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In Finnish mythology, Ahti is a heroic character of Finnish folk poetry. Sometimes given in folk poetry the epithet of Saarelainen ("the Islander").

Ahto is also a Finnish sea god.

The connection between the heroic and godly Ahti and Ahto, if any, is unclear.



In the Kalevala the compiler Lonnrot conflated several mythological persons into the main characters in an attempt to create a consistent narrative in the compilation of multiple songs.[1] The heroic figures Kaukomiele and Ahti are both condensed into Lemminkainen in the work; Ahti's story is of a man so eager to fight he abandons his young wife and sets out on an adventure with his friend Teuri.[2] The original poems in the Ahti cycle have been attributed tentatively to the Viking Age based on their sea-going setting,[3] Oinas also sees an adventurous element in both Ahti and Kaukamoinen's tales.[2]

Ahti Saarelainen is described as a fierce sea-going warrior. In the poems, Ahti makes a double vow with his wife Kyllikki, binding him to stay at home and not to engage in raiding, and her to stay faithful. However, Kyllikki breaks their oath, sending Ahti on a voyage with his old war companions.[3]

In the Kalevala, Ahti is mentioned (as a synonym of Lemminkainen) in Rune IX, where his close association with the sea is made clear; in this verse his marriage to Kyllikki is described, and their mutual vows - he not go to go to war, she not to go to a dance. In Rune XII Kyllikki's breaking of that vow is described. In Rune XX "The Brewing of Beer" Ahti is briefly mentioned, and the conflation with Lemminkainen and Kaukomiele given explicitly.

He is also mentioned in Rune XXVI "Origin to the Serpent", in Rune XXVIII he is called "Ahti, hero of the Islands", and in Rune XXX; always another name of Lemminkainen. A pattern of association of the name "Ahti" with islands and seafaring is found - in Runes XX, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, and other runes.


Ahto is also the name of the king (or god) of the sea, Ahtola his sea-castle,[4] His wife is called Wellamo, whom with which he lives at the bottom of the sea. The Sampo comes into his possession, which he is unwilling to return.[5]

In the Kalevala, Ahto appears in Rune XLI, XLII; where Wainamoinen charms him with his magic harp playing, which he takes. In Rune XLIII the Sampo is lost to Ahto's kingdom (the sea). He is also briefly mentioned in Rune XLVIII "Capture of the Fire-Fish"

In a fable similar to Mercury and the Woodman, Ahto dives to return the lost knife of a shepherd, out of pity. The first two times he retrieves gold, then silver knives, but the shepherd does not claim them as his – finally the third knife is the proper knife – as reward for honesty Ahto gives the shepherd all three knives.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Honko 1990, "Epic Cycles as the Basis for the Kalevela" (Kussi), pp.152-3.
  2. ^ a b Honko 1990, "Russian and Finnish Epic Songs" (Oinas), p.296.
  3. ^ a b Kuusi 1975.
  4. ^ Lönnrot & Crawford 1888, Glossary.
  5. ^ a b Lönnrot & Crawford 1888, Preface.


  • Honko, Lauri, ed. (1990), Religion, Myth and Folklore in the World's Epics: The Kalevala and its Predecessors, Mouton de Gruyter