A GIANTESS DECEIVED: A Re-Investigation into the Origins and Functions of Hávamál Stanzas 104-110 in the Light of Sacral Kingship

September 2, 2014

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Date:August 14, 2014
The thesis illuminates stanzas 104-110 in Hávamál as a motif of initiation into sacral kingship by a
comparison to the very same theme within Celtic mythology.
Using Gísli Sigurðsson‟s premise that the oral background to much eddic poetry was more open to
Gaelic influence than normally assumed and the inherent conservatism of the pagan Irish sacral kingship
tradition I will focus on the following points: through a detailed analysis and comparison of a selected 11th
century Old Irish text I illustrate that salient mythological aspects in Hávamál point to an initiation into
sacral kingship underlying the text. Furthermore, in a similar manner to that which Gro Steinsland has
recently provided for certain other eddic poems I attempt to show that these stanzas in Hávamál were
written by a Christian editor/scribe using the hieros gamos motif on behalf of a Norwegian royal lineage,
with Gunnlöð as an ancestress of Hörðaland.
However if stanzas 104-110 can be understood as a motif of sacral kingship certain elements appear
to be missing. In all the eddic poems identified by Steinsland as comprising hieros gamos an offspring is
produced. In Hávamál this is not the case as Óðinn steals the mead and Gunnlöð is left betrayed and
weeping with no offspring forthcoming, parodying the traditional roles of the sovereignty goddess in such
motifs. This indicates that although the editor/scribe of the stanzas in the Codex Regius had a degree of
knowledge about pagan sacral kingship he is parodying the hieros gamos motif to means that are fully
explored in the thesis.

Originally Published:

(2012) M.A. Thesis submission to Medieval and Icelandic Studies, University of Iceland and Gísli Sígurðsson.