Fornjót

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Fornjót
TextsYnglingatal, Skáldskaparmál, Orkneyinga saga, Hversu Noregr byggdist
Personal information
ChildrenHlér, Logi, Kári

Fornjót (Old Norse: Fornjótr) is a jötunn in Norse mythology, and the father of Hlér ('sea'), Logi ('fire') and Kári ('wind').[1][2] It is also the name of a legendary king of "Finnland and Kvenland".[3] The principal study of this figure is by Margaret Clunies Ross.[4]

Name[edit]

The etymology of the Old Norse name Fornjótr remains unclear.[5][2] It is often interpreted as forn-jótr ('ancient or primordial jötunn'), or as for-njótr ('original owner', or 'destroyer').[5][1] Alternative meanings such as Forn-njótr ('one-who-enjoys-sacrifices') or Forn-þjótr ('ancient screamer') have also been proposed.[5][2]

According to Peter Erasmus Müller (1818), Fornjótr could be interpreted as the "original owner" (primus occupans vel utens) of Norway.[6]

An Old English cognate of Fornjótr may appear in a plant-name attested in the Cleopatra Glossary (as forneotes folm) and in Bald's Leechbook as fornetes folm. Folm means 'hand, palm', and, lacking a better explanation, scholars have suggested that fornetes is an Old English form of the name Fornjótr, such that the plant-name meant's 'Fornet's palm'. The plant denoted by this name has not been certainly identified, but Peter Bierbaumer argued for a species of marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza), partly on account of the supposed similarity of their tubers to hands.[7][4]:49–50

Attestations[edit]

Eddas[edit]

Þjóðólfr of Hvinir, a Norwegian skald of the late 9th–early 10th century AD cited in Ynglinga tal (29), apparently uses the kenning "son of Fornjót" as a synonym of 'fire', and another skald only known under the name Svein appears to use the kenning "ugly sons of Fornjót" to mean the 'wind'.[2]

How should the wind be periphrased? Thus: call it son of Fornjót, Brother of the Sea and of Fire, Scathe or Ruin or Hound or Wolf of the Wood or of the Sail or of the Rigging.

Thus spake Svein in the Nordrsetu-drápa:

First began to fly
Fornjót's sons ill-shapen.

In the þulur, Fornjót is also included in a list of jötnar.[2]

Sagas[edit]

In the Orkneyinga saga and in Hversu Noregr byggdisk (How Norway Was Settled), Fornjót is portrayed as a king ruling over Gotland and Jutland, "which is called Finnland (the land of the Sámi) and Kvenland [the Finnish-settled part of northern Norway]". Some editors alter "Gotland" or "Jutland" to "that land".[3] In those two sources, Fornjót has three sons: Logi ('fire'), Kári ('wind'), and Hlér ('sea'), "whom we call Ægir" according to Fundinn Noregr.[1][3]

Ancestor of the House of Yngling[edit]

Fornjótr appears as an ancestor-figure of the kings of Norway in several sources.[4] Here follows one rendering of a mythic Yngling family tree based on Historia Norwegiæ, Ynglinga saga, Beowulf and other Old Norse sources, some of which name Fornjótr. The names of Swedish kings are shown in bold.

Yngling family tree
YngviFornjót
Njörðr(Nerthus)1AurboðaGymir2KáriLogi
FreyjaFreyrGerðrFrosti
LokiSigynFjölnirSnær
Narfi3SveigðirVana
NóttNaglfariVanlandiDrífa
Auð the Rich
RígunidentifiedVisburunidentified
DanpGislÖndurDomalde
DanDrottDomar
Dyggve
Dag the Wise
AgneSkjalf
AlrekErik
BeraAlfYngviÞornbjörg4
HugleikJorundErikIngeborg5
Aun
nine sonsEgil
HelgiÁli6Ottar
YrsaAdilsEanmund7
Hrólf KrakiÖstenGauti
IngvarOlof of NärkeGautrek
OlofSigvardAnundunidentifiedAlgaut
Halfdan GuldtandIngjaldGauthild
EysteinSolveigOlof TrätäljaÅsa
ÅsaHalfdan HvitbeinnIngjald OlofssonErik Agnarsson
GudrödEystein HalfdanssonHildDag
HaraldHalfdan the MildLivAlfarin
GyrdÅsaGudrød the HunterAlfhild
Halfdan the BlackOlaf Geirstad-Alf
Harald FairhairRagnvald the Mountain-High

Notes:

  1. Nerthus is often suggested to be the same woman as Njörðr's unidentified sister, by whom he begat Frey and Freyja.
  2. The Lokasenna and the Skáldskaparmál identify Gymir with Fornjot's son Ægir, but Rudolf Simek contests this.[8]
  3. Assuming Narfi (son of Loki) is identical with Narfi.
  4. Þornbjörg appears in Gautreks saga and in Hrólfs saga Gautrekssonar.
  5. Ingeborg appears in the Tyrfing Cycle, e.g. Orvar-Odd's saga and Hervarar saga.
  6. Áli's inclusion here is based on Beowulf, the oldest source.
  7. Eanmund is only attested in Beowulf.


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Orchard 1997, p. 46.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lindow 2001, p. 119.
  3. ^ a b c Lindow 2001, p. 118.
  4. ^ a b c Margaret Clunies Ross, 'Snorri Sturluson’s use of the Norse origin-legend of the sons of Fornjótr in his Edda', Arkiv för Nordisk Filologi, 98 (1983), 47–66.
  5. ^ a b c de Vries 1962, pp. 138–139.
  6. ^ Sagabibliothek, p. 436; c.f. Ekendahl (1828) p.174
  7. ^ Dictionary of Old English Plant Names, ed. by Peter Bierbaumer and Hans Sauer with Helmut W. Klug and Ulrike Krischke (2007-2009), s.v. fornetes folm.
  8. ^ Simek 1996, p. 151.

Bibliography[edit]

  • de Vries, Jan (1962). Altnordisches Etymologisches Worterbuch (1977 ed.). Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-05436-3.
  • Lindow, John (2001). Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-983969-8.
  • Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend. Cassell. ISBN 978-0-304-34520-5.
  • Simek, Rudolf (1996). Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer. ISBN 978-0-85991-513-7.