Geri and Freki – Odins Wolves

Geri and Freki (Old Norse, both meaning “the ravenous” or “greedy one”) are two wolves that accompany Odin. They are attested in the Poetic Edda, in the Prose Edda, and in the poetry of skalds. The pair may also be connected to beliefs surrounding the “wolf-warrior bands”, the Úlfhéðnar.

Geri and Freki

In the  GrímnismálOdin (disguised as Grímnir) provides the young Agnarr with information about Odin’s companions. Agnarr is told that Odin feeds Geri and Freki while the god himself consumes only wine:

Benjamin Thorpe translation:
Geri and Freki the war-wont sates,
the triumphant sire of hosts;
but on wine only the famed in arms,
Odin, ever lives.
Henry Adams Bellows translation:
Freki and Geri does Heerfather feed,
The far-famed fighter of old:
But on wine alone does the weapon-decked god,
Othin, forever live.

The pair is also alluded to via the kenningViðrir‘s (Odin’s) hounds” in Helgakviða Hundingsbana I, verse 13, where it is related that they roam the field “greedy for the corpses of those who have fallen in battle”.

Benjamin Thorpe translation:
The warriors went to the trysting place of swords,
which they had appointed at Logafiöll.
Broken was Frodi’s peace between the foes:
Vidrir’s hounds went about the isle slaughter-greedy.
Henry Adams Bellows translation:
The warriors forth to the battle went,
The field they chose at Logafjoll;
Frothi’s peace midst foes they broke,
Through the isle went hungrily Vithrir’s hounds.

In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning (chapter 38), the enthroned figure of High explains that Odin gives all of the food on his table to his wolves Geri and Freki and that Odin requires no food, for wine is to him both meat and drink. High then quotes the above-mentioned stanza from the poem Grímnismál in support. In chapter 75 of the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál a list of names for wargs and wolves is provided that includes both Geri and Freki.

In skaldic poetry Geri and Freki are used as common nouns for “wolf” in chapter 58 of Skáldskaparmál (quoted in works by the skalds Þjóðólfr of Hvinir and Egill Skallagrímsson) and Geri is again used as a common noun for “wolf” in chapter 64 of the Prose Edda book Háttatal. Geri is referenced in kennings for “blood” in chapter 58 of Skáldskaparmál (“Geri’s ales” in a work by the skald Þórðr Sjáreksson) and in for “carrion” in chapter 60 (“Geri’s morsel” in a work by the skald Einarr Skúlason). Freki is also used in a kenning for “carrion” (“Freki’s meal”) in a work by Þórðr Sjáreksson in chapter 58 of Skáldskaparmál.