Bell Ringer #9: Tuesday 2/8/11. Believe it or not, the Norse had more influence on our language today than you might think (Thursday is named after Thor, “Hel” was the goddess of the underworld.)
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Believe it or not, the Norse had more influence on our language today than you might think (Thursday is named after Thor, “Hel” was the goddess of the underworld.)
If you were a god or goddess, what significant everyday title or object would we name after you? What would make people want to name something that important after you? Explain.
Norse myths existed only in oral form while they were central to religious belief. They were only written down after Northern Europe had become Christian.
So we have new problems with our primary sources:
Prose Edda: A narrative of many different adventures of the Norse gods, but presented as a fictional account, sometimes almost humorous. The closest we have to an overview/ collection of Norse myth, but often untraditional, and very engaged with intellectual & Christian traditions (e.g., he connects Thor with Troy).
Poetic Eddas: Traditional songs, which often refer to mythic incidents, usually just individual adventures.
Skaaldic songs: poems in honor of human accomplishments, with occasional references to myth, sometimes very cryptic.
In the south was a land of fire; in the north was a land of ice. They met in the great emptiness of Ginnungagap, and the ice began to melt.
From the melting ice came a huge giant, Ymir.
The first man and woman grew from his armpits. The frost-giants (Jogar) grew from his feet.
Ymir fed on the milk of a cow (Audhumla), which licked another creature, a man named Bur, from the ice.
The world was divided into several worlds.
The world tree, Yggdrasill, extended between all of these lands.
At its foot in Asgard was the well of Urd, where the Norns lived, three women who oversee fate.
Asgardian (gods): Asgard.
Light Elves: Alfheim
Primordial element of Fire and Fire Demons: Muspelheim
*** Asgard and Midgard were connected with the flaming bridge, Bifrost, that appears to the human eye as a rainbow.
Vanir (gods): Vanaheim
Dark Elves: Svartalfheim
Dead: Hel – where those who died of old age, sickness, or accident were judge
Creation was all tied together by Yggdrasil
Yggdrasill, the world tree, spans the different realms of Norse myth.
These realms are joined by the three roots of the great tree Yggdrasill.
The Norse gods are divided into two races: Aesir and Vanir.
Aesir are dominant; they are the gods most associated with heroic tales, conflict with giants, warfare, and the beginning and end of the world.
Vanir tend to be fertility deities; there are fewer of them.
Norse myth, unlike Greek and near Eastern, does not portray a world in which the gods have conquered discord and established order, but a world in which the gods are constantly battling their adversaries.
This battle comes to a head at Ragnarok.
The death of Balder is one element in the final episode of Norse myth, Ragnarok, “The Twilight of the Gods.”
Loki remains suffering under the poison of the serpent, and Balder remains in Hel (rather than in Valholl!) until the conflicts of Ragnarok.
The end of the world is preceded by an increase of wars and conflicts among men; then there is a three-year winter.
Monsters break loose, jormungand (the world’s serpent) emerges from the sea and floods the earth. A wolf swallows the sun and her brother the moon; stars fall from the sky.
We will go to the lab for the next two class periods for you to work on your presentations. You may use PowerPoint, Moviemaker, Photostory, etc. as long as there is a visual with notes provided to your peers.
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