Real Vikings were people forced into the sea by the diminishing prospects within their own homeland. Vikings likely loved the spoils of being a Viking, but hated being a Viking. They raided and pillaged so they could get enough spoils that they no longer had to.
The biggest gangsters, pirates, mobsters... they usually find a way to go legit as quickly as possible, or they become as quasi-legit as possibe. They can be addicted to their successes, sure. They might even develop a sort of false-pride in what they do. A self-serving ethos meant to give them the mental drive and focus to get through it the way soldiers may declare they love being a soldier during the most brutal and horrific campaigns in order to keep up their own morale or focus and the morale of others. Even though one might not like shooting birds, one can become zealous in it’s practice when it gives them the social and financial honors that the skilled and successful tend to get.
When people fantasize about being these things, it seems they have misunderstood greatly that the people who lived those lives did so to escape it as soon as possible. In other words a Viking suffered being a Viking in order to attain what they really wanted.
These types usually have the cathartic element of representing a violent break or departure from the confines of society or civilization- were a person paves their way through a world were all their pent up rage or frustration is transmuted to success and freedom. It embodies escapism, self-realization, adventure, and self-determination.
The last one resonates. Why do we lionize these brutal forms of life? Maybe it’s because we all would be willing to live harder lives if we knew we were the masters of it. That we could endure great pains, loss, or suffering or deal it in kind if it was our determination to do so rather than our resignation to accept the roles offered by others in our conventional lives.
Highly debatable, of course, but a thought I found interesting. I imagine I’d only like being a pirate if I was the Captain.