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Asgard Stories Tales from Norse Mythology   By:

Asgard Stories Tales from Norse Mythology by Mabel H. Cummings

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Tales From Norse Mythology





Silver, Burdett and Company New York Boston Chicago

Copyright, 1901, By Silver, Burdett and Company.

=To all our Children who have loved the hearing of these Asgard Stories=


This little volume is the outcome of several years' experience in telling to classes of children the classic myths, both southern and northern. The insight and interest displayed by the children encourage the authors to hope that other teachers and pupils may enjoy the myths here reproduced.

The interest shown at present in the teaching of myths to children seems to call for some such simple volume, giving the Norse myths in suitable form for use with pupils as well as for the children's home reading. There are various collections of the Greek tales, but the books dealing with the Norse myths seem to be more or less cumbered with detail, and, therefore, not adapted to very young readers.

The experience of the authors satisfies them that the teaching of myths should begin with those of the North, and that the Greek tales should be given later, with comparisons and references to the Norse myths. The stories which were dear to our own northern forefathers stir our children more deeply and are more congenial to them than those which come down to us from the Greeks. This is perfectly reasonable. The graphic descriptions in the Norse tales of the hard struggle with rugged nature and the severe climate of the North naturally come home more closely to us than the less rigorous and sturdy conditions of the southern nations. Then, too, the moral tone of the Norse myths is higher, purer, and more steadfast than that of the Greek tales, and is more congenial to our Teutonic point of view.

Much depends, of course, upon the teacher's careful study of the myths and insight into their significance. They should be presented in such manner as to awaken the interest of the children and lead them to make use of their own imagination.

The value of the Norse myths has been urged by Carlyle, Dasent, Anderson, and others. "To me there is in the Norse system something very genuine, very great, and manlike," wrote Carlyle. "A broad simplicity, so very different from the light gracefulness of the old Greek paganism, distinguishes this Norse system. It is thought, the genuine thought of deep, rude, earnest minds, fairly opened to the things about them, a face to face and heart to heart inspection of things, the first characteristic of all good thought in all times."

Anderson, the author of "Norse Mythology," wrote: "In the Norse mythology the centralizing idea is its peculiar feature; in it lies its strength and beauty. The one myth and the one divinity is inextricably in communion with the other; and thus also the idea of unity, centralization, is a prominent feature and one of the chief characteristics of the Teutonic nations.

"While the Greek mythology foreshadowed the petty states of Greece and southern Europe, the Norse mythology foreshadowed the political and social destinies of United Scandinavia, United Great Britain, and the United States of North America....

"The poetic period of the child's own race should be melted and moulded into poetry, touched by a spark of Christian refinement and love, and then poured, so to speak, into his soul. The child's mind should feed upon the mythological stories and the primitive folklore of his race."

While many works have been consulted in the preparation of this volume, the authors are especially indebted to the following: Thorpe's translation of Sæmund's "Edda"; "The Younger Edda," in translations; Anderson's "Norse Mythology"; Guerber's "Myths of Northern Lands"; William and Mary Howitt's "Literature and Romance of Northern Europe"; and Mallet's "Northern Antiquities... Continue reading book >>

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