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Loki, in Norse mythology is the god of mischief, a son of Farbauti and Laufey, and is described as the "contriver of all fraud". The trickster god is Thor's half-brother, and is also known as Loki Laufeyiarson. His is a complex character, a master of guile and deception. He is also conceived of as a fire spirit, with all the potential for good and ill associated with fire. Loki is also an adept shape-shifter, with the ability to change both form (examples include transmogrification to a salmon, horse, bird, flea, etc) and gender. Loki was the father of many creatures, men and monsters. With Glut, his first wife, he was the father of Einmyria and Eisa.

Loki was unusual for a god in once having had a brief liaison with a giantess, Angerboda, by whom he had three children: Jormungand, the sea-serpent; Fenrir the giant wolf preordained to slay Odin at the time of Ragnarok; and Hel, the goddess of the realm of the dead.

Loki was flying as a hawk one day and was captured by Geirrod, a frost giant. Geirrod, who hated Thor, demanded that Loki bring his enemy (without his magic belt and hammer) to Geirrod's castle. Loki agreed to lead Thor to the trap. On the way to Geirrod's, they stopped at the home of Grid, a giantess. She waited until Loki left the room then told Thor what was happening and gave him her iron gloves and magical belt and staff. Thor killed Geirrod, and all other frost giants he could find.

Loki was not so much a figure of unmitigated badness as a kind of celestial confidence trickster, who always managed to persuade the gods to give him another chance. Some anthropologists have compared him to Coyote, the trickster figure of the Native American mythology. He occasionally works with the other gods. For example, he tricked Hrimthur, who built the walls around Asgard, out of being paid for his work by distracting his horse disguised as a mare. He also retrieved Odin's spear, Freyr's ship and Sif's wig from Dvalin, the dwarf, as well as rescuing Idun.

Loki overplayed his hand in this respect: disguised as a giantess, he arranged the murder of Baldur, although earlier versions of the myth, attributed to Saxo Grammaticus do not implicate Loki. Significantly, also, the poem in the Elder Edda most associated with Loki, the Lokasenna, does not directly implicate Loki in Baldur's death.

When the gods discovered that the giantess had been Loki in disguise, they hunted him down and bound him to three rocks. Then they tied a serpent above him, the venom of which dripped onto his face. His wife Sigyn (a goddess, not the giantess who was the mother of Loki's monster brood) gathered the venom in a bowl, but from time to time she had to turn away to empty it, at which point the poison would drip onto Loki, who writhed in pain, thus causing earthquakes. He would free himself, however, in time to attack the gods at Ragnarok.

In the Marvel Universe Loki is a supervillain who is the primarily enemy of his half-brother, Thor. Loki and Odin are main characters in a novel by Neil Gaiman called American Gods.

Other spellings

  • Common Danish, Swedish and Norwegian form: Loke

External links

Loki Games was a manufacturer of computergames.
Loki was also the codename for a "Super Spectrum" computer developed by Sinclair Research. The name either came from the god Loki or as a play on "Low-cost Colour Computer" aka "LowCCC" or LC3. Loki was designed to be an Amiga-beater, but when Amstrad took over Sinclair in 1986 the project was cancelled. Two employees took the Loki technology with them and started Flare Technology and the Loki design was first intended to be launched as Konix Multisystem that never was released, but the technology finally was released as Atari Jaguar.

Some of the Loki technology was also used in the SAM Coupé.

Loki is also the name of a C++ software library developed by Andrei Alexandrescu. The library makes extensive use of templates to increase the flexibilty of implemented classes.

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