Hot answers tagged norse-mythology
I found at least one source that advances the notion that Crichton is referencing a source who had an agenda, and may have exaggerated for effect. Ahmad ibn Fadlan wrote about his visit to the Rus: § 84. Every day they must wash their faces and heads and this they do in the dirtiest and filthiest fashion possible: to wit, every morning a girl ...
I believe that the scene is 13 Warriors is taken from the account of Ahmad ibn Fadlān ibn al-Abbās ibn Rāšid ibn Hammād (Arabic: أحمد بن فضلان بن العباس بن راشد بن حماد) detailing his dealing with Northmen. This was a inspiration for Michael Crichton's Eaters Of The Dead which was a source for 13 Warriors.
Loki was actually the son of a Frost Giant, and as such often is not counted as a proper member of the AEsir. When he appears in stories, it is usually as an antagonist for the hero(es) of the tale. As such, I don't think he was the subject of much veneration. The only common running theme I tend to see in numerous depictions of Loki (such as the one below) ...
Maybe Stakhanov could be what you are looking for. Persistence: He broke mining records several times. Constent improvement: Even though his character might be mythical (probably forged by propaganda), he really improved mining techniques as an engineer, via the separation of tasks.
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