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Valkyrie

From Academic Kids

This article is about the mythological valkyries. See XB-70 Valkyrie for the aircraft and VF-1 Valkyrie for the Robotech aircraft.
Missing image
ValkyrieOnHorse.jpg
"Sinding Valkyrie", a modern statue located in Copenhagen, presents an active image of a valkyrie.

In Norse mythology the valkyries (Old Norse: valkyrjur, singular: valkyrja) are minor female deities who serve Odin. The name means choosers of the slain.

In modern art the valkyries are sometimes depicted as beautiful shieldmaidens on winged horses, armed with helmets and spears. However, valkyrie horse was a kenning for wolf (see Rk Stone), so contrary to the stereotype they did not ride winged horses. Their mounts were rather the packs of wolves that frequented the corpses of dead warriors.

Whereas the wolf was the valkyrie's mount, the valkyrie herself appears to be akin to the raven, flying over the battlefield and "choosing" corpses ([1] (http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/valkyrie.htm)). Thus, the packs of wolves and ravens that scavenged the aftermath of battles may have been seen as serving a higher purpose.

The valkyries' purpose was to choose the most heroic of those who had died in battle and to carry them off to Valhalla where they became einherjar. This was necessary because Odin needed warriors to fight at his side at the preordained battle at the end of the world, Ragnark.

The origin of the valkyries as a whole is not reported in extant texts but many of the well known valkyries are reported as having mortal parents.

Contents

Major valkyries

Several valkyries appear as major characters in extant myths.

Other sources indicate that some other Valkyries were notable characters in Norse mythology, such as Gunnr who appears on the Rk Runestone and Skgul who still appeared on a runic inscription in 13th century Bergen.

Other valkyries

Apart from the well known valkyries above many more valkyrie names occur in our sources. In the ulur addition to Snorri's Edda the following strophes are found.

The Valkyrie's Vigil, by the  painter . Following  Richard Wagner's romantic reinterpretation of the old myths, Hughes depicts the dreadful Norse war goddess in an  : barefoot, clad in a sheer off-the-shoulder gown, and softly lit from above. Her martial aspects are de-emphasized: she tucks her helmet into the crook of her arm and holds her sword, quite uselessly, by the blade. Of the chooser of the warrior slain in battle, of the scavenging wolf and raven, there is no trace.
Enlarge
The Valkyrie's Vigil, by the Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Robert Hughes. Following Richard Wagner's romantic reinterpretation of the old myths, Hughes depicts the dreadful Norse war goddess in an ethereal fairy painting: barefoot, clad in a sheer off-the-shoulder gown, and softly lit from above. Her martial aspects are de-emphasized: she tucks her helmet into the crook of her arm and holds her sword, quite uselessly, by the blade. Of the chooser of the warrior slain in battle, of the scavenging wolf and raven, there is no trace.
Mank valkyrjur
Viris nefna.
Hrist, Mist, Herja,
Hlkk, Geiravr,
Gll, Hjrrimul,
Gunnr, Herfjtur,
Skuld, Geirnul,
Skgul ok Randgn.
Rgrr, Gndul,
Svipul, Geirskgul,
Hildr ok Skeggld,
Hrund, Geirdriful,
Randgrr ok rr,
Reginleif ok Svei,
gn, Hjalmrimul,
rima ok Skalmld.
I will recite the names
of the valkyries of Virir (Odin).
Hrist, Mist, Herja,
Hlkk, Geiravr
Gll, Hjrrimul
Gunnr, Herfjtur
Skuld, Geirnul
Skgul and Randgn.
Rgrr, Gndul,
Svipul, Geirskgul,
Hildr and Skeggld,
Hrund, Geirdriful,
Randgrr and rr,
Reginleif and Svei,
gn, Hjalmrimul,
rima and Skalmld.

In Grmnisml we have Odin reciting the following stanza.

Hrist ok Mist
vil ek at mr horn beri,
Skeggjld ok Skgul,
Hildr ok rr,
Hlkk ok Herfjtur,
Gll ok Geirah,
Randgr ok Rgr
ok Reginleif.
r bera einherjum l.
I want Hrist and Mist
to bring me a horn,
Skeggjld and Skgul,
Hildr and rr,
Hlkk and Herfjtur,
Gll and Geirah,
Randgr and Rgr
and Reginleif.
They carry ale to the einherjar.

In Vlusp there are still more names.

S hon valkyrjur
vtt um komnar,
grvar at ra
til Gojar.
Skuld helt skildi,
en Skgul nnur,
Gunnr, Hildr, Gndul
ok Geirskgul.
She saw valkyries
come from far and wide,
ready to ride
to Goj.
Skuld held a shield,
and Skgul was another,
Gunnr, Hildr, Gndul
and Geirskgul.

Some more are mentioned in Darraarlj (lines 1-52), a poem where their connection with the Norns is evident:

Vtt er orpit
fyrir valfalli
rifs reiisk,
rignir bli ;
n er fyrir geirum
grr upp kominn
vefr verjar,
er r vinur fylla
rauum vepti
Randvs bana.
See! warp is stretched
For warriors' fall,
Lo! weft in loom
'Tis wet with blood;
Now fight foreboding,
'Neath friends' swift fingers,
Our grey woof waxeth
With war's alarms,
Our warp bloodred,
Our weft corseblue.
Sj er orpinn vefr
ta rmum
ok harklar
hfum manna ;
eru dreyrrekin
drr at skptum,
jrnvarr yllir,
en rum hrlar ;
skulum sl sverum
sigrvef enna.
"This woof is y-woven
With entrails of men,
This warp is hardweighted
With heads of the slain,
Spears blood-besprinkled
For spindles we use,
Our loom ironbound,
And arrows our reels;
With swords for our shuttles
This war-woof we work;
Gengr Hildr vefa
ok Hjrrimul,
Sanngrr, Svipul
sverum tognum ;
skapt mun gnesta,
skjldr mun bresta,
mun hjlmgagarr
hlf koma.
So weave we, weird sisters,
Our warwinning woof.
"Now Warwinner walketh
To weave in her turn,
Now Swordswinger steppeth,
Now Swiftstroke, now Storm;
When they speed the shuttle
How spearheads shall flash!
Shields crash, and helmgnawer
On harness bite hard!
Vindum, vindum
vef darraar,
ann er ungr konungr
tti fyrri!
Fram skulum ganga
ok flk vaa,
ar er vinir vrir
vpnum skipta.
"Wind we, wind swiftly
Our warwinning woof
Woof erst for king youthful
Foredoomed as his own,
Forth now we will ride,
Then through the ranks rushing
Be busy where friends
Blows blithe give and take.
Vindum, vindum
vef darraar
ok siklingi
san fylgjum!
ar sj bragna
blgar randir
Gur ok Gndul,
er grami hlfu.
"Wind we, wind swiftly
Our warwinning woof,
After that let us steadfastly
Stand by the brave king;
Then men shall mark mournful
Their shields red with gore,
How Swordstroke and Spearthrust
Stood stout by the prince.
Vindum, vindum
vef darraar,
ars er v vaa
vgra manna!
Ltum eigi
lf hans farask ;
eigu valkyrjur
vals of kosti.
Wind we, wind swiftly
Our warwinning woof.
When sword-bearing rovers
To banners rush on,
Mind, maidens, we spare not
One life in the fray!
We corse-choosing sisters
Have charge of the slain.

As can be seen from the above several of the names exist in different versions. Many of them have a readily apparent warlike meaning - Hjrrimul, for example, means "battle of swords" while Geirah means "battle of spears".

To what an extent this multitude of names ever represented individual mythological beings with separate characteristics is debatable. It is likely that many of them were never more than names and in any case only a few occur in extant myths.

Wagner's valkyries

Richard Wagner incorporated Norse tales that included the Valkyrie Brnhilde (Brynhildr) and her punishment and subsequent love for the warrior Siegfried (Sigurr) into his operas Die Walkre and Gtterdmmerung. In Wagner's treatment the Valkyries are nine daughters of Wotan (Odin) and Erda (Jr) 'Earth' and are named Brnnhilde, Helmwige, Ortlinde, Gerhilde, Waltraute, Siegrune, Rossweisse, Grimgerde, and Schwertleite.

In modern media, the valkyrie Brnhilde singing the Ride of the Valkyries is one of the most recognizable visual and aural motifs from opera.

See also

Template:NorseMythologyda:Valkyrie de:Walkre eo:Valkirioj fr:Valkyrie nl:Walkure ja:ワルキューレ pl:Walkirie pt:Valquria ru:Валькирия sv:Valkyrior zh:女武神

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