FENRIR (old Icelandic Fenrir)
in Germanic (Scandinavian) mythology Fenrir was a monstrous wolf (old Icelandic ulfr; known also as Fenrisulfr), progeny of ➚ Loki and ➚ Angrboda, brother of ➚ Hel (1) and ➚ Midgardsorm, father of ➚ Hati and Sköll.
Fenrir was raised by the ➚ Aesir, who were so afraid of his strength and wildness, that they decided to tether him. They made two chains (named Laeding and Dromi) for this purpose, but wolf broke them with ease. Finally the gods ordered a magical rope from ➚ dwarves. The rope, named Gleipnir, was made of:
- the root of a mountain,
- the beard of a woman,
- the breath of a fish,
- the spittle of a bird,
- the sinews of a bear, and
- the sound of a cat’s tread.
All of these chthonic elements were considered impossible, as mountains have no roots, birds – saliva and women – beards, the cat’s footsteps cannot be heard and so on. Fenrir suspected a trick and demanded that one of the gods put an arm into his jaws, as a guarantee of safety. ➚ Tyr fulfilled the demand and lost his arm when Fenrir failed to set free from Gleipnir.
Venomous saliva ran from the bound beast’s and formed the river Van (old Icelandic Ván „Hope”). Van separated the world of men from the world of the dead.
Fenrir will free himself just before ➚ Ragnarök and will fight the gods. In battle, ➚ Odin will stand against him and will be devoured. Right after that ➚ Vidar will kill the monster by ripping his jaws or piercing his heart with a sword.