Hár and Hárr

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Hár (also Hávi; Old Norse: 'High') and Hárr (Old Norse: prob. 'One-eyed') are among the many names of Odin. The Prose Edda depicts Hár ('High') in particular as one of the figures in the legendary trio (alongside Jafnhárr 'Equally-High' and Þriði 'Third') that answers the questions asked by Gangleri.


The name Hár means 'High' or 'High One' in Old Norse/Icelandic;[1] it stems from an earlier Proto-Norse form *hauhaʀ.[2] In the eddic poem Hávamál (Songs of Hávi), Odin adopts the name Hávi as a variant of Hár.[1] According to the catalogue in the Völuspá ('Prophecy of the Völva'), Hár is also the name of a dwarf.[1]

The origin of the name Hárr remains unclear.[3] A number of scholars, including Jan de Vries, E. O. G. Turville-Petre and Vladimir Orel, have proposed to translate it as 'One-eyed'.[4] The word may derive from a Proto-Norse form reconstructed as *Haiha-hariʀ ('the One-eyed Hero'), itself a compound formed with the Proto-Germanic word *haihaz ('one-eyed'; cf. Gothic haihs 'one-eyed').[4] A Proto-Indo-European origin is also suggested by the Latin caecus ('blind') and the Old Irish caech ('one-eyed'), with regular Germanic sound shift *k- > *h-.[5] Alternatively, Hárr has been interpreted as meaning 'the hoary one', 'with grey hair and beard',[6] or else as an adjectival form of the lexeme Hár ('High One').[7]


In Gylfaginning (The Beguiling of Gylfi), the king Gylfi, assuming the form of an old man named Gangleri, comes to visit the place of the gods Ásgard. But the Æsir (gods), who have foreseen his journey, prepare a visual delusion where Gylfi thinks he arrives at a great hall where he meets the chieftains Hár ('High'), Jafnhárr ('Equally-high'), and Þriði ('Third'). Then Gangleri asks the three men a series of questions about the identity of gods or the creation of the cosmos. The answers are usually given by Hár with occasional amplification by Jafnhárr or Þriði. Finally, Gangleri asks about Ragnarök and its aftermath, then he hears a crash and the hall disappears.[8]

A variant of Hár, Hávi, appears in the poem Hávamál ('Words of Hávi [the High One]') as the name of Odin.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Orchard 1997, p. 74.
  2. ^ de Vries 1962, p. 210.
  3. ^ de Vries 1962, p. 200; Kershaw 1997, p. 5
  4. ^ a b de Vries 1962, p. 200; Turville-Petre 1964, p. 62; Kershaw 1997, p. 5 n. 8; Orel 2003, p. 151
  5. ^ Orel 2003, p. 151.
  6. ^ Kershaw 1997, p. 5.
  7. ^ de Vries 1962, p. 200.
  8. ^ Lindow 2002, p. 19.
  9. ^ Lindow 2002, p. 164.


  • de Vries, Jan (1962). Altnordisches Etymologisches Worterbuch (1977 ed.). Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-05436-3.
  • Kershaw, Priscilla K. (1997). The One-eyed God : Odin and the (Indo-)Germanic Männerbünde. Monograph Series. Vol. 36. Journal of Indo-European Studies. ISBN 978-0941694742.
  • Lindow, John (2002). Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-983969-8.
  • Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend. Cassell. ISBN 978-0-304-34520-5.
  • Orel, Vladimir E. (2003). A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-12875-0.
  • Turville-Petre, Gabriel (1964). Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia (1975 ed.). Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 978-0837174204.