Indo European Myth 2: #5

Show two examples in one IE culture of a deity engaging in actions that are unethical or unvirtuous, and speculate on why the deities sometimes engage in this type of behavior. (min. 100 words per example)

Joseph McKinnel has an entire chapter on Odin and his various sundries he has participated in within Norse lore that lends us to speculate about what we would consider modern-day scruples.  Now a days our ethics are entirely different than what would be considered ethical back then, as we are a little less lax in that department.

One such myth recounts the story of Rindr and Odin.  Odin learns about the looming death that is destined upon his son Baldr and that he will have a son to avenge Baldr with Rindr.  He travels to Rindr’s home on three separate occasions disguised as a warrior, a blacksmith, and an old woman, but Rindr sees through the disguises each time.  Odin resorted to using Seidr to drive her mad with desire to the point that he has to tie her to the bed, and then bed her.  She gives birth to Vali, and Vali avenges Baldr.  This is a form of seduction but not necessarily for sex, but to help avenge his son by whatever means possible (McKinnel, 162).

Another story depicts Odin and his retrieval of mead from the giant Suttungr.  Odin transformed himself into a snake to get through a hole made by an auger and he slept with Gunnlod for three nights, take a large sip of mead each night.  The mead, however, was in three vats, and each sip from Odin consumed an entire vat each time.  Afterwards he transformed himself into an eagle and flew away while being pursued by Suttungr.  Once he was free, he regurgitated the mead into vats that the Aesir had ready, and then distributed the mead to the Gods and human poets.  Thus, we have the golden glory of all that is mead for us here today (McKinnel, 165).

Both stories involve Odin using a form of seduction either through physical attraction, or words, in order to achieve a desired outcome.  I assume that in the mind of a deity, you use whatever forms are readily, and easily available to get what you want.  The evolution of the ethics of man do not apply here, as we are limited by the will and abilities of man and our emotional connection to generally not want to hurt each other and treat each other with respect.

(Word Count: 383)

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