Three Times That Norse Gods Broke Their Oaths in Norse Mythology

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Three Times That Norse Gods Broke Their Oaths in Norse Mythology

To the Norse Pantheon, an oath was of uppermost importance. This inspired the Vikings to keep their words once they had said it. Anyone violated their words would end up in Helheim the Underworld of the Dead. Important as the oath might be, there were times that Norse gods broke their promise. 

Odin the Allfather broke his promise with Gunnlod the Giant

The story went back to just after the war of gods. As the war ended, two god tribes called out a peace treaty by creating Kvasir the Wisest. Kvasir took up the life of a traveller going around the world to spread his knowledge. He came across a home of evil dwarf brothers who granted Kvasir a savage death. They stored the blood of Kvasir into vats and brewed his blood to make the famous Mead of Poetry. 

Somehow the Mead ended up in the hand of the giant whose parents were killed by the dwarf brothers. The giant kept the Mead inside a mountain and ordered his daughter, Gunnlod to supervise the Mead. 

Odin and Gunnlod spent three nights together which earned Odin the chance to drink the Mead of Poetry

Odin and Gunnlod spent three nights together from which Odin could drink the Mead of Poetry

Odin the Allfather with the burning desire to learn everything in the cosmos heard of the Mead of Poetry which could help everyone answer any questions. He set out to retrieve the Mead back. Because the Mead was created with the blood of Kvasir who was born with the saliva of gods, Odin considered the Mead as a possession of the gods. 

Odin did try hard to get access to the mountain and he finally got inside the mountain. There he disguised as a handsome man reducing Gunnlod. He promised Gunnlod to entertain her for three nights in exchange for three sips of the Mead. 

After three nights spent together, Odin was officially granted the chance to drink the Mead. Yet, he broke his promise of sipping the Mead. Instead, he drank them all holding the Mead inside his mouth and turned into an eagle flying to Asgard. 

Tyr God of Justice and Honor broke his oath with Fenrir the Wolf

Learning of the prophecy of Ragnarok, Norse gods started finding ways to prevent it. The prophecy said that Odin would be swallowed by Fenrir the Wolf and the gods decided that they would take the responsibility of taking care of the beast. 

And they kept Fenrir up in Asgard. The wolf grew up at an incredible speed that everyone was so astonished. Until one day, he grew up so enormous that gods decided that Fenrir's stay in Asgard should be ended. But before letting Fenrir out of Asgard, they had to bind Fenrir (of course without letting him know that they were about to chain him). 

Tyr promised Fenrir that the gods only tested the strength of Fenrir. Whether Fenrir couldn't break the chain or not, the gods would let him go. Two times they tried chains on Fenrir, two times he easily broke it. It was not until the third attempt that they finally succeeded. 

Fenrir the Wolf bit off Tyr's hand when the gods chained Fenrir with the magical chain

Fenrir bit off Tyr's hands in the Binding of Wolf Fenrir

Smelling a rat with this third time, Fenrir asked the gods to promise that they were not tricking him and he wanted a god to put a hand in his mouth as a sign of oath. Tyr was the one that volunteered. Once the gods chained Fenrir, they didn't let him go which meant they broke their solemn oath with the little puppy. Fenrir quickly bit off Tyr's hand and swallowed it. 

This was the only time in Norse mythology that Tyr broke his promise. To some scholars, this deed of Tyr was considered to be the most heroic sacrifice. As he sacrificed his honor for the goods of his clan. He was also ashamed of his oath-breaking deed. Losing a hand to the gods was not a big deal; yet, breaking an oath was. And Tyr volunteered to burden this shame for the sake of his Aesir tribe. 

Thor broke his promise with Alviss who asked Thor's daughter as his bride

Among the obscure figures in Norse mythology was Alviss the Dwarf. He was always proud of being omniscient as he could answer any question in the cosmos. 

On one day, he came to Asgard to bring his bride back home. According to Alviss, he was promised Thrud Thor's daughter as a prize for the treasures he had created. However, whether this promise was real or not remains a mystery because there are no surviving materials talking about it. 

Up in Asgard, Alviss met Thor who laughed at Alviss's pale nose and unattractive appearance. Thor surely didn't want his beloved daughter to spend the rest of her life with Alviss so he debunked whatever the promise that Alviss mentioned.

God Thor in Norse mythology Thor vs Jormungand the Midgard Serpent in Ragnarok

Who dared to challenged Thor, not to mentioned rushing to Asgard to ask for Thor's daughter. (Picture shown Thor encountering his sworn enemy Jormungand in the last battle of Ragnarok)

Then Thor challenged Alviss into an if-you-win-you-take-my-daughter contest. There, Thor asked Alviss many questions about synonyms. For example, he asked Alviss what were other names of the "wind" and Alviss had to name it. The contest lasted approximately a day. Alviss was so distracted with Thor's questions and eagerness to win Thrud that he forgot he couldn't expose to the sunlight. 

The first warm sunlight shone through the cloud and it touched Alviss. This all of a sudden turned Alviss into stone that he could never move again. It happened because the dwarf spent all of his life under a cave where he couldn't touch sunlight. 

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