Fenrir: The Monstrous Wolf of Norse Legend

March 17, 2019 - General
Fenrir wolf

One of the three children of Loki by a giantess (jötunn) named Angrboða, Fenrir plays an imperative, though short, role in Norse mythology.  A wolf of remarkable size and strength, Fenrir has one major story recorded in the Norse sagas, yet this singular story paints a picture of bravery for one god and an omen of death for the rest of them.  Fenrir, unfortunately for the Æsir and Vanir, turned out to be one of the many foreshadowing signs of the end of the Norse world: Ragnarök.

According to Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Fenrir’s tale begins, as any tale should, with his unlikely and terrible birth.  When Fenrir (also called Fenrisúlfr) was born, along with his other siblings, the great serpent Jörmungandr and the dark haired woman Hel, the Æsir of Asgard, assembled to discuss what to do with these three very dangerous beings—all of whom were prophesized to aid in the future destruction of the Norse cosmos.  Hel was sent to Niflheim, a location similar to the Christian concept of Hell, a very cold and dark place, while Jörmungandr was sent into the sea, to remain submerged until the end of days.  Fenrir, however, posed a much more dangerous problem.  While Hel and Jörmungandr could be sent away, Fenrir was growing at a rapid speed, and soon became a jötunn among wolves, as it were.  To protect the Æsir from his size and the terrible fate they knew would one day come, they decided that Fenrir needed to be contained.

Odin and Fenris, from Myths of the Norsemen from the Eddas and Sagas, 1909.

Source: origins

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