Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas

Page: 56

He assured the indignant gods, therefore, that he would leave no stone unturned in his efforts to secure [107]the release of Idun, and, borrowing Freya’s falcon plumage, he flew off to Thrym-heim, where he found Idun alone, sadly mourning her exile from Asgard and her beloved Bragi. Changing the fair goddess into a nut according to some accounts, or according to others, into a swallow, Loki grasped her tightly between his claws, and then rapidly retraced his way to Asgard, hoping that he would reach the shelter of its high walls ere Thiassi returned from a fishing excursion in the Northern seas to which he had gone.

Meantime the gods had assembled on the ramparts of the heavenly city, and they were watching for the return of Loki with far more anxiety than they had felt for Odin when he went in search of Od-hroerir. Remembering the success of their ruse on that occasion, they had gathered great piles of fuel, which they were ready to set on fire at any moment.

Suddenly they saw Loki coming, but descried in his wake a great eagle. This was the giant Thiassi who had suddenly returned to Thrym-heim and found that his captive had been carried off by a falcon, in whom he readily recognised one of the gods. Hastily donning his eagle plumes he had given immediate chase and was rapidly overtaking his prey. Loki redoubled his efforts as he neared the walls of Asgard, and ere Thiassi overtook him he reached the goal and sank exhausted in the midst of the gods. Not a moment was lost in setting fire to the accumulated fuel, and as the pursuing Thiassi passed over the walls in his turn, the flames and smoke brought him to the ground crippled and half stunned, an easy prey to the gods, who fell ruthlessly upon him and slew him.

The Æsir were overjoyed at the recovery of Idun, and they hastened to partake of the precious apples which she had brought safely back. Feeling the return [108]of their wonted strength and good looks with every mouthful they ate, they good-naturedly declared that it was no wonder if even the giants longed to taste the apples of perpetual youth. They vowed therefore that they would place Thiassi’s eyes as a constellation in the heavens, in order to soften any feeling of anger which his kinsmen might experience upon learning that he had been slain.

“Up I cast the eyes

Of Allvaldi’s son

Into the heaven’s serene:

They are signs the greatest

Of my deeds.”

Lay of Harbard (Thorpe’s tr.).