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In Norse mythology Skoll “deceit” and Hati “he who hates”, are two wolves, mentioned only in passing, in references that have to do with their pursuit of Sól and Máni, the sun and the moon, across the sky in the hope to devour them.
– There was a man, called Mundilfœri, he had two sons. They were so beautiful and kind that he gave them the name of the stars of heaven. In fact, he called his son Máni and his daughter Sól, then giving this in marriage to that man named Glenr. The gods were angry at this arrogance, took the two brothers and placed them in the firmament, forcing Sól to ride those horses that pull the chariot of the sun and Máni to direct the course of the moon and rule its phases. He took two children from the earth, called Bil and Hjúki, as they went away from the spring called Byrgir and carried on their shoulders the bucket called Sægr and the staff Simul. Viðfinnr is called their father. These children follow Máni, as can be seen from the earth.
In Ragnarok, the fall of the cosmos, they will capture their prey as the sky and earth darken and collapse.
A probable representation of the fear of the eclipse.
It is not entirely clear which of them is chasing the sun and who is chasing the moon. Medieval Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson states that Skoll chases the sun and Hati the moon. However, Snorri’s source in this passage, the Eddic poem Grímnismál, says the following in the relevant verse:
“Sköll heitir ulfr, er fylgir inu skírleita goði til varna viðar, en annarr Hati, hann er Hróðvitnis sonr, sá skal fyr heiða brúði himins. “
Skoll is the name of the wolf That follows the shining priest In the desolate forest, And the other is Hati, Son of Hróðvitnir, Chasing the bright bride of heaven.
The noun used for Skoll’s prey, goði (“priest”), is masculine, and the noun used for Hati’s prey, brúðr (“bride”) is feminine. Since Máni (the moon) is male and Sól (the sun) is female, the wording of this verse strongly suggests that Skoll chases the moon and Hati the sun.
This same verse names Hati’s (and, by extension, Skoll’s) father as Hróðvitnir. Since another poem of the poetic Edda, the Lokasenna, uses the essentially identical word Hróðrsvitnir “Famous Wolf” as the nickname of Fenrir, the arch-wolf, it would appear that Fenrir is their father.
This interpretation finds further support in another Eddic poem, the Völuspá, which states that the children of Fenrir swallow the sun during Ragnarok.
Ultimately, however, proposing a definitive genealogical relationship between Fenrir, Skoll and Hati is futile.
The same sources give contradictory interpretations, reflecting the lack of systematization or codification in the Nordic cults when they were a living tradition.
As with so many other aspects of Norse mythology and cults, any single, orderly interpretation that we might attempt to impose on the material today in the interest of resolving its many contradictions is a modern and artificial imposition.