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Mannus is a Germanic mythological figure attested by the 1st century AD Roman historian Tacitus in his work Germania. According to Tacitus, Mannus is the son of Tuisto and the progenitor of the three Germanic tribes Ingaevones, Herminones and Istvaeones.
"In ancient lays, their only type of historical tradition, they celebrate Tuisto, a god brought forth from the earth. They attribute to him a son, Mannus, the source and founder of their people, and to Mannus three sons, from whose names those nearest the Ocean are called Ingvaeones, those in the middle Herminones, and the rest Isvaeones. Some people, inasmuch as antiquity gives free rein to speculation, maintain that there were more sons born from the god and hence more tribal designations—Marsi, Gambrivii, Suebi, and Vandilii—and that those names are genuine and ancient."
The name of this deity or mythological ancestor means human or man (i.e. Homo sapiens). It is thought[by whom?] to stem from the same root as the name of the figure Manu in Hindu tradition, who is held to be the progenitor of humanity, first holy king to rule this earth who saves mankind, the Vedas and the priesthood from the universal flood.
The Rune Poem
This deity shares his name with the 20th rune of the Elder Futhark and the 14th rune of the Younger Futhark. It also appears in the runic mnemonic the Abecedarium Nordmannicum, which states "Tiu, Birch, and Man in the Middle". Each of the poems associates Man with the earth, soil (moldR, eorthan).
In the Eddas, Mannus seems to most closely resemble Heimdall (World's Brightness). In the opening passage of the Voluspa, men are referred to as being Heimdall's kin, while in the poem Rigsthula he is shown uniting each of the hierarchal ranks in siblinghood. Furthermore, while Mannus is remembered as being the father of both Odin and Frey, Heimdall is remembered as being one of the Aesir, but also to have qualities directly linked to the Vanir and to exist in a close paternal relationship to Freyja.
In Eddaic Creation, Mannus occupies the same stead as Borr, ie. a god (Tuisto, Buri), begets a god (Mannus, Borr), begets a trio of brother gods (Ing-Irmin-Istaev, Odin-Vili-Ve).
Sons of Mannus
The names of the three sons of Mannus can be extrapolated as Ingui, Irmin, and Istaev aka Iscio. In the Eddas we find the name Yngvi applied to the god FreyR, while the same source lists Jormun (the Old Norse cognate of Irmin) as a byname of Odin's. Widukind of Corvey further identifies the deity associated with the Saxon Irminsul as Hermin, that is, Hermes, but worshipped as Mars.
- Ask and Embla, the first humans in Norse mythology