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Vikings: What The Names of the Main Characters Really Mean


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Contrary to what many might believe, the names of the main characters of Vikings do have a meaning, and in some cases, they were given a meaning based on the Norse character carrying the name. Created by Michael Hirst (The Tudors), Vikings premiered on History Channel in 2013, and though it was originally planned to be a miniseries, it was so well-received by critics and viewers that it was renewed for a second season. Vikings is now coming to an end with its sixth season, after taking its audience through a variety of travels, raids, and battles alongside some legendary names in Viking culture.

Vikings initially followed legendary Norse figure Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his travels and raids alongside his Viking brothers, among those his actual brother Rollo (Clive Standen) and his best friend and exceptional boat builder, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård). As the series progressed, it gradually shifted its focus to Ragnar’s sons and their own journeys, as well as the battles between them, as there are big egos constantly clashing. Now, Björn, Hvitserk, Ubbe, and Ivar are ready to close Vikings in the final batch of episodes that promise more blood, deaths, betrayals, and (hopefully) proper closure to the arcs of the main characters that are still standing.

As Vikings nears its end, it’s a good moment to look back at the characters that made the series possible in the first place, those who became fan-favorites, and those lucky enough to make it to the final season, though not without some physical and emotional scars. A lot has been said about which characters are based on real people and which ones are mere myths, but their names also hold a lot of meaning and can explain a lot about their personalities and behaviors throughout the series. Here’s what the names of the main characters in Vikings really mean.

Ragnar Lothbrok

 

Ragnar Lothbrok is a legendary figure in Norse tales and whose existence is still debated by historians, as there’s conflicting information about him. Ragnar Lothbrok is a Viking hero and according to the Gesta Danorum, a Danish and Swedish king as well, and his name is quite fitting with that description and his portrayal in Vikings. “Ragnar” is a Germanic given name composed of two Old Norse elements: “ragin-”, which means “counsel”, and “hari–”, which means “army”. It has taken on the meaning of “warrior” or “judgment”, this last one in connection to Ragnarök, the end and rebuild of the world in Norse mythology. Some variations of the name include the German “Rainer”, the French “Rainier”, and the Italian “Ranieri”.

Lagertha

 

Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) was a shield-maiden, Ragnar’s first wife, and mother of Gyda and Björn Ironside. Lagertha was one of the few characters from Vikings season 1 that made it to the final season, but she was killed in the episode “Death and the Serpent”, when Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø), in a state of delirium, hallucinated Ivar as a serpent and stabbed it, but the “serpent” was actually Lagertha. The legendary shield-maiden stood out for being one of the strongest female characters in the series and for fighting alongside the Vikings on many occasions. The impact of the stories about Lagertha has been such that her name has taken on a meaning based on the character, being that of “shield-maiden”.

Rollo

 

Rollo is Ragnar’s brother and Lagertha’s former lover, and it has been implied throughout the series that he might be Björn’s real father. Rollo is based on a real-life person, a Viking who became the first ruler of Normandy, and wasn’t related to Ragnar at all. The last time viewers saw Rollo was in Vikings season 5, and though he’s still alive, it’s unknown if he will return in the final episodes of the series. Now, the name “Rollo” is presumed to be a Latinisation of the Germanic name “Hrolf”, itself a contraction of “Hrodwulf”, a conjunction of “hrod’ (renown) and “wulf” (wolf), though many sources simply list its meaning as “wolf”. In fact, Rollo in Vikings has a tattoo on his left arm of two wolves that represent Sköll and Hati, sons of Fenrir, a monstrous wolf. In Norse mythology, the story of Sköll, Hati, and Fenrir is related to Ragnarök and is a good representation of the problematic relationship Rollo had with his brother.

Floki

 

Floki is one of Ragnar’s best friends and Kattegat’s biggest prankster and boat builder, and the only one Ragnar trusted with the building of his ships. Floki’s fate remains unknown, as the last time viewers saw him he got trapped in a cave underneath an active volcano, so fans are waiting to know if he survived and got out of there or if he died on the spot. Floki’s name is believed to be a homage to the Norse god Loki, a shapeshifter usually depicted as mischievous, but it has also been given the meaning of “heroic Viking” thanks to the achievements of the real-life Floki, the first Norseman to intentionally sail to Iceland.

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