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In Norse mythology, Fáfnir or Frænir is a son of the dvergr king Hreiðmarr and brother of Reginn, Ótr, Lyngheiðr and Lofnheiðr. After being affected by the curse of Andvari's ring and gold, Fáfnir became a linnormr and was slain by Sigurðr.

Myths & legends[]

In the Icelandic Vǫlsunga saga (late 13th century), Fáfnir is a dwarf with a powerful arm and fearless soul. He guards his father's house of glittering gold and flashing gems. He is the strongest and most aggressive of the three brothers.

Some versions are more specific about Fáfnir's treasure hoard, mentioning the swords Riðill and Hrotti, the helm of terror and a golden coat of chainmail.

Cursed treasure and transformation[]

Reginn recounts to Sigurðr how Óðinn, Loki and Hoenir were traveling when they came across Ótr, who had the likeness of an otter during the day. Loki killed the otter with a stone and the three Æsir skinned their catch. The gods came to Hreiðmarr's dwelling that evening and were pleased to show off the otter's skin. Hreiðmarr and his remaining two sons then seized the gods and held them captive while Loki was made to gather the ransom, which was to stuff the otter's skin with gold and cover its outside with red gold. Loki fulfilled the task by gathering the cursed gold of Andvari as well as the ring, Andvaranaut, both of which were told to Loki as items that would bring about the death of whoever possessed them.

Fáfnir then killed Hreiðmarr to get all the gold for himself. He became very ill-natured and greedy, so he went out into the wilderness to keep his fortune, eventually turning into a serpent or dragon (symbol of greed) to guard his treasure. Fáfnir also breathed poison into the land around him so no one would go near him and his treasure, wreaking terror in the hearts of the people.

Slain by Sigurðr[]

Sigurðr fighting Fáfnir

Reginn plotted revenge so that he could get the treasure and sent his foster-son Sigurðr to kill the dragon. Reginn instructed Sigurðr to dig a pit in which he could lie in wait under the trail Fáfnir used to get to a stream and there plunge his sword, Gramr, into Fáfnir's heart as he crawls over the pit to the water. Reginn then ran away in fear, leaving Sigurðr to the task. As Sigurðr dug, Óðinn appeared in the form of an old man with a long beard, advising the warrior to dig more trenches for the blood of Fáfnir to run into, presumably so that Sigurðr does not drown in the blood. The earth quaked and the ground nearby shook as Fáfnir appeared, blowing poison into his path as he made his way to the stream. Sigurðr, undaunted, stabbed Fáfnir in the left shoulder as he crawled over the ditch he was lying in and succeeded in mortally wounding the dragon.

As the creature lies there dying, he speaks to Sigurðr and asks for his name, his parentage and who sent him on such a dangerous mission. Fáfnir figures out that his own brother, Reginn, plotted this, and predicts that Reginn will also cause Sigurðr's death. Sigurðr tells Fáfnir that he will go back to the dragon's lair and take all his treasure. Fáfnir warns Sigurðr that all who possess the gold will be fated to die, but Sigurðr replies that all men must one day die anyway, and it is the dream of many men to be wealthy until that dying day, so he will take the gold without fear.

Reginn then returned to Sigurðr after Fáfnir was slain. Corrupted by greed, Reginn planned to kill Sigurðr after Sigurðr had cooked Fáfnir's heart for him to eat and take all the treasure for himself. However, Sigurðr, having tasted Fáfnir's blood while cooking the heart, gained knowledge of the speech of birds and learned of Reginn's impending attack from the Óðinnic (of Óðinn) birds' discussion and killed Reginn by cutting off his head with Gramr. Sigurðr then ate some of Fáfnir's heart and kept the remainder, which would later be given to Guðrún after their marriage.

Modern Depictions[]

Literature[]

  • Fáfnir appears – as "Fafner" – in Richard Wagner's epic opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (1848–1874), although he began life as a Jǫtunn rather than a dvergr. His transformation was caused by the magic helmet Tarnhelm.
  • The 2007 English translation of Sergey Lukyanenko's novel Day Watch mentions resurrecting Fáfnir - referred to as "the Great Magician" and "the Dragon of the Twilight" – from Fafnir's talon as a major plot device.
  • According to Ármann Jakobsson, J. R. R. Tolkien's dragon Smaug in the 1937 novel The Hobbit, was inspired by Fáfnismál, a poem about the dragon.
  • The so-called "Curse of Fafnir" is featured in the 2016 children's novel Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor, by Rick Riordan.
  • The light novel series Unlimited Fafnir contains several references to Nordic mythology.

Comics[]

  • In Marvel Comics, Fafnir was once king of the evil natives of Nastrond, until his people were wiped out. After transforming into a dragon, he became a reoccuring enemy of Thor.
  • In the anime and manga series Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, a dragon by the name of Fafnir appears.
  • In Ichiei Ishibumi's illustrated light novel series High School DxD, Fafnir is one of the Five Great Dragon Kings of the world sealed within a Sacred Gear.

Films & animations[]

  • Fafnir appears in the 2005 film Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King, based on the Vǫlsunga saga and Wagner's Nibelungenlied. He is wingless and lizard-like in appearance, possibly inspired by Arthur Rackham's depiction.
  • The 2007 film adaptation of Beowulf mentions Fafnir in passing as the "dragon of the northern moors." The golden drinking horn which Hrothgar claimed as his prize upon slaying Fafnir is central to the plot.
  • The anime series Fafner in the Azure contains giant mechas called Fafners and the Series itself contains references of the original legend of Fafnir
  • In the episode "Luna Nova and the White Dragon" of the anime Little Witch Academia, Fafnir appears as a moneylender that the school of Luna Nova owes money to.
  • In the light novel and anime series Fate/Apocrypha, Fafnir is mentioned in the lore of Saber of Black/Siegfried, as the dragon whom he slew, and whose blood, he bathed in, granting him the Noble Phantasm called "The Armor of Fafnir".

Video games[]

  • In the 2002 PC game Heroes of Might and Magic IV, Fafnir is used as a cheat code to obtain Black Dragons, the strongest unit in the game.
  • In the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, Fafnir appears as a hyper notorious monster, spawning in Dragon's Aery.
  • In the mobile card game Deck Heroes, Fafnir is a rare 5-star creature in the form of a dragon.
  • In the video game Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight, Fafnir is the main protagonist of the game's story mode and gets into multiple phases of dark transformations throughout the game.
  • In the MMORPG MapleStory Fafnir is the name of the strongest level 150 type of weapons.
  • In the multiplayer video game Smite, Fafnir was added as a playable Guardian in June, 2016. His default model begins as a dwarf with a darker character theme, and his ultimate ability transforms him into a dragon form that can poison enemies.
  • In the video game Sword Art Online: Lost Song, Fafnir is a level 500 boss in Welgunde, the Island of Meadows.
  • In the video game Volgarr the Viking, Fafnir is the final boss, depending on the path you follow through the game.
  • In the video game Shadowverse, Fafnir is a legendary card that deals 2 damage to all other followers.
  • In 2015's Call of Duty: Black Ops III, two downloadable maps ("Gorod Krovi" and "Revelations") feature a shield that can be crafted out of dragon bones that is dubbed the "Guard of Fafnir".
  • In 2017's Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, the titular character must navigate through a caverns section while chased by Fafnir, who will kill her if she stays in non-illuminated places for too long.

Gallery[]

Sources[]

  1. Edgar Haimerl. "Sigurd—ein Held des Mittelalters". Userpage.fu. http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~alvismal/2sigurd.pdf. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
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