Norse mythology has down the years continued to capture people’s imagination – with it’s pantheon of gods and notions of Valhalla, Asgard and Ragnarok inspiring academic study and a plethora of hugely successful comic book, TV and film series.
It’s perhaps Thor that has commanded the general public’s attention the most though.
With his Trusty hammer of power Mjölnir, Thor was the God of Thunder and is associated with many different aspects of Norse and Pagan tradition including; thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength and the protection of mankind (an aspect which the recent film series uses heavily as a plot point).
However, many are probably not aware that the God of Thunder actually had a gentler side, and was also associated with such things as hallowing (to sanctify or consecrate – to make holy or sacred), as well as healing and fertility.
Popular throughout much of recorded history Thor has been known by at least 14 names. He was the son of Odin, the brother of Loki and the husband of the flaxen haired Goddess Sif.
Thor’s prominence has of course continued down the ages and has even influenced the development of Scandinavian and Germanic languages. The 19th Century scholar Jacob Grimm writes of several words or phrases influenced in this way such as the Norwegian word for lightning Thorsvarme (“Thor’s warmth”), and the Swedish phrase godgubben åfar (“The good old fellow is taking a ride”), used whenever it thunders.
Thor was originally depicted as having fierce eyes and a red beard and hair. This is in stark contrast to modern depictions of the blonde muscled God in everything from the Marvell comics to the Hollywood films, and even the new online game Thunderstruck II.
But I suppose a certain amount of dramatic licence is required when appealing to today’s aesthetics conscious consumers. You can test thunderstruck 2 for free now over at their site.
These days of course thanks to the comic company Marvel, many think of Thor firstly as a superhero. This interpretation has been continued in the ongoing film franchise, that has Thor cast out of Asgard by his father for his arrogance and warlike tendencies only to later become a protector of humankind.
With the recent movies Thor (2011), Avengers Assemble (2012) (which features Thor in the ensemble cast of superheroes), and Thor: The Dark World (2013), the popularity and legend of Thor is certainly set to continue. It’s clear that he’ll be wielding his mighty hammer of power throughout modern popular culture for some time to come.