Faunus and Frigg

Faunus is the horned Roman god of the forest, fields, and plains. He was called Inuus when he committed bestiality with cows. Though many people over the ages have considered him the Roman equivalent of Pan, many others have viewed them separately. The great poet Virgil, for instance, independently mentioned both Pan and Faunus in The Aeneid.

Faunus is the son of Picus, first King of Latium, and Canens, a nymph and the Divine personification of song. His paternal grandpap is Saturn (Kronos), and his maternal grandparents are Venilia (a goddess of the winds and sea) and Janus. Just like Pan was accompanied by many Paniskoi (little Pans), so too was Faunus accompanied by many Fauni. Hellenized Romans viewed these fauns as equivalent to the Greek satyrs, though the satyrs were followers of Dionysus, not Pan.

According to Virgil, Faunus came to Latium from Arcadia, bringing his people, and became a great king. His shade was called Fatuus, and consulted as a god of prophecy, complete with oracles, in the sacred grove of Tibur, on Aventine Hill in Rome, and around the well Albunea.

Scholar and writer Marcus Terentius Varro depicted these oracles in Saturnian verse when they were given orally. Other times, Faunus revealed the future in dreams and voices transmitted to those who came to sleep within his precincts, on the fleeces of sacrificial lambs.

Faunus comes from the Proto–Indo–European word dhau-no, “the strangler,” which refers to the wolf, and the Daunians, an Iapygian  tribe who lived in pre-Rome Italy. Daunos in turn traces its linguistic origins to dhau, “to strangle.” This was an epithet for the wolf.

Frigg is the Norse goddess of wisdom and foreknowledge, and the wife of Odin. One of her children is Baldr, frequently viewed as a god of love, peace, justice, forgiveness, light, and purity. Frigg’s dwelling-place is Fensalir, a wetland. Even after Scandinavia was Christianised, Frigg continued to show up in folklore.

Frigg’s name is alternately recorded as Frea, Frige, and Frija. Some scholars believe she’s either one and the same as, or an aspect of, Fulla, a goddess traditionally considered to be Frigg’s sister. Additionally, a number of scholars also feel Frigg and Freyja are the same goddess.

Frigg is mentioned or featured in a number of Old Norse and Germanic poems, myths, folktales, and incantations. Among them are Lokasenna, one of the poems in the Poetic Edda cycle, in which Frigg gets into quite a fight with Loki after he accuses almost every woman by the feast of slutting it up; and Gylfaginning, another of the Poetic Edda. In the latter, Frigg plays perhaps her most important role.

Odin and Frigga, by Harry George Theaker

Baldr began having terrible dreams about his life being in danger, and told the other Æsir (the Old Norse pantheon of deities). They held a meeting and decided to “request immunity for Baldr from all kinds of danger.” Frigg got the elements (diseases, animals, the environment, stones, et al) to leave Baldr alone, but the Æsir began making fun of Baldr on account of his newborn invincibility.

Loki was particularly pissed, and, being a master trickster, went to Frigg in the form of a woman. Upon learning the other Æsir were shooting at Baldr, and that Baldr’s one weakness was mistletoe, Loki set off to kill him. He tricked Baldr’s blind brother Höðr into shooting Baldr. Everyone is overcome with grief, and Frigg’s son Hermóðr accepts her plea to go to Hel and bring Baldr back to Asgard. Sadly, Loki sabotages this rescue mission.

Frigg means “belovèd” in Old Norse, derived from the Proto–Indo–European pri, “to love.” The name of Friday comes from her name, since it means “Frigg’s day.” Today, the name Frigg is extremely rare in Scandinavia. Though it appears on the approved names list for Iceland, it’s not currently very popular there either.

Advertisements

7 comments on “Faunus and Frigg

  1. In Norse mythology, if in doubt blame Loki :). I did not realise that some scholoars think Frigg and Freyja are the same goddess. Faunus looks like he might be a tricky customer.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings – Shapeshifters and Werewolves

  2. Nick Wilford says:

    Interesting how the meanings of these names change semantically, in terms of words that resemble them. Someone who is fatuous wouldn’t be seen as an oracle nowadays; and of course “frig” doesn’t have a very pleasant connotation in English. I don’t know if that’s the case in Scandinavia, but maybe it explains why it’s become less popular!

  3. I’m curious. What is the approved names list of Iceland?

  4. jazzfeathers says:

    I read the Edda in prose recently and really liked it, more than I expected. I didn’t know so many well-known legends are recounted in there. And being a Tolkien fan, I particularly enjoyed it 😉

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – 1940s Film Noir

  5. […] (16 views) Chronos and Circe (27 views) Danaë and Diomedes (11 views) Eurotas ans Eos (7 views) Faunus and Frigg (16 views) Ganymede and Gaia (12 views) Hecate and Hypnos (16 views) Ixion and Io (14 views) […]

Share your thoughts respectfully

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s