In the last… er… previous installment of our dragon feature, I told you about Tiamat, the first dragon, slain by Marduk, who made the world out of her body.
Today, I’ll talk about the last dragon, Jörmungandr. He’s not a Babylonian dragon, like Tiamat. He’s as Viking as they come, the son of Loki, the (sometimes) evil Norse god of mischief, and Angrboda, a giantess.
So… technically, Jörmungandr isn’t a dragon. He’s a giant serpent (Angrboda must have been thrilled at that one. Then again, the other two kids that pair had were a giant wolf and the first lady of the Norse underworld, so maybe a serpent ain’t so bad.).
Jörmungandr started out as just a little guy. But he grew. Oh man, did he grow. Wasn’t long Odin got tired of Jörmungandr lying around Midgard (and I do mean “around” Midgard) and hurled Jörmungandr into the sea.
Jörmungandr just didn’t stop growing. Presumably fuelled by all that fish, he got so big that he encircles the earth, hanging out in the ocean with his tail in his mouth. The big guy isn’t inherently evil, but he’s definitely got some bad tendencies, including the habit of getting into epic battles with Thor, the god of thunder.
Really, the first one happened when Thor went to visit this king in his hall, and the king thought he’d use his magic to play a little practical joke on the god. He challenged Thor to three tests. One of them was a dare to lift the king’s cat. As hard as he tried, Thor couldn’t get the cat all the way off the ground for more than a second. The king seemed pretty impressed, which confused Thor.
After the meal, Thor left, humiliated (he couldn’t do the other tasks, either). The king showed up and bragged about his magic trick–Thor hadn’t been attempting to lift a scrawny old cat, but the Midgard serpent. (Thor killed the king, of course.)
The next contest between Jörmungandr and Thor came on a fishing expedition. Thor got Jörmungandr on the line (using a cow’s head as bait) and fought with him for three days and three nights. Just as Thor was about to get the serpent in the boat (right, like that would have worked), his companion freaked out and cut the line.
Thor and Jörmungandr will face off one more time. At the end of the world. That’s why I called Jörmungandr the last dragon. His death, at the hands of Thor, will herald the end of Ragnarok, the battle that will end the age, making him the last dragon. The gods win over the forces of darkness. And the major gods all die.
Though Thor kills him, Jörmungandr also kills Thor. Thor falls prey to the giant serpent’s venom and dies a painful death. Götterdämmerung, baby. The twilight of the gods. All because of a dragon.