Friday, 10 June 2016
Loot And Revenge
-Poul Anderson, War Of The Gods (Tor Books, New York, 1999), p. 66.
Loot and revenge? Not the kind of hero we want. But Poul Anderson tells it like it was. Vikings looted. What happens if some of those whose property has been looted come seeking their revenge?
In some myths, heroes are helped by gods but are no less heroic, e.g., Virgil's Aeneas. Odin has paved the way for Hadding:
the young giantess had borne a child that died so she has milk for the human baby, Hadding;
nursed on giant's milk, he grows quickly and strongly;
he learns many skills from the giants and is also taught by the few men who visit him;
the young giantess helps him but is killed when he needs to make his way alone;
since King Svipdag is oppressive and since Hadding is introduced as Gramsson by Gangleri, our hero is very soon well on his way to gaining the kingdom;
a storm and a fog scatter the fleet with the result that Hadding quickly learns sea skills as if he were relearning them (no surprise, he is the sea god);
Gangleri cares for Hadding in a mysterious hall when the latter is separated from his comrades in battle.
All this has been preparation. Hadding himself must now fight and win.