God of War: discovering Týr, the god of war from Norse mythology

God of War: discovering Týr, the god of war from Norse mythology

God of War

Let's go back to immerse ourselves in the icy waters of Norse mythology, in search of the origins of some of the narrative pillars present in the new "saga" of God of War. This time, we go to the discovery of Týr, the mysterious god of war, often associated with the Mars of the Roman pantheon. Let's see its origins and what fate Santa Monica Studio might have reserved for it within God of War Ragnarok.

A particular etymology

God of War: in this illustration by John Bauer, dated 1911, Týr sacrifices his hand in order to imprison the prodigious wolf Fenrir We already got to know Týr when we talked about the events of Ragnarok. However, there is still a lot to be said about this deity, whose origins date back to the "mists of time" or thereabouts. Indeed, the presence of Týr in the Norse mythological tradition is not without dark spots and opaque areas. Let's start from the etymology of his name, capable of already giving us some revelatory coordinates towards the character.

The name Týr has been traced back to the Proto-Germanic word "Tiwaz", through Proto-Norse influences. which can be translated as "(the) God". From here, we can draw a mostly straight line that takes us back to the Proto-Indo-European roots of different epithets designed to indicate a deity (from Sanskrit to Latin). The name of the deity, therefore, derives from a terminological tradition that indicates the deities in general; it did not refer, at least initially, to anyone in particular.

The plot thickens, given that even in the few testimonies that have come down to us about Norse mythology, the term "Týr" is often compared to personalities such as those of Odin and Thor. The most shared thought among scholars suggests that, probably, what was previously only an epithet to indicate a "celestial divinity" has, over time, been assimilated to the point of becoming the divinity itself, leading to a definitive detachment from the primordial association that linked the word to one or more vernacular entities, whose historical sources have now disappeared along with their followers.

Týr through historical sources

God of War: Týr associated with the god Mars in an illustration found in an 18th century Icelandic manuscript Due to its ambiguous link with Proto-Indo-European roots, the history of Týr precedes the Norse Golden Age by many centuries. Tacitus was already examining the similarities with the god Mars when he spoke of the Germanic populations on the borders of the Roman Empire in his ethnographic treatise entitled "Germany". At the time of this "Roman interpretatio", the term with which these peoples referred to the divinity was still Tiwaz. For a time, it even appears that the two deities merged into some sort of religious amalgam, becoming a source of veneration for several inhabitants on the edge of Roman territories. Proof of this are some archaeological finds found in modern times, such as the votive altar erected near Hadrian's Wall dedicated to "Marti Thingso" or "Mars Thingsus", which can be translated into "Mars of the assembly". The assembly referred to is the "thing" of the Germanic peoples, during which the free people of these societies met to discuss government matters. Obviously, there is always the hand of the interpretatio, which readily associated Tiwaz with Mars, however specifying its otherness with respect to the Roman counterpart.

Similarly, the Germanic interpretatio has prompted the Teutonic peoples to associate Mars to their divinity, so much so that they use the name of the latter to indicate Tuesday (the English Tuesday, in fact, derives from Týr).

After the barbarian invasions, it seems that Týr was slowly replaced from gods like Odin and Thor, so much so that the latter seems to have "inherited" all the characteristics (ability to control lightning similar to Zeus or Jupiter; belligerent and impulsive character typical of the god of war Ares) which, logically, should be associated with the god who shares etymological origins with the main personalities of the proto-Indo-European pantheons. At this point, Týr has definitively separated from its original form. Personification (as often happens when one begins to lose track of the past) has taken over, becoming an integral part of a mythological tradition that sees it hovering within it as some sort of ghostly presence.

Týr in Norse mythology

God of War: the statue of Týr in God of War they have arrived and, even in that case, the information is few and fragmentary. The same kinship of him is debated. If, in fact, in the poetic Edda (the collection of Norse poems of oral tradition contained within the Icelandic Codex Regius) he is indicated as the son of the jötunn Hymir, in Snorri Sturluson's Prosastic Edda (sort of manual for a better understanding of Norse poetry, written in the thirteenth century), however, is referred to as one of the sons of Odin. In these two written testimonies, the god appears in different circumstances and always quite short.

In the poetic Edda, despite being mentioned in the poems Sigrdrífumál, Lokasenna and Hymiskviða, only in the last two does he represent more than one quotation. In Lokasenna, during a party organized by the gods, Loki bursts in and starts teasing (just like during the rhyming challenges seen in Assassin's Creed Valhalla) with the gods present. On the sidelines, Týr witnesses Loki's verbal attack on each god in turn. When he starts insulting Freyr, however, the deity steps in and begins to respond in kind. Referring to the recent loss of his right hand caused by the wolf Fenrir, Loki (father of the beast) notes that Týr can no longer hold the role of "right hand" of justice. The god, on the contrary, points out to him how, although he may be missing a hand, now Loki is missing his son, who will remain trapped until the arrival of Ragnarök.

God of War: Týr (the young man near the right margin) and the other gods in an illustration of the episode told in the poem Lokasenna, created by Lorenz Frølich in 1895.In the poem Hymiskviða, on the other hand, while looking for a container large enough in which to create enough beer to quench everyone's thirst the gods, Týr is reminded of the magical cauldron with which his father, the giant Hymir, produces enormous quantities of this drink. This news leads the god and Thor to head towards the giant's abode, intending to "take" this portentous cauldron. Despite trying not to get noticed, Hymir manages to track them down and invites them to stay for dinner. From the moment Thor asks the giant if he can provide him with a bait to fish, Týr disappears from the tale to return only during the final stages, when he tries to raise the great cauldron, without, however, succeeding.

' West of the Élivágar lives / Hymir the wise, at the edge of the sky./My father owns a kettle, a big cauldron, in hard alloy. '/' What do you say, will we get that kettle of liquids? '/' Yes, friends, if we will use cunning! '

In the Edda in prose (in which this last poem we have quoted returns in a different form, without cauldron and without Týr) the divinity "finds its place" mainly in Gylfaginning (Gylfi's deception), where, in addition to a detailed description of the god's personality, it is also told of the episode relating to the sacrifice of his hand, necessary to trap Fenrir (feared by the gods because of a prophecy that saw him as protagonist of their fall), and of his death during Ragnarök, caused by the clash with the canid Garmr (guarding the gates leading to Hel), during which they take each other's lives.

There is still an ase named Týr; he is the bravest and the most daring, and has great power over victory in battles. It is good that valiant men invoke him.

Divinity is also mentioned in the Skáldskaparmál, also within the Edda of Snorri, where the god of the warmers Bragi tells how kenning works (the substitution by periphrasis of the name of someone or something) to the other gods, gathered during a banquet. Among the different examples (most containing the word "Tyr", possibly as an epithet to indicate the divine nature of his interlocutors), Bragi also makes some with regard to the god we examined, all surprisingly lacking the term "Tyr" in their interior, underlining once again the smoky character of this mythological figure, halfway between personification and a divine ideal that is difficult to disentangle from the intricate roots that sink deep within a territory that is partly lost.

Týr in God of War Ragnarok

God of War: Týr in God of War Ragnarok By now, according to the game's presentation trailers and the central area of ​​the first chapter, where a mammoth statue dedicated to the god stood, there is no doubt that Týr will represent an important narrative hub in God of War Ragnarok. For now we do not have much information about it, but, also referring to the stories of Mímir present in the previous adventure, we can begin to understand what is the path taken by Santa Monica Studio with this character.

First of all, we know that Týr, in the game, is the son of Odin and a giantess. Seeing how the gods treated his like, the demigod decided to escort them safely to safe lands. But Odin, having learned of the "betrayal" of the firstborn, ordered all the giants to be killed and his son to be imprisoned. In Ragnarok, we will be the ones to free him from his chains and, in all probability, to ask for his help to end once and for all the empire of terror imposed by the Æsir.

God of War: Týr and Kratos will do team to eradicate the realm of the Norse gods Considering these factors, we can see some features borrowed from the Norse mythological tradition and adapted to the narrative of God of War. In the first place, Týr remains (at least for the moment) a benevolent and charitable god of war, very much in line with what has been handed down from the writings that have come down to us. Furthermore, the link with the world of the jötunn remains attributed to him by the ancient poems contained in the poetic Edda (where, we recall, he is described as the son of the giant Hymir).

Note also that both hands are present , highlighting the not yet encounter with the wolf Fenrir who, considering the tales of Mímir, already exists within the world of God of War, despite being traditionally considered as one of the sons of Loki (probably, also in the case of the wolf as in that of the serpent Jormungandr, the same rule applies to "space-time" travel, which catapulted them years before their birth). We will see how these events develop: if there will actually be a clash between Fenrir and Týr before they become allies or if the fight with another divinity will bring back the Norse visual canonicity or, again, if Santa Monica has decided to take alternative paths which he considered most appropriate for the development of his new reading of the jagged and mysterious mythological tapestry of the Germanic peoples.

God of War: Atreus meets Týr We have returned from this journey to discover Týr, between mythological tradition and videogame remodeling. We look forward to hearing from you in the comments to hear your speculations regarding the role of divinity within God of War Ragnarok.

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