Thursday, 11 October 2012

Ymir

In Poul Anderson's Conan The Rebel (New York, 1981), Conan exclaims, " 'Name of Ymir!' " in a context where gods are real and many (p. 97).

Does this single phrase entail the validity of the Eddaic creation myth beginning with a chasm where interacting heat and cold caused a thawing from which emerged the first giant, Ymir, from whose body Odin, Vili and Ve made the world - sky from skull, clouds from brain, sea from blood, mountains from bones, earth from flesh, with dwarfs emerging like maggots, - then carved the first man and woman from an Ash and an Elm? Were Conan's people, the Cimmerians, the custodians of this tradition of creation?

Conan's own god is not the devious Odin but the straightforward Crom who:

"...favored, if he did not actually help, the bold." (p. 99)

What is really happening here is that Anderson, like the other writers continuing Howard's series, is free to use any terminology in this prehistoric period. Members of a dark-skinned race are described exactly like Africans but presumably are not that in this imaginary geography.

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