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Title: 'Geys morg heiti hafi pér gefit honum' : the mutability of Óðinn as a literary device in Old Norse texts of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries
Author: Doolan, J. C.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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This dissertation presents the thesis that the literary figure of Óðinn was an extremely useful artistic device for medieval Icelandic authors seeking to engage with their pagan heritage and to reconcile an interest in this cultural past with their own beliefs and experiences. An accurate definition of what constitutes the Odinic figure and its various uses is therefore highly valuable to a fuller understanding of the complex and dynamic relationship in Old Norse literature produced in the Christian present but reflecting on the pagan past. Part One examines source evidence for Óðinn, taking the numerous names for Óðinn as a method by which to categorise and understand him as a figure. These names are found overwhelmingly in Old Norse poetry and poetic treatises, providing information on the mythological attributes and guises of Óðinn. These sources (the poems of the Poetic Edda, Snorra Edda, including the additional pulur appended to Skáldskaparmál, and skaldic poems) comprise the most complete and earliest evidence of Old Norse mythology for modern scholars. Part One collates and analyses the names of Óðinn found in these sources to reach a definition of the ‘Odinic’ and its constituent parts which include: disguise; deception; moral and sexual ambiguity; and status as the father of gods and men, as patron of poetry and the giver of victory in battle. Part Two utilises the definitions as the basis of a comparative study into the manifestations of the Odinic figure found in Old Norse prose, in particular the narratives of Heimskringla and Flateyjarbók which each combine Old Norse myth, legend, and history in order to construct a chronological account of the Scandinavian peoples, encompassing and adapting the contradictory origin myths of the pagan and biblical traditions. Examination of the ways manuscript compilers use Óðinn for this purpose casts light on their world view and on Óðinn as means by which Icelandic Christian writers could explore and reconcile these seemingly disjunctive traditions in their literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available