woensdag 9 januari 2013

Loki

I am still reading Nordic Myths and yesterday came to the chapter on Loki, who was a very interesting character. Originally he was considered the personification of fire and the spirit of life, later he was portrayed as a devil, and the king of lies and slander. Loki was married three times, his second secret marriage was to a very ugly giantess by whom he got three monsters as his children: Hel, the goddess of death, the terrible snake Iormungandr and the grisly wolf Fenris. His love adventures didn't actually stop at that, as the story tells us that he once turned himself into a mare and seduced the horse called Svadilfare by whom he got an eight-legged stallion called Sleipnir which became the favourite horse of Odin (those Vikings sure had perverted imaginations:).

In the book Loki's character is compared to that of Thor who is always serious in all his pursuits, while Loki sees the whole world as a joke and this habitual mocking of everything finally brings him on the wrong path. He loses all his love for goodness and becomes self-centered and evil. In the end, the gods tire of his mischief and punish him terribly, making one of his sons out of his third marriage kill the other one, then binding Loki with ropes, made out of his dead son's intestines. Later the ropes are turned into chains and thus Loki has to wait till Ragnarok when he will be finally set free to take part in the last battle and to be slain by Heimdall, one of Odin's numerous sons (whom Odin got from nine giant women simultaneously - don't ask me how it was possible!). 

As if this was not enough, a snake is put above Loki's head whose poison keeps dripping onto the unfortunate god's forehead causing him to swear and convulse in his chains (which, according to the myths is the actual cause of earthquakes). Here, however, Loki's third wife Sigyn comes into picture. She takes a cup and holds it above her husband's head and thus collects all the poison into it, which she faithfully keeps doing day and night, without rest or sleep, only going away to empty the cup.

There are more examples of faithful women in literature, such as Penelope who waited for Odysseus for about twenty years, but her husband, outside of little philandering was essentially a virtuous man, while the same certainly can't be said about Loki. There are lots of women who stay faithful to good husbands, but would you stay faithful to such a one as him?

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