Thor (Old Norse, Þórr)(Old English Þunor), (runic þonar ᚦᛟᚾᚨᚱ) (all of which translate as the word "thunder")
Thor (D'aulaires' artwork)

Thor (D'aulaires' Artwork)

was one of the principal deities among the Norse pantheon, member of the Aesir family of gods and revered as one of the three leading gods, alongside his father, Odin, King of Asgard, and Freyr, King of the Elves and a principal Vanir god. Thor played several important roles in the old Scandinavian religion. First of all, he was a god of weather, and as such lighting and thunder storms were believed to have been caused whenever he was fighting giants (Old Norse jǫtunn). Secondly, and as a direct corollary, Thor was a god of physical body strength, courage and protection. And thirdly, he was a god that could sanctify places and objects.

But, Thor was also a leading heroic figure in many Viking sagas and classical myths, described as being a fiery tempered giant-slayer who embodiment the ideal warrior in Viking philosophy. And although somewhat barbaric by today's standards he is considered one of Asgard's most powerful heroes in times of need. As a matter of fact, all stories relating to him focus on his fights against the forces of chaos, that were usually embodied by giants and other chimera like monsters. His Mortal enemy at the end of the world is Jormundgandr, The World Serpent, which whom Thor is destined fight and ultimately kill as well as being killed in the process.

Appearance and Character Traits

Thor is described as being a fairly tall, muscular man with a thick red beard and flowing hair. Around his waist, Thor wears the belt megingjörð ("belt of power" in Old Norse), an enchanted belt that amplified his strength considerably. His weapon of choice is Mjolnir, a magical hammer, or perhaps a double-bladed axe, which which he conjured up lightning bolts. With this weapon, Thor could to slay any giant that dared cross path with of the thunder-god. One interpretation of the Mjolnir myths states that the weapon was constantly emanating intense heat and because of this could burn of the wielders hands. But in other interpretation, the handle was unevenly shaped, making it difficult to maneuver. Fortunately, he also wore the iron gauntlets called Járngreipr (as in "the iron grippers" in Old Norse) which either shielded him from Mjolnir's fire, or adjusted its handle to the palm of the god's hand.

Thor's personality was a mercurial one, since he acted primarily jovial and satisfied when around his kinsman, but also had an intense dislike towards any sort of wrong-doer, which whom he acted violent and unrelenting.

Norse Texts

Poetic Edda

Prose Edda

In 1220, Icelandic poet and diplomat Snorri Sturlusson rewrote the majority of Norse myths in a volume called The Prose Edda based on the poems he was taught about during his formative years at Oddi, Rangarvellir in the Kingdom of Iceland. The volume contains Sturlusson's own retellings of Scandinavian myths, but under the influence of, at the time, scientific and Christian methods of study and analysis. The Edda is ment to be both a preservation of his nation's fabled stories, which in an Christian mentality were normaly viewd as pagan lore, as well as a study of the proper techniques of poetry writting. And being one of the principal deities featured in several stories, Thor and his exploits were heavily featured in the Sturlusson's Edda.


Sturlusson feared that, do to the character's being gods of the pre-Christian age, the poems would have been refused by the local government and clergy at the time. However, he was able to subvert this claim by stating that the poems were ment to be stories based around moral virtues, a code of conduct and etiquette, while Christian faith remained an separate matter entirely. To that end the book's prologue contains an euhemerized telling of the Norse mythology's origins, wherein Odin and Thor are revealed to have been human kings based in Asia Minor and Thracia. According to Sturlusson, "Thor" is the Scandinavian pronounciation of Tror, a prince of the ancient city of Troy, the son of Priam's vassal Munon/Mennon and Priam's daughter, the princess Troan. Prince Tror was of fair skin and golden hair, able to lift several cow skins by age twelve, and throughout his life he had defeated giants and monstrous sepents in combat. Tror also married a Sybil, who would be later come to be known as the goddess Sif. In his later years Tror usurped the despot Lorikos (Tror's adoptive parent following his birth father's death during the Trojan War) and gained the country of Thrace as his own. Twelve generations after Tror came Voden, who would come to be known as Odin in Scandinavia. Vodin followed in his ancestor's footsteps and led the men of Asia (later known as the Aesir) into Central and Western Europe, bringing with them superior implements to better the lives of the local population. In later years both Tror and Vodin would come to be reveard as gods.

Appearance in Popular Media

Do to his influential nature in folklore, legends and human psychology, Thor evolved into one of the most widely used Norse gods in adapted fiction. He has appeared in various assorted books (novels and short stories), comic books, television programs, animated series, video games, toys (relating to several franchises) and trinkets popularized in modern Norway and Sweden.

  • One of the most widely known adaptations of the character is the Marvel Comics character Thor Odinson, created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby in August of 1962, first appearance being in the anthology book Journey Into Mystery number 83. This interpretation has mostly been beardless, and instead of a red-head was made blond. Mjolnir had likewise become a staple of his eponymous comic series, at first resembling its mythical counterpart, but in time it became closer in shape with a sledgehammer.
  • Because of the similarity with the Greek Hero Herakles (Latin "Hercules"), media adaptations of Thor have him on occasion meeting with the the Hercules, usually to do battle, but later to befriend him:
    • Marvel Comics' Thor had had several crossovers with the same company's own iteration of Hercules, in time the two becoming allies but with a friendly rivalry.
    • Disney's Hercules animated series also had an episode "Twilight of the Gods", wherein the titular demigod met up with the Norse pantheon and fought Thor, for a time, then later saved the world from Loki.
    • Thor also appeared in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, episodes "Norse by Norsevest" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bridge" where he battled that show's version of Hercules, then later teamed up to stop Loki from bringing about the Ragnarok.
  • Thor appears as a character in the 2015 Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard book "The Sword of Summer" where he has a demigod daughter named Gunilla, who is one of the thanes at Hotel Valhalla.