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09.10.2019

Vali

In Norse mythology, Váli is a son of the god Odin and the giantess Rindr. Váli has numerous brothers including Thor, Baldr, and Víðarr. He was birthed for the sole purpose of avenging Baldr, and does this by killing Höðr, who was an unwitting participant, and binding Loki with the entrails of his son Narfi. He grew to full adulthood within one day of his birth, and slew Höðr before going on to bind Loki. Váli is prophesied to survive Ragnarök.

Váli is often incorrectly referred to as the son of Loki, though this is most likely an early transcription error. This misconception is based on a single passage containing the phrase "Then were taken Loki's sons, Váli and Nari" in Gylfaginning, which also describes Váli as the son of Odin in two instances  All other historical documents found at this time ascribe Váli only the role of Odin's son, with the exception of transcripts based on the original misattribution.

Parentage

Early mistranslation or confusion has led to a single mention of a Váli who is a son of Loki: "Þá váru teknir synir Loka, Váli ok Nari eða Narfi." from the Prose Edda , translated as "Then were taken Loki's sons, Váli and Nari"/ We receive the only reference to Váli as the son of Loki, while even the same text refers to Baldr's death being avenged by his brother (in Völuspá S33) as well as Váli being the Son of Odin in S51, something repeated in Baldr's draumar.

In the late period Gesta Danorum we also see that Odin is said to have a son with Rinda that will avenge his other son, Baldr's, death – though in this case the name of this new son is Bous rather than Váli. In all these tales Odin goes out immediately – either through seduction, deception, or force – to sire this son (something that would not have been needed if his goal had been only the destruction of the blind and defenseless Höðr).

Similarly where each of these documents ascribe Váli the role of Loki's son we see only in the postscript or translation notes that this transformation was a punishment when in fact the gift of wolf's strength and rage is well attested as being granted by Odin to warriors known as Ulfhednar, which would make his son Váli a Berserker and a possible origin for the ulfhednar legend.

Finally we see a different description in Hauksbók. In this version of "Völuspá", stanza 34 begins: "Þá kná Vála | vígbǫnd snúa", usually amended to the nominative Váli in order to provide a subject for the verb; in Ursula Dronke's translation in her edition of the poem, "Then did Váli | slaughter bonds twist".This presumably refers to Váli, son of Óðinn, who was begotten to avenge Baldr's death, and thus it is not unlikely that he bound Loki, while it is highly improbable that it refers to Váli, son of Loki, who is attested nowhere but one line of the Prose Edda – which itself confirms the existence of Váli as son of Odin and avenger of Baldr in two locations 

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