Harris, Joseph. Homo Necans Borealis.

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  • Author: Harris, Joseph
  • Title: "Homo Necans Borealis: Fatherhood and Sacrifice in Sonatorrek"
  • Published in: Myth in Early Northwest Europe 3
  • Year: 2007
  • Pages: 153-174
  • E-text:
  • Reference: Harris, Joseph. "Homo Necans Borealis: Fatherhood and Sacrifice in Sonatorrek". Myth in Early Northwest Europe 3 (2007): 153-174.

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After a breakdown of Sonatorrek’s distinct stages of emotion, and its stanza-specific shifts in symbolism and emotional representations, Harris, with reference to Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade, argues that a sacred prototype is being following in Sonatorrek. Harris believes the poem most closely parallels the emotional trials of Odin after the death of Baldr, and later presents and bolsters the stance, arguing, “We are safe in hypothesizing that the myth of the death of Baldr served more generally as a cultural model for paternal grief” (159). Harris includes references to Nancy Jay’s work on the fortification of male lineage in patriarchal societies to mark the historical importance Oðinn and Egil’s losses (167-168). Using themes from Sonatorrek, Harris develops his stance on the potential realities of religion, ritual, and mythology surrounding sacrifice in Old Norse society (159, 162), and the spiritual meaning of rebirth in Old Norse culture (166).


Texta vantar

See also


Chapter 80: af sjálfum mér: "Now (in 7) the simple force of waves modulates toward the surgical as the sea appears in person: the sea-goddess ‘Rán has amputated me of loving friends’; ‘the sea has slashed the bonds of my family, a strong strand of me myself'". (p. 156)

Chapter 80: við námæli: "This lack of equivalence between loss and compensation may be the association linking to st. 17 which, as we have seen, ironically cites an ancient proverb coined at a time when rebirth was a real possibility. A reprise (in 18a) of the theme of isolation, even in a time of peace, is linked, apparently causally, to the earlier filial death (18b), or so I believe; and the difficult earlier filial death (18b), or so I believe; and the difficult earlier st. 19 seems to be Egill’s reaffirmation of hostility from the gods ever since — st. 20 — Gunnar, the fair-spoken, died of a fever." (p. 157)

Chapter 80: ef hið betra teldi: "Since Egill does not sacrifice to Odin because he is eager to, we can say he does sacrifice and does sacrifice and has sacrificed, but unwillingly. These unwilling sacrifices must be the bǫl ‘harms’ for which he has received boetr ‘compensations’ (in st. 23)." (p. 165)


  • Written by: Benjamin S. C. Sibley
  • Icelandic/English translation:
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