the dictionary of norse mythology


HUMANS According to Norse mythology, the first humans were carved from trees by odin and his brothers vili and ve see The First Humans, under creation. They cut down an ash tree and from it made the first man, ask. From an elm tree they carved the first woman, embla. Then the three gods gave the first humans spirit and life, understanding and movement, speech, hearing, and sight. These humans lived in or surrounded by midgard, which was either the land in which they dwelled or the protective wall that surrounded the Earth. The souls of human warriors went to val-halla or sessrumnir, the great halls of odin and frigg, respectively, where they lived until they were called upon to help the gods fight at ragnarok, the battle at the end of time. Many of the surviving manuscripts of Norse mythology include attempts to give the gods human origins. Thirteenth-century writer snorri sturlu-son, for example, writes in his prologue to gylfagin-ning that Odin was first a great leader from Asia who traveled north, settling his sons into kingships in the lands that would become scandinavia. Members of royal families also attempted to link their ancestry to the gods, often developing elaborate genealogies back to some of these stories and hiring poets to write sagas that would show how a human king was actu-ally related to a god.

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