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Old 11-20-2005, 06:34 PM   #1
Rune Son of Bjarne
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Tolkien Tolkien and Norse Mythology

This thread is dedicated to Norse Mythology and where it can be seen in the work of Tolkien.

I think it would be interesting to discuss, simulareties and differences between The myth's that inspired Tolkien and his own work.

It could be anything from the similarities in names, the road to the undying lands. The character of Odin and which part’s of his personality can be seen in the different characters, too the impotance of rings.

One of the main inspirations from Norse Mythology is the Vølsung Saga witch manly focus on Sigurd Fafnersbane. Therefore it would be worthy to include in the discussion. (re-written as the Nibelungenlied and again later by Wagner)

If you are not familiar with the saga you can read it in the
Edda
The Danish History by Saxo Grammaticus, written in the early years of the 13th Century. (The first many books are old myths and not real history)
Here<--------------- Probably the best. Or you can read Tolkiens Ring by David Day

When I find a decent page with all the Norse Myths I will post the link.

Here is an encyclopedia of Norse Mythology
(thanks Shelob)

Edit: Ok Shelob has providet me with a decent site witch contains most of the myths from the Norse Mythology.
Have fun reading it.
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Old 11-21-2005, 08:07 AM   #2
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Interesting topic this! But to be honest, I know too little about my own history (myhology is maybe a better word). I read somewhere that it's strange that people from Scandinavia know more about Greek and Roman mythology than the Norse. I totally agree and this is the case with me, unfortunately.

But Rune told me earlier about his plans to start this thread and after the discussion about Gandalf's name in a thread forgotten by me for the moment, I looked up Volsung Saga on the net and started reading. Alas, there's too little time for me to read what I want to right now. I have to study most of my free time. Therefore I've only read the first 10 chapters of the story, but I have already found some interesting things.

The first one was the sword stuck in the tree trunk in chapter III. Then the man worthy of the sword drew it out of the trunk without an effort, while others had tried thay best without moving it one inch. This made me think of King Arthur and Excalibur. The connection between old Norse tales and those of England becomes obvious here. Interesting as bot the Norse and the Old English tales where of great interest to Tolkien.

The other thing i noticed is in chapter V, where ten brothers are chained out in the wood and an evil she-wolf eats them one after an other, one per night. This story is so close to what happened Beren, Finrod Felagund and their ten companions in Tol-in-Gaurhoth where they, as you probably know, was cast into a deep dungeon and a werewolf came to tham each night and devoured one of them. It was a different outcome in these two cases and there was different reasons for Saurons (revealing who was Felagund/Beren) and King Siggeir (to punish the brothers) but the similarities are striking. For me an obvious example of things Tolkien got from Norse Mythology.

Maybe I'll be back for more if I have time to read more, but for now this is all I can contribute with.

P.S. Here's a site containing the Volsung Saga, the Kalevala, the Younger and Elder Edda, Boewulf etc. Maybe it's not better than those presented by Rune but anyway...
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Old 11-21-2005, 05:31 PM   #3
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Tolkien YAY Post nr. 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gothmog
Interesting topic this! But to be honest, I know too little about my own history (myhology is maybe a better word). I read somewhere that it's strange that people from Scandinavia know more about Greek and Roman mythology than the Norse. I totally agree and this is the case with me, unfortunately.
It is realy a shame, the Volsung Saga should be our Illiade. In Denmark some teachers is starting to use more time on Norse Mythology than Christianety, with is not a lot but. . .

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Originally Posted by Gothmog
The first one was the sword stuck in the tree trunk in chapter III. Then the man worthy of the sword drew it out of the trunk without an effort, while others had tried thay best without moving it one inch. This made me think of King Arthur and Excalibur. The connection between old Norse tales and those of England becomes obvious here. Interesting as bot the Norse and the Old English tales where of great interest to Tolkien.
I have noticed this too and it is quite obvius, but if you look closer on the tree characthers Aragorn, Arthur ang Sigurd they have a lot in common.
1) They are all orphans. 2) they are heirs to kingdoms that have been taken/destroyed. 3) All there fathers was slain. 4) There up bringing is among nobels 5) all of them has to overcome tasks allmost impossibel to get the woman they love. 6) all these women is tragic characthers.

In one way Sigurd is quite different: He is pre-christian and more babaric. Aragorn is supposed to be pre-christian as well, but his character clearly shows some of the same qualetys as Arthur. In some ways he actuall seems to fulfill the christian ideals more than Arthur.

(there is allso some other simulareties between the swords in the tales)

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Originally Posted by Gothmog
The other thing i noticed is in chapter V, where ten brothers are chained out in the wood and an evil she-wolf eats them one after an other, one per night. This story is so close to what happened Beren, Finrod Felagund and their ten companions in Tol-in-Gaurhoth where they, as you probably know, was cast into a deep dungeon and a werewolf came to tham each night and devoured one of them. It was a different outcome in these two cases and there was different reasons for Saurons (revealing who was Felagund/Beren) and King Siggeir (to punish the brothers) but the similarities are striking. For me an obvious example of things Tolkien got from Norse Mythology.
.
Spot on Gothmog, really nothing to add. I belive that later in the tale we will see the Sigurd use the skin of a werewolf in quest, like Beren (and Luthien) did in after the insident of what you speak.

P.S. I will elaborate some of the things I have statet tomorrow.
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Old 11-21-2005, 05:48 PM   #4
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Put "Norse" into the search engine and you should get a fair amount of stuff already talked about on here.

One of my favourite Old Norse poems has got a lot of Tolkienesque themes in it: there is a cursed sword, Tyrfing, made by the dwarf Dwalin - a Viking daughter travels to a haunted barrow to claim it from her dead father...here's a translation by WH Auden: (scroll past the hideous illustration)
http://meadhall.homestead.com/Angantyr.html
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Old 11-21-2005, 11:31 PM   #5
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Shield Cursed papers...

I recall, when I first read a prose version of this tale, Sigurd reminded me of Turin. I ended up writing a paper on this very topic. At the moment, however, I have 4 pages left to write about the Albigensian Crusade and no access to said paper, so a longer post is coming...though perhaps I will need to completely revise my opinions, as this is coming from two years ago...
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Old 11-22-2005, 09:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne
Spot on Gothmog, really nothing to add. I belive that later in the tale we will see the Sigurd use the skin of a werewolf in quest, like Beren (and Luthien) did in after the insident of what you speak.
That's true, but instead of going on a perilous journey with the most honourable task in mind, they use the wolf form to kill (more or less)innocent men and steal all their gold. A bit more barbaric, but they were Vikings after all...

But I must ask you Rune, are we supposed to concentrate on on the Volsung Saga here or is the thread open for every kind of discussions? Comparing Rohirrim with the Vikings could be interesting as that's a connection often made. But the thread could end up a bit...chaotic. It's a wide topic, Norse Myths and Tolkien's work.

And one last thing, more on topic: the sword from the tree trunk is later broken (it's owner, King Sigmund, dies at the same time), but will be reforged with a different name. Sounds familiar? (Elendil-Narsil/Anduril of course)
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Old 11-22-2005, 09:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gothmog
The first one was the sword stuck in the tree trunk in chapter III. Then the man worthy of the sword drew it out of the trunk without an effort, while others had tried thay best without moving it one inch. This made me think of King Arthur and Excalibur. The connection between old Norse tales and those of England becomes obvious here. Interesting as bot the Norse and the Old English tales where of great interest to Tolkien.
A slight clarification, Gothmog, which, as an Arthur-nut, I feel honour-bound to reel off. The King Arthur cycles aren't really English myth; they have Celtic roots and were later taken up and elaborated by the French Angevin Kings and their troubadours for political reasons. Arthur had been a conqueror of the English; so had the Normans and most recently Henry of Anjou by his victory over his uncle Stephen. For these reasons it became convenient to flag up the Arthurian tales lying dormant among the bards of Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany.

So, while some later interpolations into the legend, like the superb Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (of which Tolkien wrote a translation, not the best one in my view), were written by Englishmen in a more English tradition, the heart of the legend is in Wales and Brittany, and some of its most compelling details derive from France. That's why Tolkien was ambivalent about the Arthurian tradition; he saw it as not truly English, and so not the true mythology of England. (This seems like a good point until you consider that Britain is far older than England...but Tolkien could never quite reconcile himself with the curious Celts...)

The English material that Tolkien loved is more specifically Anglo-Saxon, like Beowulf and so on.

Just here to help, I hope...
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Old 11-22-2005, 09:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anguirel
A slight clarification, Gothmog, which, as an Arthur-nut, I feel honour-bound to reel off. The King Arthur cycles aren't really English myth; they have Celtic roots and were later taken up and elaborated by the French Angevin Kings and their troubadours for political reasons. Arthur had been a conqueror of the English; so had the Normans and most recently Henry of Anjou by his victory over his uncle Stephen. For these reasons it became convenient to flag up the Arthurian tales lying dormant among the bards of Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany.
Actually I knew that. Not in detail, but the fact that the story of King Arthur was originally celtic and "remade" by the Normans. I simplified things by skipping that explanation, but you're right of course. Thank you!

Of what I have undertood, this is one of the reasons Tolkien wanted to write about ME like a myth, not just some fantasy story. The lack of true english mythology, as the inhabitants of Britains has changed to much for a single mythology to evolve. The Celtic-Saxo-Norman mix wasn't satisfying enough. And even the Celts weren't the first in place, right? I think I've read about the Picts in Scotland, a people that got mixed up with the Celts and considered a part of them after a while. But I'm sure there are other's that know more about these things than I do, so I'll leave it there...
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Old 11-22-2005, 10:17 AM   #9
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The thing is, in my view that "unsatisfying" mix is what makes British legend beautiful; and what makes Tolkien beautiful, as, willingly or not, he inherited it. It isn't a question of frequent invasions spoiling British, or English if you prefer, mythology, but rather enriching it. I know I'm sounding frightfully politically correct and multi-cultural, but I really do mean it and as a Scoto-Persian-Oxfordian I believe I have the right to say it...

Further, this lack of cohesion in myth is not a phenomenon unique to Britain. Egyptian mythology contains a host of varying faces of gods within the larger deities, and the servants of Akhenaten and Tutankhamun killed each other deciding which aspects, with legends, which stories had the greatest authority. They set the precedent. In that cradle of myth, that beautiful, hilly, scattered, peculiarly shaped land Greece, every island and hilltop had different songs, and gave particular, local gods and heroes predominance.

And so in Italy, in Ireland, and yes, in Scandinavia too. And of course in Tolkien. Hybridity is what makes it breathe; it's not a pure-bred Aragorn but a mongrel Butterbur in terms of derivation, and good for it!
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Old 11-22-2005, 11:14 AM   #10
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An aside about Arthur and the Picts:
Arthur has no children. Gawain, (and Gareth and Gaheris) one of the earliest knights/heroes to be associated with Arthur, is his nephew, the son of his sister. The would-be ursurper Mordred, another very early element in the Arthur legend, is the son of Morgana le Fay, often described as another sister of Arthur.
The Picts practiced a curious pattern of inheritance: the kingship was inherited through the king's sister, so the nephew, not the son, would be the new ruler.


But back to the Norse: I've mentioned before the notion of the "dark hero" in saga literature, which always reminded me of the cursed children of Hurin. (Grettir the Strong, for example, wrestled with a ghost called Glumr and was cursed by him, after which nothing ever went right for him and he became an outlaw.)

The Valar seem more like the Aesir/Vanir to me than the Graeco-Roman gods. For example, Vaire, the weaver who depicts past, present and future, is reminiscent of the Norns, who weave fate into their tapestries.
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Old 11-22-2005, 12:26 PM   #11
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Lalaith:
Quote:
The Valar seem more like the Aesir/Vanir to me than the Graeco-Roman gods. For example, Vaire, the weaver who depicts past, present and future, is reminiscent of the Norns, who weave fate into their tapestries.
I agree. Both the Valar and the Aesir (is it called that in English? Asar in Swedish...) are parts of a polytheistic world, altough the mythology of ME features a monotheistic faith as well in the form of Eru. As with the Aesir (or greek/roman or egyptian) gods, each Vala has it's own speciality. One could for example compare Manwe with Odin, the kings of the Valar/Aesir, both great in wisdom. And of course the parallel between Vaire and the Norns. And yes, to me the Valar feels closer to the Aesir than to the Greek/Roman gods.

And as reply to Anguirel: I hope you didn't misunderstand me, I'm not questioning the greatness of the British heritage from Celts/Saxons/Normans. But I do believe that Tolkien felt that it was not enough, he wanted ONE mythology for the English people to which they could trace their roots, something that do not exist in England. "It's the winner that writes the history" (free translation from swedish), the conquerors of Britain: Normans and before them Saxons and even before them the Celts, became the dominating people and their myths and legends took over the original tales. But enough about Britain, as I know you englishmen know your history much better than I do. What's worse is that it looks like you know the history and legends of Scandinavia better than me too!
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Old 11-22-2005, 12:58 PM   #12
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It's also interesting to compare the differences between Tolkien's mythology and that of the Norsemen.
There's no tricky and morally ambigious Loki figure in Tolkien (well maybe Osse at a stretch) and no shining Baldur either. Yes, Manwe and Odin are both sky gods, but their spouses are quite different. Elbereth is also associated with the sky, while Frigg is a hearth/fertility goddess. Aegir is a rather more sinister figure than Ulmo.
Tulkas is a kind of cross between Tyr and Thor, I think.
But Norse mythology is itself also something of a hybrid. The Vanir were clearly a different set of gods, (perhaps worshipped by a conquered or neighbouring people - they feel quite Finnish to me, although I'm no expert) which became amalgamated with the Viking pantheon. Gods like Ullr were also probably from an earlier pantheon than Odin and co.
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Old 11-22-2005, 01:03 PM   #13
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Tolkien

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gothmog
Lalaith: I agree. Both the Valar and the Aesir (is it called that in English? Asar in Swedish...) are parts of a polytheistic world, altough the mythology of ME features a monotheistic faith as well in the form of Eru. As with the Aesir (or greek/roman or egyptian) gods, each Vala has it's own speciality. One could for example compare Manwe with Odin, the kings of the Valar/Aesir, both great in wisdom. And of course the parallel between Vaire and the Norns. And yes, to me the Valar feels closer to the Aesir than to the Greek/Roman gods.
Manwe is much more alike the god Zeus/Jupiter than Odin allthough resemblance can be found. You will seldom find a characther in the works of Tolkien who is identical with one from the Norse Mythology. This is because the heroes and Gods of Norse Mythology don't have morals. . . If you look at Odin he uses and kills innocent people in order for him to become more powerfull and wise.

He was wizard, harper (or what they are called), warrior, Ring Lord, All knowing god and trickster. He is kind of a mix of Sauron and Gandalf. He wandered all the worlds in search of wisdom and absolute power. Gandalf in the way that he wanders and talks to all beeings and therby gain knowledge. He like Gandalf is re-incarnatet and becomes even more powerfull.
Sauron end up only beeing one eye becouse he is so obsesed with power that he risk's every thing but the eye to get it. Odin becomes one eyed because he is so obsesed that he gives it to be allowed to drink frome the well of wisdome. . .

Quote:
But I must ask you Rune, are we supposed to concentrate on on the Volsung Saga here or is the thread open for every kind of discussions? Comparing Rohirrim with the Vikings could be interesting as that's a connection often made. But the thread could end up a bit...chaotic. It's a wide topic, Norse Myths and Tolkien's work.
I know it is a wide topic, but it is a risk we must take in order to get a good discussion. I mentioned the Volsung Saga because it is loaded with resemblance and because it is one of the greates sagas. Allso if we start one place we might be able to controll the discusion a bit, but people are allowed to talk about whatever parts of the mytholohy they find interesting.
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Old 11-27-2005, 02:17 PM   #14
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Tolkien Sorry it has been so long, I just did not feel like writing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laitoste
I recall, when I first read a prose version of this tale, Sigurd reminded me of Turin. I ended up writing a paper on this very topic. At the moment, however, I have 4 pages left to write about the Albigensian Crusade and no access to said paper, so a longer post is coming...though perhaps I will need to completely revise my opinions, as this is coming from two years ago...
I have allready spoken about some simularetys between Sigurd and Aragorn, but you are very much correct in mentioning the simularetys between Sigur and Turin. To be frank they look very much alike in several ways.

Both grew up without a father, Sigurds was dead and Turins held captive, this may not be significant in it self, but it is quite important when we look at there life span. Both where heir's to kingdoms taken by force, this let to both of them growing up as fosterling's. Under his stay in Doriath Turin becomes proberbly the greatest worrior of his time, more or less the same happens to Sigurd who is taken in by the king of the danes, but soon he becomes the fosterling of Regin the master smith. (who one might recogninse in Telchar). Then they both proove them selves in varius tests, with Turin as the one who expiriences the most.

The thing that makes us see them as the same character is however the fact that they both kill a dragon. Turin kills Galurung and Sigurd kills Fafner, therefor the nam Sigurd the dragon slayer or Sigurd fafnersbane.

After the killing of Fafner Sigurd posseses his treasur wich is cursed, so that everybody who takes the treasure in posetion shall die! (not of old age) Now they have yet a thing in common, they are both cursed.

The love life of the two is allso a tradic tale. Turin weds his sister and when they realise they take there own lives. Sigurd rescues and falls in love with a valkyrie, (maybe she is just a shield maiden, can't remember. Anyway her name is Brynhilde) but is by witch craft made to forget her and fall In love with another woman. The valkyrie allso forgets. However Sigurds friend prince Gunnar desires the valkyrie , but she is still "captive" and only the bravest man can save/marry her. Sigurd exchanged shapes with Gunnar, rode through the flames, and won Brynhild for Gunnar. When the valkyrie finds out she has been tricked, she gets sigurd killed and then kills her self.

At last some random resemblance between the saga and the works of Tolkien.

Both Sigurd and Turin kills the one who was closest to them, Sigurd however dos it on purpos.

The main artifact of the dwarven treasur that Sigur takes was a ring who createt ever more welth to it's owner. (kind of a lesser Draupner)

P.S. Eowyn is clearly inspred by the Shield Maiden's of norse mythology
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Old 11-27-2005, 02:47 PM   #15
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I recently studied the Saga for a class and was sadly disappointed when the only two people in the classroom that could keep up the conversation on Tolkien-based reflections of it were the professor and the head of the department.

Here's some of what I found:

A ring that pretty well dooms all that come in contact with it.

Gram, the sword re-forged.

Sigurd, slayer of Fafnir, who, as with Turin and Glaurung, hid in a ravine and stabbed the dragon through the belly as he passed overhead.

Rune, I've forgotten half of what we chatted about. I don't suppose you remember? Going on break drives classwork entirely from thought.
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Old 11-27-2005, 03:22 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalaith
There's no tricky and morally ambigious Loki figure in Tolkien (well maybe Osse at a stretch)
littlemanpoet's Trickster in LotR thread is well worth checking out for some ideas of where the Trickster may or may not be in Tolkien's work.
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Old 11-27-2005, 04:01 PM   #17
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Blast it, Lal! I'd made a mental note to link to that thread re: Loki but it somehow slipped my mind...ah well...
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Old 11-27-2005, 04:18 PM   #18
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Thanks for the link, fascinating stuff. My comment was however referring to the Valar/Maiar pantheon specifically.
Rune, I'd disagree that the Norse gods didn't have morals. They were certainly not as "good" as the deities of monotheistic religions. But they were definitely more benevolent and concerned with helping mankind in general than their Greek equivalents, who were only interested in specific favourites and to hell with the rest. They did their best to protect Midgard from the giants....
And of course the Valar may have been good and wise but once they'd rescued their precious little elfy-welfies from Morgoth, they were pretty apathetic about the fate of the rest of Middle-Earth's inhabitants until Earendil swanned in to shame them....

Oh and while I'm here, another bit of Norsery that occured to me - Beorn.
As Rune and Gothmog know, his name means "bear". The idea of a man turning into a bear is reminscent of the Norse superwarriors, berserkers (the name means bear-skin...)
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Old 11-27-2005, 04:35 PM   #19
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Pipe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalaith
Rune, I'd disagree that the Norse gods didn't have morals. They were certainly not as "good" as the deities of monotheistic religions. But they were definitely more benevolent and concerned with helping mankind in general than their Greek equivalents, who were only interested in specific favourites and to hell with the rest. They did their best to protect Midgard from the giants....
And of course the Valar may have been good and wise but once they'd rescued their precious little elfy-welfies from Morgoth, they were pretty apathetic about the fate of the rest of Middle-Earth's inhabitants until Earendil swanned in to shame them....

Oh and while I'm here, another bit of Norsery that occured to me - Beorn.
As Rune and Gothmog know, his name means "bear". The idea of a man turning into a bear is reminscent of the Norse superwarriors, berserkers (the name means bear-skin...)
Well I might have been to general in my previous statement about morals, but they saw no problem in killing in order to gain riches, wisdome or vengance. You can read in Ravnkel Frejsgodes saga about how man is killed because his brother won a trial at the ting. (this brother had been gone for several years and did not even know what had happent, he was killed with no pre-warning)

The berskers is a strange thing, because no one nows for sure what they did and a lot of sources tell different storys. It seems to be clear how ever that they dressed up like animals before they whent to war. Some theories tells that they made there thralls eat poisones mushrooms, where after the beserkers drank there urin, here by gaining somthing looking to be devine powers. (not feeling pain ect.)

I will talk about the Giants and Loke in another post. . .

P.S. I use the danish names because 1) I can't remember them in english 2) it is almost the same, many times the onley thing that happens is that the E's switches to I's
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Old 12-04-2005, 08:46 AM   #20
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i know that norse mythology comes from vikings and sweden ppl. i did a assignment at school on it and it was quite intresting. i know about a god called odin and he is like the wizard gandelve.
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Old 01-09-2006, 04:19 PM   #21
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Tolkien The return of Rune

I appologies for my long absence from this thread, as it is clear you all relie on me to get it going.

In this post I will say a few words of the Giants (Jætter) of Norse Mythology.
The name giants is not a verry fitting name for these creatures, but since the word Jætte does not exist in the English language, we have to use the name giant.

The giants was super natural beings of course in giant shapes (hence the name giants). They have existet since the worlds creation and therefor is as old (and maybe as mighty) as the gods. They lived in a place called Jotunheim (giant-home) wich was described as cold, dark, full of mountains and kaotic. Allthough the giants is a force of kaos, they are not all evil and enemies of the gods. (wich are not allways good)

Of good giants I can mention: Mimer one of the wisest beings in the Mythology, It was him who guarded the well of wisdom from wich Odin drank, later after his dead Odin brings him back to life and he becomes his advisor.(well actually he only brought Mimers head back to life)

Most giants is however in someway evil, the ones that seems most as anything from the world of Tolkien is the fire giants. Not much is nown about them save that they live in a world of fire called Muspelheim. They are lead by Surt the ruler of fire and wacher of the world of fire. At ragnarok he will lead the Fire giants against the gods, they will burn all of the earth and Surt him self will kill the unarmed Frej with his shiny sword wich light is brighter than the sun. When the fire giants tries to cross the rainbow bridge Bifrost that is the only way to the land of the gods. The bridge will however crumble under there feet. (Fire beast walks over bridge, bridge crumbles. Does it sound like anything you have ever read?)

My intention has been to show that allthough the classical giant is evil, they as a race are very diverce kind of like the maiar. They are just as old as the gods and can be both good and evil.

I know that all of this might be a little far fetched, but I do belive that Surt and his fire giants has inspiret Tolkien to his Balrogs.

Let me know what you think I Surt the father of Gothmog ?
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Old 01-24-2006, 12:08 PM   #22
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Pipe Muspellheim and Utumno.

I somehow agree with Rune upon the matter of the Fire-giants and the Balrogs. The actions of the former during the Ragnarök when marching upon Bifröst and it breaks and falls simply remind me of the events in Moria, on the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm.
Adding another point to the matter of the relationship between the two entities: the first stronghold of Melkor, Utumno, resembles the realm of the Fire-giants, Muspellheim. With all its forges, subterranean fires and chambers of poisonous vapours, Utumno (along with Angband) manifests as the mythological and the philological counterpart of Muspellheim, which is 'Land of Flame' (not unlike a chasm of molten iron and eternal streams of flame), hence Utumno and Angband being 'Great Deep' and 'Hells of Iron'.

Moreover, there seem to be no restrictions to Surt being the inspiration for (I believe) both Melkor and Gothmog. As stated in The First Book of Lost Tales, Gothmog the Lord of the Balrogs, was originally described by Tolkien as being the son of Melkor. So the Valaraukar were intended to be the progeny of the Dark Lord. Furthermore, there is no denying that the Fire-giants may at the least bear the blood of Surt. And as Surt rules over Muspellheim, Melkor rules over his strongholds.
In Dagor Bragollach, the intensity of 'Fire' as a dominant element in the characteristics of Melkor is present, along with some points on the similarity between the Dark Lord and the Muspell-lord. The scorching of Ard-galen by the flame rivers may reflect the deeds of Surt as he sets the worlds, and Yggdrasil ablaze. Though the World Tree never succumbs to the Fire-giant's menacing actions (unlike Ard-galen), it is 'burning' nonetheless. And last but not least, the Dark Lord's colossal figure when confronting Fingolfin the High King at the twilight of the battle resembles Surt's being as a Giant - a Giant of Sable Fire.

I may have missed many more counterparts, but I will leave the matter for someone else to state them.

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Old 01-31-2006, 09:05 PM   #23
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White Tree

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Is the Heimskringla part of this discussion?

I once read an English translation of the Younger (Prose) and Elder (Poetic) Edda. Quite fun! But there was one poem in the Elder Edda that cast its spell on me; it's the only way I can describe it. It's sort of vague right now, and some time I'll have to go back and find it: it was about lovers, one of whom has died and is buried; the ghost of the one visits the still living one, and they remain lovers in spirit. Sort of reminds me of Tristan and Isolde, and of Beren and Luthien. I need to find it again!
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Old 02-01-2006, 06:28 AM   #24
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Since the Edda is one of the main sources to Norse Mythology, it would be odd if we limitid this discoution to very few parts of it.

I am quite confident that people them self can feel when they have moved away frome the topic, If not I will hunt them down.

Please do return with this tale of "Beren and Luthien". I am looking foreward to it.
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:19 AM   #25
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Silmaril Carcharoth vs. Fenris

Is Carcharoth Tolkien's Fenris ?

Both of them was The greatest Wolf ever to exist. . . Carcharoth was fed by Morgoths own hand and even gives him some of his own power!
Fenris is the Spawn of Loke/Loki (wich has been mentioned earlier on this thread) and he is raised amongst the gods.

So they both has powers within them genrated from the gods and are both raised by them. (I am considering Morgoth a god)

Then Carcharoth bites of the hand of Beren and Fenris bites of the hand of Tyr. Now Beren is no god, but "only" a man with a extrodinary destiny. I still see some of Tyr reflected in Beren. Tyr was the bravest amongst gods and the only one who dared put his hand in the wolves mouth. Beren I think, posseses the same kind of currage. First he lives as a refugie in Dorthornien with his father and his men, later by him self. He defies all the evils that Morgoth sends after him, even Sauron. Then to come to Doriath he has to go by paths that not even the elven kindred dare set feet on. If this has not convinsed one of how brave he is, surely his jurney to Morgoths throne in Angband must do it.

Tyr puts his hand in the mouth of Fenris. Beren puts his hand, holding a silmaril right in front of Carcharoth.

Carcharoth bites of his hand, still holding the silmaril. If my memorie does not decive me, it is Fenris destiny to swallow the sun! and again I seem to remember that it will burn him quite batly inside. Is it not the same thing that happens to Carcharoth? I think so.

There is a few points that seperates the two, but it has never been Tolkiens style to copy complete tales to his books.

So do you agree with me, that Carcharoth is Tolkiens Fenris?

I am sorry if this has been debated before, but I did not have time to make search.
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:06 AM   #26
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LMP, I think this is the poem you mean:
http://www.cybersamurai.net/Mytholog...ingsbanaII.htm

Thanks for reminding me of it, I'd forgotten how beautiful the story was...
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:08 AM   #27
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Pipe Sun-swallower and Silmaril-guzzler

I think that sometimes it detracts from the subtlety of Tolkien's use of the old myths to make direct x=y comparisons between them. Clearly there is a correlation between Fenris and Carcharoth, but I don't think it's one of equivalence. For example, Tyr is only required to put his hand into the wolf's mouth to prove the non-existent good faith of the Æsir. Without that guarantee the wolf will never allow himself to be bound with the great chain Gelgja, which is clearly parallelled by Angainor elsewhere in the Silmarillion. The loss of Beren's hand, by virtue of the Silmaril it holds, doesn't so much bind the wolf as loose it on a destructive rampage. Fenris is, according to Gylfaginning, fated to die at Ragnarok, when his jaws will be wrenched apart by Víðarr. Interestingly, the same source records that Tyr is destined to be killed by the great dog Garmr, and not by Fenris, who will have his jaws full swallowing Oðinn. In other words, Fenrisúlfr is killed in a battle by a character other than he whose hand he took; Carcharoth is killed by Beren during a hunt, although there is a possibility that this is taken from the fight between Tyr and Garmr. The use of the lost hand motif in the story of Maedhros seems to me to suggest that it had a particular hold on Tolkien's imagination, regardless of the particular myth in which he found it. A particularly amusing parallel, which Tolkien may have included on purpose because of the irony, is that the Silmarils contain the light that was before the sun, whereas Fenris is destined to swallow the sun itself. It could well be that he wondered how an animal might feel were it to consume a star, and developed his myth accordingly.

The significance of the whole story has, of course, changed entirely. Carcharoth lacks Fenris' important and apocalyptic role in the Norse myths, being rather one of a series of characters encountered by Beren and Lúthien in their own central and significant quest. For me this is typical of Tolkien's mythologising technique. We can trace this compression and recontextualising in the tragedy of Túrin and Glaurung, which borrows elements from at least two separate legends. The story of Turambar and Glaurung was inspired at least in part by Sigurð's slaying of Fafnir in Volsunga Saga and that of Túrin and Nienor echoes a theme from the story of Kullervo in the Kalevala, but his story takes elements of these and applies them to a new narrative context, using them as building blocks for new legends and tales. One could develop literature as diverse as Beowulf and Hrolfs Saga Kraka from these plot elements (as, in fact, two medieval writers did from the legends of the Scyldings/Skjoldungs), but Tolkien goes further in that he builds them into entirely new stories, related to the originals only by a complicated reverse engineering that suggested to him legends that might have developed into those which history has recorded. Such is the case with Ælfwine, who in HoME V extemporises a poem very closely related to the text of the Anglo-Saxon elegy The Seafarer, but which provides a potential 'pure' form of that somewhat corrupt poem. Since this theme was never fully expressed or realised, it's difficult to see how far Tolkien would have taken it in a published Silmarillion, or even whether he would have made it explicit at all. It may even have been a passing phase, eventually forgotten as the philosophy of his own myths became his primary preoccupation.

Essentially, then, Tolkien's use of Germanic mythology is more one of inspiration. A name, an event, a plot device would grasp his attention and then be worked into his insatiably acquisitive legendarium. Doubtless Fenrisúlfr has been included, as have the Old English word Earendel, Sigurð/Siegfried, the mysterious Sheaf and Alexander's Letter to Aristotle (in which is contained a description of the trees of sun and moon, the parallels of which need no elaboration). How far Tolkien intended to make his characters the imaginary prototypes for known mythological beings is still not completely clear to me. In places the process seems almost unconscious, in others it is developed to such a sophisticated degree that it must have been carefully thought out. Even so, I don't think that we can call the Carcharoth of the Silmarillion 'Tolkien's Fenris' solely on narrative grounds, since he plays a far less apocalyptic role, not to mention not actually being the son of Morgoth. Rather he is a character inspired by and similar to Fenris, yet with a significantly different part to play. Of course the similarities and direct borrowings are many and varied, but Tolkien reached a highly developed version of Beren's story very early in the history of his mythology, before he really achieved his full stature as a writer; I suspect that he would have handled the real-world mythological elements with more subtlety in his later years, and I would have liked to see a Silmarillion complete with Ælfwine as a real-world arbiter.
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Old 09-23-2006, 07:08 PM   #28
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Garr I forgot to reply.

I agree with you, that these things worked as an inspiration and that he did not just take and copy. Then I would find the whole thing way less interesting, but I do like to compare the inspiration to the characters where I see their traits. . . I know they are not the same, but I do enjoy comparing them.

In the hobbit we have the Ravens like Roäc that can talk with men and are their allies, they help them by delivering news and such. Odin has two talking ravens as well Huggin and Munnin that brings him news from around the world.

I am now wondering, is this something we find in other mythologies, talking and message bringing ravens ?

I would very much like to know.
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Old 09-24-2006, 12:45 AM   #29
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Unless my knowledge is getting rusty, a raven brought to Apollo some evil news concerning his beloved one; in anger, Apollo turns him black. - After searching for this, I found this interesting site: http://www.ravenfamily.org/nascakiyetl/obs/rav1.html
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Old 09-24-2006, 05:46 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalaith
LMP, I think this is the poem you mean:
http://www.cybersamurai.net/Mytholog...ingsbanaII.htm

Thanks for reminding me of it, I'd forgotten how beautiful the story was...
Ack! So sorry, I saw this at work (where they don't let you link up) and then forgot about it! I'll read it through and see.....
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Old 09-24-2006, 07:18 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne
Is Carcharoth Tolkien's Fenris ?
I'm sure we could find Cerberus in the mix too. Yet Tolkien is very clear about Carcharoth's 'upbringing by Morgoth:

Quote:
Swiftly the wolf grew, until he could creep into no den, but lay huge and hungry before the feet of Morgoth. There the fire and anguish of hell entered into him, and he became filled with a devouring spirit, tormented, terrible, and strong. Car-charoth, the Red Maw, he is named in the tales of those days, and Anfauglir, the Jaws of Thirst. And Morgoth set him to lie unsleeping before the doors of Angband, lest Huan come.
What's interesting to me though in this context is that Tolkien's 'Hell' (as he calls it - Angband is repeatedly translated 'The Hells of Iron') is significantly different to both the Pagan & the Christian one. The main one is that Middle-earth's 'Hell' is a place for the living, not for the dead - a physical location for incarnate beings.

In Pagan myth we have number of figures (Odin, Orpheus, Aeneas, Innana to name a few - in fact the similarities between Luthien & Innana could be pointed up - both enter the Underworld of their own will & both dance there:

Quote:
Then Luthien catching up her winged robe sprang into the air, and her voice came dropping down like rain into pools, profound and dark. She cast her cloak before his eyes, and set upon him a dream, dark as the Outer Void where once he walked alone. Suddenly he fell, as a hill sliding in avalanche, and hurled like thunder from his throne lay prone upon the floors of hell. The iron crown rolled echoing from his head. All things were still.
)

who enter into the Underworld of their own will & return out again under their own steam, & we find the same thing in Tolkien, whereas in Christianity one is 'sentenced' to Hell for ever & cannot return.

This is another difference - Morgoth's captives are just that - captives - not sinners who have been sent there for punishment, but innocents made to suffer not for offending against Eru, but for offending against Morgoth.

The major Christian journey into & return from Hell is, I suppose, Dante's, though I vaguely remember accounts of various mystics & others who were shown visions of both Heaven & Hell. Yet it is clear that Dante's experience is a dream, not an actual descent into Hell.

Tolkien's 'Hell' is a physical place, where the living may enter or pass through, but the dead are not actuallly present. Physical things are manufactured there - Maedhros iron bond for example is called 'Hell-wrought':

Quote:
But Fingon could not release the hell-wrought bond upon his wrist, nor sever it, nor draw it from the stone. Again therefore in his pain, Maedhros begged that he would slay him; but Fingon cut off his hand above the wrist, and Thorondor bore them back to Mithrim.
Again, it has a physical location in the world, & can be besieged:

Quote:
Angband was besieged and its gates shut there were green things even among the pits and broken rocks before the doors of hell...(Of Beleriand and its Realms)
So, once again, we can speculate on sources, but the differences seem far more significant than the similarities.

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Old 09-24-2006, 08:05 AM   #32
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I think I might have posted on this topic before - maybe in the thread Lush started (can't remember the title, it was something like "Garrr, descent into Hell"). I've always found it striking that in Arda Hell is on Earth, not in another place like Norse, Christian, Judaic and Islamic versions. This is quite Humanist and Modernist, that people create their own Hells; possibly Tolkien saw enough in his own lifetime that would cause him to think it could be a very real place on Earth. That was brought home again to me last Sunday when we listened to the reading at Tolkien's graveside about the horrors he saw in the trenches, of dead men's faces staring up out of the mud, and of having to go on living, surviving in that place. He also lived in a world that rapidly revealed unimaginable horrors such as the Nazi death camps, Stalin's purges, Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the Dresden firestorms.

He does translate Hell into a very real, physical place, not a place to which people go after death. And this continues into the Third Age with the Witch King's chilling words to Eowyn - we get the sense that there is a real place of torture she could be taken to, while alive. The only sense of a 'supernatural' Hell is when Saruman is killed and the Valar turn him away (like Meister Eckhart's ideas of God only being aware of the Good), but for mortals there is no supernatural Hell yet there is a 'Heaven' outside the world.

We don't know what this is like and we can only presume that all go there. I wonder if this bears any resemblance to Purgatory? Either way, there seems to be no concept of any 'sifting' once the souls get there. Perhaps it's like Pullman's Land Of The Dead, a place where all go? Though I'm sure Tolkien wouldn't make such a miserable place as Pullman imagined! We know Elves could end up like this if they 'go bad' as they never get reincarnated once in the Halls of Mandos; they end up in this 'Purgatory/Land of the Dead' like place for ever. There's nothing similar for mortals.

We've no way of telling if this is what Tolkien thought himself (and I would not be surprised looking at what he saw as the world changed from a safe place to a place of unimaginable, unpredictable horror) or if this was a literary choice he made for the world he created where evil was in the very fabric (so in a logical sense Hell would be built in and not outside). Whatever, we will never be able to know that, but this is where Tolkien is resolutely Modern.
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Old 09-24-2006, 06:53 PM   #33
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Looks like an interesting discussion is brewing that I want to go back and read, but I want to just follow up on this first:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalaith
LMP, I think this is the poem you mean:
http://www.cybersamurai.net/Mytholog...ingsbanaII.htm

Thanks for reminding me of it, I'd forgotten how beautiful the story was...
I've read it through, and I'm not sure. I don't think so. I really need to pull that old volume back out of the local college library and see if I can find it again in that book. You see, the poem from which I read was a much shorter passage than the one you link to, which I quite enjoyed reading! There are certainly similarities. I wish I could say with more certainty, but it doesn't seem quite the same.
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Old 09-30-2006, 08:11 AM   #34
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The interesting thing about Hel for me is that it is both. Some people go there after death, if they have broken oaths ect. But you can also enter as a living, granted with some major dificulies. I think Davem points this out earlier, atleast that Odin passes throught the gates of hel.

As such hel is a mix for me, but I still wiev it more as Angband than Mandos, althought Wiki seems to disagree.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hel_%28realm%29
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Old 09-30-2006, 12:04 PM   #35
Lalwendë
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Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne
The interesting thing about Hel for me is that it is both. Some people go there after death, if they have broken oaths ect. But you can also enter as a living, granted with some major dificulies. I think Davem points this out earlier, atleast that Odin passes throught the gates of hel.

As such hel is a mix for me, but I still wiev it more as Angband than Mandos, althought Wiki seems to disagree.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hel_%28realm%29
There's an interesting line in the wikipedia article you linked to that says "In fiction, the Norse Hel inspired the Halls of Mandos in J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium". I wonder if that's true or could be supported? I don't know anough about Hel to say!

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Originally Posted by davem
The major Christian journey into & return from Hell is, I suppose, Dante's, though I vaguely remember accounts of various mystics & others who were shown visions of both Heaven & Hell. Yet it is clear that Dante's experience is a dream, not an actual descent into Hell.
I'm not sure if davem is referring to Blake here, who certainly had visions, though I can't remember if he had any of Hell; I'll have to ask him seeing as he won't now be able to post about them. If other mystics had these visions its possible Tolkien had heard about them in church sermons or maybe in discussion. Though his vision of Hell seems, so far, to be unique to me.
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Old 09-30-2006, 12:07 PM   #36
Rune Son of Bjarne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
There's an interesting line in the wikipedia article you linked to that says "In fiction, the Norse Hel inspired the Halls of Mandos in J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium". I wonder if that's true or could be supported? I don't know anough about Hel to say!
That was indeed why I linked to it, I was just looking for refreshing my memories about hel and there it was.
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Old 09-30-2006, 12:22 PM   #37
Lalwendë
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well, I might have some more to add to this so long as I get on with a bit of reading () as the new book davem gave me today, The Real Middle Earth, by Brian Bates, looks to have a fair bit in it about Viking culture, myth and belief as it was when brought over to British shores. It generally examines Celtic, Saxon and Viking cultures in Britain, not as they appeared in Tolkien (so its not yet another 'source book'), but inspired by his own love of Tolkien to go looking for the kind of things he wrote about in our history. Ronald Hutton recommends it so that means to me it must be good!
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Old 10-21-2006, 06:06 AM   #38
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Bêthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bêthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bêthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
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Originally Posted by Raynor
Unless my knowledge is getting rusty, a raven brought to Apollo some evil news concerning his beloved one; in anger, Apollo turns him black. -
Fascinating. It sure puts a spin on Poe.

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Originally Posted by Edgar Allan Poe

Only this and nothing more
. . .
Quoth the raven, Nevermore.
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Old 01-25-2007, 02:53 PM   #39
Lalwendë
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I have no idea why but ever since I read about it I've been fascinated by the Nidhoggr from Norse Mythology (possibly as it's slightly dragon like and dwells in the Underworld thus pairing up two of my fascinations...).

The Nidhoggr is the dragon-like creature which dwells at the foot of Yggdrasil and gnaws the roots. Rather like the Nameless Things which live in the roots of Middle-earth, creatures which remain nameless because they are so terrifying, and also quite like the Watcher, lurking in the darkness. Then there's the Ratatoskr, the squirrel creature which runs up and down the trunk of Yggdrasil, passing insults to and fro from the eagle at the top (Eagles nest in the Misty Mountains?) to Nidhoggr at the bottom. And there's Jormungandr the serpent of the mid-world (Midgard, or Middle-earth) who is so large he can encircle the world and swallow his own tail, which brings to mind the Worm Ouroboros and the symbol of the Ring.

But back to the Nidhoggr. I was looking up for some information on this a while back and found some extracts from the Poetic Edda Voluspa. They stood out as in the 'original' (well, as far as I know it as original, not knowing the language) the language is so similar to some of Tolkien's word creations, and in the translation posted up (and they are both here) the imagery is just chilling :

Quote:
She saw a hall standing,
far from the sun,
in Náströnd;
its doors are northward turned,
venom-drops fall
in through its apertures:
entwined is that hall
with serpent’s backs.
She there saw wading
the sluggish streams
bloodthirsty men
and perjurers,
and him who the ear beguiles
of another’s wife.
There Nidhögg sucks
the corpses of the dead;
the wolf tears men.
Understand ye yet, or what?
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Old 01-25-2007, 02:54 PM   #40
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Found this in my edition of Gibbon's Decline & Fall:

Gibbon’s note 21 to Ch 10:

The Ostro and Visi, the Eastern and Western Goths, obtained those denominations from their original seats in Scandinavia. In all their future marches and settlements they preserved, with their names, the same relative situation. When they first departed from Sweden, the infant colony was contained in three vessels. The third being a heavy sailer lagged behind, and the crew, which afterwards swelled into a nation, received from that circumstance the appellation of Gepidæ or Loiterers. Jornandes, c. 17.
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