Loki and Odin have sometimes been described as mirror images to each other. Odin certainly pulls his share of dirty tricks, although for different reasons. The parallels and contrasts between these two characters will also shed some light on the myths and the people who believed them.
Ragnarök: the doom of the Gods and the end of the worlds as Odin created them. But this is no ordinary war. Ragnarök and Fimbulvetr, the three-year winter that precedes the final battle, symbolize the destruction of the natural order of society as the Vikings conceived of it, and the creation of a new society from the remnants of the old.
In the modern day, Loki is occasionally drawn up as being power-hungry and possibly psychopathic, but this interpretation obscures the complexity of his original character. While the mythological Loki does some truly horrifying things (he does bring about the destruction of the Nine Worlds, after all), he is mostly just a troublemaking pain in the arse and he often gets kicked around for it.
Spear Shaker, Wanderer, Feeble Eye, Grey Beard, War-merry, All-Father―Odin had as many names as faces. He was the god of both war and poetry; he sought knowledge and wisdom but used devious or coercive means to acquire it; and, although he was the respected and powerful chieftain of the Aesir, he openly defied deeply rooted social norms for self-serving ends. What are we to make of such a being?
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer still, and Loki is about the worst enemy you could ever possibly have—but not strictly because of his character. As troublesome as he is, he is not really evil, or at least, he’s no worse than Odin in many ways. Nonetheless, the Norns have already decided that Loki will lead the Jötnar to the ultimate Pyrrhic victory at Ragnarök.
We all know who Loki is—he’s the god of mischief. His job is to run around disturbing shit until it’s time for him to become a power-hungry madman and parade the giants into Asgard to destroy the other gods. Right?