Frigg (or Frigga) is a major goddess in
Norse paganism, a subset of Germanic paganism. She is said to be the wife of Odin, and is the "foremost among the goddesses". [Sturluson, Snorri. Prose Edda, Gylfaginning.] Frigg appears primarily in Norse mythological stories as a wife and a mother. She is also described as having the power of prophecy yet she does not reveal what she knows. [Sturluson, Snorri. Prose Edda, Skáldskaparmál. "She will tell no fortunes, yet well she knows the fates of men."] Frigg is described as the only one other than Odin who is permitted to sit on his high seat Hlidskjalfand look out over the universe. The English term Fridayderives from the Anglo-Saxon name for Frigg, Frigga.Barnhart, Robert K. (1995) "The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology", page 300. ISBN 0062700847]
Frigg's children are
Baldrand Höðr, her stepchildren are Thor, Hermóðr, Heimdall, Tyr, Vidar, Váli, and Skjoldr. Frigg's companion is Eir, a goddess associated with medical skills. Frigg's attendants are Hlín, Gná, and Fulla.
Poetic Eddapoem " Lokasenna" 26, Frigg is said to be "Fjörgyns mær" ("Fjörgynn's maiden"). The problem is that in Old Norse "mær" means both "daughter" and "wife", so it is not fully clear if Fjörgynn is Frigg's father or another name for her husband Odin, but Snorri Sturlusoninterprets the line as meaning Frigg is Fjörgynn's daughter (" Skáldskaparmál" 27), and most modern translators of the Poetic Edda follow Snorri. The original meaning of "fjörgynn" was the earth, cf. feminine version Fjorgyn, a byname for "Jörð", the earth. [Turville-Petre, E.O.G. (1964). "Myth and Religion of the North". Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York. p. 189.]
Old Norse "Frigg" (genitive "Friggjar"),
Old Saxon"Fri", and Old English "Frig" are derived from Common Germanic"Frijō". [http://runeberg.org/svetym/0244.html Hellquist, E. (1922). "Svensk etymologisk ordbok" p. 244] ] Frigg is cognate with Sanskrit"prīyā́" which means "wife". The root also appears in Old Saxon "fri" which means "beloved lady", in Swedish as "fria" ("to propose for marriage") and in Icelandic as "frjá" which means "to love".
The asterism Orion's Belt was known as "Frigg's
Distaff/spinning wheel" ("Friggerock") or "Freyja's Distaff" ("Frejerock")Schön, Ebbe. (2004). "Asa-Tors hammare, Gudar och jättar i tro och tradition". Fält & Hässler, Värnamo. p. 228.] . Some have pointed out that the constellation is on the celestial equator and have suggested that the stars rotating in the night sky may have been associated with Frigg's spinning wheel [Krupp, E. C. (Jan. 1996). The thread of time. "Sky and Telescope". 91(1), 60.] .
Frigg's name means "love" or "beloved one" (Proto-Germanic *frijjō, cf.
Sanskritpriyā "dear woman") and was known among many northern European cultures with slight name variations over time: e.g. Friggja in Sweden, Frīg (genitive Frīge) in Old English, and Frika in Wagner's operas. [Claims of a connection between Frau Holle and Frigg can be traced back at least to Jacob Grimm. However, some recent scholarship suggests that the linguistic evidence connecting Frau Holle with Frigg is based on a mistaken translation from Latin. Smith, John B. (Aug. 2004). Perchta the Belly-Slitter and Her Kin: A View of Some Traditional Threatening Figures, Threats and Punishments. "Folklore". 115(2), 167, 169.] Modern English translations have sometimes altered Frigg to "Frigga". It has been suggested that "Frau Holle" of German folkloreis a survival of Frigg. [Simek, Rudolf (1993). "Dictionary of Northern Mythology," page 81. Trans. Angela Hall. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.]
Frigg's hall in Asgard is
Fensalir, which means "Marsh Halls." [Simek, pages 93-94. "Also:" Lindow, John (2001). "Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs," pages 128-130. Oxford: Oxford University Press.] This may mean that marshy or boggy land was considered especially sacred to her but nothing definitive is known. The goddess Saga, who was described as drinking with Odin from golden cups in her hall "Sunken Benches," may be Frigg by a different name. [Thorsson, Edred (1998). "Northern Magic: Rune Mysteries and Shamanism", page 38. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications. (Stating that Saga is "likely an active aspect of Frigg.")]
Frigg was a goddess associated with married women. She was called up by women to assist in giving birth to children, and Scandinavians used the plant
Lady's Bedstraw("Galium verum") as a sedative, they called it "Frigg's grass").
Death of Baldr
Frigg plays a major role in section 49 of the 13th century
Prose Eddabook " Gylfaginning" written by Snorri Sturluson, where a version of a story relating the death of Baldr is recorded by Snorri. Baldr has had a series of ominous dreams. As Baldr was popular amongst the Æsir, after Baldr told the Æsir about his dreams, they met together at the thing and decided it wise to provide a truce for Baldr that would maintain his safety. Frigg, his mother, here takes an oath from all things, which includes disease, poisons, the elements, objects and all living beings that none will harm Baldr.
After the oaths were taken, the Æsir, aware of Baldr's newly gained invincibility, had Baldr stand in front of the thing. There, the Æsir hit Baldr with blows, shot objects at him, and some would hit him with stones. Nothing harmed him and everyone felt it was remarkable.
Lokiwitnessed this and was angered by Baldr's invulnerability. Loki changed himself into a woman and visited Frigg at her hall Fensalir. There, Frigg asked the woman if she knew what was happening at the thing. The woman told her that the Æsir were shooting at Baldr and yet he remained unharmed. Frigg responded that nothing could harm Baldr, as she had taken oaths from all things.
The woman asked Frigg if all things had indeed promised not to hurt Baldr, to which Frigg reveals that:
"A shoot of wood grows west ofImmediately after Frigg revealed this, the woman vanished. Loki then took hold of the mistletoe, broke it off and went to the thing.
Valhalla. It is called mistletoe, and it seemed too young for me to demand its oath."Byock, Jesse. Trans. "The Prose Edda" (2006) Penguin Classics ISBN 0140447555]
There, Höðr, since he was blind, stood at the edge of the circle of people. Loki offered to help Höðr in honoring Baldr by shooting things at him. Höðr took the mistletoe from Loki and, following Loki's directions, shot at Baldr. The mistletoe went directly through Baldr and he fell to the ground. Baldr was dead.
The gods were speechless and devastated, unable to react due to their grief. After the gods gathered their wits from the immense shock and grief of Baldr's death, Frigg asked the Æsir who amongst them wished "to gain all of her love and favor" by riding the road to Hel. Whomever agreed was to offer Hel a ransom in exchange for Baldr's return to Asgard. Hermóðr agrees to this and set off with
While Hermóðr rides to Hel, Frigg arrives at the cremation with Odin,
Hugin and Munin, and the Valkyries. With them came various other gods and beings during which a grand funeral for Baldr was held. After a long journey, Hermóðr arrives in Hel, meets with Hel and pleads for the return of Baldr on behalf of Frigg. Hel gives the condition that all things must weep for Baldr if Baldr will be returned to Asgard. Nanna, the wife of Baldr (whose heart burst upon seeing the corpse of Baldr and was placed upon the pyre with Baldr), gives gifts to Hermóðr to return to Asgard with. "Along with other gifts", only two gifts are specifically mentioned: a white linen robe for Frigg and a golden ring for Fulla.
The Æsir then sent forth messengers to all things to have them weep for Baldr, so that he may return from Hel. All things did but a giantess by the name of
Þökk, regarding whom Snorri writes that "people believe that the giantess was Loki". Afterwards, in sections 50 and 51, a series of events occur where the gods take revenge upon Loki by binding him and thus furthering the onset of Ragnarök, though Frigg is not mentioned further in these sections.
Vili and Ve
The story of Frigg and Odin's brothers,
Viliand Ve, has survived in very brief form. In the " Ynglinga Saga" of Snorri Sturlusonthe entire story is told as follows:
"Othin [Odin] had two brothers. One was called
Ve, and the other Vili. These, his brothers, governed the realm when he was gone. One time when Othin was gone to a great distance, he stayed away so long that the Æsir thought he would never return. Then his brothers began to divide his inheritance; but his wife Frigg they shared between them. However, a short while afterwards, Othin returned and took possession of his wife again." [ "Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway", by Snorri Sturlson, Lee Hollander, trans. The American-Scandinavian Foundation by the University of Texas Press, 1964. "The Saga of the Ynglings," Chapter 3, page 7.]
The same story is referenced in one stanza of the poem, "
Lokasenna", in which Loki insults Frigg by accusing her of infidelity with Odin's brothers:
"Hush thee, Frigg, who art Fjorgyn's daughter:"Modern scholars such as Lee Hollander explain that "Lokasenna" was intended to be humorous and that the accusations thrown by Loki in the poem are not necessarily to be taken as "generally accepted lore" at the time it was composed. Rather they are charges that are easy for Loki to make and difficult for his targets to disprove, or which they do not care to refute. [ "The Poetic Edda" (2nd edition), Lee Hollander, trans. University of Texas Press, 1990. Introduction to "Lokasenna", page 90.]
"Thou hast ever been mad after men."
"Vili and Ve, thou, Vithrir's spouse," [Vithrir=Odin]
"Didst fold to thy bosom both." [ "The Poetic Edda" (2nd edition), Lee Hollander, trans. University of Texas Press, 1990. "Lokasenna", stanza 26, page 96.]
Comparisons have been proposed regarding Frigg's role in this story to that of sacred queens during certain periods in ancient Egypt, when a king was king by virtue of being the queen's husband.Gundarsson, Kveldulf Hagan, ed. Our Troth, Volume 1 (Second Edition), Chapter 17, "Frigg"," page 327-328. The Troth, 2006. See also [http://witcombe.sbc.edu/menkaure/menkaurequeen.html] for Egyptian heiress theory.
"Historia gentis Langobardorum"
The Langobard historian
Paul the Deacon, who died in southern Italy in the 790s, was proud of his tribal origins and related how his people once had migrated from southern Scandinavia.Harrison, D. & Svensson, K. (2007). "Vikingaliv" Fälth & Hässler, Värnamo. ISBN 978-91-27-35725-9 p. 74] In his work " Historia gentis Langobardorum", Paul relates how Odin's wife Frea (Frigg/Freyja) had given victory to the Langobards in a war against the Vandals. She is depicted as a wife who knows how to get her own way even though her husband thinks he is in charge. The Winniliand the Vandalswere two warring tribes. Odin favored the Vandals, while Frea favored the Winnili. After a heated discussion, Odin swore that he would grant victory to the first tribe he saw the next morning upon awakening-- knowing full well that the bed was arranged so that the Vandals were on his side. While he slept, Frea told the Winnili women to comb their hair over their faces to look like long beards so they would look like men and turned the bed so the Winnili women would be on Odin's side. When he woke up, Odin was surprised to see the disguised women first and asked who these long bearded men were, which was where the tribe got its new name, the Langobards ("longbeards"). Odin kept his oath and granted victory to the Winnili (now known as the Lombards), and eventually saw the wisdom of Frea's choice.
Saxo Grammaticuswrote in his " Gesta Danorum" another story about Frigg:
"At this time there was one Odin, who was credited over all Europe with the honour, which was false, of godhead, but used more continually to sojourn at Upsala; and in this spot, either from the sloth of the inhabitants or from its own pleasantness, he vouchsafed to dwell with somewhat especial constancy.
The kings of the North, desiring more zealously to worship his deity, embounded his likeness in a golden image; and this statue, which betokened their homage, they transmitted with much show of worship to Byzantium, fettering even the effigied arms with a serried mass of bracelets. Odin was overjoyed at such notoriety, and greeted warmly the devotion of the senders. But his queen Frigg, desiring to go forth more beautified, called smiths, and had the gold stripped from the statue.
Odin hanged them, and mounted the statue upon a pedestal, which by the marvellous skill of his art he made to speak when a mortal touched it. But still Frigg preferred the splendour of her own apparel to the divine honours of her husband, and submitted herself to the embraces of one of her servants; and it was by this man's device she broke down the image, and turned to the service of her private wantonness that gold which had been devoted to public idolatry. Little thought she of practicing unchastity, that she might the easier satisfy her greed, this woman so unworthy to be the consort of a god; but what should I here add, save that such a godhead was worthy of such a wife? So great was the error that of old befooled the minds of men.
Thus Odin, wounded by the double trespass of his wife, resented the outrage to his image as keenly as that to his bed; and, ruffled by these two stinging dishonours, took to an exile overflowing with noble shame, imagining so to wipe off the slur of his ignominy. At home, Frigg went with a certain Mith-Othin and took over Odin's properties, until Odin came back and drove them away. Frigg's death later cleared Odin's name and he regained his reputation." ("
Gesta Danorum", Book I) "The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus", translated by Oliver Elton (Norroena Society, New York, 1905) Available online: [http://omacl.org/DanishHistory/book1.html] ]
In Saxo's "Gesta Danorum", however, the gods and goddesses are heavily euhemerized, and Saxo's view on pagan deities is extremely biased, therefore most stories related to pagan gods written in it might not exist in ancient lore.
Georges Dumézillinked Saxo's account of Frigg's infidelity and the stolen gold with the burning of Gullveig.Fact|date=March 2008
Connection between Frigg and Freyja
Frigg is the highest goddess of the
Æsir, while Freyjais the highest goddess of the Vanir. Many arguments have been made both for and against the idea that Frigg and Freyja are really the same goddess, avatars of one another. [Davidson, Hilda Ellis. (1998). "Roles of the Northern Goddess," page 10. London: Routlege. "Also:" Grundy, Stephen, Freyja and Frigg, pages 56-67; Nasstrom, Brit-Mari. Freyja, a goddess with many names, pages 68-77. Billington, Sandra & Green, Miranda (Eds.) (1996) "The Concept of the Goddess." London: Routlege.] Some arguments are based on linguistic analysis, others on the fact that Freyja wasn't known in southern Germany, only in the north, and in some places the two goddesses were considered to be the same, while in others they were considered to be different. [Welsh, Lynda. (2001). "Goddess of the North," page 75. York Beach: Weiser Books.] There are clearly many similarities between the two: both had flying cloaks of falcon feathers and engaged in shape-shifting, Frigg was married to Odin while Freyja was married to Óðr, both had special necklaces, both had a personification of the Earth as a parent, both were called upon for assistance in childbirth, etc.
There is also an argument that Frigg and Freyja are part of a triad of goddesses (together with a third goddess such as
Hnossor Iðunn) associated with the different ages of womankind. [Welsh, Lynda. (2001). "Goddess of the North", pages 107-126. York Beach: Weiser Books. (Chapter, "Putting together the fragments," which speculates on possible components of a triple goddess.)] The areas of influence of Frigg and Freyja don't quite match up with the areas of influence often seen in other goddess triads. This may mean that the argument isn't a good one, or it may show something interesting about northern European culture as compared to Celtic and southern European culture.
Finally, there is an argument is that Frigg and Freyja are similar goddesses from different pantheons who were first conflated into each other and then later seen as separate goddesses again (see also
Frige). This is consistent with the theological treatment of some Greek, Roman, and Egyptian deities in the late classical period.
Västergötland, Sweden, there is a place called Friggeråker. An English charter from 936 AD displays the name "Frigedun", which means "Valley of Frig". Friden, in Derbyshire, England, is further named after Frig.Davidson, Hilda Ellis. "Roles of the Northern Goddess" (1998) ISBN 0415136113] The cities of Froyle("Frigg's Hill") and Freefolk("Frigg's People") in Hampshire, England may be named after Frigg.Grigsby, John (2005). "", page 44. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 1842931539]
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