Vikings: Athelstan’s 10 best quotes
In Vikings, no one pushes the theme of religion better than Athelstan. The zigzagging life of the soft-spoken character sees him go from being the only surviving Anglo-Saxon monk at Lindisfarne Monastery to that of a slave to a trusted advisor to Christian and Nordic rulers. Aside from his adventurous life, Athelstan also has some of the juiciest dialogue on the show.
Athelstan’s quotes tend to be inspired by a number of things, including his friendship with Ragnar Lothrbok and King Ecbert, his respect for God, his ability to accurately judge people’s personalities as well as his dilemma regarding people. Nordic beliefs and Christianity. Whether Athelstan is happy, sad or worried, he will always find something interesting to say.
ten “In the gentle rain fall from the sky I hear my God. But in the thunder I still hear Thor.”
After Athelstan gets captured by the Anglo-Saxons and begins aiding one of the best kings in Vikings, Ecbert, he is sent to Ragnar to inform him of the terms of peace. Ragnar, who still loves him, asks him if he has renounced Nordic beliefs and returned to Christianity. The monk admits that he is in conflict.
Athelstan’s dilemma is understandable because King Ecbert treated it so well. The Ruler of Wessex stopped his crucifixion and asked for his opinion on many key issues. Ragnar, on the other hand, saved him from being slaughtered at the monastery. The reference to Thor may be foreign to some, but Athelstan is simply referring to the Norse god. According to Norse religion, thunder always means that the god Thor is beating his hammer.
9 “He’s like you.”
Athelstan uses the simplest of words to introduce Ragnar to King Ecbert. He has lived with the two men for some time and therefore has a clear understanding of their personalities.
At first glance, Ragnar and King Ecbert may not look alike. One is Northman, the other is Anglo-Saxon. One is a king, the other a count. One believes in Odin, the other worships God. What the two men share is ambition, curiosity, reasonableness, and the ability to see the big picture. This is the reason why they always come out victorious over their opponents and the reason why they always respect each other, even when fate prevents them from becoming friends.
8 “This city is impregnable. “
Before the first Paris raid, Athelstan explains to Ragnar what the city looks like. He builds a representation of the capital Frankia using sand and water, showing Ragnar where the Seine is and where the walls and towers are. According to his assessment, there is no way the Northmen could get in.
It comes as no shock that Ragnar dismisses Athelstan’s concerns that Paris is too fortified. He has always been a confident man. For him, the priest has his eye and his mind for religion, not for battle. Ragnar feels like he knows better but Athelstan is sort of right. Paris is like nowhere else Ragnar has never raid before. This is proven in actual raids where the Northerners end up being defeated.
7 “God would know.”
When Ragnar takes Athelstan as a slave after the first raid west, he grants him access to everything he has. At one point, he and Lagertha invite her to their bed so they can have sex together. Athelstan refuses because he took a vow of celibacy as a monk. Lagertha wonders who would know he had sex and Athelst and has an appropriate response.
At this point in Athelstan’s life he is more religious than ever since he has never been exposed to a life outside the monastery. However, he becomes more and more corrupt as the series progresses, especially after becoming buddies with King Ecbert. In season 3, he has no problem fornicating with Judith, even though she is a married woman.
6 “I was blind, but now I see. I was dead, but I am reborn.”
Athelstan’s swan song in the series sees him receiving a sign from heaven in the form of a shining ray of light. It knocks him down in the biblical way and he takes it as a warning from God. Quickly, he renames himself, throws away his Norse arm ring, and declares himself born again.
It’s yet another moment that highlights Athelstan’s confrontational nature. He doesn’t know whether he should worship Odin or God. This time, his indecision costs him as Floki sees him throw the arm ring. The former boatbuilder has always hated the monk and he doesn’t respond very well to Athelstan’s actions. He considers him a double agent, so he goes ahead and kills him.
5 “I came back because you and Ragnar are all my family.”
After the captured Rollo is returned to Ragnar by King Ecbert to mark their new truce, Athelstan decides to switch sides once more. He tells the Viking warriors that they are his real family.
Athelstan is clearly afraid of missing out on the good on both sides. He fears the Vikings will see him as a traitor if he chooses to stay with Ecbert. They are the ones who chose not to kill him in the first place. His words are sincere, but only for a moment. Nothing is permanent with Athelstan.
4 “Mercy. Mercy. Mercy.”
Athelstan’s disappearance is one of the Vikings deaths that fans saw coming but it still weighs heavily on Ragnar. Shortly after this happens, the monk appears in the dreams of Ragnar and King Ecbert. In Ragnar, he repeats a word three times: “Mercy”.
Through the dream, the monk begs Ragnar not to avenge his death. Repetition is for emphasis. What Floki did was wrong, but as a Christian Athelstan has always learned to forgive. He doesn’t want Ragnar to lose another close ally, whose skills are part of the reason he’s become a great conqueror.
3 “For everything there is a season and a time for everything under the sun.”
Haraldson, one of the Vikings’ most unfriendly counts, stages a vicious attack on Ragnar’s house in the first season, leaving the Warrior badly injured. Now a fugitive wanted for insubordination, Ragnar’s future looks bleak. As he is treated by Floki, Athelstan assures him that bad times will come.
This is a quote Athelstan borrows from Ecclesiastes 3: 1. The monk has mastered the pages of the holy book and he knows the exact chapter and verses to use to appease Ragnar. He’s right because Ragnar soon takes control of his destiny by challenging Earl Haraldson to a “kill or be killed” duel in which he wins.
2 “Whatever happens, don’t let Ragnar die. Nor King Ecbert again.”
Before Ragnar and King Ecbert come to an agreement, Athelstan roots for both rulers as he is close to both of them. He begs God not to let any of them die.
Athelstan’s prayers are answered because no harm comes to Ragnar and Athelstan. Instead, it’s Rollo who is seriously injured in battle, much to the monk’s relief. Athelstan must also die before the two men in the future. Although his death is sad, it is better for him as his attachment to the two men suggests that he would have been unable to deal with grief in the event that one of them passed away before them.
1 “I’m surprised you don’t know as much as I do.”
As Athelstan and King Ecbert discuss the Romans and their accomplishments, the monk wonders how the king knows so little about the great conquerors. After all, he spent his younger years at the court of Charlamagne in Paris.
King Ecbert is generally brilliant, but his lack of knowledge when it comes to the Roman Empire is indeed baffling. The Romans had a great influence on Frankia, which is why Ecbert should have heard about it when he was a little boy in Paris. Logically, as a king who has accomplished so much, Ecbert should also know a lot more than a monk.
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