Fate And Fame Of Viking Culture And Religion Essay

1163 Words Jan 27th, 2015 null Page
Fate and Fame in Viking Culture and Religion
“Cattle die and kinsmen die,/ thyself too soon must die” (Havamal st. 75). This oft-heard quote from the Old Norse poem Havamal is merely one example of the deep sense of finality that pervades Viking literature and religious beliefs. Unlike many contemporary faiths, chiefly the Abrahamic religions, Norse mythology lacks an eternal afterlife. For most individuals, including both men and gods, death is absolute and immutable. Intrinsically, this finality stems from Viking ideas about divine-willed fate and predestination. In this paper, I will examine the role of fate in both Viking culture, as shown in Havamal, and mythology, as evident in the Prose Edda, specifically focusing on the connections between fate and worldly fame. I maintain that the Vikings’ almost innate desire to acquire fame through daring and courageous acts is most likely a result of their belief in inevitable, unchanging fate.
Excerpts from Havamal, an ancient Norse poem that describes a code of conduct for guests, provide clear insight into the importance of fate in Viking culture. A major recurring theme throughout Havamal is the inevitability, or rather inescapability, of one fate in particular, death. This seems understandable given that most Viking men were expected to venture overseas to fight, and possibly die, in bloody raids against foreign settlements. For those dishonorable few who intentionally avoided violence and conflict, old age instead brought…

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