Scandinavian warriors were not only mere mortals fighting

Scandinavian
customs and traditions relating to funerals reveal a very deep appreciation for
death and the afterlife. Two main concepts, beliefs and practices are the
cornerstone of their religion throughout the Vikings lands. The Vikings have a
strong belief in life after death, which begins immediately at death after the
body has been destroyed. As this essay has mentioned in the previous, Scandinavians
do not belief that life ends at death, but that death is only a pathway to
another life. The second major concept regarding life after death, it shows a
deep understanding for an ongoing life in the afterworld where the body of the
deceased is laid. Roderick lists several sagas and poems which prove that the
beliefs held by the Vikings was not only a humanistic indulgence, but a form of
worship to Odin, who resided in Valholl, the deity’s paradise.

 

As stated
in analysis of Roderick proves that the Vikings were quite spiritual in their
funeral rites. The warriors were not only mere mortals fighting on the material
realms, but servants of Odin who were entitled to an eternity of perpetual
conflict and feasting. Critics see this as a concept originated by poets, whose
religious worth was and is still debatable. The importance and significance of
Valholl in relation to other worlds and lives after death is another key point
of departure among critics. (Roderick 1968)

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The Islendinga
Sogur as presented in Roderick pointed out the conception of the
continuation of life in the afterworld. The Islendinga Sogur compares
the dead who exist in the grave to a man who lives in his own house, while
indulging in every pleasure that his wealth and assets can confer. The
existence of the dead is however not equal. Some exist in a dark side in the
underworld whereas others continue to live in kingdoms hewn into the mountains.

However, Roderick claimed that the evidences being dealt with are not
necessarily facts, but it is possible that some are mere beliefs. It is
impossible to determine whether the so- called memories are truly so, or a mere
invention of creative poets. (Roderick 1968)

 

Valholl
is depicted as a dwelling place for deceased warriors who were very successful
and ruthless in battle. Roderick mentioned that a caste society in which the einherjar, the special and unique
champion, picks out certain people whom he killed during his earth-time battles
to accompany him in his after-life. The life is depicted as one of untold
happiness, laughter, feasting and indulgence. This is an illustration of a
Viking’s paradise view. (Roderick 1968) However, conflict is not included. The
banquet hall mentioned in the various poems is replete with shields and coats, which
representing the attire of war. The hall is represented as being under the
perpetual watch of wolves and eagles. This is interpreted as the animal and
bird of war, since the Vikings’ greatest honor was war and death. The creatures
depicted are not ordinary as they have the power to contain large armies of
mighty warriors. The hall is quite elaborate and vast. It features six hundred
doors through which multitudes will pass through in an attempt to conquer the
wolf. The poets further paint a picture of an afterlife in which the warriors
forever feast on the flesh of Saehrimnir, the boar. This depiction is indicates
how Vikings are known for their love of meat. In addition, Heiorun the goat
offering his mead and maidens serving the warriors is as encouragement for the
warriors living on earth. They are sure of living a life second to none in
their paradise. Odin indulges only in wine served by the maidens in a horn. (Roderick
1968)

 

The life
of deceased warriors is however shown to be one of an impending battle. Whereas
the Vikings may indulge in the niceties of Valholl, the captain of those killed
by the Warriors is shown by Roderick in verse 21. As appearing to remind the
warriors that their reveling would not be forever, but they would soon be
required to leave the paradise and wage war against the wolf. Conflict seems
natural for the Vikings and this fact is reiterated by Freyja and Odin’s
division of every day’s fallen. The poem Grimnismal
(Roderick 1968) repeats this concept, although it produces another point of
contention.

 

Whereas
Freyja is said to select half of the slain for her own banquet hall, those that
enter Valholl seem to be selected using a different criteria. Vafpruonismal offers another view,
which claimed that selection of the slain and apportionment is the duty of einherjar. Further confusion is
mentioned in Darradarljod verse
6, which argues that Valkyries had the ability and power to select their
preferred options among the slain. This confusion is probably due to the loose
translation of the original quote: “kjosa
val”. This may mean one who is slain during battle, or possibly
mean one who is chosen among the slain in battle to come into Valholl.

 

The “Road to Hel” pointed out many
contradictions as well as informative poems and sagas. It has to compare and
contrast different views from different poems of the same object in order to
draw an accurate conclusion. For example, Snorri relies on Grimnismal’s description of the hall,
size and number of entries or doors into Valholl. An augmentation of this
account is done by including the notion of endless conflict as depicted in Vafprudnismal. But it seems as
a disadvantage for current readers when attempting to have the similar
connections and links due to limited knowledge of all the sagas and poems as
these appear in Roderick’s book (Roderick 1968). Indeed, as a reader, “Road to Hel” features poems
with limited information. It is almost impossible to determine what kind of
creatures such as Gera and Freka, Grimnismal
was describing as being fed by Odin, but Snorri claimed that they must have
been wolves. The readings and interpretations are often left to conjecture, as
the matters addressed are hard to prove. The mead, which runs from Heiorun’s
horns, or the rivers, which rise from Eikpyrnir, the goat’s companion, are hard
to figure out and explain. Much of this narrative is steeped in mythology and
legend. The truth is hard to pick out, but the information relayed is hard to
ignore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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