In Germanic mythology, Frigg (Old Norse) or Frija (Old High German) is a goddess. In Norse mythology, the northernmost branch of Germanic mythology, Frigg is described as a goddess associated with foreknowledge, wisdom, and is the consort of the god Odin.
- 1 Etymology, toponyms and Friday
- 2 Attestations
- 3 Folklore
- 4 Archaeological record
- 5 Swedish charm
- 6 Theories and reception
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Etymology, toponyms and Friday
The theonyms Frigg (Old Norse) and Frija (Old High German) are cognate forms—linguistic siblings of the same origin—that descend from a substantivized feminine of Proto-Germanic *frijaz (with Verscharfung). *frijaz descends from the same source (Proto-Indo-European) as the feminine Sanskrit noun priyā and the feminine Avestan noun fryā (the latter both meaning "'own, dear, beloved'").
The connection with and possible earlier identification of the goddess Freyja with Frigg in the Proto-Germanic period (Frigg and Freyja origin hypothesis) is a matter of scholarly debate. Like the name of the group of gods to which Freyja belongs, the Vanir, the name Freyja is not attested outside of Scandinavia, as opposed to the name of the goddess Frigg, who is attested as a goddess common among the Germanic peoples, and whose name is reconstructed as Proto-Germanic *Frijjō. Similar proof for the existence of a common Germanic goddess from which Old Norse Freyja descends does not exist, but scholars have commented that this may simply be due to lack of evidence.
Regarding a Freyja-Frigg common origin hypothesis, scholar Stephan Grundy comments that "the problem of whether Frigg or Freyja may have been a single goddess originally is a difficult one, made more so by the scantiness of pre-Viking Age references to Germanic goddesses, and the diverse quality of the sources. The best that can be done is to survey the arguments for and against their identity, and to see how well each can be supported."
Origi Gentis Langobardorum and Historia Langobardum
The 7th-century Origo Gentis Langobardorum, and Paul the Deacon's 8th-century Historia Langobardorum derived from it, recount a founding myth of the Langobards, a Germanic people who ruled a region of what is now Italy (see Lombardy). According to this legend, a "small people" known as the Winnili were ruled by a woman named Gambara who had two sons, Ybor and Agio. The Vandals, ruled by Ambri and Assi, came to the Winnili with their army and demanded that they pay them tribute or prepare for war. Ybor, Agio, and their mother Gambara rejected their demands for tribute. Ambra and Assi then asked the god Godan for victory over the Winnili, to which Godan responded (in the longer version in the Origo): "Whom I shall first see when at sunrise, to them will I give the victory."
Meanwhile, Ybor and Agio called upon Frea, Godan's wife. Frea counseled them that "at sunrise the Winnil[i] should come, and that their women, with their hair let down around the face in the likeness of a beard should also come with their husbands". At sunrise, Frea turned Godan's bed around to face east and woke him. Godan saw the Winnili, including their whiskered women, and asked "who are those Long-beards?" Frea responded to Godan, "As you have given them a name, give them also the victory". Godan did so, "so that they should defend themselves according to his counsel and obtain the victory". Thenceforth the Winnili were known as the Langobards ('long-beards').
Second Merseburg Incantation
A 10th-century manuscript found in what is now Merseburg, Germany, features a heathen invocation known as the Second Merseburg Incantation. The incantation calls upon various continental Germanic gods, including Old High German Frija and a goddess associated with her—Volla, to assist in healing a horse:
Frigg receives three mentions in the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá. In the first mention, the poem recounts that Frigg wept for the death of her son Baldr in Fensalir. Later in the poem, when the future death of Odin is foretold, Odin himself is referred to as the “beloved of Frigg” and his future death is referred to as the “second grief of Frigg”. Like the reference to Frigg weeping in Fensalir earlier in the poem, the implied ‘first grief’ is a reference to the grief she felt upon the death of her son, Baldr.
In the prose introduction to the poem Grímnismál, Frigg plays a prominent role. The prose introduction recounts that two sons of king Hrauðungr, Agnar (age 10) and Geirröðr (age 8), once sailed out with a trailing line to catch small fish. However, wind drove them out into the ocean and, during the darkness of night, their boat wrecked. The brothers went ashore and there they met a crofter. They stayed on the croft for one winter. During that winter, the couple separately fostered the two children: the old woman fostered Agnar and the old man fostered Geirröðr. Upon the arrival of spring, the old man brought them a ship. The old couple took the boys to the shore, and the old man took Geirröðr aside and spoke to him. The boys entered the boat and a breeze came.
The boat returned to the harbor of their father. Geirröðr, forward in the ship, jumped to shore and pushed the boat, containing his brother, out and said "go where an evil spirit may get thee." Away went the ship and Geirröðr walked to a house, where he was greeted with joy; while the boys were gone, their father had died, and now Geirröðr was king. He "became a splendid man". The scene switches to Odin and Frigg sitting in Hliðskjálf, "look[ing] into all the worlds". Odin says: "'Seest thou Agnar, thy foster-son, where he is getting children a giantess [Old Norse gȳgi] in a cave? while Geirröd, my foster son, is a king residing in his country.' Frigg answered, 'He is so inhospitable that he tortures his guests, if he thinks that too many come.'"
Odin replied that this was a great untruth and so the two made a wager. Frigg sent her “waiting-maid” Fulla to warn Geirröðr to be wary, lest a wizard who seeks him should harm him, and that he would know this wizard by the refusal of dogs, no matter how ferocious, to attack the stranger. While it was not true that Geirröðr was inhospitable with his guests, Geirröðr did as instructed and had the wizard arrested. Upon being questioned, the wizard, wearing a blue cloak, said no more than that his name is Grímnir. Geirröðr has Grímnir tortured and sits him between two fires for 8 nights. Upon the 9th night, Grímnir is brought a full drinking horn by Geirröðr's son, Agnar (so named after Geirröðr's brother), and the poem continues without further mention or involvement of Frigg.
In the poem Lokasenna, where Loki accuses nearly every female in attendance of promiscuity and/or unfaithfulness, an aggressive exchange occurs between the god Loki and the goddess Frigg (and thereafter between Loki and the goddess Freyja about Frigg). A prose introduction to the poem describes that numerous gods and goddesses attended a banquet held by Ægir. These gods and goddesses include Odin and, "his wife", Frigg.
Heimskringla & sagas
In Ynglinga saga, the first book of Heimskringla, an Euhemerized account of the origin of the gods is provided. Frigg is mentioned once. According to the saga, while Odin was away, Odin's brothers Vili and Vé oversaw Odin's holdings while he was away. Once, while Odin was gone for an extended period that the Æsir concluded that he was not coming back. His brother's started to divvy up Odin's inheritance, "but his wife Frigg they shared between them. However, a short while afterwards, [Odin] returned and took possession of his wife again.
In Völsunga saga, the great king Rerir and his wife (unnamed) are unable to conceive a child; “that lack displeased them both, and they fervently implored the gods that thy might have a child. It is said that Frigg heard their prayers and told Odin what they asked”.
A 12th century depiction of a cloaked but otherwise nude woman riding a large cat appears on a wall in the Schleswig Cathedral in Schleswig-Holstein, Northern Germany. Beside her is similarly a cloaked yet otherwise nude woman riding a distaff. Due to iconographic similarities to the literary record, these figures have been theorized as depictions of Freyja and Frigg respectively.
Volume 3 of Grimm; Frygge
Theories and reception
- Orel (2003:114).
- Grundy (1998:56-66).
- Grundy (1998:57).
- Foulke (2003 :315-316).
- Foulke (2003 :316-317).
- Griffiths (2006 :174).
- Larrington (1999:305).
- Larrington (1999:8).
- Larrington (1999:11).
- See, for example, Larrington (1999:266).
- Larrington (1999:51).
- Thorpe (1907:18).
- Thorpe (1907:19).
- Thorpe (1907:19).
- Larrington (1999:84).
- Hollander (1964 :7).
- Byock (1990:36).
- Jones and Pennick (1995:144—145).
- Byock, Jesse (1990) (Trans.). ‘’The Saga of the Volsungs’’. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-27299-6
- Griffiths, Bill (2006 ). Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic. Anglo-Saxon Books. ISBN 1-898281-33-5
- Grundy, Stephan (1998). "Freyja and Frigg". In Billington, Sandra; Green, Miranda. The Concept of the Goddess. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-19789-9.
- Orel, Vladimir (2003). A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. Brill. ISBN 90 04 12875 1
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