How was changed. Norse mythology in God of War: Ragnarok

The reboot of the God of War franchise is based on Scandinavian mythology. The developers took something straight from the poems of Samund the Wise and Snorri Sturluson – the Elder and Younger Eddas. But they came up with a lot of their own, making the mythology of the northern peoples even richer. In this article we will figure out what events took place in the canonical verses and what changed Santa Monica in God of War.

What and how was changed. Norse mythology in God of War: Ragnarok

We warn you! This article will be filled with spoilers and plot reveals for God of War (2018) and God of War: Ragnarok. If you have not yet completed both of these games, it is better to do so before reading our material.

Fimbulwinter and what preceded it

The journey to the highest point of the Nine Worlds of Kratos and Atreus begins with a meeting with Balder. The son of Odin and Freya comes to the Greek’s house, starts a fight and loses. Father and son, realizing that they are in danger, decide to travel ahead of time. They meet the goddess Freya and the sons of Thor – Magni and Modi.

Inheritors of Mjolnir

Two presumptuous sons of the god of thunder get what they deserve – in attempts to kill the former god of war and his son, the offspring of Thor die. First Magni, at the hands of Kratos, and then Modi – he is killed by Atreus. This is the basis for the future conflict with Thor and his family, which is shown to the player in God of War: Ragnarok. And this is one of the first serious departures from the poetic canons of the northern peoples.

What and how was changed. Norse mythology in God of War: Ragnarok

In the verses “Vafþrúðnismál” or “The Speeches of Vafthrudnir” , where Odin and the giant Vafthrudnir compete in flexibility of mind, the latter will inform the one-eyed god that Magni and Modi are the heirs of the Aesir after Ragnarok. 

It is the brothers who receive the hammer Mjolnir at their disposal after the death of their father. The sons of Thor not only defeat Loki’s army in the last battle, but also continue to keep the hammer after the death of their ancestor, and help the resurrected Balder build a new world after Ragnarok.

“One said:

I have traveled a lot, I have experienced a lot,
I have often defeated the Aesir in speeches.
Who will then take possession of the Aesir’s heritage,
 How will the fire go out in Surtra?

Vafthrudnir said:

Vidarr and Vali will rule Asgard,
When the fire goes out of Surtra.
And Modi and Magni will have Mjolnir,
faithfully keeping the Hammer of Vingnir.”

In God of War: Ragnarok, the hammer Mjolnir will be inherited by Trud Thorsdottir, the daughter of the god of thunder, who has a fighting spirit and a desire to become a Valkyrie. As Mimir said when Trud took Thor’s hammer and flew away with it: “It’s good that she got it.” Magni and Modi, if they were alive, would definitely make a mess.

In God of War: Ragnarok, the hammer Mjolnir will be inherited by Trud Thorsdottir,

Balder and the terrible winter

After the death of Magni and Modi, Kratos and Atreus find a way to deprive the immortal god Balder of his protective magic and make him mortal again. Having struck the son of the god of war in the chest, Balder pierced his hand with the tip of an arrow made of mistletoe – he was holding Atreus’ quiver on his chest. The spell cast by Freya on her son subsided, and Balder again began to feel pain, cold, heat, tastes – and then was killed by Kratos for trying to strangle his own mother.

In the mythological verses, Freya, having learned of her son’s death through his dreams, took an oath from every animal, plant and metal in all the Nine Realms that they would not harm Balder. The only plant that has been forgotten is the inconspicuous mistletoe tree. Loki took advantage of this by giving the blind ace Hodr a spear made of mistletoe and pointing his hand towards Balder when he threw it. This is how Odin’s son died in mythology.

Balder and the terrible winter

The death of Balder is the harbinger of the three-year winter, Fimbulwinter. The weather cataclysm, in turn, is the first step on the path to Ragnarok – the Scandinavian end of the world. The “Giant Winter” is recalled in “The Vision of Gylvi” from Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda:

“…a fierce winter is coming, which is called Fimbulwinter. Snow is falling from all sides, the frosts are severe, the winds are fierce, and there is no sun at all. Three such winters come in a row, without a summer. And even earlier, three other winters come, with great wars all over the world. Brothers kill each other out of selfishness, and there is no mercy for either father or son in the massacres…”

And indeed, immediately after the death of Balder, in God of War 2018, snow began to fall from the sky. The dwarves Brok and Sindri told Kratos that a terrible winter was coming.

Events and characters

We see the cataclysm and its ending throughout God of War: Ragnarok, three years after the events of the first game in the duology. Midgard is frozen and covered with snow, the Lake of Nine is covered with ice, the dead find no peace and come to life, and Kratos and Atreus now travel not by boat, but on a sleigh drawn by wolves.

We see the cataclysm and its ending throughout God of War

The names of the furry friends are Specki and Swann, but they were not mentioned in mythological works – Santa Monica invented them specifically for the game, although initially fans thought that they would be the wolves Skol and Hati. There is a third wolf – Fenrir, who goes to the afterlife in the arms of Atreus at the beginning of the game. This is a mythological creature from the works of Sturluson and Samund the Wise, but we will return to it a little later, when we examine the creatures participating in the last battle in Asgard.

And then Thor and Odin come to visit Kratos and Atreus with a proposal – young Loki ends the search for the Scandinavian god of war Tyr, and Kratos is forgiven for the murders of Magni, Modi and Balder, and they will also save the family of demigods from the wrath of Freya. Kratos refuses and the events of God of War: Ragnarok begin.

A family drama begins between the god of war and his offspring, which has almost nothing to do with the Scandinavian epic. This is by no means a drawback, but we are not interested in analyzing it. With the exception of a few details and characters involved in these events.

Tur

In the God of War reboot, we were often hinted at the presence of the Scandinavian god of war – Tyr. No one knew where he had gone, and only old Mimir said that Odin had long ago ruined his peace-loving son. Atreus, of course, did not believe this, and for good reason – in God of War: Ragnarok, the heroes find the descendant of the All-Father imprisoned in the dwarven world of Nidavellir. But how is the god of battles and honor represented in the game, and what was he like in mythology? These are two different characters.

Tyr is the opposite god of war. He once fought, but then he put aside his spear and became a defender of peace in all the worlds of the God of War universe. He traveled not only around Scandinavia, but also visited Greece, Egypt and other countries, communicated with the gods and made connections – a positive guy. He even persuaded the giants and aesir to conclude a truce, trusting his father and believing his word, but Odin immediately betrayed his son, slaughtered all the giants in search of knowledge, and imprisoned his son so that he would not get in the way.

In mythology, the image of Tyr is compared with the one-armed god of battle. Odin may have displaced him, taking on the role of god of war, but Tyr was worshiped before battles and performing brave deeds. Quote from the Prose Edda:

“There is also an ace named Tyr. He is the most courageous and daring, and victory in battle depends on him. It is good to invoke it for brave men. Brave, like Tyr, is the name given to the one who overcomes everyone and knows no fear. He is also smart, so wise, like Tyr, he calls the one who is smarter than everyone else.”

He became one-armed, according to the Younger Edda, when the Aesir decided to bind the wolf Fenrir with the magic chain Gleipnir. The wolf demanded a “collateral” from the gods – to put Tyr’s hand in his mouth, and if Odin and his retinue deceived him, then the animal would deprive the god of battles of his hand:

“This is an example of his courage. When the Aesir occupied Fenrir the Wolf to put Gleipnir on him, he did not believe that he would be released until Tyr’s hand was placed in his mouth as a guarantee. And when the Aesir did not want to let him go, he bit off his hand in a place called the wolf joint. And that’s why Tyr is one-armed, and they don’t call him a peacemaker .  ”

The deception and assistance of Odin in imprisoning Fenrir deprived Tyr of his status as a “peacemaker” in the eyes of Snorri Sturluson and the northern peoples. Sony Santa-Monica did not use the myth of the one-armed Tyr and the deception of the wolf, but wrote its own – no worse.

According to mythology, Tyr is the killer of the dog Garmr, who guards the underworld and breaks out at the beginning of Ragnarok. But in God of War: Ragnarok, this role is taken over by Kratos and Atreus, making Tyr a peace-loving character who has forever rejected war.

Freya

Odin’s ex-wife is hunting Kratos and Atreus after the Greek god of war killed her son Balder. However, there is an inconsistency in the character of Freya itself – Balder’s mother, according to the canons of Scandinavian mythology, is Frigg. Sony Santa-Monica answered this question in Ragnarok. The fact is that Freya from the game is two deities in one.

The first is the daughter of the god Njord Freya, leader of the Valkyries, who takes half the dead from any battle. This is how Snorri Sturluson describes it:

“Freya is the most glorious of goddesses. Her domain in the sky is called Folkwang. And when she goes to the battlefield, she gets half of the killed, and the other half goes to Odin. […]

Her chambers are Sessrumnir, they are great and beautiful. And she rides on two cats harnessed to a chariot. She is the most favorable to people’s prayers, and by her name noble wives are called mistresses. She really likes love songs. And it’s good to call on her help in love.”

Frigga is Odin’s wife, destined to mourn her sons and husband. Snorri Sturluson describes her as a woman “who knows the fate of people, but she makes no predictions.”

In the Elder Edda there is also their separate presence at the feast of the giant Aegir. In the work “Loki’s Verbal Feud,” the god of lies and deceit insults the Aesir, publicly talking about their baseness, betrayal and perversity:

“[…]Frigg said:

If my
Son were here with me now, as my Balder was, you
would not be able, embittered Loki,
to escape the battle!

Loki said:

Apparently, you want, Frigg, for
Loki to talk more about his destructive deeds:
I was to blame for the fact that Balder
will no longer be seen in the golden palace.

Freya said: 

You have gone mad, Loki, that
you have decided to brag out loud about this shameful matter!
Frigga knows all the past destinies long ago –
Although she herself does not say so. 

Loki said: 

Freya, shut up! I see right through you.
There are many sins behind you:
There is not a single one here among the aces and alphas,
Who would not be your lover. […]

[…]Freya, shut up! You are an unkind witch,
and you are tainted by debauchery!
They once found you in your brother’s bed…”

And the last line in Loki’s sayings to Freya is a moment that was taken into account in the Santa Monica game. When the goddess meets her brother in Vanaheim, their reunion looks not like brother and sister, but like… Lovers! They look at each other, put their hands on each other as if they were having a forbidden relationship. There is no mention of this in the game, but it’s an interesting detail!

Combining these two characters into one, Santa-Monica gave the following explanation for the two aspects of the goddess: Frigg is the name that Freya received from the Aesir when she married Odin. The Vanir people continue to call her Freya, for whom she became a traitor goddess who exchanged her home world for Asgard.

Brok and Sindri

The Blacksmith Brothers in 2018’s God of War were comical tool characters who commented on the metamorphosis happening to the heroes and the world. In Ragnarok, their role became more significant – they not only continued to help the protagonists, but also became full-fledged partners in some game segments. Their storyline is beautifully done, touches the soul, and the conflict between Sindri and the Aesir at the end of the game is chilling.

But were these gnomes in Scandinavian mythology? Only in one myth, in which Loki bet with his brothers that they could not forge things more skillfully than the dwarf Dwalin. The latter created Odin’s spear Gungnir, the flying ship Skidblandnir for Freyr and golden hair for Thor’s wife, Sif.

Brock helped Sindri fan the bellows while the second brother created: the Draupnir ring for Odin, creating copies to enrich the owner; riding boar Gullinbursti for Freyr; hammer Mjolnir for the thunder god Thor. Ultimately, Sindri became the favorite of the Aesir and won the bet.

In the game, they are not only the creators of the above-described artifacts, but also create a spear from the Draupnir ring, which is divided into parts and destroyed by order of the owner, causing all copies to explode.

Ratatoskr

A comical character from God of War: Ragnarok, the owner of the treehouse Yggdrasil, who is able to separate parts of the character into separate personalities. Its role in the game is much greater than that assigned to it in mythology, where the rodent is a messenger between the dragon Nidhogg and the jotun eagle.

“Ratatoskr is called the agile squirrel,
Which is always scurrying around the Ash Tree;
Everything that the eagle says at the top, she hastens
to convey to Nidhogg at the roots.” – Elder Edda, “Speeches of Grimnir”

“Then Gangleri asked: “What else can you tell about that ash tree?” The tall one says: “There’s a lot to be said about him. An eagle with great wisdom lives in the branches of an ash tree. The hawk Vedrfölnir sits between his eyes. A squirrel named Ratchettooth scurries up and down the ash tree and endures the swear words that the eagle and the dragon Nidhogg hurl at each other. Four deer run among the branches of an ash tree and eat its leaves. Their names are Dain, Dvalin, Dunei, Durathror. And there is no number of snakes that live in the Boiling Cauldron stream along with Nidhogg” – Younger Edda, “Vision of Gylvi” . 

Ratatsokr also asks Kratos and his allies to find the offspring of Nidhogg throughout the Nine Worlds, and a little later to find the Deer of the Four Seasons. In mythology, they support the natural course of life of the Yggdrasil tree. Once again, hats off to Santa Monica for their approach to such details.

Angrboda

Loki’s lover, an ugly old woman, a resident of the Iron Forest, the mother of the monsters Jormungandra, Fenrir and Hel – everything that is known about the giantess in the mythological canons. There are also references to the fact that she gave birth to the “Moon Dog”, who will devour the moon and fill the homes of the gods with blood – which means Skol and Hati (wolves chasing the Sun and Moon), the children of Fenrir, are also her direct descendants. This is where her participation in Ragnarok of the Scandinavian epic ends.

But the developers decided to make the story of Angrboda different. She is a giantess fortuneteller who taught Loki the magic of souls and helped control the ability to turn into animals. In the final battle, he helps Katos and Atreus riding the wolf Fenrir, opening the gaps between the worlds.

Odin, Thor and Loki – brothers and enemies

And if we’re done with the minor characters, then it’s time to look at the main stars of Ragnarok. The biography of the All-Father, the god of thunder Thor and the god of deceit Loki, their squabbles and attempts to get rid of each other will take up an entire book, so we will only go through the events that we saw in the new God of War.

Santa Monica maintained a balance between myth and fiction, since Loki, despite being descended from giants, lived and worked in Asgard. Until he killed Balder, and then went into voluntary exile, hiding from the punishment of other gods.

When Kratos and Thor, at the very beginning of the game, fight on the Lake of Nine, the Allfather invites the young god to come to Asgard to study and work together. Over what, Atreus did not know at that time. Having quarreled with his father and run away from home, the boy accepts the invitation of the mighty ace, overcomes the wall of Asgard and ends up in the halls of the gods.

The boy takes the name Loki and begins to help the All-Father in search of parts of a mask that would help him learn the secrets of the universe – and how to prevent the prophecies written by the giants, among other things. Atreus wants to save his father, whose fate is to die in the battle with Thor, and Odin wants to save himself from the death prophesied for him.

And his relationship with Thor begins to develop. The Giant Slayer carries out the tasks of the All-Father hand in hand with the giant, but at the same time Thor himself is a half-giant, like Loki. This becomes a common interest, the characters learn from each other. Loki tries to help Thor with his family problems, and Thor… Teaches the boy not to think and act – this saves Loki’s life during a skirmish with the god of thunder.

Throughout the game, the Allfather tries to offer Kratos, Atreus, Freya and the dwarves a dialogue – to stop the bloodshed, not start a war and peacefully coexist in the Nine Worlds. Unfortunately for Odin himself, he has done so much damage in his attempts to gain immortality and prevent his prophesied death that no one believes a word he says anymore.

Except, perhaps, for young Loki – the father of the Aesir openly tells him about his plans, in the hope of luring Atreus to the side of Asgard in the coming Ragnarok. Odin also knows that in the last battle a certain Giant Warrior will lead an army against him and defeat the All-Father. This is Loki, and in the finale of Ragnarok he fulfills what was prescribed to Odin.

The strained relationship between the god of deceit, the father of all aces and the god of thunder is also described in the Elder and Younger Eddas. Loki plotted against Odin, and he looked at the giant carelessly. This is because in mythology Loki is the brother of the All-Father, having gone through many wars and battles with him. There is also the opinion of mythologists that Loki descended from the giant Ymir, like Odin, but there is no evidence for this.

Nevertheless, the god of deceit lived next to the Asgardians, helped them, figured out how to trick the next giant and punish them for their insolence towards the Asgardians. The return of the hammer Mjolnir by marrying Thor to a giant, ordering the blacksmith Dwalin for new hair for Thor’s wife Sif – only part of his joint adventures with the Aesir.

Having killed Balder in mythology, the god of deceit signed his own death sentence – for this he was tied up with the intestines of his own son Narvi, a snake was attached above his head and forced to drip poison on his face. Later, Loki is freed, gathers an army of giants, the dead and monsters, and goes to war with Asgard, enlisting the support of the fire giant Surtr.

The last battle of the aces

In God of War: Ragnarok, the myth about the end of the world in the final battle of the aesir and giants was largely rewritten. This is because some of the events that happened to the deities in the epic did not appear in the game. It is impossible to weave them into one project. Therefore, Santa Monica turned out differently, even rewriting the roles of some of the participants in Ragnarok.

In mythology, Frey is destined to die in battle by Surtr, but while defending Asgard. In God of War, he opposes Odin and his usurpation of all worlds, since the Allfather, having concluded a truce with the Vanir and taking Freya as his wife, still attacked and killed most of the population of Vanaheim. In the finale of Ragnarok, he also fights Surtr, but already saves the main characters and gives his life to hold back the onslaught of the fire giant.

Light and dark elves – the elves of the Scandinavian epic – were honored guests in Asgard in the mythological canon, keeping the aesir company at feasts and feasts. But in the game, the attitude of the gods to the problems of the two warring peoples is different – the elves are forgotten and left to their fate. The only one who cared about the elfs was Frey, because he reconciled them. For this, the light and dark elves erected a statue of him in the middle of Alfheim. He called them to war against Asgard in Ragnarok, and the elves responded.

The smartest of people, Mimir, has been on the side of the Greek god of war and his son since God of War 2018. And no wonder – Odin imprisoned him in a tree and doomed him to eternal torment for betrayal. Kratos, with a deft swing of his ax, freed and literally tied Mimir’s head to himself. But in mythology, the smartest of people, even in Ragnarok, helped Odin with advice and visions of the future.

Monsters are on the side of the god of deceit

Jormungandr

The offspring of Loki and the giantess Angrboda in myth, the giant serpent in Ragnarok. In the Scandinavian epic, he is the main enemy of the ace Thor, with whom he is ordered to fight in the last battle and win. However, the god of thunder also kills the monster, but only manages to retreat nine steps from the World Serpent, and then the poison kills Thor. This is how it is described in the Elder Edda:

“Thor is preparing for battle, glorious son Glodin.
The serpent, the Encircler of the earth, opened its mouth;
The mouth from earth to heaven gapes –
But the Thunderer heads towards the Serpent

The Serpent defeats the Guardian of Midgard;
Soon the villages of people will be empty!
Thor, at the hour of his death,
must retreat nine steps before the monster.”

Here’s what it says in the Prose Edda:

“Thor killed the World Serpent, but, having moved nine steps away, he falls to the ground dead, poisoned by the Serpent’s poison . ”

In God of War: Ragnarok, events develop differently. Jormungandr is also the offspring of Loki and Angrboda, but not their offspring either. Using the magic of souls, the boy and girl infused the giant’s soul into a large snake. Having revived, the animal left them, and after a while it became known that the snake was growing and becoming much larger than it was.

Jormungandr appears at the hour of Ragnarok, begins the battle with Thor and pushes him to the halls of the gods. At the same time, Thor, with a blow from Mjolnir, sends the World Serpent into the past, thereby closing the time loop. Indeed, in God of War 2018, when Mimir was talking to Jormungandr, the Serpent said that he had already seen little Atreus and he seemed familiar to him.

Fenrir and the dog Garmr

A similar trick was performed with two wolves of the Scandinavian epic, closing two storylines in one fell swoop. Fenrir is the wolf of Atreus, as written above, who dies at the beginning of the game in the arms of a guy. Without knowing it, with the help of a spell from the giants, Loki locks the soul of his beloved wolf in his own knife. But he finds out about this much later.

Trying to please Odin, the boy also releases the dog Garmr, bound in chains. This dog is a sign of Ragnarok, tearing the space between worlds with its claws and freeing the army of the dead to fight in the final battle. In an attempt to stop him, Kratos and Atreus learn that Garmr has no soul – therefore he is immortal and impossible to kill. Loki, having stabbed the wolf, infuses the soul of Fenrir into it. The dog Garmr disappears forever from the God of War universe, which means Tyr has no one to fight in Ragnarok, much less no one to lose a hand from – Fenrir is a good wolf, he obeys Atreus and his giantess girlfriend in everything.

In the Scandinavian epic, both wolves are the main participants in Ragnarok, and Fenrir is the killer of Odin, who swallows the ace in battle. Both sons of Angrboda die in battle with the Asgardians. Here is what Snori Sturluson writes in the Prose Edda:

“Then the dog Garmr, tied in the Gnipahellir cave, breaks free. There is no one more dangerous than him. He engages Tyr in battle and they kill each other. […] Fenrir Wolf swallows Odin, and he dies. But then Vidar steps forward and places his foot on the Wolf’s lower jaw. […] With his hand Vidar grabs the Wolf by the upper jaw and tears his mouth apart. This is where the end of the Wolf comes.”

Santa-Monica Studios took such a painstaking approach to creating the universe that they recreated some of the stories of the Scandinavian epic almost verbatim. But even if they deviated from the canons, they came up with a plot no worse than Snorri Sturluson and Samund the Wise – for this we take our hats off to them.

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