Borr

Borr

Borr or Burr (Old Norse: ‘son’; sometimes anglicized Bor, Bör or Bur) was the son of Búri, the husband of Bestla, the father of Odin, Vili and Vé, and the grandfather of Thor, Baldr, Víðarr and Váli in Norse mythology.

Attestation

Borr is mentioned in the fourth verse of the Völuspá, a poem contained in the Poetic Edda, and in the sixth chapter of the Gylfaginning, part of Snorri Sturluson‘s Prose Edda.

Völuspá

Original Text:
Áðr Burs synir
bjóðum umb ypðu,
þeir er Miðgarð
mæran skópu.
Bellow’s Translation:
Then Bur’s sons lifted
the level land,
Mithgarth the mighty
there they made.

Gylfaginning

Original Text:
Hann [Búri] gat son þann er Borr hét,
hann fekk þeirar konu er Bes[t]la hét,
dóttir Bölþorns iötuns, ok fengu þau .iii. [þrjá] sonu,
hét einn Óðinn, annarr Vili, .iii. [þriði] Vé.
Brodeur’s translation:
[Búri] begat a son called Borr,
who wedded the woman named Bestla,
daughter of Bölthorn the giant; and they had three sons:
one was Odin, the second Vili, the third .

Borr is not mentioned again in the Prose Edda. In skaldic and eddaic poetry Odin is occasionally referred to as Borr’s son but no further information on Borr is given.

Theories and interpretations

The 19th century Icelandic scholar and archaeologist Finnur Magnússon hypothesized that Borr was “intended to signify […] the first mountain or mountain-chain, which it was deemed by the forefathers of our race had emerged from the waters in the same region where the first land made its appearance. This mountain chain is probably the Caucasus, called by the Persians Borz (the genitive of the Old Norse Borr). Bör’s wife, Belsta or Bestla, a daughter of the giant Bölthorn (spina calamitosa), is possibly the mass of ice formed on the alpine summits.”[8] In his Lexicon Mythologicum, published four years later, he modified his theory to claim that Borr symbolized the earth, and Bestla the ocean, which gave birth to Odin as the “world spirit” or “great soul of the earth” (spiritus mundi nostri; terrae magna anima, aëris et aurae numen), Vili or Hoenir as the “heavenly light” (lux, imprimis coelestis) and or Lódur as “fire” (ignis, vel elementalis vel proprie sic dictus).