Norse Symbols In Beowulf

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Christianity is one of the most prominent theological affiliations, accounting for over one-third of global religion. Due to its widespread popularity, it is difficult to think back to a time in which this was not the case. However, when the story of Beowulf was first told, the prominent theological beings were Norse gods such as Thor, Odin and Frigg. These gods controlled different natural processes (such as thunder, wind and rain). The story of Beowulf was passed on through word-of-mouth until a monk, or someone who had somehow gained literacy, documented it. Be this as it may, the original translation was lost as soon as the aforementioned monk began writing. Historians and literary experts believe that the original translation included…show more content…
In order to gain a better understanding of this, let us first examine the effect time had one of the more prominent Norse symbols at the time: Thor’s hammer. The pendant was a symbol of the Norse gods and their power (the hammer was a gift to Thor from his father, Odin). It was worn in most parts of Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark). When the Catholic church began to take over in Europe, Scandinavians were held under scrutiny if they wore a symbol that defied their own spiritual beliefs. In order to cope with this, these people merged their own Norse symbol with the symbol of the Catholic church: the Crucifix. The bottom half of the hammer was shaved off, and a perpendicular piece was added on. As a result of this, Scandinavians were able to wear a pendant that symbolized their own believes while simultaneously sheltering themselves from European conviction. This issue developed even further when European Christians spread the idea that upside down crosses (or anything that resembled upside down crosses) were symbols of Satan. The widespread notion of fear associated with the symbol led to the final step in transforming the pendant of Thor’s hammer:: the shaving of the bottom piece. The evolution of Thor’s hammer is a near-perfect example of the (negative) effect Catholicism and Christianity, in general, had on Norse culture and…show more content…
The story began as a cultural fable, and as time went on, its message was tainted more and more by Europeans. In doing so, they hoped to accomplish two tasks: the first of which was spreading the message of the Catholic church, and the second of which was to increase its size. The listeners of the story of Beowulf had no choice but to be completely manipulated by a fabricated truth added to the story by Christian monks. To give the Europeans credit, they did believe that they were saving the Scandinavians from themselves, and it did not take much to absolutely flip the culture of people who are illiterate. However, the absolute inversion of Scandinavian culture is a sad and relevant example of how people believe that their convictions are the only ones that matter. Upon examination of the story of Beowulf, as is, it is simple to see that the influence of Christianity was heavy at the time. To this day, it plays a pivotal role in the storyline, and for that reason, we, as literary researchers, will never know how the original story of Beowulf was
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