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The Death Of Balder Essay, Research Paper

The god of light, joy, purity, beauty, innocence, and reconciliation. Son

of Odin and Frigg. He was loved by both gods and man and was

considered to be the best of the gods. He had a good character, was

friendly, wise and eloquent, although he had little power. His wife is

Nanna, daughter of Nep, and their son is Forseti, the god of justice.

Balder’s hall is Breidablik (”broad splendor”).

Most of the stories about Balder concern his death. He was dreaming

about his death 1, so Frigg extracted an oath from every creature, object

and force in nature (snakes, metals, diseases, poisons, fire, etc.) that they

would never harm Balder. They agreed that none of their kind would

ever hurt or assist in hurting Balder. Thinking him invincible, the gods

enjoyed themselves thereafter by using Balder as a target for

knife-throwing and archery.

The malicious trickster Loki, who was jealous of Balder, changed his

appearance and asked Frigg if there was absolutely nothing that could

harm Balder. Frigg, suspecting nothing, answered that there was just one

thing: a small tree in the west that was called mistletoe, but she thought it

was too small to ask for an oath. Loki immediately left for the west and

returned with the mistletoe. He tricked Balder’s blind twin brother Hod to

shoot with a mistletoe fig. Not knowing what he did, Hod threw the fig,

guided by Loki’s aim, and Balder fell dead, pierced through the heart.

While the gods were lamenting over Balder’s death, Odin sent his other

son Hermod to Hel, the goddess of death, to plead for Balder’s return.

Hel agreed to send Balder back to the land of the living on one condition:

everything in the world, dead or alive, must weep for him. And everything

wept, except for Loki (who had disguised himself as the witch Thokk) so

Balder had to remain in the underworld.

The others took the dead god, dressed him in crimson cloth, and placed

him on a funeral pile aboard his ship Ringhorn, which passed for the

largest in the world. Beside him they lay the body of his wife Nanna, who

had died of a broken heart. Also Balder’s horse and his treasures were

placed on the ship. The pile was set to fire and the ship was sent to sea

by the giantess Hyrrokin.

Loki didnot escape punishment for his crime and Hod was put to death

by Vali, son of Odin and Rind, who was born for just this purpose. After

the final conflict, when a new world arises from its ashes, both Balder

and Hod will be reborn.

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