“Vidar” was a Norse god of vengeance and is the Anglicized name for “Víðarr,” which is thought to have meant “wide ruler” in Old Norse. He was associated with the Æsir, the primary pantheon in Norse mythology that included Thor, Odin, Frigg, Baldr, and Tyr. This primary pantheon, according to myth, fought the opposing pantheon known as the Vanir. The Vanir was composed of the lesser known deities Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja.
Vidar is described in Norse Mythology as the son of Odin and the jötunn Gríðr. Besides his part in Ragnarök, there are few references to Vidar. Therefore, scholars are forced to conjecture on matters such as his personality and role within the deity community.
Vidar is widely known for avenging his father, Odin, during Ragnarok. The battle was between the gods, who in Norse Mythology were the positive, preserving forces who held the word together, and the giants, who were the chaotic and destructive forces of the world. Casualties on both sides were great, and there were almost no survivors on either side. Vidar is recalled in some accounts as one of the few survivors, however, others state that nobody survived.
During the battle, the wolf Fenrir devoured Vidar’s father Odin, and Vidar immediately vowed vengeance. One of his shoes, which was created for this moment, was magical and stronger and more powerful than all shoes. He kicked Fenrir with this shoe, which shattered the wolf’s jaw, allowing Vidar to climb inside. Holding the monster’s jaw open, he proceeded to slice its mouth to pieces with his sword. This heroic act killed the beast and ended the decimation it was causing during the battle.
There have been some archaeological discoveries that could related to Vidar. On the Grossforth Cross from Northern England and the Krk Andreas Cross from the Isle of Man are depictions that are promising. Both pieces, dating from about 900 AD, depict a man inside a giant wolf’s jaw, tearing it apart. The two prevailing theories are that this is either Vidar, or Jesus Christ. Artists during the medieval period would often mix Christian characters and symbols and contrast them with pagan characters and symbols. Though, either way, we gain no new knowledge about Vidar from the findings.
Vidar is often referred to as the “silent god” in other works, however no explanation for that name has been found. He is also said to live in an area of tall grass and brushwood, however, again, more information on the topic is lacking. He is characterized as being the strongest of the Norse Gods, after Thor of course, but little other information about him or his personality is known. Who Vidar was, and what he was like, are therefore unanswerable questions at this time.
What scholars can do, however is form theories about Vidar. One area where these academics focus is on the topic of Vidar’s silence. The majority of these theories are that Vidar took an oath of silence to avenge certain people’s deaths. Other scholars have drawn parallels between God/Jesus and Odin/Vidar. Needless to say, The Norse god Vidar is shrouded by mystery.