A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - In Norse mythology, the frightening giant Fenrir symbolizes nature's chaotic and destructive power. He represents tremendous dynamic forces coming from underground.
Fenrir was a gigantic monster wolf; he was so huge that his jaw stretched from the Earth to the sky. He was considered the wildest expression of nature.
"Odin and Fenriswolf, Freyr and Surt" (1905) by Emil Doepler (1855–1922) - Public Domain.
Fenrir ("He Who Dwells in the Marshes") is the most infamous of all creatures in Norse mythology. It is one of the most dangerous creatures from many ancient sources, such as Völuspá (Old Norse Voluspá), the first and best-known poem of the 'Poetic Edda,' compiled from earlier traditional sources in the 13th century.
It is also known from the 'Prose Edda' and 'Heimskringla' (the most famous of the Old Norse kings' sagas) dated to the 13th century.
Known to kill gods and goddesses, Fenrir played a significant role in pre-Christian Scandinavian beliefs. It was frequently depicted on numerous surviving runestones in Scandinavia and described in Old Norse literary sources.
According to the gods' prophecy, Fenrir, the son of the god Loki and his mistress and giantess, Angrboða, will kill the god Odin during the events of Ragnarok, the Norse Armageddon. But in turn, he will also be killed by Odin's son Víðarr.
One of the most famous Norse myths tells about the binding of this dangerous creature. The dwarves forged a chain made from the world's most secret powers, and the gods bound Fenrir in an attempt to control nature's never-ending destructiveness but in vain.
“Odin and Fenrir” by Dorothy Hardy (1909). Public Domain
Ledberg Stone - Ledbergsste nen), located in Östergötland, Sweden, probably depicts the final battle of the gods during Ragnarök. It's visible the wolf Fenrir attacking Odin and the ship Naglfar, and additional scenes show several other gods that meet their death.
The gods had tamed nature but only for a short time, and nature again showed its dangerous and uncontrolled power.
Fenrir managed to break free through his binding chains; he did it with great force and spread death and destruction. It happens in Ragnarok, the great and final battle.
Subterranean forces (earthquakes) set Fenrir free, and he opens his mouth so wide that his upper jaw captures heaven and his lower jaw the Earth. Fenrir's destructive, unlimited and uncontrolled power destroys lives in all nine worlds.
Odin dies fighting Fenrir, but the gods' prophecy is finally fulfilled. Víðarr, the son of Odin, avenges his father's death by killing the monster Fenrir at Ragnarok.
Written by – A. Sutherland AncientPages.com Staff Writer
Updated on December 27, 2022
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Expand for references
Crossley-Holland, Norse Myths
Curtis, M. Legends of History
Leeming, D. The Oxford Companion to World Mythology