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The mythological origins of inequality, according to the Norse

by ace

I imagine few people in Brazil have heard of the Scandinavian poem “Rígsthula”, which was written around the 10th century AD. Like many other myths, “Rígsthula” has a certain didactic function, trying to explain why a certain aspect of the world to our own. it has acquired the look it has today – and the theme of this particular text is social or 'class' inequality in ancient Viking Age society.

The poem tells us that the god named Ríg (apparently another designation of the celebrated Heimdall, guardian of Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge that unites the kingdom of the gods with Earth – who watched Thor's films knows what I'm talking about) resolves, One day, visit the land and stay at the home of a different couple every night.

But each night he sleeps between the husband and wife who welcomed him, which means that nine months later a boy is born in each place. In the first house, a very poor shack, Rig's visit is followed by the birth of a baby named Thrael (something like “servant”). When he grew up, he had "wrinkled skin, thick knobby toes, ugly faces, curved backs, long heels." Thrael married Thír (“servant”) and had children intended for hard work.

The next night, the god was welcomed into a spacious, well-kept house that belonged to a good-looking couple. A boy named Karl (“free man”) was born there. “Their faces glowed, their eyes sparkled. He learned to tame the ox, how to plow, how to build houses and raise barns. ”Karl married Snör (“ daughter-in-law ”) and had children who lived a decent life on his property.

On the third night, the god Rig arrived at the mansion of an extremely well-dressed couple, who offered him a dinner in which servants took care of everything. The meeting led to the birth of Iarl (“noble man, earl”). “Beautiful was her hair, fierce her eyes like young snakes,” says the poem. Iarl became a warrior, a hunter and the owner of vast estates. He and his wife had 12 male children. The youngest was known as Konr Ungr (Kon the Younger), a pun on the word "konungr" meaning "king" (such as "king" in English).

Would you like to read about other little known and interesting myths in the world here on the blog? Send your mythological suggestion to darwinedeus@gmail.com!

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