Svadilfari, in Norse mythology, is an unusually swift and intelligent horse belonging to a giant who offered to build a great wall around Asgard (the kingdom of the gods) to keep invaders away. The gods stipulated that, if the builder completed the wall in one winter’s time, his reward would be the goddess Freyja and possession of the sun and the moon. Svadilfari gave his owner such assistance that the wall was almost completed a few days before the end of winter.
The gods, however, were able to prevent the giant from winning his payment by the aid of the trickster god Loki. The giant and Svadilfari ventured into the snow-draped forest in search of stones. Along their way, a mare, who was none other than Loki in disguise, whinnied to the stallion from a short distance away. When the stallion saw the mare, his heart wasn’t the only organ that was roused
by delight and lust, and he snapped his reins and bounded into the woods after her. The mare ran all night, and all night Svadilfari chased after her. When morning came, the giant’s horse was still missing, and the now-despairing giant knew that there was no way that he could now finish the wall in time. The Aesir then paid the giant the wages they deemed he deserved: a fatal blow from Thor’s hammer, which shattered his head into pieces no bigger than breadcrumbs. Meanwhile, deep in the forest, Svadilfari had caught up with Loki, who soon gave birth to a gray, eight-legged horse – Sleipnir, who became the steed of Odin.
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Artist: Anna Podedworna.
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