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GA Review[edit]

Mockers will be gnawed mercilessly.

Article (edit | edit beta | history) · Article talk (edit | history) · Watch
I'll be reviewing this; because, well, squirrels.  –Whitehorse1 12:39, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Initial thoughts: The article is, I'm sure you'll agree, a short article. Does it cover the breadth of prose & poetry sources available?
I notice one issue; by way of a clue, look toward the headings. I could fix it myself, but then would miss the opportunity to use the following symbol: ;p

unsolicited note If it helps you in your review, there are also reviews of two recent related articles at Talk:Fensalir and Talk:Hlín; of course, you're not obligated to make the same assessment that other reviewers have, but if you want then you can take a look at what the previous reviewer, Arsenikk, has said (since I think the issues in all these reviews—mainly, length and whether or not it's a problem—are pretty much the same). Best, rʨanaɢ talk/contribs 15:30, 13 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, Rjanag; I'll take a good look! Best, Whitehorse1 12:45, 14 February 2009 (UTC).
Nice catch guys! Sometimes I swear those copy edit dwarves are slacking. :bloodofox: (talk) 16:24, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Overview of GA Review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (no original research):
  3. It is broad in its coverage
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    a (fair representation): b (all significant views):
  5. It is stable.
  6. It contains images, where possible, to illustrate the topic.
    a (copyright tagged and captioned): b (appropriate use; lack of images does not in itself exclude GA):
    Provided suggestion for expanding one of the captions.
  7. Overall:
    a Pass/Fail:

Well written requirement[edit]


The 'lead' provides contextualizing information that is not found elsewhere in the article. There may not be sufficient content to support reorganizing into a further section though.


The Poetic Edda quotation suggests a benign messenger; by contrast, the Prose Edda source portrays a slanderous gossip or busybody. Perhaps more could be made of the first view (avoiding OR)? The Theories section focuses purely on the malicious gossip view. Concluding with the Thorington & Ferrell quote lent, I found, a light, pleasant note to the article.

I agree about pointing out the difference in the accounts here. I've added to the prose a bit. Agreed about the Thorington and Ferrell quote. :} :bloodofox: (talk) 09:29, 15 February 2009 (UTC)

Broadness, sourcing[edit]

First, let's tackle the topic of breadth. GAs, have no length requirement. Some are lengthy; some short and punchy. Sometimes looking at shorter articles from multiple angles is helpful. "Ratatoskr" is a small article, with its main content – aside from it's 'lead' and presenting of source quotes – in the 'Theories' section. (Of course, small stands distinct from quality.) It seemed reasonable to consider if merging, perhaps into a "Yggdrasil" article or one on its inhabitants, might better bring out this article's strengths – presenting closely-related things together, thus giving clear context. The different article topics vary in how much source material is available; also, none jump out for me as practical merge targets. So, let's put that aside.

I would like to point out that the current Yggdrasil article (a fairly recent rewrite by me) is not at all complete. Most notably it is lacking what could be a pretty big "theories" section. Merging in all of the theories about the various animals into an article about the tree would result in a big, unwieldy mess. I definitely wouldn't recommend it. :bloodofox: (talk) 05:38, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, it didn't seem a practical merge target (for that same reason) to me either. –Whitehorse1 04:21, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

I've looked around for reliably-sourced material on Ratatoskr. For whatever reason, I was able to find very few recent academic sources. Perhaps there's enough useful material for covering themes or etymology? Naturally, you're better-qualified to evaluate this, being familiar with the topic.

An etymology section would probably be handy, though simplistic. I'll see what I can do about getting one together. :bloodofox: (talk) 05:38, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for doing that. It looks like the various ideas are all some variant on teeth/tusks and climbing. I strongly recommend the A.M. Sturtevant article cited below as a source, for shaping a more complex etymology section. (I'm not confident it's something I'd do a good job of myself.) I should've asked before if you have access to article databases, bloodofox. If you haven't, please feel free to let me know (for obtaining a copy of the article). I haven't e-mail enabled on here right now; but I'll sort something out. –Whitehorse1 04:21, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
Wow that was a shock upon refreshing the article page, just a minute after adding that comment. :D Whitehorse1

Some sources explore thematic aspects. One article posits the inhabitants of the Yggdrasil tree represent natural phenomena, with the squirrel representing hail.

Thorpe, Benjamin - Northern Mythology Vol. 1

Yggdrasil has never been satisfactorily explained.2
2 The ash Yggdrasil is an emblem of all living nature. The name is obscure, but may be explained. Ygg's, i.e. Odin's, horse, seat, or chariot, from Ygg, a name of Odin, and drasill or drösull, from draga, to bear, &c. Living nature is regarded as moved and ruled by the divine power, which has its seat in it as the soul in the body. The word thus explained is in perfect accordance with the old skaldic notions, and the myth seems a poetic allegory throughout. The image accords with their cosmogony. In the tree's top sits an eagle, the emblem of spirit or life; at its root in Hvergelmir lies Nidhögg, the serpent of darkness and death; but the squirrel Ratatösk runs up and down the trunk, carrying rancorous words between the eagle and the serpent; i.e., contending powers move in nature, and false malice steals with its calumny through human life, and disturbs its peace. The fundamental idea seems to be the great strife that pervades worldly life, the strife between spirit and matter, good and evil, life and death. Keyser, Relig. Forfatn. pp. 24, 25.

Quantz, J. O. (1898). "Dendro-Psychoses". The American Journal of Psychology Vol. 9, No. 4 (Jul., 1898), pp. 449-506. University of Illinois Press. doi:10.2307/1412187

(Basic theme of article is the influence of trees on man and why they've played key emotional and spiritual role to human race.)
The inhabitants of the [Yggdrasil] tree are supposed to be natural phenomena. The serpent Nidhug who gnaws the root in the lower world is volcanic force; the stags who bite the leaves and buds are the winds; the eagle and the hawk are the air and the ether; the squirrel running up and down the tree is hail; the leaves of the tree are clouds; its fruit, the stars; the swans swimming in the fountain typify sun and moon.
This would probably be of interest to be mentioned here, though I am pretty sure this school of theorizing fell out of favor long ago. :bloodofox: (talk) 05:38, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Thematic/symbolic interpretations in the quotes summary: i) represent malice or other emotion; ii) represent or serve as emblems of death/life; iii) represent the eternal strife between good and evil, life and death; iv) or, represent particular forces of nature: hail; stars etc.
The current four stags article mentions wind among early suggested interpretations. As you point out though it's still being developed, and b) there seems far less theorizing about the other animals representing elements and such, and c) that early American Journal of Psychology article is recently-cited a bit (Journal[s] of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Arboriculture, History of the Behavioral Sciences) but not to discuss its points about 'forces in nature' symbolism. As for the other theories (represent some sort of emotion, balance or cycle), if you can find decent material on any of those it might be worth mentioning—unless they're similarly out of favor in modern scholarly study. –Whitehorse1 04:21, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Foster, Benjamin R. (1997). "Reviewed work(s): Archaic Myths of the Orient and the Occident by Igor M. Diakonoff". Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 117, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1997), pp. 361-362. doi:10.2307/605502

The amount of coverage given to Ratatosk in the reviewed work, however, is unclear.

Archaic Myths of the Orient and the Occident. By Igor M. Diakonoff. Orientalia Gothoburgensia, 10. Göteborg, Sweden: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 1995. Pp. 216. SK 180 (paper). Chapter three is a positive "Survey of Archaic Myths of the Settled Peoples of the Orient and Occident," an act of courage in the grand style that will surely nettle specialists in a dozen fields, who will at least have to admire Diakonoff's immense reading, linguistic competence, and depth of thought. To a mere Assyriologist, some throw-away suggestions were fascinating: the Mesopotamian netherworld was an inverted mountain (kur, p. 116); myths are not a literary genre but a plot (p. 114); types of laughter in archaic societies (p. 98). The cast of characters is bewildering: Ratatosk the squirrel, Ullikummi, the "Great Cackler," Ygg, Frigg, Geb, and scores more.
Weird anglicizations here ("Ullinkummi" = Gullinkambi. "Geb"? Who is that supposed to be?). If I may say so, it doesn't look like it's worth including. :bloodofox: (talk) 05:38, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
Typed geb & mesopotamia into Google. Geb, is the parent of five children: Osirus, Horus etc., apparently. Looks like Ullikummi more likely refers to Ullikummi, a stone monster in Mesopotamian mythology. I guess Ratatosk the squirrel, by contrast, falls under the occident part of the work.
The peer-reviewed book, is by the late assyriologist, linguist and translator Igor Diakonov; formerly senior research scholar of ancient history at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Leningrad Academy of Sciences. He was brought up in Norway—perhaps explaining the inclusion of Ratatosk. I've re-read the article: Reading between the lines of the review a bit, the reviewer found the work very abstract, carefully deeming it "challenging". We don't know how much Diakonov devotes to Ratatoskr in the chapter, but, given the broad scope of the work he probably gives it only a passing mention; it seems unlikely it will assist here. –Whitehorse1 04:21, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

A couple of sources discussed etymology/philology of ratatoskr (somewhat ramblingly I thought). Some of the material could be useful.

Grimm, Jacob - Teutonic Mythology Vol. 2

The squirrel Ratatoskr1 runs up and down, trying to sow discord between the snake and the eagle who is perched aloft. The eagle's name is not given, he is a bird of great knowledge and sagacity; betwixt his eyes sits a hawk Veðrfölnir.
1 The word contains rata (elabi, permeare), Goth, vratôn, and perh. taska, pl. töskur, pera: peram permeans? Wolfram in Parz. G51, 13 has 'wenken als ein eichorn,' dodging like a squirrel. The squirrel, is still an essential feature in the popular notion of a forest, conf. RA. 497 and the catching of squirrels at Easter (supra p. 616), perhaps for old heathen uses.

Mitchell, B. W. "In the Shadow of His Tail". The Classical Weekly, Vol. 6, No. 26 (May 10, 1913), pp. 202-206. Classical Association of the Atlantic States.

(Actually this seemed to cover, uhm, squirrels through the ages; it discussed Ratatoskr in one part.)[snip]

Sturtevant, Albert Morey (1956). "Three Old Norse Words: "Gamban, Ratatoskr", and "Gymir"". Scandinavian Studies, Iss. 28 (1956), pp. 109–114. art. ID: 3234-1956-028-00-000007. (C) 2000, Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study.

Few paragraphs on etymology of ratatoskr.

My keyword search turned up a few non English-language results, too – generally Swedish or Norwegian. I'll take a guess you might be familiar with one or more of the languages. I... have my doubts some of these relate to the topic at hand. (I can't read Scandinavian languages.) I don't have access to the sources themselves, myself. It can't hurt to mention them, if only to rule them out.

  • Ratatosk. (2000). Periodical; Swedish. Eskilstuna: Ratatosk. OCLC: 185300306
  • Telge fylking. (1991). Periodical; Swedish. Ratatosk. Söertälje: Telge fylking. OCLC: 186656513
  • Kaldestad, Per Olav; (1995). 'Book; Norwegian. 'Ratatosk Dramatisk fabel inspirert av norrøn mytologi. Oslo: Samlaget. ISBN: 82-521-4593-0; 978-82-521-4593-9. OCLC: 263709498
  • Ratatosk: Fritt forum för nordisk arkeologi. (1996). Periodical; Swedish. Upplands Väsby: Arkeologikonsult R Blidmo. (note(s): Ej utgiven 1997-2000. Vilande.) ISSN: 1401-372X; other format's ISSN: 1401-3754. OCLC: 185372943
  • Brunius, Teddy. (2002). Ratatosk: Ōvningar i praktisk filosofi. Mörbylånga: Ed. Laokoon; Per Ekström-museet, Q-press. OCLC: 186072274
I'll have at look at this on Wednesday. –Holt (TC) 09:19, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
From what I can tell, these are quite unrelated to our studies. I didn't get a single hit on the first two periodicals, though, you must be using a powerful search engine :) –Holt (TC) 22:36, 18 February 2009 (UTC)
Indeed. :) Grateful thanks to you and Haukurth below, Holt. We can mark these as ruled out. –Whitehorse1 04:21, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. Even the titles of the last three seem to indicate that we are talking about things inspired by the mythology rather than about the mythology. Haukur (talk) 22:45, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Other GA areas[edit]

Images. Two relevant images, both free, are used – excellent.

  • One suggestion: maybe provide an in-caption translation of the Icelandic script in the 1st image.
  • This may will, unquestionably, seem picky, but the European Red Squirrel in the photo (probably due to the narrow branch and close zoom) looks enormous – preternaturally so. Might I suggest substituting any of the pics from the red squirrel article you have wikilinked in the caption? Naturally (a term ill-suited to our seemingly-enormous-thighed tree-dwelling red friend), this point doesn't affect the GAR outcome in any way.

Your article meets other criteria such as those of neutrality & stability.

I'll place the review on hold for a while now, to allow time to look over the suggestions. Thanks,  –Whitehorse1 16:24, 14 February 2009 (UTC)

Regarding the picture, there are a few reasons I chose this particular image:
  1. The red squirrel is on an evergreen tree. Yggdrasil is described as an evergreen (yet it also described as an ash and there are theories about it being a yew).
  2. It's a red squirrel in an evergreen tree in Norway. There are no squirrels in Iceland (which explains the horned and green squirrel above I guess?) and Iceland was colonized from Norway. So I figure the color of the squirrel or the squirrel-size (or what have you) is probably the closest we have there to whatever the original author had in mind.
So, basically, I went for the closest thing to the lore I could find on Commons. Of course, you are welcome to swap it out if you find some other squirrel picture that that is more appropriate lore-wise. Especially if it's wearing a really small hat. :bloodofox: (talk) 09:45, 15 February 2009 (UTC)
Found lots of lovely pictures but no free-use ones, so this fellow it is. –Whitehorse1 04:21, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Final comments[edit]

I suppose there's not much academics can write about the squirrel—given it's a minor character. Nonetheless, you've pulled together what's available—even expanding the page during the review, and produced a nice little article.

(Incidentally, I added a symbolism-related point from H.R Davidson, about Ratatoskr's gnawing enabling Yggdrasil's destruction–re‑growth cycle. Please feel free to rework/remove if you feel it doesn't fit.)

The article meets all the GA criteria in my view. Consequently, I'm pleased to pass this as a Good Article. Thank you for your patience (sorry I took so long over this!), thoughtful contributions from all involved, and continued commitment to building quality Norse mythology articles. –-Whitehorse1 13:46, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

I'll continue adding information as I find it over time. As you've seen, there isn't a whole lot of information for Ratatoskr, but that isn't at all uncommon for Germanic mythology in general. Your review was, as usual, excellent, and I appreciate your thoroughness, attitude, and your contributions. The delay was actually helpful as I also had to be away for an extended period. Thanks and great job everyone! :bloodofox: (talk) 18:05, 24 February 2009 (UTC)