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Norse Mythology in Tolkien's Middle Earth (2/?)

November 4 2022

From the One Ring to Smaug, to Gandalf and Aragorn's sword, Tolkien's Middle Earth is a treasure trove of Easter eggs in Norse mythology. However, to spot them requires the reader to be well-versed in Norse mythological texts, so we thought we'd save you some time and point them out so you could skip the hard part and get right to enjoying the references.



Smaug is a remix of Fáfnir, a dragon from The Otter’s Ransom and the early Sigurd the Dragonslayer portion of the Volsunga Saga (Fáfnismál).

Fáfnir, like Smaug, takes over a hoard of gold that does not belong to him and guards it jealously. 

Like Smaug, his soft spot is on his underbelly and he is very vain. If you want to read about his origin story, we retold it in this post about the One Ring and also provide links to the old-timey version of the story.


Smaug’s Visual Look in the Hobbit Cartoon from the 70s

Tolkien specifically asked that Smaug’s look be based on Norse art of Fáfnir -- and if you know your Norse art, it’s immediately noticeable:

Smaug's weird lantern eyes in the cartoon are also a Norse mythology easter egg, as it is a direct reference to Fáfnir's glowing yellow eyes.



By Alice Flecha (Volunteer Blogger)

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