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The Vikings Revealed In Odin’s Shield-Wall Research Paper

Odin is giving the Vikings survival advice and from the stories we have read we know how the Vikings have not taken Odin’s guidance seriously which might be thought to be the reason that has caused them to vanish. Odin is warning the Viking about the Stamford bridge battle and that they should always be ready to go into a battle. After their victory at Fulford gate King Harald Sigurdason rushed to go to Stamford Bridge to collect the ransom and tributes from the English and was not wary where he was entering which ended the Viking age. Odin himself doesn’t know of when Ragnarolf will happen.

He gathers the best warriors to join him in Ragnarolf so he will be ready to fight the giants and the wolf, who are both the foundation of this world and destructor of it, in the battle. So he is advising his men to have their weapons ready for unexpected battles like him. It’s kind of like Odin, the god who gained the runes by sacrificing himself to himself upon the Yggdrasil ash tree and is capable of the foreshadowing the future to everyone but he does not know when the Ragnarolf will happen and the warriors can’t expect to know when they are going into battle as well.

It is depicted as the warriors Odin chooses to fight next to him, such as Erik Bloodaxe, in Ragnarok are his weapons in this battle against the giants. Odin is advising the Vikings not to be curious indicates the Viking’s conversion to Christianity. The Vikings thought about the good features of the Christian religion, such as its peacefulness and equality features, which drove them towards Christianity. Saint Olaf and his men smashed the Thor ideal and the framers figured that their gods could not even protect themselves let alone the Vikings they converted to Christianity.

Also King Harald Bluetooth after seeing how the Christian God protected the priest Poppa’s hands from being burned by the hot iron, he and his men converted to Christianity. Such events made the Vikings insightful and caused them to question their faith, which eventually caused them to lose their faith in their gods including Odin and vanish. We can see about suffering of knowing too much in Adam and Eve’s story. Eve found out about this suffering of knowing when they ate from the tree of knowledge and got expelled from heaven.

Furthermore, by gaining the runes and practicing “black magic” Odin himself was suffering from knowing too much and did not want the same for his men. He knew that Surtr would beat all the gods and would burn the world and he would be killed by the wolf and lose the battle. But still he was planning to go into battle against the giants valiantly. Odin also advises the Vikings to choose their leader wisely since the leader’s strength has a direct impact in their lives. Cleve and powerful leader would fight in front line of the battle and motivate his men to fight fiercely.

On the other hand, if the leader is not powerful enough and dies, then his men would be without guidance and motivation, which would cause them to be killed or taken as slaves by their enemies. An instance of such event can be when King Edmund, who was holding the raven, rode too far from his army that his men couldn’t see him anymore and started running away since they thought their leader was dead (448). Furthermore, Odin is indicating the fact that a leader without his men is nothing.

Two Viking values are highlighted in the verse where Odin is advising the Vikings to die with glory, which is the commemoration of someone dying in a battle gloriously. The Einherjars will be remembered forever, since they are chosen by Odin and they will go to Valhalla and will fight next to Odin in Ragnarok against the giants. “Kings are made for honour, not for long life” from Snorri Sturluson, Heimskringla also can be referred to Odin’s words about dying in battle will make them to be memorable.

The lavish burials of the powerful people, such as Oseberg ship burial and grave goods can also be tied to the Odin’s commemoration and being loved by others idea. Odin is advising the Vikings to praise the sword after its service indicates the sacredness of a sword for the Vikings. Swords, which were made to be used by only elite men or men who regularly go in battle, had certain nature associated with them, which had to match their owner’s character. Like Hneitir, Saint Olaf’s sword, which started moving away from his owner till it was returned to its primary owner, Saint Olaf’s church.

Moreover, The swords had certain instructions, which should be followed by the person using it so that their magical power would act in favor of them. Otherwise, if like Kormark who did not follow Skofnung‘s instruction on how to use Skofnung, Skeggi’s sword, it would act against the sword holder and would bring them bad luck. Odin advises the Vikings to appreciate the day describes that the Vikings had won a battle or have gone on a successful raid and should pares their

Victory. This also implies that the Vikings have been advised for being a formidable adversary, which would explain why were known for their toughness. Odin is inferring to the Viking’s “Shield-wall” tactic where their shields protect them from their enemy like a shelter. The Vikings are safe when they stand as a group tightly next to each other so that their shields overlap each other and no enemy can enter their cluster and no weapon can hurt them.

However, if the “Shield-wall” is broken they can be injured much easier since they can be attacked from any side. Odin advises the Vikings not to trust women, because he is aware of the Norns and the Valkyries power in one’s fate. Also, he knows that goddesses have practiced the “black magic” and according to Ynglinga Saga “… this magic, when it is practiced, is accompanied by such great perversion [ergi] that it was not considered without shame for a man to perform it …. ” .

Thus he is trying to warn the Vikings from women’s supernatural powers and which may cause them the worst insult. In many accounts that we have read women have used their power to goad their husbands, sons or lover, and none of them ended well, indicating women’s being individualist and are determined to gain what they want regardless of how the outcome can be. Moreover, Tacitusis’ text about “woman is the ruling sex” correlates Odin’s advice warning men about women’s manipulative and ruling power.

Another account, which can be referred as women goading men is Harald Finehair unification of Norway in which Gyda changed the platform of King Harald request from being his mistress to his lawful wife if he conquers Norway in her favor. Odin is advising men to wary from someone else’s wife so that they would not get involved in matters that are not their business and will lead to trouble. Like Flosi agreeing to avenge Hoskuld’s, Hildigunn husband, and calling her “monster” because she is manipulating him to do something that he does not think it is a good idea also indicates on how women use their given power (145).

Freydis’s action regarding Helgi and Finnbogi brothers is another indication of women using their power over men in a wicked way. Freydis deceived his husband so that he will kill the Helgi and Finnbogi brothers and while no men was willing to kill the women companions of the two brothers, she killed them with an axe (135). Odin’s words about women being unpredictable on their thoughts can be inferred to when Gunnhild’s actions changed upon Hrut’s actions.

Gunnhild made Hrut to endear King Harald Greycloak and once Hrut decided to return to Iceland she cursed him and caused his marriage to fail, however, she gave him a gold ring when he was leaving her (133). It might be thought that if the Vikings have listened to Odin’s advises, they may have not vanished and encountered a different fate. However, the Vikings extinction was because of their settlement, which made them vulnerable and their ongoing raid, which made other nations to unify in order to protect themselves from the Vikings raids.

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