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 Norse Mythology

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The Great LEO

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Norse Mythology Empty
PostSubject: Norse Mythology   Norse Mythology EmptySat Mar 12, 2011 7:45 am

[font=&quot]The early Norse people were
fighters and explorers, and many of their legends are tales of adventure and
battle.[/font]


[font=&quot]The stories we know today
are mostly from the age of the Vikings, who sailed from Scandinavia to attack
other parts of Europe between the 8th and 11th centuries ad. They often settled in the countries
they attacked, so after a while there were Vikings living as far apart as
England and Greenland.[/font]


[font=&quot]Very few of them could read
or write, but they were great storytellers. People passed down the myths, and
in the 13th century a lot of poems and tales were collected in two Icelandic
books, the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda. Some of these tell us about the gods
and other supernatural beings of Norse legend.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]GIANTS, ELVES, DWARVES AND HUMANS[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]Different lands made up the
Norse universe. There was Jotunheim where the giants lived, Alfheim, home of
the elves and Asgard, the home of the gods.[/font]


[font=&quot]Humans lived in Midgard, which
means Middle Earth. The gods made the country out of the dead body of the ice
giant Ymir. The sky was his skull, held up by four dwarves, and the wall around
Midgard was his eyebrows.[/font]


[font=&quot]The first people were made out
of two logs that the gods found by the sea. When humans died, some of them went
to Valhalla, a palace where they spent their days fighting and their nights
eating and drinking. Other dead people go to Niflheim, a misty underworld ruled
by the goddess Hel.[/font]


[font=&quot]The sacred tree Yggdrasil joined
all the worlds together, but the serpent Nidhogg was always gnawing at its
roots.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]GODS OF WAR AND THUNDER[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]Odin was the chief of the
gods. His name means “Furious One” and he was important to warriors, but he was
also the god of poetry and magic. He led a band of fierce women, the Valkyries,
who could help heroes in battle.[/font]


[font=&quot]Tyr was another god of war
who was wise and just. He had only one hand, because the other was bitten off
by the terrible wolf Fenrir.[/font]


[font=&quot]Thor was the god of thunder;
he was very strong but not very clever. His special weapon was a hammer, and he
rode through the sky in a carriage pulled by two goats.[/font]


[font=&quot]Frey was the god of riders,
and he helped the crops to grow. Freya was the goddess of love. These two were
brother and sister, and came from a family of gods called the Vanir who were
once at war with the Aesir led by Odin. Neither side could win, and so in the
end they agreed to join forces against their common enemy, the giants.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]TRICKING THE GIANTS[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]Loki was a son of the
giants but he lived in Asgard with the gods. He was crafty and often wicked. He
had three monstrous children: the wolf Fenrir, Hel the goddess of the
underworld and the gigantic serpent called the Midgardsorm (Dragon of Middle
Earth).[/font]


[font=&quot]Although Loki was related to the
giants, he often got the better of them. One story tells how the giants stole
Thor’s hammer, and said they would only give it back if Freya married one of
them. Loki got Thor to dress up as a bride and pretend to be Freya. The giants,
who were not much cleverer than Thor, were taken in and handed over the hammer.[/font]


[font=&quot]The gods decided that they
needed protection against the giants, and asked a stranger to build a wall
around Asgard. He promised to complete the work in a year, but he wanted the
Sun, the Moon, and Freya as his reward. The gods agreed because they thought he
could never finish in time.[/font]


[font=&quot]However, the stranger was a giant,
and his horse could carry huge loads of stone. The gods began to be afraid that
they would lose Freya. Loki turned himself into a mare to tempt the horse away,
and so the wall was never finished.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]THE SHINING GOD[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]One of the sons of Odin
was called Balder. He was handsome, wise and popular, but he began to have bad
dreams. His mother Frigg asked everything on Earth to promise not to harm him,
but she forgot to ask the mistletoe plant.[/font]


[font=&quot]Loki was jealous of Balder,
and so he made a mistletoe spear and gave it to Hodur, Balder’s brother. Hodur
was blind, and killed his brother with the spear without seeing what he was
doing.[/font]


[font=&quot]The gods punished Loki by
putting him in prison underground. When he struggled the mountains moved, and
this was the explanation for earthquakes. Asgard began to fall apart from the
day that Balder died, and the defeat of the gods was near.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]THE FINAL BATTLE[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]In the final battle, called
Ragnarok, it was believed that the gods would fight against their worst
enemies, and all of them would be killed. Everything would be destroyed in fire
and flood. The myths also said that in the end Balder would come back to life,
and lead the gods in a new world.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]HEROES OF THE NORTH[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]As well as tales of the
gods, there are many Norse legends about famous heroes. Most of them were great
warriors like the Vikings themselves, but many of them were poets too. The Norsemen
enjoyed good story-telling almost as much as they loved a good fight.[/font]


[font=&quot]One of the most famous
heroes was Sigurd, who killed a dragon and won great treasure. He fell in love
with one of the Valkyries, Brynhild, but both of them died tragically. The composer
Richard Wagner wrote a series of operas based around the German version of this
legend.[/font]


[font=&quot]Other people have used the myths
in their own stories. J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy [i]The Lord of the Rings[/i]
has a lot of ideas and names borrowed from the Icelandic tales. For instance,
“Gandalf” means “Staff-Elf”—an elf with a magic wand.[/font]

[b][font=&quot]Microsoft
® Encarta ® 2007. © 1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.[/font][/b]
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