Baldr (anglicised Balder, Icelandic: Baldur) is the god of light, joy, purity, and the summer sun in Norse mythology, and a son of the god Óðinn and the goddess Frigg. He is the father of Forseti, and he has numerous brothers, such as Þórr and Váli.
In the 12th century, Danish accounts by Saxo Grammaticus and other Danish Latin chroniclers recorded a euhemerised account of his story. Compiled in Iceland in the 13th century, but based on much older Old Norse poetry, the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda contain numerous references to the death of Baldr as both a great tragedy to the Æsir and a harbinger of Ragnarök. In addition to being loved by all gods and more physical beings, he was so handsome, generous, and good that he gave off light simply by the purity of his character.
According to Gylfaginning, a book of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, Baldr's wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti. In Gylfaginning, Snorri relates that Baldr had the greatest ship ever built, Hringhorni, and that there is no place more beautiful than his hall, Breiðablik.
Baldr, Balder, Baldur also Balder the brave.
He is the second son of Óðinn's and his mother is Frigg. He is the younger brother of the thunder-god Þórr. His twin brother is the blind winter-god Höðr. His wife was Nanna, the daughter of Nep, and their son, the god of justice, was named Forseti.
Baldr had the largest ship ever built, called the Ringhorn, or Hringhorni, which was known as the "greatest of all ships". His hall was known as Breiðablik, which means "broad splendor", and according to both the Grímnismál and the Gylfaginning, Breiðablik is the fairest of dwellings where nothing evil or unclean can exist.
The Death of Baldr
Other than his great courage and honor, he is known primarily for the myth about his death. It started when he had dreams about his death, which caused his mother, Frigg, to extract an oath from every object on Earth not to harm her son Baldr. All agreed that none of their kind would ever hurt or assist in hurting Baldr, and afterward the other gods used his seeming invincibility to practice throwing knives and shooting arrows at him.
This plan was almost perfect except that she had missed one thing that she had thought too insignificant, the weed mistletoe. The trickster God, Loki, took a disguise and asked Frigg if anything could harm Baldr. Thinking nothing of it, she told him about the mistletoe. Loki immediately left to gather some of the weed and make a dart out of it. At the same time, several of the gods were playing a game with Baldr where they were throwing projectiles at him in an attempt to strike him; however, since all objects had vowed to never harm Baldr, he could not be touched by the gods' attempts. Loki gave the dart of mistletoe to Baldr's blind twin brother, Höðr, so that he, too, could participate in the game. Not knowing what was in his hand, and having the aid of Loki's aim, he launched the dart into Baldr's chest, killing him on the spot. Although somewhat innocent, he was later slain by the new son of Óðinn and Rindr, Váli, whom had been born, and grew up in one day, for the single purpose of avenging Baldr's death.
The other gods lamented his death, and Óðinn sent Hermóðr to the goddess of death, Hel, to plead for Baldr's return to life. She said in reply that she would let him live again if everyone in the world, alive or dead, would weep for him. Loki had now disguised himself as the witch Thokk (in some versions he was a Giantess), and was the only one who would not weep for him, so Baldr stayed with Hel.
Now the gods began the funeral for the God of Light and placed his body, wrapped in crimson, upon his ship, the Hringhorni, as a funeral pyre. Alongside him on the pyre was his wife, Nanna, who died of heartache at his passing. Also on his pyre was all of his possessions and his horse. The ship was pushed out to sea by the giantess Hyrrokin.
Loki was punished for his integral role in the death of the most beloved of the gods. He was then hunted down, tied to three rocks, and a serpent was tied above his face, which would continuously drip venom onto his face until Ragnarök.
In Popular Culture
- Balder has made various guest appearances on the hit TV series Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
- Baldur appears as the main antagonist in the critically acclaimed video game God of War (2018).
- Balder Hringhorni is one of the main playable characters in Japanese visual novel Kamigami no Asobi.