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God, Vidar

The god Víðarr stands in the jaws of Fenrir and swings his sword. The list of illustrations in the front matter of the book gives this one the title Vidar (motive from the Gosforth Cross). The Elder or Poetic Edda; commonly known as Sæmund's Edda. Edited and translated with introduction and notes by Olive Bray. Illustrated by W.G. Collingwood (1908) Page 38, Vidar
The god Víðarr stands in the jaws of Fenrir and swings his sword. The list of illustrations in the front matter of the book gives this one the title Vidar (motive from the Gosforth Cross). The Elder or Poetic Edda; commonly known as Sæmund’s Edda. Edited and translated with introduction and notes by Olive Bray. Illustrated by W.G. Collingwood (1908) Page 38
  • Pantheon: Asgardian Pantheon
  • Deity Title: The silent god
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  • Traditional Foes: Fenrir
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  • Domains:
  • Favored Weapon:
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  • Major Cult/Temple Sites:
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Víðarr will avenge Odin‘s death at Ragnarök by stabbing Fenrir in the heart. Víðarr and his brother Váli will both live in the “temples of the gods” after Surtr’s fire has ceded and that Víðarr will avenge the death of his father Odin by sundering the cold jaws of Fenrir in battle.

Loki rebukes the gods for not properly welcoming him to the feast at Ægir’s hall. In stanza 10, Odin finally relents to the rules of hospitality, urging Víðarr to stand and pour a drink for the quarrelsome guest. Víðarr does so, and then Loki toasts the Æsir before beginning his flyting.

Prose Edda

Víðarr is introduced by the enthroned figure of High as “the silent god” with a thick shoe, that he is nearly as strong as the god Thor, and that the gods rely on him in times of immense difficulties.

During Ragnarök, the wolf Fenrir will devour Odin, Víðarr will avenge him by stepping down with one foot on the lower jaw of the monster, grabbing his upper jaw in one hand and tearing his mouth apart, killing him. Víðarr’s “thick shoe” is described as consisting of all the extra leather pieces that people have cut from their own shoes at the toe and heel, collected by the god throughout all time. Therefore, anyone who is concerned enough to give assistance to the gods should throw these pieces away.

Following Ragnarök and the rebirth of the world, Víðarr along with his brother Váli will have survived both the swelling of the sea and the fiery conflagration unleashed by Surtr, completely unharmed, and shall thereafter dwell on the field Iðavöllr, “where the city of Asgard had previously been”.

Skáldskaparmál

Víðarr was one of the twelve presiding male gods seated in their thrones at a banquet for the visiting Ægir. At a point in dialogue between the skaldic god Bragi and Ægir, Snorri himself begins speaking of the myths in euhemeristic terms and states that the historical equivalent of Víðarr was the Trojan hero Aeneas who survived the Trojan War and went on to achieve “great deeds”.

Various kennings are given for Víðarr, including again the “silent As”, “possessor of the iron shoe”, “enemy and slayer of Fenrisulf”, “the gods’ avenging As”, “father’s homestead-inhabiting As”, “son of Odin“, and “brother of the Æsir”. In the tale of the god Thor’s visit to the hall of the jötunn Geirröd, Gríðr is stated as the mother of “Víðarr the Silent” who assists Thor in his journey. After returning from Asgard and feasting with the gods, Ægir invites the gods to come to his hall in three months. Fourteen gods make the trip to attend the feast, including Víðarr.

References

* Byock, Jesse (Trans.) (2006). The Prose Edda. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0140447555
* Faulkes, Anthony (Trans.) (1995). Edda. Everyman. ISBN 0-4608-7616-3
* Larrington, Carolyne (Trans.) (1999). The Poetic Edda. Oxford World’s Classics. ISBN 0192839462
* Lindow, John (2001). Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515382-0
* Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend. Cassell. ISBN 0 304 34520 2
* Pluskowski, Aleks. “Apocalyptic Monsters: Animal Inspirations for the Iconography of Medieval Northern Devourers” as collected in: Bildhauer, Bettina. Mills, Robert (2004). The Monstrous Middle Ages. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0802086675
* Schapiro, Meyer (1980). Cain’s Jaw-Bone that Did the First Murder, Selected Papers, volume 3, Late Antique, Early Christian and Mediaeval Art. Chatto & Windus, London, ISBN 0701125144. JSTOR.

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