Forseti

Discussion in 'Norse Mythology' started by Caburus, May 5, 2012.

  1. Caburus

    Caburus Active Member

    Foreseti is the son of Balder and Nanna. When his parents die, he becomes lord of Glitnir, the shining hall of justice among gods and men. What else is told about him? Why didn't he revenge his father's death, instead of Vali (who was born with that express purpose in mind)? What happens to him at Ragnorak?
  2. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    According to John Lindow's Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs, 'Except for his presence at Ægir's banquet in the beginning of Skáldskaparmál and in the list of Baldr kennings (in "Forseti's father"), Forseti is otherwise unknown in the mythology.'

    If I'm not mistaken, the point of Óðinn going out of his way to beget a son specifically for the purpose of avenging Balder's death is the same reason none of the other Æsir did the job themselves: they had each taken an oath centuries before, at the time that they joined their race with the Vanir, that none of them could lawfully take the life of another member of the group. Thus a dilemma was created when Höðr killed Balder, an act punishable by death but which death none of them was allowed to effect.

    Váli seems to be the only child of a deity in the mythology who is born to a mortal woman, from Miðgarð (though some sources call her father a Jötunn), and later becomes a deity himself (and his mother together with him). Point being that Váli never took the oath, moreover Forseti was the one dude in Ásgarð who was supposed to be at peace with everyone, since he was renowned for settling all disputes. So perhaps it is telling that he doesn't make an appearance at the Ragnarök: maybe he never participates. And it should make sense for him to join his parents and cousins in the new world after the end of the battle, presumably in a world where there will be no disputes to settle. Maybe it would have been too ironic for him, the peace-bringer, to participate in this cataclysmic last battle, or perhaps it was the one conflict whose opposing parties he hadn't the power to bring to reconciliation.

    The only other point of interest regarding him, apart from the notion that he was originally a Frisian god named Fosite, is that his maternal grandfather Nep is sometimes said to be a Jötunn, but Nep is mentioned in the þulur among the sons of Óðinn. In Norse mythology, it wouldn't be strange for the daughter of a Giant to marry a god and become a goddess, but it would certainly be the only instance in which any god apart from Loki becomes the father of a Giant, if the Jötunn Nep is in fact Óðinn's son (keeping in mind that Loki was himself already, sort of, a Jötunn). Moreover it would mean that Balder's wife Nanna was his own niece.
    Caburus likes this.
  3. Caburus

    Caburus Active Member

    But it didn't stop them punishing Loki, and and his two innocent sons - one being turned into a wolf with the intention that he would then kill the other, the gods then using the dead boy's innards to bind Loki to the rock. Maybe they could have punished Hodr without killing him, and then killed him later? We are never told why he is blind. We know why Tyr has one hand, and Odin one eye, and Sif wears a wig, but Hodr's blindness seems a part of his nature - odd to be born as a god with such a disability.
    I would have thought that if Forseti survived Ragnorak he would have been mentioned. Maybe he disappears from the scene before the great battle, therefore allowing it to occur?
  4. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    That's an interesting take on Forseti's role, or lack thereof, in the Ragnarök.

    The crimes for which Loki is punished actually seem to be his troublemaking mischief (stealing Sif's hair, selling Iðunna out to the Jötunn Thjassi, etc) and insults to his fellow Æsir rather than his indirect murder of Balder, since he performs a lot of his shenanigans after Balder's death, and it's only when all the Æsir are so entirely fed up with him that they decide his time has come. And even then his punishment is not death, my explanation for this being the same as why a new god had to be made to kill Höðr: Loki was an Ás, a blood-brother of them all, and therefore safe from that extreme of retribution at the hands of any one of them, notwithstanding that he himself has never directly killed an Ás.

    It is indeed curious that Loki's sons suffer as severely as they do, and I find it even curiouser that one of them, the one who changes into a wolf, bears the exact same name as Balder's avenger Váli. Maybe the severity of the situation is based on the logic that sons eventually avenge their fathers and so must be got rid of somehow. Or maybe the terrible magic use of Narvi's innards was the only means of keeping Loki bound. All in all, unless we assume that Váli and Narvi are not as innocent as they appear and that there's information regarding them that we do not have, the hand which they are dealt is quite heavy, and plain unfair.

    Story-wise, Höðr's character and blindness seem contrived in order to make up one of the links in the chain of events leading up to the Ragnarök, the beginning of which is that Balder must die. But everyone loves him. But what about Loki, who doesn't care for him much at all? Ah, but there's that pesky oath they all took, Loki included. Well, there's a blind dude who could be tricked into doing Loki's dirty work. He does not seem to serve any other purpose in the mythology beyond being that plot device. But on another hand, we do have Hephaistos in Greek mythology, who was born with such severe deformities that his mother threw him away into Okeanos' depths, and in some versions this fall is what crippled him.
  5. Caburus

    Caburus Active Member

    No one knew, except Loki, that the mistletoe would harm Balder, so Loki in theory could have given it to anyone. Perhaps Hodr's blindness represents the folly in blindly following what other people tell you to do? Maybe as Balder's brother, the were made to contrast each other - Balder shines with brightness, whereas Hodr lives in his own darkness.
    Perhaps Loki's sons had to die because they too were born after the oath (? not sure about that - who was born after the oath other than Vali?), and so were free to revenge their own father's punishment? I suspect an awful lot of Norse mythology has been lost - gives you free reign to make things up though (or should that be tentative guesses based on previous research?:)), - perhaps Vali was a prophetic name for an avenger, so Loki called his son Vali to protect himself?
  6. Alejandro

    Alejandro Active Member

    I totally agree with that analysis of Höðr vis-à-vis Balder, and it's true that we don't know enough about Norse mythology to make as comprehensive a chronology as is possible, say, with Greco-Roman myth. I also think that those are all really good ideas about reasons for the existence of Váli and Narvi as characters, and the reasons for their ultimate fate. Their mother Sigyn is also an enigmatic character we know quite tantalisingly little about.
  7. Caburus

    Caburus Active Member

    I always think Sigyn is a bit of a tragic figure - her sons are punished for no reason, and she spends her time protecting Loki from dripping serpent venom. An example of the dutiful wife (like Nanna who killed herself to follow Baldur).
    Interesting dichotomy between Sigyn and Skaldi; Sigyn is the dutiful wife, while Skadi wouldn't live with her husband. Sigyn catches the venom from a serpent that Skadi set up.
    Alejandro likes this.
  8. Myrddin

    Myrddin Well-Known Member

    You ALWAYS need to research!!:)

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