Surveys the pre-Christian beliefs of the Scandinavian and Germanic peoples. Provides an introduction to this subject, giving basic outlines to the sagas and stories, and helps identify the charachter traits of not only the well known but also the lesser gods of the age.
Fragments of ancient belief mingle with folklore and Christian dogma until the original tenets are lost in the myths and psychologies of the intervening years. Hilda Ellis Davidson illustrates how pagan beliefs have been represented and misinterpreted by the Christian tradition, and throws light on the nature of pre-Christian beliefs and how they have been preserved. The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe stresses both the possibilities and the difficulties of investigating the lost religious beliefs of Northern Europe.
Exploring the Magic and Mystery of the Middle Ages, J.R.R. Tolkien, and "The Lord of the Rings"
Author: Brian Bates
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Category: Literary Criticism
J.R.R. Tolkien claimed that he based the land of Middle Earth on a real place. The Real Middle Earth brings alive, for the first time, the very real civilization in which those who lived had a vision of life animated by beings beyond the material world. Magic was real to these people and they believed their universe was held together by an interlaced web of golden threads visible only to wizards. At its center was Middle Earth, a place peopled by humans, but imbued with spiritual power. It was a real realm that stretched from Old England to Scandinavia and across to western Europe, encompassing Celts, Anglo Saxons and Vikings. Looking first at the rich and varied tribes who made up the populace of this mystical land, Bates looks at how the people lived their daily lives in a world of magic and mystery. Using archaeological, historical, and psychological research, Brian Bates breathes life into this civilization of two thousand years ago in a book that every Tolkien fan will want.
Hercules, Zeus, Thor, Gilgamesh--these are the figures that leap to mind when we think of myth. But to David Leeming, myths are more than stories of deities and fantastic beings from non-Christian cultures. Myth is at once the most particular and the most universal feature of civilization, representing common concerns that each society voices in its own idiom. Whether an Egyptian story of creation or the big-bang theory of modern physics, myth is metaphor, mirroring our deepest sense of ourselves in relation to existence itself. Now, in The World of Myth, Leeming provides a sweeping anthology of myths, ranging from ancient Egypt and Greece to the Polynesian islands and modern science. We read stories of great floods from the ancient Babylonians, Hebrews, Chinese, and Mayans; tales of apocalypse from India, the Norse, Christianity, and modern science; myths of the mother goddess from Native American Hopi culture and James Lovelock's Gaia. Leeming has culled myths from Aztec, Greek, African, Australian Aboriginal, Japanese, Moslem, Hittite, Celtic, Chinese, and Persian cultures, offering one of the most wide-ranging collections of what he calls the collective dreams of humanity. More important, he has organized these myths according to a number of themes, comparing and contrasting how various societies have addressed similar concerns, or have told similar stories. In the section on dying gods, for example, both Odin and Jesus sacrifice themselves to renew the world, each dying on a tree. Such traditions, he proposes, may have their roots in societies of the distant past, which would ritually sacrifice their kings to renew the tribe. In The World of Myth, David Leeming takes us on a journey "not through a maze of falsehood but through a marvellous world of metaphor," metaphor for "the story of the relationship between the known and the unknown, both around us and within us." Fantastic, tragic, bizarre, sometimes funny, the myths he presents speak of the most fundamental human experience, a part of what Joseph Campbell called "the wonderful song of the soul's high adventure."
The Concept of the Goddess explores the function and nature of goddesses and their cults in many cultures, including: * Celtic * Roman * Norse * Caucasian * Japanese traditions. The contributors explore the reasons for the existence of so many goddesses in the mythology of patriarchal societies and show that goddesses have also assumed more masculine roles, with war, hunting and sovereignty being equally important aspects of their cults.
A New Introduction to Old English, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman Literatures
Author: Joe Allard
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Beowulf & Other Stories was first conceived in the belief that the study of Old English – and its close cousins, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman – can be a genuine delight, covering a period as replete with wonder, creativity and magic as any other in literature. Now in a fully revised second edition, the collection of essays written by leading academics in the field is set to build upon its established reputation as the standard introduction to the literatures of the time. Beowulf & Other Stories captures the fire and bloodlust of the great epic, Beowulf, and the sophistication and eroticism of the Exeter Riddles. Fresh interpretations give new life to the spiritual ecstasy of The Seafarer and to the imaginative dexterity of The Dream of the Rood, andprovide the student and general reader with all they might need to explore and enjoy this complex but rewarding field. The book sheds light, too, on the shadowy contexts of the period, with suggestive and highly readable essays on matters ranging from the dynamism of the Viking Age to Anglo-Saxon input into The Lord of the Rings, from the great religious prose works to the transition from Old to Middle English. It also branches out into related traditions, with expert introductions to the Icelandic Sagas, Viking Religion and Norse Mythology. Peter S. Baker provides an outstanding guide to taking your first steps in the Old English language, while David Crystal provides a crisp linguistic overview of the entire period. With a new chapter by Mike Bintley on Anglo-Saxon archaeology and a revised chapter by Stewart Brookes on the prose writers of the English Benedictine Reform, this updated second edition will be essential reading for students of the period.