I own an original copy of this book. Very well-written and easily understood by middle and high school students. Tastefully written compared to some a...moreI own an original copy of this book. Very well-written and easily understood by middle and high school students. Tastefully written compared to some authors of mythology compilations. I'm enjoying rereading the last chapter in the book on Norse mythology. My daughter reminded me that the book covered this after we watched Thor which recently came out at the movies.Edith Hamilton
I learned that the Norse did not really think in terms of good conquering evil, but to "die resisting" evil. They believed that heroism depended on lost causes and that the hero can prove what he is only by dying, (sounds a little like the Muslim radical's philosophy). "The power of good is shown not by triumphantly conquering evil, but by continuing to resist evil while facing certain defeat" (444). The Norse hero had the choice in his own hands between yielding or dying. They believed that victory was possible in death. "Even more than that. A heroic death, like a martyr's death, is not a defeat, but a triumph." As Ms. Hamilton put it, "The easy way has never in the long run commanded the allegiance of mankind...it would appear that for unknown centuries, until the Christian missionaries came, heroism was enough" since the Norsemen did not look "forward to a heaven of eternal joy."
Early beliefs of Northwestern Europe were mostly obliterated by the priests of Christianity who hated paganism which they intended to destroy. These priests made an extraordinary clean sweep of all but a few bits of the ancient writings of the Teutonic race, Beowulf in England and the Nibelungenlied in Germany, and for example. We should know practically nothing of the religion which molded the race to which we belong if it were not for the preservation of the two Icelandic Eddas, (Iceland was the last northern country to be Christianized and the Christian priests were either gentler or less influential with the Icelanders). Latin did not replace Norse as a literary language in which the old Norse stories were still told and even written down.
Asgard-belonged to the Gods; Odin-sky father who eats nothing and gleans knowledge of the humans through two ravens, Thought and Memory. It is his responsibility to put off the day as long as possible when heaven and earth will be destroyed (Ragnarok). He won knowledge of the Runes and graciously shared this with the humans to help protect themselves. Wednesday is named after him (southern form of his name is Woden); Gladsheim-Odin's palace; Valhalla-hall where the heroes feast; Valkyries-the maidens who attended Odin and decided which of the slain to take back to Valhalla.; Thor, Freyer, Heimdall, and Tyr-the five important gods.; Balder-most beloved, son of Frigga who was wife to Odin; Hela or Hel-Goddess of the Dead; Loki- not a god, but son of a Giant, for which trouble always followed. Reason for being freely allowed into Asgard is never explained. Loki was jealous of Balder and eventually engineered his death.; Thor-god of Thunder for whom thursday is named and strongest of the Aesir; Freyr cared for the fruits of the earth; Heimdall was warder of Bifrost, the rainbow bridge which led to Asgard; Tyr was the God of War, for whom Tuesday, once Tyr's day, was named.; Freya-the Goddess of Love and Beauty and probably Friday was named for her, carried her share of the dead warriors; Midgard-battlefield for men; Ymir-the first Giant and Odin's father (his mother was a frost maiden). Killed by Odin and two brothers; They made the earth, sky, sea and a great wall to protect humans with Ymir; Midgard-the space within the wall where humans were created from trees and were parents to mankind.; "Dwarfs-ugly creatures, but masterly craftsmen, who lived under the earth" (460-1); Elves-lovely sprites, who tended the flowers and the streams; YGGDRASIL-a wonderful ash-tree that supported the universe. Its roots went through all the worlds: Hel, frost-giants, men, and Asgard. Urda's Well-found beside Yggdrasil's root into Asgard contains white water that is so holy none might drink it. Yggdrasil is doomed to destruction by a serpent and its brood that gnaw continually at the root beside Niflheim, Hel's home; Norns-guard the well and the three (Past, Present, and Future) "'Allot their lives to the sons of men, And assign to them their fate.'"; Well of Knowledge-also by the root of Yggdrasil that goes into Asgard is guarded by Mimir the Wise.;Frost Giants and Mountain Giants-live in Jotunheim, enemies of all that is good.
"Even these sternly hopeless Norsemen, whose daily life in their icy land through the black winters was a perpetual challenge to heroism, saw a far-away light break through the darkness. There is a prophecy in the Elder Edda, singularly like the Book of Revelation, that after the defeat of the gods...there would be a new heaven and a new earth...Then would come the reign of One who was higher even than Odin and beyond the reach of evil...This vision of a happiness infinitely remote seems a thin sustenance against despair, but it was the only hope the Eddas afforded" (462)
Now I have to read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings again, it might make so much more sense!!! (less)
On Tuesday, it rained steady ALL DAY LONG. This is the last thing you want right after a tornado hit your property! All we could do was hold up in the...moreOn Tuesday, it rained steady ALL DAY LONG. This is the last thing you want right after a tornado hit your property! All we could do was hold up in the living room (our only room powered by the generator). We tried to watch videos, but most of us kept falling asleep. (I blame the Zyrtec I bought in desperation to combat my allergies--instead of 15 min. to an hour of being super tired, I was tired for 7-8 hours!) It was then that I realized we were in a real life Napping House. I mentioned this favorite book to my three children and they all agreed. I decided it was okay to lay around the living room and sleep once in-a-blue-moon because we haven't slept well ever since the tornado hit. Audrey Wood(less)
I have large bookshelves to hold the collections of books I have accumulated over the last 20 years. I like books that can be read over and over again...moreI have large bookshelves to hold the collections of books I have accumulated over the last 20 years. I like books that can be read over and over again. Anne would have been an interesting friend to have.Anne of Green Gables(less)