The Viking-Klingon Connection
When the late Gene Roddenberry first conceived of Star Trek in the early 1960's, he probably never imagined what a wild success
his creation would become. After the initial series ended, there was a long hiatus before the first Star Trek film appeared in 1979.
Then came a string of films and eventually the rebirth of Star Trek as a television series in the form of "Star Trek -- The Next
Generation" (TNG), Deep Space Nine, etc.
During the long run of TNG, most of it overseen by Roddenberry himself until his death near the end of the series, many of the
23rd-century social constructs originated in the initial series and continued in the films were more extensively developed. These
included aspects of the Federation as well as alien cultures such as the Vulcans, the Romulans, and the Klingons.
With the emergence of the Klingon Worf as a main character in TNG, the Klingon culture was brought into sharper focus. For
some reason, Klingons have always seemed to fascinate the general public more than any other alien culture introduced by the
Star Trek phenomenon. However, there are a great many parallels between the Klingon values and way of life, and the Viking values
and way of life that existed nearly 1000 years ago.
Did Gene Roddenberry model the Klingons on the Vikings? There are some striking similarities -- judge for yourself...
- Both cultures relied on voyages of trade and conquest. Their homes lay far out of the trade routes and men would travel for long stretches before returning home in triumph with their booty and slaves.
- Klingons were infamous for their surprise raids and bloody massacres, the most famous being the Khitomer massacre. Vikings were feared for these tactics as well, starting with their bloody raid on the northern English town of Lindisfarne in the late 700's.
- The Klingons were governed by the High Council, composed of Klingon nobles whose rights were largely hereditary. The Vikings were ruled by the Allthing, a collection of peasant-nobles held annually on the lava plains of Thingvellir in Iceland. Like the Klingon High Council, the Allthing was responsible for all law and settlement of disputes among the people.
- The concept of honor was highly prized by both Vikings and Klingons. In both cultures, a man without honor was usually outcast and exiled. The dishonor of an individual also brought dishonor upon his entire family. Upholding the honor of the family name was was the personal duty of all Klingon and Viking warriors.
- Naming conventions in both cultures are similar, with males referred to as the sons of their fathers. For example, Worf was often referred to as "Worf, Son of Mogh" among other Klingons. The Norse had a similar naming convention, with sons taking on a surname identifying them as their father's son. For example, the son of Harald Eriksson might be named Ranar, but his full name would be Ranar Haraldsson, not Ranar Eriksson.
- Death rituals were also similar. Klingons were expected to die in battle, and would thereafter be revered for their courage and bravery. The Vikings held similar values, and to die in bed as an old man was considered by many to be undesireable. The Klingon death howl was not shared by the Vikings, but they did have very specific burial rites, and the weapons of the honored dead were often passed down to their sons (note: Contrary to Hollywood legend, Vikings were not set to sea in flaming ships after death, they were buried on land. Ships were far to precious to waste in such a manner).
One last striking similarity: The sagas depict Egil Skallagrimsson as overly large, with a massive balding head, furrowed brows, black eyes, and a fierce demeanor. Further, the discovery of his bones some 200 years after his death (see Did Egil Exist?") revealed a large, thick and scalloped skull.
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by Gary Poisson, All Rights Reserved.
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