How many ancient deities have caused so much confusion over 4,000 years after their prime? No god or goddess has caused so much debate and conflicting information than the Norse god Loki. Everything about him has at least more than one meaning, including his race, name, and role in Asgard. As a god, he has lived on through time shrouded in controversy and mystery. However, he is not completely ambiguous—when one goes through time, one can see how he changed in meaning and character starting from the Bronze Age to modern day.
To begin, Loki is a god, a giant, or both—his relation with the gods varies by source. A shape-shifter, he represents the pure spontaneity and constant change that has been known to both hurt and help the Aesir. He is the son of the giant Farbauti and Laufey, who is suggested to be either another giant or a human woman. Some sources indicate that he is the youngest god in Asgard, but others believe he existed even before the beginning of the world, thus representing chaos and the unknown (Auerbach-Simpson 47). In both Eddas it states that Loki is a blood brother to Odin—a bond that was highly sacred in the Norse community. He has a wife named Sign and had two children
with her. However, he also had three children with the Giantess Angrboda. They are the earth serpent Jormungand, the giant wolf Fenrir, and Hel, the goddess of the underworld. True to his trickster role, Loki has the ability to transform into any form he wishes, and he can even change sex. Scholars have also proposed theories about his connection with fire, and in the poem “Lokasenna” he threatens the gods with flame as he states, “…All your possessions which are here inside—may flame be over them and may your back be burnt!”
Loki is a master of deceit, thieving, and trickery; he uses his talents for both good and evil, never being completely on one side.
Additionally, the earliest artifacts found of any god were from the Bronze Age, which took place between 1700 B.C and 500 B.C. The most famous ones include a stone carving of Tyr , a woven tapestry of Odin, Thor, and Frey, and a small figure of Thor gripping his hammer. In this era, people were still rather primitive, and Loki was more of a fire god than anything else, representing both the comfortable warmth and the painful burns it can bring. There are no artifacts of Loki yet discovered from this era.
Moreover, the period in which Loki was at his prime was not the Bronze Age; rather, it was the Viking Age. It was here where he truly began to develop. In the beginning, Loki was a prankster, a jester figure full of wit and entertainment. Never thoroughly good nor completely bad, he was at times a cultural hero and totally shunned at others (Sturluson xx). A few examples of him being an overall help are “Prymskivida”, “ “Skaldskaparmal”, and “Lokka Tattur”. In “Prymskivida”, Thor’s hammer goes missing and...