Höðr

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Höðr (often anglicized as Hod, Hoder, or Hodur[1]) is the brother of Baldr in Norse mythology. Guided by Loki he shot the mistletoe missile which was to slay the otherwise invulnerable Baldr.

According to the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda the goddess Frigg made everything in existence swear never to harm Baldr, except for the mistletoe which she found too young to demand an oath from. The gods amused themselves by trying weapons on Baldr and seeing them fail to do any harm. Loki, upon finding out about Baldr's one weakness, made a missile from mistletoe, and helped Höðr shoot it at Baldr. After this Odin and the giantess Rindr gave birth to Váli who grew to adulthood within a day and slew Höðr.

The Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus recorded an alternative version of this myth in his Gesta Danorum. In this version the mortal hero Høtherus and the demi-god Balderus compete for the hand of Nanna. Ultimately Høtherus slays Balderus.

Contents

The Prose Edda

In the Gylfaginning part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda Höðr is introduced in an ominous way.

Höðr heitir einn ássinn, hann er blindr. Œrit er hann styrkr, en vilja mundu goðin at þenna ás þyrfti eigi at nefna, þvíat hans handaverk munu lengi vera höfð at minnum með goðum ok mönnum. - Eysteinn Björnsson's edition

"One of the Æsir is named Hödr: he is blind. He is of sufficient strength, but the gods would desire that no occasion should rise of naming this god, for the work of his hands shall long be held in memory among gods and men." - Brodeur's translation

Höðr is not mentioned again until the prelude to Baldr's death is described. All things except the mistletoe (believed to be harmless) have sworn an oath not to harm Baldr, so the Æsir throw missiles at him for sport.

En Loki tók mistiltein ok sleit upp ok gekk til þings. En Höðr stóð útarliga í mannhringinum, þvíat hann var blindr. Þá mælti Loki við hann: "Hví skýtr þú ekki at Baldri?" Hann svarar: "Þvíat ek sé eigi hvar Baldr er, ok þat annat at ek em vápnlauss." Þá mælti Loki: "Gerðu þó í líking annarra manna ok veit Baldri sœmð sem aðrir menn. Ek mun vísa þér til hvar hann stendr. Skjót at honum vendi þessum."

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