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A. Fantalov.

Odin and Christ.

(The materials of international symposium in Saint Petersburg univercity 2001).


Scandinavian mythology is an example of great polytheistic system, which developed at the same time that Christianity. Both of these world outlooks not only with each other but were in interaction. This interaction represents in Literature and Fine art. Among art of considered epoch (the Viking Age - 8 - 12 a. c.) rune stones are the most contained objects.

Runes are a pagan alphabet. It is known from 2 a. c. Runes was carved on funeral stones as protection. For the same purpose they were accompanied by depictions of fantastical monsters. The most developed subject of runic art belongs to 11 a. c. In this epoch inscriptions were placed on the serpents, what constituted frame of picture. Inside of this frame we can see depiction of fantastical beasts. But often instead of the beasts we can see cross.

Of course, it is not insist of that people, who installed these stones, were Christians. But we can speak about complicated of heathen and Christian symbols. Cross, as basic structure of the world likes Scandinavian World Tree. It can remain that name of mount, where Jesus Christ was is Golgofa ('place of skull' (by Adam) that is Cross as grow from head of progenitor of mankind.

And in Scandinavian mythology firmament was created of giant Imir's skull.

Christ's suffering was stopped by means of legioner Longin's spear. Then Christ has gone down into hell and has set free virtuous people. And Scandinavian Odin in order to increase his wisdom, devoted to himself. He was pierced with his spear and has been during 9 days and nights on the World Tree. At this time Odin's soul and have been known mysteries of Dead World (for instance - runes). Then a giant - grandfather of Odin gave him a horn with sacral honey.

Sometimes we see a rider in the centre of runic depiction. Above rider a raven is carved. In terms of this features we can suppose that the rider is Scandinavian Odin.

There are plots of Sigurd' cycle on runic stones. The composition one of them includes the cross with branches. This cross is a Christian symbol and the World Tree at the same time.

But let us return to simple type of runic stones. The design of the following stone resembles with preceding ones. However, it includes the cross installed on a back of animal. In order to understand this innovation, we should to consider the stone from Lund. There is also the animal with the cross on in back. It is lamb - the symbol by Christ. The serpents are transformed in ornament.

This article describes Sweden runic objects to show increasing of the Christian symbolism. The stone from Uppland is over this evolution. The church with cross, priests and faithful are carved on it. There are not any pagan images.

It should be remembered, that at the beginning of 12 century the famous Uppsala sanctuary was destroyed. The period of coexistence between paganism and Christianity was finished. Christ won a victory over Odin.

Alex Fantalov.


Odin and Hermes. Images of an architectural decor of Saint Petersburg and Moscow.

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