Odin, Vili, and Ve, kill the giant Ymir, with assorted scenes from the life of Ymir, illustration by Lorenz Frølich, published in Nordens Guder by Adam Oehlenschläger, 1885.
Ymir was an ancient primeval being present before the cosmos had form; he was the ancestor of the entire race of jötnar who were Thor’s eternal enemies. In the Norse creation myth, much of life and the cosmos itself came from the body of Ymir.
Ymir did not give his body willingly. Odin and his brothers struck down the first giant and designed all of creation from his remains. From Grímnismál:
40. Out of Ymir’s flesh | was fashioned the earth,
And the ocean out of his blood;
Of his bones the hills, | of his hair the trees,
Of his skull the heavens high.
41. Midgard the gods | from his eyebrows made,
And set for the sons…
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