Saga, Eir, Gefjon, Var, Vor and Synsnotra
In the array of goddesses in the Prose Edda, Saga is found next after
Frigg; possibly Saga is only another name for Frigg. Her house is known as
Sœkkvabek; cool waves wash over her dwelling, and here Odin and she
drink each day from crocks of gold. Some generations since, it was a
common opinion that she was the goddess of history, “saga”; but it is
certain that her name was Sága and not Saga (with a short vowel). No
more reasonable explanation has been proposed than that the name may
have been formed from a root found in at sjá (Gothic saihwan) and thus
has the meaning: she who sees — and knows — all things, in common with
Odin.2 Eir is the goddess of healing, her name having originally been the
common noun eir, “mercy.” Gefjon, according to Snorri’s Edda, was a
maiden, to whom came after death all who died maids. Odin says of her in
Lokasenna that she knows the fates as well as himself. It thus seems as if
Gefjon, like Saga, corresponds to Odin’s wife Frigg. There is another myth
having to do with a Gefjon who was one of Odin’s following. She asked
king Gylfi of Sweden for as much land as she could plow around in one
day, and he promised her the gift. She accordingly transformed her sons
into oxen, put them before the plow, and with them she plowed loose all the
land that once lay where now lies Lake Mälaren. This parcel of earth she
drew out into the Baltic, and the land is now called Zealand; there she made
her home, and there she was wedded to Odin’s son Scyld. Var hears the
oaths of fidelity that men and women make to each other. Hence, if report
be true, these promises are known as várar, and Var punishes those who break them.
Vor is endowed with prudence; she searches into all things so that nothing
remains hidden from her. Syn “guards the door of the hall” and prevents the
unworthy from entering; she also hinders men from bearing false witness in
courts of law; thence, says Snorri, we get syn, “the act of denying” (at
synja). Snotra is wise and decorous of manner.
Peter Andreas Munch: Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods and Heroes. The American-Scandinavian Foundation, New York. 1926, pp. 28-29.
Rasmus B. Anderson (Ed.): The Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson. Norrćna Society, London-New York. 1906.
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