My first morning in Tübingen, I was breakfasting with the Akiyamas. They had hospitably allowed me to stay with them my first night because I couldn’t move into my room yet. Kengo asked me, ‘What book are you reading?’ — having undoubtedly seen it before I slipped it into my fantastic new leather briefcase/shoulder bag.
‘The Prose Edda,’ I replied (a book featured in THIS POST). ‘It’s a … erm … 13th-century telling of “Viking Age” mythology.’
‘Aya would probably like that,’ Kengo answered, ‘she’s into mythology.’
‘It’s pretty interesting stuff,’ I affirmed.
‘Does it show influence from other mythologies?’
‘Not a lot. According to The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings, only Graeco-Roman mythology and Norse mythology are our complete pre-Christian or pagan mythologies from Europe.’
‘What happens in it?’ queried one or both Akiyamas.
‘Well, the universe was born out of this icy chasm called “Ginnungagap”. Somehow it started melting or something and this giant called Ymir was born.’
‘From it melting?’ asked Kengo.
‘Yes. And then there was this cow that was licking the ice. Ymir was fed by the cow, and from the saliva and melting ice of the cow or something these people were born.’
‘So the cow is god?’ asked Aya.
‘No, the cow is just this cow,’ I said, eating my Müsli. ‘And the people born of the cow saliva had kids, who were Odin and his brothers. They killed Ymir and built the world out of his corpse. The blood from Ymir killed all the other giants except for one family, and so there is war between the giants and gods evermore as a result.’
‘Sounds pleasant,’ noted Aya.
‘Yeah, it’s pretty … great,’ I said. ‘Odin and his brothers used Ymir’s skull for the sky and his other body parts for other bits of the earth.’
And then Kengo and I had to get ready to go so I wouldn’t be too late for my German class.