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Image of Tyr from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript, in which he is equated with Mars.

Tyr (English pronounciation: /ˈtɪər/;[1], Old Norse: Týr, pronounced: tyːr) is the god of single combat, victory and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as a one-handed man. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu, all from Proto-Germanic *Tîwaz (*Tē₂waz).

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Tyr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto (see Tacitus' Germania) suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus, the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion. It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age.

Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio romana. Tuesday is in fact "Tīw's Day", translating dies Martis.


Proto-Germanic *Tē₂waz continues Proto-Indo-European, *deywos "celestial being, god" (whence also Latin deus and Sanskrit deva). The oldest records of the word in Germanic are Gothic *teiws, attested as tyz, in the 9th century Codex Vindobonensis 795[2] and Old High German *ziu, attested as cyo-in the A Wessobrunn prayer ms. of 814. The Negau helmet inscription (2nd century BCE) may actually record the Proto-Germanic form, as teiva, but this interpretation is uncertain.

The Old Norse name Tyr in origin was a generic noun meaning "god" (cf. Hangatyr, the "god of the hanged" as one of Odin's names; probably inherited from Tyr in his role as judge).

The Old Norse name became Norwegian Ty, Swedish Tyr, Danish Tyr, while it remains Týr in Modern Icelandic and Faroese.

West Germanic Ziu / Tiw

A gloss to the Wessobrunn prayer names the Alamanni Cyowari (worshipers of Cyo) and their capital Augsburg Ciesburc.[3]

The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza as the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.

The name of Mars Thingsus (Thincsus) is found in an inscription on an 3rd century altar from the Roman fort and settlement of Vercovicium at Housesteads in Northumberland, thought to have been erected by Frisian mercenaries stationed at Hadrian's Wall. It is interpreted as "Mars of the Thing".[4] Here is also worth noting what Tacitus stated in his work Germania about capital punishment amongst the Germanic folk; that none could be flogged, imprisoned or executed, not even on order of the warlord, without the consent of the priest; who was himself required to render his judgement in accordance with the will of the god they believe accompanies them to the field of battle.

Tacitus also named the German "Mars", along with the German "Mercury", as the primary deity associated with the Germanic custom of the disposal of the spoils of war; as practiced from the 4th century BCE to the 6th century CE.

In the Old English Rune Poem, the rune that is otherwise named for Tiw in the other rune poems (Abecedarium Nordmanicum, Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme, Old Icelandic Rune Poem), is called tir, meaning "glory". This rune was inscribed on more Anglo-Saxon cremation urns than any other symbol.

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped "Isis", and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

North Germanic Tyr

Treated NKS fenrir

Tyr feeds his hand to Fenrir. Illustration from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript.

According to the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, at one stage the gods decided to shackle the Fenris wolf (Fenrir), but the beast broke every chain they put upon him. Eventually they had the dwarves make them a magical ribbon called Gleipnir. It appeared to be only a silken ribbon but was made of six wondrous ingredients: the sound of a cat's footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, bear's sinews (meaning nerves, sensibility), fish's breath and bird's spittle. The creation of Gleipnir is said to be the reason why none of the above exist.[5] Fenrir sensed the gods' deceit and refused to be bound with it unless one of them put his hand in the wolf's mouth.

Tyr, known for his great wisdom and courage, agreed, and the other gods bound the wolf. After Fenrir had been bound by the gods, he struggled to try and break the rope. When the gods saw that Fenrir was bound they all rejoiced, except Tyr, who had his right hand bitten off by the wolf. Fenrir will remain bound until the day of Ragnarök. As a result of this deed, Tyr is called the "Leavings of the Wolf"; which is to be understood as a poetic kenning for glory.

According to the Prose version of Ragnarök, Tyr is destined to kill and be killed by Garm, the guard dog of Hel. However, in the two poetic versions of Ragnarök, he goes unmentioned; unless one believes that he is the "Mighty One".

In Lokasenna, Tyr is taunted with cuckoldry by Loki, maybe another hint that he had a consort or wife at one time.

In the Hymskvidha, Tyr's father is named as the etin Hymir – the term "Hymir's kin" was used a kenning for etinkind – while his mother goes unnamed, but is otherwise described in terms that befit a goddess. This myth also pairs Tyr with Thor, and draws a comparison between their strength via the lifting of Hymir's cauldron. Thor proves the stronger, but other than Thor's own son, Magni, Tyr is the only deity whose strength is ever questioned in comparison to the Thunderer's.

Tiwaz rune

Tiwaz rune

the Tiwaz rune is associated with Tyr.

The t-rune ᛏ is named after Tyr, and was identified with this god; the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Tîwaz. The rune is sometimes also referred to as *Teiwaz, or spelling variants.

The rune was also compared with Mars as in the Icelandic rune poem:

Týr er einhendr áss
ok ulfs leifar
ok hofa hilmir.
Mars tiggi.

Tyr is a one-handed god,
and leavings of the wolf
and prince of temples.

Lexical traces

Tyr/Tiw had become relatively unimportant compared to Odin/Woden in both North and West Germanic, and specifically in the sphere of organized warfare. Traces of the god remain, however, in Tuesday (Old English tíwesdæg "Tiw's day"; Old Frisian tîesdei, Old High German zîestag, Alemannic and Swabian dialect in south west Germany (today) Zieschdig/Zeischdig, Old Norse týsdagr), named after Tyr in both the North and the West Germanic languages (corresponding to Martis dies, dedicated to the Roman god of war and the father-god of Rome, Mars) and also in the names of some plants: Old Norse Týsfiola (after the Latin Viola Martis), Týrhialm (Aconitum, one of the most poisonous plants in Europe whose helmet-like shape might suggest a warlike connection) and Týviðr, "Tý's wood", Tiveden may also be named after Tyr, or reflecting Tyr as a generic word for "god" (i.e., the forest of the gods). In Norway the parish and municipality of Tysnes are named after the god.

German Dienstag and Dutch dinsdag (Tuesday) might be derived from Mars Thingsus, as mentioned above.


  • Dewsbury, England - possibly Tiw's Burg
  • Tuesley, England - Tiw's Clearing
  • Tisvilde, Sjælland, Denmark - Tyr's Spring.
  • Lake Tissø, near Gørlev, Sjælland, Denmark - Tyr's Lake.
  • Thisted, Jutland, Denmark - Tyr's Stead.
  • Tyrsted, Jutland, Denmark - Another form of Tyr's Stead.
  • Tyrseng ("Tyr's Meadow"), Viby, Jutland, Denmark. Once a stretch of meadow near a stream called Dødeå ("Stream of the Dead" or "Dead Stream"), where ballgame courts now exist. Viby contained another theonym; Onsholt ("Odin's Holt") and religious practices associated with Odin and Tyr may have occurred in these places. A spring dedicated to Holy Neils that was likely a Christianization of prior indigenous pagan practice also exists in Viby and the city itself may mean "the settlement by the sacred site". Traces of sacrifices going back 2,500 years have been found in Viby.[6]
  • Tiveden, Sweden - Tyr's Woods
  • Tysnes, Norway - Tyr's Headland

Personal names

A number of Icelandic male names are derived from Týr. Apart from Týr itself: Angantýr, Bryntýr, Hjálmtýr, Hrafntýr, Sigtýr, Valtýr and Vigtýr. When Týr is used in this way, joined to another name, it takes on a more general meaning of "a god" instead of referring to the god Týr. For example, Hrafntýr "raven-god" and Valtýr "god of the slain" are Old Norse names of Odin.

See also


  1. Merriam Webster Online Dictionary: Tyr
  2. Grimm, Teutonic Mythology
  3. Peter Buchholz, Perspectives for Historical Research in Germanic Religion, History of Religions, vol. 8, no. 2 (1968), 127.
  4. Vercovicium, the Roman fort and settlement at Housesteads
  5. Snorri Sturluson. The Prose Edda
  6. Damm, Annette. Editor. (2005) Viking Aros, pages 42-45. Moesgård Museum ISBN 87-87334-63-1

External links

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

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