Ascending the steps of Hlíðskjálf

Medieval Icelandic literary sources often portray the god Óðinn as an ultimate sovereign. They describe him as the god of kings and great warriors, whom he would welcome into his hall, Valhöll after they died in battle. They also describe him as the actual ruler of the gods themselves, as the so-called ‘alföðr’, whom, according to Snorri Sturluson, writing in the thirteenth century, the other gods served as children do their father. It is natural to question how Óðinn developed into the ruling, all-seeing god that we are presented with in these sources.

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Í elstu varðveittu heimildum um átrúnað manna til forna er Óðni gert hátt undir höfuð. Þar er hann meðal annars saður guð konunga og stríðsmanna. Snorri Sturluson gengur svo langt að nefna Óðinn alvitran konung guðanna sem ræður ríkjum í Valhöll sem þar fallnar hetjur safnast saman eftir dauðann. Óðinn er því víða þekktur sem Alfaðir bæði goða og manna og fátt fær nú hnikað þeirri ímynd.

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