The Woman that Defeated Thor in Norse myth

Posted by Ms Elly on

The Woman that Defeated Thor in Norse myth

Thor was one of the most powerful gods in Norse mythology. Though he was not the strongest god (this title belonged to Magni Thor's son), Thor became the symbol of superpowerful strength. The cool thing is, there was only one occasion when Thor was defeated by a figure. More ironically, Thor was defeated by an old woman. 


The old woman that could defeat Thor was known as Elli. She was one of the servants of Utgarda-Loki living in Jotunheim, the land of the giant. In Old Norse, Elli means "old age". And Norse mythology, she was the personification of old age. Elli was also the embodiment of the wisdom and the hidden strength of the elderly. 

Image of Elli the woman defeated Thor

Depiction of the woman who defeated Thor


On one occasion, Thor and Loki traveled to Jotunheim in the chariot of Thor. Upon arriving the land of Utgarda-Loki the giant, Thor, Loki, and the servants accompanied took part in some competitions. Loki boasted about his eating ability which he said that no one in the palace could eat as fast as him. As your guess, Loki lost the bet to the giant Logi "Fire". Then came the second competition between a servant of Thor and a giant known as Hugi "Thought". They competed in swimming. And once again, Thor's team lost. Thor then challenged anyone in the hall to drink with him. Thor was very confident of drinking but unfortunately, he gave up. 

The last straw that flared up Thor's anger was when Thor couldn't lift the cat on the floor as Utgarda-Loki asked him to do. 

Image of Thor in drinking competition in Utgard-Loki palace

Thor in the drinking competition

Image of Thor defeat by Elli

Thor and Elli wrestling

Boiling with rage, Thor dared anyone in the room to step out and wrestle with him. Utgarda-Loki bruised Thor's ego by appointing an old woman to join the competition. And she was Elli. Once again, Thor lost the game. 


Answer: Yes! There were tricks behind these competitions in the palace of Utgarda-Loki. 

Firstly, Loki competed in eating with "Fire". Whoever could win the swallowing power of Fire then? Loki did very well in the test. 

Secondly, the servant of Thor competed with "Thought". It's ridiculous to ever overrun the speed of thought. 

Thirdly, Thor failed the drinking competition because the horn from which he drank was connected to the ocean. The giants at that point were afraid that Thor would drink up the ocean. 

Fourthly, the cat that Thor was asked to lift was actually Jormungand the Midgard Serpent. Thor did manage to lift the serpent above the ocean. 

Mind-blowing enough? There is one last thing!

Lastly, the figure Elli who defeated Thor was the embodiment of Old Age. And old age was like the fate. Whenever it came, who could ever escape it? 

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