Ratatoskr The Naughtiest Gossipaholic in Norse Mythology

Posted by Ms Elly on

Ratatoskr The Naughtiest Gossipaholic in Norse Mythology

Norse mythology always excites the readers with the system of awesome characters and tales. Besides big figures in Norse mythology like Gods or giants, there are also many cool characters that occupied an important role in building up the flow of the myth. This blog post focuses on a small creature who had a power to create big trouble. He was Ratatoskr the Squirrel. 

Who was Ratatoskr?

Ratatoskr was a small squirrel in Norse mythology. He lived in the trunk of Yggdrasil with some other creatures. Those Yggdrasil dwellers were an eagle Veðrfölnir, the serpent-like dragon Nidhogg, four stags, and Ratatoskr the squirrel. Everyone contributed a part whether big or small in offering the agony to the Yggdrasil. 

Image of Ratatoskr the red squirrel in Yggdrasil Tree

Ratatoskr the squirrel, Veðrfölnir the eagle, and Nidhogg the dragon

Ratatoskr was supposed to run through the tree of Yggdrasil during the day. Because Ratatoskr was the message deliverer of the eagle and the dragon living in Yggdrasil Tree of Life. The message between the two was nothing but insult. The two never seemed to stop hating each other and the"bad habit" of exchanging the insulting message of Ratatoskr stirred up the deeper hatred among the two. Ratatoskr seemed to enjoy his job so much because he never showed a trace of retirement. He loved gossip and he found his pleasure in seeing the animosity between Veðrfölnir and Nidhogg grow up. 

In the Poetic Edda poem Grímnismál, Odin once mentioned Ratatoskr like this (translation by Henry Adam Bellows)
Ratatosk is the squirrel who there shall run
On the ash-tree Yggdrasil;
From above the words of the eagle he bears,
And tells them to Nithhogg beneath.

Characteristics of Ratatoskr

Physical traits 

Ratatoskr was described as a red squirrel. Some ancient depiction of Ratatoskr showed he had very long ears. But this could be the depiction based on the taste and the imagination of the artists. Because in ancient materials, no remarkable features were mentioned about Ratatoskr. So he might not be much different than the typical red squirrel. 

Characteristic traits

Many scholars believed that Ratatoskr acted as a troublemaker like Loki up in Asgard. He loved fueling hatred and spite into relationships. He may have added his own words to the letters among the pair and sent them between the eagle and the dragon. 

Some theories have been put forward about the intent of Ratatoskr. A group of scholars believed that Ratatoskr wanted to make Yggdrasil the Great Tree of Life collapse. But he was too small to do this alone. Therefore, he needed someone to help him do this. First, he brought the insult from the eagle to Nidhogg which make the dragon gnaw the roots of Yggdrasil to make the Tree collapse and hit the eagle to death. Later, Ratatoskr carried the insult from Nidhogg to the eagle which made the eagle pluck the branches and drop down to crash Nidhogg. With so well-organized conspiracy, Ratatoskr managed to do much harm to Yggdrasil the Great Tree of Life. 

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