Thursday, 16 May 2013

Young heroes and heroines

Sigurd (Arthur Rackham)

In The Slayer Rune, my first Viking novel, the hero, Sigurd (later Sigve the Awful) is young. His love, Ylajali, is even younger. Over the last couple of weeks, I have written reviews of three Old Icelandic legendary sagas, and also in these tales the heroes and heroines are young, very young. Some of the greatest characters were twelve, fifteen or sixteen when they performed their first heroic deeds.

Sigurd kills Fafnir (Arthur Rackham)

When I searched the Web for illustrations, I found that these young heroes very often were depicted as being adult, even old – and the same goes for the Norse gods. But there are exceptions, as the three illustrations by  Arthur Rackham clearly shows (click the images for a cleare view).

Sigurd and sleeping Brynhild (A. Rackham)

In the picture below, by John Bauer, both Idun and Loki are young. However, the typical images are of adult or old gods (more or less the same age as the male illustrators) and young goddesses (more or less the same age as women in the illustrator’s fantasies probably).

Strangely, in drawings and paintings, Freya, the goddess of love, is often depicted innocent and pure, whereas she in real myth was randy and promiscuous. Here is an exception, by Anders Zorn:

Freya (Anders Zorn)

In the last example, by Mårten Eskil Winge, even Thor, the thunder god, is relatively young, as would be natural: he was the strongest of the gods.

Thor (Mårten Eskil Winge)

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