Saturday, October 8, 2011

Amon Hen, Odin's Seat of Seeing Far

I was reading Skirnismal for a class and was interesting in the seat, Hlidskjalf, that Freyr was sitting in when he saw Gerd, a giantess. Looking up Hlidskjalf in The Cassell Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend by Andy Orchard, I noted that it is Odin's seat from which he can observe all the worlds. It sounds very much like Amon Hen. The more I read Old English and especially Old Norse, the less I am going to be able to enjoy Lord of the Rings, I think.
Professor Orchard wrote that it is possible that Freyr's great longing was possibly a punishment for his presuming to sit on Odin's seat. Freyr fell so strongly in love with Gerd that he parted with his magic sword that fights giants on its own. Without that sword, Freyr will be unable to defeat Surt and will be killed at Ragnarok.
Aragorn also regretted taking the moment to sit on Amon Hen as he then came too late to save Boromir or prevent the orcs from taking Merry and Pippin.
I suppose for the comparison to work there has to be a seat of hearing as well. In Hrafnsmal, Raven-Song, Odin sat on Hlidskjalf to listen. It is an obscure little 12th century skaldic poem but I am sure Tolkien knew this one, too.


Anachronist said...

These are the dangers of education - the more you know the less you are impressed by other people's work. When you find out that Tolkien just used old Norse stories and adapted them cleverly to suit his own book you are really far less enchanted by LOTR and far less impressed by the author's imagination.

So Freyr basically committed a future suicide sitting on Hlidsjkalf. Poor guy. I hope the giantess in question was worth it.

Tracy said...

The more I read Old English and especially Old Norse, the less I am going to be able to enjoy Lord of the Rings, I think.
Depends why you like the books - doesn't it make you appreciate the books more, knowing 'the bones that have gone into the soup'?

The Red Witch said...

I am still impressed by how he took all the different bits and merged them so that they look like they always belonged together.
Finding bones in my soup prevents me from fully concentrating on the flavor. :-)
I suspect Gerd was not worth it, since Freyr had killed her brother and she had to be threatened with harm before she would agree to meet him.

Tracy said...

As a vegetarian, finding bones in my soup would make me feel quite ill!