Odin – The Chief god
(also Woden or Wotan in Anglo-Saxon myth)
Odin is the chief god of Germanic mythology. Son of Bor and Bestla, Odin was risen to favor mostly by the Vikings, and became known as the supreme god in the eighth and ninth centuries. The Vikings admired Odin’s love for the battle, as he was known as the “father of the slain”. Odin’s prominence demonstrates the importance of warfare to Germanic traditions.
Odin loved to cause conflicts and shifts of power. He once aided Harald, a Danish King, instructing him in tactics and granting him victories for years. In the king’s final battle, however, Odin took the place of Harald’s charioteer and drove the king to his demise.
Although Odin embodied deceit, violence and war, he also embodied many admirable qualities. He was the most knowledgeable god, with a great love for wisdom. He would willingly sacrifice himself for it.
With the threat of Ragnarok, the death of all gods, Odin built the Valhalla, a great hall of the “heroic dead”. Odin would then gather heroes and warriors who were slain in battle, and bring them to Valhalla so they would fight alongside the gods on the Vigrid plain, in an attempt to strengthen and save the gods in the final battle against the frost giants at the time of Ragnarok.
When the Romans arrived in Germanic territory, they assumed that Odin was their messenger god, Mercury.