Sunday 1 May 2011

What's in a name?

We all know that LOFAR stands for LOw Frequency Array. But did you also know that Lofar is also a character from Nordic mythology — the ancient traditions and legends of the Germanic people, living in the Fenno-Scandinavia? He is actually a dwarf, mentioned in the Poetic Edda. In particular, he and his ancestors are mentioned in Völuspá (the prophecy of the seeress), which is the first poem of the Edda and is, in part, a story of the creation of the world and the heritage of the ancient races. The part that indicates Lofar's family tree reads as follows:

Mál er dverga Now are the dwarfs
í Dvalins liði in Dvalin's host,
ljóna kindum The lineages of kin
til Lofars telja, up to Lofar's family
þeir er sóttu those who sought
frá salar steini from the hall's stone
Aurvanga sjöt Aurvanga's seat
til Jöruvalla. to Jöruvalla

Þar var Draupnir There was Draupnir
ok Dolgþrasir, and Dólgthrasir,
Hár, Haugspori, Hár, Haugspor,
Hlévangr, Glóinn, Hlévangr, Glóinn,
Dóri, Óri Dóri, Óri
Dúfr, Andvari Dúfr, Andvari
Skirfir, Virfir, Skirfir, Virfir,
Skáfiðr, Ái. Skáfiðr, Ái.

Alfr ok Yngvi, Elf and Yngvi,
Eikinskjaldi, Eikinskjaldi,
Fjalarr ok Frosti, Fjalar and Frosti,
Finnr ok Ginnarr; Finn and Ginnar.
þat mun æ uppi that will be recalled
meðan öld lifir, as long as mankind exists
langniðja tal that long list of ancestors
Lofars hafat. of Lofar.

From this, we can see that Lofar is one of Dvalin's folk, in a long lineage of dwarfs. The dwarfs were creatures of the earth and mountains, renowned for their smithing and industry.

Note: The translation is partly from LM Hollander, but I've also referred to TB Krause and J Slocum. Any errors therein are my own.

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