*Frijjō (given as "Frigg-Frija" when referring to a hypothesis of a shared origin) is the reconstructed name or epithet of a hypothesized Common Germanic love goddess giving rise to both Frigg and Freyja.

It is uncertain whether Frigg and Freyja share a common origin and to what extent they were similar in continental Germanic traditions. There is little evidence from the pre-Viking era and the arguments are largely based on linguistics and place-names.[1] Due to linguistic variations between various branches of Germanic languages, where even a god that is clearly the same may be called by different-looking names, confusion about apparent cognates has not been conclusively resolved.

The weekday Friday is named after the goddess, from the Old English frīgedæg, which is probably equivalent to the Latin dies veneris which is named for the goddess Venus.

Mythological similarities

Frigg is the most prominent female member of the Aesir faction of the Germanic gods, and often identified as the spouse of the chief god, *Wōdanaz (Woden, Odin). Freya is the most prominent female member of the Vanir faction of the gods, is described as being adept at seid (magic), and is the wife of Ód.

In West German traditions the difference between Freyja and Frigg is not clear. However, Frigg appears a number of times in surviving Norse mythology. In Gylfaginning Frigg is described by Snorri as the preeminent goddess. She fills the role of wife, mother, and advisor to Odin. In the story she warns Odin not to doubt Vafthrúdnir, the wisest giant. Frigg quarrels with Odin in the prose introduction to Grímnismál.[2] Frigg is sometimes accused of infidelity to Odin, specifically in Ynglinga saga, Gesta Danorum and Lokasenna, where Loki accuses her of it. Frigg does not deny the charge from Loki, and in this story Freyja intervenes, warning Loki that Frigg has powers of prophecy.

Some significant similarities between Frigg and Freyja have been noted:

  • The power of prophecy is attributed to Frigg, which seems more properly related to the seid (magic or divination) of Freyja.[3]
  • Hugo Junger argues that place-names in Scandinavia seem to link cult sites for Freyja with names derived from Frigg.[3]
  • Freyja's husband Ód is often away on journeys, like Frigg's husband Odin.[3]
  • Both Frigg and Freyja are described as having traded sex for jewelry.[4]

Frigg is often associated with weaving, combining the aspects of a love goddess and a domestic goddess.[5] In Sweden and some parts of Germany, the asterism of Orion's Belt is known as her distaff or spindle.[6] Fulla is named as Frija's sister in the Merseburg charms. In Norse mythology Fulla appears as one of a train of sixteen goddesses. These goddesses have been theorized as each performing a task representing an aspect of Frigg's, among them also Freyja.

Among historical artifacts that have been found, the "woman" type of bracteates[7] has been identified as possibly depicting Frigg-Frija. There are five known bracteates of this type, IK 259 (Großfahner-B), IK 311 (Oberwerschen-B), IK 350 (site of discovery unknown, reportedly from "south-western Germany"), IK 389 (Welschingen-B), IK 391 (Gudme-II-B).[8] In all of these bracteates, the female figure depicted is holding a cross-shaped staff, interpreted as a distaff. IK 350 is additionally decorated with a number of crosses, and IK 259 has additional swastikas. Iconographically related are five gold bracteates found in Hüfingen, Bavaria (Pesch 2007:126).

Various female figures in medieval folklore have been associated with Frigg-Freyja: the Saxon Fru Freke, Gode, Perchta (Bertha), Holda (Holle). According to Rudolf Much,

"Jordh, Frigg, Freyja, Nerthus, Fulla, Nanna, and others have been argued to be similar, personifying life, producing nature."[9]

The goddesses Holda, from hold (sweet, kind) and Berhta from berht (bright, beautiful) resemble both Frigg and Freyja. A Swedish folk-song, in naming Froijenborg, calls her den väna solen, the beautiful sun.

Etymology of name

The two Old Norse goddesses Freyja and Frigg appear to be reflected by only a single goddess in West Germanic mythology and have been hypothesized by some to derive from a single Common Germanic goddess, whose epithets may have been *frijjō "beloved" and *frawjō "lady". In this theory Freyja "Lady" is considered a hypostasis of the chief "Frigg-Frija" goddess, together with other hypostases like Fulla and Nanna derived from skaldic epithets, similar to Odhr besides many other aspects in skaldic tradition deriving from Odin. The Merseburg charm has Frûâ (Frôwâ) as the proper name of the goddess.

According to Jacob Grimm, in his 1882 Deutsche Mythologie (German Mythology), Langobardic Frea is a cognate of the Old High German Frîa, and not only corresponds with Frigg, but is the original form of the name. He says that is not directly related to Freyja and the Old English masculine freá. He argues for a subtle difference in meaning, where Freyja implies "gladsome, gladdening, sweet and gracious" and Frigg implies "free, beautiful, lovable". Grimm says that Frejya is associated with frau (mistress) and Frigg with frî (woman).

The theonyms in West Germanic are Old English *Frīg, Old High German Frīja, Low German (Lower Saxony) Frike, Freke (Fru Freen, Fru Frien, Fru Freke, Fru Frick, Fuik, Frie)[10] and Lombardic Frea. The name of the early English goddess is attested only in the name of the weekday, although frīg (strong feminine) as a common noun meaning "love" (in the singular) or "affections, embraces" (in the plural) is attested in poetry.[11]

The etymology of Frigg is believed to ultimately derive from Proto-Indo-European *prih-y(a)h, cognate to Sanskrit priya "dear, beloved",[12] which however in Germanic split into two etymons, one covering the semantic field of "love, courtship, friendship" (English friend), the other the field of "freedom" (English free).[13]

The linguistic discussion of these names is complicated by issues of Germanic Verschärfung. Old Norse Frigg is related to frakkr "free, bold", cognate to Old English frēo, Gothic freis "free". The velar is discussed as "aberrant" by Austin (1946), traced to an Indo-European laryngeal.[14] In this view, Frigg and Frija have exactly the same etymology, one featuring the "aberrant velar":

Proto-Indo-European *prihj- > Germanic *friγj- > West Germanic *frijj- > frīj- but North Germanic *friggj-.[15]

However, this laryngealist view of the sound law is not accepted by all linguists..

The proposed epithet of *frawjō "lady" (Freyja, Frea, Old High German frouwâ, Gothic fraujô) is motivated by the reconstruction of *frawjaz "lord" (Freyr, Old High German frô, Gothic frauja, Anglo-Frisian freá, frôho). The term *frawjō ("lady, domina"), which was used to describe goddesses, and the Old English frēo "woman",[16] Old Saxon frī- "woman, wife", appear to be unrelated in origin,[17] but were confounded in early times, especially in Old English, where the stem of *frīj- appears as frēo-, frīo-, frēa- (a contraction of *īj- and a following back vowel) beside a less frequent stem form frīg- (/fri:j-/), by development of a glide between ī and a following front vowel. The two forms would originally have figured in complementary distribution within the same paradigm (e.g. masculine nominative singular frēo, masculine genitive singular frīges), but in attested Old English analogical forms are already present and the distribution is no longer complementary[18]

The day of the week Friday in Old Norse is called both Freyjudagr and Frjádagr, in Faröese Fríggjadagur, and in Old High German is never given as *Frouwûntac, but rather Frîatac, Frîgetac, and now Freitag, in Old English Frigedæg.

See also


  1. John Lindow, Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs, Oxford University Press (2001), ISBN 0-19-515382-0, p. 129.
  2. Lindow, p. 128.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lindow
  4. Stephan Grundy, "Freyja and Frigg" in Billington, Sandra; Green, Miranda; ed., The Concept of the Goddess. Routledge (1998). p. 57. ISBN 0-415-19789-9.
  5. Mythological Women: Studies in Memory of Lotte Motz, 1922-1997, Fassbaender, 2002, ISBN 9783900538736, p. 70; M. J. Enright, The Goddess Who Weaves: Some Iconographic Aspects of Bracteates of the Fürstenberg Type. In: FMSt 24, 1990, 54-70.
  6. Edwardes and Spence (1913); in Swedish both Friggerock "Frigg's distagg" and Frejerock "Freyja's Distaff", see Schön, Ebbe. (2004). Asa-Tors hammare, Gudar och jättar i tro och tradition. Fält & Hässler, Värnamo. p. 228.
  7. Frauenbrakteaten, type B7, also called Fürstenberg or Oberwerschen type.
  8. Alexandra Pesch, Die Goldbrakteaten der Völkerwanderungszeit: Thema und Variation, Walter de Gruyter, 2007 ISBN 978-3-11-020110-9, pp. 125-128.
  9. cited after Edwardes and Spence (1913).
  10. The k isn't a reflex of Old Norse ggj (as implied by Paul Hermann 1903), but a diminutive, as it were Frija-ke, Frea-ke (Elard Hugo Meyer, Mythologie der Germanen 1903).
  11. Oxford English Dictionary s.v. "Friday".
  12. Wodtko et al., Nomina im Indogermanischen Lexikon, Heidelberg (2008) ISBN 978-3-8253-5359-9, s.v. "preyH", pp. 568-573.
  13. Gothic frijôn translates φιλειν, αγαπαν "to love". Old English freogan, freon Old Saxon friehan. Also cognate are the Germanic terms for friend. The Old High German verb frijôn "nubere, uxorem ducere, woo, to take a wife" (Modern German freien) contrasts with frijan "liberare". It is foreign to Upper German, and was probably adopted from Low German (Deutsches Wörterbuch, Grimm]]).
  14. William M. Austin, A Corollary to the Germanic Verscharfung, Language, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1946), pp. 109-111.
  15. Henry Lee Smith, Jr., The Verscharfung in Germanic, Language, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1941), pp. 93-98.
  16. attested only in a single isolated occurrence in the translation of the fragmentary Old Saxon Genesis poem, in the alliteratinf phrase frēo fægroste "fairest of women": OE Genesis B 457 Oððæt he Adam on eorðrice, godes handgesceaft, gearone funde, wislice geworht, and his wif somed, freo fægroste.
  17. *frawjō derives from Proto-Indo-European *pro-w-y-ah, containing *pro- "in front". Garrett S. Olmsted, The Gods of the Celts and the Indo-Europeans (1994), p. 80; Gerhard Köbler, Gotisches Wörterbuch (1989) ISBN 978-90-04-09128-3, p. 165.
  18. Oxford English Dictionary s.v. "free"; A. Campbell Old Eng. Gram. (1959) §410.

Additional references

  • Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, ch. 13.
  • M. Scheller, Vedisch ‘priyá-’ u. die Wortsippe ‘frei, freien, Freund’ (1959).
  • D. H. Green, Lang. & Hist. Early Germanic World (1998) 39-41.
  • Jan de Vries, Studien over germaansche mythologie, VII: De skaldenkenningen met de namen der godinnen Freyja en Frigg, Tijdschrift voor nederlandsche taal- en letterkunde 53 (1934), 210-217.
  • Marian Edwardes, Lewis Spence, Dictionary of Non-Classical Mythology (1913); 2003 reprint ISBN 978-0-7661-4453-8, 2005 reprint: ISBN 978-1-59605-342-7, pp. 70f.

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Frijjō. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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