Norse mythology has many fantastic legends about the Dragon. But have you ever heard of the story of Fafnir ? He is quite an influential and popular character in Celtic mythology. He is the son of a dwarf king known as Hreidmar.
He had two brothers : Regin and Otr. This family had a rather unusual and bloody history worthy of the Nordic legends. You are certainly burning with desire to know what this story is about. Don't worry! That's the purpose of this article. You will have the opportunity to find out why the young Fafnir became a Dragon.
This is a story that begins with three gods : Odin, Loki and Hoenir. It is already necessary to know that Fafnir is considered the most violent and the most robust of the three brothers. This is why he is always perceived in this mythology as a protector. Indeed, it is the latter who was responsible for protecting his little people.
The True Story of Fafnir in Norse Legend
You should already know that this story of the Nordic myths dates from the end of the 13th century. If you go to the second part of the Edda which was written by Snorri Sturluson, you will find this story. As we said, this tale of tales and legends starts from three kings who are going to kill one of the brothers of Fafnir without knowing it. This is the legend that gave birth to several modern sagas like Dragon Ball Super and Viking.
1. Fafnir as protector of his father's palace
As for Fafnir, you should know that he was a dwarf who had a phenomenally powerful hand. But in addition to that, he was quite brave like the knights of legend and no obstacle could stop him. Since he was the strongest and most violent of all his brothers, he was entrusted with the protection of his father's claim.
It is a palace built with precious stones and shining gold. So you understand that this royal family was rich. The palace was built by Regin one of the three brothers.
2. OTR's death, the beginning of the bloody story
One day, the gods Odin, Hoenir and Loki decide to go on a trip. During the walk, they will meet Otr who has the habit of transforming himself into an otter for his fishing parties. It is his method to catch his fishes more easily. So you understand that he was a master fisherman.
The god Loki will attack the otter with a stone without knowing that it is the young prince. The other gods are going to cut him up to get the fur of the animal. Until then, none of them knows that they have actually killed the son of the Hobbit king Hreidmar.
3. The ransom that will make everything fail
Once the kings have removed the otter's fur, they will hurry to the king's house to rejoice. Their wish is to present him with their hunting trophy. But the king and his other sons will quickly recognize their loved one.
Taken of anger, they will thus capture the three gods and will make them prisoners. To repair this fault, the three will ask a ransom to the deities. They will have to bring them a quantity of gold identical to the weight of Otr.
4. The Curse of the Ring
During their walk at the lake, Loki will remember having seen a huge treasure. He goes to look for it in the depths of the lake. He finds a treasure that was protected by a gigantic pike. It should be remembered that this pike was the dwarf Andvari who has the ability to transform at will.
Since Loki is a god, he will not have any difficulty in recovering the treasure, because the dwarf had understood that the gods were in danger. However, he asked the god to allow him to hang on to a splendid ring that is in the chest. This ring is known as the Andvaranaut.
But as it was the most beautiful present of this hoard, Loki will refuse. Andvari will then get mad and put a curse on the ring. Curse that will become the problem of the royal family. It stipulates that the wearer of the ring must lose his life.
5. The Death of King Hreidmar
The god will therefore give the treasure to the king. But he also takes the trouble to explain to him that there is a cursed ring inside. Too bad, because the spell has already started to work and even the king can't do anything. So the king will decide to keep the ring for himself. So Fafnir and Regin will murder their father and take the loot for themselves.
Fafnir turns into a Dragon
Fafnir will be seduced by the treasure and will not want to share it with his brother. He will snatch it away and go and isolate himself in the middle of the desert, in order to have his booty all to himself. To make sure that no one will come and steal his treasure, he will transform himself into a giant snake dragon, but he will be different from the Chinese dragon and without scales.
Let's not forget to mention that he had magical powers. This allowed him to transform himself as he wished. To be sure that no one will approach his treasure, he will spread a poison all around him. Whoever tried to cross the dragon's lair had to die. Thus, none of the kingdoms could go to these places anymore.
Regin and Sigurd plot to snatch the Treasure of Fafnir
Regin is a blacksmith and architect. You remember that he is the one who builds their royal palace. So he is going to make a plan to take the treasure away from his brother. To do this he has an adopted son known as Sigurd. He was one of the fearsome warriors of the family !
He will therefore send the latter to kill the monster that his brother has become. The child's reward will be to reforge his father's sword which was broken at his death. It should be noted that this sword had a phenomenal power. It has the ability to split an anvil into two parts.
The advice that will be given to Sigurd will be to dig a large hole that allows him to hide and move forward until he finds the dragon. He will then be able to pierce the heart of the dragon with his sword.
While the two of them are digging, Regin is going to get scared and leave his adopted son alone to his fate. The youngster will not be discouraged at all. He will continue his mission.
A. The Council of the god Odin to save Sigurd
While the young boy is digging, the god Odin will appear to him in the form of an old man with a long white beard like the sorcerer Sauron in The Return of the King. The latter will ask the young man to dig other trenches to let the blood of Fafnir pass. Otherwise he could be swallowed by the blood of the terrifying dragon.
B. The fight between the Dragon and Sigurd
The young man finally saw the Nordic dragon going towards the stream, letting its poison spurt out on the road. When the dragon moves, the earth shakes. Sigurd will not get impatient. As soon as he had the chance, he swung a violent knife at the dragon's left shoulder.
This last one tries to crawl towards the ditch in which it is used to be hidden. But he will understand that his days are numbered, because he is mortally hit. The monster will then start to die. But before his death, he will take the trouble to ask his attacker by whom he was missioned. Indeed, it was necessary of the audacity to dare such an adventure.
C. Fafnir warns Sigurd against his brother
Fafnir will quickly understand that all this is a set up by his brother to take the treasure. This is how he will make the young boy understand to run away from his guardian, because the latter will also try to make him die.
The young boy was more focused on the treasure he had come to find. The dragon took the time to warn him about the curse of the ring. This did not stop Sigurd who retorted by saying that everyone is called to die one day or another.
On top of that, every human being wants to die with great wealth in his possession. That's how he gets the booty after killing the monster.
D. Regin wants to put its plan into action
Having been informed that Sigurd has succeeded in his mission, Regin is filled with greed. So he sets a plan in motion to finish off his adopted son. His plan was clear. He was to kill Sigurd after he had prepared the dragon's heart, and to eat it. Thus the treasure would be his.
What he didn't know was that the boy had had a taste of Fafnir's blood while it was still uncooked. This allowed him to have gifts and to learn to understand the language of birds. So he didn't need a crystal ball. This is how all the macabre projects of his adoptive father will come to him.
He will also cut off Regin's head with his powerful sword. After that, he will eat a part of the dragon's heart, and keep a part for his future wife who will be known as Gundrun. He will then take the cursed treasure and bring it into his family. This is how the curse will move to this new family.
What was in the Treasure of the Legend of Fafnir, the Dwarf turned Dragon ?
There are many people who read this story and wonder what these coveted treasures consisted of. We must admit that there is nothing certain, because there are several versions on this question.
But when we compare several stories, we can say that in this treasure, there was the sword Ridill and Hrotti, the coat of golden chain mail and the rudder of terror that allows to sow chaos. So these are the most valuable items apart from the gold.
What is the message conveyed by this myth ?
This myth is primarily addressed to the Nordic population. It is indeed a warning against all those clans who let themselves be overwhelmed by greed. This is how the consequences can go from generation to generation. Seen in this way, it is therefore better to avoid it to protect one's family.
On the other hand, this legend also wants to show that it is useless to accumulate wealth. It is better to use it to build strong bonds and to allow your community to emancipate itself and defeat the evil creatures. This is the maxim on which Scandinavian mythology is based.
The Representation of the Legend of Fafnir, the Dwarf turned Dragon in the Modern World
Although this legend dates back to the end of the 13th century, it has marked the world until modern times. That is why you can find traces of this story in many contemporary artistic works, especially in literature, cinema and comics.
1. In Literature
In literature, several authors have had to reproduce this Nordic myth. This is first of all the case of Richard Wagner in his work entitled "Der Ring des Nibelungen", which was written between 1848 and 1874.
In this work, Fafnir is known as "Fafner". Contrary to what can be seen in the original mythology, Fafnir in this work begins his life as a giant. His transformation will therefore take place because of the magical helmet Tarnhelm.
Then, in the English translation of the book "Day Watch" by Sergey Lukyanenko in 2007, Fafnir is also mentioned. But here we will talk about his resurrection. In this book, he is known by the name of "great magician" and "the dragon of the twilight".
On the other hand, quite a lot of J.R.R. Tolkien's literature is based on the mythology of Northern Europe. Thus, we will discover several works that have common features with Fafnir the Dragon and Sigurd.
The 2016 children's novel MAGNUS Chase and the Gods of Asgard also talks about the "curse of Fafnir". Finally, you also have the Unlimited Fafnir series of novels that has several references to this Norse mythology.
2. In the Comics
The influence of this Norse mythology can also be found in several popular comic books around the world. In the Marvel Comics, for example, you will see it through the king of the native villains of Nastrond.
The latter's people are going to be wiped out after he turns into a dragon to become a fierce enemy of Thor. So you can see the image of Fafnir here. He is presented as a villain.
You can also see a dragon named Fafnir appearing in the anime and manga series Dragon Maid by Miss Kobayashi. You can also find him as one of the 5 great dragon kings of the world in the series of novels, known as Highschool DxD by Ichei Ishibumi. As well as in Fantasy and others. The cartoons are therefore one of the first vehicles of this mythology of monsters.
On the other hand, it must be said that it is with Marvel that the first real superheroes were born. But all this starts from the Nordic mythology. He will start, from the person of Thor, to bring this epic mythology closer to the contemporary world. It is a beautiful way to allow the contemporary world to feel closer to these legendary heroes.
It is precisely because of Thor that the different Scandinavian myths and legends will be democratized and known by the general world. It is therefore impossible to sulk about this mythology today, because it has inspired many wisdoms.
3. In the Cinema
It is impossible to say that the story of Fafnir has not influenced the world of cinema. Indeed, we can see today that several series and movies are inspired by this Nordic mythology. It is for example the case of sagas such as Vikings, Lord of the Rings and others. In Vikings for example, you will hear about Thorgal.
This is simply to allude to Thor who also played a big role in the legend of Fafnir, the dwarf turned dragon. Without forgetting the different video games that are born today in homage to this Nordic mythology with its fantastic animals. If different artists get together to pay tribute to such a legend, it is a proof that it has left no one indifferent.
Can this legend of Norse mythology still speak to us today ?
After discovering a story like this, one might think it's just a fairy tale for entertainment, like the stories of Dwarves and Elves in the Lord of the Rings trilogy in Middle-earth. But it turns out that Norse mythology was a very nice way to teach. When we look at the social life in our world today, we realize that men destroy themselves because of greed. This is not just folklore.
The story of this legend of Fafnir the dwarf who became a dragon should help us to understand that it is useless to keep wealth, because we are not eternal. This greed can even lead to our own death and the destruction of our family. Mutual aid and sharing must be the watchwords of our generation. This is the importance of this legend.
Finally, this fantastic legend about dragons also teaches us to cultivate forgiveness. Indeed, if Fafnir's father had forgiven the gods for their mistake, he was never to have a treasure with which to bring the curse into his family. So you understand that this legend of Norse mythology also appeals to the contemporary world. So be aware now, when you watch a TV series.