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the dictionary of norse mythology

ODIN


ODIN Chief of the aesir gods. The god of war and death, as well as a sky god and the god of wisdom and poetry. Odin is sometimes called alfodr, the father of the gods.He was descended from one of the earliest gods, bor, and the giantess bestla. His brothers were vili and ve also called hoenir and lothur, respec-tively. See creation. Odin's Aesir wife was frigg. His sons included thor, vali, and possibly tyr. Odin had many other wives and children.Odin's hall in asgard was valaskialf. From his throne, hlidskialf, in the hall's high tower, Odin could survey all nine worlds.His ravens, hugin and munin, brought Odin news. He gave his food to his two wolves geri and freki see wolf, for Odin needed nothing but the sacred mead for nourishment. Odin's eight-legged steed was called sleipnir.gungnir was Odin's spear. On his arm Odin wore the marvelous ring draupnir, from which dropped eight other rings every nine nights. When he rode into battle he wore an eagle helmet and armor. When he wandered peacefully on Earth as he often did, Odin wore a sky-blue cape and a broad-brimmed hat.Odin had only one eye, for he gave his other eye to mimir in exchange for wisdom. Odin could com-pose poetry, for he had drunk the mead of poetry.Odin was also thought of as a magician, for he knew the secrets of the runes the earliest alphabet used by the Norse, which he had obtained by hang-ing himself from the World Tree, yggdrasil. For this reason he is sometimes called Lord of the Gallows see below.Odin had another palace, named valhalla, where he entertained heroes who had fallen in bat-tle and who would help him fight the frost giants hrimthurssar at ragnarok, the end of the world. But Odin and most of his warriors would be killed at Ragnarok Odin, by the monster-wolf, fenrir. Many wonderful tales are told about Odin, the greatest of the gods. He had as many as 200 differ-ent names and attributes.Odin, along with Thor, frey, and Tyr, was wor-shiped for many years after the coming of Christianity to northern Europe.Lord of the Gallows Odin was called Lord of the Gallows, God of the Hanged, and God of the Spear, among many other names. Odin was the god of knowledge but paid dearly for his wisdom. In one poem havamal, or Words of the High One, Odin hanged himself from the branches of Yggdrasil, the sacred tree. He wounded himself with his spear and hung there for nine days and nine nights, without nourishment. At the end of that time he came back to life and picked up the magic runes that had dropped from the tree. The runes brought secret. This carved stone from Gotland, Sweden, shows Odin on his eight-legged steed, Sleipnir, and warriors aboard a Viking longship. New York Public Library Picture Collection knowledge to Odin. He passed on this wisdom to both gods and humans.In later years men would make human sacrifices to Odin by hanging prisoners and victims on gallows. It was said that Odin and his ravens would visit the victims and talk to them.The Mead of Poetry The mead of poetry was the wondrous liquid created by the gods after the war between the aesir and the vanir. Whoever drank the mead would acquire wisdom and the inspi-ration to make poetry.After the truce between the two races of gods the Aesir and the vanir, each god and goddess spat into a great jar to put a seal on their friendship. According to a myth in the prose edda and Havamal in the poetic edda, the Aesir then carried off the jar, and out of the spittle they fashioned a man, kvasir, who walked the world spreading great wis-dom to all who asked for it.The wicked dwarfs fjalar 2 and galar killed Kvasir, collected his blood in three vats, and mixed it with honey to make a powerful mead, which they shared with no one. One day, in a fit of rage, the dwarfs murdered the giant gilling and his wife. They were forced to give the mead to Gilling's angry son, suttung, in exchange for their lives.Suttung built a strong underground cave in the mountain hnitborg, where he lived. There he placed the three containers of mead and entrusted his daughter, gunlod, to guard them.Because Suttung was a boastful, bragging kind of giant, it was not long before the Aesir heard what had happened to the divine mead. Odin, a master of disguise, turned himself into a giant of a man and went to jotunheim, calling himself bolverk. There, he sharpened the scythes of nine slaves who were at work in the fields owned by the giant baugi, Suttung's brother. The slaves managed to kill one another with their carefully honed scythes.As Baugi now had no fieldhands, he agreed to let Odin-Bolverk work for him, for the one-eyed man looked very strong and seemed to need no rest. Odin put his magic to use. He worked better than nine men, for Baugi had promised to try to persuade his brother to allow Odin a sip of the famous mead as a reward for his work.When the work was done, Baugi talked to his brother, but of course Suttung refused to part with even one drop of mead. Baugi then drilled a hole into the mountain with the auger rati, and Odin quickly turned himself into a slender serpent and squirmed his way into the chamber where Gunlod guarded the treasure.When lonely Gunlod saw Odin, once more in the shape of a tall, handsome man, she forgot all the promises she had made to her father and entertained Odin for three days and three nights. At the end, she even offered Odin a sip of the precious mead from each of the three containers, bodn, odrorir, and son. To her dismay, Odin gulped down the entire contents of the vats, turned himself into an eagle, and flew off to Asgard. He was closely pursued by Suttung, who had tasted the mead and so knew some magic and could change his shape to that of a power-ful eagle. But the gods had lit a great fire just outside the walls of Asgard. Suttung fell into this and was burned to death.Odin spat the precious mead into the vessels that the gods eagerly held out, but in his haste to escape Suttung, he spilled some of the mead, which fell to Earth midgard. That is how some lucky humans acquired the gift of poetry.Mimir How Odin Lost His Eye Mimir was an ancient being noted for his wisdom. According to one myth, Mimir was the guardian of a sacred well known as mimir's well that gave knowledge to those who drank from it. Odin so coveted wisdom that he gave up one of his eyes to Mimir to gain the privilege of drinking from the well. Mimir placed the eye in the well, where it shone as brilliantly as the Moon.Odin's Names Odin had more than 150 names and attributes. Here are just a few of themAlfodr, All-Father, Father of the Gods Baleyg, Flaming-Eyed Bileyg, Shifty-Eyed Fjolnir, Wide in Wisdom grimnir, Hooded One Valfodr, Father of the Slain Ygg, Awful

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