loki fables name asir thor baldur northmen odin time life
YESCULAPIUS, in the Heathen Mythology, the god of medicine, was the son of Apollo and the nymph Coronis. He was educated by the centaur Chiron, who taught him the art of healing; and his skill enabled him to cure the most desperate diseases. But Jupiter, enraged at his restoring to life Hippolytus, who had been torn in pieces by his own horses, killed him with a thunderbolt. According to Cicero, there were three deities of this name : the first, the son of Apollo, worshipped in Arcadia, who invented the probe and bandages for wounds; the second, the brother of Mercury, who was killed by lightning ; and the third, the son of Arsippus and Arsinoe, who was the first to teach tooth-drawing and purging. At Epidaurus, .tEsculapius's statue was of gold and ivory, with a long beard, the head surrounded with rays, a knotty stick in one hand, and the other entwined with a serpent : the figure was seated on a throne of the same materials as the statue, and had a dog lying at its feet. The Romans crowned him with laurel, to represent his descent from Apollo; and the Phliasians represented him as beardless. The cock, the raven, and the goat were sacred to this deity. His chief temples were at Pergamos, Smyrna, Tricca, a city in Thessaly, and the isle of Coos; in all which places votive tablets were hung up, showing the names of those cured and the diseases of which they were healed by his assistance. But his most famous shrine was at Epidaurus, where, every five years, games were celebrated in his honour, nine days after the Isthmian games at Corinth.
./ESIII (plural of As, or Ass, god), the gods of the Northmen of Scandinavia and Iceland. There were twelve chief gods or Asir besides Odin (the All fabir, All-father), viz., Thor, Baldur, Niord, Frey, T9. or T9r, Bragi, Heimdal, Hod, Yidar, Ull, Forsetti, Loki or Lopt. The chief goddesses of ASGARD (q.v.), the Odinic Olympus, were - Frigg, Freyia, Nanna, Sif, Saga, Hel, Gefion, Eir, Hlin, Lofn, 1713r, Snotra. The names of the .iEsir, considered in the primary old northern significance of the words, convey in most instances an allusion to their characteristics; but it is impossible to decide whether they merely personify certain physical powers in nature, and abstract ideas of definite mental conditions, or whether they were origihally borne by individuals connected with the pre-historic ages of the people. It is probable that the ideas underlying the myths connected with the Asir have a mixed origin, and may be referred to a blending of physical, material, and historical elements. Our knowledge of northern mythology has been derived principally from the fragmentary remains of ancient Scandinavian songs, first collected in Iceland in the 11th century, and embodied in the 13th century with numerous other prose and poetic myths in a compilation now known to us as the Ethics. From these highly interesting but frequently obscure sources we are able to reproduce to a certain extent the image and conception of each of the Asir, as they presented themselves to the imagination of their early northern worshippers.
In Thor, who seems to have been a god of that earlier Phoenician form of nature-worship which was superseded in Scandinavia and Northern Germany by the faith of Odin, we have the impersonation of the disturbing and destructive agencies in the universe. He is the son of heaven and earth - of Odin, the All-father, and of Frigg or Fi6rgvin, the vivifying - and is the strongest of the tEsir. From his hammer flashed the lightning, and his chariot wheels sent thunder rolling through the clouds as he went on his way, cleaving mountains, loosening the pent-up streams and fires, and slaying all giants and misshapen monsters. Ever busily engaged in these labours, he seldom tarried in Asgard with the other iEsir, but dwelt in his mansion, Bilskirnir, in the densest gloom of the clouds. With his mallet he consecrated the newly-wedded, and hence the sign of the mallet or hammer was made by the Northmen when they took an oath and bound themselves by vows, whether of marriage or any other obligation. The early Christian missionaries of Norway, finding the faith in Thor too strong to be suddenly uprooted, tried to transfer many of his characteristics to their zealous royal convert, St Olaf, who was said to have resembled the old northern god in his comeliness of person, his bright red beard, hot, angry temper, and personal strength; while some of the monks of a later period endeavoured to persuade the Northmen that in Thor their forefathers had worshipped the Christ, the strong and mighty Saviour of the oppressed, and that his mallet was the rude image of the cross. Slaves and all thralls killed in battle were believed to be under the protection of Thor, who, as god of the Finns before the spread of the As religion, was honoured as their special guardian against the tyranny of their new masters.
In Baldur the Northmen honoured all that was beautiful, eloquent, wise, and good, and he was the spirit of activity, joy, and light; but his name signifies the strong in mind, and the earliest conception of Baldur is that of mental rather than physical or material perfection. His wife, Nanna, reflected these attributes in a less degree. On his life depended the activity and happiness of all the iEsir, excepting only Loki, the earthly fire or incarnation of evil, and hence this As, from envy of the beauty and innocence of Baldur, brought about his death, and hindered his release from the power of Hel, the goddess of death.
According to the myth, the lEsir, distressed at Baldur's presenti• ment of his own approaching end, joined his mother, Frigg, in exacting an oath from animals, plants, and minerals, not to injure him. the mistletoe alone among plants had been forgotten, and when this was discovered by Loki he pulled a wand of it, and hastening to the assembly of the Asir, where all were engaged in the sport of shooting at Baldur, as he was supposed to be invulnerable, he gave it to Mid, the blind god of brute strength, and directed him how to aim it. The mistletoe pierced Baldur through, and he fell dead to the ground in the presence of the iEsir, who, foreseeing the evil that would befall them, since light and purity had been taken from them, gave way to sorrow and fear. When all their efforts to release Balder from Mel had been thwarted by the machinations cf Loki, they resolved to avenge themselves. Having captured their foe, they confined him within a mountain-cave, and hung above his head a venomous snake, to drop its poison on his face ; but his wife, Sian, stood by him, and caught the drops in a cup, and ft was only while she emptied the goblet that the venom touched him, when lie shrank aside, and caused the earth to be shaken as with an earthquake. There Loki will remain till Ingnaniek, the twilight of the world, when the iEsir, the earth, and all dwellers therein, will be destroyed by the powers of evil, the rescuers and companions of Loki. Only Odin, the All-father, will survive, and gather around him on Ida's plain, where Asgard had once stood, the .tEsir, regenerate and purified by Surt's black fire, and then a new and better world will arise, in which Baldur will again come with his unconscious slayer, Hod, and all evil will cease, and light and darkness will dwell together in unity.
Under one form of the myth of Baldur's death he is the bright god of day or summer, and Hod, the blind and the strong, is dark night or fiercely-raging winter, his preordained foe and destroyer. After that final purification by suffering or fire, and the regeneration to which the .Northmen looked as the means of the ultimate adjustment of the disturbed balance between evil and good, and from which they did not exempt their gods, the influence of good was to prevail. Baldur would reappear, and Loki, the consuming power of evil, be no more heard of.
Loki, in the beginning of time, under the name of Lodthur, flame, and as the foster-brother of the All-father, had united with him in imparting blessings to the universe, and had given blood and a fair colour to Ask and Embla, from which the first men were created. Afterwards he left the council of the Asir, and like a fallen angel wandered away into regions of space, desolating and consuming all things that came in contact with his fierce flame. Descending into the bowels of the earth, where his presence is made manifest by volcanic fires, he consorted with evil giantesses, by whom he became the father of Hel, pallid death ; of Angurboda, the announcer of sorrow ; and of the wolf Fenrir, and the serpent of Midgard, which are ever threatening the destruction of the world and the peace of the iEsir.
Loki can assume all forms. As sensuality he courses through the veins of men, and as heat and fire he pervades nature, causing death and destruction. After the introduction of Christianity, the attributes and mystic deeds of Loki were transferred to Satan by the people of Scandinavia, amongst whose descendants his name still retains its evil reputation. In Iceland an ignis pilots is known as Loki's burning ; and in Jutland, when there is a dazzling light or a waving motion in the air which impedes the sight of distant objects, the peasants say, "Loki is sowing his oats."
Niord, supposed to be the Nerthus known to the Romans, and his children Frey or Fricco and Freyia, appear to have been honoured in the north before the time of Odin, and to have been worshipped by peoples powerful enough to have been admitted into friendly alliance with his followers. Niord is said to have-lived in Yanaheim, and to have ruled over the Vanir, or light elves, long before he became one of the Asir. He is god of the ocean, the ruler of winds and stiller of waves, and to him the seafarer and fisherman raise altars and make prayers. His attributes and powers seem to point to the existence of a superior knowledge of navigation among those ancient races of Scandinavia who have been idealised in the imagination of the Northmen as good, bright, and agile elves and water-sprites - the Lies Alfar - or Vanir of their mythology. Niord's sc n Frey is the god of rain, plenty, and fruitfulness; and his worship, according to the early northern chronicler, Adam of Bremen, was accompanied with phallic rites. His sister and wife, Freyia, who bolds a high place among the iEsir, is the goddess of love; but her influence, unlike her husband's, is not always beneficent, and varies with the form which she assumes in operating on the minds of men. Her chariot is drawn by cats, as emblematic of fondness and passion, and a hog attends upon her and upon Frey, whose name, like her own, implies fructification or enjoyment.
The Swedes paid especial honour to Frey, while the Norwegians worshipped Thor (who was in all respects his opposite) as their chief As. The latter must also have received divine honours amongst the Germans, as his name is included in the form of objurgation used by the early Saxon missionaries ; but this fact and the German name of the fifth day of the week - Donners-tag, the Thunderer's day - are the only evidences still extant of the early worship of Thor in Germany.
By their alliance with Niord and his children the lEsir secured fertility to the earth and mankind, and the intervention of 'mild gentle agencies in nature to counteract the destructive influence of Thor's power.
In 77,g or Tgr we have the Mars of the Northmen. It is he who gives victory, and although he is as wise as he is brave, it is he who stirs men to strife, and not to peace. His name, which signifies honour, is found in the names of the days of the week in 0. Nor., Dan., A.-S., and in our own " Tuesday," and shows that, like Thor and Frey or Freyia, whose memory is perpetuated in our Thursday and Friday, the worship of this bravest of the 1lisir was widely spread among peoples of Northern origin.
In Bragi the .Northmen honoured the originator of their Skaldic poetry, the god of eloquence and wise utterances. At guilds and at grave-feasts the Bragi-cup was drunk; and at the funeral of kings or jarls the heir was not permitted to take his father's seat till the " Bragarfull" was brought in, when, rising to receive it, he drank the contents of the cup, and was led to the high seat of honour. At guild feasts the Bragi-cup was signed with Thor's mallet, and was drunk after the company had drained Odin's cup for victory, and Niord's and Frey's cup for a bountiful year.
The peculiarity of Bragi's cup was that, on drinking it, a vow - held to be inviolable - was made to perform some deed worthy of a skald's song. Bragi's wife, Linn, as the guardian of the casket which contained apples that gave to those who ate them perpetual youth, was specially cherished by the other Ailsir. In her adduction by the giant Thiassi, and her removal to the nether world through Loki's craft, her mute grief, and her release in the spring, we have an analogy with the myth of l'roserpiue ; and like her she presides over fresh verdure.
Heimdal, whose attribute is the rainbow, is the god of watchfulness, the doorkeeper of the Asir; while Vidal., the strongest of the gods after Thor, is the impersonation of silence and caution; Pt decides the issue of single combats, and Forsetti settles all quarrels.
In the goddesses Lola and For lovers find protectors; the former unites the faithful, the latter punishes the faithless. Gelion, to whom the Danes owe the formation of the island Seeland, watches over maidens, and knows the decrees of fate. Jilin guards those whom Frigg, the queen and mother of heaven, is desirous of freeing from peril; Frigg herself, as Odin's wife and the mother of the Asir, knows the destinies of men, but is silent in regard to them. As goddess of the earth, she is known as Frygga, the fertile summer earth, and Rinda the frost-hardened surface, and is attended by Fulla, the full, .Eir, the young goddess of healing, and many other goddesses.
Saga, whose name is derived from Segja, to narrate, is the goddess of history and narration. Odin and she pledge each other daily in golden cups filled from the copious ever-flowing streams of her abode, Sockquabek (from Sokk, abyss, in allusion to the abundant streams of narrative). Snotra is the goddess of sagacity and elegance, from whom men and women seek good sense and refinement of manners. The Norris and the Valkyriur, if not actually goddesses, are closely connected with the Asir. The three principal Norris or Nornir are Urd, past time; Verdandi, present time; and Skulld, future time. They and the Valkyriur, who arc, known under many names, twist and spin the threads of destiny, and snake known what has been decreed from the beginning of time.
From this brief outline it may be seen that in their Asir the Northmen recognised the creators, sustainers, and regulators of the world as it now is, from whom emanated the thought and life that pervade and animate all nature, and the efforts to subject it to the spiritual will. With Odin and the Asir the intellectual life of the northern people began ; and although they ascribed to them human forms and acts, these were seldom without something higher and nobler than what pertains to mortals; and while they recognised the existence of a state of chaos and darkness before this world began with the creation of the .1Esir, they anticipated the advent of another state, in which gods, like men, would receive their award at the hands of a supreme All-father. (E. c. o.) !ESOP, the fabulist, is supposed to have been born about the year 620 B.C., but the place of his birth is uncertain, that honour being claimed alike by Samos, Sardis, Meson- bria in Thrace, and Cotimum in Phrygia. He was brought, while young, to Athens as a slave, and having served several masters, was eventually enfranchised by Iadmon the Saurian. He thereupon visited Crcesus, king of Lydia, at whose court he is represented by Plutarch as reproving Solon for his discourteous manner towards the king. During the usurpation of Pisistratus he is said to have visited Athens, and composed the fable of Jupiter and time Frogs for the instruction of the citizens (Plnedrus, i. 2). As the ambassador of Crcesus at Delphi he was charged with the payment of the large sum of four mime to each of the citizens; but in consequence of some dispute, he declined to distribute the money. The Delphians, incensed at his conduct, accused him of sacrilege, and threw him headlong from a precipice, about 564 B.C. A pestilence which ensued being attributed to this crime, the people declared their willingness to make compensation for his death; which, in default of a nearer connection, was claimed and received by Iadmon, the grandson of his old master (Plut. de sera _Num. rind., p. 556, Herodot. ii. 134). None of Asop's works are extant, The popular stories regarding him are derived from a life prefixed to a book of fables purporting to be his, collected by Maximus Planudes, a monk of the 14th century, in which he is represented as a monster of ugliness and deformity, a notion utterly without foundation, and doubtless intended to heighten his wit by the contrast. That this life, however, was in existence a century before Planudes's time, appears by a manuscript of it found at Florence, and published in 1809. In Plutarch's Convirium, where Asop is a guest, though there are many jests on his original servile condition, there are none on his appearance; and it would seem that the ancients were not usually restrained by delicacy in this point, since the personal defects of Socrates, and his resemblance to old Silenus, afford ample matter for merriment and raillery in the Symposium of Plato. We are told, besides, that the Athenians erected in honour of Asop a noble statue by the famous sculptor Lysippus, a circumstance which alone would be sufficient to confute the absurd fiction of his deformity; but more to the point is the statement of Pliny (xxxvi. 12), that he was the Contubernalis of Rhodopis, his fellow-slave, whose extraordinary beauty passed into a proverb: 'Aircta 5,uoia, Kra 'PoUris i7 real-b• The obscurity in which the history of sop is involved has induced some to deny his existence altogether; and Giambattista Vico, in his Scienza 1Vsto2,,a, chooses rather to consider him as an abstraction, an excess of scepticism which is quite unreasonable. Whether Asop left any written fables has been more justly disputed, and Bentley inclines to the negative. Thus Aristophanes ( Vespff, v. 1259) represents Philocleon as learning his fables in conversation, and not from a book; and Socrates essayed to versify such as he remembered (Plat. Phayd. p. 61). Others, again, are of opinion that a collection had been made of them before the time of Socrates (shies. Crit. i. 40S). It is, however, certain that fables bearing Asop's name were popular at Athens during the most brilliant period of its literary history; though the discrepancies of authors in quoting the same fables seem in favour of Bentley's hypothesis. (Compare Aristot. De Part. Anine.
iii. 2; and Lucian, Sign 32). The original fables were in prose, and were turned into verse by several writers; the first, after the example of Socrates, being Demetrius Phalereus. Next appeared au edition in elegiac verse, often cited by Suidas, but the author's name is unknown; then Babrius, an excellent Greek poet, turned them into choliambics (i.e. limping iambics); but of ten books, a few fables only are preserved entire. Of the Latin writers of .iEsopean fables, Plicedrus is the most celebrated.
The fables now extant in prose under fEsop's name are entirely spurious, as is proved by Bentley in his Dissertation on the Fables of JEsop, and have been assigned an oriental origin. The identification of /Esop with the Arabian philosopher and fabulist Lokman (who is made by some traditions the contemporary of the psalmist David) has frequently been attempted; and the Persian accounts of Lokman, which among other things describe him as an ugly black slave, appear to have been blended by the author of the Life, published by Planudes, with the classical stories respecting "Esop. The similarity of the fables ascribed to each renders it probable that they were derived from the same Indo-Persian source, or from the Chinese, who appear to have possessed such fables in very remote antiquity. A complete collection of the )Esopean fables, 231 in number, was published at Breslau by J. G. Schneider in 1810.
.ESOP, a Greek historian, whose life of Alexander the Great is preserved in a Latin translation by Julius Valerius. It is a work of no credit, abounding in errors.