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Búri is licked out of a salty ice-block by the cow Auðumbla in this illustration from an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript.

In Norse mythology, Búri (Old Norse 'producer, father')[1] is an early ancestor of the Æsir. Búri was licked free from salty rime stones by the primeval cow Auðumbla over the course of three days. Búri's background beyond this point is unattested, and he had a son, Borr, by way of an unknown process. Búri is attested in the Prose Edda, composed in the 13th century by Icelander Snorri Sturluson. The Prose Edda includes a quote from a 12th century poem by skald Þórvaldr blönduskáld that mentions the figure. Búri's mysterious origins are the subject of scholarly commentary and interpretation.


Búri receives mention twice in the Prose Edda—once in Glyfagining and again in a skaldic poem quoted in Skáldskaparmál. The Gylfaginning section reads as follows:

Hon sleikti hrímsteinana er saltir váru. Ok hinn fyrsta <dag> er hon sleikti steina, kom ór steininum at kveldi manns hár, annan dag manns höfuð, þriðja dag var þar allr maðr. Sá er nefndr Búri. Hann var fagr álitum, mikill ok máttugr. Hann gat son þann er Borr hét. [2]

She licked the ice-blocks, which were salty; and the first day that she licked the blocks, there came forth from the blocks in the evening a man's hair; the second day, a man's head; the third day the whole man was there. He is named Búri: he was fair of feature, great and mighty. He begat a son called Borr[.] – Brodeur's translation

Búri is mentioned nowhere in the Poetic Edda and only once in the skaldic corpus. In Skáldskaparmál Snorri quotes the following verse by the 12th century skald Þórvaldr blönduskáld:

Nú hefk mart
í miði greipat
burar Bors,
Búra arfa. [3]  

Now have I snatched
much of the mead [made a lot of poetry]
of Buri's heir
Bor's son [Odin] – Faulkes' translation

Scholarly reception and interpretation[edit]

Rudolf Simek notes that Buri's ancestry remains entirely unclear, questioning whether he was considered born of the jötnar or by way of autogeny ("as in the case of Ymir's children").[1] On this topic, John Lindow says, "Although the text does not make it explicit, we may, I think, assume that he did so through an ordinary human sexual act, in contrast to the monstrous hermaphroditic procreation of Ymir."[4]

Notes and citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b Simek (Simek 2007:47).
  2. ^ "Normalized text of R". Archived from the original on 2008-01-05. Retrieved 2005-07-23.
  3. ^ "Finnur Jónsson's edition". Archived from the original on 2008-03-06. Retrieved 2005-07-23.
  4. ^ Lindow (2001:90).


External links[edit]