Vafþrúðnir

Vafþrúðnir (Old Norse “mighty weaver”) is a wise jötunn in Norse mythology. His name comes from Vaf, which means weave or entangle, and thrudnir, which means strong or mighty. Some interpret it to mean “mighty in riddles”. It may be anglicized Vafthruthnir or Vafthrudnir. In the Poetic Edda poem Vafþrúðnismál, Vafþrúðnir acts as (the disguised) Odin’s host and opponent in a deadly battle of wits that results in Vafþrúðnir’s defeat.

A small portion of Poetic Edda provides some context and description of Vafthrudnir. While contemplating his visit to the giant, Odin’s wife Frigg offers a warning for him to be wary of this particular giant because, “Amid all the giants an equal in might, To Vafthruthnir know I none..” At this point however Odin has already insisted,

“And Vafthruthnir fain would find;

fit wisdom old with the giant wise

Myself would I seek to match.”

From this discussion one can glean that Vafthrudnir is distinguished from other giants as being especially wise and mighty. This is the only description provided of Vafthrudnir in Poetic Edda prior to his actual encounter with Odin. We know that Vafthrudnir is recognized for his knowledge of the past, present, and future states of the world, which is precisely why Odin decides to pay him a visit in order to test his skill against those of the reputed Vafthrudnir.


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