Forseti | Norse Mythology


Forseti is a Nordic god dedicated to justice in Norse mythology. It is assumed that the northern cult of the god who was called Forseti in Old Norse and later Forsete is related to a similar cult in the Frisian world, where the god appears under the name Fosite or Fosete.

Forseti Origin and name

The linguist Hans Kuhn has made a plausible case, based on the rules of sound shift in the Germanic languages, that the Frisian name is derived from the Greek god name Poseidon; in his opinion, this must have happened before this sound shift took place, possibly as a result of the Greek amber trade around Helgoland.

Indeed, Poseidon was worshipped as a river god in the Limes area. The Norse worship of Forseti probably originated in Friesland through overseas trade.

The Norse name is apparently a folk etymology and means "chairman" (Latin: praeses). According to the Old Germanist Jan de Vries, cultural relations between Friesland and southern Norway were strong enough around the year 700 that the Fosite cult could have extended northward to the Oslofjord Possibly, however, the linguistic form was influenced by the Scottish Gaelic Fearsithe ("peacemaker", "man of peace").

The constructed mixture form Forsite, first used by Jacob Grimm in 1835, was reintroduced in 1952 by the linguist Willy Kroggmann in the propaganda magazine Helgoland ruft!

It became more common from about 2010 - including through Wikipedia - and has been regularly found in publications since. More linguistically correct is assumed transitional form *Foseti, which has been appearing in popular history publications since 1860.

Forseti in the Eddas

Forseti was considered the wisest and most eloquent god of Asgard. Unlike his related god Týr, who dispensed justice on more serious crimes, Forseti negotiated and decided on smaller disputes. In his hall, he provided justice to all who requested it, and it was claimed that his judgment was always seen as just by all parties.

Like his father Baldr, he was a gentle god who advocated peace and thus all who followed his judgment could live in safety. Forseti was held in such high esteem that only the most solemn oaths were pronounced in his name.

He is not mentioned as a warrior in Ragnarok and it is assumed that, as a god of peace, he did not participate in military affairs. A contributing factor may have been that the surviving version of Ragnarok belongs to Nordic mythology, while the god Forseti is considered an originally Frisian god who may not have penetrated Nordic mythology completely.