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the dictionary of norse mythology

OTR


OTR Son of hreidmar and brother of regin and fafnir. Otr was a shape-shifter and usually took the form of an otter. He was killed by the trickster god, loki. Hreidmar demanded as ransom enough gold to cover the dead otter's pelt and to fill its insides. This myth is told by snorri sturluson in the prose edda and is mentioned in the poetic edda and the late 13th-century volsunga saga.In the Reginsmal, part of the Poetic Edda, the story of Otr also forms a preface to the sigurd leg-ends, in which Hreidmar is murdered by his sons regin and fafnir. Fafnir then steals the dwarf's trea-sure for himself and turns himself into a frightful dragon, the better to guard it. In the end, the hero Sigurd slays the dragon.Otr's Ransom Something of a magician, Otr often took the form of an otter. One day odin, his brother hoenir, and his blood brother loki were walking by a stream in midgard. They saw an otter. Loki threw a stone at it and killed it. Then he picked up the otter and flung it over his shoulder.The three came to the prosperous farmhouse of Hreidmar and asked for shelter for the night. At first Hreidmar was welcoming enough, but when he saw the otter, he shouted in rage and grief, for the dead creature was his son.Hreidmar summoned his other two sons, Regin and Fafnir. Then, with his magic spells, he disarmed the gods and bound them. Now the gods recognized Hreidmar as the master magician of the trolls and dwarfs. He was very powerful indeed.Odin told Hreidmar that he and his companions would pay whatever ransom he asked, for they had slain his son—but unknowingly, thinking that the creature was a real otter. Justice demanded that Hrei-dmar should be paid for his misfortune, but there was no need to start a blood feud.Calmed by Odin's fairness, Hreidmar and his sons demanded that the otter's skin should be stuffed with gold inside and the outside covered with gold until not a whisker could be seen. Odin and Hoenir agreed among themselves that, sly and cunning as he was, Loki would be the best one to go out and find enough gold for the awesome task, for the otter skin was growing bigger by the minute.Freed of his bonds, Loki went straight to the place where he had killed the otter and stared down into the water. Soon he saw what he was looking for, an enormous pike guarding the entrance to an under-water cave that gleamed with gold. The pike was the dwarf andvari, keeper of the fabled treasure.Quickly Loki sped to the island of hlesey where ran, the ogress of the oceans, lived with her hus-band, aegir, god of the sea. Loki borrowed from her the cruel net with which she dragged drowning sailors to her underwater realm. With the net, Loki had no difficulty scooping up the pike. He landed it on the bank where it lay gasping and gradually changed into the ungainly shape of the dwarf.To save his life, Andvari gave up his entire hoard of gold but for a single ring. This he begged Loki not to take from him.Loki snatched up the ring and put it on his finger. Andvari laid a terrible curse upon the ring, vowing that anyone who wore it would be smitten with ill fortune and death.The eyes of Hreidmar and his sons glittered greedily when they saw the gold. Odin, Hoenir, and Loki stuffed the otter's pelt and then made a blanket of gold all around the outside of it. Hreidmar exam-ined it critically then pointed out a whisker that was exposed. Odin had seen Andvari's ring on Loki's fin-ger. Loki pulled it off and laid it on the whisker.Thus was Otr's ransom paid and the three travel-ers allowed to go, but not without a parting shot from Loki. He told Hreidmar that he and his sons were doomed to ill fortune and death, for that was the curse of Andvari.

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