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Anonymous - The Walking Dead Draugr and Aptrgangr in Old Norse Literature (60.0 Kb)
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For the Vikings, the concept of the afterlife was often much more immediate than glorious skaldic tales of Valholl or the Christian's Heaven: once the dead body was placed within the grave, it was believed to become "animated with a strange life and power" (Hilda Ellis-Davidson. The Road to Hel. Westport CT, Greenwood P., 1943. p. 96). The dead person continued a sort of pseudo-life within the grave, not as a spirit or ghost, but as an actual undead corpse similar in many respects to the "nosferatu" or central European vampi... More >>>Book can be downloaded, and can be ordered on CD.Note that, unfortunately, not all my books can be downloaded or ordered on CD due to the restrictions of copyright. However, most of the books on this site do not have copyright restrictions. If you find any copyright violation, please contact me at email@example.com. I am very attentive to the issue of copyright and try to avoid any violations, but on the other hand to help all fans of magic to get access to information.
For the Vikings, the concept of the afterlife was often much more immediate than glorious skaldic tales of Valholl or the Christian's Heaven: once the dead body was placed within the grave, it was believed to become "animated with a strange life and power" (Hilda Ellis-Davidson. The Road to Hel. Westport CT, Greenwood P., 1943. p. 96). The dead person continued a sort of pseudo-life within the grave, not as a spirit or ghost, but as an actual undead corpse similar in many respects to the "nosferatu" or central European vampire (Ellis-Davidspn, Road to Hel, p. 92).
Much like the ancient Greeks, the Vikings had neither a positive or negative view of the afterlife. They believed for the most part, the dead, if they had lived an unexceptional life, would travel to a place called "Hel" (which is where the modern word "hell" comes from) which lies far to the north and under ground. It was a thought of as being a cold and damp place where the spirits of the dead continued in a dreamlike form of existence. It was not particularly happy, but it was not torturous and was viewed as a long sleep. There were other ideas of an afterlife that were believed as well. There was another realm beneath Hel, where people who had lived bad lives were gnawed upon by a serpent called "Nidhoggr". They slept in a hall that was made of snakes and dripped poison. This place, called "Nastrond", was located on the shore of an ice cold subterranean sea. Those who lived exceptional lives in a positive way could expect to travel to "Asgard", the home of the Gods. They would spend the afterlife in happiness. The exact dwelling that was given to these people depended upon their lives. For example: hero's who died in battle would go to "Vahalla" the "Hall of the slain", and live with Odin the king of the Gods. Here they spent all day fighting each other, only to rise from the battlefield in the evening healed of their wounds and then spent the rest of the night feasting. The main theme of the afterlife seems to have been repetition. It was not however, believed to be eternal. They believed that the world of both the living and dead, gods and monsters would one day be destroyed and the universe would begin anew.
"Anonymous" of course means "without a name" and is used when the author is not known--or sometimes, when a story develops out of an oral tradition over generations with possibly many storytellers contributing to and revising the tale before it is finally written down and becomes literature.
A notable amount of ancient and medieval literature is anonymous. This is not only due to the lack of documents from a period, but also due to an interpretation of the author's role that differs considerably from the romantic interpretation of the term in use today. Ancient and Medieval authors were often overawed by the classical writers and the Church Fathers and tended to re-tell and embellish stories they had heard or read rather than invent new stories. And even when they did, they often claimed to be handing down something from an auctor instead. From this point of view, the names of the individual authors seemed much less important, and therefore many important works were never attributed to any specific person.