Friday, 10 June 2016

Loot And Revenge

"Hadding thought that with his share of the loot he could begin gathering men for his own 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.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I remember you discussing how Gratillonius led a counter raid on Irish pirates--most of whom were killed and their loot seized by the former King of Ys. It was impossible to return the loot to their rightful owners so Gratillonius and his friends could justly keep the loot. And this plunder would be used to help build up and defend civilization, not tear it down as the pirates had been doing.