In Norse mythology, Hlín (Old Norse "protectress") is a goddess associated with the goddess Frigg. Hlín appears in a poem in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and in kennings found in skaldic poetry. Hlín has been theoriSed as possibly another name for Frigg.
Scholars frequently explain the meaning behind the goddess's name as 'protector'. The Prose Edda section Gylfaginning derives the name from a verb found in a proverb in an obscure and otherwise unattested Old Norse proverb: Þiaðan af er þat orðtak at sá er forðask hleinir. Scholars generally accept that the theonym Hlín derives from the verb hleina. However, the verb hleina in which the section claims a derivation is obscure (a hapax legomenon), and translators have attempted to work around it in a variety of manners, in some cases leaving the verb untranslated. Examples include the translations of Anthony Faulkes ("From this comes the saying that someone who escapes finds refuge (hleinir)", 1995 ) and Jesse Byock ("From her name comes the expression that he who escapes finds hleinir [peace and quiet]", 2005).
Scholars have proposed a variety of derivations for the verb. The verb is most commonly linked to Old English hlinian and hlænan, ancestors to the modern English verb lean. 19th century scholars, including Jacob Grimm, linked hleina to the rare Old Norse noun hlynr, meaning 'maple tree'. Grimm links this derivation to a variety of tree figures found in folklore from the modern era in northwest Europe. Joseph Hopkins (2017) comments that this derivation may deserve further investigation in light of the potential connection between the Old Norse goddess name Ilmr and the Old Norse common noun almr (Elm tree), and says that "the potential of a protective tree goddess brings to mind a mysterious passage in the Prose Edda involving the rowan, in which the tree is referred to as [Thor's] bjǫrg ['aid, help, salvation, rescue']".
The death of Odin (the stanza's "second sorrow") implies a first death. Scholars all but universally view this as a reference to the death of the god Baldr, Frigg and Odin's son. Some translators replace the reference of Hlín to a mention of Frigg due to their interpretations of the stanza (see discussion in Scholarly reception and interpretation section below).
In chapter 35 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hlín is listed twelfth among a series of sixteen goddesses. High tells Gangleri (earlier in the book described as King Gylfi in disguise) that Hlín "is given the function of protecting people whom Frigg wishes to save from some danger." High continues that, from this, comes the saying that "someone who escapes finds refuge (hleinar)." The verb hleina in this passage is obscure and has yielded a variety of translations (see etymology section above).
In chapter 51, the above-mentioned Völuspá stanza is quoted. In chapter 75 of the book Skáldskaparmál Hlín appears within a list of 27 ásynjur names.
In skaldic poetry, the name Hlín is frequent in kennings for women. Examples include Hlín hringa ('Hlín of rings'), Hlín goðvefjar ('Hlín of velvet') and arm-Hlín ('arm-Hlín'). The name is already used frequently in this way by the 10th-century poet Kormákr Ögmundarson and remains current in skaldic poetry through the following centuries, employed by poets such as Þórðr Kolbeinsson, Gizurr Þorvaldsson and Einarr Gilsson. The name remained frequently used in woman kennings in rímur poetry, sometimes as Lín.
In a verse in Hávarðar saga Ísfirðings, the phrase á Hlín fallinn ("fallen on Hlín") occurs. Some editors have emended the line while others have accepted the reading and taken Hlín to refer to the earth.