Einherjar

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In Norse mythology, the einherjar (Old Norse "lone fighters"[1]) are those that have died in battle and are brought to Valhalla by valkyries. In Valhalla, the einherjar eat their fill of the nightly-resurrecting beast Sæhrímnir, and are brought their fill of mead (from the udders of the goat Heiðrún) by valkyries. The einherjar prepare daily for the events of Ragnarök, when they will advance for an immense battle at the field of Vígríðr.

The einherjar are attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, the poem Hákonarmál (by the 10th century skald Eyvindr skáldaspillir) as collected in Heimskringla, and a stanza of an anonymous 10th century poem commemorating the death of Eric Bloodaxe known as Eiríksmál as compiled in Fagrskinna.

Scholarly theories have been proposed etymologically connecting the einherjar to the Harii (a Germanic tribe attested in the first century CE), the eternal battle of Hjaðningavíg, and the Wild Hunt. The einherjar have been the subject of works of art and poetry.

Contents

Attestations

Poetic Edda

In the poem Vafþrúðnismál, Odin engages the wise jötunn Vafþrúðnir in a game of wits. Disguised as Gagnráðr, Odin asks Vafþrúðnir "where men fight in courts every day." Vafþrúðnir responds that (here einherjar is translated as einheriar):

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