Æsir

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In Old Norse, áss (or ǫ́ss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal groups of gods of the pantheon of Norse paganism. They include many of the major figures, such as Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Tyr. They are one of the two groups of gods, the other being the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two are described as having waged war against one another in the Æsir-Vanir War‎, resulting in the unification of the two into a single tribe of gods.

The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a god in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî.[citation needed] The Gothic term is *ans (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly 'demi-god' and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis).[1] The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). The a-rune was named after the æsir.

Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use and survived only in a secularized meaning of "pole, beam, stave, hill" or "yoke".

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Etymology

The word áss, Proto-Germanic *ansuz is believed to be derived from Proto-Indo-European *ansu-, related to Sanskrit asura and Avestan ahura, both from Indo-Iranian *ásura, with the root *n̥su-. Indo-Iranian *n̥su- can be considered a zero-grade equivalent of Germanic *ansuz-, and with it could be reconstructed to derive from Proto-Indo-European *h2ensu-.

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