Who is Fenrir in Norse Mythology?
Fenrir, or Fenris, according to Germanic mythology, was the son of the mischief-making god Loki and the frost giantess Angrboda. He was the devouring wolf, the beast of Ragnarok, the doom of the goods. His was “an axe-aged, a sword-age, a wind-age, a wolf age, before the wrecking of the world”. Odin, the chief of the gods, was destined to become his victim.
The Strength of Fenrir
Fenrir, the most infamous of many wolves in Norse mythology. Son of Loki and father to both Sköll and Hati. Fenrir possessed great strength and what seemed to be limitless growth. The god’s fear for Fenrir was so great that they raised him themselves within the stronghold of Asgard to keep him under control.
Only Tyr, the god of war and justice, dared to approach Fenrir to feed him. Fenrir’s growth alarm the gods and soon they decided his stay in Asgard could not be permanent. They knew if they allowed him to roam free, Fenrir would cause untold devastation across the nine worlds. So, they attempted to bind him in chains.
The gods knew that Fenrir would never willingly consent to be put in chains. They convinced Fenrir that the chains were a test of strength; clapping and cheering every time he broke free of a new chain. Fenrir continued to accept the challenges as he wished to show the gods his strength and earn their respect.
The Binding of Fenrir
The gods soon realized that no chain they could craft could hold Fenrir. They would seek aid from the Dwarf realm of Svartalfheim. The dwarves being the most skilled craftsmen in all of the nine worlds were able to form a chain whose strength could not be equalled.
When the gods presented Fenrir with this new light and supple chain, Fenrir suspected trickery. It was at this point when Fenrir began to realize how the gods saw him—as an enemy they would kill given the chance.
He refused to be bound unless one of the gods placed their hand in his jaws as a show of good faith. None of the gods agreed to do so, knowing that they would lose their hand. However, Tyr was brave, and he was willing to sacrifice his hand for the people of the nine worlds. He agreed to Fenrir his demands and placed his hand in his jaws.
Once Fenrir discovered he could not escape the Dwarven chains, he indeed chomped down and swallowed Tyr’s hand.
Now that Fenrir was contained, he was taken to a desolate place and tied to a giant boulder, with a sword placed in between his jaws keeping them open. Fenrir had grown so big that when he howls, the drool from his mouth formed a lake.
The Death of Fenrir
During the Ragnarök, Fenrir broke free and ran throughout the world, with his lower jaw against the ground, upper jaw in the sky, Fenrir devoured everything in his path.
Before being killed by one of Odin’s sons, Fenrir did manage to achieve the revenge he craved by killing and devouring Odin.
It is said that Fenrir’s two sons, Sköll and Hati, followed in their father’s footsteps, with one swallowing the Sun and the other the Moon. They destroyed the stars and all essence of time.
The story of Fenrir is an intriguing one. I personally don’t believe that Fenrir was evil. He only desired to be accepted by his fellow gods; after years of being treated like a beast, he became the monster that everybody thought he was.
Read more on the Children of Loki HERE.
Art Sources: Istrandar, David Szabo, Tomasz Ryger.