Heimdall

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In Norse mythology, Heimdallr is a god. Heimdallr possesses the resounding horn Gjallarhorn, owns the golden-maned horse Gulltoppr, is "the whitest of the gods", has gold teeth, and is the son of Nine Mothers. Heimdallr is attested as possessing foreknowledge, keen eyesight and hearing, and keeps watch for the onset of Ragnarök while drinking fine mead in his dwelling Himinbjörg, located where the burning rainbow bridge Bifröst meets heaven. Heimdallr is said to be the originator of social classes among mankind, once regained Freyja's treasured possession Brísingamen while doing battle in the shape of a seal with Loki, and Heimdallr and Loki are foretold to kill one another during the events of Ragnarök. Heimdallr is additionally referred to as Hallinskiði, Gullintanni, and Vindhlér or Vindhlér.

Heimdallr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional material; in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in the poetry of skalds, and two lines of an otherwise lost poem about the god, Heimdalargaldr, survive. Due to the problematic and enigmatic nature of these attestations, scholars have produced various theories about the nature of the god, including his apparent relation to rams, that he may be a personification of or connected to the world tree Yggdrasil, and potential Indo-European cognates.

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Etymology

The etymology of the name Heimdallr is not clear, but 'the one who illuminates the world' has been proposed. The name may be connected to Mardöll, one of Freyja's names.[1] The introductory of the poem Heimdallr and its variants are sometimes modernly anglicized as Heimdall (with the nominative -r dropped) or Heimdal.

Heimdallr is attested as having three other names; Hallinskiði, Gullintanni, and Vindhlér or Vindhlér. The name Hallinskiði is obscure, but has resulted in a series of attempts at deciphering it. Gullintanni literally means 'the one with the golden teeth'. Vindhlér (or Vindhlér) translates as either 'the one protecting against the wind' or 'wind-sea'. All three have resulted in numerous theories about the god.[2]

Attestations

In the Poetic Edda, Heimdallr is attested in six poems; Völuspá, Grímnismál, Lokasenna, Þrymskviða, Rígsþula, and Hrafnagaldr Óðins.

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