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Norse Mythology vs. Greek Mythology Essay

There are many mythologies in the world, and all of these have things in common as well as differences. A very popular mythology would be Greek mythology, Which many people know about it or at least know of it. Another not as popular mythology is Norse mythology; Norse mythology is the religion of the Norse people. The Norse people are the ancient people of northern Europe (Scandinavia, Iceland, Denmark, Northern Germany etc. ) (World Book 259). A major difference between Norse mythology and Greek mythology are both cultures views of the after life and what happens there.

In Greek mythology there is one allotted place for people to go after death and once they are there they stay there for all eternity. In Norse mythology there are four different places for the dead: Folkvang, Valhalla, Helheim, and Ran’s hall or the halls of Ran. Folkvang is the allotted area for your everyday warrior who fought and died and did nothing more. Valhalla is Odin’s hall where 800 of the bravest warriors go and train for the coming of Ragnarok (literally the ending of the gods or the end of the world) (Wikipedia online).

Helheim is literally the house or home of Hel; Hel is the goddess of the “underworlds” Niflheim (land of fire and heat) and Helheim. Helheim is the place where one who didn’t die “gloriously”(Wikipedia online) or in battle goes, those who died from diseases, accidents, old age, etc. Ran is the goddess of the sea and the drowned. She is said to sink ships and collect the drowned in a net and take them to her hall where they dwell there. In Greek mythology they go to the underworld (or Hades) and they are then separated and either got to Tartarus (hell) or the Elysian fields (heaven) (World Book 257).

Folkvang, Valhalla, Helheim, and The Halls of Ran are four separate areas in the world of Norse mythology where as Hades is one and Tartarus and the Elysian fields are two places within Hades. Also each place in Norse mythology is based on four different types of deaths, not by how you act (with the exception of Valhalla) but by how you died. Where as in Greek mythology there is a subconscious good and bad categorizing of your deeds and actions during your life rather than how you died. Another difference is the creatures.

In Greek mythology there are three basic non-human creatures: the gods, the titans, and the nymphs. In Norse mythology there are 5 main non-human creatures: the Aesir and Vanir (gods), the Jotnar (giants), the Alfar (Alfar), Svartalfar (dark Alfar), and the Valkyries. The Aesir and the Vanir are your basic extraordinary immortals, though in Norse mythology the gods were thought to be mortal, only kept immortal by eating the apples of Idun. However, they could be slain even if they ate the apples.

The Jotnar were giants or the Norse equivalent to the Greek titans, but the Jotnar did not fight with the gods in a war like the titans did with the Greek gods. The Alfar are lesser “gods” that control nature. Alfar are viewed as “gods” of fertility due to their connection to nature (agriculture specifically); they’re not actual gods in the sense it is used but more so magically inclined creatures. Finally are the Svartalfar or commonly referred to as dwarves, trolls, dark Alfar, or black Alfar.

The Svartalfar aren’t anything like the Alfar; they are regarded as being small, disfigured people who dwell in mountains and mounds and hate the light. The Svartalfar were master craftsman and made many things for the gods such as Thor’s hammer (Mjollnir) a wall around Asgard (land of the gods) and countless rings. In Norse mythology they seem to have to “clans” or groups of gods, the Vanir and the Aesir. They don’t appear to have any noticeable differences. The Vanir are referred to as “lesser” gods and are usually viewed as gods and goddesses of fertility.

The Aesir are more of your standard gods and goddesses with a supreme god or goddess and other gods and goddesses with standard roles (i. e. sea, music/poetry or art, war, wisdom, beauty, etc). Valkyries are spirits that choose the wariors that go to Valhalla and take them their. There isn’t much information on Valkyries other than them being the spirits that choose and guide the select few to Valhalla. There are only twenty-three of them. The Jotnar were created originally from the first Jotnar (Ymir). Ymir was killed by Odin and Odin created Midgard (land of humans) from his body.

Ymir was created from the collision of Niflheim and Muspellheim (land of fog, ice, and cold) in the beginning; from the sweat from his armpits were created the first two frost giants, male and female, and from them came the rest of the frost giants; from his leg came also another male giant. The Jotnar were known to mate with both the Aesir and Vanir. In Greek mythology the gods didn’t mate with the titans. Also the nymphs were sometimes referred to as daughters of the gods where as the Alfar, Svartalfar, and Valkyries were not. (Keenan 54)

Finally, Ragnarok, or the end of the world, is the biggest difference between Norse mythology and most all mythologies including Greek. Ragnarok is the essential “end of the world” although no actual destruction of the world comes to pass during it. Ragnarok is a very detailed battle where all the warriors from Valhalla fight with Odin and the rest of the Aesir against the Jotnar and Loki (the god of trickery). This cannot be compared to anything in Greek mythology Because Greek Mythology doesn’t have an equeivalent to Ragnarok or anything close.

In conclusion Norse mythology and often forgotten mythology is very different from many mythologies. Proof being in large difference between Norse and Greek Mythology. Death isn’t judged by your actions but by how you died. There are many more magically inclined creatures. Also the end of the world which no other mythology that I am aware of has. Works Cited Keenan, Sheila. Gods, Goddesses, and Monsters: An Encyclopedia of World Mythology. New York: Scholastic, 2000. Norse Mythology. (Online) Available http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Norse_mythology 3 May 2005. “Teutonic Mythology. ” World Book. 2001 ed.

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