Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 220

On hearing these words Thor in a rage laid hold of his mallet and would have launched it at him, but Utgard-Loki had disappeared, and when Thor would have returned to the city to destroy it, he found nothing around him but a verdant plain.

On another occasion Thor was more successful in an encounter with the giants. It happened that Thor met with a giant, Hrungnir by name, who was disputing with Odin as to the merits of their respective horses, Gullfaxi and Sleipnir, the eight-legged. Thor and the giant made an agreement to fight together on a certain day. But as the day approached, the giant, becoming frightened at the thought of encountering Thor alone, manufactured, with the assistance of his fellow-giants, a great giant of clay. He was nine miles high and three miles about the chest, and in his heart he had the heart of a mare. Accompanied by the clay giant, Hrungnir awaited Thor on the appointed day. Thor approached preceded by Thialfi, his servant, who, running ahead, shouted out to Hrungnir that it was useless to hold his shield before him, for the god Thor would attack him out of the ground. Hrungnir at this flung his shield on the ground, and, standing upon it, made ready. As Thor approached Hrungnir flung at him an immense club of stone. Thor flung his hammer. Miolnir met the club half way, broke it in pieces, and burying itself in the stone skull of Hrungnir, felled him to the ground. Meanwhile Thialfi had despatched the clay giant with a spade. Thor himself received but a slight wound from a fragment of the giant's hammer.

Chapter XXXIII

The Death of Baldur The Elves — Runic Letters — Scalds —

Baldur, the Good, having been tormented with terrible dreams indicating that his life was in peril, told them to the assembled gods, who resolved to conjure all things to avert from him the threatened danger. Then Frigga, the wife of Odin, exacted an oath from fire and water, from iron and all other metals, from stones, trees, diseases, beasts, birds, poisons, and creeping things, that none of them would do any harm to Baldur. Odin, not satisfied with all this, and feeling alarmed for the fate of his son, determined to consult the prophetess Angerbode, a giantess, mother of Fenris, Hela, and the Midgard serpent. She was dead, and Odin was forced to seek her in Hela's dominions. This descent of Odin forms the subject of Gray's fine ode beginning,

  "Up rose the king of men with speed
  And saddled straight his coal-black steed."

But the other gods, feeling that what Frigga had done was quite sufficient, amused themselves with using Baldur as a mark, some hurling darts at him, some stones, while others hewed at him with their swords and battle-axes, for do what they would none of them could harm him. And this became a favorite pastime with them and was regarded as an honor shown to Baldur. But when Loki beheld the scene he was sorely vexed that Baldur was not hurt. Assuming, therefore, the shape of a woman, he went to Fensalir, the mansion of Frigga. That goddess, when she saw the pretended woman, inquired of her if she knew what the gods were doing at their meetings. She replied that they were throwing darts and stones at Baldur, without being able to hurt him. "Ay," said Frigga, "neither stones, nor sticks, nor anything else can hurt Baldur, for I have exacted an oath from all of them. " "What," exclaimed the woman, "have all things sworn to spare Baldur?" "All things," replied Frigga, "except one little shrub that grows on the eastern side of Valhalla, and is called Mistletoe, and which I thought too young and feeble to crave an oath from."