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Thread: Odin: An Etymological Study

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    Odin: An Etymological Study

    Proto-Indo-European: *hweh [to blow (wind, breath)], *weht- [excited, inspired, possessed, raging, furious], *wehti- [prophet], *wehtu- [prophecy], *wehatis [god-inspired]. Proto-Celtic: *watu [poetic inspiration], *wati [sooth-sayer, prophet]. Gaulish: οὐάτεις (ouateis; Strabo, Geography Book 4) ['those performing sacred rites']; Latin: vates [seer, prophet, inspired poet]. Proto-Germanic: *Woğanaz, from *woğaz [mad, frantic, furious], *woğilana ['who incarnates shamanic wisdom/poetry']; Old High German: Wuotan, from wuot; rage, frenzy; Gothic: woşs [possessed]. Old English: Ƿoden (Woden), from ƿod (wod); mad, rabid, raging, furious, insane; wóş, song, poetry. Runic Norse: ᚢᚦᛁᚾ (Othin; Ribe skull fragment). Old Norse: Óğinn, from óğr; 'inspired mental activity', frantic, furious, mind, feeling, song, poetry.

    Related concepts: Ancient Greek: ἐνθουσιασμός (enthousiasmós), ἐν-θεός-οὐσία (en-theos-ousia) [lit. 'possession by a god'; divine inspiration, frenzy]; ἔκστασις (ekstasis) [displacement (of the mind), trance, violent emotion, frenzy, rapture]. Latin: furor poeticus [poetic madness, divine fury]; Adam of Bremen: "Wodan, id est furor."

    Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture
    J. P. Mallory, D. Q. Adams
    *wehatis 'god-inspired' [*wat, *wet, *wath]. Old Irish faith 'prophet', Welsh gwawd 'poem,' Gaulish ouateis 'those performing sacred rites and investigating natural phenomena', Latin vates 'seer, prophet', Old Norse oğr 'raging', oğr 'poetry', Oğinn 'Oğinn', Old English wod 'raging' (> early Modern English wood 'insane, mad'), wod 'sound, song, zeal', weding 'insanity', Woden 'Oğinn' (cf. Wedens-daeg 'Wednesday'), Old High German fer-wuot 'raging', wuot 'violent emotion, rage', Wuotan 'Oğinn', Gothic wods 'demon-possessed', Avestan api-vataite 'inspires', Sanskrit api-vat 'inspire.' One should note for Germanic that one of Oğinn's attributes was that of inspirer of poetry (as well as the inspirer of battle-rage). The meaning shown by Gothic reflects a change in perspective brought about by Christianization. Widespread and old in IE.

    How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics
    Calvert Watkins
    The root *uet- has lengthened o-grade cognates not only in Celtic but in Germanic, Pokorny IEW 1113. These may be grouped as a noun *uot-o- (perhaps earlier a root noun) with a range of meanings like 'cognizance, knowledge, shamanic wisdom, tradition, poetry' appearing as Germanic *woşa- in Old English woş 'song, poetry', Old Norse oğr 'poetry', as well as Old Irish fath 'prophetic wisdom', Welsh gwawd 'poetry'. From this noun we have a derived adjective with possessive accented thematic vowel suffix *uot-o- 'having *uot(o)-, shamanic wisdom' appearing as Germanic *woğa- in Old English wod, Old Norse oğr 'furious, frenzied', Old High German wuot 'insanitus', Gothic *woşs, acc. wodan 'possessed'. Finally, with the suffix -e/ono- as in Gothic şiudans 'king' ('who incarnates the tribe [şiud]'), kindins 'governor' ('who incarnates the kin-group [kind]'), Latin dominus 'master' ('who incarnates the household [dom-]'), we have *uot-e/ono-, Germanic *woğilana- ('who incarnates shamanic wisdom, poetry') in the divine name of Old Norse Oğinn, Old English Woden, Old High German Wuotan.

    Indo-European Poetry and Myth
    Martin Litchfield West
    The term vatis, Irish fáith, appears in Latin as uates 'seer, prophet, inspired poet', which, however, is under strong suspicion of being a Celtic loan-word. Related forms occur in Welsh gwawd 'cause, theme, poem, prophecy', and outside Celtic in Old Church Slavonic vetiji 'orator' and in a set of Germanic words that link the ideas of poetry and possession: Gothic woşs 'possessed', Old High German wuot 'frenzied', Old English wod 'frenzied', woğ 'song', Old Norse óğr 'possessed, inspired; mind, poetry'. Hence the god Woden or Odin has his name.

    Vatic: Some people say only thin lines separate poetry, prophecy, and madness. We don't know if that's generally true, but it is in the case of vatic. The adjective derives directly from the Latin word vates, meaning "seer" or "prophet." But that Latin root is, in turn, distantly related to the Old English wōth, meaning "poetry," the Old High German wuot, meaning "madness," and the Old Irish fáith, meaning both "seer" and "poet." Latin vates, vatis "prophet, seer" (akin to Gaulish -- Greek spelling -- oua teis "those performing sacred rites," Old Irish fáith "seer, prophet," fáth "prophecy, prophetic wisdom," Welsh gwawd "song of praise, satire"; Gothic wods "possessed," Old English wod "raging, senseless," Old Norse óğr "frantic, furious," all going back to Germanic *wod-; Old High German wuot "rage, frenzy," going back to Germanic *wodi-; Old English woth "sound, noise, voice, song," Old Norse óğr "mind, sense, song, poetry," both going back to Germanic *woşa-) + -ic.

    Oxford Classical Dictionary
    Ecstasy: In classical Greek the term ἔκστασις may refer to any situation in which (part of) the mind or body is removed from its normal place or function. It is used for bodily displacements, but also for abnormal conditions of the mind such as madness, unconsciousness, or 'being beside oneself'. In the Hellenistic and later periods the notion is influenced by the Platonic concept of 'divine madness', a state of inspired possession distinct from lower forms of madness and as such providing insights into objective truth. Ekstasis now acquires the notion of a state of trance in which the soul, leaving the body, sees visions (Acts 10:10; 22:17). In later, especially Neoplatonist theory (Plotinus, Porphyry), ekstasis is the central condition for escape from restraints of either a bodily or a rational-intellectual nature and thus becomes the gateway to the union with the god (unio mystica); see dionysus.

    The American Heritage Dictionary Indo-European Roots Appendix
    Calvert Watkins
    wet- To blow, inspire, spiritually arouse. Related to wē- [to blow]. Oldest form *hwet‑. Derivatives include Wednesday, and atmosphere. Lengthened-grade form *wōt‑. a. Woden; Wednesday, from Old English Wōden, Woden; b. Odin, from Old Norse ōdhinn, Odin; c. Wotan, from Old High German Wuotan. a-c all from Germanic suffixed form *wōd-eno‑, *wōd-ono‑, "raging," "mad," "inspired," hence "spirit," name of the chief Teutonic god *Wōd-enaz. d. wood, from Old English wōd, mad, insane, from Germanic *wōdaz; e. Celtic *wāt‑. vatic, from Latin vātēs, prophet, poet, from a Celtic source akin to Old Irish fáith, seer. Oldest basic form *əwet‑ becoming *awet‑ in suffixed form *awet-mo‑. atmosphere, from Greek atmos (< *aetmos), breath, vapor.

    A Handbook of Germanic Etymology (Orel)
    Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (Mallory/Adams)
    Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic (Matasovic)
    Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Kroonen)
    Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum (Adam of Bremen)
    How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (Watkins)
    Indo-European Poetry and Myth (West)
    Jackson Crawford, Ph.D.
    Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    Oxford Classical Dictionary
    The American Heritage Dictionary Indo-European Roots Appendix (Watkins)
    The One-Eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-)Germanic Männerbünde (Kershaw)
    The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics 4e (Greene)

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    Wotan, id ist furor!
    Some authors or scholars hold that the "cult" of Woden/Odinn likely had its origin in that of the Romano-Gaulish cult of Mercury, whom Roman writers apparently identified Woden with. It subsequently spread north to Scandinavia from what is today Germany.
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