Jotun:Aesir::Titans:Olympians?

What can I say? It doesn't fit above, put it here. Also the location of board rules/info.
Post Reply
User avatar
eldin raigmore
korean
korean
Posts: 5509
Joined: 14 Aug 2010 19:38
Location: SouthEast Michigan

Jotun:Aesir::Titans:Olympians?

Post by eldin raigmore »

Are the Jotun to the Aesir as the Titans are to the Olympians?
If so, are there any other, analogous or homologous or just similar, Giants:Gods relationships elsewhere in mythology?
Especially in Indonesia-European mythology?

User avatar
qwed117
mongolian
mongolian
Posts: 3748
Joined: 20 Nov 2014 02:27

Re: Jotun:Aesir::Titans:Olympians?

Post by qwed117 »

Asuras:Devas is mentioned on the Wikipedia page, so that's another example
Spoiler:
My minicity is Zyphrazia and Novland
What is made of man will crumble away.

User avatar
eldin raigmore
korean
korean
Posts: 5509
Joined: 14 Aug 2010 19:38
Location: SouthEast Michigan

Re: Jotun:Aesir::Titans:Olympians?

Post by eldin raigmore »

qwed117 wrote:
09 Feb 2020 07:21
Asuras:Devas is mentioned on the Wikipedia page, so that's another example
Yeah, I thought of that, but that’s Indo-Iranian Demons:Gods (India) or Gods:Demons (Iran), rather than Giants:Gods.
That’s why I didn’t think it was the same thing. Or, at least, I thought it might not be the same thing.
———
I once read that in most Indo-European “pagan” or “heathen” religions, some version of the Aesir:Vanir split occurs; that is, two types of Gods.
That also is interesting; but also is probably not the same thing.
———
Thanks for your response!
———
P.S. Which Wikipedia page?

User avatar
LinguistCat
sinic
sinic
Posts: 203
Joined: 06 May 2017 07:48

Re: Jotun:Aesir::Titans:Olympians?

Post by LinguistCat »

Possibly Fomorians vs Tuatha de Danann of Celtic mythology. The Tuatha might not technically count as gods tho (but they seem like minor gods to me) and the Fomorians are definitely monstrous and likely giants, and have even been likened to Jotun.

So that's a possible one for the list.

Salmoneus
MVP
MVP
Posts: 1887
Joined: 19 Sep 2011 19:37

Re: Jotun:Aesir::Titans:Olympians?

Post by Salmoneus »

Eldin, I think you may have been lead astray - or else you're making a distinction I don't understand.

Although "titan" in English can be used as a synonym for "giant" in some contexts, the Greek Titans weren't just very tall creatures. They were gods, in the same way that the Olympians were - the 'former gods'. In fact, many deities commonly thought of as Greek gods were Titans - Helios, for instance, and Selene, and Eos. They could be described as being very big... but so could Olympians. And like Olympians, they could also be person-sized, or they could be animals, or inanimate objects (Oceanus is a river), or incorporeal, or even abstract concepts. Mnemosyne, for instance, the goddess of memory, mother of the muses, can be thought of as an abstract, or as a beautiful young women, but not normally (I'd have thought) as a rampaging ettin stomping on small villages. Humans, too, could be huge - Orestes was 3m tall, while the kneecaps of Ajax were the size of a standard discus. There are figures explicitly and consistently referred to as giants, but they're not necessarily Titans - Tityos, for example, was the son of Zeus and a human woman, while the Aloads were the sons of Poseidon and a human woman. There are also races that were all of immense size, but they were distinct from the Titans - indeed, belonging to them seems to have disbarred people from being Titans (the Cyclopes, for instance, weren't Titans, despite being siblings of Uranus).

What's more, the big conflict in Greek mythology wasn't the war between the Olympians and the Titans, but between the Gods (Olympian and Titan alike) and the Giants (Gigantes) - that's what they painted on their pots. But again, the Giants could sometimes be depicted as immense, and sometimes as human-sized. And some giant creatures fought agains the Giants - the Hecatonchires fought on the Olympian side in Hesiod.

That said, if you want a parallel to Norse mythology, it's Aesir:Vanir:Jotun::Olympian:Titan:Giant.

These parallels have been noted, but so far as I'm aware it's still disputed how much is shared inheritance and how much is convergent evolution, with most people thinking it's mostly the latter.

------

Regarding Irish mythology: unfortunately we only know the Christianised versions. The Tuatha Dé are clearly deities in origin, but the Fomorians are just plain weird. For a start, several times people land on an 'uninhabited' Ireland, and then the Fomorians rebel against them. Other times the Fomorians don't live there, but just trade or raid. Some people have suggested that the former Fomorians may represent the pre-Celtic inhabitants, and the latter Fomorians may represent the Carthaginian traders, with contamination from Viking raiders. More generally, Fomorians are spoken of both as underworld beings associated with the earth, and as being from across or below the sea, which is a strange combination. Another problem is that the Fomorians in general are a faceless, nameless mass - not unusual for the chaos-aligned enemies in mythologies - but the ones who ARE individuals are very strongly individual. And they also intermarry and live among the Tuatha Dé, even while being their mortal enemies. Indeed, Lú himself is half-Fomorian. And they're described as being impossibly beautiful... and as hideous half-animal mutants. It's possible that the Fomorians of later myth are an amalgamation: perhaps people like Balor and Elatha, embedded in Tuatha Dé stories, reflect a Vanir/Titan-like group within the gods, particularly associated with negative forces, while the Fomorians more generally reflect older gods, or a memory of previous inhabitants, combined with any unpleasant foreigners that may have popped by from time to time. That is, once the Fomorians became 'the enemy', they were amalgamated with all the other enemies. This certainly seems to have happened later, when 'Fomorian' came to mean just 'pirate' or 'raider'.

And then contrariwise there are the Fir Bolg. Who don't meet the Fomorians, but who do have a similar role: they oppose the Tuatha Dé and are defeated at Moytura, just as the Fomorians are. So some have suggested that the Fir Bolg actually ARE the Fomorians, and that editors who didn't realise that have resulted in a duplication of the myths. And then there's the Morrigan, who can be one woman, one of three sisters, or all three sisters, and who is sometimes definitely of the Tuatha Dé, but other times seems like a chthonic deity: she encounters and seduces the Dagda before Moytura, and promises him that she will bring the magicians of Ireland to aid the cause of the Tuatha Dé. So who the hell are those magicians? They're not Fomorians, because the Fomorians are the enemy, and they're not Tuatha Dé, because they're already enlisted, and they're presumably not Fir Bolg because they aren't around at this time and have no magic powers.

And then, while the Fomorians are associated with the underworld, and the Tuatha Dé with the overworld (very, very much like (most of) the Titans and the Olympians), that's all suddenly inverted when the Irish come and the Tuatha Dé retreat to the underworld. Again, is there a duplication here? Where the Irish and the Tuatha Dé originally the same people, but duplications mean we see that story from both sides, as it were?

Short version: Indo-European mythology already seems to have been confused, and Irish mythology as recorded by later Christians really looks like we're missing a huge amount of information, and may be the result of a lot of overzealous editing by people who conflated or split up stories because they weren't personally familiar with the mythology as a living tradition.

User avatar
sangi39
moderator
moderator
Posts: 2699
Joined: 12 Aug 2010 01:53
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Re: Jotun:Aesir::Titans:Olympians?

Post by sangi39 »

IIRC, because of the relative lateness of more in-depth sources on Old Norse mythology (predominantly relying on the Prose and Poetic Eddas which were written in the 13th Century, representing collections of myths and legends transmitted orally, dating back to around the 10th Century, but showing signs of Christian influence in various instances), there are a number of gaps in what is known directly about certain aspects, especially regarding how the various mythical beings relate to each other, how they were viewed and pictures by the Norse, how they were worshipped, etc. One of the most notable things is that there doesn't appear to be any recorded origin for Yggdrasil (assuming it even has one), or any of the creatures that call it home, like Ratatoskr, Níðhöggr, Eikþyrnir, Veðrfölnir or the Eagle the latter rests on (the name of which we don't even know).

From what I can remember, the general consensus in recent decades is that the Jötnar, Vanir, and Æsir probably represent three families of god-like beings, but it's not clear where they all came from. I think the Jötnar are the only ones with a clearly defined origin, i.e. descent from Ymir, who formed from the rime of the Ginnungagap that formed from cold, venomous waters of the Élivágar combined with the warmth of Múspellsheimr. The Æsir, on the other hand, descend from Búri, who was freed from the rime of the Ginnungagap by the primordial cow Auðumbla, who also fed Ymir, but its unclear whether Búri was formed in the same way as Ymir and became trapped, if Ymir was also licked free from the rime before Búri, or if Búri came into being in some other way (the only thing that is clear is come common origin in the rime, but any stories about their earlier existence don't seem to have survived into attested sources). The Vanir, though, seem to just come from nowhere. They appear to be a group of god-like beings with a fully recognised existence, but, as with Ymir and Búri, anything about their earlier background has been lost.

You could probably draw parallels between this and Greek myth (I think Sal's parallel is about as good as it gets), but it would always be worth remembering that they'd be approximations with a fair few "buts" and exceptions, especially with the uncertainty over the origins of the three groups in Old Norse mythology.
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.

User avatar
eldin raigmore
korean
korean
Posts: 5509
Joined: 14 Aug 2010 19:38
Location: SouthEast Michigan

Re: Jotun:Aesir::Titans:Olympians?

Post by eldin raigmore »

To all four responders so far, and any other readers:
I looked at: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o ... d_folklore.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o ... _mythology
and
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o ... _mythology
talk about the Celtic (Welsh, Cornish, Irish, Scottish) myths mentioned by LinguistCat and Salmoneus.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o ... _mythology
is about the Daityas, one of whom was Mahabali, who was a king of the Asuras. The article on the Daityas says they were a tribe of Asuras and were half-brothers to the Devas, in Hindu mythology.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o ... _mythology
describes not only more “giants” in the loose sense, but more families of such “giants”, in Graeco-Roman mythology; consistent with Sal’s and sangi’s posts.

And https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o ... _mythology describes more of them in Norse mythology.

(The non-IE mythologies mentioned in that list are also interesting IMO!)

——————————

I was aware that the English term “giant”, and the more specific term “frost giant”, that I was using for the Jotun, was imprecise. I was also aware that “giant” was not an exact translation for Titan.

I probably would never (or at least not for a long time) have thought of the parallel Sal gave for Aesir:Vanir:Jotun::Olympians:Titans:Giants. But I think it’s an accurate and informative one.

The source I can’t quite remember said that in a typical Indo-European mythology there were originally three “tribes” of deities, two of whom united after a battle; that is, some of the gods had to fight to be admitted into the “college of the gods”. Unfortunately the only example I can recall is the Vanir vs the Aesir; and I can’t recall what battle they fought. Anyway the third “tribe” would provide most of their antagonists.
——— Can anyone find a source that might be (or support or refute) the one I can’t fully recall?
Or maybe just more examples? Or more details about the Aesir:Vanir example?

—————

I am pleased and gratified/grateful that my question has drawn such responses!
And also that I get to hear from LinguistCat again!

———

BTW one of the bad-relief sculptures, and one of the paintings, of Mahabali, seem to show him with five arms and three legs!

Salmoneus
MVP
MVP
Posts: 1887
Joined: 19 Sep 2011 19:37

Re: Jotun:Aesir::Titans:Olympians?

Post by Salmoneus »

My guess would be:

- early Indo-European mythology involves wars between the gods.
- these wars come to develop associations with good vs evil, order vs chaost, and sky vs earth
- as a result, there are two sorts of war being spoken of: the moral war, in which the enemies are described as monstrous, and the dynastic war, in which the enemies are spoken of as much the same as the protagonists

- in the east, this is eventually simplified into a straight war of good against evil. But notably, the earliest Avestan and Vedic texts don't seem to do this - and the gods can be described as both asura and deva at the same time. these may not reflect different groups, but different terms for gods (like 'god' vs 'deity'). Only later does the straight war develop.

- in the west, instead the confused story stays confused by splitting the war into two: the dynastic war between two groups of humanoid gods, and the separate moral war, creating a threefold division (new gods, old gods, forces of chaos).

- the Irish stories have in turn confused those two wars again, and the old gods and forces of chaos have been remerged into the Fomorians, who are sometimes intermarried rivals, and sometimes chthonic monsters.


Not that not only do we have the ahura/daeva vs deva/asura inversion in the east, but in the west we have the deva-equivalents as the good gods in rome, and the asura-equivalents (the aesir) as the good gods in the Germanic tribes...

User avatar
eldin raigmore
korean
korean
Posts: 5509
Joined: 14 Aug 2010 19:38
Location: SouthEast Michigan

Re: Jotun:Aesir::Titans:Olympians?

Post by eldin raigmore »

Salmoneus wrote:
09 Feb 2020 22:44
My guess would be:

- early Indo-European mythology involves wars between the gods.
- these wars come to develop associations with good vs evil, order vs chaost, and sky vs earth
- as a result, there are two sorts of war being spoken of: the moral war, in which the enemies are described as monstrous, and the dynastic war, in which the enemies are spoken of as much the same as the protagonists

- in the east, this is eventually simplified into a straight war of good against evil. But notably, the earliest Avestan and Vedic texts don't seem to do this - and the gods can be described as both asura and deva at the same time. these may not reflect different groups, but different terms for gods (like 'god' vs 'deity'). Only later does the straight war develop.

- in the west, instead the confused story stays confused by splitting the war into two: the dynastic war between two groups of humanoid gods, and the separate moral war, creating a threefold division (new gods, old gods, forces of chaos).

- the Irish stories have in turn confused those two wars again, and the old gods and forces of chaos have been remerged into the Fomorians, who are sometimes intermarried rivals, and sometimes chthonic monsters.


Not that not only do we have the ahura/daeva vs deva/asura inversion in the east, but in the west we have the deva-equivalents as the good gods in rome, and the asura-equivalents (the aesir) as the good gods in the Germanic tribes...

Wow!
That’s pretty interesting!
I hope it turns out to be an accurate guess!

Post Reply