Mythology in Art
Carroll, Colleen, Arts & Activities
Clip & Save Instructions: The monthly Art Print is meant to be removed from the center of the magazine, laminated ar matted, and used as a resource in your art room.--Editor
Standard-variety snakes (think Garden of Eden) and their more fantastical cousins, dragons and sea serpents, have slithered, flown and swum through world mythology for millennia. In this month's Clip & Save Art Print, the dreaded Jormungand, also known as the Midgard Serpent breaks the surface of the ocean and comes face-to-face with Thor, the Viking god of thunder.
Before accounting the myth, it is important to know the players. On the left is Thor. In addition to being god of thunder, Thor is also the god of war and strongest of the Aesir, the principal race of the Norse gods. He is red-haired, quick-tempered and has eyes of lightning. Thor is also the protector of gods and mortals, and symbolizes the forces of good against evil.
His fishing companion is the giant Hymir, owner of a mile-wide cauldron the Aesir wanted to gain for themselves for brewing beer. And finally, there is Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent. Jormungand was the child of the trickster god, Loki, and the giantess Angrboda. Jormungard grew so large that the gods cast him into the sea. Unfortunately for them, the serpent continued to grow until it encircled the earth. ("Midgard" is the Norse word for Earth).
In this Norse tale, Thor (with whom students will most likely be familiar, given the recent motion pictures Thor, 2011 and The Avengers, 2012), leaves Asgard disguised as a young boy and enters the camp of the giant, Hymir. The disguised god asks the giant if he may accompany him on a fishing excursion, to which the giant begrudgingly agrees.
As bait, Thor brings the decapitated head of Hymir's oxen, Slay-Bellower. Once on the open sea, Thor drops the bait, which is quickly seized by an enormous creature from below. The following text is an excerpt from The Prose Edda, written by the Icelandic historian, Snorri Sturlason (1178-1241):
"The Midgard Serpent snapped at the ox-head, and the hook stuck fast in the roof of its mouth. …