Study Guide

Idunn (Idun)

  • Profile

    The gods and goddesses of Asgard don't have to rely on potions, creams, or wacky diets to remain youthful. Instead, they have Idunn and her box of apples. Yep, that's right—when they begin to age, they simply bite into one of Idunn's apples and voila! Eternal youth. Beyond this function, though, what we know about Idunn is a bit murky. A single source identifies her as an elder daughter of Ivaldi (a dwarf), and, since dwarves and elves were sometimes conflated in Norse mythology, this makes her a descendant of elves. In this same source, she's also called a dís¸ a protective spirit associated with fate and fertility. Fancy! Idunn's time in the spotlight of Norse mythology is pretty dramatic: a giant abducts her, with a little help from Loki (of course!). Without Idunn and her magic apples, the Aesir begin to grow old, and they take desperate measures to get her back.

    Basic Information

    Name

    Iðunn (Anglicized "Idunn")

    Nickname

    Keeper of the Apples, The Aesir's old age cure, Þjazi's booty (all from Prose Edda chapter 86—yep, those are some of the ways people actually refer to me)
    Forever Young (that's the meaning of Idunn)

    Sex

    Female

    Current city

    Asgard

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    Goddess of Youth and Fertility

    Education

    Asgard Botanical Gardens School of Botany and Herbology (major: Fruits and flowering plants)

    Beliefs

    Political views

    The youth(ful) are our future!

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    My dad might be Ivaldi, a dwarf

    Siblings

    Assuming Ivaldi is my dad, my brothers are the sons of Ivaldi, who were responsible for creating some of the gods' most precious magical objects.

    Children

    None known (so, yeah, probably none)

    Friends

    Everyone (Who wouldn't want to be friends with someone bearing magical youth-bestowing apples?)

    Enemies

    Loki and Þjazi (they're my kidnappers!)

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    Married to Bragi, god of poetry—yes, he writer me lots of love poems

    Interested in

    Young gods

    Favorites

    TV Shows

    Nip/Tuck
    Strawberry Shortcake

    Quotations

    "Youth is wasted on the young."
    – George Bernard Shaw

    "May you build a ladder to the stars / and climb on every rung / May you stay forever young."
    – Bob Dylan

    "Immortality: A toy which people cry for / And on their knees apply for / Dispute, contend, and lie for / And if allowed / Would be right proud / Eternally to die for."
    – Ambrose Bierce, from The Devil's Dictionary

    "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."
    – Martin Luther

    Books

    "Because I Could not Stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson
    "After Apple-Picking" by Robert Frost
    Snow White by the Brothers Grimm
    Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
    The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    Immortality by Stephen Cave
    The Apple-Lover's Cookbook by Amy Traverso
    The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist by Michael Phillips
    Juan Ponce de Leon by Robert Henderson

    Music

    Forever Young by Bob Dylan (performed with Bruce Springsteen)
    Forever Young by Rod Stewart
    Forever Young by Alphaville (check out the awesome 80s hair and attire!)
    And yes, I know, those songs all have the same name. But they're all different (and all awesome)!
    The Lord's Been Good to Me (Swedenborgian hymn)
    Fiona Apple (artist) (And she kind of looks like me, don't you think?)
    You're the Apple of My Eye performed by The Four Seasons
    Who Wants to Live Forever? By Queen (I probably shouldn't like this, but it's a guilty pleasure!)

    Movies

    The Secret Garden (1993)
    Tuck Everlasting (2002)
    Forever Young (1992)
    Cocoon (1985)
    Searching for Johnny (2009)
    Death Takes a Holiday (1934)
    The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
    Peter Pan (1953)

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    Fruit (especially apples)
    Orchards (especially apple orchards)
    Olay Regenerist Anti-Aging Micro-Sculpting Serum
    Apple pie
    Apple cider
    Autumn harvest festivals

    Interests

    Immortality
    Youth
    Gardening
    Botany
    Herbology

    Groups

    Goddesses of Asgard
    Asgard Botanical Gardens School of Botany and Herbology Alumni
    World Anti-Aging Academy of Medicine
    International Fruit Tree Association

    • Spotter's Guide

      (Middle school level)

      You'll easily recognize Idunn because she always has her basket of apples with her (you never know when someone will need a bite of immortality). Idunn's constantly in search of new apples for her collection, which means that she can often be found foraging in the forest. Since her apples are so valuable to the gods, they like to keep her in Asgard under a pretty constant watch, especially since that time the giant Þjazi kidnapped her.

      Sex: Female
      Age: Young
      Build: Womanly (yeah, yeah)
      Complexion: Fair
      Hair Color: Blonde
      Facial Hair: None, obvi
      Scars/marks/tattoos: Nope
      Jewelry and accessories: Apples, and a basket to carry them in
      Clothing: Medieval Scandinavian garb
      Armor: None
      Type of Weapon: Possession of something everyone wants… it's more powerful than you'd think

      Typical Companions:

      Bragi, her husband
      Apples (not the best conversationalists, but hey)

      Known Hangouts:

      Forests (foraging for apples)
      Orchards and groves of fruit trees

    • Sightings

      Dec 20, 2019

      Prose Edda

      Before her big kidnapping (see "Police Reports," above), Idunn gets a few other mentions in the Prose Edda, most importantly as the bearer of the immortality-bestowing apples. Later, we learn some of her rockin' nicknames (see "Profile").

      Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

      Hrafnagaldr Óðins

      This poem precedes Balder's Dream in some later manuscripts of the Poetic Edda. Although she may not play a big role in the rest of its plot, Idunn's initial fall from the world-tree is the ominous omen that prompts Odin to send a group of gods to the underworld in search of prophecy from a wise-woman. We also learn here of a possible Elvish/dwarvish parentage for Idunn. She sure is a mysterious lady.

      Dec 20, 1869

      Das Rheingold, by Richard Wagner

      In this opera, the first of Wagner's four-part Der Ring des Nibelungen, the character of Freia is a combination of Idunn and Freyja. So much for accuracy. As a result of trading Freia to the giants in exchange for a castle, the gods lose her apples of immortality and begin to age.

      Dec 20, 1965

      Journey into Mystery #114 (and ff.)

      In the Marvel Comics universe, Idunn appears as part of the Thor series starting in 1965, with her function as bearer of immortality-bestowing apples largely unchanged. Way to stick with what you know, Idunn.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Too Human

      In this role-playing game for Xbox 360, the Norse pantheon is reinvented as futuristic humans. Idunn is an important "cyberneticist" whose apples are "nanotechnology and molecular enhancements" that make the humans nearly immortal. Well, then.