The first example we shall consider, is the binding of the Fenris Wolf. Now, I had cause to ponder, the other day, just why it might have been that The Gods did not simply kill the Wolf as soon as They became made aware of the prophecy surrounding his dire role in the eventual Twilight of the Aesirajya at the End of the World – and, more specifically, his bane-status as the slayer of Odin.
I arrived at two immediate possibilities. One of which, also corroborated by my dvandva-comrade and our in-house Nordic/Germanic acharya, Tristan Powers, was that it was because it was a ‘family thing’. Loki still, at that time, enjoyed a kinship status with Odin – so therefore it would have been *most* affronting to have killed Loki’s son, even despite its reputed further and eventual fate.
The second of which, which also came up in conversation with The Rev. Rolinson upon the matter, was that … it’s not so much a matter of “if The Gods had killed the Wolf then and there, as an infant, before he could become a problem and insurmountable … then there would be no story”. But rather, that it would not have been nearly as *epic* a story. By which I mean, Nordic mythology, and the actions of certain Deities therein, often seems to go even further beyond what we call [after Terry Pratchett, probably] ‘Narrative Causality’ – and into a straight-up Active-Narrative-Epic-Agent hypothesis , wherein a certain Deity in particular, may be attempting to make His story as epic as possible. *Especially* the ultimate death sequence. And, most probably, imparting wise ethical maxims all th way along the process, as well. It is also possible, I suppose, that acting in a manner that would ‘disrupt’ the eventual coming to pass of a prophecy of this nature may *itself* have proven problematic from the perspective of Divine Order.
But I (slightly) digress.
The actual, official, Word of God explanation is given in the Gylfaginning:
“Then said Gangleri: ‘Marvellous ill children did Loki beget, but all these brethren are of great might. Yet why did not the Æsir kill the Wolf, seeing they had expectation of evil from him?” Hárr answered: “So greatly did the gods esteem their holy place and sanctuary, that they would not stain it with the Wolf’s blood; though (so say the prophecies) he shall be the slayer of Odin.” ” [Brodeur translation]
So there you have it. The *official* reasoning for the avoidance of infanticide as a rather significant problem-solving tool , is because to do so would have violated the sacred space within which such a killing would have had to have occurred.
This, as you can see, is a ‘Deontological’ perspective. And it is here quite expressely and explicitly overpowering a ‘Consequentialist’ one.
However, there is a bit of a counterpoint to be found within Nordic mythology to this weighting – concerning the conception of the ‘Avenging Son’, Vali, via Rindr. We shall not go in any great detail into this incident – except to note that due to the highly improper [from a Deontological perspective] action of Odin which brought about the birth of Vali, Odin is sanctioned and sent into Exile. Which … may not have been *quite* the punishment for The Wandering God that it might have been for others, but I digress.
The point is that from a *Consequentialist* perspective, the ultimate outcome of this – that is to say, the creation of Vali, Who plays a quite important role, even to the point of surviving Ragnarok and into the Next Cycle of the World. The Continuation of the DevaRajya [as tangible, tacit expression of Rta out into the material universe] as the *ultimate* Consequentialist outcome that is also Deontological in nature and scope.
Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis.
Yet to return to the core compunction of the Tale of the Binding of the Wolf, we find a most intriguing counterpoint to this within the realms of Greco-Roman mythology – and more especially, the legendarium that has grown up around the Iliad.