Gerðr

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In Norse mythology, Gerðr (Old Norse "fenced-in"[1]) is a jötunn, goddess, and the wife of the god Freyr. Gerðr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in the poetry of skalds. Gerðr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Gerd or Gerth.

In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Freyr sees Gerðr from a distance, becomes deeply lovesick at the sight of her shimmering beauty, and has his servant Skírnir go to Jötunheimr (where Gerðr and her father Gymir reside) to gain her love. In the Poetic Edda Gerðr initially refuses, yet after a series of threats by Skírnir she finally agrees. In the Prose Edda, no mention of threats is made. In both sources, Gerðr agrees to meet Freyr at a fixed time at the location of Barri and, after Skírnir returns with Gerðr's response, Freyr laments that the meeting could not occur sooner. In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Gerðr is described as the daughter of Gymir and the mountain jötunn Aurboða.

In Heimskringla, Gerðr is recorded as the wife of Freyr, euhemerized as having been a beloved king of Sweden. In the same source, the couple are the founders of the Yngling dynasty and produced a son, Fjölnir, who rose to kinghood after Freyr's passing and continued their line. Gerðr is commonly theorized to be a goddess associated with the earth. Gerðr has inspired works of art and literature.

Contents

Attestations

Gerðr is attested in two poems in the Poetic Edda, in two books of the Prose Edda, and in two books in Heimskringla.

Poetic Edda

In the Poetic Edda poem Skírnismál, the god Freyr sat on the high seat Hlidskjalf and looked into all worlds. Freyr saw a beautiful girl walking from the hall of her father to a storehouse. Freyr became heartsick for the girl. Freyr has a page named Skírnir. Freyr's father Njörðr and, in verse, the goddess Skaði tell Skírnir to find out what is the matter with Freyr. An exchange occurs between Freyr and Skírnir in verse, where Freyr tells Skírnir that he has seen a wonderous girl with shining arms at the home of (her father) Gymir, yet that the gods and elves do not wish for the two to be together:

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