Borr

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This article is about the Norse deity. For the Dacian tribe, see Burs (Dacia).

Borr or Burr[1] (Old Norse: 'son';[2] sometimes anglicized Bor, Bör or Bur) was the son of Búri, the husband of Bestla, and the father of Odin and his brothers in Norse mythology.

Attestation[edit]

Borr is mentioned in the fourth verse of the Völuspá, a poem contained in the Poetic Edda, and in the sixth chapter of the Gylfaginning, part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda.

Völuspá[edit]

Original Text:[3]
Áðr Burs synir
bjóðum umb ypðu,
þeir er Miðgarð
mæran skópu.
Bellow's Translation:[4]
Then Bur's sons lifted
the level land,
Mithgarth the mighty
there they made.

Gylfaginning[edit]

Original Text:[5]
Hann [Búri] gat son þann er Borr hét,
hann fekk þeirar konu er Bes[t]la hét,
dóttir Bölþorns iötuns, ok fengu þau .iii. [þrjá] sonu,
hét einn Óðinn, annarr Vili, .iii. [þriði] Vé.
Brodeur's translation:[6]
[Búri] begat a son called Borr,
who wedded the woman named Bestla,
daughter of Bölthorn the giant; and they had three sons:
one was Odin, the second Vili, the third .

Borr is not mentioned again in the Prose Edda. In skaldic and eddaic poetry Odin is occasionally referred to as Borr's son but no further information on Borr is given.

Theories and interpretations[edit]

The role of Borr in Norse mythology is unclear. Nineteenth century German scholar Jacob Grimm proposed to equate Borr with Mannus as related in Tacitus' Germania on the basis of the similarity in their functions in Germanic theogeny.[7] 19th century Icelandic scholar and archaeologist Finnur Magnússon hypothesized that Borr was "intended to signify [...] the first mountain or mountain-chain, which it was deemed by the forefathers of our race had emerged from the waters in the same region where the first land made its appearance. This mountain chain is probably the Caucasus, called by the Persians Borz (the genitive of the Old Norse Borr). Bör's wife, Belsta or Bestla, a daughter of the giant Bölthorn (spina calamitosa), is possibly the mass of ice formed on the alpine summits."[8] In his Lexicon Mythologicum, published four years later, he modified his theory to claim that Borr symbolized the earth, and Bestla the ocean, which gave birth to Odin as the "world spirit" or "great soul of the earth" (spiritus mundi nostri; terrae magna anima, aëris et aurae numen), Vili or Hoenir as the "heavenly light" (lux, imprimis coelestis) and or Lódur as "fire" (ignis, vel elementalis vel proprie sic dictus).[9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Konungsbók or Codex Regius MS of the Völuspá reads Búrr; the Hauksbók MS reads Borr. Cf. Nordal (1980:31). The latter form alone was used by 13th century historian and poet Snorri Sturluson. Cf. Simek (1988:54).
  2. ^ Lindow (2001:90). Thorpe interprets the names Buri and Bör to signify "the producing" or "the bringer forth" and "the produced" or "the brought forth" respectively, linking both to Sanskrit bâras, Gothic baurs, Latin por, puer. Cf. Thorpe (1851:4; 141-2).
  3. ^ Cf. Nordal (1980:31).
  4. ^ Bellows (1923:4).
  5. ^ Cf. Lorenz (1984:136).
  6. ^ Brodeur, Arthur Gilchrist (transl.) (1916). The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation. Available online.
  7. ^ "Must not Buri, Börr, Oðinn be parallel, though under other names, to Tvisco, Mannus, Inguio? Inguio has two brothers at his side, Iscio and Hermino, as Oðinn has Vili and Ve; we should then see the reason why the names Týski (Tvisco, i.e. Tuisto) and Maðr (Mannus) are absent from the Edda, because Buri and Börr are their substitutes." Grimm (1883:349).
  8. ^ Magnusen (1824:42). Quoted in Millet (1847:486-7).
  9. ^ Millet (1847:487).

References[edit]

  • Brodeur, Arthur Gilchrist (transl.) (1916). The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation. Available online.
  • Bellows, Henry Adams (1923). The Poetic Edda. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation.
  • Björnsson,Eysteinn (ed.) (2005). Snorra-Edda: Formáli & Gylfaginning : Textar fjögurra meginhandrita.
  • Finnur Jónsson (1931). Lexicon Poeticum. København: S. L. Møllers Bogtrykkeri.
  • Grimm, Jacob (1883). Teutonic Mythology, Vol. I. London: G. Bell and Sons.
  • Lindow, John (2001). Handbook of Norse Mythology. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
  • Lorenz, Gottfried (1984). Gylfaginning. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
  • Magnuson, Finnur (1824). Eddalaeren og dens oprindelse, Vol. I.
  • Mallet, M. (1847). Northern Antiquities. London: Henry G. Bohn.
  • Nordal, Sigurd (1980). Völuspá. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.
  • Simek, Rudolf (1988). Lexikon der germanischen Mythologie. Stuttgart: Alfred Kröner.
  • Thorpe, Benjamin (1851). Northern Mythology. London: Edward Lumley.