“Thor slays the serpent” by Torgeir Fjereide.


(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.


[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.