Iceland Under The Hammer Of Thor

Iceland Under The Hammer Of Thor

The myths of the North were written down in the 13th century. These stories provide less information about the Viking religion of the eighth century, during which the televised series of the same name takes place, than about the geopolitics of Scandinavia at the time they were written.

The Vikings television series is very close to reality. Commissioned by the American chain History, with the advice of many experts, it details the life, intrigue and feats of Ragnar Lothbrok and his warriors from the cold towards the end of the eighth century. Religion – or mythology – holds a very important place in production.

A choice that shows that it is not only men who fight but also the entire Scandinavian pantheon, led by Odin and Thor with his hammer of Thor, which collides head-on with the unique god of Christianity. The concern, as well for the writers of the series as for the historians of religions elsewhere, is that there is virtually no way to get a clear idea of ​​the Viking mental universe when they burst into Western history with the looting in 793 of the Lindisfarne Monastery (in the north of England). Apart from some enigmatic runes on stones and Christian chronicles inevitably polemical when it comes to paganism, the oldest written sources describing Nordic mythology are indeed much later. Most of them are texts dating back to the 13th century, more than 400 years after the events reported by the television series.

Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have officially adopted Christianity for two centuries now. Apart from some enigmatic runes on stones and Christian chronicles inevitably polemical when it comes to paganism, the oldest written sources describing Nordic mythology are indeed much later. Most of them are texts dating back to the 13th century, more than 400 years after the events reported by the television series. Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have officially adopted Christianity for two centuries now. Apart from some enigmatic runes on stones and Christian chronicles inevitably polemical when it comes to paganism, the oldest written sources describing Nordic mythology are indeed much later.

Most of them are texts dating back to the 13th century, more than 400 years after the events reported by the television series. Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have officially adopted Christianity for two centuries now. more than four hundred years after the events reported by the television series. Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have officially adopted Christianity for two centuries now. more than four hundred years after the events reported by the television series. Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden have officially adopted Christianity for two centuries now.

The problem is even worse when we know that, despite appearances, these texts do not seek to faithfully transmit an ancestral tradition. Their purpose is more to stage, in a mythological setting, the tensions wrenching Scandinavian society at the time they were written. This is in any case the idea defended by Nicolas Meylan, lecturer at the Unit of History and Anthropology of Religion (Faculty of Arts), specialist of Scandinavian religions, during a public intervention he given this fall as part of the cycle of lectures organized by the House of History and titled The Historians, season 1 .

Thor’s trip with hammer of Thor

To illustrate his thesis, the Genevan researcher concentrated on a scene of the series (episode 3, season 3), when a vagabond, who is named Harbard, stops in the home of Ragnar Lothbrok then absent for cause of conquest of the Wessex. The women at home offer food and shelter to the visitor who, in return, tells them a story he claims to have lived himself. According to this story, the wanderer, as he crosses the Utgard (land beyond the oceans), crosses the path of the king of the giants who invites him to his castle. To be accepted, however, the traveler must demonstrate an extraordinary talent. As he boasts of his ability to drink a lot, he is given a horn and asked to empty it in one or two strokes.