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Fáfnir was a greedy dwarf that became a dragon after being affected by the curse of Andvari's ring and gold.

Overview

Fáfnir is a dwarf with a powerful arm and fearless soul, one of the three sons of the dwarf king Hreidmar. He guards his father's house of glittering gold and flashing gems. He is the strongest and most aggressive of the three brothers. After being affected by the curse of Andvari's ring and gold, Fafnir became a dragon and was slain by Siegfried. Some versions are more specific about Fáfnir's treasure hoard, mentioning the swords Riðill and Hrotti, the helm of terror and a golden coat of chainmail.

One day, Odin, Loki and Hœnir accidentally murdered Ótr, who had taken the form of an otter. When Hreimdar learned of this, he captured the three Aesir with the help of Fafnir and his brother Regin. They held them for ransom, allowing Loki to leave so he could pay. Loki offered the dwarves Andvari's ring and his cursed gold, which gave Fafnir the inspiration to murder Hreidmar. Due to his obsession with the gold, Fafnir slowly became a dragon, which is a symbol of greed.

Appearance

Fafnir has the appearance of a large western dragon with black skin, a long neck and red, golden eyes with large dark wings.

Personality

Power & Abilities

History

Appeasing the King

Odin, Loki, and Hœnir were traveling when they came across Ótr, who had the likeness of an otter during the day. Loki killed the otter with a stone and the three Æsir skinned their catch. The gods came to Hreidmar's dwelling that evening and were pleased to show off the otter's skin. Hreidmar and his remaining two sons then seized the gods and held them captive while Loki was made to gather the ransom, which was to stuff the otter's skin with gold and cover its outside with red gold.

Loki fulfilled the task by gathering the cursed gold of Andvari as well as the ring, Andvaranaut, both of which were told to Loki as items that would bring about the death of whoever possessed them.

Greed Manifest

Fáfnir then killed Hreidmar to get all the gold for himself. He became ill-natured and greedy and ventured into the wilderness to keep his fortune. He turned into a serpent or dragon in order to guard his treasure. Fáfnir breathed poison into the land around him so no one would go near him and his treasure, wreaking terror in the hearts of the people.

Regin plotted revenge so that he could get the treasure and sent his foster-son Siegfried to kill the dragon. Regin instructed Siegfried to dig a pit in which he could lie in wait under the trail Fáfnir used to get to a stream and there plunge his sword, Balmung, into Fafnir's heart as he crawls over the pit to the water. Regin then ran away in fear, leaving Siegfried to the task. As Siegfried dug, Odin appeared in the form of an old man with a long beard, advising the warrior to dig more trenches for the blood of Fafnir to run into, presumably so that Siegfried does not drown in the blood.

Death of Fáfnir

The earth quaked and the ground nearby shook as Fafnir appeared, blowing poison into his path as he made his way to the stream. Siegfried, undaunted, stabbed Fafnir in the left shoulder as he crawled over the ditch he was lying in and succeeded in mortally wounding the dragon. As the creature lay there dying, he spoke to Siegfried and asked for his name, his parentage and who sent him on such a dangerous mission.

Fafnir figured out that his own brother, Regin, plotted this, and predicted that Regin would also cause Siegfried's death. Siegfried told Fafnir that he would go back to the dragon's lair and take all his treasure. Fafnir warned Siegfried that all who possessed the gold would be fated to die, but Siegfried replied that all men must one day die anyway, and it is the dream of many men to be wealthy until that dying day, so he would take the gold without fear.

Regin then returned to Siegfried after Fáfnir was slain. Corrupted by greed, Regin planned to kill Siegfried after Siegfried cooked Fáfnir's heart for him to eat and take all the treasure for himself. However, Siegfried, having tasted Fáfnir's blood while cooking the heart, gained knowledge of the speech of birds and learned of Regin's impending attack from the Oðinnic (of Odin) birds' discussion and killed Regin by cutting off his head with Balmung. Siegfried then ate some of Fáfnir's heart and kept the remainder, which would later be given to Gudrun after their marriage.

Myths and Legends

Culture

In 2015, the star designated 42 Draconis was named Fafnir by the International Astronomical Union. Fafnir was depicted in Marvel Comics' Thor series. Fafnir appears as an enemy in the 2018 video game God of War.

Much of Tolkien's work was inspired by Northern European mythology. Many parallels can be drawn between Fafnir and Smaug from The Hobbit as well as between Fafnir and Glaurung, the first dragon in Middle Earth, who is slain by Turin. The exchange between Bilbo and Smaug nearly mirrors Fafnir's and Siegfried's. The main difference is that Siegfried's conversation occurs after the death blow has been struck. This is most likely due to dramatic effect, as Bilbo has much more at stake when speaking with Smaug.

The other dragon Glaurung has many similarities as well. In Tolkien's The Book of Lost Tales, Glaurung is described as a flightless dragon that hoards gold, breathes poison, and has "Great cunning and wisdom". In Tolkien's book The Children of Húrin, he is slain by Turin from below much like Fafnir. Turin and Glaurung also have an exchange after the mortal blow is dealt.

Quotes

Gallery

Trivia

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