Mat/Odin Similarities

Posted by MonkeyHero on 19.01.01 00:00

I've read a lot on the Internet about the similarities between Mat and the Norse god Odin, and so decided to do a bit of reading myself. The obvious parallels cannot be missed. This is not so much a theory as an exploration of those similarities, and maybe the gleaning of the possible future of Mat in the books.

Firstly, the similarities of appearance. These are real tell tale signs. First, Odin carried an infallible spear called Gungnir, which was so sacred that an oath sworn upon its point could never be broken. I can't recall if anyone (members of the Band of the Red Hand?) has sworn any oaths on the spear in the books. On Mat's spear there are two ravens, called thought and memory. On Odin's shoulder there sat two ravens named Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory), whom he sent out over the world every morning, and whom every night would return and whisper in his ear the news of the world. This could be a parallel with the knowledge in Mat's head that pops up when he needs it. Odin wore the ring Draupnir upon his finger (or his arm according to some texts). Draupnir was a symbol of fruitfulness in Nordic mythology. This is obviously similar to the ring Mat buys in Ebou Dar... Could the reference to fruitfulness be related to recent or future happenings in Mat's love life? Finally, when wandering the earth, Odin wore a wide brimmed hat kept low to conceal that he was missing an eye. We know that Mat wears the hat, but has not lost an eye... But as I recall there is a reference to Mat wearing the hat because the light hurt his eyes after being affected by the Shadar Logoth dagger (not sure where).

Secondly, there are the similarities of circumstance. First we have Odin's acquisition of knowledge... He hung from the life tree Yggdrasil, gazing into hell for some time until he gained omnipotence. Obviously similar to Mat hanging from the tree in Rhuidean. Odin also had an adopted abandoned son called Geirrod, of whom I will talk a little more later on. Finally, there is an obscure folk tale on which some of the mythology of Odin is based that the venerable Mr. Jordan obviously... borrowed... for the purpose of the books. Odin was a chieftain of a Russian tribe who sought refuge in Sweden when under persecution from the Romans. Here he and his tribe were granted their own kingdom by the King of Sweden, Gylfi. One day, Gylfi journeyed to Odin's palace to see if rumors of his great powers were true. Here he saw a vision of three divinities named Har, Iafn-Har and Thridi, sitting on thrones, each placed higher than the last. At Gylfi's asking, the visions imparted to him the entire history of the Nordic races. After the telling, a deafening noise was heard throughout the palace, and it suddenly disappeared. This is to close to Mat's encounter in Finnland to be coincidence.

Thirdly (I do go on, don't I?) there is Odin's rich and varied relations with women. Odin is said to have had seven wives at various point in his life: Jord, the daughter of the night; Frigga, the goddess of civilization and clouds (possibly Tylin I think - Frigga was said to be strong willed and often argued with her husband); Rinda, a personification of frozen earth who yields to Odin's love; Saga, the goddess of history; and finally Grid, Gunlod, and Skadi. Does anyone notice any other parallels between Mat's women and Odin's wives? Finally, on the women point, (and this is a long shot) Odin's son Heimdall was borne to him by nine giantesses simultaneously (huh?). Could the Daughter of the Nine Moons be a reference to these giantesses, and will her and Mat's son play the same pivotal role that Heimdall played in the Last Battle?

Fourthly (can you say fourthly?), there is the question of Odin's numerous sons and any possibly connection with Olver. Firstly there is Heimdall, whom I think will probably be a character yet to come, so not him. Secondly there is Hoder (who is blind so also no) and Balder (who is considered to be exceptionally beautiful, so definitely no). Next is Thor, which I doubt. This finally brings me to Geirrod, whom I have mentioned previously and has a few parallels to Olver, but also some glaring differences. Geirrod and his brother Agnar were stranded upon an island, lost to their parents, and were adopted by Odin and Frigga respectively. Obviously Olver doesn't have a brother that we know about so I'll ignore Agnar for the time being. Odin brought Geirrod up to be a great fighter and leader of men, but being a warrior and not a father, failed to teach him correct morals. Fearing this, Odin disguised himself as a stranger (with the hat) and visited Geirrod. However Frigga, in an attempt to win a bet with Odin, had warned Geirrod to beware of strangers. Upon Odin's arrival, Geirrod had him seized and tortured for a number of days. Upon the eighth day, Odin began to sing and his bonds fell away. Upon seeing that it was his foster father that he had treated so cruelly, Geirrod promptly committed suicide by falling on his own sword. Could there be a reference to future events between Olver and Mat in this story?

And, finally, for a couple of predictions. Firstly there is the one that many people are aware of - Odin's loss of an eye. Legend has it that a man name Mimir (memory) had a well that granted its drinker great knowledge. Odin wanted such a drink, but Mimir, realizing the power a drink would give the god, set the price at one of Odin's eyes. Odin accepted the price, and sacrificed the eye for a drink which gave him great knowledge, but also brought him great sadness as he now knew the way of his own death. Could the price of a wish in the Finnland that Mat hasn't visited yet be an eye? With Jordan, who can tell? Another prediction involves a strange myth that tells that Odin disappeared for a long period during a long hard winter (a visit to Seanchan for Mat perhaps?) and was replaced by a false Odin, under whose reign there was much sadness in the world until he returned and overthrew the usurper.

So that's it for the Mat/Odin similarities (phew). I hope it has inspired many of you to rebuttals and arguments. Of course nobody can ever accurately predict what Jordan is going to do next with the series, and I'm sure that he is not going to rigidly stick to any one mythology, but you never know. As one final note, many people have pointed out similarities between Odin and Rand, and that last one seems very likely under such comparisons.

wotmania says: Two Norse theories in one week? What the heck is going on here? I like a lot of the ideas in here, and I think it sheds some interesting light on what might happen to Mat as the series progresses. It would be a very interesting twist to things if Olver eventually (and unknowingly) betrays Mat...


Comments

was there not...

Posted by errantrogue on 03.01.02 10:58
a viewing by min stating something to the effect of an eye on a balancing scale?


Can you see the line where the water ends?
Draws itself off into oblivion...

Heimdall

Posted by Evandar on 13.01.02 08:55
What I remeber, Heimdall blew a horn right before the last battle (Horn of Valere?) That way, if any of Mats unborn sons will play a big role in tarmon Gaidon, Mat has to be dead, otherwise, the Horn wont give any Heroes.

mins veiwing

Posted by chaos_is_me_I_am_chaos on 04.06.02 18:00
doesnt min view around mat an eye on a balance scale? i cant find the qoute but i am pretty sure she does somewhere.




trust is the colour of death

mynamestodamnlong

AAARRRGGGHHH

Posted by carri on 28.09.02 08:23
Will you stop it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm sure that everone has had enogh of the WOT/mythology links. RJ is probably not even aware that he has made these links, it's just theorists, who like to make the same point over and over again. how about this I'll just summarise.
Rand is the king/lord figure. thats all you need to know.

Knower of all things mythalogical
sister of veritas
Lady of honour
carri

Gah!

Posted by Doktor Kosmos on 23.05.03 01:29
Odin hung himself from Yggdrasil to obtain knowledge of the runes. He hung there for nine days impaled by his own spear.
He sacrified his eye to Mimer so that he could drink the water from Mimer's Well and obtain wisdom.

Some minor corrections...

Posted by Doktor Kosmos on 23.05.03 02:31
Saga was Odin's only daughter with Frigga, not his wife.
Rind was raped by Odin when he was disguised as a woman.
Gunlod was not Odins wife, he just slept with her to get his hands on some enchanted mead.
Odin had a son with Grid, but i don't think they were married.
Jord was married with Fjorgynn, but had Thor with Odin
And finally Skadi, a giantess, who was married with the Aesir Njord.
Odin was however married with Frigga.

Geirrod didn't commit suicide. His death was an accident.