Jӧrmungandr, whose name means “huge monster,” is a brother of Fenrir, who is a fearsome mythological wolf. Jӧrmungandr is the middle child of parents Angrboda and Loki. Jӧrmungandr is a sea serpent. He is also referred to as Midgard Serpent, which translates to “The World’s Serpent.” According to legend, Jӧrmungandr was taken from his parents at an early age. He was thrown into the ocean, where he grew a tail so large that it encompassed the entire planet. It was only after Jӧrmungandr unwound his tail from the world that life on earth was able to begin. Jӧrmungandr’s arch enemy is the god named Thor, who is also known as the god of thunder.
The sea monster is one of three children born to Loki and Angrboda. Loki is a cunning god, and Angrboda is the ruler of the Underworld. The other two offspring in the family are Fenrir, who is a wolf, and Hel, who also rules over the Underworld. All three offspring were taken from their parents upon birth. Jӧrmungandr was the only one cast into the water. After being thrown into the sea, he developed an exceptionally long tail that he wrapped around Midgard, or the inhabited world known commonly as “Planet Earth.” Unlike his two siblings, Jӧrmungandr was not known for being particularly combative. He did respond when provoked, however, and his two largest fights were with the god Thor.
There are two significant battles between Jӧrmungandr and Thor recorded in the book of Prose Edda, which is a book dedicated to Norse mythology. In the first major battle, Thor set out to catch Jӧrmungandr by luring him with bait made from an ox’s head. The serpent set off to eat the bait, and even got a bite of the severed head. Before he could be captured, however, the serpent was saved from the fate of capture by a giant named Hymir. Hymir was concerned that the serpent’s capture would raise Ragnarok, who is a much-feared god with the power to destroy all other Norse gods. Hymir cut the luring line cast for Jӧrmungandr, which in turn caused the Midgard Serpent to return to his lair on the ocean floor.
In the second confrontation between Hymir and the serpent, both lives were on the line, as the two set out to kill each other. The battle proved equally victorious, although there was no real winner. Thor first killed the serpent, but during the course of the battle the serpent managed to fatally poison Thor with his venom. After slaying the serpent, Thor walked fewer than 10 steps before collapsing, dead. The battle is memorialized in several tombstones and the book of Prose Edda.