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"Odin, the Wanderer" (1886) by Georg von Rosen.
Odin from Lejre (900 AD). Silver figurine found by Roskilde Museum excavations near Lejre, Denmark, September 2009

Odin (pronounced /ˈoʊdɨn/ from Old Norse Óðinn), is considered the chief god in Norse paganism and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon Wōden and the Old High German Wotan, it is descended from Proto-Germanic *Wōđinaz or *Wōđanaz. "Odin" is generally accepted as the modern English form of the name, although, in some cases, older forms may be used or preferred. His name is related to ōðr, meaning "fury, excitation," besides "mind," or "poetry." His role, like many of the Norse gods, is complex. He is considered a principal member of the Æsir (Norse Pantheon) and is associated with wisdom, war, battle, and death, and also magic, poetry, prophecy, victory, and the hunt.

Contents

Origins

A depiction of Odin entering Valhalla riding on Sleipnir from the Tjängvide image stone.
The 7th century Tängelgarda stone shows Odin leading a troop of warriors all bearing rings. Valknut symbols are drawn beneath his horse, which is depicted with four legs.

Worship of Odin may date to Proto-Germanic paganism. The Roman historian Tacitus may refer to Odin when he talks of Mercury. The reason is that, like Mercury, Odin was regarded as Psychopompos, "the leader of souls."

As Odin is closely connected with a horse and spear, and transformation/shape shifting into animal shapes, an alternative theory of origin contends that Odin, or at least some of his key characteristics, may have arisen just prior to the sixth century as a nightmareish horse god (Echwaz), later signified by the eight-legged Sleipnir. Some support for Odin as a latecomer to the Scandinavian Norse pantheon can be found in the Sagas where, for example, at one time he is thrown out of Asgard by the other gods — a seemingly unlikely tale for a well-established "all father." Scholars who have linked Odin with the "Death God" template include E. A. Ebbinghaus, Jan de Vries and Thor Templin. The later two also link Loki and Odin as being one-and-the-same until the early Norse Period.

Scandinavian Óðinn emerged from Proto-Norse *Wōdin during the Migration period, artwork of this time (on gold bracteates) depicting the earliest scenes that can be aligned with the High Medieval Norse mythological texts. The context of the new elites emerging in this period aligns with Snorri's tale of the indigenous Vanir who were eventually replaced by the Æsir, intruders from the Continent.[1]

Parallels between Odin and Celtic Lugus have often been pointed out: both are intellectual gods, commanding magic and poetry. Both have ravens and a spear as their attributes. Julius Caesar (de bello Gallico, 6.17.1) mentions Mercury as the chief god of Celtic religion. A likely context of the diffusion of elements of Celtic ritual into Germanic culture is that of the Chatti, who lived at the Celtic-Germanic boundary in Hesse during the final centuries before the Common Era. (It should be remembered that many Indo-Europeanists hypothesize that Odin in his Proto-Germanic form was not the chief god, but that he only gradually replaced Týr during the Migration period.)

Adam of Bremen

A detail from runestone G 181 in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm. The three men are interpreted as Odin, Thor and Freyr.

Written around 1080, one of the oldest written sources on pre-Christian Scandinavian religious practices is Adam of Bremen's Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum. Adam claimed to have access to first-hand accounts on pagan practices in Sweden. His description of the Temple at Uppsala gives some details on the god.

In hoc templo, quod totum ex auro paratum est, statuas trium deorum veneratur populus, ita ut potentissimus eorum Thor in medio solium habeat triclinio; hinc et inde locum possident Wodan et Fricco. Quorum significationes eiusmodi sunt: 'Thor', inquiunt, 'praesidet in aere, qui tonitrus et fulmina, ventos ymbresque, serena et fruges gubernat. Alter Wodan, id est furor, bella gerit, hominique ministrat virtutem contra inimicos. Tertius est Fricco, pacem voluptatemque largiens mortalibus'. Cuius etiam simulacrum fingunt cum ingenti priapo.

Gesta Hammaburgensis 26, Waitz' edition

In this temple, entirely decked out in gold, the people worship the statues of three gods in such wise that the mightiest of them, Thor, occupies a throne in the middle of the chamber; Wotan and Frikko have places on either side. The significance of these gods is as follows: Thor, they say, presides over the air, which governs the thunder and lightning, the winds and rains, fair weather and crops. The other, Wotan—that is, the Furious—carries on war and imparts to man strength against his enemies. The third is Frikko, who bestows peace and pleasure on mortals. His likeness, too, they fashion with an immense phallus.

Gesta Hammaburgensis 26, Tschan's translation

Poetic Edda

"Odin and the Völva" (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.
"Odin Rides to Hel" (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.
The sacrifice of Odin (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.
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Völuspá

In the poem Völuspá, a völva tells Odin of numerous events reaching into the far past and into the future, including his own doom. The Völva describes creation, recounts the birth of Odin by his father Borr and his mother Bestla and how Odin and his brothers formed Midgard from the sea. She further describes the creation of the first human beings - Ask and Embla - by Hœnir, Lóðurr and Odin.

Amongst various other events, the Völva mentions Odin's involvement in the Æsir-Vanir War, the oedipism of Odin's eye at Mímir's Well, the death of his son Baldr. She describes how Odin is slain by the wolf Fenrir at Ragnarök, the subsequent avenging of Odin and death of Fenrir by his son Víðarr, how the world disappears into flames and, yet, how the earth again rises from the sea. She then relates how the surviving Æsir remember the deeds of Odin.

Lokasenna

In the poem Lokasenna, the conversation of Odin and Loki started with Odin trying to defend Gefjun and ended with his wife, Frigg, defending him. In Lokasenna, Loki derides Odin for practicing seid (witchcraft), implying it was women's work. Another example of this may be found in the Ynglinga saga where Snorri opines that men who used seid were ergi or unmanly.

Hávamál

In Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál, Odin is attributed with discovering the runes. He was hung from the world tree, Yggdrasil, while pierced by his own spear for nine days and nights, in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds. Nine is a significant number in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes.

One of Odin's names is Ygg, and the Norse name for the World Ash —Yggdrasil—therefore could mean "Ygg's (Odin's) horse." Another of Odin's names is Hangatýr, the god of the hanged. Sacrifices, human or otherwise, in prehistoric times were commonly hung in or from trees, often transfixed by spears.

Hárbarðsljóð

In Hárbarðsljóð, Odin, disguised as the ferryman Hárbarðr, engages his son Thor, unaware of the disguise, in a long argument. Thor is attempting to get around a large lake and Hárbarðr refuses to ferry him.

Prose Edda

A depiction of Odin riding Sleipnir from an eighteenth century Icelandic manuscript.
Odin with his ravens and weapons (MS SÁM 66, eighteenth century)

Odin had three residences in Asgard. First was Gladsheim, a vast hall where he presided over the twelve Diar or Judges, whom he had appointed to regulate the affairs of Asgard. Second, Valaskjálf, built of solid silver, in which there was an elevated place, Hlidskjalf, from his throne on which he could perceive all that passed throughout the whole earth. Third was Valhalla (the hall of the fallen), where Odin received the souls of the warriors killed in battle, called the Einherjar. The souls of women warriors, and those strong and beautiful women whom Odin favored, became Valkyries, who gather the souls of warriors fallen in battle (the Einherjar), as these would be needed to fight for him in the battle of Ragnarök. They took the souls of the warriors to Valhalla. Valhalla has five hundred and forty gates, and a vast hall of gold, hung around with golden shields, and spears and coats of mail.

Odin has a number of magical artifacts associated with him: the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target; a magical gold ring (Draupnir), from which every ninth night eight new rings appear; and two ravens Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory), who fly around Earth daily and report the happenings of the world to Odin in Valhalla at night. He also owned Sleipnir, an octopedal horse, who was given to Odin by Loki, and the severed head of Mímir, which foretold the future. He also commands a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki, to whom he gives his food in Valhalla since he consumes nothing but mead or wine. From his throne, Hlidskjalf (located in Valaskjalf), Odin could see everything that occurred in the universe. The Valknut (slain warrior's knot) is a symbol associated with Odin. It consists of three interlaced triangles.

Odin is an ambivalent deity. Old Norse (Viking Age) connotations of Odin lie with "poetry, inspiration" as well as with "fury, madness and the wanderer." Odin sacrificed his eye (which eye he sacrificed is unclear) at Mímir's spring in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages. Odin gives to worthy poets the mead of inspiration, made by the dwarfs, from the vessel Óð-rœrir.[2]

Odin is associated with the concept of the Wild Hunt, a noisy, bellowing movement across the sky, leading a host of slain warriors.

Consistent with this, Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda depicts Odin as welcoming the great, dead warriors who have died in battle into his hall, Valhalla, which, when literally interpreted, signifies the hall of the slain. The fallen, the einherjar, are assembled and entertained by Odin in order that they in return might fight for, and support, the gods in the final battle of the end of Earth, Ragnarök. Snorri also wrote that Freyja receives half of the fallen in her hall Folkvang.

He is also a god of war, appearing throughout Norse myth as the bringer of victory. In the Norse sagas, Odin sometimes acts as the instigator of wars, and is said to have been able to start wars by simply throwing down his spear Gungnir, and/or sending his valkyries, to influence the battle toward the end that he desires. The Valkyries are Odin's beautiful battle maidens that went out to the fields of war to select and collect the worthy men who died in battle to come and sit at Odin's table in Valhalla, feasting and battling until they had to fight in the final battle, Ragnarök. Odin would also appear on the battle-field, sitting upon his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, with his two ravens, one on each shoulder, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), and two wolves (Geri and Freki) on each side of him.

Odin is also associated with trickery, cunning, and deception. Most sagas have tales of Odin using his cunning to overcome adversaries and achieve his goals, such as swindling the blood of Kvasir from the dwarves.

On September 2 2009 an amateur-archaeologist found a small figurine of silver near Lejre in Denmark, it has been dated to around 900 AD. The figurine was only 2 centimeters tall, and it shows Odin on his throne, flanked by Hugin and Munin. All other known contemporary depictions of Odin in Norse art show him in the role as a warrior or hunter, and thus it is the first evidence from the Viking Age to confirm this side of the Edda myth about Odin.[3]

Prologue

Snorri Sturluson feels compelled to give a rational account of the Æsir in the prologue of his Prose Edda. In this scenario, Snorri speculates that Odin and his peers were originally refugees from the Anatolian city of Troy, folk etymologizing Æsir as derived from the word Asia. In any case, Snorri's writing (particularly in Heimskringla) tries to maintain an essentially scholastic neutrality. That Snorri was correct was one of the last of Thor Heyerdahl's archeoanthropological theories, forming the basis for his Jakten på Odin. Odin was the first of the Aesir gods in Norse Mythology. (B.K.)

Gylfaginning

"Odin's last words to Baldr" (1908) by W.G. Collingwood.

According to the Prose Edda, Odin, the first and most powerful of the Æsir, was a son of Bestla and Borr and brother of Vili and Vé. With these brothers, he cast down the frost giant Ymir and made Earth from Ymir's body. The three brothers are often mentioned together. "Wille" is the German word for "will" (English), "Weh" is the German word (Gothic wai) for "woe" (English: great sorrow, grief, misery) but is more likely related to the archaic German "Wei" meaning 'sacred.'

Odin has fathered numerous children. With his wife, Frigg, he fathered his doomed son Baldr and fathered the blind god Höðr. By the personification of earth, Fjörgyn, Odin was the father of his most famous son, Thor. By the giantess Gríðr, Odin was the father of Vídar, and by Rinda he was father of Váli. Also, many royal families claimed descent from Odin through other sons. For traditions about Odin's offspring, see Sons of Odin.

Odin and his brothers, Vili and Ve, are attributed with slaying Ymir, the Ancient Giant, to form Midgard. From Ymir's flesh, the brothers made the earth, and from his shattered bones and teeth they made the rocks and stones. From Ymir's blood, they made the rivers and lakes. Ymir's skull was made into the sky, secured at four points by four dwarfs named East, West, North, and South. From Ymir's brains, the three Gods shaped the clouds, whereas Ymir's eye-brows became a barrier between Jotunheim (giant's home) and Midgard, the place where men now dwell. Odin and his brothers are also attributed with making humans.

After having made earth from Ymir's flesh, the three brothers came across two logs (or an ash and an elm tree). Odin gave them breath and life; Vili gave them brains and feelings; and Ve gave them hearing and sight. The first man was Ask and the first woman was Embla.

Odin was said to have learned the mysteries of seid from the Vanic goddess and völva Freyja, despite the unwarriorly connotations of using magic.

Skáldskaparmál

"Odin with Gunnlöð" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts.

In section 2 of Skáldskaparmál, Odin's quest for wisdom can also be seen in his work as a farmhand for a summer, for Baugi, and his seduction of Gunnlod in order to obtain the Mead of Poetry.

In section 5 of Skáldskaparmál, the origins of some of Odin's possessions are described.

Sagas of Icelanders

Ynglinga saga

According to the Ynglinga saga:

Odin had two brothers, the one called Ve, the other Vili, and they governed the kingdom when he was absent. It happened once when Odin had gone to a great distance, and had been so long away that the people Of Asia doubted if he would ever return home, that his two brothers took it upon themselves to divide his estate; but both of them took his wife Frigg to themselves. Odin soon after returned home, and took his wife back.

In Ynglinga saga, Odin is considered the 2nd Mythological king of Sweden, succeeding Gylfi and was succeeded by Njörðr.

Further, in Ynglinga saga, Odin is described as venturing to Mímir's Well, near Jötunheimr, the land of the giants; not as Odin, but as Vegtam the Wanderer, clothed in a dark blue cloak and carrying a traveler's staff. To drink from the Well of Wisdom, Odin had to sacrifice his eye (which eye he sacrificed is unclear), symbolizing his willingness to gain the knowledge of the past, present and future. As he drank, he saw all the sorrows and troubles that would fall upon men and the gods. He also saw why the sorrow and troubles had to come to men.

Mímir accepted Odin's eye and it sits today at the bottom of the Well of Wisdom as a sign that the father of the gods had paid the price for wisdom.

Other Sagas

"Odhin" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts.

According to Njáls saga: Hjalti Skeggiason, an Icelander newly converted to Christianity, wished to express his contempt for the native gods, so he sang:

"Ever will I Gods blaspheme
Freyja methinks a dog does seem,
Freyja a dog? Aye! Let them be
Both dogs together Odin and she!"[4]

Hjalti was found guilty of blasphemy for his infamous verse and he ran to Norway with his father-in-law, Gizur the White. Later, with Olaf Tryggvason's support, Gizur and Hjalti came back to Iceland to invite those assembled at the Althing to convert to Christianity (which happened in 999).[5][6]

The Saga of King Olaf Tryggvason, composed around 1300, describes that following King Olaf Tryggvason's orders, to prove their piety, people must insult and ridicule major heathen deities when they are newly converted into Christianity. Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld, who was reluctantly converted from paganism to Christianity by Olaf, also had to make a poem to forsake pagan deities. Below is an example:

The whole race of men to win
Odin's grace has wrought poems
(I recall the exquisite
works of my forebears);
but with sorrow, for well did
Viðrir's [Odin's] power please the poet,
do I conceive hate for the first husband of
Frigg [Odin], now I serve Christ. (Lausavísur 10, Whaley's translation)

Flateyjarbók

Odin (1825-1827) by H. E. Freund.

Sörla þáttr is a short narrative from a later and extended version of the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason[7] found in the Flateyjarbók manuscript, which was written and compiled by two Christian priests, Jon Thordson and Magnus Thorhalson, from the late 14th[8] to the 15th century.[9]

"Freyja was a human in Asia and was the favorite concubine of Odin, King of Asialand. When this woman wanted to buy a golden necklace (no name given) forged by four dwarves (named Dvalinn, Alfrik, Berling, and Grer), she offered them gold and silver but they replied that they would only sell it to her if she would lie a night by each of them. She came home afterward with the necklace and kept silent as if nothing happened. But a man called Loki somehow knew it, and came to tell Odin. King Odin commanded Loki to steal the necklace, so Loki turned into a fly to sneak into Freyja's bower and stole it. When Freyja found her necklace missing, she came to ask king Odin. In exchange for it, Odin ordered her to make two kings, each served by twenty kings, fight forever unless some christened men so brave would dare to enter the battle and slay them. She said yes, and got that necklace back. Under the spell, king Högni and king Heðinn battled for one hundred and forty-three years, as soon as they fell down they had to stand up again and fight on. But in the end, the great Christian lord Olaf Tryggvason arrived with his brave christened men, and whoever slain by a Christian would stay dead. Thus the pagan curse was finally dissolved by the arrival of Christianity. After that, the noble man, king Olaf, went back to his realm."[10]

Gesta Danorum

Lee Lawrie, Odin (1939). Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.

In the 13th century, Saxo Grammaticus, in the service of Archbishop Absalon in Denmark, presented in his Latin language work Gesta Danorum euhemerized accounts of Thor and Odin as cunning sorcerers that, Saxo states, had fooled the people of Norway, Sweden and Denmark into their recognition as gods:

"There were of old certain men versed in sorcery, Thor, namely, and Odin, and many others, who were cunning in contriving marvellous sleights; and they, winning the minds of the simple, began to claim the rank of gods. For, in particular, they ensnared Norway, Sweden and Denmark in the vainest credulity, and by prompting these lands to worship them, infected them with their imposture. The effects of their deceit spread so far, that all other men adored a sort of divine power in them, and, thinking them either gods or in league with gods, offered up solemn prayers to these inventors of sorceries, and gave to blasphemous error the honour due to religion. Some say that the gods, whom our countrymen worshipped, shared only the title with those honoured by Greece or Latium, but that, being in a manner nearly equal to them in dignity, they borrowed from them the worship as well as the name. This must be sufficient discourse upon the deities of Danish antiquity. I have expounded this briefly for the general profit, that my readers may know clearly to what worship in its heathen superstition our country has bowed the knee." (Gesta Danorum, Book I)[11]

Saxo also wrote a story about how Odin's wife, Frigg, slept with a servant to obtain a device to steal Odin's gold.

"At this time there was one Odin, who was credited over all Europe with the honour, which was false, of godhead, but used more continually to sojourn at Upsala; and in this spot, either from the sloth of the inhabitants or from its own pleasantness, he vouchsafed to dwell with somewhat especial constancy.

The kings of the North, desiring more zealously to worship his deity, embounded his likeness in a golden image; and this statue, which betokened their homage, they transmitted with much show of worship to Byzantium, fettering even the effigied arms with a serried mass of bracelets. Odin was overjoyed at such notoriety, and greeted warmly the devotion of the senders. But his queen Frigg, desiring to go forth more beautified, called smiths, and had the gold stripped from the statue.

Odin hanged them, and mounted the statue upon a pedestal, which by the marvellous skill of his art he made to speak when a mortal touched it. But still Frigg preferred the splendour of her own apparel to the divine honours of her husband, and submitted herself to the embraces of one of her servants; and it was by this man's device she broke down the image, and turned to the service of her private wantonness that gold which had been devoted to public idolatry. Little thought she of practicing unchastity, that she might the easier satisfy her greed, this woman so unworthy to be the consort of a god; but what should I here add, save that such a godhead was worthy of such a wife? So great was the error that of old befooled the minds of men.

Thus Odin, wounded by the double trespass of his wife, resented the outrage to his image as keenly as that to his bed; and, ruffled by these two stinging dishonours, took to an exile overflowing with noble shame, imagining so to wipe off the slur of his ignominy. At home, Frigg went with a certain Mith-Othin and took over Odin's properties, until Odin came back and drove them away. Frigg's death later cleared Odin's name and he regained his reputation." (Gesta Danorum, Book I)[11]

There's also an account about how Odin was exiled by the Latin gods at Byzantium:

But the gods, whose chief seat was then at Byzantium, (Asgard), seeing that Odin had tarnished the fair name of godhead by divers injuries to its majesty, thought that he ought to be removed from their society. And they had him not only ousted from the headship, but outlawed and stripped of all worship and honour at home...[12]

Blót

"Odin and Sleipnir" (1911) by John Bauer.

It is attested in primary sources that sacrifices were made to Odin during blóts. Adam of Bremen relates that every ninth year, people assembled from all over Sweden to sacrifice at the Temple at Uppsala. Male slaves and males of each species were sacrificed and hung from the branches of the trees.

As the Swedes had the right not only to elect their king but also to depose him, the sagas relate that both King Domalde and King Olof Trätälja were sacrificed to Odin after years of famine. It has been argued that the killing of a combatant in battle was to give a sacrificial offering to Odin. The fickleness of Odin in war was well-documented; in Lokasenna, Loki taunts Odin for his inconsistency.

Sometimes sacrifices were made to Odin to bring about changes in circumstance. A notable example is the sacrifice of King Víkar that is detailed in Gautrek's Saga and in Saxo Grammaticus' account of the same event. Sailors in a fleet being blown off course drew lots to sacrifice to Odin that he might abate the winds. The king himself drew the lot and was hanged.

Sacrifices were probably also made to Odin at the beginning of summer (mid April, actually—summer being reckoned essentially the same as did the Celt, at Beltene, Calan Mai [Welsh], which is Mayday—hence as summer's "herald"), since Ynglinga saga states one of the great festivals of the calendar is at sumri, þat var sigrblót "in summer, for victory;" Odin is consistently referred to throughout the Norse mythos as the bringer of victory. The Ynglinga saga also details the sacrifices made by the Swedish king Aun, to whom it was revealed that he would lengthen his life by sacrificing one of his sons every ten years; nine of his ten sons died this way. When he was about to sacrifice his last son Egil, the Swedes stopped him.

Persisting beliefs and folklore

Odin continued to hunt in Swedish folklore. Illustration by August Malmström.

The Christianization of Scandinavia was slow, and it worked its way downwards from the nobility. Among commoners, beliefs in Odin lingered and legends would be told until modern times.

The last battle where Scandinavians attributed a victory to Odin was the Battle of Lena in 1208.[13] The former Swedish king Sverker had arrived with a large Danish army, and the Swedes led by their new king Eric were outnumbered. It is said that Odin then appeared riding on Sleipnir and he positioned himself in front of the Swedish battle formation. He led the Swedish charge and gave them victory.

The Bagler sagas, written in the thirteenth century concerning events in the first two decades of the thirteenth century, tells a story of a one-eyed rider with a broad-brimmed hat and a blue coat who asks a smith to shoe his horse. The suspicious smith asks where the stranger stayed during the previous night. The stranger mentions places so distant that the smith does not believe him. The stranger says that he has stayed for a long time in the north and taken part in many battles, but now he is going to Sweden. When the horse is shod, the rider mounts his horse and says "I am Odin" to the stunned smith, and rides away. The next day, the battle of Lena took place. The context of this tale in the saga is that a peace-treaty has been signed in Norway, and Odin, a god of war, no longer has a place there.

Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar, written in the 1260s, describes how, at some point in the 1230s, Skule Baardsson has the skald Snorri Sturluson compose a poem comparing one of Skule's enemies to Odin, describing them both as bringers of strife and disagreement. These episodes do not necessarily imply a continued belief in Odin as a god, but show clearly that his name was still widely known at this time.

Scandinavian folklore also maintained a belief in Odin as the leader of the Wild Hunt. His main objective seems to have been to track down and kill a lady who could be the forest dweller huldran or skogsrået. In these accounts, Odin was typically a lone hunter, save for his two dogs.[14]

In late 19th century Danish folklore, an account of Odin as having hid in a cliff of Møen (modern Møn, Denmark) where his residence there is "still pointed out." At this time, he was referred to as the "Jætte (giant) from Uppsala" but "is now called Jön Upsal" and from this latter name comes the expression "Men jötten dog!" as opposed to the expression "Men Jös dog!" ("By Jesus!"). Outside his doorway a green spot is described on the otherwise white cliff; this is where he "goes out on behalf of nature". A man who "now lives in Copenhagen" is described as having once sailed along the cliff, having seen Jön toss out his "dirt" - a big cloud of dust was to be seen outside of his door. Several "still living people" have lost their way in Klinteskoven ("The Cliff Forest") and ended up in Jön Upsal's garden, that is said to be so big and wonderful that it is beyond any description. The garden is also in full bloom in midwinter. If one sets out to find this garden, it is impossible to find.[15]

Names

"Odin disguised as a Traveller" from 1914.

Odin was referred to by more than 200 names which hint at his various roles. He was Known as Yggr (terror) Sigfodr (father of Victory) and Alfodr (All Father) [16] in the skaldic and Eddic traditions of heiti and kennings, a poetic method of indirect reference, as in a riddle.

Some epithets establish Odin as a father god: Alföðr "all-father," "father of all;" Aldaföðr "father of men (or of the age);" Herjaföðr "father of hosts;" Sigföðr "father of victory;" Valföðr "father of the slain."

Eponymy

Many toponyms in Northern Europe where Germanic Tribes existed contain the name of *Wodanaz (Norse Odin, West Germanic Woden).

Wednesday is named after Woden, the English form of Odin (Old English Wēdnes dæg, "Woden's day"). It is an early Germanic translation of the Latin dies Mercurii ("Mercury's day").

Odin came to be used as a Norwegian male given name from the 19th century, originally in the context of the Romanticist Viking revival.

Modern influence

"Wotan takes leave of Brunhild" (1892) by Konrad Dielitz.

Art and literature

Odin appears (as "Wotan") in Richard Wagner's opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen. This has led to many portrayals based on Wagner's interpretation, although some are closer to pre-Wagner models.

In a letter of 1946 J.R.R. Tolkien stated that he thought of Gandalf as an "Odinic wanderer."[17] Other commentators have also compared Gandalf to Odin in his "Wanderer" guise – an old man with one eye, a long white beard, a wide brimmed hat, and a staff.[18]

In Ingmar Bergman’s 1960 film The Virgin Spring, where one of the main sources of narrative tension is the opposition between Christian and pagan faiths, several explicit references are made to Odin.

Germanic neopaganism

Odin, along with the other Germanic Gods and Goddesses, is recognized by Germanic neopagans. His Norse form is particularly acknowledged in Ásatrú, the "faith in the Æsir", an officially recognized religion in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Spain.[19]

References

  1. ^ Rundkvist, Martin (April 2003). Post festum. Solid gold in the Vendel Period.. http://www.algonet.se/~arador/postfestum.html. Retrieved 2008-07-06.  
  2. ^ Skaldskaparmal, in Edda. Anthony Faulkes, Trans., Ed. (London: Everyman, 1996).
  3. ^ Jyllands-Posten, "Sensationelt fund af Odin-figur", November 14 2009 (in Danish).
  4. ^ Njál's Saga or The Story of Burnt Njal, George W. DaSent transl. (1861).
  5. ^ Craigie, William Alexanger (1914). The Religion Of Ancient Scandinavia. http://books.google.com/books?id=sYZEZ9GiWqYC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Religion+Of+Ancient+Scandinavia#v=onepage&q=&f=false.  
  6. ^ T. Kendrick, "History of the Vikings" (1930), p.349, 350.
  7. ^ The Younger Edda. Rasmus B. Anderson transl. (1897) Chicago: Scott, Foresman & Co. (1901).
  8. ^ Lindow, John. Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs, pages 280-281. (2001) Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515382-0.
  9. ^ Rasmus B. Anderson, Introduction to the The Flatey Book. Norræna Society, London (1908).
  10. ^ This short story is also known as "The Saga of Högni and Hedinn". English translation can be found at Northvegr: Three Northern Love Stories and Other Tales.
  11. ^ a b Elton, Oliver (1905). The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus. New York: Norroena Society. http://omacl.org/DanishHistory/book1.html.  
  12. ^ Elton, Oliver (1905). The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus (Book III). New York: Norroena Society. http://omacl.org/DanishHistory/book3.html.  
  13. ^ Starbäck, Carl Georg, & Bäckström, Per Olof. Berättelser ur Svenska Historien. Stockholm: F. & G. Beijers Förlag (1885-86), Vol. 1, p. 325
  14. ^ Schön, Ebbe. (2004). Asa-Tors hammare, Gudar och jättar i tro och tradition. Fält & Hässler, Värnamo. ISBN 91-89660-41-2 pp. 201-205.
  15. ^ Kristensen, Evald Tang. (1980) Danske Sagn: Som De Har Lyd I Folkemunde, page 103. Nyt Nordisk Forlag Arnold Busck, Copenhagen. ISBN 87-17-02791-8
  16. ^ Harrison, D. & Svensson, K. (2007). Vikingaliv Fälth & Hässler, Värnamo. ISBN 978-91-27-35725-9 p. 63
  17. ^ Letters, no. 107.
  18. ^ Burns, Marjorie (2005). Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien's Middle-earth. University of Toronto Press. pp. 97. ISBN 0-8020-3806-9. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZGzMwxyoi5wC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Perilous+Realms:+Celtic+and+Norse+in+Tolkien%27s+Middle-earth#v=onepage&q=&f=false.  
  19. ^ Confesiones Minoritarias - MINISTERIO DE JUSTICIA

External links

Preceded by
Gylfi
Mythological king of Sweden Succeeded by
Njörðr


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ODIN, or Othin (0. Norse 661nn), the chief god of the Northern pantheon. He is represented as an old man with one eye. Frigg is his wife, and several of the gods, including Thor and Balder, are his sons. He is also said to have been the father of several legendary kings, and more than one princely family claimed descent from him. His exploits and adventures form the theme of a number of the Eddaic poems, and also of several stories in the prose Edda. In all these stories his character is distinguished rather by wisdom and cunning than by martial prowess, and reference is very frequently made to his skill in poetry and magic. In Ynglinga Saga he is represented as reigning in Sweden, where he established laws for his people. In notices relating to religious observances Odin appears chiefly as the giver of victory or as the god of the dead. He is frequently introduced in legendary sagas, generally in disguise, imparting secret instructions to his favourites or presenting them with weapons by which victory is assured. In return he receives the souls of the slain who in his palace, Valhalla, live a life of fighting and feasting, similar to that which has been their desire on earth. Human sacrifices were very frequently offered to Odin, especially prisoners taken in battle. The commonest method of sacrifice was by hanging the victim on a tree; and in the poem Hdvamfil the god himself is represented as sacrificed in this way. The worship of Odin seems to have prevailed chiefly, if not solely, in military circles, i.e. among princely families and the retinues of warriors attached to them. It is probable, however, that the worship of Odin was once common to most of the Teutonic peoples. To the Anglo-Saxons he was known as Woden and to the Germans as Wodan (Wuotan), which are the regular forms of the same name in those languages. It is largely owing to the peculiar character of this god and the prominent position which he occupies that the mythology of the north presents so striking a contrast to that of Greece.

See TEUTONIC PEOPLES, ad fin.; and WODEN. (H. M. C.)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

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Etymology

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From Old Norse Óðinn, akin to Old High German Wotan and Old English Wōden. From Proto-Germanic *Wōdinaz, derived from Proto-Germanic *wōþuz (rage, manic inspiration, furor poeticus), from Proto-Indo-European *wet-. Compare Old Norse óðr.

Pronunciation

Proper noun

Singular
Odin

Plural
-

Odin

  1. (Norse mythology) The supreme god of the Germanic and Norse pantheons, the leader of the Æsir, after whom Wednesday is named. The god of war, death, poetry, and wisdom, Odin is husband to Frigga and father of Balder, Hod, Hermod, Thor, and Tyr. Also known as Allfather, One-eyed, the Terrible One, and Father of Battle.
  2. (paganism) The god of wisdom, magic, poetry, and war in the modern pagan faith of Heathenry.

Synonyms

Anagrams


Norwegian

Proper noun

Odin

  1. (Norse mythology) Odin.
  2. A male given name derived from the god, in general use since the nineteenth century.

Simple English

In Norse mythology, Odin was the king of the Æsir. He is a god of war, but also associated to wisdom, poetry, and magic. Odin rides on an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir, and his famous spear is called Gungnir. He also has an precious arm ring called Draupnir, and two ravens called Hugin and Munin who tell him all the things happening around the world. Odin only has one eye, because he sacrificed one to drink from the fountain of wisdom.

Half of the souls of heroes slain in battles will be guided by the Valkyries, battle maidens, to Odin's hall, Valhalla. The other half belongs to the goddess Freyja.

His wives are Frigg and Jord, the Earth. His eldest son is Thor, god of thunder.

Odin would be swallowed by Loki's son, the wolf Fenrir at Ragnarok.

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