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Woden (wōˈdən; German vōˈdĭn) [key], Norse Odin ōˈdĭn, in Germanic religion and mythology, the supreme god. His cult, although widespread among the Germanic tribes, was sometimes subordinated to that of his son Thor. With his brothers, Woden fashioned the earth and the sky from the dead body of the giant Ymir, and from an ash tree and an alder he created the first man and woman. As chief of the gods of Asgard he established the laws that governed the universe and controlled the destiny of humanity. At his court at Valhalla he was attended by the Valkyries. Woden was widely known as a god of war, but he was important also as a god of learning, of poetry, and of magic. His wife was Frigg, and his children included Thor, Balder, and Tiw. He was identified with the Roman god Mercury, and among Germanic peoples Mercury's day became Woden's day (Wednesday). In Richard Wagner's opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen, Woden is called Wotan.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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