Death or departure of the gods

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Odin's last words to Baldr (1908) by W.G. Collingwood (1854–1932)

A dying god, or departure of the gods is a motif in mythology where a god or an entire pantheon dies or is killed or destroyed.

Frequently cited examples of dying gods are Balder in Norse mythology, Quetzalcoatl in Aztec mythology. A special subcategory is the death of an entire pantheon, the most notable example being Ragnarök in Norse mythology, with other examples from Ireland, India, Hawaii and Tahiti.[1]

"Death or departure of the gods" is motif A192 in Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, with the following subcategories:[1]

A192.1. Death of the gods (also F259.1. Mortality of fairies)
A192.1.1. Old god slain by young god. (also A525.2. Culture hero (god) slays his grandfather)
A192.1.2. God killed and eaten
A192.2. Departure of gods (also A560. Culture hero's (demi-god's) departure)
A192.2.1. Deity departs for heaven (skies).
A192.2.1.1. Deity departs for moon.
A192.2.2. Divinity departs in boat over sea.
A192.2.3. Divinity departs to submarine home.
A192.2.4. Divinity departs in column of flame.
A192.3. Expected return of deity.
A192.4. Divinity becomes mortal.

A separate (although related and overlapping) category are gods who die and are also resurrected (Thompson's motif A193), see Dying-and-rising god.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b S. Thompson, Motif-index of folk-literature : a classification of narrative elements in folktales, ballads, myths, fables, medieval romances, exempla, fabliaux, jest-books, and local legends, Revised and enlarged. edition. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1955-1958, p. 106.
  • Burkert, Walter 1979. Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual. London: University of California Press.
  • Leeming, David. "Dying god". The Oxford Companion to World mythology. Oxford University Press, 2004. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. UC - Irvine. 5 June 2011 <>
  • Stookey, Lorena Laura. 2004. Thematic Guide to World Mythology. Westport: Greenwood.