Baldr

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Baldr (also Balder, Baldur) is a god in Norse mythology associated with light, beauty, love and happiness.

In the 12th century, Danish accounts by Saxo Grammaticus and other Danish Latin chroniclers recorded a euhemerized account of his story. Compiled in Iceland in the 13th century, but based on much older Old Norse poetry, the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda contain numerous references to the death of Baldr as both a great tragedy to the Æsir and a harbinger of Ragnarök.

According to Gylfaginning, a book of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, Baldr's wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti. In Gylfaginning, Snorri relates that Baldr had the greatest ship ever built, named Hringhorni, and that there is no place more beautiful than his hall, Breidablik.

Contents

Name

Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology (chapter 11) identifies Old Norse Baldr with the Old High German given name Paltar, and with Old English bealdor, baldor "lord, prince, king" (used always with a genitive plural, as in gumena baldor "lord of men", wigena baldor "lord of warriors", etc.) Old Norse shows this usage of the word as a honorific in a few cases, as in baldur î brynju (Sæm. 272b) and herbaldr (Sæm. 218b), both epithets of heroes in general.

Grimm traces the etymology of the name to *balþoz, whence Gothic balþs, Old Engish bald, Old High German pald, all meaning "bold, brave, audax".[1]

But the interpretation of Baldr as "the brave god" may be secondary. Lithuanian baltas, Latvian balts signify "the white, the good", and Grimm speculates that the name may originate as a Baltic loan into Common Germanic. In Anglo-Saxon tradition, the son of Woden is called not Bealdor but Bældæg, Beldeg, which shows association with "day", possibly with Day personified as a deity which, Grimm points out, would agree with the meaning "shining one, white one, a god" derived from the meaning of Baltic baltas, further adducing Slavic Belobog and German Berhta.[2]

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