Thor

“Thor slays the serpent” by Torgeir Fjereide.

THOR

(old ice. Thórr “Thunder”, old eng. Thunor,  ger. Donar)

in Germanic (Scandinavian) mythology mighty god of thunder, storm and fertility, patron of slaves [1] and, more generally, of all hard working people. One of the ➚ Aesir, son of ➚ Odin and ➚ Jörd (or Hlodyn) [2] or ➚ Fjörgyn [3]. He was the husband of ➚ Sif, father of ➚ Thrud as well as ➚ Magni and Modi (both born by giantess Jarnsaxa).

Thor was depicted as red-bearded warrior wearing the belt of power (megingjardhar) and armed with ➚ Mjöllnir – iron (primarily stone) hammer – the embodiment of lightning. He used to drive a cart pulled by two goats (see TANNGNJOSTR and TANNGRISNIR).

Thor guarded the world order and protected the gods and men against the ➚ Jötnar, although his main enemy was ➚ Midgardsorm. Accompanied by ➚ Thjalfi (sometimes ➚ Loki and once even ➚ Tyr) he undertook various war expeditions. Dressed as bride he pretended to be ➚ Freya in order to reclaim his hammer from ➚ Thrym [4] (the myth probably explained some temporary lack of storms). He won a huge cauldron (hverr) for beer brewing from ➚ Hymir [5], defeated ➚ Geirröd (1) and ➚ Hrungnir and embarrassed the giants from ➚ Utgard with a display of his inexhaustible divine strength (ásmeginn, see SKRYMIR). Righteousness and simplicity put Thor in opposition to Odin [6], although he was able to use a trick to prevent marriage between his daughter and ➚ Alviss.

In the time of ➚ Ragnarök Thor will stand against Midgardsorm and crush its head with Mjöllnir. Then, after taking nine steps, the god will fall poisoned with the serpent’s venomous breath.

References

[1] Hárbardsljód 24; [2] Völuspá 55; [3] Völuspá 56; [4] Thrymskvida 1 ff.; [5] Hymiskvida 3 ff.; [6] Hárbardsljód 1 ff.

U h l a n d, Der Mythus von Thor nach nordischen Quellen, Stuttgart-Augsburg 1836; H. L j u n g b e r g, Tor. Undersökningar i indoeuropeisk och nordisk religionshistoria, I, Den nordiske åskguden i bild och myt, Uppsala 1947; F. R. S c h r ö d e r, Thór, Indra, Herakles, “Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie” 76, 1957; H. R. E l l i s D a v i d s o n, Thor’s Hammer, “Folklore” 74, 1963.