Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

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A moment later, however, he saw his mistake, for, while Thialfi attacked Mokerkialfi with a spade, Thor came with a rush upon the scene and flung his hammer full at his opponent’s head. Hrungnir, to ward off the blow, interposed his stone club, which was shivered into pieces that flew all over the earth, supplying all the flint stones thereafter to be found, and one fragment sank deep into Thor’s forehead. As the god dropped fainting to the ground, his hammer crashed against the head of Hrungnir, who fell dead beside him, in such a position that one of his ponderous legs was thrown over the recumbent god.

“Thou now remindest me

How I with Hrungnir fought,

That stout-hearted Jotun,

Whose head was all of stone;

Yet I made him fall

And sink before me.”

Sæmund’s Edda (Thorpe’s tr.).

Thialfi, who, in the meanwhile, had disposed of the great clay giant with its cowardly mare’s heart, now rushed to his master’s assistance, but his efforts were unavailing, nor could the other gods, whom he quickly summoned, raise the pinioning leg. While they were standing there, helplessly wondering what they should do next, Thor’s little son Magni came up. According to varying accounts, he was then only three days or three years old, but he quickly seized the giant’s foot, and, unaided, set his father free, declaring that had he only been summoned sooner he would easily have [76]disposed of both giant and squire. This exhibition of strength made the gods marvel greatly, and helped them to recognise the truth of the various predictions, which one and all declared that their descendants would be mightier than they, would survive them, and would rule in their turn over the new heaven and earth.

To reward his son for his timely aid, Thor gave him the steed Gullfaxi (golden-maned), to which he had fallen heir by right of conquest, and Magni ever after rode this marvellous horse, which almost equalled the renowned Sleipnir in speed and endurance.

Groa, the Sorceress

After vainly trying to remove the stone splinter from his forehead, Thor sadly returned home to Thrud-vang, where Sif’s loving efforts were equally unsuccessful. She therefore resolved to send for Groa (green-making), a sorceress, noted for her skill in medicine and for the efficacy of her spells and incantations. Groa immediately signified her readiness to render every service in her power to the god who had so often benefited her, and solemnly began to recite powerful runes, under whose influence Thor felt the stone grow looser and looser. His delight at the prospect of a speedy deliverance made Thor wish to reward the enchantress forthwith, and knowing that nothing could give greater pleasure to a mother than the prospect of seeing a long-lost child, he proceeded to tell her that he had recently crossed the Elivagar, or ice streams, to rescue her little son Orvandil (germ) from the frost giants’ cruel power, and had succeeded in carrying him off in a basket. But, as the little rogue would persist in sticking one of his bare toes through a hole in the basket, it had been frost-bitten, and Thor, accidentally breaking it off, had [77]flung it up into the sky, to shine as a star, known in the North as “Orvandil’s Toe.”