The Punishment of Loki

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series The Songweaver's Vow: Easter Eggs & Background

I just found this post in draft form, never published, and I thought since The Songweaver’s Vow is the March 2018 read for the Fellowship of Fantasy online book club (join us!), now would be a good time to add some more background. (Check out the rest of the posts in the series.) Plus, everyone likes to talk about Loki.

Warning, some spoilers ahead.

So as we’ve talked before, traditional Loki is not the antihero of modern pop culture Loki. Traditional Loki is a turd, and nearly everything that happens to him, he had coming. Even that time he had his mouth sewed shut. However, sometimes what happens to him is pretty extreme.

After Loki deliberately and publicly shames pretty much every individual in Asgard at a communal feast and contrives the murder of Odin’s favorite son Baldr, he is taken captive (after inventing the fishing net which will help to capture him) and returned to Odin for punishment. Odin, who just can’t even with Loki anymore, does not settle for merely killing his troublesome blood brother, but uses the entrails of Loki’s own freshly-killed son to bind him for eternal torture beneath dripping acidic serpent venom.

Well, not eternal, not really. Just until the end of the world.

Interestingly, this is the only surviving mention we have of Loki’s wife Sigyn, who stations herself beside her entrapped husband to shield him (mostly) from the venom by catching it in a bowl. When she must leave to empty the bowl, the venom burns him, and his paroxysms shake the ground, spawning earthquakes. I used this paucity of information about to her shape her character in The Songweaver’s Vow.

I kept my own retelling fairly true to what we have preserved of the original, and I’ll be honest, it was a pretty intense scene to write. I put down about 12,000 words or so that day, but I had to take the next day off and do something a little less… murder-y.

This predicament has been a popular subject for artists, and I found an interesting take by sculptor Ida Matton. “Loki’s Punishment” was completed in 1905 , and the marble sculpture was placed in 1923 in the remains of the old bridge Riddarholmsbron, the so-called “Palmstedt cave” in the Stockholm City Hall park.

Has anyone reading seen it? Do you have any additional information? I think it’d be an amazing thing to stumble upon.

There are a lot of interpretations of this scene, as I said, and you can see some of my favorites over at my Norse Pinterest board.


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