The Giant in Norse Myth Was Not Really Giant and Cruel

Posted by Ms Elly on

The Giant in Norse Myth Was Not Really Giant and Cruel

The sworn enemies of the Norse gods were the giants which were the Jotun. In the English translation, Jotun means "giant". So we keep calling the Jotun the giant. This has resulted in the misleading image of the Norse Jotun: a monster with impressive size. But not all of the jotun or the giant in Norse mythology was enormous in size. It depended, in fact. 


Like the gods, the Jotun had their own kingdom. It was the Jotunheim the home of Jotun. Norse mythology had it that the land of the Jotun was cold and full of forest No light shone upon this land and the coldness was all around from time to time. It was dark as well. The Jotunheim was representative of the Utgard which meant "beyond the fence". Utgard was a place without order and civilization, nothing but chaos and turbulence. 

The misunderstanding of the Norse myth readers toward the giant might stem from the Ragnarok. The event of Ragnarok was described as a big and final battle between the Gods and the Jotun. While the gods presented the good and the positive, the Jotun as the gods' opponents were villains and presented bad and negative things. 

But actually, not all the Giants in Norse myth were impressively big and cruel. 


Different types of the giants appeared in Norse mythology. They could be beautiful, ugly, enormous, and normal in the size. Some of the giant even had a very good relationship with the gods who were known as the sworn enemies of each other. 

Beautiful and Ugly

Skadi the giantess of winter and skiing was a beautiful goddess. She was the daughter of giant Thrym who was killed by the gods. Skadi then came to Asgard to seek revenge. But gods settled the problems by a marriage between Skadi and Njord god of seafaring. 

One ugly giant was Hyrrokkin who appeared in the funeral of Baldur Odin's son.

 Enormous and Normal

The giant that had an impressive size was Loki-Utgard who dared to challenge and tricked Thor god of lightning and thunder. One cool thing about Loki-Utgard was that he got away with what he did to Thor without being slain by the powerful Mjolnir hammer of Thor. But the biggest Jotun in Norse mythology must be the giant Ymir who was the first being in the cosmos. 

The first giant in Norse mythology, Ymir. Odin and his brothers killed Ymir and used his body to fashion the world

The battle between Ymir the biggest giant in Norse myth and the gods

Meanwhile, there were also the giants with the normal size as the gods. For example, the beautiful Skadi and the giant Gerd who was the wife of god Freyr were on the list. They could marry the gods and no source mentioned their huge size. This suggested that some giants shared the common size with the gods.

Njord and Skadi once got married in Norse mythology. Skadi was a giantess but she was not enormous as her name indicated.

The depiction of Skadi and Njord after their marriage

Relationship with Gods

The giant that had the best relationship with the gods was Aegir the king of the party. He was the giant of the ocean and had the best skill of brewing mead. Aegir always wanted to hold luxurious parties and invite the gods to join him. 

Meanwhile, Loki must be the giant that gods had to apply their zero tolerance on him. Because most of the time, Loki put the gods in troubles and embarrassment. As time progressed, Loki and the gods could no longer withstand each other. It resulted in the final battle in Ragnarok that put an end to the glory of the Norse gods including Odin, Thor, and Loki as well. 

Older Post Newer Post

Recent Articles


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published