Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) wrote,
Dave Van Domelen

Loki's character arc in myth

So, early on in their lives, Loki and Odin became best buddies (Loki being a contemporary of Thor is a Marvel thing) and swore an oath of brotherhood. Once Odin became the head of the Aesir, this worked out great for Loki, because part of the oath involved protecting each other from harm. Thus, no matter what Loki did, Odin was sworn to protect him from punishment or retribution.

For his part, becoming chief god also meant that if Odin tried to break his word, it could literally bring about the end of the world. And Loki knew that, so he kept pushing. Thanks to the oath, Odin always made those who Loki wronged hold their ire and allow Loki to attempt restitution (i.e. Loki burns off Sif's hair, Thor is restrained long enough for Loki to go get some magical gold hair made as a replacement).

But when Loki murdered Balder by proxy and used trickery to interfere with the agreement that would have brought Balder back to life, he finally pushed Odin too far. No longer was he a mischievous scamp, a useful ally and fun guy to be around if you could put up with the occasional prank. Nope, this was outright evil. And while he tried to justify breaking his oath with a sort of "Loki broke it first" sophistry, Odin still knew he was risking the end of the world when he punished his blood brother (chained him in a cave with a snake dripping venom in his eyes, which is pretty nasty).

As a meta note, this suggests to me that the political fates of whatever group originally worshipped Loki as their primary god were unpleasant. Gods of losing groups tend to become demonized by the winners, either literally recast as demons or simply given "God of Evil" as a title.

Anyway, within the context of the story, Loki's tale is a cautionary one, warning that if you never have to suffer the consequences of your actions, eventually everyone will suffer.

This makes him ideal as a patron of the internet.
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