History of the World: Berserkers - Not Just For MMORPGS

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When the going got tough among the Vikings of yore, the tough got... well... certifiably nuts. As in "berserk", which has been translated as "bare of shirt" or "bear-skinned." Both descriptions may have been applicable to a group of Viking warriors who became known as Berserkers. These guys often went into battle without armor and sometimes even without clothes. But they were so pumped up with murderous rage that they were said to take on the spirit of a bear or a wolf and possess superhuman strength - which, some folklorists say, is the basis of the werewolf legend.

Berserkers were usually so caught up in battle that they didn't feel pain and could continue fighting even with what would be a fatal wound to most. We're still not sure how they got into such a state, but there are basically two schools of thought: either they had a really amazing pre-fight ritual that got their adrenaline really skyrocketing, or they were using some sort of a hallucinogenic or psychadelic substance that altered their state.

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