Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 49

Concealing their chagrin, the gods were loud in praise of his strength, but they next produced a much stronger fetter, Droma, which, after some persuasion, the wolf allowed them to fasten around him as before. Again a short, sharp struggle sufficed to burst this bond, and it is proverbial in the North to use the figurative expressions, “to get loose out of Læding,” and “to dash out of Droma,” whenever great difficulties have to be surmounted. [92]

“Twice did the Æsir strive to bind,

Twice did they fetters powerless find;

Iron or brass of no avail,

Naught, save through magic, could prevail.”

Valhalla (J. C. Jones).

The gods, perceiving now that ordinary bonds, however strong, would never prevail against the Fenris wolf’s great strength, bade Skirnir, Frey’s servant, go down to Svart-alfa-heim and bid the dwarfs fashion a bond which nothing could sever.

The Binding of Fenris

The Binding of Fenris

Dorothy Hardy

By magic arts the dark elves manufactured a slender silken rope from such impalpable materials as the sound of a cat’s footsteps, a woman’s beard, the roots of a mountain, the longings of the bear, the voice of fishes, and the spittle of birds, and when it was finished they gave it to Skirnir, assuring him that no strength would avail to break it, and that the more it was strained the stronger it would become.

“Gleipnir, at last,

By Dark Elves cast,

In Svart-alf-heim, with strong spells wrought,

To Odin was by Skirnir brought:

As soft as silk, as light as air,

Yet still of magic power most rare.”

Valhalla (J. C. Jones).

Armed with this bond, called Gleipnir, the gods went with Fenris to the Island of Lyngvi, in the middle of Lake Amsvartnir, and again proposed to test his strength. But although Fenris had grown still stronger, he mistrusted the bond which looked so slight. He therefore refused to allow himself to be bound, unless one of the Æsir would consent to put his hand in his mouth, and leave it there, as a pledge of good faith, and that no magic arts were to be used against him. [93]

The gods heard the decision with dismay, and all drew back except Tyr, who, seeing that the others would not venture to comply with this condition, boldly stepped forward and thrust his hand between the monster’s jaws. The gods now fastened Gleipnir securely around Fenris’s neck and paws, and when they saw that his utmost efforts to free himself were fruitless, they shouted and laughed with glee. Tyr, however, could not share their joy, for the wolf, finding himself captive, bit off the god’s hand at the wrist, which since then has been known as the wolf’s joint.


“Be silent, Tyr!

Thou couldst never settle

A strife ’twixt two;

Of thy right hand also

I must mention make,

Which Fenris from thee took.


I of a hand am wanting,

But thou of honest fame;

Sad is the lack of either.