Sons of Odin

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Various gods and men appear as Sons of Odin or Sons of Wodan/Wotan or Sons of Woden in old Old Norse and Old High German and Old English texts.

Thor, Baldr, and Váli[edit]

Only three gods, Thor, Baldr, and Váli, are explicitly identified as sons of Odin in the Eddic poems, in the skaldic poems, in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum, and in the Gylfaginning section of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda. But silence on the matter does not indicate that other gods whose parentage is not mentioned in these works might not also be sons of Odin.

Other gods called sons of Odin by Snorri Sturluson[edit]

In the Skáldskaparmál Snorri calls Víðarr a son of Odin by the giantess Gríðr. In various kennings Snorri also describes Heimdallr, Bragi, Týr and Höd as sons of Odin, information that appears nowhere else in the Edda.

For Heimdallr and Vidar there is no variant account of their father. The same may not be true for Bragi if Bragi is taken to be the skaldic poet Bragi Boddason made into a god. But Týr, according to the Eddic poem Hymiskvida, was son of the giant Hymir rather than a son of Odin. As to Höd, outside of the single statement in the kennings, Snorri makes no mention that Höd is Baldr's brother or Odin's son, though one might expect that to be emphasized. In Saxo's version of the death of Baldr, Höd, whom Saxo calls Høtherus, is a mortal and in no way related to Saxo's demi-god Baldur.

Hermód appears in Snorri's Gylfaginning as the messenger sent by Odin to Hel to seek to bargain for Baldr's release. He is called "son" of Odin in most manuscripts, but in the Codex Regius version—the Codex Regius is normally considered the best manuscript—Hermód is called sveinn Óðins 'Odin's boy', which might mean Odin's son but in the context is as likely to mean Odin's servant. However when Hermód arrives in Hel's hall, Snorri calls Baldur his brother. To confuse matters other texts know of a mortal hero named Hermód or Heremod.

An alternative list of Odin's sons[edit]

Some manuscripts of the Skáldskaparmál give, along with other material, a list of the sons of Odin, which does not altogether fit with what Snorri writes elsewhere and so is usually thought to be a later addition. As such it is omitted from some editions and translations, but it does appear in Anthony Faulkes' translation. If not by Snorri, the list is all the more valuable in that it represents an independent tradition. The text reads:

Sons of Odin       Baldr and Meili

Víðarr and Nepr       Váli, Áli
Þórr and Hildólfr       Hermóðr, Sigi
Skjöldr, Yngvi-Freyr       and Ítreksjóð

Heimdallr, Sæmingr       Höðr and Bragi

Sigi is ancestor of the Volsungs. Skjöld is ancestor of the Skjölding dynasty in Denmark. Yngvi is ancestor of a legendary Swedish Ynglings. Sæming is ancestor of a line of Norwegian kings. All appear in Snorri's pseudo-historical Prologue to the Prose Edda as sons of Odin and founders of these various lineages, perhaps all thought to be sons of Odin begotten on mortal women. See Yngvi for discussions of this personage who is mostly identical with Frey in extant texts, even though in almost all sources Frey (often called Yngvi-Frey) is instead the son of Njörd. But a Faroese ballad recorded in 1840 names Odin's son as Veraldur, this Veraldur being understood as another name of Frö, that is of Frey. See Frey for details.

Hildolf and Itreksjod are otherwise unknown as sons of Odin. The name Hildolf appears in the eddic poem Hárbardsljód applied by the ferryman Harbard to his supposed master, but Harbard is actually Odin in disguise and there is no clear reference here to a son of Odin. Hildolf and Itreksjod may have been legendary founders of families purportedly descended from Odin in traditions that have not survived.

Meili also appears in the eddic poem Hárbardsljód where Thor calls himself Odin's son, Meili's brother and Magni's father. In Snorri's Gylfaginning Ali is only another name for Vali and Nep is the father of Baldur's wife Nanna. If this list is correct in giving Odin a son named Nep, and if that Nep is identical to the father of Nanna mentioned by Snorri, then Nanna would also be Baldur's niece. But marriage between uncle and niece, though common in many cultures, does not normally appear in old Scandinavian literature.

Týr, Höd, and Bragi are conspicuously absent from this list, one reason to believe it is not from Snorri's hand.

Some manuscripts have a variant version of the list which adds Höd and Bragi to the end and replaces Yngvi-Frey with an otherwise unknown Ölldner or Ölner. This may be an attempt to bring the list into accord with Snorri, even though it still lacks Týr. Some manuscripts add additional names of sons of Odin which are otherwise unknown: "Ennelang, Eindride, Bior, Hlodide, Hardveor, Sönnöng, Vinthior, Rymur."

Founders of dynasties[edit]

The prologue to Snorri's Edda and the alternative list discussed above both include the following:

According to Herrauds saga:

According to Hervarar saga ok Heidreks konungs ("The Saga of Hervor and King Heidrek") versions H and U:

In the prologue to the Edda Snorri also mentions sons of Odin who ruled among the continental Angles and Saxons and provides information about their descendants that is identical or very close to traditions recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Snorri may here be dependent on English traditions. The sons mentioned by both Snorri and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are:

Other Anglo-Saxon genealogies mention:

Froger[edit]

Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum (Book 4) speaks of Froger, the King of Norway, who was a great champion. Saxo relates:

According to some, he was the son of Odin, and when he begged the immortal gods to grant him a boon, received the privilege that no man should conquer him, save he who at the time of the conflict could catch up in his hand the dust lying beneath Froger's feet.

King Fródi the Active of Denmark, still a young man, learning of the charm, begged Froger to give him lessons in fighting. When the fighting court had been marked off, Fródi entered with glorious gold-hilted sword and clad in a golden breastplate and helmet. Fródi then begged a boon from Froger, that they might change positions and arms. Froger agreed. After the exchange, Fródi caught up some dust from where Froger had been standing and then quickly defeated Froger in battle and slew him.

See also[edit]

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