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Ever since the first people sat around their campfires, we have told stories. People tell tales to explain events and to justify their actions. We see how one thing led to another, and wonder what might happen next. We learn about how we should behave in a similar situation. We use stories to understand the world.
Myths are some of the best stories ever told. They have stood the test of time, surviving to be re-told generation after generation. Tales of heroes and clever girls, treasure and monsters capture our imagination. Our modern world doesn’t contain many dragons, but metaphorical monsters still exist. Whether you’re fighting the establishment, coping with colleagues or dealing with depression, stories show you a way to go on. Myths and fairytales tell us to be brave and teach us to tackle life’s problems. Whether you’re a princess or an urchin, a lot of courage and a measure of good sense will see you through.
The mythology of the Norsemen tells us about their world. The Gods were always fighting the Ice Giants, just as men battle with the forces of nature. The tales of the Vikings embody their values. The Gods of Asgard were a close-knit group, mirroring the strong family ties of Northern society. They were brave, generous and loyal to their friends – but always on guard against threats and treachery.
Thor was the most popular figure in the Norse pantheon. A big man with a bushy red beard, he was slow of thought but quick to action. Thor’s hammer Mjollnir was his greatest weapon in the battles with the Ice Giants. Forged by the dwarves, it never missed its mark; guided by magic, it always flew back to his hand. His brother Loki, the Trickster, was a very different character. Clever and devious, Loki’s schemes often saved the day.
‘Vikings: Life and Legend’ is at the British Museum from 6th March – 22 June 2014. To coincide with this exhibition, I’m running two 1-day courses on Norse myth at the City Lit in London.
More about myth in ‘LifeWorks‘ by Jane Bailey Bain. Visit my Author Page and follow me on Twitter @janebaileybain. If you like this post, use the buttons below to Share on Facebook, Twitter or Stumbleupon.