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COLORADO / Scandinavian / SCAN 3202 / What are thor’s other attributes?

What are thor’s other attributes?

What are thor’s other attributes?


School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Scandinavian
Course: Old Norse Mythology
Professor: Avedan raggio
Term: Spring 2017
Tags: #OldNorseMythology, #Pantheonofgods, #Ragnarok, #finalexam, and #studyguide
Cost: 50
Name: SCAN 3202, Final Exam Study Guide
Description: This is a study guide for the Old Norse Mythology final exam (weeks 8-16). Good luck studying!
Uploaded: 05/05/2017
22 Pages 24 Views 18 Unlocks

SCAN 3202, Old Norse Mythology Final Exam Review

What are thor’s other attributes?

I am so sorry this is so long BUT this is a condensed version of notes from Week 8 to Week 16. It also  includes the recitation questions Taylor Budde and Professor Raggio provided us on a weekly basis and  answers to those questions. Good luck studying!

Week 8: 


Porr’s Names

∙ Porr = old norse

∙ Punor – old English/anglo saxon

∙ Ponar/Donar – Old German

∙ Asa-Tor, Oku-Tor

∙ Thor – Anglicized spelling

∙ Thursday (En), Donnerstag (Grm)


Story time: After Loki cuts off Sif’s hair, Thor (and probably Sif) are PISSED and tell  Loki to fix it. He goes to some dwarves who make Sif’s hair, Odin’s spear, and a  third object. These items are pretty impressive and the Aesir are content, but Loki  being Loki, goes to another set of Dwarves and challenges them to make better  items for the Aesir. “If you do make better items, I will let you take my head,” Loki  said sure of himself and his bet.  

Who is njord?

So the dwarves set off to work. To make these awesome items, the dwarves decided not to stop when working the medal. They make 2 items of great might (sorry guys,  I missed out on the names of the items but they are referenced in Lindow’s account  of Thor’s hammer on D2L/ the recitation reading for week 8). Loki begins to fear for  his head, turns into a fly and bites the dwarf as hard as he can, to no avail. Finally,  

while the dwarf is working on Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, Loki bites the dwarf on the  eye, drawing blood and causes the dwarf to stop a moment and wipe the blood from his eye. Stopping causes a flaw in Mjolnir – its handle is short and can only be used  one-handed. Still, the Gods judge these new items better than the last but Loki talks the dwarves into letting him keep his head. Instead, they sew Loki’s mouth shut. Don't forget about the age old question of What are the five core customer and marketplace concepts?


Who is aegir?

∙ Son of Odinn and Fjorgyn/Jord (personified Earth)

∙ Married Sif

o Daughter Prudr

∙ Lover/mistress of jotunn (giant) Jarnsaxa

∙ Sons = Magni and Modi (mother unknown, maybe Jarnsaxa?) ∙ Human servants Pjalfi and Roskva

∙ HIS GOATS! Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr

o “Teeth-barer” and “Teeth-grinder”

o Norse goats aren’t cute  they’re vicious

o Slain and eaten every night by Thor, resurrected by Mjolnir every  morning

Thor’s other attributes

∙ Megingjord “power-belt”

∙ Jarngreipr “iron-gripper” or gloves

∙ Slays and is slain by Jormungandr during Ragnarok (one of Loki’s children) ∙ Bearded, red-haired

∙ Kills jotnar (giants)

∙ Prudvangr, Bilskirnir


“Odin has the nobles who fall in battle / And Thor has the breed of the serfs”

∙ This is an insult towards Thor  Thor is the “working man’s job” o His hammer is a weapon but also a tool Don't forget about the age old question of What is generational conflict?

o “common man’s God”

o Why Thor might be so popular and symbolically represented by runes  and stones

o Snorri might have magnified Odin’s powers and strength because he  liked Odin/ Odin was a nobles God  Thor is downplayed in power in the Mythology but was VERY popular to humans, lower classes, or majority



∙ Found in the Codex Regius and AM (fragmented)

∙ The Aesir come to the abode of a giant (Aegir) and says, pretty much, “feed  us”

o Common practice for Norse kings to weaken their subjects or for  subjects to show their hospitality

o Aegir is reluctant and not very hospitable

∙ Aegir requires a cauldron from Hymir (another giant and a task that is VERY  dangerous)

o Thor and Tyr (or Loki in Snorri’s version) go

∙ Hymir’s wife offers advice – she tells them they came to an inhospitable and  dangerous plate

∙ Hostility to hospitality

o When Thor eats two of the three bulls slaughtered for dinner (2/3 of the food)  show of hostility Don't forget about the age old question of What is personality?

o Hymir says that the next day they must all only eat what they have  killed individually  passive aggressive way to state unhappiness  against Thor Don't forget about the age old question of Why is johann tetzel considered an important figure in history?

∙ Hymir and Thor are powerless to do anything against each other because  they are bound by the law of hospitality  they are each trying to goad one  another to make the first move We also discuss several other topics like What is the function of the functions and major components of the circulatory system?

Kennings (lots in this poem)

∙ Notice how these kennings for Thor change throughout the poem… ∙ “contentious man” (3), “Hrod’s adversary” (11) “the one who makes  giantesses weep” (14), “mountain giant-breaker” (17)

∙ “Lord of Goats” (20, 31)

∙ “protector of humans” (22), “doer of great deeds” (23), “the mighty one” (39)

The rest of the poem is sort of a contest of whit…

∙ Hymir challenges Thor to break a glass Goblet  Thor tries but it crumbles  stone and comes out stone

∙ Hymir’s wife tells Thor to break the Goblet on Hymir’s head (haha, cause he’s hard headed) and this works

∙ Thor and Tyr take the cauldron

Shield Poems

∙ Exchange of poetry and gifts  if someone does something good, Kings tend  to give them a shield

∙ Painted stories?  these gifts are given decorated to praise the shield wielder ∙ Haustlong

∙ Ragnarsdrapa


∙ Attributed to Bragi Boddason (9th c)

∙ Images on shield given to Bragi by Ragnar

o Ragnar Lodbrok? Famous, many tales about it him, but we just don’t  know if this is him If you want to learn more check out What is the concept of strong inference in comparing different theories?

∙ Four stories/ illustrations

o Gefiun plowing Zealand from Sweden

o Battle between Hedinn and Hogni

o Thor fishing for Jormungandr

o Hamdir and Sorli fighting lormunrekkr


∙ Surives as fragments in Snorri

15. In his right hand the hammer (Thor)

Heaved the thurser’-terror

When e beheld the hateful

Head of all-lands’-girdler. (World Serpent)

16. Slack lay not on sand-floor 

Sif;s husband his fish line,

Up when on Thor’s angle-hook

Wormengand (World serpent again) was lifted

17. And the mighty oar-struck

Ocean’s-lasher horrid glared up at the god’s-strong

Guarder right balefully (full of hate)

18. as, on the hook of Hrugnir’s

Head-crusher uplifted,

Wallowed Midgard’s winding 

Worm and spewed forth poison.

19. Then the thurs (giant) cut Thor’s his

Thin line ‘gainst the gunwale:

Would he not fall foul of fearful Loki’s offspring.”

Week 9:

Jotunn (singular) / Jotnar (plural)

∙ Described as a different race than the Aesir/Vanir

∙ Banished to Jotunheimar  

∙ Many places, not one

o Many times, Thor must cross some type of river to get to the Jotnar ∙ Often adversarial to Aesir

o Ymir  “in no way is he a god…he is evil as are all of his descendants”;  probably why Odin, Vili, and Ve kill him

o Builder of Asgard’s fortifications  giant who tries to extort Freyja, the  sun, and the moon from the Aesir

o Angrboda  mother of 3 of Loki’s children who each figure ominously in Ragnarok

o Vafprudnir  bad host

o Prymr  haven’t spoken of him yet

o Hymir  poor host (again; cultural reference)  

o Ragnarok


∙ Framework of Gylfaginning

o 1/6th of Gylfaggining

o Why are High, Just-as-high and Third reluctant to tell this story?  Gangleri asks if Thor has ever been defeated in a situation? The  three kings don’t want to speak of this story because it shows  

Thor being defeated. But Gangleri brow beats them into telling  

him the story (or he would have won the comnpetition)

Thor and Loki travel to an Inn and the people there (humans) grant him GREAT  hospitality. In return, Thor allows the family to eat his goats. He states they can eat  whatever they want but to put the bones back on the skins. One of the kids  disobeys this, breaks one of the goats bones, and eats the marrow of it. When Thor  reserects the goat in the morning, the goat is lame. Thor shows mercy towards  these humans. Instead of killing them, he takes on the two children of the family  as slaves.

∙ Thor and humans

o Magnanimity and generosity

o Ritual/instructions not followed

o Thor limits his anger to humans

o Thors slaves: Pjalfi and Roskva (Pjalfi becomes almost a hero in his own right)


∙ Skrymir (so large, even Thor fears killing him at first)

o Empty hall/glove

o Steals Thor’s, Loki’s and Pjalfi’s food (ties the bag of food in such a way that even Thor can’t get to it)

 Unable to feed his crew, Thor is PISSED off  shameful toward  his leadership

o Thor’s hammer blows, magic

 Thor’s blows to the giant are almost useless and Skrymir  

∙ Utgarda-Loki, “king

o Contests

 Challenges Thor to tasks he states are “baby” tasks and when  Thor fails them, the Jotnar shame him

 Very inhospitable Jotnar

 Loki losses an eating challenge

 Pjalfi loses a foot race (but gains much respect for doing so well)  Thor loses a drinking contest, a weight-lifting challenge with a  cat’s paw, and finally must fight an old nurse maid. He loses.

o Especially disdainful of Thor


∙ How did they lose so greatly???

∙ Deception explained, but still humiliating

o Loki was eating against a wild fire

o Pjalfi was running against thought

o Thor was drinking the ocean (and created the tides), was lifting the  World-serpent, and was fighting Old Age

o This is a preview for Ragnorak  Thor’s loss represents the  Aesir’s loss at Ragnarok

∙ Nature of challenges

o Thor fails to see the significance of the names of the challengers ∙ Utgarda-Loki an Odinnic figure?

o He’s very clever and uses words against Thor

o Relationship between Odin and Thor

o If Odin had gone through these challenges  would he have understood the puns and names? Probably

∙ Who wins?

o The argument can be made that Thor and his company doesn’t lose,  they were playing by civilized rules vs the uncivilized Jotnar

o Thor and Pjalfi actually do a lot more than the Jotnar dared imagine  (the Jotnar actually fear how far Thor gets in particular in changing the  sea and lifting the World Serpent)


∙ Very popular story (even after paganism died out)

∙ Viking Age gender roles binary, strict

∙ Popular images/stereotypes

∙ Comedy (what common Viking Age finds funny vs. what we find funny) o “comedy is the gap between expectation and reality”

o Caricature and overstatement are used in this poem (characteristics of  popular Aesir are overturned)

o Thor, Freyja, and Prymr

 Thor is thought to be the epitome of masculine but wakes up  without his hammer, and is lessened in his masculine ability

 Freyja is known to be promiscuous yet when asked to be married off to a Jotnar she says, “I could never! People would think I’m  

lustfully mad for men!” (not a direct quote)  That sip has sailed  Freyja

o Exaggerated inversion of expectations

o Norse attitudes towards cross-dressing discussed further in recitation  this week


∙ Alviss (a dwarf named “All-Wise”) wants to marry Thor’s daughter (Prudr) ∙ Thor (unlike Odin) is open about his identity

∙ Challenge seen in stanza 8 (issued by Thor)

∙ Ritual questioning

o Kennings and names are revealed

o Lindow: order of the content is deliberate

∙ Dawn, dwarf turns to stone

∙ Odin wisdom challenges vs Alvissmal

o The questions Thor asks are not very deep and the answers Alviss  gives are FACT not wisdom

o Odin usually asks to gain unknown knowledge about Ragnorak and his  fate, this wisdom contest is just a stall tactic

Week 10: 


Storytime: Freyr is bored one day and decides he is going to break the rules and sit  on Odin’s throne, called Hlidskjalf. Odin probably won’t be happy about this. Sitting  on Hlidskjalf, Freyr is able to see everything. He looks to the North and sees a  BEAUTIFUL giantess, Gerdr, who Snorri describes as lifting her arms and shedding  light over all realms. Freyr falls immediately in love with this giantess but becomes  lovesick because he can not do anything about it. Freyr goes back home, lovesick  and inconsolable.

After not eating or sleeping for days and keeping his ill temper, his father Njordr  goes to Freyr’s servant Skirnir and asks him to talk to Freyr. Skirnir is skeptic that  Freyr will tell him anything, but goes to Freyr anyway and finds he is lovesick over  Gerdr. Freyr asks Skirnir to go ask for Gerdr’s hand and Skirnir agrees IF Freyr gives  him his sword and his horse. This sword is very special and actually fights battles on its own. Freyr agrees to give Skirnir the sword regardless of its value, due  completely to the blindness of his love/lust.

Skirnir goes to Gerdr and she agrees to marry Freyr after many bribes and threats.  However, the marriage is postponed for nine days. Freyr is seen to be impatient  again. This story, however, is important because it tells us WHY Freyr does not have  a weapon come Ragnorak.


∙ Son of Njordr, twin brother of Freyja

o Might be the same God that was split into two halves, but now we have two?

∙ Vanir

∙ Snorri: “Most noble” of the Aesir, rules over rain, sunshine, and the growth of  the Earth…you pray to him for prosperity, peace, and wealth

∙ Exhibits signs for a classic fertility god

∙ Adam of Bremen Reading (from January), 1080 AD

o Described temple at Uppsala – made of gold and very impressive o Fricco: peace and pleasure (Freyr?)

o Statue with ingenti priapo – translates to a very large phallice/penis ∙ Ynglingasaga: Freyr is described as an early king of Sweden

∙ Dwarf-made objects: Skidbladnir and Gullinbursti

∙ Skaldskaparmal: horse Blodughofi

∙ Grimnismal: referred to as Alfheim

∙ Killed by Surtr at Ragnorok

∙ Kennings: (usually in reference to other people/giants/gods)

o “Beli’s Slayer/adversary”

o Bounteous son of Njordr”

o Sutr is “Freyr’s Bane”


∙ Codex Regius, 1st half of 10th c

∙ Perhaps was performed as a dialog  

∙ What was strange about Freyr’s behavior?

o Proxy wooing  sending someone else to ask for marriage

o Freyr is very passive  he sends someone else to go get his bride AND  he gives up his greatest symbol of power and masculinity (his sword) o Could be because his lovesickness was a curse from Odin for sitting  presumptuously on his thrown

o Could be a cautionary tale against loving female Jotnar

∙ Bridal quest motif:

o Bribe/gift; Threat; Magic

∙ How does Skirnir threaten to curse Gerdr?

o Magical threats

o To live with a errible ogre

o She will not be able to eat, she will be notorious, she will go mad (with  uncontrollable sexual appetite which can’t be quenched)

o She will be sent to hell, she will never get a finer drink than “goats  piss”

∙ Gerdr quickly changes her mind after magical threats


∙ Vanir

o Hostage exchanged for Hoenir (Gyl)

∙ Father of Frey and Freyja

∙ Unnamed Vanir sister/wife

∙ Later married to the giantess Skadi

o Skadi pertains certain masculine characteristics  masculine ending to  her name, she demands compensation for her father’s death  

(something men usually do)

o Unhappy marriage  Skadi likes the mountains and Njordr likes the sea  They try to live @ each the mountains and the sea for 9 nights  each but neither can stand it so they end up living separately

∙ Hall Noatun (Boathouse) (Grm)

o Snorri says this “Boathouse” is in the heavens? We don’t know exactly  how to interpret this

∙ Survives Ragnarok (as describes in Vaf)

∙ Njordr doesn’t do much  seems very passive in all his (very few) stories o Still he controls important things such as the sea, fire, the wind, etc. ∙ Snorri’s reference of Njordr’s abilities: seafaring, fishing, winds, can calm the  sea and fire, wealthy and prosperous

o Egla

∙ Kennings: “God of Chariots”, “The Van”, “Descendant of Vanir”, “The Giving  God”

∙ “Njordr” is used as a kenning for warrior and king

Njordr and Nerthus (Goddess) THIS WILL DEFINITELY BE ON THE EXAM

∙ Nerthus is the latinized, feminized form of antique Njordr ∙ (Similar linguistic ties) these figures could have been divine brother sister/husband-wife pair?

∙ Parents of other pair Frey-Freyja

∙ Carts found in archaeological digs

o Shape suggest ritual use, not practical use

∙ 1st c AD Roman Historian Tacitus, Germania

∙ Worship of Nerthus among Langobards and other Germanic tribes ∙ Like Adam of Bremmen  Tacitus is writing Germania using second and third  hand knowledge; Tacitus has never been to Germania in reality

Week 12: 


∙ Referred to as “sons of nine sisters”; a son of Odin

∙ Snorri tells us:

o He is the guardian of the Aesir

o Watches from Brifrost/Asbru

o Has excellent sight and hearing

o Is known as the “fairest of the Aesir”

o Has gold teeth

o MAY have the gift of foresight

∙ Home at Himinbjorg

∙ Gjallarhorn (horn he blows to warn the other Aesir of attacking giants AND is  blown at Ragnarok), and the horse named Gulltopp (Gold-top)

∙ Kills and is killed by Loki at Ragnarok

∙ Kennings:

o The White As

o Enemy of Loki

o Seeker of Freyja’s Necklace

 When Loki steals Freyja’s necklace a SECOND time, Heimdallr  goes to retrieve it and there is a great battle between Loki and  Heimdallr in seal form. Heimdallr wins

 We do not have this poem, but we have references

o Wind-shelter

o Golden-toothed

o Father of mankind (refers to Rigsula)

∙ Another Kenning is a kenning for the head which is sometimes referred to as  “Heimdallr’s sword” BUT we don’t have an explanation for this kenning


∙ The “List of Rig” may describe the genesis of classes among humans ∙ 2-13: Poor couple, meager hospitality

o “Thrall”, description? Names?

∙ 14-25: industrious couple, marriage

o “Farmer”, description and name

o How do farmer and thrall compare? Their appearance? Labor?  Wives?

∙ 26-41: wealthy couple, warrior and finery

o “Lord”, taught by Rig

∙ Allegory of Norse class system

o Idea that there is no social mobility; who they married was specifically  described as within their own class

o Names of the offspring of these classes depicted all they could do (for  Thralls, they were bound to manual labor and not much else; farmers  could be landlords and have several favorable personality traits; Lords  children could be all)

o The difference in meals eaten: comparing peasant grain that must be  handmade to the lords’ banquet/feast of foods

o The grandparents when they are first introduced: they each are  described in dress, appearance, and labor that they are doing at the  time. Their offspring with Rig seems to follow their own traits, wealth,  and beauty

∙ Equation of beauty with worth

∙ Composed for specific king?

o Focus on “Lord” in stanzas 35-42

o Rig actually teaches “Lord”

∙ Prose introduction Rig = Heimdallr

o Heimdallr’s name is only mentioned in the introduction and nowhere  else in his poem

o If we were not told this was Heimdallr, wouldn’t it make sense  to assume this was Odin as Rig?

 He is in disguise and travels

 Takes a special interest in the lordly class

 Teaches runes

 Talks to a raven

Aegir and Ran

Aegir (Hler)

∙ Jotunn associated witht the sea

∙ Servants Fimafeng and Eldir

∙ Married to Ran

o Drowned sailors (with a net)

o She has nine daughters  identified as types of waves

∙ Snorri, Skaldskaparmal

∙ Hymskvida and Lokasenna

∙ Kennings: 

o “Ran’s husband”

o Sea:  

 “Land of Ran”,  

 “Ran’s Road”, “

 Aegir’s mouth”

o Gold is…

 “Aegir’s fire”

o Ship is…

 “Aegir’s horse”


∙ Snorri says: Loki was handsome, evil, deceitful, and cunning (not a  compliment)

o “reckoned among the Aesir” – so he was not an Aesir

o Got Aesir into trouble, used trickery to fix it

∙ Farbauti (Jotunn/giant) is Loki’s father and Laufey is his mother (?) o Matronymic naming/ Loki is named after his mother which was very  strange for the Norse

∙ Wife Sigyn, and had a son with her named Nari/Narfi (there is another son  named Vali, don’t know his mother)

∙ Had an affair with the Giantess Angrboda

o Offspring of this affair was Fenrir, Hel, and Jormungandr

∙ Bound (story of Loki running from the Aesir and disguising himself as a  salmon; assuming this is after Lokasenna?)

∙ Escapes his bindings and leads giants at Ragnarok

∙ Aka Loptr

∙ Often creates problems

o Often blamed even if it is not his fault

∙ Tasked with fixing them

∙ Sometimes goes beyond expectations

o Too far?

 In the story of the builder (giant) of the Asgard fortifications, Loki chooses to lead the giants stallion away disguised as a  

FEMALE mare AND sleeps with the stallion to have an  

eight-legged offspring known later as Sleipneir

 Why not just lure the stallion away?

o Acts in shameful/dishonorable ways

 Masculine gender roles should not be “transcended”; this is  

shameful in old Norse culture

Loki Stories

∙ Building fortifications of Asgard (Snorri)

∙ Sif’s hair, creation of Mjolnir (Snorri)

∙ Freyja, theft of Brisingamen (Sorla)

∙ Journey with Thor to Utgarda-Loki (Snorri)

∙ Piazi, theft of Idunn, Skadi (Snorri, Haustlong)

∙ Recovering Mjolnir from Prym (prymskvida)

∙ Baldr’s death (Snorri)

∙ Lokasenna

∙ Ragnarok Voluspa 48:

o “Muspell’s troops are coming over the ocean, and Loki steers”

In all of these stories he seems to go too far; looking for attention? Is he trying to  emasculate himself?

Week 13: 

Tyr and the Binding of Fenrir

∙ Fetters: Leiding, Dromi, Gleipnir  chains used (respectively) to try and bind  Fenrir

o Only Gleipnir works


∙ Fenrisulfr, Vanagandr, Hrodvitnir

∙ Sword props open Fenrir’s mouth after binding

o Skald Einar Skulason, “Fenrir’s lips’ prop” = sword kenning

o At Ragnarok, “swallows Odin” with a “gaping mouth”

 Is the sword still stuck in his mouth at Ragnarok?

∙ Destructive force with no other purpose save Ragnarok?

o Hel has purpose with souls in Helheim, the World Serpent with the  Earth, but Fenrir seems to have no other purpose than to kill Odin at  Ragnarok

o Snorri: conversant, thoughtful, wants fame

o Hrodvitnir: vitnir = aware one/acute-witted, also symbolically wolf.  Hrodr = fame, praise, renown


∙ Snorri: listed among the Aesir, brave, victory in battle, clever, son of Odin,  almost as strong as Thor, does not promote settlements (instead promotes  violence)

∙ Hymskvida: it is VERY strongly implies that Tyr might actually be the son of  Hymir

∙ Kills/killed by Garm

∙ Kennings: “One-handed As”, “Feeder of the Wolf”, “Battle-god’ o Tyr is also a general noun for god: “Hanged-tyr”, “Cargo-tyr”, “Victory tyr’, “Val-tyr” for Odin

∙ Tyr seems a lot like Thor…Tyr could have been the head of pantheon  incorporated into the Norse pantheon?

Loki and Lokasenna


∙ A ritual,verbal contest of boasts and insults (often done in verse) ∙ Old Norse flyta (provocation); OE flitan (quarrel)

∙ Provacative scatological and sexual humor

o Prelude to physical violence OR replacement of physical violence o Fighting and poetry both gave honor

 Ex. – Egil Skallagrimsson

∙ Literary examples: Harbardsljod, Beowulf, Kalevala, Shakespears ∙ Modern examples?


∙ Location: Aegir’s Hall

o Described as the Jotun who presides over the ocean/ a relctant host  who sends Thor and friends to get a cauldron for this feast in another  poem

∙ Participants: Odin & Frigg, Sif & Thor (though he shows up late), Bragi &  Idunn, Tyr, Njordr & Skadi, Freyr & servants, Freyja, Vidar, and Loki ∙ Insults

o Sexual perversions/impropriety/promiscuity

o Cowardice, unresolved issues of honor

∙ Dating: early or late?

o Early – could explain why the gods are being taunted. Perhaps because it is early in pagan Norse days, the dialogue from Loki is needed to  understand other poems.  

o Late – if late in Pagan days (now Christian days), perhaps the people  don’t hold the gods in high esteem anymore

Week 14: No Class Notes (classes canceled)

Week 15: 


∙ He is of the Aesir, “Second son of Odin” (Thor is the first son; known from  Snorri)

∙ Snorri: he is the most beautiful, wise, eloquent

∙ Live is in the hall Breidablik (Snorri in Gylfaggining, and Grim 12) ∙ Nanna, son is Forseti

o Kenning for Baldr: “Forseti’s Father”

∙ We know mostly about his death

o Mention in several poems

o Snorri is the first to combine these small poems into a narrative Baldrs Draumar

∙ Odin awakens a volva

∙ “way-tame” = Odin’s fake name, very fitting for him, meaning “Accustomed to-the-road”

∙ Questions:

o Who will die? (6)

o Who will kill him? (8)

o Who will get revenge? (10)

  Very telling of Norse culture that these are the 3 questions of  priority 

∙ Who are the women in stanza 12?

o We don’t really know at this point – could be the norns…?

o But something about this question from Odin gives him away as the  God he is

∙ Insults 13, 14

After Baldr is killed, Hermodr (another of Odin’s sons) rides to Hel on Sleipnir Meaning of Baldr’s death

∙ Why tell the story this way?

o Baldr cannot simply die, must be killed? (Theory)

 If Baldr’s death brings on Ragnarok, how much sense would it  make if he died in some mundane way before his time

∙ Baldr is killed by his brother Hodr, which is inconceivable to the Old Norse ∙ Blood feuding society cannot reconcile killing within a family o an unforgiveable crime leads to the end of the world

∙ 1st irreparable loss for Aesir

o Cant get Baldr back from Hel; Thor cannot move the funeral boat  (needs a giantess); Ragnarok goes poorly for the Aesir

∙ Forseti Baldrsson

Baldr after Ragnarok

∙ Voluspa (Codex Regius/Hauksnok)

o (59/56) Without sowing the fields will grow / all evils will be healed,  Baldr will come; / Hod and Baldr will settle down in Hropt’s victory  steads”

∙ Voluspa (Hauksbrok)

o (59) Then comes the mighty one / to the judgement of the powers / full of strength, from above / he who rules over all

GUEST LECTURE: The Trickster in the World Culture and Mythology

We have been talking specifically about Loki, but today we will be talking about  Tricksters as a whole in World culture, not Norse culture

“In American Culture, Tricksters are Demonized/Villainized”

Some modern day examples are…

∙ Pinochio

∙ Bart Simpson

∙ Drew Carey in The Mask

∙ Joker (a dangerous, villainous trickster)

∙ Borat

∙ Loki

Contemporary actors have also been adopting the trickster image

∙ Andy Warhol

∙ Sasha Baren Cohen

∙ Etc.

Tricksters in academia

∙ The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (1956)

∙ Paul Radi:

o Creators and Destroyers

o Giver and negator

o Dupes others and is always duped

∙ Karol Kerenyi:

o Trickster very often appears as the “double” to the foremost God or  cultural hero (as Loki is to Odin); Tricksters are negatives of the good of the hero

o The trickster is as necessary to the survival of cultures it is in as the  hero

General Characteristics of the Trickster

∙ Ambivalence/meditation/liminality

o The trickster appears on the edge or just beyond existing borders o Visitor everywhere, especially places usually deemed off-limits o Mediator between opposite forces (Giants and Gods; Heaven and Hel;  etc.)

o Self-contradictory (embodies male and female, good and evil, giants  and gods)

∙ Transgressions

o Mischiefs, tricks, and pranks (sometimes evil)

o Shape-shifters

o Gender Transformations

o Sexual Insatiateness

o Not moral and not immoral, nut a-moral

 In Lokasenna, Loki lectures the Aesir and Asynjur for their  

immoralities knowing full-well he has no leg to stand on (another contradiction)

o Separate life of body parts


∙ Trick as an art form

o Have no end to their act

o Is constantly playing a role

∙ Relation to the Sacred: The Sacred Clown

o George Bataille

 The idea/act of Sacrifice or purposefully losing something of  value/importance

 Tricksters destroy valuable things in a very similar way 

profound freedom

Modern Day Example

Russia: The Pussy Riot

∙ Trickster genre band

∙ Female tricksters (which is pretty rare)

∙ Just in the name we get controversy from its meaning and the fact that it is a  Russian band with an English name

∙ Pussy Riot’s most controversial piece was shot in a large Cathedral o They were kicked out but nothing was wrong until they posted a  YouTube Videos

∙ Triggered spontaneous relations from Conservatives in Russia, but more  importantly exposed Liberal reactions

Week 16: 


Etymology: ragnarokkr & ragnarok

∙ Ragna: genitive of regin, “of the ruling powers, gods”

∙ Rok: development, fate, judgement

∙ Rokkr: noun from verb rokkva, to grow dark

∙ “The end of the gods”

∙ “The twilight of the gods”

∙ Usually referred to in euphemism

Immediate Warnings

∙ Roosters crowing (Vol) and the Heimdallr summons the Aesir to battle with  Gjallarhorn

∙ Bad weather (Vol, Gyl, Vaf)

∙ Loki and Garm freed (indirect in Gyl, Vol)

∙ Nidhoggr in Nastrond (Vol, Gyl)

∙ Sun and moon gone(perhaps by Fenrir; Vaf, Gyl)

∙ Battles (Vol, Gyl)

o “Brother will fight brother and be his slayer” (44)

 This alludes to Hodr’s killing of his brother Baldr

∙ Surtr, sons of Muspell begin marching

o Break the Bifrost bridge

o Naglfar (a ship made of fingernails and toenails) and Hrymr

The Battles (who fights whom)

∙ Odin v. Fenrir  Fenrir swallows Odin

∙ Freyr v. Surtr  Frer dies (because he does not have his magic sword) ∙ Vidarr v. Fenrir  Vidarr avenges Odin

∙ Tur v. Garm

∙ Porr (Thor) v. Jormungandr

∙ Loki v. Heimdallr

∙ Jotnar burn ggdrasil, Surtr burns the world

After Ragnarok

∙ Voluspa 56 describes the New Golden Age after Ragnarok (The Earth again  comes up from the sea, fully green)


∙ Vidar and Vali (Odin’s sons)

∙ Magni and Modi with Mjolnir

∙ Baldr and Hodr (now reconciled)

∙ Hoenir? Voluspa 63

∙ Humans Lif and Lifprasir

∙ Why does Voluspa end with Nidhoggr?

o (One explanation) Time is cyclic to the Norse, which means a Ragnarok is bound to happen again  Nidhoggr will bring about the next  


o Perhaps this is just a dramatic ending

Cult Worship and Blots


∙ A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular  figure or object

∙ To specific gods/figures

∙ Volsi example (reading): pagan phallus cult

o Passed from one person to another to be blessed

o Ending of Volsa Pattr

 The Christian King Olaf gets the Pagan relic and literally tosses it to the dogsconverts everyone in the family to Christianity

 This seems like a poem made to mock paganism

o Trustworthy source

 Ritual of passing and speaking

 Old woman raised over door-beam  “raised over the door  

beam” means lift e high enough into another realm to see/make  it up to the gods


∙ Norse pagan sacrifice to the gods and land spirits

o To strengthen through sacrifice

∙ Building called hov is where a Blot would take place, place-names ∙ Disablot  dedicated to Disir (woman like figure associated with death or  angels of doom as opposed to guardian angels)

o Held just before Fall

∙ Alfablot: local, private sacrifice

∙ Adam of Bremen (reading) and Upsala  thought that the sacrifice described  by Adam of Bremen was an Alfablot

∙ There are modern Blot’s  

o Sigurblot in Iceland 3rd Thursday of April

o Porrablot mid-Jan to mid-Feb

There is still not a lot written about Blots, so this is all we know for now about Blots. What we may want to know

∙ Dissablot, alfablot, and that modern blots exist

∙ Know definitions of blot and cult

∙ Know the story of Volsa Pattr

Recitation Questions

Week 8: 

John Lindow's article "Thor's hamarr" 

1) How is Thor's hammer both a weapon and a tool? 

Humans use a hammer as a tool but Thor uses it as a weapon  this cements Thor’s position as the god  of the people

∙ Symbols of the hammer were the only archeological findings of divinely retained symbols adorned by people (small hammers worn on clothes and/or pendants)

o Another indicator of Thor’s importance to the people of the Viking Age 

2) How is Thor's hammer related to both destruction and creation? 

∙ Bringing his goats back to life

∙ Created valleys where there had once been mountains in Utgarda­Loki (Skrimir) ∙ Baldr’s funeral pyre

3) What does Lindow mean when he writes “Thor only borrowed his hammer from a tradition of amazing  longevity, to which he returned it when people no longer believed in him.” (p. 490)? 

∙ The hammer was a symbol that pre­existed Thor and lived long after him (Thor was just a God  wielding the hammer which was the important part)

∙ Swedish custom to symbolize boundaries with hammers

∙ The Saamis’ God used it

∙ Used in cremation

Other important things to know…

How does Lindow associate Mjolnir with Thunder? 

∙ Snorri uses the verb “to strike” or “struck” for Mjolnir as a weapon 

∙ Other language relationships with Mjolnir and lightning (Russian for example) What is the connection between Thor, hammers, and smith­ing (civilization)? 

∙ Hammer is the “most basic tool” = especially important to the Norse

o Voluspa  used hammer to make all tools and then makes board game/ wants o Tools = Golden Age in Norse cyclical time  Golden cause they have tools

∙ Black­smithing was something the Viking culture/civilization needed  people needed to know  how to do it (facilitated culture in the way electronic technology facilitates today’s culture) 

    Week 9: 

James Frankki’s “Cross­Dressing in the Poetic Edda”

1) What are some of the consequences of cross­dressing for the Old Norse? I.E. why is Thor hesitant to  go along with Loki’s plan in Thymskvida? 

∙ “He believes this deed would earn him great approbation and dishonor among the Aesir, who  would view him as unmanly, effeminate, or even as a (passive) homosexual” (429) ∙ Could be subject to outlawry: either lesser (exiled for 3 years) or greater outlawry (exiled for life) ∙ Women were better at getting away with transgressing gender boundaries

2) What are the two reasons and some examples that Bullough (not Frankki) provides that he claims  makes it acceptable to cross­dress? 

∙ Has to be an illusion (it is all performance and temporary): 

o The feminine attributes given to Thor are Freyja’s necklace, brides veil, keys, jewels on  his breast

o Why is this only an illusion? He does not act feminine. He drives violently, eats like a  man, his eyes burn in a super masculine way, still has a beard

o This is a performance (and a bad performance) which makes it permissible ∙ Has to serve a greater purpose/to fix a threat to society: 

o Thor is doing this to get Mjolnir back – the only thing keeping giants from storming  Asgard and killing the Aesir

∙ After this mission is completed, the man must re­establish his masculinity 

o For example, Thor kills all the giants once he recovers Mjolnir

3) What does Putter (not Frankki) say must also happen in these stories? 

∙ You have to reassert your masculinity after your cross­dressing episode

∙ Thor does this by killing the giants so THOR­oughly (sorry for the pun)

  ∙         Sword under the mantel:  story about a man escaping a fire to avenge his family’s death and escaped  dressed   as   a   woman.  It   was   ok   though   because   when   he   was   discovered   he unsheathed the sword he was hiding and killed a lot of people

Week 10: 

 Snorri’s Edda 59­61, Haustlong

We only need to know the first story of Haustlong  the one with Thiazi, Idunn, and Loki There is no essay question on this reading.

Week 12: 

Marvel, “Thor: Son of Asgard” (D2L)

No essay question on the Marvel comic.

Week 13: 

1) What is von Schnurbein trying to accomplish with her article? What is her thesis? 

∙ Schburbein is attempting, with an emphasis on Snorri’s Edda, to discuss Loki’s  speratic position between polarities within Icelandic Norse Mythology – giants  and gods, men and women, man and beast

2) Why does von Schnurbein focus on Snorri’s Edda? 

∙     since Snorri puts these events in an order (unlike other telling’s of Norse Mythology), Schnurbein  is focusing her research in this ONE direction to analyze how these sequence of events dictates  Loki’s character

3) What are some of the scholarly opinions about Loki that von Schnurbein points out? 

∙ Jacob Grimm’s theory  drawing from German “Lohe” and Richard Wagner’s portrayal of “Logi”  gives Loki the attributes of a God of Fire (also comparable to Lucifer)

∙ Folke Strom  “Loki was merely a hypostatization” of Odin 

∙ Jan de Vries  Loki is the “trickster character” of Norse Mythology

∙ Anna Brigitta Rooth  Loki was originally a spider

4) How does Loki play a role as an “Epic Figure”, as a marriage mediator, and in the gender­sex system  of the Old Norse? How do these inform von Schnurbein’s conclusion. 

∙ Jotun and Aesir usually quarrel over women, resources, and knowledge

∙ Loki is often in myths where a giant wants a goddess, and Loki being ambiguous in his loyalty to  giants and Aesir, creates an air of unknowing in these myths

5) How does negative reciprocity influence the relationship between Aesir and Jotnar? 

∙ Negative reciprocity: one side is giving but the other is giving more (the Gods are definitely  more successful in obtaining from giants than the other way around)

6) Consider the quote on page 119: "As intermediary, Loki threatens the established system but at the  same time guarantees its preservation." What does this mean, and what examples support it? 

∙ This means: Loki causes problems (usually HUGE) but is INTEGRAL to fixing them as well

∙ The “system” is the supremacy of the Aesir and Loki usually goes above and beyond to protecting that

o Ex’s: Idunn and the Apples

 Includes the Skadi story

o Sif’s Hair and the Dwarfs

o The thieving of Mjolnir (Freyja and handmaiden)

o Sliepnier

7) Why are the Aesir threatened by Loki, even when he helps them? 

∙ He simply goes too far, especially in terms of gender roles

o Ex: Sleipnier

o Mjolnir’s theft

∙ Author claims that Loki knows he is mistrusted and tries to debase himself to be less feared

o “Loki's only option for saving himself from peril is, as in the case of the Ska6i episode,  through self­abasement as the ragr man­a form of degradation that again works to the  advantage of the gods. It appears as though it is precisely this trait, his ragr nature, which renders him suspect to the gods…” (122)

8) What are they three theories addressing why Loki "turns evil"? 

∙ Resentment of the Gods

o Even what Loki does for the gods seems to go too far

o Aesir have rigid gender roles that Loki constantly ignores

∙ Snorri turns him into a cautionary tale

o Loki represents the taboo in our society, so he must be the evil we seek to destroy o Could be a cautionary tale for leaders as well (when you have someone who threatens  social norms, maybe make them a friend so they don’t turn on you in the end)

∙ Christianity identifies Baldr with Jesus, therefore Loki is Satan

o If Snorri is imposing his binary views, you must have the ultimate good and ultimate bad Week 15: 

John Lindow, “Blood feud and Scandinavian Mythology”

    1)    What characteristics do bloodfeuding societies share? 

∙ Limited resources

∙ Decentralized (weak or no centralized authority)

∙ Place where blood feuding happens is usually geographically 

∙ Maintain heroic traditions and are concerned with their past

o Keeps old

∙ Strong tradition of verbal dueling and insults (can lead to violence)

o Ex. – Lokasenna (a flighting; sexual nature insults to goat people into violence)     2)    What is Miller's (summarized) list of distinctive features of a bloodfeud? 

∙ Compared to war

o A war tends to be between a nation; constructs are larger than the individual

o In war, everyday life is hindered; in a blood feud you get to go out and kill someone  before breakfast but still have to farm during the day

    3)    What is Boehm's trajectory (sequence of action) for a bloodfeud? 

∙ The Opening Move (first homicide/killing)

∙ The Middle Game

o There is controlled violence at this time, regulated by many factors

 Honor

 Group liability (your actions reflect on everyone)

 Limit on a number of players

 There’s a score keeper

∙ In Norse what we see here is negative reciprocity

 Temporary truces 

∙ The End Game (conflict is finally resolved)

    4)    Why would both the Aesir and Jotnar be constantly reminded of their bloodfeud? ∙ The Opening Move of this bloodfeud was Odin, Vili, and Ve killing the initial Jotnar Ymir

∙ The constant reminder of this bloodfeud is that the world that everyone lives on is MADE of  Ymir’s body (which looks like desecration to the Jotnar)

    5)        How does Lindow apply Boehm's trajectory to     Norse Mythology? 

Opening Move in Norse Mythology

∙ Odin (Villi and Ve) begins the blood feud by killing Ymir

∙ They also desecrate Ymir’s body by using it to create the world

Middle Game

∙ The entirety of the mythic present

∙ It is negative reciprocity however, because the Aesir take more and win more than the  giants

The End Game

∙ Ragnarok

∙ Baldr and Hodr finding peace between each other is a huge symbol of the end to the feud

∙ If a blood feud can only end in two ways (total destruction or a truce) then in Norse  Mythology it could be argued that both come to pass (gods and Jotnar and evil die at  Ragnarok but Baldr and others return to a new Golden Age and Baldr and Hordr  reconcile their differences)

note bene pg 55: "Malinowskian sense" refers to ethnologist Branislaw Malinowski who theorized that  myth were created to justify existing ritual.

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