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Chapter 14

Ragnarok

In this chapter, Gylfi, the King of Sweden, disguised as Gangleri, asks High One about the history of his people. Using a question-and-answer format, Snorri Sturluson describes Ragnarok, the series of catastrophes that caused the end of the ancient, pagan world of the Norse tradition. As the world still burns, two humans who are hidden away in a woods are destined to populate the earth, and a new sun is born.

As you read this story, bear in mind that it, like the other destruction stories in this section, involves a new creation. You may want to look back at the first creation in Norse legend, in Chapter 7, and see whether the beginning and the end convey the same atmosphere or spirit. Compare this story—and the role of the gods in it—with those of the flood in Chapters 12 and 13 and this chapter. For example, who is responsible? What actually causes the destruction? Why are the two humans in Hoddmimir's Wood spared? What might the answers tell you about Nordic culture in Snorri's time and before?



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