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03.01.2020

Hofvarpnir

In Norse mythology, Gná is a goddess who runs errands in other worlds for the goddess Frigg and rides the flying, sea-treading horse Hófvarpnir (Old Norse "he who throws his hoofs about", "hoof-thrower" or "hoof kicker"). Gná and Hófvarpnir are attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Scholarly theories have been proposed about Gná as a "goddess of fullness" and as potentially cognate to Fama from Roman mythology. Hófvarpnir and the eight-legged steed Sleipnir have been cited examples of transcendent horses in Norse mythology.

In chapter 35 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, the enthroned figure of High provides brief descriptions of 16 ásynjur. High lists Gná thirteenth, and says that Frigg sends her off to different worlds to run errands. High adds that Gná rides the horse Hófvarpnir, and that this horse has the ability to ride through the air and atop the sea. High continues that "once some Vanir saw her path as she rode through the air" and that an unnamed one of these Vanir says, in verse:

"What flies there?

What fares there?

or moves through the air?"

Gná responds in verse, in doing so providing the parentage of Hófvarpnir; the horses Hamskerpir and Garðrofa:

"I fly not

though I fare

and move through the air

on Hofvarpnir

the one whom Hamskerpir got

with Gardrofa."

The source for these stanzas is not provided and they are otherwise unattested. High ends his description of Gná by saying that "from Gna's name comes the custom of saying that something gnaefir [looms] when it rises up high." In the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, Gná is included among a list of 27 ásynjur names.

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