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Kvasir and the Mead of Poetry in Norse Mythology
For the ancient Vikings, poetry was a way to tell the stories of their gods, their religion, their heroes and villains. Works that have survived centuries are told with such eloquence; it would only be fitting that they had a story to explain their origin. Although there are several versions, they are always centered on a character of unique talents, named Kvasir.
As the exceptionally wise creator of poetry, Kvasir may have been considered a god, or at the very least, “of the gods”. His words gave him the ability to warm even the coldest of hearts, and his intrinsic knowledge would have certainly impressed the greatest of scholars. However, his story was not one of grand victories, spectacular works of literature, or philosophical revelations; instead, his story was rather short-lived.
The Whimsical Creation of Kvasir
Kvasir is briefly mentioned in various Norse texts and verses; the majority of information shared on him is found within the 13th century book, Prose Edda. This remarkable text by Snorri Sturluson is considered by scholars to be one of the most comprehensive sources on Norse myths. Within the Prose Edda, in the Skaldskaparmal, the story of Kvasir is told. The tale begins when Aegir, a sea giant who hosted many parties for the gods, asked Bragi about the origin of poetry. As Bragi was the official god of poetry, it was right that he told the story of Kvasir, and that story was triggered by a war of gods.