Odin is the name of the principal divinity of Northern mythology. According, to the sagas, Odin and his brothers, Vile and Ve, the sons of Boer, or the firstborn, slew Ymer or Chaos, and from his body created the world, converting his flesh into dry land; his blood, which at first occasioned a flood, into the sea; his bones into mountains; his skull into the vault of heaven; and his brows into the spot known as Midgaard, the middle part of the earth, intended for the habitation of the sons of men. Odin, as the highest of the gods, the Alfader, rules heaven and earth, and is omniscient. As ruler of heaven, his seat is Valaskjalf, whence his two black ravens, Huginn (Thought) and Muninn (Memory), fly daily forth to gather tidings of all that is done throughout the world. As god of war, he holds his court in Walhalla, whither come all brave warriors. after death to revel in. the tumultuous joys in which they took most pleasure while on earth. His greatest treasures are his eight-footed steed Sleipner, his spear Gungner, and his ring Draupner. As the concentration and source of all greatness, excellence, and activity, Odin is called also by many other names. By drinking from Mimir's fountain he became the wisest of gods and men, but he purchased the distinction at the cost of one eye He is the greatest of sorcerers, and imparts a knowledge of his wondrous arts to his favorites. Frigga is his queen, and -the mother of Baldur, the Scandinavian Apollo; but he has other wives and favorites, and a numerous progeny of sons and. daughters. Although the worship of Odin extended over all the Scandinavian lands, it found its most zealous followers iln Denmark, where he still rides abroad as the wild huntsman, rushing over land and water in the storm-beaten skies of winter.
The historical interpretation of this myth, as given by Snorre Sturleson, the compiler of the Heimskringla, or Chronicles of the Kings of Norway prior to the introduction of Christianity, and followed in recent times by the historian Suhm, is that Odin was a chief of the (Esir, a Scythian tribe, who, fleeing before the ruthless aggressions of the Romans, passed through Germany to Scandinavia, where, by their noble appearance, superior prowess, and higher intelligence, they easily vanquished the inferior races of those lands, and persuaded them that they were of godlike origin. According to one tradition, Odin conquered the country of the Saxons on his way; and leaving one of his sons to rule there and introduce a new religion, in which he, as the chief god Wuotan, received divine honors, advanced on his victorious course, and making himself master of Denmark, placed another son, Skjold, to reign over the land, from whom descended the royal dynasty of the Skjoldingar. He next entered Sweden, where the king, Gylfi, accepted his new religion, and with the whole nation worshipped him as a divinity, and received his son Yugni as their supreme lord and high-priest, from whom descended the royal race of Yuglingars, who long reigned in Sweden. In like manner he founded, through his son Sceming, a new dynasty in Norway; and besides these many sovereign families of Northern Germany, including the Anglo-Saxon princes, traced theirtdescent to Odin. As it has been found impossible to refer to one individual all the mythical and historical elements which group themselves around the name of Odin, Wodin, or Wuotan, it has been suggested by Suhm and other historians that there may have been two or three ancient northern heroes of the name; but notwithstanding the conjectures which have been advanced since the very dawn of the historical period in the North in regard to the origin and native country of the assumed Odin, or even the time at which he lived, all that relates to him is shrouded in complete obscurity. It is much more probable, however, that the myth of Odin originated in nature-worship. See also Clarke, Ten Great Religions; Thorpe, Northern Mythology, 1:164, 229, .274 sq.; Westminster Rev. Oct. 1854, art. 1; Smith, Ancient Britain; Anderson, Northern Mythology (see Index). SEE NORSE MYTHOLOGY.