Friday, October 10, 2008

Norse Mythology - Fafnir

According to Norse mythology, Fafnir was the son of the dwarf king Hreidmar. His brothers are Otr and Regin. He played a major role in the Volsunga Saga, which is the legendary epic that tells about the origin and decline of the Volsung clan. In the saga, Fafnir was a dwarf that possesses strong arms and fears no one. He is said to guard is father’s house that’s made of glittering gold and other precious gems. He is the most aggressive and strongest among the three sons of Hreidmar. This trait would play a vital part in the story regarding treasure and greed.

It is said that Fafnir, Otr and Regin are shape shifters. One day Otr changed into an otter. Loki was at that time was looking for some otter and unfortunately killed Otr without knowing who he was. Loki then went to Hreidmar’s home with Odin and Honir. Hreidmar and his sons immediately recognized the otter skin wrapped around Loki. They wanted revenge for the death of Otr.

Loki, who is known to be the most cunning among Norse gods, said that he would be willing to pay a large ransom for his sin. He said that he didn’t know it was Otr and would his best to replace Otr’s life with treasure that’s at par with the lost. All parties agreed to this and Hreidmar and his sons then held Odin and Honir hostage while Loki went and gather his payment.

Loki then went to the wizard Andvari and forced him to hand over his treasure. Andvari would hand Loki his treasure but he did manage to curse the ring Andvaranaut. Andvari personally forged this ring and thus was his personal favorite. With the curse on it, whoever owns the ring would have misfortune and doom. Also included in the treasure are the swords Ridil and Hrotti, which are quite valuable in their own right. Fearing for his own life and his fellow gods, Loki didn’t think twice about giving the treasure to Hreidmar and went straight to the home of Hreidmar. Upon receiving the treasure, Honir and Odin were released immediately.
Fafnir wanted to keep the treasure for himself, killed his father and then exiled his brother Regin. He then turned into a dragon and kept the treasure in a mountain lair. In European mythology, the dragon is the symbol for greed.

Regin wants the treasure as well so he tricked his foster son Sigurd in killing Fafnir. He achieved this by using the sword Balmung to pierce Fafnir’s heart while the dragon was walking on the way to the stream where he usually goes to drink. Although he managed to kill Fafnir, he made the mistake of taking the cursed ring. He planned on giving it to his bride to be, Brynhild.

Regin corrupted by the curse of the treasure, wanted to kill Sigurd as well. But Sigurd ate Fafnir’s heart and was warned by the birds about his foster father’s plans. Instead, Sigurd ended up killing Regin.