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Title: Germanic Mythology and Old Norse Literature
Contributor(s): Ryan, John S (author)
Publication Date: 1971
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Abstract: Although it is possible to isolate certain aspects of the Norwegian literature in the mediaeval period, it is perhaps best if the culture and religion are seen first in their widest aspects. The mythology and the heroic literature are in a sense the common heritage of the German, Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian peoples. The language of the Vikings, a Germanic one called "the Danish tongue" was common to all Scandinavians up to the end of the Viking period. It gave a feeling of solidarity, even as the sea gave a sense of shared experience. There had been many small wars inside Scandinavia but at least until the early tenth century, such wars were mostly attempts by rival local magnates to subjugate as many as possible of the neighbouring areas, rather than struggles between nations. It did not take much to call oneself King at that time, and it was not until about 1000 A.D. that the real national states arose and with this a sense of belonging to a separate place and the urge to write about experiences there and outside. Then, too, it was not until after the year 1000 that Christian missionaries succeeded in introducing the Latin alphabet into the Scandinavian countries. For a long time before that, the pagan Scandinavians had used the common Germanic alphabet, the runes or futhark. The Vikings believed that Odin discovered or rather stole them, and they were used in the north from the third century A.D. Runic inscriptions are found all over the Viking world, generally telling of men who are unknown and of their deaths. The inscriptions are mostly carved on stones, for pen and ink did not come to Scandinavia until after the end of the tenth century.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Norway, p. 31-58
Publisher: University of New England
Place of Publication: Armidale, Australia
Field of Research (FOR): 220405 Religion and Society
160103 Linguistic Anthropology
169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
Series Name: Group Study Courses
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Appears in Collections:Book Chapter

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