Vidarr: Norse god of vengeance and slayer of Fenrir

Vidarr, the Norse god of vengeance, is the son of Odin and the giantess Gridr. In Norse mythology, Vidarr is fated to be one of the few surviving gods to remain after Ragnarok. He is destined to avenge his father’s death by slaying the fierce wolf Fenrir and ultimately help rebuild the Norse cosmos.

Origin Story of Vidarr

Much of what is known about Vidarr comes from the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda.

The Poetic Edda was written and curated during the 1200s. Some of the poems date as far back as the 10th century AD. In the Poetic Edda, Vidarr is talked about in four poems – Vafthrúdnismál, Lokasenna, Völuspá, and Grímnismál.

The latter work is a 13th century compilation of Old Norse stories made by Snorri Sturluson, an Icelandic poet and lawmaker.

According to “Poetic Edda”, Vidarr is the son of Odin and his concubine, Grid (Gríðr), who is a giantess.

Vidarr’s father, Odin, is the king of the Aesir (Æsir) gods, the main gods in Norse religion. As chief of the gods, Odin reigns supreme over the pantheon, which includes the likes of Baldr, Thor, Frigg, Heimdallr, Tyr, and Bragi.

Vidarr’s mother, Gridr, is a member of the jötnar (i.e. the giants in Norse mythology). There some few accounts of Gridr helping the Aesir gods, including giving Thor the belt of strenght and the iron glove. In Old Norse, Gríðr’s name translates as “vehemence” or “impetuosity”. Although the Aesir gods and the giants never saw eye-to-eye, there were some instances of love affairs springing up between the Aesir gods and the giants. It’s said that some of the giantess had remarkable beauty, making them irresistible to the Aesir gods. Vidarr was the product of such a union.

READ MORE: Major Myths About Odin, the Chief of the Aesir Family of Gods

Vidarr’s siblings

Aside Thor, Vidarr has quite a number of half-brothers, including Baldr and Vali. Baldr, the son of Odin and the goddess Frigg, is the Norse god of light; he is considered one of the most admired members of the Aesir gods. Vali, the son of Odin and the giantess Rindr, is said to have been born for the sole purpose of avenging his brother’s death. Vali kills Hodr (Höðr), the blind Norse god, who killed Baldr.

Vidarr’s strength

According to the Gylfaginning in the Prose Edda, Vidarr is nearly as strong as Thor. As a result, he came to be one of the most dependable gods in the cosmos, especially in times of trouble.

Him being part jotun (giant) meant that he possessed an enormous amount of strength. In some accounts of the myth, it is said that Vidarr’s strength came second only to his half-brother Thor, the hammer-wielding Norse god of lightning, storm and thunder.

Meaning of his name

His name means “widely ruling.”  Not much is known about his childhood, but the young god came to be known for his strength and fighting skills.

Other names of Vidarr include Vitharr, Vithar, and Vidar. The latter is the anglicized version of his name.


In Norse mythology, Vidarr lives in Asgard and dwells in a hall that is similar to a garden. As a result, he came to be associated with nature. According to legend, he enjoys spending time in natural environments.

Vidarr was also known for his thick magical shoes, which was an accumulation of leather pieces that the god collected from shoes that the people discarded. This magical shoe is said to be the strongest in all the nine realms of Norse universe. With this shoe, Vidarr will put on a brave performance against the fierce wolf named Fenrir.

READ MORE: 10 Most Powerful Weapons in Norse Mythology

Attributes & Depictions of Vidarr

Vidarr was also known as “the silent god.” It is unclear why Vidarr is known for his silence. Perhaps, it could be because of how little is recorded about him. It’s also likely that he earned that epithet because of his singular mission in life, which is to avenge his father’s death at Ragnarok. Other sources say that Vidarr refused to speak in order to help him prepare for Ragnarok.

He is also known as the “god of vengeance” for avenging the death of his father after Odin is killed by Fenrir. Another popular epithet of Vidarr is “the one with the thick shoe”, a reference to his powerful magical shoe.

Other epithets of Vidarr include: “enemy and slayer of Fenrisulf”, “son of Odin”, “brother of the Aesir”, “silent Aesir”, and “Vidarr the silent”.

Ragnarok, Fenrir & Vidarr’s Vengeance

Ragnarok refers to the doom of the gods and the end of the world. According to the prophecy, many of the Norse gods, including Thor and Odin, will perish at Ragnarok. After all that destruction and bloodshed, the surviving Norse gods, one of them being Vidarr, will come together to rebuild a new world. Image: Fenrir and Odin battling each other in an illustration (1905) by Emil Doepler.

According to ancient Norse mythology, Ragnarok means “fate of the gods” or “twilight of the gods.” It is prophesied that come Ragnarok, there will be a complete destruction of the world and everything that it consisted of, including the gods. However, Ragnarok hasn’t occurred yet. Therefore, per the prophecy, the Norse gods are still anticipating the event.

According to the prophecy, Vidarr is fated to be one of the few gods to survive Ragnarok after a great battle between Loki‘s evil forces and Odin’s Aesir gods.

Afraid of Fenrir’s might and strength, the gods opted to lock him up on an abandoned island with his mouth shut by a sword. When Ragnarok occurs, the wolf will break free of his chains and run through the nine worlds in Norse mythology, killing everyone he will encounter in his path.

It is written in the Völuspá that Vidarr will kill Fenrir by stabbing the beast in the heart. He does this by placing one foot on the lower jaw and then grabing the upper jaw of the beast in one hand and then ripping apart his mouth. A depiction of Norse god Víðarr stabbing Fenrir while holding beast’s jaws apart. This painting by English author and artist W. G. Collingwood, 1908, was inspired by the Gosforth Cross

In the prediction, Odin will charge into battle wielding his favorite spear Gungnir while riding his eight-legged horse Sleipnir. The All-Father god will duel with Fenrir, the fierce wolf who is also Loki’s son. In the end Odin will be devoured by the beast.

As the son of Odin, Vidarr will then avenge his father’s death. By using his enchanted heavy shoes, he will crush Fenrir’s lower jaw and then stake a sword down the wolf’s throat and stab his heart. Vidarr’s victory over Fenrir ultimately saves the nine Norse worlds from complete destruction.

Together with what is left of the Aesir gods, Vidarr will reside in Gimlé and set about rebuilding a new world. Also the sons of Thor, Magni (“Wrath”) and Modi (“Mighty”), survive Ragnarok.

Vidarr and his brother Vali survive Ragnarok. A depiction of Víðarr and his half-brother Váli. Painting by Swedish artist Axel Kulle, 1892


Followers of Vidarr recognize him mostly as “Vidar the Silent” and worship in total silence in his honor. They also worship him as “Vidarr the World Ripper”. It was often the case that his worshippers present leather scraps to celebrate his victory over Fenrir.

READ MORE: 10 Major Norse Gods and Goddesses

The Gosforth Cross

The Gosforth Cross, located in St Mary’s churchyard in Cumbria, England, dates to around the 10th century AD. Made of red sandstone, the monument shows Vidar defeating Fenrir, as well as other battle scenes with other gods like Loki and Thor.

Many Vikings spread the worship of Vidarr during their travels. One of the most notable landmarks of the god is the Gosforth Cross located in Cumbria, Northumbria (in today’s Cumbria, Englad), where the Vikings settled around 9th century AD.

The monument has carvings of both Christian and Nordic symbols. Many of the Nordic symbols tell of some stories and characters from Norse mythology, especially scenes from the Poetic Edda. It’s said that the cross was made during the Christianization of Scandinavia.

The 14-foot (4.4 meters) carving shows the Norse god Vidarr ripping apart the jaws of the wolf Fenrir. It also has other battle scenes of other gods, including trckster god Loki being bound, Heimdallr holding his horn, and Thor’s duel with Jormungandr, the Midgard (World) Serpent.

Read More: Everything that you need to know about Loki’s monstrous children

How Vidarr compares with Thor

Norse god Vidarr is widely regarded as the second strongest god in Norse mythology. His strength is only second to that of his half-brother, Thor, the hammer-wielding Norse god of thunder, storm and lightning. It’s likely Vidarr got his strength from his mother’s side of the family.

Did you know?

Vidarr: The Norse God of Vengeance and the deity who kills the wolf Fenrir at Ragnarok. Image: Vidarr ripping apart the jaws of Fenrir

  • Much of Vidarr’s backstory comes from the collection of poems called “Poetic Edda” and the “Prose Edda”. The latter was written by Snorri Stuluson.
  • According to the Icelandic poet Snorri Sturluson, Vidarr is the equivalent of the Trojan hero Aeneas. In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas survives the Trojan War and goes on to accomplish many feats, including founding the city of Rome.

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