Title: Horizontalita a vertikalita ve staroseverských kosmologických představách
Horizontality and verticality in Old-Norse views on cosmology
Source document: Religio. 2012, vol. 20, iss. 1, pp. -92
ISSN1210-3640 (print)2336-4475 (online)
License: Not specified license
The aim of this article is to determine how two logically contradictory cosmological concepts, the vertical and the horizontal, could have co-existed in the Old Nordic mythological system and what their function was. -- I first reject Eleazar Meletinskij's idea that the horizontal and vertical axes can be transformed into each other. I show that relationships expressed on each of the axes are not entirely identical, and therefore it is likely that they express different mythological information connected to different mythological contexts that have to be examined more closely. -- In the second part of the article I raise objections against Jens Peter Schjødt's denial of verticality in the original Old-Norse cosmology. Jens Peter Schjødt claims that the idea of a realm of gods located in heaven originates only in Snorri's Edda and, having arisen because of Christian influence, was never a proper part of the Old-Norse world view. I introduce several examples from both Poetic Edda and scaldic poetry in order to show that the idea of gods located in heaven was quite widespread in Nordic mythology and cannot be reduced to an inconsiderable and marginal outcome of foreign influence. -- In the last part of the article I present specific contexts and functions of each of the axes. The horizontal axis is connected with the concept of cyclic time and with the idea of sustainable cosmic balance. The horizontal axis articulates the problems of society as a whole, the necessity of maintaining a temporary cosmic order and, therefore, the necessity of maintaining a constant defence against the powers of chaos; it articulates the problem of external threat and is mainly connected with physical confrontation. -- The vertical axis, on the other hand, is connected with the concept of linear time and appears mostly in the context of death. It articulates the problems of individuals rather than those of society and is connected with subtle phenomena of an intellectual and spiritual character such as magic, art and the existential problems of individuals.