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Words byIona Rangeley-Wilson; Photo by18th Century Icelandic Manuscript
Superpowers: Really hot, has a big ship, really hot, did I mention he’s hot?
Weaknesses: Mistletoe, obviously.
Modern Analogue: Annoyingly handsome privileged frat boy who you can’t even hate because he’s nice.
Baldr was the god of beauty, light, purity, joy, and basically every other positive adjective you will never come close to being described as. And no wonder: he was the son of Odin, the supreme deity, and a goddess named Frigg. He could literally wander around Asgard saying, “My father will hear about this!” whenever anyone pissed him off, except he didn’t even do that because he was notoriously pure of heart. He’s perfect and we have to like him? Eugh, get out of here!
We wouldn’t be the first to have this reaction to Mr. Oh-So-Perfect. He wound Loki up the wrong way, too, particularly when Frigg started going on about how Baldr could probably kill him with his bare hands if he wanted to in the Völuspá:
“You know, if I had a son
like Baldr, sitting here
with me in Aegir’s hall,
in the presence of these gods,
I declare you would never come out
alive, you’d be killed shortly.”
And supposedly Baldr was invincible too because Frigg had extracted an oath from every object on Earth not to harm her son. Sometimes the gods would chuck knives and arrows at him just for the chat, like rugby lads playfully wrestling each other outside the pub. And Baldr would like, literally not even feel it, bro.
Only Frigg had forgotten to extract an oath from mistletoe. When Loki heard this, he made a dart out of it and got Baldr’s blind twin brother, Hodr, to launch it into Baldr’s chest, killing him instantly. Serves him right for being such a hot nerd, I guess.
This article was originally published in Reykjavik Grapevine on Oct. 21, 2020.