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Auðumbla (also spelled Auðumla, Auðhumbla, and Auðhumla) is a primeval cow appearing in Norse mythology. She is attested in Gylfaginning, a part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, in association with Ginnungagap and Ymir.[1] Auðumbla is not mentioned again in the Prose Edda, and apart from one mention in Nafnaþulur, her name does not occur in other ancient sources. Nevertheless, she is generally accepted by scholars as an authentic part of Norse mythos and not dismissed as an invention of Snorri Sturluson.

Normalized text of R Brodeur's translation
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvar bygði Ymir, eða við hvat lifði hann?" Then said Gangleri: "Where dwelt Ymir, or wherein did he find sustenance?"
Hár svarar: "Næst var þat þá er hrímit draup at þar varð af kýr sú er Auðhumla hét, en fjórar mjólkár runnu ór spenum hennar, ok fœddi hún Ymi." Hárr answered: "Straightway after the rime dripped, there sprang from it the cow called Auðumla; four streams of milk ran from her udders, and she nourished Ymir."
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Við hvat fœddisk kýrin?" Then asked Gangleri: "Wherewithal was the cow nourished?"
Hár svarar: "Hon sleikti hrímsteinana er saltir váru. Ok hinn fyrsta er hon sleikti steina, kom ór steininum at kveldi manns hár, annan dag manns höfuð, þriðja dag var þar allr maðr. Sá er nefndr Búri[."] And Hárr made answer: "She licked the ice-blocks, which were salty; and the first day that she licked the blocks, there came forth from the blocks in the evening a man's hair; the second day, a man's head; the third day the whole man was there. He is named Búri[."]


While Ymir suckles at the udder of Auðumbla, she licks Búri out of the ice in a 1790 painting by Nicolai Abildgaard.

Auðumbla's name appears in different variations in Prose Edda manuscripts. Its meaning is unclear, and the name may have been obscure or interpreted differently even in pagan times. The word auð might be related to words meaning 'wealth', 'ease', 'fate', or 'emptiness'; 'wealth' is perhaps the likelier candidate. The word um(b)la is unclear, but judging from apparent cognates in other Germanic languages, it could mean 'hornless cow'.[a]

The name may be represented or Anglicized as Audumbla, Audumla, Audhumbla, Audhumla, Authumbla, Authumla, Authhumbla, Authhumla, Audhhumbla, or Audhhumla. In Swedish it also is Ödhumla.[b]


The Swedish scholar Viktor Rydberg, writing in the late nineteenth century, drew a parallel between the Norse creation myths and accounts in Zoroastrian and Vedic mythology, postulating a common Proto-Indo-European origin.[c] Zoroastrian mythology does have a primeval ox who is said variously to be female or male and who comes into existence in the middle of the earth along with the primeval human.


  1. ^ Another viewpoint is that þumb could be the word stem instead of auð. Yet another hypothesis connects Auðumbla with the name Ymir.
  2. ^ The Swedish letter ö (o with umlaut) in Ödhumla is a pronounced very similarly to the letter i in the English words bird and girl.
  3. ^ Many of Rydberg's other theories were dismissed as fanciful by later scholars, but to a large extent, his work on comparative mythology was sound.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Significance of Fire in Norse Mythology | Pitlane Magazine". Retrieved 2017-08-28.

External links[edit]