Freyr in the Scandinavian mythology, one of the dynasty of the Vanir, or second class of gods, and son of Niord, was, together with his father and sister Freya, given as a hostage to the Asir, or first class of gods, who adopted them, and bestowed on Freyr for a dwelling the celestial castle of Alfheim. He was the god of the sun and fruitfulness, to whom men prayed for favoring seasons and peace, and was regarded as well disposed to men. He was a patron of marriage, and the patron god of Sweden and Iceland. His chief temple was at Upsala, and sacrifices of men and animals were made to him. His festival was at the winter solstice, and his procession the signal for the ceasing of strife. The myths relate that Freyr, once mounting Hlidskialf, the lofty seat of Odin, whence everything on earth was visible, beheld in the high north, where dwelt the giants, the wondrously beautiful Gerda, the brightness of whose naked arms filled both air and sea with light, and was so smitten with love for her that he could neither eat, drink, or sleep. His parents, by means of his faithful servant Skyrnir, found out the cause of his malady, and, after much trouble, succeeded in obtaining Gerda for his wife. Freyr is represented (Icon. Encyklop. Mythology and Religious Rites, pl. 13, figure 3) with a halo around his head, and holding in his right hand ears of wheat, and in his left an urn whence water flows, with the boar Gullinbursti at his feet, and sometimes (Ibid. pl. 11, fig. 6) as standing at the left of Odin, with a branch of something in his right and a drinking-horn in his left hand. — Iconographic Encyclopcedia, 4:279 (N.Y. 1851); Thorpe, Northern Mythology. (J.W.M.)

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