the dictionary of norse mythology


FENRIR FENRIS The wolf who was the off-spring of the trickster god, loki, and the ogress angrboda. He was the brother of hel and of jor-mungand, the Midgard Serpent. Fenrir was so huge that when he opened his mouth, his jaws stretched from Earth to heaven. He was eventually bound by the gods and doomed to remain in chains until rag-narok the end of the world, when he would kill the great god odin. Fenrir in turn would die at the hand of vidar, one of Odin's sons. snorri sturlu-son's vivid version of this myth in the prose edda is the only surviving source.Fenrir and the Gods fenrir was so huge and hairy that the aesir, the gods of asgard, were frightened of him. Only tyr was brave enough to befriend the monster wolf and feed him. But as Fenrir grew bigger, the gods decided to protect themselves and chain him. One chain was called laeding, another, dromi. Fenrir easily broke the chains. Then the gods sent skirnir, the servant of the god frey, to seek the help of the dwarfs, who lived in the earth.The dwarfs fashioned a silken bond, called gleip-nir, from• the sound of a cat's paws• the hairs of a maiden's beard• the roots of a mountain• the dreams of a bear• the breath of a fish• the spittle of a birdBecause none of these things seems to exist on Earth, no person or thing could break this bond.The gods persuaded Fenrir to go with them to a lonely island, lyngvi, in the middle of Lake amsvartnir. They asked Fenrir if he would allow himself to be tied up once more and use his mighty strength to break the bond. He agreed to be bound if one of the gods would put a hand into Fenrir's mouth and guarantee that the wolf would be set free. Tyr, the most fair-minded of the gods, agreed to put his hand into Fenrir's mouth.Once secured in Gleipner, Fenrir could not break the bond. He clamped down on Tyr's hand and bit it off. The gods attached Gleipnir to a heavy chain, gelgja, and passed the chain through a hole into a large rock named gioll 1. Then the gods thrust a sword into the wolf's mouth so that it would remain wide open. There Fenrir remained bound Fenrir, the monster wolf, bit off the hand of the god Tyr. New York Public Library Picture Collection

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