Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 42

“Wroth waxed Thor, when his sleep was flown,

And he found his trusty hammer gone;

He smote his brow, his beard he shook,

The son of earth ’gan round him look;

And this the first word that he spoke:

’Now listen what I tell thee, Loke;

Which neither on earth below is known,

Nor in heaven above: my hammer’s gone.”

Thrym’s Quida (Herbert’s tr.).

Thor and Thrym

Loki declared he would try to discover the thief and recover the hammer, if Freya would lend him her falcon plumes, and he immediately hastened off to Folkvang to borrow them. His errand was successful and in the form of a bird he then winged his flight across the river Ifing, and over the barren stretches of Jötun-heim, where he suspected that the thief would be found. There he saw Thrym, prince of the frost giants and god of the destructive thunder-storm, sitting [78]alone on a hill-side. Artfully questioning him, he soon learned that Thrym had stolen the hammer and had buried it deep underground. Moreover, he found that there was little hope of its being restored unless Freya were brought to him arrayed as a bride.

“I have the Thunderer’s hammer bound

Fathoms eight beneath the ground;

With it shall no one homeward tread

Till he bring me Freya to share my bed.”

Thrym’s Quida (Herbert’s tr.).

Indignant at the giant’s presumption, Loki returned to Thrud-vang, but Thor declared it would be well to visit Freya and try to prevail upon her to sacrifice herself for the general good. But when the Æsir told the goddess of beauty what they wished her to do, she flew into such a passion that even her necklace burst. She told them that she would never leave her beloved husband for any god, much less to marry a detested giant and dwell in Jötun-heim, where all was dreary in the extreme, and where she would soon die of longing for the green fields and flowery meadows, in which she loved to roam. Seeing that further persuasions would be useless, Loki and Thor returned home and there deliberated upon another plan for recovering the hammer. By Heimdall’s advice, which, however, was only accepted with extreme reluctance, Thor borrowed and put on Freya’s clothes together with her necklace, and enveloped himself in a thick veil. Loki, having attired himself as handmaiden, then mounted with him in the goat-drawn chariot, and the strangely attired pair set out for Jötun-heim, where they intended to play the respective parts of the goddess of beauty and her attendant. [79]

“Home were driven

Then the goats,

And hitched to the car;

Hasten they must—

The mountains crashed,

The earth stood in flames:

Odin’s son

Rode to Jötun-heim.”

Norse Mythology (R. B. Anderson).

Thrym welcomed his guests at the palace door, overjoyed at the thought that he was about to secure undisputed possession of the goddess of beauty, for whom he had long sighed in vain. He quickly led them to the banqueting-hall, where Thor, the bride elect, distinguished himself by eating an ox, eight huge salmon, and all the cakes and sweets provided for the women, washing down these miscellaneous viands with the contents of two barrels of mead.

The giant bridegroom watched these gastronomic feats with amazement, whereupon Loki, in order to reassure him, confidentially whispered that the bride was so deeply in love with him that she had not been able to taste a morsel of food for more than eight days. Thrym then sought to kiss the bride, but drew back appalled at the fire of her glance, which Loki explained as a burning glance of love. The giant’s sister, claiming the usual gifts, was not even noticed; wherefore Loki again whispered to the wondering Thrym that love makes people absent-minded. Intoxicated with passion and mead, which he, too, had drunk in liberal quantities, the bridegroom now bade his servants produce the sacred hammer to consecrate the marriage, and as soon as it was brought he himself laid it in the pretended Freya’s lap. The next moment a powerful hand closed over the short handle, and soon the giant, his sister, [80]and all the invited guests, were slain by the terrible Thor.

“‘Bear in the hammer to plight the maid;

Upon her lap the bruiser lay,

And firmly plight our hands and fay.’

The Thunderer’s soul smiled in his breast;

When the hammer hard on his lap was placed,

Thrym first, the king of the Thursi, he slew,

And slaughtered all the giant crew.”

Thrym’s Quida (Herbert’s tr.).

Leaving a smoking heap of ruins behind them, the gods then drove rapidly back to Asgard, where the borrowed garments were given back to Freya, much to the relief of Thor, and the Æsir rejoiced at the recovery of the precious hammer. When next Odin gazed upon that part of Jötun-heim from his throne Hlidskialf, he saw the ruins covered with tender green shoots, for Thor, having conquered his enemy, had taken possession of his land, which henceforth would no longer remain barren and desolate, but would bring forth fruit in abundance.

Thor and Geirrod

Loki once borrowed Freya’s falcon-garb and flew off in search of adventures to another part of Jötun-heim, where he perched on top of the gables of Geirrod’s house. He soon attracted the attention of this giant, who bade one of his servants catch the bird. Amused at the fellow’s clumsy attempts to secure him, Loki flitted about from place to place, only moving just as the giant was about to lay hands upon him, when, miscalculating his distance, he suddenly found himself a captive.