Vili and Vé: Meet the Brother Gods of Odin

13/09/2021

     Vili and are, in Norse and Germanic Mythology, the Brother Gods of Odin (the wisest of the Norse gods). Both are little known, the most prominent deity in this mythology is his brother.

Who is Vili?

     In Norse Mythology, Vili was one of the Aesir, son of Bestla and Borr. His brothers were Vé and Odin. He was known to have given mankind the gifts of emotion, feelings and thoughts.

     In the poem Völuspá, Hoenir and Lóðurr helped Odin create Ask and Embla, respectively the first man and woman. But in the poem Gylfaginning, it is stated that the helpers in creation were Vili and Vé. As Snorri Sturluson, author of Gylfaginning knew Völuspá, it is possible that Hoenir was another name for Vili.


Who is Vé?

     , in Norse Mythology he was one of the Aesir, son of Bestla and Borr in Norse Mythology. His brothers were Vili and Odin. He was known to have given mankind the gifts of speech and speech. In the poem Lokasenna, the god Loki suggests that Vé had an affair with Friga, wife of Odin.

     In the poem Völuspá, Hoenir and Lóðurr helped Odin create Ask and Embla, respectively the first man and woman. But in the poem Gylfaginning, it is stated that the helpers in creation were Vili and Vé. As Snorri Sturluson, author of Gylfaginning knew Völuspá, it is possible that Lóðurr was another name for Vé.

Vili, Vé and Odin:

     Vili and , together with Odin, are portrayed as the three brothers who killed Ymir - ending the primitive rule of the race of giants - and are the first of the Æsir. Of the three, Odin is the oldest, Vili the middle and Ve the youngest. To the first human couple, Ask and Embla, Óðinn gave soul and life; Vili gave wit (intelligence) and tact; and Vé gave semblance (appearance, facial expression), speech, hearing and vision.

     Compare to this the one-verse alliteration found in the Book of Exeter, Woden weos worhte "Woden wrought the shrines" where, in comparison to the above "triad", only the half-ethy will has been replaced by the optimal work. The name of such shrines for Woden, Wôdenes weohas (Saxon Wôdanes wih, Norse Óðins vé) survives in toponymy as Odinsvi, Wodeneswegs.

     While Vili and Vé are of little prominence in Norse mythology as attested; his brother Odin has a more celebrated role as the head of the Norse pantheon. Odin remains at the head of a triad of the most powerful gods: Óðinn, Thórr and Freyr. Odin is also called Thriði "the third", in which case he appears alongside Hárr and Jafnhárr (the "high" and the "high same" or co-equal) as the "High Third". Other times, Tveggi is "the second".

     In relation to the Óðinn-Vili-Vé triad, Grimm compares the old High German willa, which not only expressed voluntas, but also votum, impetus, spiritus, Wela in Old English sources. Keyser interprets the triad as "Spirit, Will and Holiness", postulating a kind of Germanic Trinity in Vili and Vé to be "merged again into the all-encompassing World-Spirit - in Odin. [...] he alone is Al-pai, from whom all other superior beings, rulers of the world, the Æsir, descend."

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