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Vili and Ve

Vili and Vé, along with Odin, slaying Ymir.

Vili and Ve are the two brothers of the god Odin, with whom they shared a decisive role in the original shaping of the cosmos. Odin, Vili, and Ve were the first true Aesir gods to exist. Their parents were the proto-god Borr and the giantess Bestla. The three brothers slew the giant Ymir, the first being who had come into existence, and fashioned the cosmos from his corpse.

Since Vili and Vé, together with Odin, slew Ymir they initiated the ending the primeval rule of the race of giants. They are comparable to the three brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, of Greek mythology, who defeat the Titans. Of the three, Odin is the eldest, Vili the middle, and Ve the youngest. To the first human couple, Ask and Embla, Odin gave soul and life; Vili gave wit (intelligence) and sense of touch; and Vé gave countenance (appearance, facial expression), speech, hearing, and sight.

The three brothers worked as a team for a time, until Odin became the All-Father of Asgard. It is said that while he went on his nine years of wandering for wisdom, his two brothers moved in with his wife Frigga. This may reflect ancient pre-Christian Norse customs of hospitality, of a wife giving her bed to her husband’s brothers out of respect and kindness. However, a later version of the story says that when Odin returned, he threw them out.

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