Giants, Thor, and Loki


These remarks began as a discussion on a different subject entirely, a good friend's theory on the relationship of giants (jotuns, etins) to the forces of nature. I just watched the conversation go on around me until it finally got around to subjects about which I could opine on firmer ground. I hope to publish more of this when I have both the time and opportunity to do so.

Q: Loki doesn't have a hall in Asgard does he? He just seems to come and go as he pleases.

A: Just because it isn't mentioned in surviving sources, can we really assume that it doesn't exist? There are twelve Gods in Asgard, but in Grimnismal, there is elaboration on only 11 of their residences. Who's to say we don't have a scribe who thought such a thing was improper to mention for not knowing what Loki's hall might be like?

One might well ask: where does Sigyn live? Where did she raise Vali and Narvi? Or perhaps Sigyn is the one with a hall - albeit another unmentioned one - and Loki merely "crashes" with her when he's not with Angrboda (or someone else, for that matter)?

Loki is hardly alone among the residents of Asgard when it comes to a penchant for wandering about. And even when Loki does wander, it's very often in the company of Thor, or Odhinn and Hoenir. (Two of the most amusing kennings for the Clever One to my mind have always been "Hoenir's good friend" and "the trier of Hoenir's mind.")

Loki's rootlessness, seemingly as much at home in Jotunheim as he is in Asgard, is part of his function as a trickster: a being "on the road," of no fixed abode and therefore no fixed meaning. We see Loki through the eyes of those who look to Asgard; it makes me wonder what his etin kin think of him.


Q: Thor protects us (of Midgard) by fighting Jotuns, doesn't he?

A: Yes, but I've always gotten the impression that Thor has basically one way of solving problems: crush, kill, maim, destroy. One must admit, however, that he does this with admirable perseverence. Only in Alvissmal does he show even the slightest hint of his father's acumen. Overall, though, he does not display a wide range of responses.

Thor doesn't do too well if a problem actually involves thinking about it. On some level, I believe he recognises this, which is one reason he puts up with Loki. This brings me back to my previous point about Loki's "rootlessness." One of the reason's Laufey's son is so difficult to characterise is that he has NO set response in any given situation; one can never be quite certain just what Loki might do.


Return to Loki: A Paean in Progress
This page is (almost) continually changing.