tíw

subtitle

ingwine húnfriþ

ꞇıƿ ⚔️

other names

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📜 engliscold english

virtually all directly attested instances of this god’s name in old english sources come to us in a context where he is likened the roman god mārs. most often, this is indirectly through the use of his name for the labelling of tuesday (tíwes dæge.g. benedictine rune xiii ‘hú híe on weorcdagum tó healdenne sýn’; byrhtferþ’s enchiridion ii 3.227) or monday night (tíwes nihtbald’s leechbook iii ‘de generatione hominis’). elsewhere, tíw (or variants such as tíg, tiig, & tuu) occurs as a simple gloss for roman mārse.g. épinal-erfurt glossary 663 or substitutes for mārs in the context of a narrativeold english martyrology ‘pope sixtus ii’.

apart from these instances of tíw’s name, we also have the old english rune poem, which includes the following:

🙞 tír biþ tácna* sum   healdeð trýwa wel·
wiþ æþelingas   á biþ on færylde·
ofer nihta genipu·   nǽfre swíceþ∴

«ᛏ glory is one of the celestial signs*; it keeps faith well with noble folk; it is ever on its path over the mists of night, & never wavers.»

old english rune poem, †cotton ms otho B.x 165 (10th c., recorded by george hickes in 1705)

*tácn ‘sign, token’ has several interpretations, but the context of night & the use of the plural here is suggestive of its celestial connotations, which we also find in bald’s leechbook i & iii where the signs of the zodiac are referred to simply with this word.

the label tir ‘glory, fame’ given for the rune here also appears in two other records of the old english runic alphabet: cotton ms domitian a ix, dated to approximately the 10th century, & byrhtferth ms, dated to approximately the 12th century, where it is given as tyr. the word tír is also notable for its use in kennings for the christian god, e.g. judith 93 (tíres brytta ‘giver of glory’) & liber psalmorum 79:14 (tíres wealdend ‘glory’s ruler’).

we might contrast these later r-final rune name records with the 9th century records associated with alcuin — the codex sangallensis 270 (alcuin, 9th c.) & codex vindobonensis 795 — which name the rune ti, which tracks more closely with a nominative form of the tíg variant of the god tíw’s name. it is possible that the later name tír replaced the earlier due to its pagan nature, or conversely that influence from the norse god týr (whose name is given to the corresponding rune in the old norwegian & old icelandic rune poems, along with references to the loss of týr’s hand) motivated the change in name to tír/týr in old english. regardless, there seems to be some sort of connection between this runewe might also note that the gothic rune 𐍄 is given by alcuin the name tyz in the codex vindobonensis 795, which likely derives from the name teiws, cognate to tíw; cf. de vries 1962 Altnordisches Etymologisches Worterbuch; lehmann 1986 a gothic etymological dictionary & the god in question.

as for the content of the rune poem itself, two main interpretations have been put forward, both centering on an astronomical reading of the poem’s vocabulary. on the one hand, the description of an unwavering star which functions as a guide in the night sky might suggests a connection with the north star, polaris. on the other hand, the association with glory & possible with tíw might suggest a connection with the planet mars, & the fact that it á biþ on færylde may comport better with the predictable movement of a planetcf. osborn 2010 ‘tir as mars in the old english rune poem’ (anq 16,1) p. 3-13 , rather than the static position of polaris; while planets are not the most useful for determining one’s position, they can be useful for holding one’s course (healdeð trýwa wel*). additionally, somee.g. halsall 1981 the old english rune poem: a critical edition p. 136; osborn 2010 ‘tir as mars in the old english rune poem’ (anq 16,1) p. 3-13 have pointed to the resemblance between the rune’s shape & that of the planetary symbol for marsthe use of an arrow-like symbol for the planet may date back as early as the 3rd century, cf. jones 1999 astronomical papyri from oxyrhynchus, i p. 62. regardless, the old english rune poem connects this rune with a celestial object of some kind.

*it may be worth noting that the old icelandic rune poem includes the title mars tiggi in the analogous stanza. each of the poem’s stanzas ends with a latin gloss for the rune, followed by a poetic word for ‘ruler,’ ‘leader,’ ‘prince,’ or the like. the choice of tiggi here is interesting, however: its normalized form tyggi appears to derive from the proto-germanic verb *teuhaną ‘to lead, pull, draw’ cleasby & vigfússon 1874 an icelandic-english dictionary, suggesting that it may have originally meant ‘leader’ – this would also make it cognate with the old english verb téon ‘to draw, lead,’ which has a wide array of contextual meanings from ‘to hoist a sail’ to ‘to go on a journey,’ & which is sometimes conjugated as in the 1st person singular present, the present singular subjunctive, & the singular imperative.

what have of the relatively scant old english attestations of tíw are:

given the extent to which the old english sources connect tíw with mārs, it is worth investigating what associations with mārs may have existed in the early english milieu.

🏛️ romano-british mārs

in sub-roman britain, there were a great many deities, predominantly brittonic & gaulish deities, who were syncretized with the roman god mārs. some of these figures may provide some relevant context for how the figure of mārs may have been understood by the later inhabitants of britain.

in britain, mārs was associatied with belatucadrus r.i.b. 970· netherby, r.i.b. 948· carlisle & cocidiusr.i.b. 602· lancaster, r.i.b. 993· bewcastle, r.i.b. 1017· cumbria, r.i.b. 2015· castlesteads to stanwix sector, r.i.b. 2024· castlesteads to stanwix sector, r.i.b. 1307· wallsend, two figures who may have been horned gods associated with war & hunting ross 1967 pagan celtic britain, p. 235

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diutiskold high german

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norrœnaold norse

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𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌹𐍃𐌺𐌰 𐍂𐌰𐌶𐌳𐌰gothic

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𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌹𐍃𐌺𐌰 𐍂𐌰𐌶𐌳𐌰gothic

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🐉️ celtic lore

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🌲️ slavic lore

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🐎️ proto-indo-european

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⚗️ synthesis

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wihta

gield