Sunday, March 9, 2014

Forseti

Forseti (Old Norse "the presiding one," actually "president" in Modern Icelandic and Faroese) is an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation in Norse mythology. He is generally identified with Fosite, a god of the Frisians. Jacob Grimm noted that if, as Adam of Bremen states, Fosite's sacred island was Heligoland, that would make him an ideal candidate for a deity known to both Frisians and Scandinavians, but that it is surprising he is never mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus.

Grimm took Forseti, "praeses", to be the older form of the name, first postulating an unattested Old High German equivalent *forasizo (cf. modern German Vorsitzender "one who presides"). but later preferring a derivation from fors, a 'whirling stream' or 'cataract', connected to the spring and the god's veneration by seagoing peoples. However, in other Old Norse words, for example forboð, 'forbidding, ban', the prefix for- has a pejorative sense. So it is more plausible that Fosite is the older name and Forseti a folk etymology.

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