In the city (Asgard)
there is a seat called Hlidskialdf, and when Odin sits in that
throne he sees over all worlds and every man's activity and understansds
everything he sees. His wife is called Frigg Fiorgvin's daughter,
and from them is descended the family line that we calle the
Æsir race, who have resided in Old Asgard and the realms
that belong to it, and that whole line of descent is of divine
origin. And this is why he can be called All-father, that he
is father of all the gods and of m ena and of everything that
has been brought into being by him and his power. The earth wsa
his daughter and his wife. Out of her he begot the first of his
sons, that is Asa-Thor. He is possessed of power and strength.
As a result he overcomes all living things.
And Thor walks to the court (of the Gods at the root of Yggdrasil
in Asgard) and wades rivers whose names are:
"Kormt and Ormt and two Kerlaugs, these shall Thor wade
every day when he is to judge at the ash Yggdrasil, for As-bridge
(Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard) burns all with flame,
the holy waters boil."
High (Odhinn) said: 'Thor is the most outstanding of them; he
is known as Asa-Thor (Thor of the Aesir) or Oku-Thor (Driving
Thor). He is strongest of all the gods and men. His realm is
a place called Thrudvangr, and his hall is called Bilskirnir.
In that hall are five hundred and forty apartments. It is the
biggest building tht has ever been built. Thus it says in Grimnismal:
"Five hundred apartments and
yet forty more I think are in Bilskirnir in all. Of the buildings
whose roofs I know, I know my son's is the greatest."
Thor has two goats whose names are Tannginiost and Tanngrisnir,
and a chariot that he drives in, and the goats draw the chariot.
Form this he is known as Odu-Thor. He also has three special
possessions. One of them is the hammer Miollnir, well known to
frost-giants and mountain-giants when it is raised aloft, and
that is not to be wondered at: it has smashed many a skull for
their fathers and kinsmen. He has another possession that is
very valuable, a girdle of might, and when he buckles it on his
As-strength is doubled. He has a third thing that is a most important
possession. This is a pair of iron gloves. He must not be without
these when he grips the hammer. But there is no one so wise that
can recount all his exploits, though I can tell you so many stories
about him that much time will be taken up before all I know is
Translated by Jean I. Young
Then Gangleri asked: 'Who owns the
horse Sleipnir? What story is there about him?'
High One said: 'You don't
know anything about Sleipnir, and you are ignorant of what led
to his birth! Then that will seem to you worth telling.
'In the early days of the settlement of the gods, when they had
established Miðgarð and made Valhalla, there came a builder
who offered to make them in eighteen months a stronghold so excellent
that it would be safe and secure against cliff giants and frost
ogres, even if they got inside Miðgarð. He stipulated
this, however, as his reward: he was to have Freyja as his wife
and possession of the sun and moon besides. Then the Æsir
went into consultation and had a conference, and this bargain
was struck with the builder, that he should become the owner
of what he asked for, if he succeeded in building the stronghold
in one winter; but if; on the first day of summer, any part of
it was unfinished, he was to forfeit his reward; nor was he to
receive anyone's help in the work. When they told him these terms,
however, he asked them to let him have the help of his horse,
which was called Svaðilfari, and Loki had his way when that
was granted him.
'He began building the stronghold
the first day of winter, and by night used his horse for hauling
the stones for it. The Æsir were astonished at the size
of the huge boulders the horse hauled, and it performed twice
as much of that tremendous task as the builder. Now there were
strong witnesses to their bargain and it was confirmed with many
oaths, because the giant did not consider it safe to be among
the Æsir without safe-conduct, if Thór should come
home; at that time he had gone into the east to fight trolls.
As winter drew to an end the building of the stronghold made
good progress, and it was so high and strong that it could not
be taken (by assault). When it was three days to summer, the
work had almost reached the gateway of the stronghold. The gods
then sat down in their judgment seats and sought for a way out,
asking one another who had given the advice to marry Freyja into
Giantland, and so to ruin the sky and heaven as to take the sun
and moon away and give them to the giants. They all agreed that
the one who gives most bad counsels, Loki, Laufey's son, would
have advised this, and they said he deserved an evil death if
he did not devise a plan whereby the builder would lose his wages,
and they laid (violent) hands on him. In his fright, however,
Loki swore oaths that, no matter what it cost him, he would arrange
things so that the builder should forfeit his wages. The same
evening, when the builder was driving out after stones with the
stallion Svaðilfari, a mare ran out of a wood up to the horse
and whinnied to him. And when the stallion knew what kind of
horse that was, it became frantic and broke its traces' asunder
and ran after the mare, but she took to the wood with the builder
after her. He wanted to catch the stallion, but these horses
galloped about all night and the work was delayed for that night.
Next day not so much building had been done as before. Then,
when the builder saw that the work would not be finished, he
flew into a giant rage. When, however, the Æsir saw for
certain that it was a giant who had come there, no reverence
was shown for their oaths and they called on Thór. He
came at once, and the next thing was that the hammer Mjöllnir
was raised aloft. Thór paid the builder his wages, and
it was not the sun and moon; he would not even allow him to live
in Giantland, but struck him such a single blow that his skull
shivered into fragments and he sent him down under Nifihel. Loki,
however, had had such dealings with Svaðilfari that some
time later he bore a foal. It was grey and had eight legs, and
amongst gods and men that horse is the best. As it says in the
"Then all the Powers,
gods most sacred,
went to their judgment-seats,
asked one another who had involved the air with evil,
or conferred the bride of Óð on the ogre-kin."
Oaths and words and vows
were violated, all mighty speech that had passed between them.
Thór alone struck there livid with anger, (literally,
swollen with rage) seldom still he sits when he hears
Then Gangleri asked: 'What
is there to tell about Skíðlaðnir, since it is
the best of ships? Is there no ship as good or as big as it?'
High One replied: 'Skiðblaðnir
is the best ship and built with the greatest skill, but Nagifar
which is Muspell's is the biggest ship. Some dwarfs, the sons
of Ívaldi, made Skiðblaðnir and gave the ship
to Frey. It is so big that all the Æsir with weapons and
armour can find room in it and, wherever it is going, a breeze
springs up as soon as its sail is hoisted. Moreover, it is made
of so many things and with such cunning that when it has not
to go sea, it can be folded together like a cloth and kept in
Then Gangleri remarked: 'Skíðblaðnir is a fine
ship, and mighty magic will have been used to get it made like
this. Now has Thór never had an experience in which he
encountered something so strong in might and powerful in magic
that it was too much for him?'
Then High One said: 'He has
found many things hard to master but I doubt if anyone could
tell you the stories and, even if something did overcome Thór
on account of its magical power and strength, there is no need
to tell the tale, since this happened more than once and yet
everyone has to believe that Thór is exceedingly mighty.'
Then Gangleri said: 'It seems
to me that I've asked you something no one is prepared to tell
Then Just-as-high said: 'Certain
happenings have been reported to us that strike us as being incredible,
but there is a man sitting nearby who will know the truth about
them, and you may be sure, since he has never told a lie before,
that he won't tell one for the first time now.'
Then Gangleri said: 'I'll
stand here all ears for the answer to my question. On the other
hand, if you can't tell me what I am asking, I maintain I've
got the better of you.'
Then Third said: 'It is obvious
that he wants to know this tale, although we don't think it a
fine one to tell. You keep quiet.'
'The beginning of the story
is that Thór-the-charioteer was on an journey with his
goats and in his chariot and with him the god Loki, when they
came one evening to a farmer's where they got lodgings for the
night. During the evening Thór took the goats and slaughtered
them, then had them skinned and put into a cauldron. When they
were cooked, Thór and his companion sat down to supper
and Thór invited the farmer and his wife and children
to the meal. The farmer's son was called Thjálfí
and his daughter, Röskva. Thór spread the skins out
away from the fire,
and told the farmer and his
household to throw the bones on to the skins. Thjálfi,
the farmer's son, took firm hold of a thigh-bone of one of the
goats and split it with his knife, breaking it for the marrow.
Thór stayed there that night, and just before daybreak
got up and dressed, took the hammer Mjöllmir, raised it
and consecrated the goatskins. Then the goats stood up. One of
them was lame ofa hind leg; Thór noticedthat and declared
that the farmer and his household had done something silly with
the bones; he knew that a thigh-bone was broken. There is no
need to make a long story about it; everyone can guess how terrified
the farmer would be when he saw Thór letting his eyebrows
sink down over his eyes - but when he saw what he did of the
eyes he thought he would drop down dead for the look in them
alone. Thór gripped the handle of his hammer so that his
knuckles went white. Then the farmer and his whole household
did what you might expect, screamed out and begged for mercy
for themselves, offering in compensation everything they possessed.
But when Thór saw their terror, his anger left him and
he calmed down and took from them in reconciliation their children
Thjálfi and Röskva. They became his bondservants
and accompanied him ever afterwards.
'He left his goats behind
him there and set off on an expedition eastwards to Giantland,
travelling all the way to the sea and then away over the deep
ocean. When he came to land he went ashore and with him Loki
and Thjálfi and Röskva. They had not walked very
long before they came upon a big wood, and they walked the whole
day till dark. Thjálfi, who could run faster than anyone
else, was carrying Thór's knapsack, but they were not
very well off for food.
'When it got dark they made
a search for somewhere to stay the night, and came across an
enormous hall with a door opening at the end as broad as the
hall was wide. There they sought night quarters for themselves.
But at midnight there was a great earth-quake; the ground went
rocking under them and the building shook. Thór stood
up and called to his companions, and they made a search and discovered
in the middle of the hall a side-room to the right, and went
up to it. Thór sat down in the doorway, but the others
went further in from him; they were terrified, but Thór
gripped the handle of his hammer and determined to defend hirnself.
Then they heard a great din of muffled roaring. When day came,
Thór went outside and saw a man lying a short way offin
the wood and he was no pygmy. He was asleep and snoring loudly.
Thór thought he understood then what sort of noises they
had been hearing in the night. He put on his belt of strength
and his divine power increased, but at that moment the man woke
up and sprang to his feet. And they say that for once Thór
was too startled to hit him with the hammer, and asked him what
his name was. The man replied it was Skrýrnir; (big fellow)
"and there's no need for me to ask you yours", he said,
"I know you are Asa-Thór. Have you moved my glove
?" He stretched out his hand and picked up the glove. Then
Thór realized that that was what he had had as a sleeping-hall
in the night, and the side-room was the thumb.
'Skrýmir asked Thór
if he would like to have his company and Thór said he
would. Then Skrýmir undid his provision bag and got ready
to eat breakfast, but Thór and his companions had theirs
in another place. Skrýmir suggested that they should pool
their provisions; Thór agreed to that, and Skrýmir
tied up all their provisions in one bag and put it on his own
back. He went on ahead during the day, taking immense strides,
and late in the evening found them a lodging for the night under
a large oak. Then Skrýmir told Thór he wished to
lie down and go to sleep, "but you take the provision bag
and get your supper ready". The next minute Skrýmir
was asleep and snoring loudly. Thór took the provision
bag intending to undo it, but, however mcredible it may seem,
it must be related that he was unable to get a single knot undone
or strap-end moved so that it was tied less tightly than before.
When he saw he was wasting his time he grew angry, gripped the
hammer Mjöllnir with both hands, stepped a pace forward
to where Skrýmir was lying and struck him on the head.
Skrýmir woke up and asked if a leaf had fallen on his
head or if they had had supper and were ready for bed. Thór
said they were just going to sleep, and they went under another
oak tree. To tell you the truth they were much too frightened
to sleep. At midnight Thór heard Skrýmir snoring
so that the wood resounded. Then Thór got up, went to
him, lifted his hammer quickly and fiercely and struck him in
the middle of his crown; he knew that the face of the hammer
sank deep into his head. At that instant Skrýmir woke
up and asked: "What's the matter now Did an acorn fall on
my head What's happened to you, Thór?" Thór,
however, retreated hastily, saying he had just woken up and that
it was the middle of the night and still time to sleep. He reflected,
however, that if he got an opportunity of hitting him a third
blow Skrýmir would never survive it, and he lay still,
waiting for Skrýmir to fall asleep (again).
'A little before daybreak
he knew from what he was hearing that Skrýmir had fallen
asleep. He stood up and made for him, lifting the hammer with
all his might and striking him on the temple that was turned
up; the hammer sank in up to the handle. Skrýmir, however,
sat up rubbing his cheek and asking: "Are there any birds
up in the tree above me? When I was waking up I fancied that
some droppings from the twigs fell on to my head. Are you awake,
Thór? It's time to get up and dress. You haven't far to
go now, however, to reach the stronghold called Utgarð. I've
heard you whispering amongst yourselves that I'm no small man,
but if you get to Útgarð you'll see bigger men there.
Now I'm going to give you some good advice. Don't behave in an
arrogant manner; Útgarð-Loki's retainers won't put
up with the bragging of such whipper-snappers as you are. Your
other course would be to go back and in my opinion it would be
better for you to do that, but if you will go on, travel eastwards;
my way, lies north to those mountains you will be able to see
'Skrýmir took the
provision bag and throwing it over his back turned abruptly away
from them into the wood. It is not related that the Æsir
expressed any desire to meet him again.
'Thór and his companions
continued their way and walked on till midday. Then they saw
a stronghold on a plain. They had to bend their necks right back
before they could see over the top of it.' They went up to the
stronghold and there was a gate in the entrance and it was shut.
Thór went up to the gate but could not get it opened.
Then they tried their hardest to get inside the stronghold and
(finally) did so by squeezing between the bars of the gate. After
that they saw a huge hall and went up to it. The door was open
and, entering, they saw a large number of men and most of them
pretty big, sitting on two benches. Next they came before the
king, Utgarð-Loki, and greeted him, but it was some time
before he took any notice of them. He srnrled contemptuously
at them and remarked: "News travels slowly from distant
parts, or am I mistaken in thinking that this urchin is Thór-the-charioteer?
You must be stronger than you look to me. At what arts do you
and your companions think you excel? We don't allow anyone to
stay with us who is not a past master of some craft or accomplishment."
'Then the one who brought
up the rear, Loki, said: "I have an accomplishment which
I am ready to try; there's no one here will eat faster than I
can." Utgarð-Loki replied: "Thats a feat
if you can perform it and we'll put itto the test." He called
over to the very end of the bench that the man called Logi should
take the floor in front of the company and pit himself against
Loki. Then a trencher was fetched and brought into the hall and
filled with chopped-up meat. Loki sat down at one end and Logi
at the other, and each of them ate as fast as he could. They
met in the middle of the trencher and by then Loki had left only
the bones of his meat, but Logi had eaten all his meat, bones,
and trencher into the bargain, so everyone thought that Loki
had lost the contest.
'Then Utgarð-Loki asked
what the youngster there could do. Thjálfi said he would
run a race against anyone Utgarð-Loki produced. Utgarð-Loki
said that that was a good accomplishment; he reckoned he must
be very good at running~to perform this feat, yet he agreed it
should be tried forthwith. Utgarð-Loki got up and went outside
then, and there along a level bit of ground was a good running-track.
Útgarð-Loki called to him a lad whose name was Hugi
and told him to run a race with Thjálfi. They ran the
first race and Hugi was so far ahead that he turned back to meet
Thjálfi at the end of it.
said: "You will have to exert yourself a bit more, Thjálfi,
if you are to win this contest and yet it's true that no men
have (ever) come here who have struck me as being quicker on
their feet than this." Then they ran the second race, and
this time when Hugi came to the end and turned round, Thjáfi
was a long cross-bow shot behind. Útgarð-Loki said:
"I think Thjáfi is a good runner, but I don't believe
he will win the contest now; we'll prove it, however, when they
run the third race." Then they ran yet another race. Hugi
had reached the end and turned back, however, before Thjáfi
had come halfway and everyone said that this sport had been put
to the test.
'Then Utgarð-Loki asked
Thór what accomplishment it would be he was going to display
to them - and men afier telling such great tales of his mighty
deeds. Thór answered that he would like best to pit himself
against someone in drinking. Útgarð-Loki said that
that might well be and went into the hall and calling his cup-bearer
bade him fetch the sconce-horn the retainers were accustomed
to drink from. The cup-bearer at once came forward with the horn
and placed it in Thór's hands. Utgarð-Loki remarked:
"We consider it good drinking if this horn is drained at
one drink, some men take two to empty it, but no one is such
a wretched drinker that he can't finish it in three." Thór
looked at the horn. It did not strike him as being very big,
although it was a bit on the long side, and he was very thirsty.
He began drinking in great gulps and thought he would not need
to bend to the horn more than once. When, however, his breath
failed and he raised his head from itto see what progress had
been made in the drinking, it seemed to him that it was only
a little lower in the horn than before.
said: "You drank well but not too much; I would never have
believed it if I had been told that Ása-Thór couldn't
take a bigger drink. However, I know you will empty it at the
second draught." Thór made no reply, put the horn
to his mouth intending to take a bigger drink: and strove at
the drinking until he was out of breath; yet he saw that the
end of the horn would not tilt up as much as he would have liked.
When he took the horn from his mouth and looked into it, it seemed
to him that he had made still less impression than before, although
there was now enough space between the rim and the liquor to
carry the horn without spilling.
'Then Utgarð-Loki said:
"What about it, Thór Aren't you leaving more for
the one drink left over than will be quite convenient for you
It seems to me, if you are going to empty the horn at the third
draught, that this will have to be the biggest. You won't be
considered so great a man here amongst us as you are with the
Æsir, you know, unless you can give a better account of
yourself in other contests than it seems to me you will in this."
At that Thór grew angry, put the horn to his mouth and
took a tremendously long drink as hard as he could; and when
he looked at the horn, he had at any rate made a slight difference.
He then gave up the horn and would drink no more.
"It is evident that your strength is not as great as we
had imagined. But do you want to make trial of any other feats?
It is clear that you don't show to advantage in this one."
Thór answered: "I can make trial of some feats yet;
when I was at home with the Æsir, however, I'd have thought
it strange for drinks like these to be called little - what sport
are you proposing for me now?"
'Then Utgarð-Loki said:
"Youngsters here perform the feat - It's not thought much
of - of lifting my cat up from the ground; I would never have
suggested such a thing to Ása-Thór if I'd not seen
that you aren't nearly as strong as I thought you were."
Thereupon a grey cat jumped forward on to the hall floor. It
was rather a big one, but Thór went up to it, put his
arm round under the middle of its belly, and lifted up. The cat
arched its back as Thór raised his arm, and when he was
stretclamg up as high as he could, the cat had to lift one ofits
paws (from the floor); that was all Thór could do in that
trial of skill.
'Then Utgarð-Loki said:
"This contest has gone as I expected; it's rather a big
cat and Thór is a short little fellow compared with such
big men as we have here." At that Thór said: "Call
me little if you like, but let someone come and wrestle with
me now; now I am angry!" Utgarð-Loki looked along the
bench and said: "I don't see anyone here who wouldn't feel
it beneath him to wrestle with you." He added, however,
"Wait a bit, call my foster-mother, the old woman Elli,
here, and let Thór wrestle with her if he wants to. She
has brought down men who have struck me as being stronger looking
'Thereupon an aged crone
came into the hall and Útgarð-Loki said she was to
come to grips with Asa-Thór. There is no need to make
a long story of it. The wrestling went so that the harder Thór
exerted himself the firmer she stood her ground. Then the old
woman began trying holds and Thór lost his balance; there
was a tremendous tussle, but it was not long before Thór
fell on to one knee. Útgarð-Loki went up to them then
and told them to stop wrestling, saying there was no need for
Thór to offer to wrestle with any more of his retainers.
By that time it was late in the evening. Útgarð-Loki
showed Thór and his companions where to sit down and they
stayed there the night and were shown great hospitality.
'As soon as dawn broke the
next day Thór and his companions got up, dressed, and
were ready to go away. Then Út'garð-Loki came to where
they were and had a table set up for them. There was no lack
of good cheer in the way of food and drink. When they had finished
the meal, they set out on their journey and Utgarð-Loki accompanied
them, going out of the stronghold with them. At their parting
he addressed Thór, asking him how he thought his journey
had turned out and whether he had ever met a man mightier than
he (Útgarð-Loki) was. Thór replied that he
would not deny that he had been put to shame in their dealings
with each other, "I know besides that you'll dub me a nobody
and I don't like that."
said: "I'm going to tell you the truth now that you've come
out of the stronghold if I live and have any say in the matter,
you are never going to come inside it again; upon my word you'd
never have got in if I'd known you had so much strength; you
nearly landed us in disaster. But I have deceived you with spells.
The first time when I came across you in the wood I'd come to
meet you, and when you were to undo the provision bag, I'd tied
it up with iron wire and you didn't discover where to undo it.
After that you hit me three blows with the hammer, the first
of these was the least and yet if it had reached me it would
have been my death. Where you saw a saddle-backed hill close
to my stronghold and in it three square-shaped valleys and one
very deep - they were the marks left by your hammer. I put the
saddle-backed hill in front of your blows, but you didn't see
that. The same thing goes for the contests in which you strove
against my retainers. The first was what Loki did. He was very
hungry and ate fast, but the man called Logi was "wildfire"
and he burned the trencher as quickly as he did the chopped meat.
And when Thjálfi was running against the one called Hugi,
that was my thought, and Thjálfi couldn't be expected
to compete in speed with that. And when you were drinking from
the horn and thought you were being slow, upon my word, I never
would have believed such a miracle possible; the other end of
the horn was in the sea but you didn't perceive that, and now
when you come to the ocean you'll see how much you have made
it shrink." That is called the ebb-tide now. He continued:
"I thought it no less wonderful when you lifted up the cat
and, to tell you the truth, everyone who saw it was terrified
when you lifted one of its paws from the ground. That cat was
not what it appeared to be; it was the Miðgarð Serpent
that lies curled round the world and is scarcely long enough
head to tail to encircle the earth. You stretched up so high
that it wasn't far to the sky. It was a marvellous thing, too,
that you held out so long in the wrestling match and only fell
down on to one knee when you were struggling with Elli, because
there never has been, nor ever will be anyone (if he grows old
enough to become aged), who is not tripped up by old age. And
now, as a matter of fact, we are going to part and it will be
better for w both for you not to come to see me again. I shall
go on defending my stronghold with some such magic or other so
that you will not win any power over me.
'When Thór heard this
speech he gripped his hammer and swung it aloft but, when he
was going to strike, he saw no Utgarð-Loki. Then he turned
round to the stronghold with the idea of destroying it. He saw
no stronghold there - (only) spacious and beautiful plains. He
turned away and went on his journey until he came back to Thrúðvangar.
To tell you the truth, however, it was then he resolved to see
if he could contrive an encounter with the Miðgarð Serpent,
as he afterwards did. Now I don't think that anyone could tell
you a better tale about this expedition of Thór's.'
Then Gangleri said: 'Útgarð-Loki
is very powerful but he makes much use of guile and magic. Still,
the fact that his retainers were so strong shows how powerful
he is. Did Thór not take vengeance for this?'
High One answered: 'One doesn't
need to be an authority to know That Thór made amends
for the expedition which has just been described; he did not
stay long at home before he got ready for a journey in such haste
that he took with him neither chariot nor goats nor companions.
He went out of Asgarð disguised as a youth and came in the
evening to a giant called Hymir. Thór stayed there that
night, and at daybreak Hymir got up and dressed and prepared
to go sea-fishing in a rowing-boat. Thór sprang up and
was soon ready and asking Hymir to let him go rowing with him.
Hymir said that he would not be much help, as he was such a scrap
of a young fellow: "You'll catch cold if I sit as long and
as far out to sea as I usually do." Thór, however,
said he would be able to row a long way out from the shore all
the same, and that it wasn't certain that he would be the first
to demand to be rowed back; and he got so angry with the giant
that he was ready incontinently to set the hammer ringing on
his head. He controlled himself, however, as he was intending
to try his strength in another place. He asked Hymir what they
were to take as bait, but Hymir told him to get his own. Then
Thór turned away to where he saw a herd of oxen belonging
to Hymir and taking the biggest ox, which was called Sky-bellower,
he struck off its head and went down to the sea with it. By then
Hymir had launched his boat. Thór went on board and sitting
down in the stern took two oars and rowed. Hymir thought they
made rapid progress from his rowing.
'Hymir rowed bow and the
rowing went on apace until Hymir said that now he had come to
those banks where he was accustomed to sit and catch flat fish,
but Thór said he wanted to row much farther out and they
had another bout of fast rowing. Then Hymir said that they had
come so far out that it would be dangerous to sit there on account
of the Miðgard Serpent. Thór, however, declared his
intention of rowing for a bit yet, and did so, and Hymir was
not at all pleased at that.
'When Thór shipped
his oars, he made ready a very strong line and the hook was just
as big and firm; baiting the hook with the ox-head he flung it
overboard. It sank to the bottom, and it's a fact that, on this
occasion, Thór made as great a fool of the Miðgarð
Serpent as Utgarð-Loki had of Thór when he was trying
to lift the serpent up with his arm. The Miógarð Serpent
snapped at the ox-head, but the hook stuck fast in the roof of
its mouth and, when it realized that, it jerked away so hard
that both Thór's fists knocked against the gunwale. Then
Thór grew angry and, exerting (all) his divine strength,
dug in his heels so hard that both legs went through the boat
and he was digging his heels in on the sea bottom. He drew the
serpent up on board, and it must be said that no one has seen
anything to be aftaid of who didn't see how Thór fixed
the serpent with his eye and how the serpent glared back, belching
'We are told that the giant
Hymir lost colour then, and turned pale with fear when he saw
the serpent and the sea tumbling in and out of the vessel too.
The very moment Thór gripped his hammer and raised it
aloft, the giant fumbled for his bait-knife and cut Thór's
line off at the gunwale, and the serpent sank back into the sea.
Thór flung his hammer after it and people say that this
struck its head off in the waves; but I think the truth is that
the Miðgarð Serpent is still alive and is lying in the
ocean. Thór clenched his fist and gave Hymir a box on
the ear so that he fell overboard head first, but he himself
Then Gangleri asked: 'Are
there any more remarkable stories about the Æsir? Thór
performed a very mighty deed on this journey.'
Exerpts from the Prose Edda
Translation by Jean I. Young
Everyman edition of the Edda
by Snorri Sturlusson, 1996 reprint
J. M. Dent
Orion Publishing Group
5 Upper St Martin's Lane,
London WC2H 9EA
Charles E. Tuttle Co. Inc.
28 South Main Street,
Rutland, Vermont 05701
ISBN 0 460 87616 3
Includes introduction, text summaries, index and chronology of
early Icelandic literature.
Translated and edited by Anthony Faulkes
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