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September 13th, 2010, 4:40 am

Seemed like wherever I went this afternoon, there were crows hopping around, looking at me suspiciously with their heads cocked to the side. Probably just coincidence, although I wonder if the arrival of fall increases their scavenging activities.

The biggest and bravest one had fruffed up, discolored feathers, like he was really old or something. This--probably together with the cooling weather--made me think of that wacky head of the Norse pantheon, Odin, who liked to go around disguised as an old man or raven, messing with people.

Odin, partly because he messed with people a lot, and also because he was father of many of the gods and really powerful, got a lot of names. Here's what the Edda (The Everyman Library edition, translated by Anthony Faulkes) has to say about some of his names:

'Odin is called All-father, for he is father of all gods. He is also called Val-father [father of the slain], since all those who fall in battle are his adopted sons. He assigns them places in Val-hall and Vingolf, and they are then known as Einheriar. He is also called Hanga-god [god of the hanged] and Hapta-god [god of prisoners], Farma-god [god of cargoes], and he called himself by various other names on his visit to King Geirrod:

"I call myself Grim and Ganglari, Herian, Hialmberi, Thekk, Third, Thunn, Unn, Helblindi, High, Sann, Svipal, Sanngetal, Herteit, Hnikar, Bileyg, Baleyg, Bolverk, Fiolnir, Grimnir, Glapsvinn, Fiolsvinn, Sidhott, Sidskegg, Sig-father, Hnikud, All-father, Atrid, Farmatyr, Oski, Omi, Just-as-high, Blindi, Gondlir, Harbard, Svidur, Svidrir, Ialk, Kialar, Vidur, Thror, Ygg, Thund, Vakr, Skilfing, Vafud, Hropta-Tyr, Gaut, Veratyr."'

Then spoke Gangleri: 'What a terrible lot of names you have given him! By my faith, one would need a great deal of learning to be able to give details and explanations of what events have given rise to each of these names.'

Then said High: 'It is very instructive to go closely into all this. But to put it in a word, most names have been given him as a result of the fact that with all the branches of languages in the world, each nation finds it necessary to adapt his name to their language for invocation and prayers for themselves, but some events giving rise to these names have taken place in his travels and have been made the subject of stories, and you cannot claim to be a wise man if you are unable to tell of these important happenings.'

Hm! Tough getting into wise man school back then. Well let's see what we can do. About his name Vidur specifically, later in the Edda, a poet is quoted as saying:

'No need for men to nurse fear about my poetry. In Vidur's booty I use no spite. We know how to order praise-works.'

and even later another poet says

'Poets call me Vidur's thought-smith, getter of Gaut's gift, lack-nought hero, server of Ygg's ale, song-making Modi, skilled smith of rhyme; what is a poet other than that?'

so I thought that name would do as the title of a poem about him. Wikipedia translates "Vidur" as "Killer."

November 15th, 2019, 12:03 am

September 28th, 2010, 4:07 pm

ooh, really like this one.
thanks for posting all the extra information, too -- very interesting!

October 7th, 2010, 8:47 am

Thanks for reading it all. :D

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