Tyr


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Tyr (Old Norse: Týr) is one of the battle-gods of Norse mythology, according to the main sources on the topic, the literary works called the Eddas. He takes part in two adventures, one involving a monster to whom he sacrifices his hand, and one where he joins Thor to retrieve a cauldron. His name, related to Zeus or Jupiter, evokes a greater significance at some point in history, but unfortunately, we lack enough historical evidence to confirm it.

The One-handed God

Tyr’s main story is the one involving the wolf Fenrir, one of the children of Loki and the giantess Angrboda (Angrboða in Old Norse) - the others being the Midgard serpent (Miðgarðsormr in Old Norse) and the corpse-goddess Hel. The gods, worried about the mischief of this mighty monster, decide to chain him in their realm Asgard, but the wolf seems to break free no matter what kind of fetter they use. This story is told by Snorri, the author of the Prose Edda, a secondary source on Norse myth, but some elements are also featured in the Poetic Edda, the primary source believed to contain texts from the 9th-10th century.

In the Gylfaginning chapter of the book, section 34-35, we find out that Tyr is the only one brave enough to feed the wolf. Due to his strength and wish to brag and achieve fame, Fenrir accepts the gods‘ challenge to bind him with several fetters, all of which he breaks. "And when the æsir [gods] declared they were ready, the wolf shook himself and knocked the fetter so that the fragments flew far away." (The Prose Edda, 28). Fearful of this development, Odin sends Skirnir, Freyr’s servant, to the world of the black elves to find some craftsmen.

The chaining of Fenrir costs the god Tyr his right hand, while the rest of the gods are laughing because they finally manage to catch Fenrir.

In the end, Fenrir is bound by the gods with the fantastic chain Gleipnir, fashioned by the dwarves out of six things: the noise of a cat’s step, the beards of women, the roots of mountains, the nerves of bears, the breath of fishes, and the spittle of birds - all imaginary ingredients, since real ones could not work. Then the gods go to an island called Lyngvi and summon the wolf, show him the silky fetter, claim it is unbreakable but that he would tear it. The wolf seems reluctant, having a hunch that despite its looks of a ribbon it might be made with trickery.

Rather than have his courage questioned, he accepts the challenge of letting himself bound only if someone pledges with their hand in his mouth that it is an act of good faith. Then Tyr comes forward and offers his hand, and while the wolf struggles the chain becomes tougher. The chaining of Fenrir costs the god Tyr his right hand, while the rest of the gods are laughing because they finally manage to catch Fenrir. Then they take the cord and thread it through a stone slab, fasten it in the ground and use another rock as an anchoring peg. The wolf stretches his jaws howling, while the gods thrust a sword into his mouth. His saliva turns into a river, and he would not escape until Ragnarök.

Snorri interprets Tyr’s audacity as a sign of great morality. He describes the god in an earlier section, 25, of Gylfaginning:

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He is the bravest and most valiant, and he has great power over victory in battles. It is good for men of action to pray to him. There is a saying that a man is ty-valiant who surpasses other men and does not hesitate. He was so clever that a man who is clever is said to be ty-wise. It is one proof of his bravery that the Æsir were luring Fenriswolf to get the fetter Gleipnir on him, he did not trust them that they would let him go until they placed Tyr's hand in the wolf's mouth as a pledge. And when the Æsir refused to let him go then he bit off the hand at the place that is now called the wolf-joint [wrist], and he is one-handed and he is not considered a promoter of settlements between people. (The Prose Edda, 24-25).

Other References

There are hints at this story in the older sources, the poems of the Poetic Edda. Völuspá (Old Norse: Vǫluspá), the poem where a prophetess summoned by Odin speaks of the beginning and end of the world, mentions the detail of the escape of Fenrir from his trap in stanza 44 as a sign of the apocalypse. The same stanza names one more monster who will howl and cause havoc at Ragnarök, the hound Garm, guardian of the underworld realm of Hel, whom Snorri considers to be the slayer of Tyr.

Tyr makes his appearance in Lokasenna, the exchange of insults (called flyting) between the gods of Asgard, and Loki, the complex character that sometimes joins and sometimes troubles them. Here Tyr gets verbally smashed in stanza 38 after trying to defend Freyr’s noble qualities: "Be silent, Tyr! You could never build friendship between two people / I think of your right hand / bitten off by my son Fenrir" (Hildebrand, 225). Tyr’s inability for peacemaking mirrors his physical handicap. He defends himself by reminding Loki that he also suffered a loss, since his son would be bound until the final battle. Loki continues his barrage of insults in stanza 40, this time resorting to sexual innuendoes: "Be silent, Tyr! / for once your wife had the chance / of a son with me / not a penny I think / were you paid for the wrong / you were not compensated at all, you poor wretch" (Hildebrand, 225). Not getting any compensation for such a misdeed would indeed have represented a significant stain on Tyr’s honour. There is no other reference to Tyr’s wife or son in question.

Etymology suggests that Tyr might have played a more prominent role before the literary sources & the Viking Age.

The other story involving Tyr is told in the poem Hymiskvidha (Old Norse: Hymiskviða), a work of little structure and probably made up of patches from other sources. In a nutshell, the gods wish to hold a feast, and they are trying to figure out where they could find plenty to drink. Ægir, the god of the sea but from the giants‘ family, seems to own a lot of kettles but he only agrees to prepare the mead if they bring him so large a kettle that could boil the drink for all at once. We can speculate this might be an allusion to the sea itself.

Tyr comes into the picture in stanza 5, when he says that he has knowledge of such an object, the kettle of his father Hymir. This detail contradicts Snorri’s opinion in the section Skálskaparmál, fragment 9, where he states that "How shall Tyr be referred to? By calling him the one-handed As and the feeder of the wolf, battle-god, son of Odin." (The Prose Edda, 76). In stanza 8 of Hymiskvidha, Tyr manages to find his grandmother and mother, thus more characters we know nothing about: "The youngster found his grandma / whom he greatly despised / she had nine hundred heads / but a fair one / approached with gold / and the brightly browed / brought her son beer" (Hildebrand, 194).

In some versions of his origin, probably Tyr was mixed race (his father was a giant and his mother a goddess). The story then goes into the direction of another myth, about how Thor catches the world serpent while out fishing with Hymir. The rest of the poem centres around Thor, not Tyr, challenged to break Hymir’s chalice, which he does by slinging it against the giant’s head. The gods then return with the kettle and all can properly indulge in the vast amount of liquor.

Tyr also has a corresponding rune, the t-rune, with possible magical attributes, as suggested in the ballad Sigrdrífumál. Sigrdrifa (victory bringer), another name for the valkyrie Brynhild, teaches the hero Sigurd some rune magic after he rescues her from the shield tower by cutting her mail-coat which was struck to her skin. She says in stanza 6: You shall know the runes of victory / if you want to win / and write them on your sword-hilt / some on the fold / and some on the flat / and you shall call twice on Tyr (Hildebrand 2011, 535). While this could be a religious invocation based on the connection of the rune with Tyr, it might as well just be used for the sake of alliteration.

Was Tyr the Chief God?

Etymology suggests that Tyr might have played a more prominent role before the literary sources and the Viking Age. Týr - proto-Germanic Tiwaz, Old English Tīw, Old High German Ziu - comes from the same Indo-European root as Zeus in Greek, Ju (from Jupiter) in Latin or Dyáus in Sanskrit. The reconstructed name would be dyēus, bearing some association with the skies. If he ever did lead the pantheon, the surviving Norse sources no longer credit him with many attributes or actions. Tyr or Tiwaz gave us the weekday Tuesday, tirsdag in Danish/Norwegian, dies marti in Latin, pointing out to the Roman interpretation (interpretatio romana) of Tyr as Mars, thus focusing on the military attribute. Moreover, we do have Scandinavian place-names related to Tyr, mostly from Denmark, for example Tislund (grove), Tisbjerg (mountain) or Tissø (lake). The limitation to Denmark, from where Angles and Jutes migrated to the west, leaves open the question of Tyr’s worship in earlier centuries.

In Norse sources, the word Tyr simply meaning god could also be used generically in combination with other elements so as to describe a god in a certain way. Odin has many such names, enforcing the idea that he might have based some of his attributes on the original Tyr. For example in the Ballad of Grimnir (Grímnismál in Old Norse), he is called Veratyr (lord of men), Farmatyr (lord of sailors), or Hroptatyr (crier of the gods). The plural form, tívar, occurs in poetry and simply refers to the gods in general. The literary sources, the two Eddas, clearly promote Odin as the chief god, but we should not assume that it had always been the case or that Odin played this part for every Northman throughout the Viking and pre-Viking Age. Thor, for example, appears much more frequently in the archaeological record underlining his predominance among many worshippers.

According to the written sources, Odin clearly emerges at the top of the hierarchy, and all we can do is speculate about Tyr’s personality before the 9th century when the poems of the Poetic Edda were most likely composed and circulated orally.


Tyr (album)

Tyr ( / ˈ t ɪər / ) [3] (stylized as ᛏᛉᚱ) is the fifteenth studio album by English heavy metal band Black Sabbath, released in August 1990 by I.R.S. Records.

The album title, and several song titles, allude to Norse mythology, which led many to call Tyr a concept album, although bassist Neil Murray dispelled that in 2005, stating that while many of the songs may seem loosely related, very little of the album has to do with mythology and it was not intended to be a concept recording. [4]


More interesting facts about Tyr

  • Tyr is pronounced like the English word “tear”
  • He has only one hand—his left-hand—because Fenrir, the wolf monster bit off his right hand. But, he is still one of the best god warriors
  • Viking warriors would often put the “T” rune (an arrow pointing up) on their swords to invoke the power and patronage of Tyr in their battle
  • Romans equated Tyr with their War god, Mars
  • Tuesday is named after Tyr. In Old English, it was the Day of Tiw (Tiwesdaeg). Romans called the same day of the week Dies Martes after Mars
  • Tyr accepts mead, meat, and blood for sacrifices
  • According to legends of Ragnarok, Tyr and Gram, the guard dog of Hel, the goddess of the land of the dead, will kill each other
  • In Lokasenna, Loki teases Tyr with cuckoldry (lewd sexual acts)
  • Tyr is almost as strong as Thor. They can both lift Hymir’s cauldron, but Thor can lift it more, However, no one else (other than Thor) is stronger than Tyr.

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The Binding of Fenrir

Tyr is easily recognized as he is depicted as a god with only one hand. The explanation for this is found in the myth known as the Binding of Fenrir, arguably the most famous tale regarding Tyr. In this myth, the gods wanted to bind the great wolf Fenrir. This monstrous wolf was one of the three offspring of Loki, and the gods had been keeping him in Asgard since he was a puppy in order to keep an eye on him. As Fenrir continued to grow, the gods began to worry that they would not be able to keep him in their home and, fearing that he would wreak havoc if he left Asgard, they planned to have the creature bound up.

The gods, therefore, began to bind Fenrir with various ropes and chains. In order to obtain Fenrir’s consent to being tied up, the gods told the wolf that these bindings were meant to test his strength. Each time Fenrir broke free, the gods cheered and clapped, though in their hearts, they were growing increasingly worried. Eventually, the gods decided to seek the help of the dwarves, the best blacksmiths available, to produce a rope or chain that not even the great wolf would be able to break free from. As a result, Gleipir was formed. This was a light and silky rope made from several rather odd ingredients – the sound of a cat’s footsteps, the beard of a woman, the roots of a stone, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird.


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The Norse God Tiwaz or Tyr and the Origin of Tuesday

“Tuesday” is a strange, arbitrary name for a day just about as strange and arbitrary as “Wednesday”. So, why is Tuesday called “Tuesday”?

Tuesday is the day set aside for recognizing the ancient Norse god of war and law Tiwaz. Tuesday is Tiw’s Day.

Who is Tiwaz?

Tiwaz is known by many names, including the Old Norse Tyr, Old English Tiw, Gothic Teiws, and Old High German Ziu. All of these names stem from the Proto-Germanic name Tiwaz. The Germanic alphabet was comprised of the letters called “runes”. The rune “T”, which looks like an arrow pointing up, is named after Tiwaz.

A rune found in Iceland was accompanied by a poem etched into it. It read: Tyr is a one-handed god, / And leavings of the wolf, / And prince of temples.

Tiwaz is the god of single combat, victory and glory. He is also the god of laws, and was often depicted as a man with one hand. According to the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Tiwaz lost his hand as part of a deal with the monstrous Fenris wolf (also Fenrir). Up until the time when Tiwaz and Fenrir made their agreement, Fenrir had escaped numerous attempt to be shackled, and broke every chain the gods had tried to put on him. The gods were trying to capture Fenrir because their prophecies warned that he would continue to grow and would eventually wreak havoc on their world. (Sturloson)

However, a group of dwarves created a magical rope or ribbon made of silk, made of six fantastical ingredients the sound of a cat’s footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, bear’s sinews, fish’s breath and bird’s spittle. The rope was named Gleipnir.

Fenrir agreed to allow himself to be bound by the magical rope if one of the gods would put his/her hand into his mouth. Fenrir probably thought he’d be able to escape the rope just as easily as all the other chains. Tiwaz, known for being brave, volunteered to put his hand into Fenrir’s mouth and Fenrir ate it. After the gods bound Fenrir with the magical rope, Fenrir found that he could not escape. Thus Tiwaz saved the world but lost a hand. Tiwaz is sometimes shown with both hands, which is intended to depict him prior to his meeting with Fenrir.

When Did Tuesday Become a Day?

During Roman times, the day that is currently known as Tuesday was called Martius, after the Roman god of war Mars. In fact, most Latin languages like Spanish still use the Roman god. In Spanish, for example, Tuesday is “Martes”.

In England and in Germania, Roman subjects equated their own god Tiwaz with the Roman’s god of war called Mars. So, they called the day Tiw’s Day. After the Roman Empire fell, the inhabitants of England, and most non-Latin speaking European countries continued to reference Tiwaz. For instance, Swedish call the day Tisdag.

Tiwaz in Modern Culture

Tiwaz has largely lost his significance. Of the old Norse gods, he has largely been superseded by Odin. But Odin too, has had his popularity suffer as most people within the regions that traditionally worshipped Tyr and Odin (i.e. Northern Europe), have either lost their religion or now follow one of the Judeo-Christian religions.

But Tyr’s place in history does allow for the occasional creative mention in modern day popular usage. For instance, Tyr is a god in the Forgotten Realms universe, in games like Baldur’s Gate. Another game, World of Warcraft, has a town named Tyr’s Hand, referencing the god’s missing hand.


A Path to Jotunheim, Tyr's Secret Chamber

In the Realm Travel Room, select Midheim and exit to Brok's Shop, showing him all that stuff you learned about Tyr's key plans.

After a touching moment with his brother Sindri, they make it - Tyr's Key to a mysterious door.

Locate Tur's mysterious door

Head outside, following your waypoint down the side of Tyr's temple, and you'll soon approac a locked door in the side of the temple with a triangular handle on the front.

Insert the key and enter Tyr's hidden chamber.

Explore Tyr's hidden chamber

Head up the steps and shoot the light crystal ahead, and go up the ramp into the next room - the Realm Travel Room! - only it's different. You're actually under the regular version, and up above you to one side is the glowing shape of the thing you need to progress to Jotunheim.

Interact with Boy for a bit of dialogue and then work your way round to the south to another door outside, across another light bridge, where you can follow a corridor to a room called the Hall of Tyr.


Early Germanic peoples associated Tyr with Mars, the Roman god of war. The third day of the week, known as dies Martis (Mars's Day) in Latin, became known as Tyrsdagr to the Norse and entered English as Tuesday. In modern times, Tyr has not enjoyed the same level of popularity as other Norse gods like Odin or Thor. However, both DC Comics and Marvel Comics have featured characters based on Tyr—the former was a villain, while the latter more closely resembled the Tyr of Norse myth.

When Tyr sacrifices his hand in order for the gods to secure Fenrir, he does not cry out in pain. For the Norse, such stoicism was considered to be a sign of strength and bravery. Do you think stoicism is still considered a value in contemporary societies? Give examples to support your opinion.


What is the significance of the city of Tyre in the Bible?

Tyre is thought to be one of the oldest cities on the Phoenician coast, established long before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan. Isaiah affirms Tyre’s ancient origins as “from days of old” (Isaiah 23:5&ndash7).

Tyre is situated on the Mediterranean coast directly north of Jerusalem between the mountains of Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea, about 20 miles south of Sidon and 23 miles north of Acre. Neighboring Sidon is believed to be the oldest Phoenician city, but Tyre’s history is more distinguished. The name Tyre (Tzor in Hebrew) signifies “a rock,” an apt description for the rocky coastal fortress. In ancient times, Tyre flourished as a maritime city and a busy center for commercial trade. The area’s most valuable export was its then world-famous purple dye.

Originally, the ancient city was divided into two parts: an older port city (“Old Tyre”) located on the mainland and a small rocky island about a half-mile off the coast where most of the population resided. The island has been connected to the mainland ever since Alexander the Great built a siege ramp to it in the late fourth century BC. The causeway has widened over the centuries, creating Tyre’s current-day peninsular formation.

The Bible first mentions Tyre in a list of cities that were part of the inheritance of the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:24&ndash31). Fortified with a wall, Tyre held an exceedingly strong position. It was the only city in the list described as “strong” or “fortified” (verse 29). Joshua was unable to capture Tyre (Joshua 13:3&ndash4), and, evidently, it was never conquered by the Israelites (2 Samuel 24:7).

By the time of King David’s reign, Israel had formed a friendly alliance with Hiram king of Tyre. David used stonemasons and carpenters from Tyre, along with cedars from that region to build his palace (2 Samuel 5:11). Peaceful relations with King Hiram continued into Solomon’s reign, with the construction of the temple in Jerusalem relying heavily on supplies, laborers, and skilled artisans from Tyre (1 Kings 5:1&ndash14 9:11 2 Chronicles 2:3).

Israel continued to share close ties with Tyre during King Ahab’s reign. Ahab married the Phoenician princess Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon, and their union led to the infiltration of pagan worship and idolatry in Israel (1 Kings 16:31). Both Tyre and Sidon were notorious for their wickedness and idolatry, which resulted in numerous denouncements by Israel’s prophets, who predicted Tyre’s ultimate destruction (Isaiah 23:1 Jeremiah 25:22 Ezekiel 26 28:1&ndash19 Joel 3:4 Amos 1:9&ndash10 Zechariah 9:2&ndash4).

After the restoration of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time, the people of Tyre violated the Sabbath rest by selling their goods in the markets of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 13:16). In 332 BC, after a seven-month siege, Alexander the Great conquered Tyre, putting an end to Phoenician political control, but the city retained its economic power.

In the New Testament, Jesus mentions Tyre as an example of an unrepentant city (Matthew 11:21&ndash22 Luke 10:13). Jesus also ministered in the district of Tyre and Sidon, healing the demon-possessed daughter of a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21&ndash28).

The persecution that arose after Stephen’s death caused the Christians in Jerusalem to scatter. As a result, a church was established in Tyre (Acts 11:19). Paul spent a week there with the disciples on the return voyage of his third missionary journey (Acts 21:2&ndash4).

In 1291, Tyre was completely destroyed by the Saracens, eerily fulfilling Ezekiel’s prophecy: “They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. She will become plunder for the nations” (Ezekiel 26:4&ndash5). The island has remained a desolate ruin ever since.



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