Gods and Myths of the Viking Age

Gods and Myths of the Viking Age The heroic literature of the Vikings is based on an unsettled society and the shortness and transitory nature of life Their mythology shows them to be a people of courage vigor and enthusiasm with

  • Title: Gods and Myths of the Viking Age
  • Author: Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson
  • ISBN: 9780517336441
  • Page: 259
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The heroic literature of the Vikings is based on an unsettled society and the shortness and transitory nature of life Their mythology shows them to be a people of courage, vigor, and enthusiasm, with a highly developed sense of fairness and a capacity for great self discipline In this book, the author examines Viking myths and the wondrous gods goddesses that populThe heroic literature of the Vikings is based on an unsettled society and the shortness and transitory nature of life Their mythology shows them to be a people of courage, vigor, and enthusiasm, with a highly developed sense of fairness and a capacity for great self discipline In this book, the author examines Viking myths and the wondrous gods goddesses that populate them She examines such sources as the 13th century Prose Edda and a small book of poems called the Codex Regius discovered in the 17th century, and explains the importance of recent archaeological finds The book describes the overall world view of the gods and surveys the pantheon from fierce, exacting gods of battle like Odin and Thor to gods of peace and plenty like Freyr and Freyja In conclusion, Davidson discusses how pagan beliefs gave way to the Christian faith, signifying the passing of the old gods and the death of the old Norse order.

    One thought on “Gods and Myths of the Viking Age”

    1. This provides an okay overview of Norse mythology. It jumps around a bit, though this is more a product of the author trying to pull together fragmented sources. Not a completely satisfying read, but not a bad first look at the names/habits/symbols in the Norse myths. Also, there is a pretty gruesome description of the Valkyries weaving with intestines, which is always a good time.

    2. I originally read this book as one of the required reading texts for a "Germanic Folklore" seminar class as a grad student, twenty years ago. Especially for neophytes, it provides an excellent overview of the mythologies of northern Europe, from the Anglo-Saxon versions to that of their more familiar Norse cousins.

    3. The gods of Asgard, and their mythic stories of battles with frost-giants and monsters, hold a strong place in the popular imagination throughout the West, and particularly in Scandinavia; but those stories did not come out of a vacuum. Rather, they were part of a powerful and long-lasting pre-Christian religious tradition that extended beyond Scandinavia to Germany, England, and Ireland, as H.R. Ellis Davidson points out in Gods and Myths of Northern Europe.Ellis Davidson, who taught at the uni [...]

    4. Better than I thought it would be! Davidson is more thoughtful and devotional than a mere academic and portrays the gods and their worship poetically. Disappointed with the unsatisfying colonialist ending on the passing of the old gods.

    5. this book feels it's age. well researched for a 1960's publication, but so, so, so academic I almost quit.

    6. This book lived to my expectations and more. It is well-written and the information was well-ordered. Well, I did skip thumb through few pages, but the things I sought this book for were quite satisfying and they answered basic questions I had about Norse Mythology, like the origin of Gods, their traits, and the abiding wrangle between Christianity and Heathenism, like Thor and Jesus Christ.

    7. This is mainly a survey of what we know about the Norse/German/Old English gods and goddesses. (Not much.) Davidson looks at the archaeological remains as well as the old sagas and Eddas, concentrating mainly on Snorri's "Prose Edda" to see what has survived about Scandinavian mythology. What emerges is fascinating, and ultimately frustratingly sad. Fascinating because it's a glimpse at a mythology that isn't well known thanks to the Renaissance's obsession for Greco-Roman mythology and frustrat [...]

    8. Another academic work on the Norse gods (not a storybook retelling at all), this concentrates more on the Northern people than Dumézil's work, surveying the practical meaning and historical base for many of the stories and concepts. Intriguing passages included the similarities between Freyja and Frigg; the relation between the powers of the volva or Odin's acquisition of knowledge and shamanism; and the reasons for Christianity's power over the heathens of the late period. A great archeologica [...]

    9. This book was excellent insight into the world of Norse Mythology which I find extremely interesting. It talked about the myths and then went on to explain how they related to the people who wrote them. Then, later she talked about how both Christianity influenced Norse mythology and how the Norse religion influenced Christianity. It makes me want to dive deeper into the realm of pre-Christian religions, specifically in Northern Europe. Would recommend to anyone with an interest in mythology or [...]

    10. As others have mentioned this book bounces around a lot covering the subject and is an academic treatment of Northern European myths, gods and their cults rather than a narrative re-telling of the myths (compare with Robert Graves' Greek Mythology which is more the latter). You do get the gist of the main themes though along with the common strands across the different regions.What I did find interesting was how close Marvel comics and the recent films have stayed to many of the core elements of [...]

    11. I had to skim through most of the book, but it's interesting and easy to follow. It's not a mythology book only, but it also presents the life of various groups of people, their culture and belief system. Not the info I need for my thesis, hence the skimming. I think it's also somewhat outdated by now. Nevertheless, it's a good start for mythology enthusiasts.

    12. Remarkably thorough overview of the gods of Norse mythology from the Eddas and other related texts. A bit biased when it comes to Norse paganism's (which he insists on calling "heathenism") disappearance, implying it's because Christianity is inherently better and truer than paganism.

    13. Fabulous dive into the mythology and religions of the North. I found the path these beliefs took from the Near East to my ancestors fascinating. Davidson does a good, if frustrating, job of staying on topic. I plan on reading more of her to get the full picture.

    14. This is a very engaging read! The author manages to juggle the effort of covering the subject of the gods and religions of this time and region with great detail while remaining entertaining. If you're at all interested in Norse and Germanic mythology, religion and history, this is a must read! It's a very thoughtful intriguing study and it's got me going to a lot of the source texts it references.

    15.    When I picked up this book, I was expecting it to contain more of the myths of the north themselves, and not primarily summaries of the compiled myths. Ellis Davidson makes frequent reference to the Icelandic scholar, Snorri Sturluson, who wrote the Prose Edda. The Prose Edda compiles many of the myths Snorri was able to gather from the northern Europe in his time, around the 1220s A.D./C.E. Ellis Davidson’s book is therefore a great resource for succinctness, arrangement of information [...]

    16. We can see the myths as a vigorous, heroic comment on life, life as men found it in hard and inhospitable lands. The gods never cease their struggle against the creatures of cold and darkness. Thor, perhaps the best-loved deity of the north, is characteristic of the Vikings in his resolute pertinacity. The values for which he stood—law and order in the free community, the keeping of faith between men—were those by which the Vikings set great store, even though they themselves often appeared [...]

    17. The easiest way to talk about Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H. R. Ellis Davidson is to talk about it in relation to Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals and Beliefs by John Lindow. Both books cover much of the same ground and serve as solid guides to Norse mythology, but while Lindow’s book is organized more like an encyclopedia, with entries for everything from gods and goddesses to giants, objects, and events, Davidson’s book addresses Norse mythology through chapte [...]

    18. A very interesting and scholarly look at the myths and deities of northern Europe - both the continental, Anglo-Saxons and Norse (aka Vikings). The author describes the various gods and goddesses, and attempts to trace their origin. She then attempts to related the cults of these mythological characters to the daily lives of the people, and provides some ideas on why these heathen beliefs gave way to the Christian faith. This is an introductory text with many nuggets of interesting ideas and con [...]

    19. This book focuses on the cultural context of what we know about the Old Norse myths, mainly, it stresses the point that the vast majority of what we know comes from Snorri Sturluson's Eddas which were written in the early 13th century, quite some time after the old northern religions have faded. Nevertheless, the author makes well grounded parallels between the Norse gods and those from the old Germanic faiths, and, to a lesser extent, with the those from the Celtic faiths.I lack the scholarly t [...]

    20. After reading "Myths of the Norsemen" by Helene Guerber, I was severely disappointed in the book. Ever since then, I've been trying to find a good book on Norse mythology. "Gods and Myths of Northern Europe" summarized some myths and gives an overview of some of the Gods and Goddesses. The book illustrates how Christianity has affected what remains of Norse/Germanic Myths and even goes so far to show how Christian beliefs have colored such myths (which isn't surprising considering the more known [...]

    21. This is one of the most accessible volumes I've found on Norse mythology, especially as it also includes crossovers from Germanic mythology, references to Roman/Greek influences and chronicles, eastern traditions and whether or not there were any Celtic influences at work (rare but in a few places in the book).The division of the book into separate chapters based on the organization of the gods/mythology is sensible and makes reading easier. I especially liked the discussion of both major and mi [...]

    22. I thought I knew a lot about Norse mythology, but I didn't. The "Norse mythology" I knew was a vast simplification of a varied collection of myths, gods and cosmologies all smooshed together, the way all the views of the divine and stories about humanity's relationship with the divine in Christianity are all smooshed together and blended into one homogeneous story that doesn't do justice to the richness of all the traditions that went into it.It was particularly interesting to me that Odin, the [...]

    23. What did the Vikings really think of their gods? Why was Odin, their chief god, not to be trusted? Who did the German tribes believe brought them victory in battle? Did anyone ever worship Balder? Excellent guide to the pagan beliefs of the germanic peoples from Scandinavia to England which will provide the best answers for these questions you are likely to find. Scholarly, but easy to digest, this book is just as much for the general interested reader as the academic. Written some decades ago n [...]

    24. Great book. For the most part very objective. Although a lot is lost in translation when an objective author writes an objective study of any religion it can also be a useful viewpoint in an age when most books you will find with any sort of pagan religion as their focus are going to be a hodge podge of new agey drivel. Very well written and organized I thought with even a few deep thoughts and considerations sprinkled about though the book as a whole was refreshingly academic. I plan to read mo [...]

    25. This isn't just a simple account of all the different myths (the stories themselves.) This is a brief but fascinating analysis which compares different aspects of the Gods from the many accounts taken, and poems found and not found. It takes an interesting and objective view point and is clear and easy to read, while somehow fitting in some of the best stories amid the discussion of what the various figures meant at different times, and how they portrayed, and how much or little we know, and how [...]

    26. This book is a very brief very broad overview over several themes found in the Northern myths. If you've read the myths then there is no point reading this book, unless you have had some trouble with them. This book might help clarify a few things or help come up with some essay topics. There are a few comparative pieces between Snorri's work and Saxo's which I found quite interesting. If you're just an interested reader, this book doesn't have much value. If you're a researcher or scholar this [...]

    27. A well put together discussion of the pagan myths of pre-christian northern europe. Drawing from the Prose Edda, Poetic Edda and a multitude of other primary sources Davidson is able to make the Norse psyche both visible and accessible. After reading this I find I better understand the Norse culture and worldview as it truly was, as opposed to the nearly cartoon-like nature in which it portrayed in most modern contexts.

    28. There are two major sources for the Norse myths. The author compares the two and brings further light of the subject from other sources. The book is scholarly. If you want bang'em'up tales of Loki, Odin, and Thor you might consider another book. The author carefully compares sources and brings some of the stories to their Indo-European roots. The book is not an easy read but is well worth the effort.

    29. The writing was rather dry and though set into manageable chapters the handling of the subject seemed to meander. I couldn't quite get the audience she was writing for. Not children. She didn't talk down but referred to Snorri and Saxo and other sources as if it were something approaching common knowledge. There were some interesting bits of info but I started longing for real tales instead of snatches and summaries of the myths and tales.

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