Who is the Norse god Tyr?r
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Who was the god Tyr?

Tyr in Viking work
from Sweden, 700s AD

Tyr (or Tiw) was the German form of the Indo-European sky god Dyeus Piter, the same god as the Greek god Zeus, the Roman god Jupiter, and the Indian god Dyeus Pita. But unlike Zeus and Jupiter, Tyr was not in charge of the other gods - instead, Odin was. Probably in the earliest days of German religion Tyr was in charge, but later he was overthrown by Odin. Some later German stories say that Tyr was Odin's son, but probably it started out the other way around. Indo-European gods often overthrew their fathers, as Zeus overthrew Kronos and Indra in India overthrew Dyeus Pita.

By the time we have stories about him, Tyr seems to have been the god of war treaties and contracts, of keeping your promises, and of law. That is, he was a god of order as opposed to chaos. He may have been a lot like the West Asian god Mithra, or the Hindu god Varuna. The Romans thought that Tyr was like their god Mars, which is why their Mars Day (Mardi in French, Martedi in Italian) is our Tuesday.

One story about Tyr is that once the gods (mainly Odin, the tricky one) captured Fenrir the wolf with a trick. Odin told Fenrir that this was only a game, and Fenrir should let the gods chain him up as part of the game. The wolf Fenrir was suspicious, and wouldn't let himself be chained up until Tyr offered to guarantee the deal by putting his own hand in the wolf's mouth as a sort of hostage. But it turned out to be a trick, and once Fenrir was chained up he could not break the chain, and the other gods would not let Fenrir go. So Tyr let Fenrir bite his hand off, and now he only has one hand.
The story shows how Tyr always stands by his promises, no matter what.

Learn by doing: Should you always keep your promises? Was Tyr right? Write a persuasive essay
More about Odin

Bibliography and further reading about the German gods:

Quatr.us home

LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Quatr.us Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more?
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 28 March, 2017