Týr: The Norse God of War

BY CODY HORROCKS

Who is Tyr ?

Týr, also known as Tiwaz , Tiw or Ziu, is one of the major deities and the god of combat and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as a one-handed man. His Greco-Roman equivalent is Ares/Mars. He is the original Germanic god of war and the patron god of justice, the precursor of Odin. At the time of the Vikings, Tyr had to make way for Odin, who became the god of war himself. Tyr was by then regarded as Odin's son (or possibly of the giant Hymir). He is the boldest of the gods, who inspires courage and heroism in battle. His attribute is a spear; the symbol of justice, as well as a weapon

Tyr in literature

In Sigrdrífumál, one of the Eddic poems, the valkyrie Sigrdrífa instructs the human hero Sigurðr to invoke Tyr for victory in battle. Another Eddic poem, the Lokasenna, has Loki taunt that Tyr could only stir people to strife, and could never reconcile them. The Lokasenna also mentions that Tyr lost one of his hands to the wolf Fenrir.

Most Known for

In the Prose Edda, the gods endeavored to bind Fenrir for their own safety, the wolf refused to allow the suspiciously innocent-looking cord to be put around him unless one of the deities put his or her hand in his mouth as a pledge of good faith. Only Tyr was brave and honorable enough to comply with the beast’s request, and, when Fenrir found himself unable to break free of his fetters, he accordingly ate the god’s hand.

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The T-rune

T-rune, called *Tiwaz in the Proto-Germanic language, is named after the god Tyr. He was perceived to dwell within the daytime sky, and, accordingly, the visual form of the T-rune is an arrow pointed upward. The T-rune was often carved as a standalone ideograph, apart from the writing of any particular word, as part of spells cast to ensure victory in battle. Swords were inscribed with the T- rune, symbolizing Týr and asking for his patronage.

Legacy of Tyr

The destined fate of Tyr would be his revenge on Fenrir on the day of Ragnarok. Also, the word in the calendar, Tuesday, is derived from Tyr. Early Germanic peoples associated Tyr with Mars, the Roman god of war. The third day of the week, known as dies Martis (Mars' Day) in Latin, became known as Tyrsdagr to the Norse and entered English as Tuesday.