´litərəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.文学(上)的   (初中英语单词)
  • confusion [kən´fju:ʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.混乱(状态);骚乱   (初中英语单词)
  • derive [di´raiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.得出;衍生   (初中英语单词)
  • worship [´wə:ʃip] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.崇拜;敬仰   (初中英语单词)
  • thither [´ðiðə] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.到那里 a.那边的   (初中英语单词)
  • barren [´bærən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.贫瘠的;不生育的   (初中英语单词)
  • amount [ə´maunt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.总数;数量 v.合计   (初中英语单词)
  • collection [kə´lekʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.收集;征收;募捐   (初中英语单词)
  • supposed [sə´pəuzd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.想象的;假定的   (初中英语单词)
  • climate [´klaimit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.气候;特殊气候地带   (初中英语单词)
  • circle [´sə:kəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.圆圈 v.环绕;盘旋   (初中英语单词)
  • impress [im´pres, ´impres] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.铭刻 n.印记;特征   (初中英语单词)
  • instance [´instəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.例子,实例,例证   (初中英语单词)
  • belief [bi´li:f] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.相信;信仰,信条   (初中英语单词)
  • mixture [´mikstʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.混合;混合比;混合物   (初中英语单词)
  • principal [´prinsəpəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.主要的 n.负责人   (初中英语单词)
  • graceful [´greisfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.优美的,流畅的   (初中英语单词)
  • sunshine [´sʌnʃain] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日光,阳光   (初中英语单词)
  • suffering [´sʌfəriŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.痛苦;灾害   (初中英语单词)
  • spinning [´spiniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.纺织 a.纺织品的   (高中英语单词)
  • rainbow [´reinbəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.彩虹   (高中英语单词)
  • shrine [ʃrain] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.神龛;神殿;圣地   (高中英语单词)
  • indifference [in´difrəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.冷淡;无足轻重   (高中英语单词)
  • heathen [´hi:ðən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.异教徒   (高中英语单词)
  • rugged [´rʌgid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不平的;粗犷的   (高中英语单词)
  • conception [kən´sepʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.构思;概念;怀孕   (高中英语单词)
  • foremost [´fɔ:məust] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.最重要的;最先的   (高中英语单词)
  • massive [´mæsiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.厚实的;魁伟的   (高中英语单词)
  • inward [´inwəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.向内的;心灵上的   (高中英语单词)
  • greatness [´greitnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.巨大;高尚;卓越   (高中英语单词)
  • gigantic [dʒai´gæntik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.巨大的   (高中英语单词)
  • christianity [,kristi´æniti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.基督教;基督精神   (高中英语单词)
  • unconscious [ʌn´kɔnʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无意识的;不觉察的   (高中英语单词)
  • inspiration [,inspi´reiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.鼓舞;灵感;启发   (高中英语单词)
  • draught [drɑ:ft] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.通风,通气;吸出   (高中英语单词)
  • festival [´festivəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.节日;庆祝;欢庆   (高中英语单词)
  • easter [´i:stə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(耶稣)复活节   (高中英语单词)
  • comprehensive [,kɔmpri´hensiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.综合的;理解的   (高中英语单词)
  • fertile [´fə:tail] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.肥沃的;有繁殖力的   (高中英语单词)
  • so-called [´sou ´kɔ:ld] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.所谓的,号称的   (高中英语单词)
  • representation [,reprizen´teiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.描写;表现(法)   (高中英语单词)
  • notwithstanding [,nɔtwiθ´stændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  prep.&conj.虽然;还是   (高中英语单词)
  • jungle [´dʒʌŋgəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.丛林;杂乱的东西   (高中英语单词)
  • straightway [´streitwei] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.立刻   (高中英语单词)
  • universe [´ju:nivə:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.天地;全人类;银河系   (高中英语单词)
  • heartily [´hɑ:tili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.衷心地;亲切地   (高中英语单词)
  • phenomenon [fi´nɔminən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.现象;奇迹;珍品   (高中英语单词)
  • regarding [ri´gɑ:diŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  prep.关于   (高中英语单词)
  • originally [ə´ridʒənəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.本来;独创地   (高中英语单词)
  • plateau [´plætəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.高原;平稳;托盘   (高中英语单词)
  • scenery [´si:nəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.舞台布景   (高中英语单词)
  • arctic [´ɑ:ktik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.北极的   (高中英语单词)
  • perpetual [pə´petʃuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.永恒的;终身的   (高中英语单词)
  • flaming [´fleimiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.熊熊燃烧的;热情的   (英语四级单词)
  • binding [´baindiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.捆绑的 n.捆绑(物)   (英语四级单词)
  • bridge [bridʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.桥(梁);鼻梁;桥牌   (英语四级单词)
  • classical [´klæsikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.经典的;传统的   (英语四级单词)
  • eventually [i´ventʃuəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.最后,终于   (英语四级单词)
  • distinctive [di´stiŋktiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有区别的;有特色的   (英语四级单词)
  • touching [´tʌtʃiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.动人的 prep.提到   (英语四级单词)
  • policy [´pɔlisi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.政策;权谋;保险单   (英语四级单词)
  • rational [´ræʃənəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.(有)理性的;合理的   (英语四级单词)
  • infancy [´infənsi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.婴儿期;初期   (英语四级单词)
  • sincerity [sin´seriti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.真诚;诚意   (英语四级单词)
  • preservation [,prezə´veiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.保存;储藏;维护   (英语四级单词)
  • mainland [´meinlənd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.大陆;本土   (英语四级单词)
  • oppression [ə´preʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.压迫;镇压;苦恼   (英语四级单词)
  • winning [´winiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.胜利(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • vegetation [,vedʒi´teiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.植物;生长   (英语四级单词)
  • inclement [in´klemənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.冷酷无情的   (英语四级单词)
  • landing [´lændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.登陆;降落;楼梯平台   (英语六级单词)
  • iceland [´aislənd] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.冰岛   (英语六级单词)
  • viking [´vaikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.北欧海盗   (英语六级单词)
  • perennial [pə´reniəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.长期的 n.多年生植物   (英语六级单词)
  • reconstruct [,ri:kən´strʌkt] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.修复;使再现   (英语六级单词)
  • aurora [ɔ:´rɔ:rə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.曙光,朝霞   (英语六级单词)
  • vividly [´vividli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.活泼地;生动地   (英语六级单词)
  • miraculous [mi´rækjuləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.非凡的;奇迹般的   (英语六级单词)
  • hunting [´hʌntiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.打猎   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:08:08
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