Iðunn

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In Norse mythology, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth. Iðunn is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, she is described as the wife of the skaldic god Bragi, and in the Prose Edda, also as a keeper of apples and granter of eternal youthfulness.

The Prose Edda relates that Loki was once forced by the jötunn Þjazi to lure Iðunn out of Asgard and into a wood, promising her interesting apples. Þjazi, in the form of an eagle, snatches Iðunn from the wood and takes her to his home. Iðunn's absence causes the gods to grow old and gray, and they realize that Loki is responsible for her disappearance. Loki promises to return her and, in the form of a falcon, finds her alone at Þjazi's home. He turns her into a nut and takes her back to Asgard. After Þjazi finds that Iðunn is gone, he turns into an eagle and furiously chases after Loki. The gods build a pyre in Asgard and, after a sudden stop by Loki, Þjazi's feathers catch fire, he falls, and the gods kill him.

A number of theories surround the meaning of Iðunn, including links to fertility, and a potential origin in Proto-Indo-European religion. Long the subject of artworks, Iðunn is sometimes referenced in modern popular culture.

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Etymology

The name Iðunn may mean "ever young" according to John Lindow[1] or "rejuvenator" according to Andy Orchard,[2] or "the rejuvenating one" according to Rudolf Simek.[3]

19th-century scholar Jacob Grimm proposed a potential etymological connection to the idisi. Grimm states that "with the original form idis the goddess Idunn may possibly be connected."[4] Grimm further states that Iðunn may have been known with another name, and that "Iðunn would seem by Saem. 89a to be an Elvish word, but we do not hear of any other name for the goddess."[5]

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