Odin is said to not only have been the Allfather but also the father to many gods in Norse mythology. The fact of who exactly are the sons of Odin differs depending on the various manuscripts. Among the mentioned sons of Odin, however, Bragi is said to be one of them.
In Old Norse, the name Bragi pronounced as “BRAG-ee” means poet. An Eddic poem describes him as having runes on his tongue that aid him in creating great and artful poems. For this reason, it is believed that upon his death, Odin made him the wise and educated poet of Valhalla, the magnificent hall of the deceased elite warriors, overseen by Odin. In Old Norse’s poetry from the Viking age, he is referenced entertaining the band of spirits of the dead in Valhalla, welcoming the dead heroes into their midst.
Bragi is, however, believed to be the son of Odin. His mother is said to be the giantess Gunnlod (battle invitation), daughter of the giant Suttung. His conception came about when Odin, disguised himself as Bolverkr, in an attempt to steal the mead of poetry. At the time the mead was being guarded by Gunnlod, beneath the mountain Hnitbjorg, as instructed by her father Suttung. After Suttung refused to give the mead to Bolverkr at the request of Suttung’s brother Baugi, Bolverkr urged Baugi to honor his word and help him get to the mead. That was when Bolverkr under the guise of a charming young man, managed to sway Gunnlod striking a bargain with her. The bargain was that if Bolverkr slept with her for three nights, she would allow him to have the mead. After the three nights, Bolverkr downed all the mead and fled to Asgard in the form of an eagle. There he transformed back to his true form as Odin but after regurgitating the mead he had stored in his throat, into containers.
When the giants came to inquire about the one-eyed giant Bolverkr in Asgard, Odin pretended to have ever heard of the name. Despite, seeing the resemblance between Odin and Bolverkr, the giants left, not wanting any confrontations with Odin. The scorned Gunnlod however, knew the truth. Nine months after meeting Bolverkr, Gunnlod gave birth to Bragi. As soon as Bragi was old enough, she sent him to his father Odin. Odin was enchanted by his sweet spoken words, likened to the sweetness of the mead. It was proof that Bragi was the creation of the mead.
Bragi is said to have married Idunn, the goddess and patroness of the golden apples of immortality. Of the pair, Bragi is seen as the older and wiser partner to Idunn, who is seen as rather gullible. As per Norse mythology, it is Idunn who wrote the runes on Bragi’s tongue that increased his skill as a poet. His storytelling ability enabled him to explain the complexities of nature and the origin of life. Bragi’s perfect poetry surpassed the poetry and wisdom of Kvasir and was seen as a gift to this world.
What is Bragi the God of?
Bragi is considered to be the god of poetry as described by the Old Norse writers of the Christian Middle Ages. They claim that the Old Norse word for poetry, “bragr” was derived from Bragi’s name. Some also refer to him as the Winter god of leisure and entertainment. It is said that after harvest in the long months of cold and snow, having a skald was a great asset to stay entertained. Although there isn’t much written directly about Bragi, he is still known to be the first poet who inspired skaldic work, and the patron of skalds. Given Bragi’s prowess in poetry, there are several skalds named after him, including Bragi Hognason, Bragi Boddason, and Bragi son of Haifdan the Old.
It is not clear whether Bragi was worshipped as one of the Norse gods. According to the God of War series, however, his worshipers were said to be bard (poets). It was believed that Bragi gained more power each time any one of his followers recites or sings, as it was considered a form of prayer to Bragi. The storytellers and bards were considered priests of Bragi. They were famed for the impeccable memory that allowed them to remember everything they’ve heard. Their duty as priests was the oral preservation of generations of knowledge in the form of ballads and skaldic poetry. Additionally, they can play at least one form of instrument, especially since Bragi’s holy symbol is the harp.
Bragi’s Powers and Abilities
As the god of Poetry, Bragi’s powers are said to come from poems and songs. It is said that he becomes immune to all magic as long as he is singing. His singing can charm anyone around him compelling them to join him in song. He also can make plants grow as well as command animals, by singing the song of life. The downside to Bragi’s abilities is that he can only compel others for five hours at a time. Additionally, his immunity to magic through song is limited if he has evil or violent thoughts.
Bragi is considered a legend due to his talent and skill. He is known to have written songs with Oghma, the Celtic god, as well as regaled different audiences including, frost giants, deities, and adventurers. Even though, most of what is written about him, especially in Lokasenna, are insults for his lack of prowess in battle and cowardice in the face of conflict. Based on the skalds o the Viking Age, however, as a skald, he isn’t meant to go into battle, instead, his place is in the royal courts. There he inspired others with the tales and great deeds of heroes and lords. Therefore, it was pointless to send skalds into battle, considering their role. Even in his death, he continues to entertain the spirits of elite warriors in Valhalla.