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.