When Gylfi tries to trick the gods into entering Asgard under a false identity, he adopts the name Gangleri.

Later, during his discussion with Hár, Jafnhár, and Þriðji, it is revealed to him in stanza 20 the list of names by which Odin is known (I cite here the norse version):

Hétumk Grímr
ok Gangleri,
Herjann, Hjalmberi,
Þekkr, Þriði,
Þuðr, Uðr,
Helblindi, Hárr,
Saðr, Svipall,
Herteitr, Hnikarr,
Bileygr, Báleygr,
Bölverkr, Fjölnir,
Grímnir, Glapsviðr, Fjölsviðr,
Síðhöttr, Síðskeggr,
Sigföðr, Hnikuðr,
Alföðr, Atríðr, Farmatýr,
Óski, Ómi,
Jafnhárr, Biflindi,
Göndlir, Hárbarðr,
Sviðurr, Sviðrir,
Jalkr, Kjalarr, Viðurr,
Þrór, Yggr, Þundr,
Vakr, Skilfingr,
Váfuðr, Hroftatýr,
Gautr, Veratýr.

Not only does the list contains the name of his interlocutors (which was expected) but the pseudonym he chose is also contained in the list, hence my question: what does it mean? Did Gylfi chose the name knowingly? Is it a way for Odin to tell him that he is aware of the trickery? Or just a random etymological coincidence?

1 Answer 1


The same name being applied to each of them likely reflects the similarity of the roles, as a wanderer. Gylfi takes up a role markedly similar to one you might expect from Odin in this aspect, as a wanderer:

Gylfi takes the Odin-role in this contest of wisdom, as the traveler under an assumed name, and indeed this assumed name, Gangleri, is one of Odin's...
Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs John Lindow

From Simek's "Dictionary of Northern Mythology", the name Gangleri means "the one tired from walking" (or simply "the wanderer"). It's an appropriate choice of a pseudonym for Gylfi, as he poses as a travelling old man.

It's also appropriate for Odin, who frequently travelled in disguise himself (seen in Grímnismál and Vafþrúðnismál). This name for him does not appear only in this story, so is unlikely to be injected just to indicate they are wise to his deception. This name for Odin is also attested in the Poetic Edda, in the Grimnismal, which is likely, at least in part, Snorri Sturlson's source for the quoted passage:

  1. Grim is my name, | Gangleri am I,
    Herjan and Hjalmberi,
    Thekk and Thrithi, | Thuth and Uth,
    Helblindi and Hor;

  2. Sath and Svipal | and Sanngetal,
    Herteit and Hnikar,
    Bileyg, Baleyg, | Bolverk, Fjolnir,
    Grim and Grimnir, | Glapsvith, Fjolsvith.

  3. Sithhott, Sithskegg, | Sigfather, Hnikuth,
    Allfather, Valfather, | Atrith, Farmatyr:
    A single name | have I never had
    Since first among men I fared.

  4. Grimnir they call me | in Geirröth's hall,
    With Asmund Jalk am I;
    Kjalar I was | when I went in a sledge,
    At the council Thror am I called,
    As Vithur I fare to the fight;
    Oski, Biflindi, | Jafnhor and Omi,
    Gondlir and Harbarth midst gods.

Rudolf Simek stresses, by the way, that the same name does not make the two the same person:

...Snorri also says that Gylfi who comes to the gods is called Gangleri, but he is definitely not identical with Odin. The name Gangleri is clearly connected with Odin's frequent role as a solitary wanderer.
A Dictionary of Northern Mythology, Rudolf Simek

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