Vidar: The Silent God of Vengeance

Vidar, sometimes called “the silent one” is the Norse god of vengeance. Son of Odin and the giantess Gridr, he …

Vidar, sometimes called “the silent one” is the Norse god of vengeance. Son of Odin and the giantess Gridr, he will avenge his father’s death by the wolf Fenrir. Together with Bragi, he will be among the ones who survive Ragnarok.

Short Facts

Tribe: Aesir

God of: anger, reprisal, retaliation, silence, vengeance, war

Son of: Odin and Gridr

Half-brother of: Baldur, Bragi, Heimdall, Hodr, Thor, Tyr, and Vali

Name in Old Norse: Víðarr

Other names: Vidarr, Vithar, Vitharr  

Vidar responsibilities

Vidar
Xylograph by Hans Christian Henneberg (1826-93) based on a work by Constantin Hansen (1804-1880)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Collecting the discarded leather from old shoes to add it to his own, killing the grim wolf Fenrir and thus avenging his father Odin, loyalty, modesty, and silence

Animals associated with Vidar

Unknown

Vidar weapon/domain of power

Devotion, his physical strength, his powerful shoe made from scraps of leather, his sword, rage, and vengeance

Origins

Vidar is the son of Odin and the giantess Gridr. Half-brother to Bragi, Thor, and Tyr among others, he is the god of divine vengeance. Vidar’s name means ‘wide ruler’ in Old Norse. He is also called the ‘silent god’, but the reason for this title is unknown. Vidar is considered to be the second strongest god of the Aesir with Thor being the first.

Vidar resides in an unnamed wide land with tall grass and dense thickets. Moreover, his name appears in a few locations in Norway such as Vidarshov, which means Vidar’s temple. This confirms the god’s once religious importance despite the serious lack of information regarding his character.

He who shall kill Fenrir

Few things are known about Vidar, the most important being his part in Ragnarok. During the great battle between the Aesir and the Jotnar, Odin Allfather will clash with the dreadful wolf Fenrir. Their battle will be an appalling one, in which the wise king of the gods will be devoured by Fenrir. Vidar then, silently but raging inside, will face the great wolf. He will wear his sturdy shoe, made over the years from pieces of the used leather, and unsheathe his sword.

Vidar & fenrir
Lorenz Frølich, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

According to the prophecy, Vidar will then put his safely covered foot on Fenrir’s lower jaw and hold his mouth open. With his sword, Vidar will tear apart Fenrir’s dire jaws and succeed in slaying the beast. Thus Vidar shall avenge the death of his father, Odin. Not only this but it is foretold that Vidar will survive the cataclysmic events of Ragnarok. He will be one of the gods that will rule in the new world.

In the old texts

In the Poetic Edda, Vidar is mentioned in the poems Grimnismal, Lokasenna, Vafthrudnismal, and Voluspa

The Prose Edda mentions Vidar in the books Gylfaginning and Skaldskaparmal.

FAQs

Why did Vidar collect pieces of old shoes?

In the old days, there was a tradition concerning footwear. Those who scrub their shoes and boots would leave the fallen pieces of leather for Vidar to come and collect. The myth suggested that he, aware of his role in Ragnarok, prepared himself by making powerful shoes. He added the residual scraps to his own footwear making them firmer and stronger. These would enable him to easily step onto Fenrir’s jaw and open it wide allowing him to kill the wolf. That could explain as well the meaning of Vidar’s name as the wide ruler.

Why is Vidar called the silent god?

Unfortunately, nothing in the old texts can offer any explanation for the mysterious epithet of Vidar. One can only make assumptions looking for a satisfying answer. Many however agree that since vengeance was considered a sacred ritual, the silence was deemed obligatory. To avenge meant to honor and it goes without saying that actions speak louder than words. This also shows the gravity of Vidar’s part in Ragnarok and how much the ‘silent’ god was set on it.

Featured Image Credit: W.G. Collingwood, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Vasilis Megas

Vasilis Megas (a.k.a. Vasil Meg) lives in Athens, Greece. He is a Greek- and Norse Mythology enthusiast. Vasilis has written and published 16 books - mostly fantasy and science fiction - and he is now working as a content writer, journalist, photographer and translator.