The Norse Gods

11 Mar, 2004 290 Other religions

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Vikings’ myths. Thor’s huge hammer, the wailing Valkyrie, howling wolves and fierce elemental giants give a rowdy impression of the Norse myths. But at the centre of their cosmos stands a gnarled old Ash tree, from which all distances are measured and under which Valhalla lies. In the first poem of The Poetic Edda, where the stories of the Norse Gods are laid down in verse, the Seeress describes it in her prophesy: “I know that an ash-tree stands called Yggdrasil,a high tree soaked with shining loamfrom there come the dews which fall in the valley, ever green, it stands over the well of fate.” It is from this tree that the father of the Gods, Odin, will ultimately hang himself: an image of divine sacrifice so problematic for thirteenth century Christians that they left it out when they wrote the myths down.What was the theology that inspired the Vikings and what role did their myths and religion play in their daily lives?

Play on BBC Sounds website

Guests

  • Carolyne Larrington 5 episodes
    Tutor in Medieval English at St John's College, Oxford
  • Heather O'Donoghue No other episodes
    Vigfusson Rausing Reader in Ancient Icelandic Literature in the Department of English at Oxford University
  • John Hines 6 episodes
    Professor of Archaeology at Cardiff University

Related episodes


Programme ID: p004y243

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/p004y243

Auto-category: 293.13 (Mythology and religion of the Vikings)