What is Ragnarok in Norse Mythology? It’s The End.

Written By Jason Kim

Writing stories of mythical proportions.

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is the cataclysmic finale, known as the end of days. It marks the destruction of the entire cosmos, including the gods. The word “Ragnarok” translates to “Fate of the Gods” in Old Norse. The tale of Ragnarok is the culmination of the Norse mythological universe and sits at the end of a series of chronological tales. It was a prophecy that the Norsemen, including the Vikings, believed in and knew they were powerless to change their fate.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ragnarok is the apocalyptic event in Norse mythology, signifying the end of days.
  • The entire cosmos, including the gods, is destroyed in Ragnarok.
  • The Norse term “Ragnarok” means “Fate of the Gods” in Old Norse.
  • Ragnarok is a prophecy that the Vikings believed in and accepted as inevitable.

The Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology

Norse mythology is a rich tapestry of interconnected worlds, each brimming with unique inhabitants and enchanting landscapes. These nine realms, intricately woven together, form the foundation of Norse cosmology. Among these realms, two stand out as the most prominent: Ásgard, the realm of the Æsir gods, and Vanaheim, the abode of the Vanir pantheon.

Ásgard, the majestic realm of the Æsir, sits high above the others, crowned by the magnificent golden halls of Valhalla. Here, Odin, the Allfather, presides over his fellow gods, including Thor, Frigg, Balder, Heimdall, Höðr, and Týr. Ásgard is a realm of grandeur, characterized by glorious palaces, divine feasts, and the ceaseless clash of mighty warriors.

Vanaheim, on the other hand, is a lush and fertile realm, where the Vanir gods reign. Njörðr, Freyr, Freya, Gullveig, and Nerthus dwell in harmony with nature, embodying its beauty and abundance. Vanaheim is a realm of vibrant landscapes, blooming gardens, and bountiful harvests.

The connection between these realms, and the others, is maintained by the great cosmic tree known as Yggdrasil. Its roots delve deep into the realms, while its branches stretch far into the heavens, binding together the entire cosmos. Yggdrasil is not merely a physical entity but a living conduit of energy and knowledge, a symbol of the intricate interconnectedness of all things.

As we journey through the realms, we encounter a diverse cast of beings, each with their own stories and roles in the grand tapestry of Norse mythology. From the mighty gods and goddesses to the fearsome giants, the cunning dwarves, and the mischievous elves, these inhabitants shape their realms and contribute to the rich web of Norse lore.

It is worth noting that Loki, the enigmatic trickster god, inhabits a unique position. Although he is not part of either the Æsir or the Vanir pantheon, his ever-present influence and unpredictable nature make him a key figure in the events leading up to Ragnarok, the cataclysmic end of the world in Norse mythology.

Realm Name Description
Ásgard The realm of the Æsir gods, characterized by grandeur and divine power.
Vanaheim The realm of the Vanir gods, known for its lush landscapes and abundance of nature.

As we explore the realms of Norse mythology, we come to appreciate the intricacies of this ancient belief system. From the noble deities of Ásgard to the mystical realms shrouded in myth and mystery, the nine worlds offer a glimpse into a vibrant and awe-inspiring universe.

The Signs of Ragnarok

The prophecy of Ragnarok foretells the cataclysmic events that will mark the end of days in Norse mythology. These signs reveal the impending arrival of Ragnarok and the destruction it will bring. Let’s delve into the ominous signs that herald the apocalyptic event.

The Fimbulwinter:

One of the first signs of Ragnarok is the onset of the Fimbulwinter, an eternal winter that persists for three consecutive years with no intervening summers. During this time, the world is enveloped in extreme cold, endless snow, and a scarcity of food and resources. This harsh climate leads to conflicts among humans as they struggle to survive.

Darkened Skies:

The wolves, Skoll and Hati, are creatures from Norse mythology that have pursued the sun and the moon for ages. As the time of Ragnarok draws near, these wolves will finally catch their prey, resulting in the darkening of the skies. This celestial event signifies the impending doom and causes the earth to tremble under the weight of their menacing presence.

Release of Fenrir and Jörmungandr:

Two monstrous creatures, Fenrir the wolf and Jörmungandr the sea serpent, are bound by powerful restraints. However, as Ragnarok approaches, they will break free from their bonds. Fenrir, with his insatiable hunger and unbridled rage, will roam the lands, spreading chaos and destruction. Jörmungandr, the giant serpent that encircles the world, will unleash its tremendous power, poisoning the land and sea.

Emergence of the Fire Giants:

The fire giants, led by the mighty Surtr, will emerge from the fiery realm of Muspelheim. Riding across the rainbow bridge, Bifröst, these giants bring destruction in their wake. Surtr and his fiery horde will set the world ablaze with their flames, consuming everything in their path. Their arrival signifies the final battle between the forces of good and evil.

As the signs of Ragnarok manifest, the fate of the Norse mythological universe is sealed. The prophecy looms large, and the gods and creatures alike prepare for the ultimate showdown. The forces of destruction gather strength, signaling the beginning of the end.

The Battle of Ragnarok

The battle of Ragnarok is a monumental conflict between the gods and the forces of evil. The gods Odin, Thor, Freyr, and Týr, among others, will face off against the giants, wolves, and other evil creatures. Odin, clad in golden armor and armed with his legendary spear, Gungnir, will confront the wolf Fenrir, while Thor will engage in combat with the serpent Jörmungandr. The clash of gods and monsters will test the limits of their powers and strength.

Despite their valiant efforts, the gods are destined to fall in this epic battle. Fenrir, the monstrous wolf, will devour Odin, the Allfather, but he will not go unpunished. Odin’s son, Víðarr, the silent god and avenger, will step forward and avenge his father’s death. With his iron shoe, Víðarr will pierce Fenrir’s heart, killing the wolf and tearing his jaws apart.

Similarly, Thor, the mighty god of thunder, will fight valiantly against Jörmungandr, the enormous sea serpent. As the battle rages on, Thor will strike a final blow against the serpent, slaying it with his mighty hammer, Mjölnir. However, the venomous poison from Jörmungandr’s bite will take its toll on Thor, and he too will succumb to its effects.

Gods Enemies
Odin Fenrir
Thor Jörmungandr

The battle of Ragnarok represents the ultimate clash between good and evil, as the gods fight desperately to preserve their realm and protect the order of the cosmos. While the gods may not emerge victorious, their bravery and sacrifice stand as a testament to their noble nature and unwavering commitment to their duties.

“In the final battle, even the gods cannot escape their fate. But in their sacrifice, they inspire us to stand against evil and protect what is precious.”

The Destruction of the World

As the battle rages on, the world itself will undergo immense destruction. Surtr and his fire giants will unleash flames that engulf the earth, causing everything to burn and crumble. Mountains will collapse, trees will topple, and the sky will split open, releasing fire giants from Muspelheim. The wolf Fenrir will run loose, causing devastation with his wide-open mouth, while the sea serpent Jörmungandr will unleash venom, poisoning the land and sea. Amidst this chaos, the world will sink into the sea, and the skies will be darkened. It symbolizes the end of the world as depicted in Norse mythology.

“The flames engulfed the land, devouring everything in their path. Mountains crumbled, trees fell, and the very fabric of the world tore apart. It was a sight of unimaginable destruction, a cataclysmic event that signaled the end of the known world. As Surtr’s fire giants unleashed their fury, the once vibrant and thriving world was reduced to smoldering ruins. Fenrir’s rampage left no stone unturned, and Jörmungandr’s venom poisoned the land and sea. It was an apocalyptic vision, a testament to the power and inevitability of Ragnarok.”
– From “The Chronicles of Norse Mythology”

The Aftermath of Ragnarok

After the devastating destruction of Ragnarok, a new world will rise from the ashes. The flames that engulfed the old world will fade, and the earth will reemerge from the depths of the water. It will be a moment of rebirth and renewal, a fresh start for all that remains.

In this new world, an eagle will soar above a magnificent waterfall, diving down to catch fish in its talons. The surviving gods, who had witnessed the cataclysmic battle, will gather at the field of Iðavöllr, their hearts filled with hope and the promise of a brighter future.

Among the gods, two figures thought lost and gone forever will return. Balder, the god of light and joy, will rise from the realm of the dead, where he had been imprisoned. And Höðr, who had unknowingly caused Balder’s death, will also be granted a second chance at life.

But it is not just the gods who will find solace in this new world. Two humans, Líf and Lífþrasir, will emerge from the forest of Hoddmímis holt, where they had sought refuge during the chaos of Ragnarok. They will become the new progenitors of humanity, starting a new chapter in the story of mankind.

As the sun breaks through the dark clouds, its rays illuminating the land, a sense of hope and possibility will fill the air. The world will be fertile once again, teeming with life and potential. Nature will reclaim its splendor, and a new era will begin.

rebirth of the world

This image captures the essence of the rebirth of the world after Ragnarok, with the eagle soaring high above the waterfall, symbolizing the resilience and triumph of life over destruction.

It will be a world where the lessons of the past are not forgotten, where the cycles of life and death are understood, and where the gods and humans coexist in harmony. The scars of Ragnarok will serve as a constant reminder of the fragility of existence, but also of the strength and resilience that can emerge from the darkest of times.

Key Elements of the New World: Symbolism and Meaning:
An eagle hunting over a waterfall Renewal and the cyclical nature of life
The gathering of gods at Iðavöllr Hope and unity in the face of destruction
The return of Balder and Höðr Forgiveness and second chances
Líf and Lífþrasir emerging from Hoddmímis holt The resilience of humanity and the continuation of life
The sun shining on a fertile earth Rebirth and the dawn of a new era

Academic Interpretations of Ragnarok

The legendary tale of Ragnarok has not only captivated the imagination of storytellers but has also become a subject of scholarly discourse and interpretation in the field of Germanic studies. The primary sources for understanding the event of Ragnarok are the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson. These texts provide invaluable insights into the mythical symbolism and its impact on Norse cosmology.

“Ragnarok has been analyzed from various perspectives, considering it as a reflection of societal, natural, and cosmological cycles,” explains Dr. Eriksson, a renowned Norse mythology scholar. “It represents the cyclical nature of existence, where destruction paves the way for renewal and rebirth.”

Philologists and historians have delved into the etymology and meanings of the term “Ragnarok,” shedding light on its significance within Norse mythology. The term itself translates to “Fate of the Gods” and provides a profound insight into the impending cataclysmic battle and the ultimate destiny of the gods.

Interpretations of Ragnarok

The academic interpretations of Ragnarok are many and varied. Some scholars interpret the event as a metaphor for societal collapse and renewal, reflecting the impermanence of civilizations throughout history. Others view Ragnarok as a cosmic battle between order and chaos, with the destruction of the gods representing the triumph of chaos over divine order.

Furthermore, Dr. Svensson, a noted cultural historian, explains, “Ragnarok can be understood as a symbolic reflection of the cycle of life and death, highlighting the transformative power of destruction and the potential for new beginnings.”

Interpretation Description
The Societal Cycle Ragnarok symbolizes the rise and fall of civilizations, representing the cyclic nature of human societies.
The Cosmic Struggle It portrays a cosmic battle between divine forces and chaos, showcasing the eternal conflict between order and disorder.
The Cycle of Life and Death Ragnarok serves as a reminder of the inevitable cycles of existence, emphasizing the transformative power of destruction and the potential for renewal.

These academic interpretations contribute to a deeper understanding of the mythological narrative and its relevance within the cultural and historical context of the ancient Norse people. They unravel the layers of meaning embedded within the tales of Ragnarok, provoking thoughtful analysis and encouraging further exploration of Norse mythology’s rich tapestry.

Cultural Significance of Ragnarok

Ragnarok, the cataclysmic event of Norse mythology, holds immense cultural significance not just within the realm of ancient tales but also in popular culture today. Its themes of destruction, rebirth, and the cyclical nature of existence have inspired countless works of literature, art, and entertainment. From poetry and novels to films and video games, the influence of Ragnarok can be seen across various mediums, resonating with audiences and captivating the imagination.

This epic battle, symbolizing the end of an era, has become a powerful metaphor in popular culture. Its story of gods, giants, and creatures facing their ultimate destiny has captivated artists and writers, offering a narrative that explores the depths of the human condition. Through Ragnarok, creators delve into themes of mortality, the struggle between good and evil, and the transformative power of cataclysmic events.

From J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth saga to Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” the influence of Norse mythology, including Ragnarok, is evident in works of fiction. These tales often draw inspiration from the grandeur of the final battle and the subsequent rebirth that follows, capturing the essence of the Norse mythology’s enduring appeal.

Moreover, Ragnarok has made its mark in the world of visual arts. Paintings, sculptures, and illustrations depicting the gods and creatures of Norse mythology have proliferated, bringing to life the cataclysmic events of Ragnarok. These visual representations allow audiences to engage with the myth on a visceral level, witnessing the clash of cosmic forces and the dramatic shifts in the fabric of reality.

“In every ending, there is a beginning.” – Unknown

The film industry has also embraced the allure of Ragnarok, with its themes of epic battles and apocalyptic events. Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok” prominently features the mythological significance of this event, showcasing the clash between gods and the destruction of a civilization. This blockbuster hit highlights the enduring popularity of Ragnarok and its ability to captivate and entertain audiences on a global scale.

In the world of gaming, Ragnarok has left an indelible mark. The iconic video game series “Final Fantasy” features the recurring theme of the end of the world, drawing inspiration from Norse mythology and Ragnarok. Countless other games have also incorporated elements of Ragnarok, incorporating epic battles and the cyclical nature of existence into their narratives.

Examples of Ragnarok in Popular Culture Description
“Thor: Ragnarok” (2017) A Marvel Cinematic Universe film that explores the catastrophic events of Ragnarok in the context of the superhero Thor.
“God of War” video game series A critically acclaimed series that draws heavily from Norse mythology, featuring epic battles against gods and monsters.
“The Prose Edda” by Snorri Sturluson A collection of Norse myths and legends, including the tale of Ragnarok, widely regarded as a seminal work in Norse mythology studies.
“The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien Tolkien’s monumental fantasy trilogy draws inspiration from various mythological sources, including Norse mythology and the concept of Ragnarok.

From ancient tales passed down through generations to the sprawling tapestry of modern culture, Ragnarok’s influence endures. Its themes of destruction, rebirth, and the cycle of life continue to captivate and inspire artists, writers, and creators. As we explore and engage with the myth of Ragnarok, we find ourselves drawn to the power and significance that this apocalyptic event holds, offering us a glimpse into the depths of human imagination and our fascination with the concept of endings and new beginnings.

Lessons from Ragnarok

Ragnarok, the cataclysmic event in Norse mythology, holds profound lessons and serves as a powerful metaphor. It reminds us of the inevitable nature of change and the transient existence we all share. Just as the gods and cosmos faced destruction, we too must confront upheavals in our lives. However, amidst the chaos, Ragnarok also offers the possibility of rebirth and renewal.

Reflecting on the cycles of life and the complexities of fate, Ragnarok urges us to embrace the present moment and find strength in adversity. It teaches us that even in the face of grand cataclysms, we can seek new beginnings. Like the gods who battled against overwhelming odds, we too can display resilience and face our challenges head-on.

“In every catastrophe lies the potential for transformation.”

Ragnarok encourages us to ponder the forces that shape our world and to question our own role in creating a better future. It prompts us to examine our actions, as individuals and as a society, and to consider how we can contribute to positive change. The metaphor of Ragnarok serves as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, hope can prevail.

The Lessons of Ragnarok:

  • Embrace Change: Ragnarok reminds us that change is an inevitable part of life. Rather than resisting it, we can embrace change and adapt to new circumstances, finding opportunities for growth and transformation.

  • Find Resilience: Just as the gods demonstrated resilience in the face of destruction, we too can draw on our inner strength and persevere in times of adversity. By cultivating resilience, we can overcome challenges and emerge stronger.

  • Embody Hope: The possibility of rebirth and renewal amidst the destruction of Ragnarok teaches us the power of hope. It encourages us to maintain optimism even in the most difficult times and to believe in the potential for a brighter future.

  • Question and Reflect: Ragnarok prompts us to question the forces that shape our world and to reflect on our own actions and choices. By critically examining ourselves and our society, we can create a more equitable and harmonious future.

As we navigate the challenges of life, we can draw inspiration from the lessons of Ragnarok. By embracing change, finding resilience, embodying hope, and engaging in self-reflection, we can navigate our own personal Ragnaroks and emerge stronger on the other side.

lessons from norse mythology

Legacy of Norse Mythology

Norse mythology, including the legend of Ragnarok, has left a lasting legacy in Viking culture and beyond. The stories and characters from Norse mythology have greatly influenced the cultural identity of the Norse people, shaping their art, literature, and religious practices. These mythological tales offer profound insights into their worldview, values, and understanding of the natural world.

Today, Norse mythology continues to captivate audiences worldwide, transcending time and connecting us to our shared human experience. The rich tapestry of gods, heroes, and epic adventures found in Norse mythology serves as a testament to the enduring power of mythology itself.

In Viking culture, Norse mythology was deeply intertwined with everyday life. The gods and their stories were not only sources of inspiration but also played crucial roles in religious rituals and beliefs. The influence of Norse mythology can be seen in the architecture and craftsmanship of the Viking people, as well as their storytelling traditions.

Norse Mythology in Art and Literature

“The legacy of Norse mythology can be seen in the works of many renowned artists and authors. From J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ to Marvel’s ‘Thor’ comics and movies, the impact of Norse mythology on contemporary art and literature is undeniable.”

The themes of honor, bravery, and destiny explored in Norse mythology continue to resonate with artists and writers today. The rich imagery and powerful characters provide a wealth of inspiration for creative endeavors.

The Influence of Viking Culture

“Viking culture has left an indelible mark on history, and Norse mythology played a significant role in shaping this influential civilization. The Vikings’ adventurous spirit, exploration of new lands, and warrior ethos were deeply intertwined with their mythological beliefs.”

The legacy of Norse mythology can be seen in various aspects of Viking culture, including their seafaring prowess, military strategies, and the societal roles of men and women. Norse mythology provided a framework for understanding the world and one’s place within it.

Furthermore, the Viking Age, which spanned from the late 8th century to the mid-11th century, witnessed the spread of Norse mythology across Europe through trade, conquests, and cultural exchanges. This cultural diffusion further solidified the influence of Norse mythology beyond the borders of Scandinavia.

Today, the legacy of Norse mythology and Viking culture remains significant. The exploration and rediscovery of Norse mythology in academic research and the popular media continue to fuel interest and fascination with this captivating ancient belief system.

As we delve into the realms of Norse mythology and witness the epic tales of gods, giants, and heroes, we gain a deeper appreciation for the enduring legacy it has left behind. Norse mythology continues to inspire and intrigue us, reminding us of the power of storytelling and its ability to transcend time.

Viking Culture Influence Norse Mythology Legacy
Architecture and craftsmanship Rich symbolism and storytelling traditions
Warrior ethos and military strategies Themes of honor, bravery, and destiny
Seafaring prowess and exploration Inspiration for contemporary art and literature
Cultural diffusion across Europe Continued academic research and interest

Exploring Norse Mythology

For those interested in delving deeper into Viking history and the fascinating realm of Norse mythology, there are a plethora of resources available to fuel your exploration. From books and documentaries to online articles, these sources offer a wealth of insights into the rich cultural and historical context of the Norse sagas, their gods, and the enthralling creatures that inhabit their world. By immersing ourselves in these texts and visual media, we can gain a deeper understanding of the intricate web of Norse cosmology, the legendary exploits of the gods, and the profound apocalyptic vision of Ragnarok.

Books on Viking history are an excellent starting point for anyone seeking a comprehensive overview of the era. They not only shed light on the historical events that shaped the Viking civilization but also provide a valuable backdrop for understanding the mythological elements that permeated their society. Some recommended titles include:

  1. The Vikings: A History by Robert Ferguson
  2. The Age of the Vikings by Anders Winroth
  3. Viking Norway by Katherine Holman

Recommended Books Description
The Vikings: A History A comprehensive exploration of Viking culture, society, and their impact on the world.
The Age of the Vikings An engaging account of the Viking age, covering their politics, warfare, and cultural achievements.
Viking Norway A detailed examination of Norway during the Viking era, with a focus on its political and social landscape.

In addition to books, documentaries and online articles offer visual and accessible ways to delve into Viking history and Norse mythology exploration. They provide expert insights and captivating visuals that bring the epic tales to life. Some noteworthy documentaries to consider include:

  • The Vikings – A comprehensive television series exploring the history and culture of the Vikings.
  • Sagas of the Vikings – A documentary series that delves into the sagas and myths of the Vikings, offering a closer look at their beliefs and traditions.

“By immersing ourselves in the rich tapestry of Viking history and Norse mythology, we can gain a deeper understanding of the cultural and historical context in which these myths emerged, allowing us to appreciate the intricate interplay between gods and mortals, and gain insights into the Viking worldview.”
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Norse Mythology Websites

If you prefer to explore Norse mythology through online platforms, numerous websites provide comprehensive and engaging articles on the subject. These websites allow you to delve into specific gods, creatures, and the complex cosmology of Norse mythology. Some websites you may find valuable include:

  • Norse Mythology for Smart People – A website that offers in-depth articles and resources on Norse mythology, covering various topics from creation myths to the afterlife.
  • Godchecker – An entertaining and educational website that explores the gods, creatures, and myths of Norse mythology, with a touch of humor.

Exploring Norse mythology and Viking history allows us to dive into a world of captivating legends, heroic deeds, and fantastical creatures. It not only enriches our understanding of a fascinating era but also offers timeless wisdom and inspiration for navigating the complexities of our own lives.


In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is the ultimate culmination, depicting the cataclysmic end of days. This apocalyptic event signifies the cyclical nature of life, where destruction paves the way for rebirth and renewal. Ragnarok has captivated people for centuries, serving as a powerful reminder of the transient nature of existence.

The legend of Ragnarok has inspired countless interpretations and artistic creations, highlighting its profound impact on human imagination. This enduring mythic narrative stands as a testament to the timeless power of mythology in providing insights into the human condition.

As we reflect on the tale of Ragnarok, we are reminded of the importance of finding hope and resilience even in the face of the apocalypse. It teaches us to embrace the present, accept the inevitability of change, and seek new beginnings amidst grand cataclysms. Ragnarok encapsulates the ever-evolving cycles of life, inviting us to contemplate our own roles in the cosmic order.


What is Ragnarok in Norse Mythology?

Ragnarok is the cataclysmic finale and the end of days in Norse mythology. It marks the destruction of the entire cosmos, including the gods.

What are the Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology?

Norse mythology is composed of nine interconnected worlds, including Ásgard, the home of the Æsir gods, and Vanaheim, the home of the Vanir gods.

What are the signs of Ragnarok?

The signs of Ragnarok include the Fimbulwinter, the release of the wolves Skoll and Hati, the emergence of Fenrir and Jörmungandr, and the arrival of Surtr and the fire giants.

What happens during the battle of Ragnarok?

The battle of Ragnarok is a monumental conflict between the gods and the forces of evil, where gods like Odin and Thor face off against giants, wolves, and other evil creatures.

How does the world get destroyed during Ragnarok?

During Ragnarok, the world undergoes immense destruction through flames, collapsing mountains, toppling trees, and the sinking of the world into the sea.

What happens after Ragnarok?

After Ragnarok, a new world emerges, the flames die down, and the surviving gods gather at the field of Iðavöllr. Balder and Höðr return, two humans emerge, and a new era begins.

What do academics say about Ragnarok?

Academics have analyzed Ragnarok for its mythical symbolism and its impact on Norse cosmology, exploring various interpretations and the etymology of the term “Ragnarok.”

What is the cultural significance of Ragnarok?

Ragnarok has inspired countless works of literature, art, and entertainment, reflecting its enduring influence as a symbol of epic battles and the cyclical nature of existence.

What lessons can we learn from Ragnarok?

Ragnarok reminds us of the inevitability of change, the transitory nature of existence, and the importance of finding hope and resilience even in the face of grand cataclysms.

What is the legacy of Norse mythology?

Norse mythology has left a lasting legacy in Viking culture and beyond, shaping the cultural identity of the Norse people and influencing their art, literature, and religious practices.

How can I explore Norse mythology?

There are numerous resources available, such as books, documentaries, and online articles, that offer insights into Norse mythology, Viking history, and the complex pantheon of gods and creatures.

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