the dictionary of norse mythology


STARKAD A famous Norse hero who was both blessed and cursed by the gods. Starkad was the name of the main character of many heroic legends, and scholars suggest there may have been several different heroes with the same name. In the stories that sur-vive there are two Starkads. One was the descendent of giants who himself had six or eight arms. This Starkad, who had the last name Aludreng, was the grandfather of the most famous Starkad, the foster son of the god odin.Odin remained in disguise as he helped raise the younger Starkad. Once Starkad witnessed a gather-ing of the gods, 12 of them sitting in chairs with an empty chair in the gathering. Only when Odin joined the gathering and sat in the empty chair did Starkad recognize his foster father for the god he was.The mighty thunder god, thor, hated Starkad. On one occasion, Odin wanted to honor the bravery of the warrior Starkad, but Thor wanted to harm the hero he so hated. Odin bestowed many blessings upon Starkad, among them success in battle, invinci-bility, great wealth, and great skill as a poet. Thor countered each positive gift with a negative conse-quence, causing Starkad to be seriously hurt in every battle, never enjoy his wealth, and never have any-one know of his poetry.As a result of the conflicting favor and disfavor bestowed on him by the two gods, Starkad lived to be very old, but he committed notorious deeds, includ-ing killing the king whom he had earlier served with much honor. Many sagas from iceland tell of the adventures of Starkad. In them, he is portrayed as old, mis-shapen, and gray haired.

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