(also known as: Fornjotur)
The Ancient Giant
King of Kvenland
Kari ‘Wind’ “King of Kvenland” FORNJOTSSON (189 – 240)
Ægir (the ruler of the sea)
Logi (fire giant)
Fornjót (Old Norse: Fornjótr) was an ancient giant in Norse mythology and a king of Finland, Kvenland and Gotland. His children are Ægir (the ruler of the sea), Logi (fire giant) and Kári (god of wind).
He is believed to have lived between 160 AD – 250 AD.
The name has often been interpreted as forn-jótr “ancient giant”. Karl Simrock (1869) identified Formjotr with the primeval giant Ymir. But it is also possible, as was suggested by Peter Erasmus Müller (1818), that it is one of a well-established group of names or titles of gods in -njótr “user, owner, possessor”, which would make Fornjótr the “original owner” (primus occupans vel utens) of Norway.
Fornjót in the texts
Fornjót is mentioned only twice in old verse: in stanza 29 of Ynglingatal where “son of Fornjót” seems to refer to fire and in a citation in Snorri Sturluson’s Skáldskaparmál:
How should the wind be periphrased? Thus: call it son of Fornjót, Brother of the Sea and of Fire, Scathe or Ruin or Hound or Wolf of the Wood or of the Sail or of the Rigging.
Thus spake Svein in the Nordrsetu-drápa:
First began to fly
Fornjót’s sons ill-shapen.
Fornjót is listed as a giant (jötun) in one of the thulur sometimes included in editions of the Skáldskaparmál. This is as expected, since Fornjót’s son Ægir is also identified as a giant in various sources.
In the Orkneyinga saga and in Hversu Noregr byggdist (‘How Norway was settled’)— both found in the Flatey Book— Fornjót appears as an ancient ruler of Finland, Kvenland and Gotland. He is father of three sons named Ægir or Hlér, Logi and Kári. The Hversu account says further that Ægir ruled over the seas, Logi over fire, and Kári over wind.
There was a king named Fornjot, he ruled over those lands which are called Finland and Kvenland; that is to the east of that bight of the sea which goes northward to meet Gandvik; that we call the Helsingbight. Fornjot had three sons; one was named Hler, whom we call Ægir, the second Logi, the third Kari; he was the father of Frost, the father of Snow the old, his son’s name was Thorri; he (Thorri) had two sons, one was named Norr and the other Gorr; his daughter’s name was Goi. Thorri was a great sacrificer, he had a sacrifice every year at midwinter; that they called Thorri’s sacrifice; from that, the month took its name. One winter there were these tidings at Thorri’s sacrifice, that Goi was lost and gone, and they set out to search for her, but she was not found. And when that month passed away Thorri made them take to sacrifice, and sacrifice for this, that they might know surely where Goi was hidden away. In honour it was named Goi’s sacrifice, but all heard nothing of her. Four winters after those brothers vowed a vow that they would search for her; and so share the search between them, that Norr should search on land, but Gorr should search the outscars and islands, and he went on board ship. Each of those brothers had many men with him. Gorr held on with his ships out along the sea-bight, and so into Alland’s sea; after that he views the Swedish scars far and wide, and all the isles that lie in the East salt sea; after that to the Gothland scars, and thence to Denmark, and views there all the isles; he found there his kinsmen, they who come from Hler the old out of Hler’s isle, and he held on then still with his voyage and hears nothing of his sister. But Norr his brother bided till snow lay on the heaths, and it was good going on snow-shoon. After that he fared forth from Kvenland and inside the sea-bight, and they came thither where those men were who are called Lapps, that is at the back of Finnmark. But the Lapps wished to forbid them a passage, and there arose a battle; might and magic followed Norr and his men; their foes became as swine. as soon as they heard the war-cry and saw weapons drawn, and the Lapps betook themselves to flight. But Norr fared thence west on the Keel, and was long gone, they shot beasts and birds for meat for themselves; they fared on till they came where the waters turned to the westward from the fells. Then they fared along with the waters, and came to a sea; there before them was a firth as big as it were a sea-bight; great dales came down to the firth. There was a gathering of folk against them, and they straightway made ready to battle with Norr, and their quarrel fared. All the men either fell or fled, but Norr and his men overcame them as weeds over cornfields. Norr fared round all the firth and laid it under him, and made himself king over those districts that lay there inside the firth. Norr tarried there the summer over till it snowed upon the hearths; then he shaped his course up along the dale which goes south from the firth; that firth is now called Drontheim. Some of his men he lets fare the coast way round Mæren; he laid under him all withersoever he came. And when he comes south over the fell that lay to the south of the dalebight, he went on still south along the dales, until he came to a great water which they called Mjösen. Then he turns west again on to the fell, because it had been told him that his men had come off worsted before that king whose name was Sokni. Then they came into that district which they called Valders. Thence they fared to the sea, and came into a long firth and a narrow, which is now called Sogn; there was their meeting with Sokni, and they had there a mighty battle, because their witchcraft had no hold on Sokni. Norr went hard forward, and he and Sokni came to handstrokes. There fell Sokni and many of his folk.
Stephen Robert Kuta