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Thursday, November 30th, 2006, 08:05 PM
Women in Old Norse Heroic Poetry : the Individual and Society in the Pre-Christian Germanic World

Naotoshi Furuta

The picture of women in Old Norse heroic poetry, which largely conforms to that in Old English heroic poetry, suggests that in the early medieval period the individual was absorbed into the community to which he or she belonged. It is probably for this reason that personal feelings and the concept of the individual are not usually focused on in early medieval literature and that, even when they are described, they are presented as disruptive and unfavorable from a social perspective. In early Germanic poetry, even if it is the individual with an awareness of self (as opposed to the type which represents the social ideal, and which is much more commonly met with in early Germanic poetry) that is focused on, the emphasis is on the destructive force of individualism in the context of Germanic social structure. Let us now examine more closely the pre-Christian Germanic world from a sociocultural point of view.Read on: