Both Norse mythology and Greek mythology are among the major mythologies in the world. Deities from the two mythologies even have important roles in Marvel films and TV series. The formation of the two mythologies is completely independent, but there are also some relation and differences between them.
What is Norse mythology?
The Norse mythology refers to the myths peculiar to the Scandinavia. It emerged later than the other mythologies, but its oral spreading can be dated back to the 1st century AD. At first it was popular in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, later spread northwards to Iceland by immigrants around 7th century AD. During the middle age, Christianity prevailed throughout the Europe. As a result, Norse mythology was seen as heterodoxy and most relevant literary works were burnt. The only few work survived to this days are Icelandic epics Edda, Germanic epic Nibelungenlied and others.
What is Greek mythology?
Greek mythology is the spiritual outcome of primitive clan society and the earliest literary form in Europe. Greek mythology were created around 8th century BC, and took shape after drawing on mythologies from other countries and being orally spread by ancient Greek people. They were recorded in the Homeric epics, Hesiod’s Theogony and other ancient Greek works of poetry, drama, history and philosophy. Later, people systematized them into the present Greek mythology, which falls into two categories: stories of deities and legend of heroes.
1. The creation of world
Similar to Greeks, the Nordics believed there was only the gaping abyss of Ginnungagap before the creation of cosmos. But in the view of Greeks, there was only dark and disordered Chaos without shape, light or color, where everything was mixed together. In contrast, all the elements of world were clearly separated in the Nordic version of creation myth.
It was endless icebergs flowing from the holy spring Hvergelmir on one side; while it was Muspelheim, the home to Surtr; a dark, bottomless and boundless chasm existed in between. That’s also why the world is full of ice and fire in the imagination of Nordics.
2. The world view
Greeks believed there were people living a better life somewhere to the north of Greece, but Nordics never had such beautiful visions about Elysium. Their life was difficult and tough.
They had to ceaselessly fight wind, snow and ice to survive, leading to their serious and realistic world view. Assiduous and realistic Nordics more often thought of themselves than of things which they had little to do with.
3. Natural phenomena
Both Nordics and Greeks believed the earth was created first, after that the domelike sky fell on and covered it. In addition, they both thought that the sun and moon cruising in the sky on glary carriages.
However, the second-generation god of sun in Greek mythology is Helius; its equivalent in Nordic culture is goddess Sol; while the deity of moon in Norse mythology is the god Mani.
4. Zeus and Odin
Both Zeus and Odin are the father of all gods as well as the incarnation of universe in their respective mythology. Odin sits on his throne Hlidskjalf and sees everything happening in the world, the same as Zeus who lives in the Temple of Olympus.
Odin’s spear Gungnir is a mighty and magical weapon, so is Zeus’ hammer. The two weapons kill all, even giants and deities. Norse deities drink ewe’s milk and eat wolf meat like the Nordics, but Greek deities prefer sweet wine and fragrant lanolin, the same as Greek.
In Norse mythology, twelve major gods often have meetings in Odin’ hall Valhalla and discussed about the best way to govern the world and human race; while it is said the twelve Olympian gods are doing the same thing on the top of Mount Olympus in Greece.
5. Freyja and Aphrodite
Freyja and Aphrodite are the goddesses associated with love and beauty in their respective mythology. They were both born in the ocean and both like to give fresh flowers and fruits as gifts. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was forced to married the god of fire Hephaestus, resulting in her unfaithfulness and adultery with other deities; while in Norse mythology, the deities wanted to marry Freyja to the king of jotnar Thrym, but they gave up the idea due to Freyja’s resolute opposition.