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the dictionary of norse mythology

RAGNAROK


RAGNAROK Doom of the Gods The final battle between the gods, headed by odin and the ein-herjar on the side of good, and loki and the hrimthurssar frost giants on the side of evil. It took place on the plain called vigrid. Nearly all the participants were slain. The Sun and Moon were swallowed by wolves, the stars vanished, the sacred tree yggdrasil trembled, the ocean boiled, and surt set the world on fire so that everything was reduced to cinders. However, balder and hodur rose up from the underworld vali, vidar, modi, magni, and some others survived to live in a regener-ated world. A human couple, lif and lifthrasir, also survived and repeopled Earth.Ragnarok is dealt with in the Icelandic poem voluspa Sibyfs Prophecy and in the prose edda.Ragnarok, the Day of Doom Ragnarok was the end of the world, the twilight of the gods, the final battle between the forces of good the gods and the forces of evil the giants and the monsters of the underworld. After the death of Balder, the gods ban-ished Loki, the evil one, to midgard Middle Earth, but it was too late. The god of light and innocence had been killed. The gods knew that the day of doom was at hand and that they and all their worlds would perish.First came a wave of ghastly crimes and bloody wars in Midgard. Brothers fought against brothers there was murder and looting and other evil deeds. Then came fimbulvetr the worst of all winters. It brought bitter cold and driving snow, screeching winds and black darkness. The Fimbulvetr lasted three years. People shivered and starved and lost all hope and goodness.From ironwood came the ravenous wolves skoll and hati. Skoll caught up with sol's chariot and swallowed the Sun, spilling her blood on the Earth. Hati devoured the Moon. The stars fell out of the sky, and the darkness was complete.Then the Earth began to tremble and quake, and the wolf fenrir broke from his bonds, ready to seek vengeance on the gods who had tricked him. Loki, too, broke free. garm, hel's hound, was set free. Evil and destruction were loose on the land.eggther, the watchman of the giants, struck a note on his harp. The red cock fjalar 1 crowed to the giants, while gullinkambi screeched to the gods in valhalla and a third rooster, rust red, awakened all the dead in niflheim.heimdall, the watchman of the gods, lifted his horn, gialar, and blew it. All the aesir and the Einherjar sprang up and donned their armor, ready for the battle to end all battles. First Odin galloped off on sleipnir to mimir's well to seek his wisdom. The norns regarded him with veiled faces, their web of life rent into shreds. No one knew what Odin learned from mimir the Wise. He rejoined the waiting army with a grim, sad face and led them into battle, holding aloft his magic spear, gungnir.The sea began to boil like a cauldron, and its waves crashed on the shore, for jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, had risen up from the deep and was lashing and writhing his way toward the land, spew-ing venom from his jaws.The horrid ship naglfar, made from dead men's fingernails, drifted loose, packed with giants and steered by hrym. It headed toward the battlefield, which was called Vigrid. The crew and passengers of Loki's ship were all the pale dead from the underworld.Hel, the goddess of death, left Niflheim to join the fray, followed by the hound Garm and the dragon nithog, who flew over the battlefield gathering corpses for his sustenance. Loki led the terrible army of evil. As they crossed bifrost, the rainbow bridge, it trembled and broke beneath them, but not before they had reached Vigrid.Odin, the mighty leader of the gods, attacked first. He joined battle with the monster-wolf, Fenrir, whose slavering jaws grew wider and wider, stretching from heaven to Earth, until they swallowed up Odin.Nearby thor, the god of thunder, wrestled with Jormungand. In the deathly struggle, Thor killed the serpent, but Thor, too, died a gasping death from the beast's fatal venom.Loki and Heimdall, lifelong enemies, killed each other.frey, the god of fertility, grappled with the fire god, surt, in a lengthy battle. Frey had given away his magic sword long ago for love of gerda, and now, without it, he was killed by the fire demon.tyr, who had only one hand, fought bravely against Garm, and the two killed each other.All around the battle raged, and all were doomed to perish. But Vidar, a son of Odin, avenged his father. On his foot he wore a boot made from all the strips of leather snipped off and saved by good cob-blers for just this purpose. Vidar crushed his magic boot onto the lower jaw of Fenrir, and, using all his strength, tore the wolf apart.With Odin and most of the other gods, heroes, giants, and monsters dead, Surt who some say was Loki in another shape flung his brands of fire all over Earth so that there was a great and terrible conflagra-tion. All nine worlds went up in flames, and at last the Earth sank into the boiling sea.The idea of Ragnarok is similar to Christian and Asian conceptions of Judgment Day or doomsday.At Ragnarok, Thor attacks the Midgard Serpent with his hammer while Odin does battle with Fenrir, the wolf. Anthony Mercatante However, the dramatic descriptions of darkness, earthquakes, flood, fire, and ashes undoubtedly came straight from the Icelandic poets' own experiences of volcanic eruptions in their native land.The Regeneration After the terrible destruction of Ragnarok, all was not lost after all, for there was a rebirth Two humans emerged, some of the gods sur-vived, green plants grew, and a new world was born.Before she was devoured by the wolf, Sol had given birth to a daughter, as brilliant and burning as she. As this new Sun appeared, darkness vanished, and a new day dawned in a world that gradually, mag-ically, became green and pleasant, with fields of corn growing where no seeds had been planted.From the remains of the sacred tree, Yggdrasil, stepped a human man, Lif, and a human woman, Lifthrasir. They had been nourished by dew and were unhurt by Surt's fire. They would repeople the Earth.Vidar and Vali survived, as did Modi and Magni, Thor's sons, who inherited his hammer, mjollnir. Balder came back from the dead, leading his blind brother, Hodur. hoenir vili appeared and so did lothur ve, Odin's brothers. They went to idavoll, which had remained unscorched, and there they built new mansions, the greatest of which was gimle, roofed with gold. Another was Brimir, on the place called Okolnir Never Cold. sindri rose up in the mountains of nidafjoll. All these places were good. But there was also a hall on nastrond, the shore of corpses. All its doors faced north to greet the shriek-ing winds. The walls were made of writhing snakes that poured their venom into a river that flowed through the hall. This was the new underworld, full of murderers and thieves, and when they died, nithog, who had survived, was there to feed upon the corpses.The aesir walked on the new green grass of Idavoll and talked about the past and their dear, per-ished friends. They played chess with the golden pieces that they found on the ground, and they thought with wonder about the new life of the Earth.

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