Tyr And The Wolf

: Asgard Stories Tales From Norse Mythology


Odin, the Allfather, sat one day on his high air-throne, and looking

around him, far and wide, saw three fierce monsters. They were the

children of the mischievous fire-god Loki, and Odin began to feel

anxious, for they had grown so fast and were getting so strong that he

feared they might do harm to the sacred city of Asgard. The wise father

knew Loki had given strength to these dreadful creatures, an
he saw

that all this danger had come upon the Aesir from Loki's wickedness.

One of these monsters was a huge serpent, that Odin sent down into the

ocean, where he grew so fast that his body was coiled around the whole

world, and his tail grew into his own mouth. He was called the Midgard


The second monster was sent to Niflheim, the home of darkness, and shut

up there.

The third, a fierce wolf, named Fenrir, was brought to Asgard, where

Odin hoped he might be tamed by living among the Aesir, and seeing their

good deeds, and hearing their kind words; but he grew more and more

fierce, until only one of all the gods dared to feed him. This was the

brave god, Tyr. He was a war-god, like Thor, and is sometimes called the

Sword-god. Tyr was loved by all because he was so true and faithful.

Each day the dreadful wolf grew larger and stronger, till all at once,

before the Aesir thought about it, he had become a very dangerous beast.

Father Odin always looked troubled when he saw Fenrir, the wolf, come to

get his evening meal of meat from Tyr's hand, and at last one night,

after the wolf had gone growling away to his lair, Odin called a meeting

of the Aesir. He told them of his fears, saying they must find some plan

for guarding themselves and their home against this monster. They could

not slay him, for no one must ever be killed, and no blood must be shed,

within the walls of the sacred city.

Thor was the first to speak: "Do not fear, Father Odin, for by to-morrow

night we shall have Fenrir so safely bound that he cannot do us any

harm. I will make a mighty chain, with the help of my hammer, Miolnir,

and with it we will bind him fast!"

When the Aesir heard these words of Thor, they were glad, and all went

home rejoicing--all save the Allfather, who was still troubled, for he

well knew the danger, and feared that even the mighty Thor would find

this task too much for him. But Thor seized his hammer, and strode off

to his forge. There he worked the whole night long, and all through

Asgard were heard the blows of Miolnir and the roaring of the bellows.

The next night, when the Aesir were gathered together, Thor brought forth

his new-made chain, to test it. In came Fenrir, the wolf, and every one

was surprised to see how willingly he let himself be bound with the

chain. When Thor had riveted the last links together, the gods smiled,

and began to praise him for his wonderful work; but all at once the wolf

gave one bound forward, broke the great chain, and walked off to his

lair as if nothing had happened.

Thor was much disappointed, still he did not lose courage. He said to

the Aesir that he would make another chain, yet stronger. Again he set to

work, and for three nights and three days the great Thor worked at his

forge without resting.

While he worked his friends did not forget him. They came and looked on

while he was busy, and, as they watched the mighty hammer falling with

quick blows upon the metal, they talked to Thor or sang noble songs to

cheer him; sometimes they brought him food and drink. One visitor, who

was no friend, fierce Fenrir, the wolf, sometimes put his nose in at the

door for a moment, and watched Thor at work; then, as he went away, Thor

heard a strange sound like a wicked laugh.

At last the chain was finished, and Thor dragged it to the place of

meeting. It was so heavy that even the mighty Thor could hardly lift it,

or drag it as far as Odin's palace of Gladsheim. This time Fenrir was

not so willing to be bound; but the gods coaxed him, and talked of his

great strength, and told him they were sure he would easily break this

chain also. After a while he agreed to let them put it around his neck.

This time Thor was sure the chain would hold firm, for never before had

such a strong one been made. But soon, with a great shake and a fierce

bound, the wolf broke away, and went off to his lair, snarling and

showing his wicked teeth, while the broken chain lay on the ground.

Sadly the Aesir came together that night in Odin's palace, and this time

Thor was not the first to speak; he sat apart and was silent.

First spoke Frey, the god of summer and king of the fairies. "Hearken

to me, O lords of Asgard!" he said. "I have not won a brave name in

battle, like the noble Tyr, neither have I done such mighty deeds as

the great Thor and others of our heroes. Instead of fighting giants

and monsters, I have spent most of my life in the woods, among the

flowers, listening for hours to the birds. Many things have I watched,

some perhaps that my brothers thought too small to be worthy of

notice. I have learned many lessons, and the greatest of them all is

to know how much power there is in little things, and to see how often

the work, done quietly, and hidden from the eyes of men, is the finest

and the most wonderful. Since we cannot make a chain strong enough to

bind Fenrir, let us go to the little dwarfs, who work in silence and

in darkness, and ask them to make us a chain!"

The Allfather's troubled face grew brighter as he heard Frey speak, and

he bade him send a messenger quickly to the dwarfs, to order a chain

made as soon as possible.


So Frey went out, leaving the Aesir in their trouble, and came to his own

lovely home, Alfheim. There everything was bright and peaceful, and the

little elves were busy and happy. Frey found a trusty messenger, and

sent him with all speed to the dwarfs underground, to order the new

chain, and to return as soon as he could bring it. The faithful servant

found the funny little dwarf workmen all busy in their dark rock

chambers, far down inside the earth, while at one side, in a lighter

place, sat their king. The messenger bowed before him, and told him his


The dwarfs were a wicked race, but they were afraid of Odin, for they

had not forgotten the talk he once had with them, when he sent them down

to work in darkness underground, and since that time they never had

dared disobey him. The dwarf king said it would take two days and two

nights to make the chain, but it would be so strong that no one could

break it.

While the busy dwarfs were at work, the messenger looked about at the

many wonderful things: the great central fire which burns always in the

middle of the earth, watched and fed with coal by the dwarfs; above

this, the beds of coal, and bright precious diamonds, which the dwarfs

took from the ashes of the fire. In another place he watched them

putting gold and silver, tin and copper, into the cracks in the rocks,

and he drank of the pure, underground water, which gives the Midgard

people fresh springs.

After two days this messenger returned to the dwarf king. The king,

holding out in his hand a fine, small chain, said to the messenger:

"This may seem to you to be small and weak; but it is a most wonderful

piece of work, for we have used in it all the strongest stuff we could

find. It is made of six kinds of things: the noise made by the footfall

of cats, the roots of stones, the beards of women, the voice of fishes,

the spittle of birds, the sinews of bears. This chain can never be

broken; and if you can once put it on Fenrir, he will never be able to

throw it off."

Odin's messenger was glad to hear this, so he thanked the dwarf king,

and promising him a large reward, he went on his way back to Asgard,

where the Aesir were longing for his return, and were all rejoiced to

see him with the magic chain.

Now Father Odin feared that Fenrir would not let them bind him a third

time, so he proposed they should all take a holiday, and go out to a

beautiful lake to the north of Asgard, where they would have games and

trials of strength. The other gods were pleased with this plan, and all

set out in Frey's wonderful ship, which was large enough to hold all the

Aesir with their horses, and yet could be folded up small enough to go in

one's pocket.

They landed on a lovely island in the lake, and after the races and

games were over, Frey brought out the little chain, and asked them all

to try to break it. Thor and Tyr tried in vain; then Thor said, "I do

not believe any one but Fenrir can break it."

Now the wolf did not want to be bound again; but he was very proud of

his strength, and, for fear of being called a coward, said at last he

would let them do it, if he might hold the right hand of one of the Aesir

in his mouth while they bound him, as a sign that the gods did not mean

to play any tricks.

When the gods heard this, they looked at each other, and all but one of

them drew back. Only the brave, good Tyr stepping forward, quietly put

his hand into Fenrir's mouth. The other gods then put the chain around

the beast, and fastened it to a great rock. The fierce creature gave a

leap to free himself, but the more he struggled the tighter grew the

chain. The Aesir gathered about him in joy to see this, but their hearts

were filled with sorrow when they saw that their noble Tyr had lost his

right hand; the dreadful wolf had shut his teeth together in his rage,

when he found he could not get free.

Thus the brave Tyr dared to risk danger for the sake of saving others,

and gave up even his right hand to gain peace and happiness for Asgard.