God of War, discovering Odin, the father of everything and the nemesis of Kratos and Atreus

God of War, discovering Odin, the father of everything and the nemesis of Kratos and Atreus

God of War

After the magnificent detour of the last appointment, dedicated entirely to the two main sources concerning Norse mythology, which we saw very closely during our private visit to the Árni Magnússon Institute in Reykjavík (find our full report on Lega Nerd), has arrived the time to land again on the jagged coasts of the myth and to immerse ourselves in the legend. And what a legend! In fact, this time we will devote our attention entirely to the father of the gods. Get ready, because this will be a long journey to discover Odin, the father of all and the nemesis of Kratos and Atreus.

The mythological origin

God of War: Odin and his brothers create the man in this illustration by Robert Engels dated 1919 Despite being called "the father of everything", Odin is nevertheless a son. In the poetic Edda it is told how the god is the firstborn born from the love between Borr and Bestla. The first, the son of a man literally popped from a rock licked by the primordial cow Auðhumla; the second, daughter of the giant Bölþorn. Odin had two brothers, Vili and Vé. Why, then, is Odin considered the creator of everything? Soon said: together with his brothers, in fact, Odin killed the first frost giant, Ymir, created by the meeting between the cold kingdom of Niflheimr and the fiery kingdom of Muspell.

Once the act, an enormous amount of blood began to gush from the giant's body, so much so as to drown the entire lineage of giants, except one, Bergelmir, who was saved together with his family using a boat (the reference to the Great Flood and to the consequent purification of the world does not take long to present itself). Not content, the three brothers took the giant to the center of Ginnungagap (cosmic nothingness; essentially the center of the universe) and used his body to create the world, as told in Gylfaginning, Gylfi's Deception.

They took Ymir and carried him to the middle of Ginnungagap and made the earth of him, the sea and lakes from his blood; the earth was made from flesh, and the mountains from bones; stones and boulders they made from teeth and molars and from those bones that were broken. [...] They also took his skull and made it into the sky and placed it upon the earth with four songs, and under each corner they placed a dwarf. They are called like this: Austri, Vestri, Norðri, Suðri.

After that, the three gods also created men. Strolling along the newly built beach, the deities took two trees and infused them with particular gifts: spirit and life, intellect and movement, speech, hearing and sight. They gave the man the name of Askr and the woman that of Embla. Such were the first inhabitants of the newly formed "middle earth", Mannheimr, protected by the impassable fortress created by the eyelashes of Ymir, Midgard.

Odin, the father of the gods

God of War : Odin and Sleipnr in an illustration made by an Icelandic peasant in his transcription of the two Eddas After the war between Æsir and Vanir, the renewed pantheon, now made up of belligerent deities and followers of fertility, nevertheless finds Odin at its apex. Despite having a companion who remains faithful to his side, Frigg, Odin is famous for his vast offspring from various beings, earthly and otherworldly. For example, Thor's mother is Jörð, personification of the Earth. Other members of the lineage worth mentioning are Baldur, god identified with the qualities of courage and audacity (which, whoever has played God of War, has come to know very well) and Víðarr, the one who is destined to avenge. the father after the wolf Fenrir devours the latter during the Ragnarok.

The god, moreover, can always count on his two trusty ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who every day set out for the Nine Kingdoms in search of news to be reported then, in the evening, to their master. At the foot of the banquet table are Geri and Freki, two wolves for whom the god reserves all his food, since he needs nothing but wine and mead.

God of War : Odin and his two wolves and ravens in an illustration by Ludwig Pietsch, 1865 Furthermore, Odin is not a "prepackaged" god, omniscient from birth. On the contrary, he had to gain his knowledge of him through bets and exhausting tests. The most famous is certainly that of the nine days and nine nights spent hanging from a tree (which most identify in the cosmic tree Yggdrasill), where "Odin gives himself up" in such a way as to learn the secrets of divination and the art of the runes.

Another great event is the sacrifice of his right eye to draw from the source of Mímir, so as to possess the same boundless knowledge as the old giant. Moreover, he preserves the head of the latter after the Vanir cut it off during the war between the two families of gods. Thus, he also has at his side a faithful advisor, who will help him in the darkest moments, including those of Ragnarok.

Odin, the traveler

God of War: dates back to 1895 this illustration by Lorenz Frølich depicting Odin during his sacrifice In addition to being considered the god of war, death and the gallows, Odin is renowned for being a great traveler, often absent from the throne on which he sits, enveloped in the majesty of Asgard. He continually travels to the Nine Kingdoms, seeking new encounters with his people and enemies, as well as new challenges and ways to test his infinite knowledge and poetic art. Among the many accounts, the most particular one sees the god (who uses the false name Grímnir) and the king Geirrøðr as protagonist.

One day, discussing with his wife Frigg about the hospitality of the sovereign, Odin decides to do visit to Geirrøðr. The latter, warned by Frigg herself, had the mysterious wayfarer locked up, to whom, as had been suggested, no dog growled at. The king chained the guest between two fires, intending to torture him until he revealed his true identity. During the eight nights of confinement, Agnarr, the king's son, was the only one to bring him something to drink and eat, so he decided to tell him about various peculiarities concerning the gods, all in the presence of his father, until he revealed (with a very long list of epithets and titles) his true identity.

I raised my head / before the children of the victorious gods, / this gesture will give them hope.

When the king understood in the presence of whom found, stood up immediately and threw himself on the god, to free him from his unjust imprisonment. However, he did not remember the sword lying on his lap, which fell with the blade pointed at him, stabbing him to death. Thus, the son became the new ruler, reigning for many years.

Odin and death

God of War: Valhalla according to Hermann Burghart, 1878 Another characteristic feature of Odin is his link with death. In fact, it is he who awaits the warriors who fell in battle in Valhalla, his home. Odin, with his formidable Gungnir spear, given to him by the "sons of ĺvaldi", has the power to decree the defeat of anyone who is aimed at by it. After that, the Valkyries descend onto the battlefield, flying over it on their winged steeds and deciding who is worthy to sit alongside the gods. All who are chosen are led to Asgard, divided equally between Valhalla and Fólkvangr, the latter under the rule of Freya.

All these valiant fighters, the best of Midgard, will be part of the legendary ranks of the Einherjar, who will support Odin and his sons and companions during the dark hours of Ragnarok, when they will have to face the fiercest and most unstoppable forces of evil.

Beyond the Norse myth

God of War : Odin wields Gungnir in this illustration by Lorenz Frølich, 1895 The figure of Odin has undergone many variations over the centuries and has been assimilated by various Germanic populations. The precise period in which his "dominion" in Scandinavian religious practices was established is still debated today, but it is almost certain that his cult came from the regions of south-eastern Europe (yet another link to that lost kingdom of Priam of Troy who continues to hover in our accounts, of which Snorri Sturluson also speaks in his Edda prosastica).

If on the Norse territory, during the golden age of the Vikings, one could find several creeds dedicated to Odin, such as the alleged nine-year ritual that took place at the Uppsala temple, during which animals and men bound and hung in the same way as the father of all were sacrificed during his nine days hanged from the Yggdrasill tree, or ecstatic warriors, such as the famous berserkers , who fought like fury to exhaustion thanks to the favor (according to them) of the god of war, his cult continued to have a certain influence even in the centuries to follow.

God of War: Odin and Br unilde, Konrad Dielitz, 1892 For example, the source provided by the Bárðr Saga is exemplary. In the latter, Odin, having boarded a ship, in disguise, begins to teach the pagan creed to the men on board. Suddenly, a Christian priest has had enough and hits the old one-eyed one with a crucifix, causing him to end up in the sea, without leaving any trace.

Another important example dates back to the 7th century AD, this time before his affirmation of the Norsemen on the European territory. The Winnili (a Swedish people) decided to follow the brothers Ibor and Aio south, in search of new lands in which to settle. During their journey, they clashed with the Vandals, a still Germanic people, but decidedly larger and more numerous than theirs.

God of War: Winnile women with loose hair, simulating beards, in the detail of an illustration by Emil Doepler, 1905 Legend has it that the Vandals asked for Odin's favor, so as to defeat the new ones opponents. The latter told them that the winner would be the first he would see on the battlefield in the morning. For their part, the Winnili, on the other hand, asked for the help of Frigg, who told them to show up all at sunrise, including the women. The latter, moreover, had to untie their hair and let it fall over the chin. On the day of the battle, Frigg urged Odin to look towards his proteges. Odin asked her: "Who are the ones with the long beards?". He replied: "Since you have given them a name, you also give them victory." From those words, from that encounter between Vanir and Æsir, between fertility and belligerence, the Lombards were born.

Odin in God of War

God of War: Kratos' fury will equal that of Odin in Ragnarok? While he has not yet made his triumphal entry into the new God of War saga, there is no doubt that Odin will represent the core of the Santa Monica Studio narrative. If God of War Ragnarok will truly close the Norse parenthesis, it is very likely that we will make the acquaintance of his father completely as early as next November 9th. For the moment, however, we can only rely on the information available, mainly told by Mímir in the chapter of 2018.

In the narrative universe created for Sony, Odin is basically a bloodthirsty tyrant. His rule has brought darkness to the Nine Realms, prompting those who are "different" to hide from the murderous fury of him and his family. The main victims of the divine iron fist have been the giants, whose bloodlines have been wiped out or forced to flee. To help them we even find Odin's own son, Tyr, "half-blood" son of a giantess, repudiated by his father.

Even the Valkyries, trusted warriors of the divine, have been condemned to oblivion of physical form (which makes them aggressive and maleficent) due to the betrayal of their former queen, Freya, forced to marry the god and teach him magic, used maliciously against his "enemies". In short, Odin seems to be the antagonist par excellence, an individual (but, perhaps, more an ideal) devoid of moral sense, miserly, mean and corrupted by power, protected by a state of apparent untouchability which, however, will soon be affected by an impure hero, but for this very reason capable of facing such a harmful evil.

God of War: Odin's forces will make themselves felt in Ragnarok This has been our long journey to discover Odin. We are now running out! Very close to the release of God of War Ragnarok. In the meantime, we advise you to retrieve the other articles dedicated to Norse mythology (we have explored the characters of Thor, Mímir, Angrboda, Jormungandr, Týr, Freya, Fenrir, but also the Valkyries, Midgard and Ragnarok. We are waiting for you in the comments for get your feedback on this and other issues related to the game.

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