Víðarr the anti-Aineías

There’s an interesting epilogue to my previous post: Aineías shows up in Norse mythology as a cognate of Víðarr:

It is told of the Turks, how the men from Asia, who are called Æsir, falsified the tales of the things that happened in Troy, in order that the people should believe them to be gods. King Priam in Troy was a great chief over all the Turkish host, and his sons were the most distinguished men in his whole army. That excellent hall, which the Æsir called Brime’s Hall, or beer-hall, was King Priam’s palace. As for the long tale that they tell of Ragnarok, that is the wars of the Trojans. When it is said that Oku-Thor angled with an ox-head and drew on board the Midgard-serpent, but that the serpent kept his life and sank back into the sea, then this is another version of the story that Hector slew Volukrontes, a famous hero, in the presence of Achilles, and so drew the latter onto him with the head of the slain, which they likened unto the head of an ox, which Oku-Thor had torn off. When Achilles was drawn into this danger, on account of his daring, it was the salvation of his life that he fled from the fatal blows of Hector, although he was wounded. It is also said that Hector waged the war so mightily, and that his rage was so great when he caught sight of Achilles, that nothing was so strong that it could stand before him. When he missed Achilles, who had fled, he soothed his wrath by slaying the champion called Roddros. But the Æsir say that when Oku-Thor missed the serpent, he slew the giant Hymer. In Ragnarok the Midgard-serpent came suddenly upon Thor and blew venom onto him, and thus struck him dead. But the Æsir could not make up their minds to say that this had been the fate of Oku-Thor, that anyone stood over him dead,though this had so happened. They rushed headlong over old sagas more than was true when they said that the Midgard-serpent there got his death; and they added this to the story, that Achilles reaped the fame of Hector’s death, though he lay dead on the same battlefield on that account. This was the work of Elenus and Alexander, and Elenus the Æsir called Ale.They say that he avenged his brother, and that he lived when all the gods were dead, and after the fire was quenched that burned up Asgard and all the possessions of the gods. Pyrrhus they compared with the Fenris-wolf. He slew Odin, and Pyrrhus might be called a wolf ac-cording to their belief, for he did not spare the peace-steads, when he slew the king in the temple before the altar of Thor. The burning of Troy they called the flame of Surt. Mode and Magne, the sons of Oku-Thor, came to crave the land of Ale or Vidar. He is Aeneas. He came away from Troy, and wrought thereupon great works. It is said that the sons of Hector came to Frigialand and established themselves in that kingdom, but banished Elenus. (Snorri Sturluson, Prose Edda: Skáldskaparmál Epilogue 5, 8)

And Víðarr, of course, battles the wolf Fenrir (the slayer of his father Óðinn) either with his sword, as in Völuspá stanzas 54 and 55:

Then comes Sigfather’s | mighty son,
Víðarr, to fight | with the foaming wolf;
In the giant’s son | does he thrust his sword
Full to the heart: | his father is avenged.

Or with his bare hands, as in Vafthrúdnismál stanza 53:

The wolf shall fell | the father of men,
And this shall Víðarr avenge;
The terrible jaws | shall he tear apart,
And so the wolf shall he slay.

Though they differ in their relationship with the wolf, like Aineías who led his fellow Trojans to Italy where they founded Rome, Víðarr will guide the Gods who survive Ragnarök in constructing Iðavöllr on the site where Ásgarðr once stood.

2 thoughts on “Víðarr the anti-Aineías

  1. Sometimes you start with wolves; sometimes you end with them.

    And, it makes sense…the nurturing wolf-mother at the start and the ravening devouring wolf-beast which must be slain at the end.

    Pardon me…I had a very big bowl of Structuralism Flakes for breakfast this morning. ;)

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