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Like in Greek mythology (and Dectrip faith, do we have Redditors here?), the reigning god class is not the eldest. Unlike Greek mythology, where there is ample report on family feud, I merely know the names.

For example, have Odin's brothers Vili and Ve ever been mentioned outside the cosmogony texts? (Except from boinking Odin's wife while he was away; my source isn't very trustworthy :-) Etymology-wise, I am immediately suspicious with a name like "Vili", indeed it means "will", hinting an anthropomorphism. Primary sources mentioned are a bit obscure.

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Boink Brothers!


Loki mentions the boinking in Lokasenna (Loki's Wrangling).


Frigg spake:
25. "Of the deeds ye two | of old have done
Ye should make no speech among men;
Whate'er ye have done | in days gone by,
Old tales should ne'er be told."

Loki spake:
26. "Be silent, Frigg! | thou art Fjorgyn's wife,
But ever lustful in love;
For Vili and Ve, | thou wife of Vithrir,
Both in thy bosom have lain."


Though to be fair, I really wonder who did the boinking here --- Vili & Ve or Frigg! (Of course, this is Loki talking...)


The two are mentioned again in Gylfaginning (the Beguiling of Gylfi).


VI. Then asked Gangleri:
"Wherewithal was the cow nourished?"

And Hárr made answer:
"She licked the ice-blocks, which were salty; and the first day that she licked the blocks, there came forth from the blocks in the evening a man's hair; the second day, a man's head; the third day the whole man was there. He is named Búri: he was fair of feature, great and mighty. He begat a son called Borr, who wedded the woman named Bestla, daughter of Bölthorn the giant; and they had three sons: one was Odin, the second Vili, the third Vé. And this is my belief, that he, Odin, with his brothers, must be ruler of heaven and earth; we hold that he must be so called; so is that man called whom we know to be mightiest and most worthy of honor, and ye do well to let him be so called."


Of the names of these gods, it is interesting to note that Odin's name originally had a W sound at the beginning, which was lost in Old Norse. We can still see it in English, for the cognate god name is Woden. The names go back to Primitive Germanic forms, Wôdanaz, indicating a kid of spiritual rage or inspiration. In English, we have the recollection of this sense in the word "wood" or "wode", which means mad, furious, possessed, crazed. The word is related to Latin vates, who were seers, prophets, poets. Vili ultimately derives from wiljô, meaning "will"; Ve derives from wih, meaning some thing or place that is sacred. His name seems to be connected with the words witch and victim, both of which have at their root the concept of the sacred.


As to your last statement, I freely admit that the meanings underlying these gods' names smack of some kind of divinisation of some deep concept. Almost as if the ancient Germanics were groping, as were the Greeks, towards the Agnostos Theos.

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