Tyr’s Day Night Live

Tyr is the Norse god of war, and as such is often associated with the Greek Ares or the Roman Mars. He’s thought to have been a major player in his own pantheon, probably being the chief god in some areas before Odin and Thor became more popular. We really don’t have that many records of him, although it’s thought that he could decide the outcome of a battle, and he apparently received human sacrifices at one time. He’s sometimes identified as the son of Odin and Frigg, but other sources say he’s the son of the giant Hymir. The most famous myth involving Tyr is that of the binding of Fenris. This wolf, an offspring of Loki, was so ravenous that the Aesir thought it best to chain him. He was able to break every chain they tried until they received one from the dwarves made of several seemingly impossible materials: the footfall of a cat, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird. Surprisingly, hens’ teeth were not involved, but maybe this myth just came from an area where people didn’t raise chickens. Anyway, Fenris agreed to let the gods chain him, but only if one of them put his hand in the wolf’s mouth as a sign of faith. The chain was successful, but Fenris bit off Tyr’s right hand, and the god has been without it ever since.

Fortunately for him, he was still an effective warrior with only one hand. Another myth says that, at Ragnarok, he and the hellhound Garm will kill each other. That’s really about all as far as existing stories involving Tyr go, but he does survive in many place names, as well as in Tuesday (Mars’s Day in most Romance languages). In Diana Wynne Jones’s Eight Days of Luke, he appears as the huge gardener Mr. Chew.

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2 Responses to Tyr’s Day Night Live

  1. Rubert says:

    Why do you say the wolf bit off Thor’s hand when it was fighting Tyr?

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