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18.12.2019

Byggvir

Byggvir is a figure in Norse mythology. The only surviving mention of Byggvir appears in the prose beginning of Lokasenna, and stanzas 55 through 56 of the same poem, where he is referred to as one of Freyr's servants and as the husband of Beyla.

Bygg is the Old Norse word for barley. Subsequently, Byggvir is often identified with this etymology of his name and connections have been placed with the mentioning of Byggvir's described involvement with mill-grinding as being potential references to barley processing. Comparisons to the Anglo-Saxon figure of Beowa (Old English "barley") have been put forth.

Lokasenna

In Lokasenna, Loki is depicted as degrading Byggvir for being of slight stature and as a gossiper:

Stanza 43:

Byggvir qvaþ:

«Veiztv, ef ec øþli ettac

sem Ingvnar-Freyr

oc sva selict setr,

mergi smera ma/lþa ec

þa meíncráco

oc lemþa alla i liþo.»

Byggvir spake:

Had I birth so famous

as Ingunar-Freyr,

And sat in so lofty a seat,

I would crush to marrow

this croaker of ill,

And beat all his body to bits."

Stanza 44:

Loci qvaþ:

«Hvat er þat iþ litla,

er ec þat la/ggra sec

oc snapvist snapir;

at eyrom Freys

mvnðv e vera

oc vnd kvernom klaca.»

Loki spake:

"What little creature

goes crawling there,

Snuffling and snapping about?

At Freyr's ears ever

wilt thou be found,

Or muttering hard at the mill."

Stanza 45:

Beyggvir qvaþ:

«Beyggvir ec heíti,

enn mic braþan qveþa

goð a/ll oc gvmar:

þvi em ec her hroðvgr,

at drecca Hroptz megir

allir a/l saman.»

Byggvir spake:

"Byggvir my name,

and nimble am I,

As gods and men do grant;

And here am I proud

that the children of Hropt

Together all drink ale."

Stanza 46:

Loci qvaþ:

«Þegi þv, Byggvir!

þv kvnnir aldregi

deila meþ monnom mat;

oc þic i fletz strá

finna ne mattv,

þa er vago verar.»

Loki spake:

"Be silent, Byggvir!

thou never couldst set

Their shares of the meat for men;

Hid in straw on the floor,

they found thee not

When heroes were fain to fight."

In relation to Loki's comments in Lokasenna, proposals have been made that Beyla and her husband are personifications of agriculture associated with Freyr: Beyla as the manure that softens the earth and develops the seed, Byggvir as the refuse of the mill, chaff.

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