In Norse mythology, Loki is the god associated with trick, lie and fire. He was the son of jötunn Fárbauti and Laufey; and sworn brother of Asgardian lord god Odin, despite being much younger than him. He was treacherous, cunning, verbally abusive, and he often quarreled with other deities. As one of the most important deities in Norse mythology, he played a key role in the Ragnarök.
Loki was an excellent shape-shifter and magician. In a series of events he appeared in different forms, including trout, mare, seal, fly and old lady. Loki’s relationship with other deities varied from event to event. Sometimes he helped them while sometimes treated them badly. The positive relationship between Loki and deities ended after the death of Baldr. So to speak, in Norse mythology Loki was the deity who had the most nicknames, including the god of roguery, shape-shifter, tricker, sky walker and air traveler. As he often did tricks, he was called the god of tricks; and he was also regarded as the god of wisdom, because he helped deities with his wit. But he caused the Ragnarök, and thus was considered evil.
Who was Loki?
Loki was smart and cunning. Despite being a jötunn (the enemy of all deities), he became sworn brother of Odin and a member of the Asgardian gods. He was half good and half evil at first, or he did not do evil intentionally. He helped deities a lot with his wit; played tricks on some deity but soon made peace with him/her. For example, he shaved off Sif’s golden hair and recovered it soon after; assisted Thiazi abducting Idun and rescued her later. But following his murder of Baldr, Odin and Frigga’s son, the deities saw him as evil and drove him out of Asgard.
In early time, Loki often helped the deities, like deceiving a giant into building the wall surround Asgard and giving birth to the eight-foot horse Sleipnir. He was related to many mythic items. Odin’s spear Gungnir and golden ring Draupnir, Freyr’s ship Skidbladnir and mount Gullinborsti, Sif’s golden hair as well as Thor’s hammer Mjölnir, were all made by dwarves under Loki’s request or won by Loki in the bet with dwarves, and then given to deities as the compensation for his tricks.
The children of Loki
Loki’s wife Sigyn was very loyal to him, but he had an affair. Loki and female jötunn Angrboða had three children: monstrous wolf Fenrir, the Midgard serpent Jörmungandr and ruler of Helheim Hela.
The status of fire god
Loki was once one of the Asgardian gods, but both his parents were jötnar, so were his brothers and sisters. Loki and lord god Odin became sworn brothers very long time ago. For this reason, he also became one of the Asgardian deities.
Loki was imposing, handsome and noble. At first his pranks were all good-natured, but later he turned unscrupulous due to the repulsion from deities. Thus he became perverse and went rogue. In the meantime, he was very good at swindling and trick-playing. His misbehavior brought a lot of trouble to Asgard and was really a headache for deities. Nonetheless, he often solved deities’ problems with his wit and stratagem. Therefore, Loki was an important figure in Asgard, although the deities quite disliked him. Among the deities, Heimdallr and Tyr disliked Loki very much, and even turned angry when they saw Loki. Heimdallr is often referred to as “the nemesis of Loki”.
Different from other Asgardian deities, Loki was obviously not a brave warrior, neither did he have an admirable weapon. One good deed he did was helping rescuing a farmer’s child from a giant with his wit. His greatest skill was calling white black and chopping logic with his glib tongue. When the real danger came, he either became a trout and jumped into the river, or just ran away. To do so, he got himself a pair of shoes which enabled him to travel long distances fast and easily.
The origin and role of Loki in Norse mythology has long been the focus of controversy in academia. He is described as a “deceiver” and believed to be as wise as Odin. Sometimes Loki is also considered to be the god of fire, who could do good things and evil things as well. But in fact, he never performed any function related to fire, nor did he saw himself the god of fire. In Norse mythology, he was more of the god of tricks acting with wit.
The possible reason why he was associated with fire is that his name “Loki” is believed to mean “flame”. This name is also thought to be derived from “Logi”, but it is not yet proved by any actual reasonable linguistic basis. “Logi” was also the name of a jötunn. In Norse mythology, the jötunn Logi was the incarnation of fire, and he had had an eating competition with Loki.
The punishment of Loki
Loki received the most severe punishment after his murder of Baldr. Odin turned Vali into a wolf, made him bite his son Narfi to death, and then used Narfi’s entrails to bind Loki. He also called up a huge serpent, with venom constantly dribbling down from its horrible tusks onto Loki’s face.
Only Loki’s wife Sigyn felt sympathy for him. She sat beside the bound Loki, used a cup to catch the venom, so as to avoid venom dribbling onto her husband’s face. But every time the cup was full, she had to stand up and pour the venom. At this moment, Loki’s face would be corroded by venom. In great horror and pain, Loki trembled and burst into tears, even caused an earthquake.
And so Loki waited to revenge on Odin till the Ragnarök when he broke loose.
The death of Loki
Loki fought the final battle during the Ragnarök. Loki’s opponent was the guardian of Bifrost Heimdallr. He looked extremely horrible as a result of his long-term torture; his face turned deadly pale; his hair and beard erected due to his anger and looked like horns. Heimdallr soon beheaded Loki with his sword, but Loki’s head bounced up, hit Heimdallr’s chest and killed him. As a result, Loki and his nemesis killed one another.