In Norse mythology, Gerr (Old Norse "fenced-in") is a j÷tunn, goddess, and the wife of the god Freyr. Gerr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in the poetry of skalds. Gerr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Gerd or Gerth.
In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Freyr sees Gerr from a distance, becomes deeply lovesick at the sight of her shimmering beauty, and has his servant SkÝrnir go to J÷tunheimr (where Gerr and her father Gymir reside) to gain her love. In the Poetic Edda Gerr initially refuses, yet after a series of threats by SkÝrnir she finally agrees. In the Prose Edda, no mention of threats is made. In both sources, Gerr agrees to meet Freyr at a fixed time at the location of Barri and, after SkÝrnir returns with Gerr's response, Freyr laments that the meeting could not occur sooner. In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Gerr is described as the daughter of Gymir and the mountain j÷tunn Aurboa.
In Heimskringla, Gerr is recorded as the wife of Freyr, euhemerized as having been a beloved king of Sweden. In the same source, the couple are the founders of the Yngling dynasty and produced a son, Fj÷lnir, who rose to kinghood after Freyr's passing and continued their line. Gerr is commonly theorized to be a goddess associated with the earth. Gerr has inspired works of art and literature.
In the Poetic Edda poem SkÝrnismßl, the god Freyr sat on the high seat Hlidskjalf and looked into all worlds. Freyr saw a beautiful girl walking from the hall of her father to a storehouse. Freyr became heartsick for the girl. Freyr has a page named SkÝrnir. Freyr's father Nj÷rr and, in verse, the goddess Skai tell SkÝrnir to find out what is the matter with Freyr. An exchange occurs between Freyr and SkÝrnir in verse, where Freyr tells SkÝrnir that he has seen a wonderous girl with shining arms at the home of (her father) Gymir, yet that the gods and elves do not wish for the two to be together:
Benjamin Thorpe translation:
In Gřmir's courts I saw walking
a maid for whom I long.
Her arms gave forth light wherewith shone
all air and water.
Is more desirable to me that maid
than to any youth in early days;
yet will no one, Ăsir or Alfar,
that we together live.
Henry Adams Bellows translation:
"From Gymir's house I behold forth
A maiden dear to me;
Her arms glittered, and from their gleam
Shone all the sea and sky."
"To me more dear than in days of old
Was ever maiden to man;
But no one of gods or elves will grant
That we be together should be."
SkÝrnir requests that Freyr give him a horse and Freyr's sword; a sword which fights j÷tnar by itself. Under the cover of darkness, SkÝrnir rides the horse over nations and dew-covered mountains until he reaches J÷tunheimr, the home of the j÷tnar, and proceeds to Gymir's courts. Ferocious dogs are tied before the wooden fence that surrounds Gerr's hall. SkÝrnir rides out to a herdsman (unnamed) sitting on a mound, greets him, and asks the herdsman how he may speak to the maiden beyond Gymir's dogs. An exchange occurs between the herdsman and SkÝrnir, during which the herdsman tells SkÝrnir that he will never speak to the girl.
Hearing a terrible noise in her dwellings, Gerr asks where it is coming from, noting that the earth trembles and that all of Gymir's courts shake. A serving maid (unnamed) notes that outside a man has dismounted his horse and has let it graze. Gerr tells the serving maid to invite the man to come into their hall and to partake of some of their "famous mead," yet Gerr expresses fear that the man outside may be her "brother's slayer".
Gerr asks the stranger if he is of the elves, Ăsir, or the Vanir, and why he comes alone "over the wild fire" to seek their company. SkÝrnir responds that he is of none of these groups, yet that he has indeed sought her out. SkÝrnir offers Gerr 11 golden apples (or apples of eternal life, in a common emendation) to gain her favor. Gerr rejects the applesŚno matter who offers themŚand adds that neither will she and Freyr be together as long as they live. SkÝrnir offers Gerr a ring, here unnamed, that produces eight more gold rings every ninth night and "was burned with Odin's young son". Gerr responds that she is not interested in the ring, for she shares her father's property, and Gymir has no lack of gold.
SkÝrnir turns to threats; he points out to Gerr that he holds a sword in his hand and he threatens to cut her head from her neck unless she agrees. Gerr refuses; she says that she will not endure the coercion of any man, and says that if Gymir encounters SkÝrnir then a battle can be expected. SkÝrnir again reminds Gerr of his blade and predicts that Gerr's j÷tunn father will meet his doom with it. SkÝrnir warns Gerr that he will strike her with his Gambanteinn, a wand, that it will tame her to his desires, and says that she will never again be seen by "the sons of men". From early morning, Gerr will sit on an eagle's mound, looking outward to the world, facing Hel, and that "food shall be more hateful to you than to every man is the shining serpent among men".
SkÝrnir declares that when Gerr comes out she will be a spectacle; HrÝmgrÝmnir will "glare" at her, "everything" will stare at her, she will become more famous than the watchman of the gods, and that she will "gape through the bars". Gerr will experience "madness and howling, tearing affliction and unbearable desire" and that, in grief, tears will flow from her. SkÝrnir tells Gerr to sit down, for her fate will be even worse yet. She will be harassed by fiends all her weary days. From the court of j÷tnar to the halls of the hrimthurs, Gerr shall everyday crawl without choice, nor hope of choice. Gerr will weep rather than feel joy, suffering tearfully. She will live the rest of her life in misery with a three-headed thurs or otherwise be without a man altogether. SkÝrnir commands for Gerr's mind to be seized, that she may waste away with pining, and that she be as the thistle at the end of the harvest; crushed.
SkÝrnir says that he has been to a wood to get a "potent branch", which he found. He declares that the gods Odin and Thor are angry with Gerr, and that Freyr will hate her; she has "brought down the potent wrath of the gods". SkÝrnir declares to the hrimthursar, thursar, the sons of Suttungr, and the "troops of the Ăsir" that he has denied both pleasure and benefit from men to Gerr. SkÝrnir details that the thurs's name who will own her below the gates of Nßgrind is HrÝmgrÝmnir and that there, at the roots of the world, the finest thing Gerr will be given to drink is the urine of goats. He carves "thurs" (the runic character *thurisaz) on Gerr and three runes (unnamed) symbolizing lewdness, frenzy, and unbearable desire, and comments that he can rub them off just as he has carved themŚif he wishes.
Gerr responds with a welcome to SkÝrnir and tells him to take a crystal cup containing ancient mead, noting that she thought she would never love one of the Vanir. SkÝrnir asks her when she will meet with Freyr. Gerr says that they shall meet at a tranquil location called Barri, and that after nine nights she will there grant Freyr her love:
Benjamin Thorpe translation:
Barri is the grove named, which we both know,
the grove of tranquil paths.
Nine nights hence, there to Ni÷rd's son
Gerd will grant delight.
Henry Adams Bellows translation:
Barri there is, which we both know well,.
A forest fair and still;
And nine nights hence to the son of Njorth
Will Gerth grant delight.
SkÝrnir rides home. Standing outside, Freyr immediately greets SkÝrnir and asks for news. SkÝrnir tells him that Gerr says she will meet with him at Barri. Freyr, impatient, comments that one night is long, as is two nights, and questions how he will bear three, noting that frequently a month seemed shorter than half a night before being with Gerr.
A stanza in the poem Lokasenna refers to Gerr. In the poem, Loki accuses the god Freyr of having purchased Gymir's daughter (Gerr) with gold and comments that, in the process, Freyr gave away his sword. Referring to Freyr as a "wretch", Loki then posits how Freyr intends to fight when the Sons of Muspell ride over the wood Myrkvir (an event during Ragnar÷k). Freyr's servant, Byggvir, interjects and the poem continues.
In the poem Hyndluljˇ, Ëttar's ancestry is recounted and information is provided about the gods. One stanza relates that Freyr and Gerr were married, that Gerr is the daughter of the j÷tunn Gymir, that Gerr's mother is Aurboa, and that they are related to Ůjazi (the nature of the relation is not specified)Śfather of the goddess and j÷tunn Skai.