Themes in Old Norse Mythological Art
Sleipnir: Odin's Eight-Legged Horse

Odin on Sleipnir

  Snorri's Edda, Gylfaginning 42:   It was early in the first days of the gods' dwelling here, when the gods had established Midgard and made Valhall; there came at that time a certain wright and offered to build them a citadel in three seasons, so good that it should be staunch and proof against the Hill-Giants and the Rime-Giants, though they should come in over Midgard. But he demanded as wages that he should have possession of Freyja, and would fain have had the sun and the moon. Then the Æsir held parley and took counsel together; and a bargain was made with the wright, that he should have that which he demanded, if he should succeed in completing the citadel in one winter. On the first day of summer, if any part of the citadel were left unfinished, he should lose his reward; and he was to receive help from no man in the work. When they told him these conditions, he asked that they would give him leave to have the help of his stallion, which was called Svadilfari; and Loki advised it, so that the wright's petition was granted. He set to work the first day of winter to make the citadel, and by night he hauled stones with the stallion's aid; and it seemed very marvellous to the Æsir what great rocks that horse drew, for the horse did more rough work by half than did the wright.  ...When it lacked three days of summer, the work had almost reached the gate of the stronghold. Then the gods sat down in their judgment seats, and sought means of evasion, and asked one another who had advised giving Freyja into Jötunheim, or so destroying the air and the heaven as to take thence the sun and the moon and give them to the giants. The gods agreed that he must have counselled this who is wont to give evil advice, Loki Laufeyarson, and they declared him deserving of an ill death, if he could not hit upon a way of losing the wright his wages; and they threatened Loki with violence. But when he became frightened, then he swore oaths, that he would so contrive that the wright should lose his wages, cost him what it might. That same evening, when the wright drove out after stone with the stallion Svadilfari, a mare bounded forth from a certain wood and whinnied to him. The stallion, perceiving what manner of horse this was, straightway became frantic, and snapped the traces asunder, and leaped over to the mare, and she away to the wood, and the wright after, striving to seize the stallion. These horses ran all night, and the wright stopped there that night; and afterward, at day, the work was not done as it had been before. When the wright saw that the work could not be brought to an end, he fell into giant's fury. Now that the Æsir saw surely that the hill-giant was come thither, they did not regard their oaths reverently, but called on Thor, who came as quickly. And straightway the hammer Mjöllnir was raised aloft; he paid the wright's wage, and not with the sun and the moon. Nay, he even denied him dwelling in Jötunheim, and struck but the one first blow, so that his skull was burst into small crumbs, and sent him down below under Niflhel. But Loki had such dealings with Svadilfari, that somewhat later he gave birth to a foal, which was gray and had eight feet; and this horse is the best among gods and men.  

Tjängvide Picture Stone
Gotland Runic Inscription 110  

Vendel Helmet Plate

1680 Edda Oblongata
AM 738 4to

Frigg & Odin on Sleipnir
1756 Paul Henri
Mallet  Monumens de la Mythologie et de la Poesie  des Celtes
et Particulierement des  Anciens Scandinaves 

1790 William Blake


Frederich David Gräter
's Hermode & Idunn
Hermod on Sleipnir


c. 1850  Carl Christian Peters


1880 Ludwig Berger


Odin, Father of Hosts
1885 Lorenz Frølich

Odin on Sleipnir
1885 Lorenz Frølich


Satire: Grundtvig on Sleipnir
1885 Lorenz Frølich

1892 W. M.
Author: Frederich Sanders

1897 Gerhard Munthe
Illustration for Heimskringla

1898 Carla Wenkebach


Odin on Sleipnir
1900 Max Koch

Odin Rides to Hel
1908 W.G. Collingwood


Loki Turns into a Mare
1909 Maria Klugh

1911 John Bauer


1911 Arthur Rackham

1920 Willie Pogány


 1928 Louis Moe

Odin Rides to Hel
1930 Charles E. Brock

1950 Dagfin Werenskjold


1968 Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire

1999 Steve Field
Sleipnir, Wedensbury

Odin on Sleipnir


2009 Phillip Wilkinson


Sleipnir Rising by Michael Kutsche
2009 Marvel Studios


Odin Rides Sleipnir
2010 Dietwald Doblies


Loki and Svadilfari with the Master Builder
2012 Helena Rosova

An Apple for a Mother
2012 Helena Rosova

Sleipnir and Odin
2012 Helena Rosova

2012 Loki on Sleipnir
By Helena Rosova

2012 Odin, Loki and Sleipnir
By Helena Rosova


2014 Mikhail Fiodorov

Odin on Sleipnir
2013 Howard David Johnson

Odin and Surtur, King of the Fire-Giants
2013 Howard David Johnson


Artists Unknown

If you can identity the artist, please contact me



Geri and Freki

See Also: Odin Enthroned