Silence and Silencing in Old Norse Myth

(James Parkhouse, University of Oxford)

This presentation will highlight some of the more prominent connotations of silence in Old Norse society as evinced by wisdom poetry and saga narratives. In particular, it will highlight the association of silence with weakness, and the symbolic potency of acts of violence involving attacks on the organs of speech. In light of this, it will discuss the significance of silence and silencing in the context of the apocalyptic Ragnarǫk (‘Fate of the Gods’), in which the gods and their enemies are both destroyed before the rebirth of the world.