Thor - Encyclopedia

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THOR, one of the chief deities of the heathen Scandinavians. He is represented as a middle-aged man of enormous strength, quick to anger, but benevolent towards mankind. To the harmful race of giants (demons), on the other hand, he was an implacable foe, and many stories are told in the poetic and prose Eddas of the destruction which he brought upon them at various times with his hammer. On the whole his figure is somewhat secondary in the mythology to that of Odin, who is represented as his father. Bub there is no doubt that in Iceland he was worshipped more than any other god, and the same seems to have been the case in Norway - indeed, perhaps, in all northern countries - except among the royal families. Even in the great temple at Upsala his figure is said to have occupied the chief place. There is evidence that a corresponding deity named Thunor or Thonar was worshipped in England and on the Continent, but little information is obtainable regarding him, except that he was identified with the Roman Jupiter. His name is identical with the Teutonic word for thunder, and even in Sweden the association of Thor with the thunder seems not to have been forgotten. Outside the Teutonic area he has close affinities not only with Jupiter or Zeus, but still more with the Lithuanian god Perkunas, whose name (which likewise means "thunder") appears to be connected with that of Thor's mother (FiOrgyn). The Varangian god Perun was probably Thor himself under a Slavonic name (Russian perun, "thunderbolt").

See H. Petersen, Om Nordboernes Gudedyrkelse og Gudetro i Hedenold (Copenhagen, 1876). For other references see TEUTONIC PEOPLES: Religion (ad fin). (H. M. C.)

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