The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths
Page: 38[Pg 81]
Then Odin made reverence to Mimir, the wisest of the world's beings. "I would drink from your well, Mimir," he said.
"There is a price to be paid. All who have come here to drink have shrunk from paying that price. Will you, Eldest of the Gods, pay it?"
"I will not shrink from the price that has to be paid, Mimir," said Odin All-Father.
"Then drink," said Mimir. He filled up a great horn with water from the well and gave it to Odin.
Odin took the horn in both his hands and drank and drank. And as he drank all the future became clear to him. He saw all the sorrows and troubles that would fall upon Men and Gods. But he saw, too, why the sorrows and troubles had to fall, and he saw how they might be borne so that Gods and Men, by being noble in the days of sorrow and trouble, would leave in the world a force that one day, a day that was far off indeed, would destroy the evil that brought terror and sorrow and despair into the world.
Then when he had drunk out of the great horn that Mimir had given him, he put his hand to his face and he plucked out his right eye. Terrible was the pain that Odin All-Father endured. But he made no groan nor moan. He bowed his head and put his cloak before his face, as Mimir took the eye and let it sink deep, deep into the water of the Well of Wisdom. And there the Eye of Odin stayed, shining up through the water, a sign to all who came to that place of the price that the Father of the Gods had paid for his wisdom.
ODIN FACES AN EVIL MAN
Once, when his wisdom was less great, Odin had lived in the world of men. Frigga, his Queen, was with him then; they had lived on a bleak island, and they were known as Grimner the Fisherman and his wife.
Always Odin and Frigga were watching over the sons of men, watching to know which ones they would foster and train so that they might have the strength and spirit to save the world from the power of the Giants. And while they were staying on the bleak island, Odin and Frigga saw the sons of King Hrauding, and both thought that in them the spirit of heroes could be fostered. Odin and Frigga made plans to bring the children to them, so that they might be under their care and training. One day the[Pg 83] boys went fishing. A storm came and drove their boat on the rocks of the island where Odin and Frigga lived.
They brought them to their hut, Odin and Frigga, and they told them they would care for them and train them through the winter and that in the spring they would build a boat that would carry them back to their father's country. "We shall see," said Odin to Frigga that night, "we shall see which of the two can be formed into the noblest hero."
He said that because Frigga favored one of the boys and he favored the other. Frigga thought well of the elder boy, Agnar, who had a gentle voice and quiet and kindly ways. But Odin thought more of the younger boy. Geirrod, his name was, and he was strong and passionate, with a high and a loud voice.
Odin took Geirrod into his charge, and he showed him how to fish and hunt. He made the boy even bolder than he was by making him leap from rock to rock, and by letting him climb the highest cliffs and jump across the widest chasms. He would bring him to the den of the bear and make him fight for his life with the spear he had made for him. Agnar went to the chase, too, and showed his skill and boldness. But Geirrod overcame him in nearly every trial. "What a hero Geirrod will be," Odin would often say.
Agnar stayed often with Frigga. He would stay beside her while she spun, listening to the tales she told, and asking such questions as brought him more and more wisdom. And Agnar heard of Asgard and of the Dwellers in[Pg 84] Asgard and of how they protected Midgard, the World of Men, from the Giants of Jötunheim. Agnar, though he did not speak out, said in his own mind that he would give all his life and all his strength and all his thought to helping the work of the Gods.
Spring came and Odin built a boat for Geirrod and Agnar. They could go back now to their own country. And before they set out Odin told Geirrod that one day he would come to visit him. "And do not be too proud to receive a Fisherman in your hall, Geirrod," said Odin. "A King should give welcome to the poorest who comes to his hall."