From Academic Kids

Missing image
Thor goes fishing for the Midgard Serpent in this picture from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript.

In Norse mythology, the sea serpent Jörmungandr was the middle child of Loki and the giantess Angrboša. Odin took the three children,Fenrisulfr, Hel and Jörmungandr. He tossed Jörmungand into the Ocean, the endless waters that encircled Midgard. The serpent grew so big that he was able to surround the Earth and grasp his own tail.

Jörmungandr's arch enemy is the god Thor. There are three known myths detailing their encounters. In one, Thor encounters the serpent disguised as a colossal cat by the giant king Śtgarša-Loki. As one of the tasks set by Śtgarša-Loki, Thor must lift the cat, and though he is unable to lift such a monstrous creature as Jörmungandr, he comes so close that when the deception is revealed by Śtgarša-Loki it is still an impressive feat.

Another encounter came when Thor went fishing with the giant Hymir. The two did not get on, and when Hymir refused to provide Thor with bait, Thor struck the head off Hymir's largest ox to use as bait. They rowed to a point where Hymir often sat and caught flat fish, and he drew up two whales. Thor demanded to go farther, and so they did. Hymir told Thor that the part they were at was unsafe, because of the Serpent, but Thor ignored him, and to Hymir's horror they rowed out further.

Missing image
Thor fighting the sea serpent, Henry Fuseli, 1788.

Thor then prepared a strong line and a large hook, and Jörmungandr bit. Thor pulled the serpent up; the two faced off, Jörmungand dribbling poison and blood. Hymir went pale with fear, and as Thor grabbed his hammer to kill the serpent, the giant cut the line, leaving the serpent to sink beneath the waves.

Their last meeting will come at Ragnarök, when Jörmungandr will drag himself from the Ocean and poison the skies. Thor will kill Jömungandr and then walk nine steps before falling dead from the serpent's poison.

Jörmungandr is also sometimes referred to as the Midgard Serpent (Mišgaršsormr) or the World Serpent.


The major sources for myths about Jörmungandr are the Prose Edda, Hśsdrįpa, Hymiskviša and Völuspį.

Less important sources include kennings in skaldic poetry. For example in Žórsdrįpa, Fašir lögseims, "father of the sea-thread", is used as a kenning for Loki.

There are also image stones from heathen times depicting the fishing encounter.

See also


Familiar forms

  • Jormungandr
  • Jormungand

Template:NorseMythologyca:Jormungand da:Midgårdsormen de:Midgardschlange fr:Jormungand gl:Jörmungandr nl:Midgaardslang ja:ヨルムンガンド sv:Midgårdsormen uk:Йормунґанд


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