George Dasant Translation (1842): [GYLFAGINNING]
Rasmus Björn Anderson Translation (1872): [PROLOGUE][GYLFAGINNING][SKÁLDSKAPARMÁL]
Arthur Brodeur Translation (1916): [PROLOGUE &GYLFAGINNING][SKÁLDSKAPARMÁL]
The First English Translation of
OR, A DESCRIPTION
Manners, Customs, Religion and Laws
And other Northern Nations;
Including those of
OUR OWN SAXON ANCESTORS.
Translation of the Edda, or
System of RUNIC MYTHOLOGY,
AND OTHER PIECES,
From the Ancient Islandic Tongue.
In TWO VOLUMES.
Translated from Mons. Mallet’s Introduction a l'Histoire de Dannemarc, &c.
With Additional Notes By The English Translator, And Goranson's Latin Version Of The Edda.
The Original Text:
Monuments de la mythologie et de la poesie des Celtes,
et particulierement des anciens Scandinaves
Translated and Annotated by Bishop Thomas Percy
Spelling and grammar of the Original edition have been retained as published.
EDDA, ou Mythologie Celtique
Contents of Volume II
The Author's Introduction
THE EDDA, or ANCIENT ICELANDIC (or RUNIC) MYTHOLOGY viz.
The Prologue and
Chapter 1 of Gylfaginning
were omitted by Mr. Mallet.
|2. Gylfi kom til Ásgarðs.||The Vision of Gylfe: and Illusions of Har.|
Gylfi konungr var maðr vitr ok fjölkunnigr. Hann undraðist þat mjök, er ásafólk var svá kunnigt, at allir hlutir gengu at vilja þeira. Þat hugsaði hann, hvárt þat myndi vera af eðli sjálfra þeira eða myndi því valda goðmögn þau, er þeir blótuðu. Hann byrjaði ferð sína til Ásgarðs ok fór með leynð ok brá á sik gamals manns líki ok dulðist svá. En æsir váru því vísari, at þeir höfðu spádóm, ok sá þeir ferð hans, fyrr en hann kom, ok gerðu í móti honum sjónhverfingar. Ok er hann kom inn í borgina, þá sá hann þar háva höll, svá at varla mátti hann sjá yfir hana. Þak hennar var lagt gylldum skjöldum svá sem spánþak. Svá segir Þjóðólfr inn hvinverski, at Valhöll var skjöldum þökð:
Gylfi sá mann í hallardurum, ok lék at
handsöxum ok hafði sjau senn á lofti. Sá spurði hann fyrr at nafni. Hann
nefndist Gangleri ok kominn af refilstigum ok beiddist at sækja til
náttstaðar ok spurði, hverr höllina átti.
Hann sá þrjú hásæti ok hvert upp frá öðru,
ok sátu þrír menn sinn í hverju. Þá spurði hann, hvert nafn höfðingja
Sweden reigned a king named Gylfe, who was famous for his wisdom
and skill in magic. He beheld, with astonishment, the great
respect which all his people shewed to the New: comers from
Asia; and was at a loss whether to attribute the success of
these strangers to the superiority of their natural abilities,
or to any divine power resident in them. To be satisfied in this
particular, he resolved to go to Asgard (a), disguised under the
appearance of an old man of ordinary rank. But the Asiatics*
were discerning not to see through his design, and therefore, as
soon as he arrived, they fascinated his eyes by their
inchantments (b). Immediately appeared to his sight a very,
lofty palace; the roof of which, as far as his eyes could reach,
was covered with golden shields. The poet Diodolfe thus
describes it, "The Gods had formed "the roof of brilliant gold,
the walls of stone, the foundations of the hall were mountains
(c)." At the entrance of this palace Gylfe saw a man playing
with seven little swords, which he amused himself with tossing
into the air and catching as they fell, one after another. This
person asked his name; the disguised monarch told him, it was
Gangler, and that he came from the rocks of Riphil. He asked, in
his turn, to whom that palace belonged? The other told him it
belonged to their king, and that he would introduce him to his
presence. Gangler entering, saw many stately buildings, and
innumerable halls crouded with people; some drinking, others
engaged in various sports, others wrestling. Gangler seeing a
multitude of things, the meaning of which he could not
comprehend, softly pronounced the following verses. “Carefully
examine all the gates, before thou advancest further; for thou
canst not tell where the foes may be sitting, who are placed in
ambush against thee." He afterwards beheld three thrones, raised
one above another, and on each throne sat a man (d). Upon his
asking which of these was their king, his guide answered, "He
who sits on the lowest throne is the king, his name is Har, or
the lofty one: The second is Jafnhar, i. e. equal to the lofty
one: But he who sits on the highest throne is called Thridi, or
the third (e)." Har perceiving Gangler, desired to know what
business had brought him to Asgard: Adding, that he should be,
welcome to eat and drink without cost, along with the other
guests of his court. Gangler said, He desired first to know
whether there was any person present who was famous for his
wisdom and knowledge. Har answered, If thou art the more knowing
I fear thou wilt hardly return safe: But go, stand below, and
propose thy questions: here sits one will be able to
* The original is Æsirnir (Asæ) which signifies either Gods or Asiatics. T.
In the edition of the Edda, published by
Resenius, there is a Chapter before this: But I have not translated it, because
it has little or no relation to the rest, and contains nothing remarkable: It is
also not found in the MS. at Upsal. That chapter seems to have been only
prefixed by way of preamble, by SNORRO STURLESON the compiler of the EDDA. As
for GYLFE, Snorro informs us in the beginning of his larger Chronicle, that this
prince, who governed Sweden before the arrival of Odin and his Asiatics, was
obliged to yield to the supernatural power, which those intruders employed
against him, and to resign his kingdom up to them. This gave rise to the
supposition that Gylfe was willing to make trial himself of the skill and
sagacity of these new-comers, by proposing to them a variety of captious
questions. In the history of ancient Scandinavia, as well as that of all the
eastern countries, we often see these contests or trials of skill between kings
and princes, in which the victory is always assigned to him who could give an
answer to every question, and assign a cause (true or false) for every
phœnomenon. This was called Science or Wisdom; words originally synonimous in
all languages, but at present so easily distinguished. It will be necessary
here, to refer the reader to the account of Odin's arrival in the north, given
in the former volume, (chap. II, III, &c.) for his more readily understanding
this and the following chapters.
3. Um Alföðr, æðstan goða.
4. Frá Niflheimi ok Múspelli.
THE FIRST FABLE
Questions of Gangler
Gangleri hóf svá mál sitt: "Hverr er æðstr
eða elztr allra goða?"
Hárr segir: "Sá heitir Alföðr at váru máli, en í Ásgarði inum forna átti hann tólf nöfn. Eitt er Alföðr, annat er Herran eða Herjan, þriðja er Nikarr eða Hnikarr, fjórða er Nikuðr eða Hnikuðr, fimmta Fjölnir, sétta Óski, sjaunda Ómi, átta Bifliði eða Biflindi, níunda Sviðurr, tíunda Sviðrir, ellifta Viðrir, tólfta Jálg eða Jálkr."
Þá spyrr Gangleri: "Hvar er sá guð, eða hvat má hann, eða hvat hefir hann unnit framaverka?"
Hárr segir: "Lifir hann of allar aldir ok stjórnar öllu ríki sínu ok ræðr öllum hlutum, stórum ok smám."
Þá mælir Jafnhárr: "Hann smíðaði himin ok jörð ok loftin ok alla eign þeira."
Þá mælti Þriði: "Hitt er þó mest, er hann gerði manninn ok gaf honum önd þá, er lifa skal ok aldri týnast, þótt líkaminn fúni at moldu eða brenni at ösku, ok skulu allir menn lifa, þeir er rétt eru siðaðir, ok vera með honum sjálfum þar sem heitir Gimlé eða Vingólf, en vándir menn fara til Heljar ok þaðan í Niflhel. Þat er niðr í inn níunda heim."
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvat hafðist hann áðr at en himinn ok jörð væri ger?"
Þá svarar Hárr: "Þá var hann með hrímþursum."
4. Gangleri mælti: "Hvat var upphaf eða
hversu hófst, eða hvat var áðr?"
Þá mælti Jafnhárr: "Fyrr var þat mörgum öldum en jörð var sköpuð er Niflheimr var gerr, ok í honum miðjum liggr bruðr sá, er Hvergelmir heitir, ok þaðan af falla þær ár, er svá heita: Svöl, Gunnþrá, Fjörm, Fimbulþul, Slíðr ok Hríð, Sylgr ok Ylgr, Víð, Leiftr. Gjöll er næst Helgrindum."
GANGLER thus began his discourse. Who is the supreme
or first of the Gods? Har answers: We call him here ALFADER, or
the universal father; but in the ancient Asgard, he hath twelve
names (a), Gangler asks; Who* is this God? What is his power?
and what hath he done to display his glory (b)? Har replies; He
lives for ever; he governs all his kingdom; and directs the
great things as well as the small. Jafnhar adds: He hath formed
the heaven, the earth, and the air. Thridi proceeds, He hath
done more; he hath made man, and given him a spirit or soul,
which shall live, even after the body shall have mouldered away.
And then all the just shall dwell with him in a place named
Gimle (or Vingolf, the palace of friendship:) But wicked men
shall go to Hela, or death, and from thence to Niflheim, or the
abode of the wicked, which is below in the ninth world.: Gangler
then asked, how this God Was employed before he made the heaven
and the earth? Har replies, He was then with the Giants (c).
But, says Gangler, With what did lie begin? or what was the
beginning of things? Hear, replied Har, what is said in the poem
of the Voluspa. “At the beginning of time, when nothing was yet
formed, neither shore, nor sea, nor foundations beneath the
earth was no where to be found below, nor the heaven above. All
was one vast abyss (d) without plant or verdure.'' Jafnhar
added, Many winters before the earth was made, Niflheim (e) or
Hell was formed, and in the middle of it is a fountain named
Hvergelmer. From this fountain run the following rivers,
Anguish, the Enemy of Joy, the Abode of Death, Perdition, the
Gulph, the Tempest, the Whirlwind, the Bellowing and Howling;
the Abyss. That which is called the Roaring runs near the grates
of the Abode of Death.
*Goranson translates this, Ubi ejl hie deus? Huar Es Sa Gud? Where is this God? Which is doubtless the true meaning. T.
|REMARKS on the FIRST FABLE|
This fable is
remarkable upon many accounts. It throws great light upon one of the
principal doctrines of the ancient religion of Europe;* and in
particular, confirms what Tacitus tells us, concerning the idea which
the Germans entertained of the Supreme God: Regnator omnium deus, cœtera
subjecta atque par entia. Germ. c. 39. The Germans and Scandinavians at
first called this divinity, Tis, Tuis or
Teut, a word
to which the Gauls added that of Tad or
this day in the British language, (v. Rostrenen Diction. Celt. p. 712.)
We see in the Edda that the name of Father was also given him by the
Scandinavians In future ages, and doubtless after the time of Tacitus,
these people accustomed themselves to call him by an appellative name,
God, or Guodan, i.e.
This, by degrees, they changed into
which the Anglo-Saxons
*Fr. La Religion Celtique.
Wodan (says Paulus Diaconus. Rer. Langobardl 1.1, c. 3.) quem, adjecta litera Guodan dixere, ab universis Germaniæ gentibus, ut Deus adoratur. Consult, on this subject, Pelloutier Hist, des Celtes, tom. ii. p. 74. & seq.
(a) " He hath twelve names."] These twelve names are enumerated in the Edda; but I did not chuse to interrupt the text with a list of such harsh and unusual sounds: I shall therefore give them here for the curious, together with some conjectures that have been made by the learned concerning their significations. 1. Alfader (the Father of all.) 2. Herian (the Lord, or rather, the Warrior.) 3. Nikader (the supercilious.) 4. Nikuder (the God of the sea.) 5. Fiolner (he who knoweth much.) 6. Omi (the sonorous.) 7. Biflid (the agile, or nimble.) 8. Vidrer (the munificent.) 9. Suidrer (the exterminator.) 10. Suidur (the destroyer by fire.) 11. Oski (he who chuses such as are to die.) 12. Salkir (the happy, of blessed.) The name of Alfader is what occurs most frequently in the Edda, I have translated, it Universal Father.
(b) "To display his glory."] These are important questions; but the answers are still more remarkable. From their conformity with the christian doctrines, one would be tempted to believe that Snorro had here embellished the religion of his Pagan ancestors, by bringing it as near as possible to the Gospel, if we did not find the same unfolded system literally expressed in the Voluspa, a poem of undoubted antiquity, and which was composed long before the name of Christianity was known in the north; and also if she same system were not continually referred to in every other place of the Edda. But What ought to remove every remaining doubt, is that we know from other proofs, that the belief of the ‘Gothic and’ Celtic nations upon most of these points, was much the same with, what we have read in the text. I shall give many proofs of this below.
(c) “He was them with the giants."] It is not easy to translate
the original word. The ‘Gothic’* nations had Giants and Spirits of many
different orders, which we want terms to distinguish. Those mentioned in
the text are called in the original Icelandic
from the word Rym,
Frost, and Thuss,
a Giant or
Satyr. We shall see presently the origin of this denomination." With
respect to the word
Thuss it may serve to show, by the bye, the
conformity of thinking between the Gothic and' Celtic nations, even upon
the most trivial subjects. The Gauls, as well as the northern nations,
believed the existence of the Thusses, and gave them the fame names.
Only the Thusses,
or Satyrs of the Gauls, seem to have been somewhat more disposed to
gallantry than those of the north; which we shall not be surprized at.
Many of the fathers of the church speak of the strange liberties which
these gentry took with women: They called them in Latin
St. Augustin, in particular, tells us, he had been assured by so many
persons that those beings fought a commerce with women, and seduced
them; that none but an imprudent person could pretend to disbelieve it.'
De Civit. Dei, 1. 15. c. 23. If it were not for incurring this
imputation, I should have been tempted to look upon these stories as
only so many excuses, which love invents to cover the faults it induces
frail females to commit.
Is it not singular, that all those who have treated of the religion of these people, should have given themselves so much trouble to guess at what they thought concerning the creation of the world, and should at length conclude that they could know nothing about it, but what was very uncertain; when at the same time, they had at their elbow an authentic book, which offered them a detail of almost all the particulars they could desire to know? I cannot help making this reflection, in its utmost extent, upon reading what the learned Abbe Banier hath published concerning the religion of the Gauls, the Germans, and the nations of the north.
or Hell."] The original word "Niflheim" signifies in the Gothic
language, the abode of the wicked, or more literally, Evil-home. We see,
by this description of Hell, how much the genius of the ancient'
northern poets and' philosophers* inclined them to allegory; and it is
very probable that almost all the fables that we shall meet with
hereafter, Contained in them some truth, the
interpretation of which they reserved to themselves. This is confirmed
by Cæsar and others, concerning the Gauls;' and needs no other proof'
here than the mysterious and significant name which is given to every
thing. So much for the
of the Celtic 'and Gothic' nations, on which I shall make no
farther remarks, at present, because they will occur more naturally on
many occasions hereafter.
4. Frá Niflheimi ok Múspelli. (con't)
5. Upphaf Ymis ok hrímþursa.
THE SECOND FABLE
Of the Burning of the World, and of Surtur
Þá mælti Þriði: "Fyrst var þó sá heimr í suðrhálfu, er Múspell
heitir. Hann er ljóss ok heitr. Sú átt er logandi ok brennandi. Er hann ok ófærr
þeim, er þar eru útlendir ok eigi eigu þar óðul. Sá er Surtr nefndr, er þar sitr
á landsenda til landvarnar. Hann hefir loganda sverð, ok í enda veraldar mun
hann fara ok herja ok sigra öll goðin ok brenna allan heim með eldi. Svá segir í
5. Gangleri mælti: "Hversu skipaðist, áðr en ættirnar yrði eða
En hér segir svá Vafþrúðnir jötunn:
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvernig óxu ættir þaðan eða skapaðist svá, at
fleiri menn urðu, eða trúir þú þann guð, er nú sagðir þú frá?"
|THEN Thridi opened his mouth and said, Yet, before all things, there existed what we call Muspelsheim (a). It is a world luminous, glowing, not to be dwelt in by strangers, and situate at the extremity of the earth. Surtur, (the Black) holds his empire there. In his hands there shines a flaming sword. He shall come at the end of the world; he shall vanquish all the Gods, and give up the universe a prey to flames. Hear what the Voluspa says of him. “Surtur, filled with deceitful stratagems, Cometh from the South. A rolling Sun beams from his sword. The Gods are troubled? men tread in crouds the paths of death; the Heaven is split asunder." But, says Gangler, What was the state of the world, before there were families of men upon the earth, and before the nations were formed? Har answered him. The rivers called Elivages, flowed so far from their sources that the venom which they rolled along became hard, like the scoria of a furnace when it grows cold. Hence was formed the ice; which stopped and flowed no more. Then all the venom that was beginning to cover it, also became frozen: And thus many strata of congealed vapours were formed, one above another, in the vast abyss. Jafnhar added; By this means that part of the abyss which lies towards the north, was filled with a mass of gelid vapours and ice; whilst the interior parts of it were replete with whirlwinds and tempests. Directly opposite to it, rose the south part of the abyss, formed of the lightnings and sparks which flow from the world of fire. Then Thridi proceeded, and said, By this means a dreadful freezing wind came from the quarter of Niflheim, whilst whatever lay opposite to the burning world was heated and enlightened. And as to that part of the abyss which lay between these two extremes;. it was light and serene like the air in a calm. A breath of heat then spreading itself over the gelid vapours, they melted into drops; and of these drops were formed a man, by the power of him who governed (b). This man was named Ymir; the Giants call him Aurgelmer. From him are descended all the families of the Giants; according to that of the Voluspa; "The prophetesses are all come of Vittolfe, the spectres of Vilmode, and the Giants of Ymir." And in another place; “The rivers Elivages have run drops of poison; and there blew a wind, whence a Giant was formed: From him came all the families of the Giants." Then spake Gangler, and said, How did this family of Ymir spread itself? Or do ye believe that he was a God? Jafnhar replied, we are far from believing him to have been a God; for he was wicked, as were all his posterity. Whilst he slept, he fell into a sweat, and from the pit of his left arm were born a male and female. One of his feet begot upon the other a son, from whom is descended the race of the Giants, called from their original, the Giants of the Frost (c).|
|REMARKS on the SECOND FABLE|
(a) Muspelsheim signifies, the abode or residence of Muspel*
But who is this Muspel? Of this we are intirely ignorant. The ancient sages of
the north were desirous to explain how the world had been framed, and to advance
something probable for its being so cold towards the north, and warm towards the
south. For this purpose they placed, towards the south, a huge mass of fire,
which they supposed had been there for ever, and served as a residence to wicked
Genii. This was the matter of which the Sun was made. This Ether, or Fire, so
placed at one extremity of the world, enabled them also to assign a probable
reason for its final conflagration; for they were absolutely persuaded, that it
would at the last day be consumed by fire. And as to the north, it was
continually cold there, because opposite to that quarter lay immense mountains
of ice. But whence came that ice? Nothing could be more easily accounted for;
for Hell, which had been prepared from the beginning of ages, was watered by
those great rivers mentioned in the preceding fable; and those great rivers
themselves, in flowing at so vast distance from the south, whilst the course of
their streams carried them still farther from it, froze at last in their
currents, and swelled into huge heaps of ice, which communicated a chilliness to
the northern winds. Between that world of fire and this of ice, there lay a
grand abyss, which contained nothing but air; and here was placed, in process
of, time, the earth which we inhabit. If we read the fragment of Sanchoniathon,
preserved by Eusebius, De Prep. 1.2. c. 10 we shall find there a history of the
formation of the world, very much resembling this.
*Literally Muspel’s Home.
|6. Frá Auðhumlu ok upphafi Óðins.||
THE THIRD FABLE
Of the Cow Ædumla
Gangleri: "Hvar byggði Ymir, eða við hvat lifði hann?"
Hárr svarar: "Næst var þat, þá er hrímit draup, at þar varð af kýr sú, er Auðhumla hét, en fjórar mjólkár runnu ór spenum hennar, ok fæddi hon Ymi."
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Við hvat fæddist kýrin?"
Hárr svarar: "Hon sleikði hrímsteinana, er saltir váru, ok inn fyrsta dag, er hon sleikði steinana, kom ór steininum at kveldi manns hár, annan dag manns höfuð, þriðja dag var þar allr maðr. Sá er nefndr Búri. Hann var fagr álitum, mikill ok máttugr. Hann gat son þann, er Borr hét, hann fekk þeirar konu, er Bestla hét, dóttir Bölþorns jötuns, ok fengu þau þrjá sonu. Hét einn Óðinn, annarr Vili, þriði Vé, ok þat er mín trúa, at sá Óðinn ok hans bræðr munu vera stýrandi himins ok jarðar. Þat ætlum vér, at hann myni svá heita. Svá heitir sá maðr, er vér vitum mestan ok ágæztan, ok vel meguð þér hann láta svá heita."
|GANGLER then desired to know where the Giant Ymir dwelt, and in what manner he was fed. Har answered, Immediately after this breath from the south had melted the gelid vapours, and resolved them into drops, there was formed out of them a Cow named Ædumla. Four rivers of milk flowed from her teats, and thus she nourished Ymir. The cow, in her turn, supported herself by licking the rocks that were covered with salt and hoar-frost. The first day that she licked these rocks, there sprung from her, towards evening, the hairs of a man; the second day, a head; on the third, an intire man, who was endowed with beauty, agility, and power. He was called Bure, and was the father of Bore, who married Beyzla, the daughter of the Giant Baldorn. Of that marriage were born three sons, Odin, Vile, and Vei and 'tis our belief, that that this Odin, with his brothers, ruleth both heaven and earth, that Odin is his true' name, and that he is the most powerful of all the Gods (a).|
|REMARKS on the THIRD FABLE|
In all likelihood this fable is only an allegory; but whatever right my privilege of commentator may give me to explain it, I shall decline the attempt. There is, however, a very important remark to be made here. A powerful Being had with his breath animated the drops but of which the first Giant was formed. This Being, whom the Edda affects not to name, was intirely distinct from Odin, who had his birth long after the formation of Ymir. One may conjecture, therefore, (since we know that the Druids never revealed their mysteries, but by degrees, and with great precaution) that the hidden philosophy of the Celts,* meant to inculcate that the supreme, eternal, invisible, and incorruptible God, whom they durst not name out of fear and reverence, had appointed inferior divinities for the government of the world: and that it was those divinities who, at the last day, were to yield to the efforts of powerful enemies, and be involved in the ruins of the universe: and that then the supreme God, ever existing, and placed above the reach of all revolution and change, would arise from his repose, to make a new world out of the ruins of the old, and begin a new period, which should in its turn give place to another; and so on through all eternity. The same was the system of the Stoics; who, as well as the philosophers of the north,† supposed that the world, after it had been consumed by flames, should be renewed; and that the inferior Deities should be destroyed at the same time. What confirms all this, is, that this God, superior to Odin himself, and of whom the vulgar among this people had scarce any idea, is represented in the Icelandic poems as making a second appearance, after the death of all the Gods, in order to distribute justice, and establish a new order of things. See the Icelandic odes, cited in the antiquities of Bartholin, 1. 2. c. 14.
*It is sufficient just to hint to the reader, that our ingenious author goes here upon the hypothesis of M. Pelioutier, that the Goths and Celts were the same people, and that the doctrine of the Druids was also that of the Scandinavian Scalds; an hypothesis which I take to be extremely erroneous. T.
† Fr. Les Celtes.
(a) "The most powerful of all the Gods."] 'Tis not undeserving of notice, that all the ancient nations of Europe* describe their origin with the same circumstances. Tacitus says, that the Germans, in their verses, celebrated a God born of the earth, named Tuiston (that is, the son of Tis, or Tuis, the supreme God.) This Tuiston had a son named Mannus, whose three sons were the original ancestors of the three principal nations of Germany. The Scythians, according to Herodotus, lib. 4.. c. 6. & 10. said that Targytaus. (i.e. the Good Taus) the founder of their nation, had three sons, Leipoxain, Anpoxain and Kolaxain. A tradition received by the Romans, imported (according to Appian, Illyr. Lib.) that the Cyclop Polypheme had by Galatea three sons, named Celtus, lllyrius, and Gallus. Saturn, the father of "Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, might very well come from the same source; as well as the three sons whom Hesiod makes to spring from the marriage of Heaven and Earth, Coitus, Briareus, and Gyges. A tradition so ancient and so general, must have certainly had its foundation in some real fact, though I pretend not to decide with Cluverius, that this fact is what the Scripture tells us of Noah and his. sons; yet one cannot deny, that there is some thing very probable in this; unless the reader is inclined to give the preference to the sons of Gomer, Alkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. Gen. x. 3.
* Fr. Tous les Peuples Celtes.
7. Dráp Ymis ok frá Bergelmi.
8. Borssynir skópu jörð ok himinn.
THE FOURTH FABLE
How the Sons of Bore made Heaven and Earth
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvat varð þá um þeira sætt, eða hvárir váru ríkari?"
Þá svarar Hárr: "Synir Bors drápu Ymi jötun, en er hann féll, þá hljóp svá mikit blóð ór sárum hans, at með því drekkðu þeir allri ætt hrímþursa, nema einn komst undan með sínu hýski. Hann kalla jötnar Bergelmi. Hann fór upp á lúðr sinn ok kona hans ok helzt þar, ok eru af þeim komnar hrímþursa ættir, svá sem hér segir:
8. Þá segir Gangleri: "Hvat höfðust þá at
Bors synir, ef þú trúir at þeir sé goð?"
Svá var áðr en þetta væri."
|WAS there, proceeded Gangler, any kind of equality, or any degree of good understanding between those two different races? Har answers him; Far from it: the sons of Bore (a) slew the Giant Ymir, and there ran so much blood from his wounds, that all the families of the Giants of the Frost were drowned in it, except one single Giant, who saved himself, with all his household. He is called Bergelmer. He escaped by happening to be aboard his bark; and by him was preserved the race of the Giants of the Frost. This is confirmed by the following verses. "Many winters before the earth was fashioned, was Bergelmer born; and well I know that this sage Giant was saved and preserved on board his bark (b)." Gangler demands, What then became of the sons of Bore, whom you look upon as Gods? Har replied: To relate this is no trivial matter. They dragged the body of Ymir into the middle of the abyss, and of it formed the earth. The water and the sea were composed of his blood; the mountains of his bones; the rocks of his teeth; and of his hollow bones, mingled with the blood that ran from his wounds, they made the vast ocean; in the midst of which they infixed the earth (c). Then having formed the heavens of his scull, they made them rest on all sides' upon the earth: they divided them into four quarters, and placed a dwarf at each corner to sustain it. These dwarfs are called East, West, South, and North. After this they went and. seized upon fires in Muspelsheim, (that flaming world in the south), and placed them in the abyss, in the upper and lower parts of the sky, to enlighten the earth. Every fire had its assigned residence. Hence the days were distinguished, and the years reduced to calculation. For this reason it is said in the poem of VOLUSPA, " Formerly the sun knew not its palace, the moon was ignorant of its powers, and the stars knew not the stations they were to occupy (d)." These, cried out Gangler, were grand performances indeed! most stupendous undertakings! Har goes on, and says, The earth is round, and about it is placed the deep sea the shores of which were given for a dwelling to the Giants. But higher up, in a place equally distant on all sides from the sea, the Gods built upon earth a fortress against the Giants (e), the circumference of which surrounds the world. The materials they employed for this work, were the eyebrows of Ymir; and they called the place Midgard, or the Middle Mansion. They afterwards tossed his brains into the air, and they became the clouds: for thus it is described in the following verses. "Of the flesh of Ymir was formed the earth; of his sweat, the seas; of his bones, the mountains; of his hair, the herbs of the field; and of his head, the heavens: but the merciful Gods built of his eyes brows the city of Midgard, for the children of men; and of his brains were formed the noxious clouds."|
|REMARKS on the FOURTH FABLE|
I beg leave here, once for all, to observe, that my divisions do not always
agree with those of the
Resenius, or those of the
For as they differ in the several manuscripts, I thought I might regard them all
as arbitrary, and form other divisions when they appeared more commodious."
Of all the ancient Theogonies, I find only that of the Chaldees, which has any resemblance to this of the Edda, Berosus, cited by Syncellus, informs us that that people, one of the most ancient in the world, believed that in the beginning there was only Water and Darkness; that this Water and Darkness contained in them divers monstrous animals, different in form and size, which were all represented in the temple of Bel; that a female, named Omorca, was the mistress of the Universe; that the God Bel put to death all the monsters, destroyed Omorca herself, and dividing her in two, formed of the one half of her the Earth, and of the other the Heavens: to which another tradition adds, that men' were formed put of her head; whence Berosus concludes, that this occasioned man to be endowed with intellectual powers. I do not pretend to aver, that the Chaldeans and northern nations borrowed all these chimæras of each other, although this is not impossible. These ancient nations had as yet but a few ideas, and their imaginations, however fruitful, being confined within narrow limits, could not at first give their inventions that prodigious variety, which was displayed in succeeding ages.
(d) "The stars knew not, &c."] The matter of the sun and stars existed long before the formation of those bodies; this matter was the Æther, the Luminous World, One cannot but remark in this Fable, the remains of the Mosaic doctrine; according to which the creation of a luminous substance, in like manner, preceeded that of the sun and moon. And what indicates one common origin of both accounts, is what Moses adds in the same place. And God said, Let "there be lights in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs of seasons, and of days and of years, &c.'*
*Gen. c. i. ver. 14.
(e) "A fortress against the Giants, &c."] The Persian mythology abounds with circumstances analogous to this. There are always Giants or mischievous Genii, who wish ill to men, and hurt them whenever it is in their power. The Heroes have no employment so dear and so glorious as that of making war upon those Genii. At this very day they are supposed to be banished among the rocks of Caucasus, or Imaus, ever since Tabmuras, sur-named Divbend (he who subdued the Dives) vanquished and put them to flight. Mahometism has not been so severe as Christianity, in eradicating these ancient superstitions, and therefore the inhabitants of Persia are still very much infatuated with them.
|9. Borssynir skópu Ask ok Emblu.||
THE FIFTH FABLE
Of the Formation of Aske and Emla
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Mikit þótti mér þeir
hafa þá snúit til leiðar, er jörð ok himinn var gert ok sól ok himintungl váru
sett ok skipt dægrum, ok hvaðan kómu mennirnir, þeir er heim byggja?"
Þá mælti Hárr: "Þá er þeir gengu með sævarströndu Borssynir, fundu þeir tré tvau ok tóku upp trén ok sköpuðu af menn. Gaf inn fyrsti önd ok líf, annarr vit ok hræring, þriði ásjónu, mál ok heyrn ok sjón, gáfu þeim klæði ok nöfn. Hét karlmaðrinn Askr, en konan Embla, ok ólst þaðan af mannkindin, sú er byggðin var gefinn undir Miðgarði. Þar næst gerðu þeir sér borg í miðjum heimi, er kölluð er Ásgarðr. Þat köllum vér Trója. Þar byggðu goðin ok ættir þeira, ok gerðust þaðan af mörg tíðendi ok greinir bæði á jörðu ok í lofti. Þar er einn staðr, er Hliðskjálf heitir, ok þá er Óðinn settist þar í hásæti, þá sá hann of alla heima ok hvers manns athæfi ok vissi alla hluti, þá er hann sá. Kona hans hét Frigg Fjörgvinsdóttir, ok af þeira ætt er sú kynslóð komin, er vér köllum ása ættir, er byggt hafa Ásgarð inn forna ok þau ríki, er þar liggja til, ok er þat allt goðkunnug ætt. Ok fyrir því má hann heita Alföðr, at hann er faðir allra goðanna ok manna ok alls þess, er af honum ok hans krafti var fullgert. Jörðin var dóttir hans ok kona hans. Af henni gerði hann inn fyrsta soninn, en þat er Ása-Þórr. Honum fylgði afl ok sterkleikr. Þar af sigrar hann öll kvikvendi.
|THESE were indeed important labours, said Gangler; but whence came the men, who at present inhabit the world? Har answered, The sons of Bore, as they were walking one day upon the shore, found two pieces of wood floating on the waves. They took them, and made a man of the one, and a woman of the other (a). The first gave them life and soul; the second reason and motion; the third, hearing, sight, speech, garments, and a name. They called the man Aske, and the woman Emla. From these two, are descended the human race; to whom the Gods have assigned a habitation near Midgard. Then the sons of Bore built, in the middle of the world, the fortress of Asgard; where dwell the Gods, and their families (b). There it is, that so many wonderful works are wrought on the earth, and in the air. Har added, And there if is that the palace of Odin is situated, called Lidjkialf, or the Terror of the Nations. When Odin is there seated on his lofty throne, he thence discovers every country, he sees all the actions of men, and comprehends whatever he beholds. This wife is Frigga, the daughter of Fiorgun. The issue of that marriage is what we call the family of the Ases, that is, of the Gods; a race intirely divine, and which hath built the ancient Asgard. Wherefore Odin is justly called the Universal Father; for he is the parent of Gods, and men; and all things have been produced by his power. The Earth is his daughter and wife (c). On her hath he begotten AsaThor (or the God Thor) his first-born. Strength and Valour are the attendants on this God, and therefore he triumphs over every thing that hath life.|
|REMARKS on the FIFTH FABLE|
(a) "They made a man, &c."] We are come at last to the creation of our species. The circumstances of this fable shew that it was invented among a people addicted to navigation, and settled in a country surrounded with seas and lakes. Bartholin conjectures, that the philosophers of the north, in making men spring from the sea, intended to fortify the Scandinavians against the fear, that annihilation was the consequence of being drowned; and to make them regard the sea, as their proper and natural element. We shall see by the sequel, that the great aim of these warlike Theologians was to inspire courage, and to remove all pretences and grounds for fear. Aske in the Gothic language, signifies an Ash-tree, and Emla, an ELM. I shall leave to others to find out the reason why the preference hath been given to these two trees; and what relation there could be between the two sexes, and these two different sorts of wood.
(b) “Where dwell the Gods and their
families."] Asgard is literally the Court of the Gods. Some manuscripts
add, that Asgard is Troy; but this can be no other than the marginal
note of some copyist, crept by mistake into the text. The Gods, being
continually threatned with attacks by the Giants, built in the middle a
large inclosure, named MidGard, or the MiddleAbode, one of the strongest
of citadels. This is the Olympus of Homer; as the Giants are his Titans.
I shall once for all observe, that the ‘Gothic and' Celtic nations, as
well as the Greeks derived all these fables from the inexhaustible
source of eastern traditions. But the people of the north preserved them
nearly the same as they received them, for above two thousand years;
whereas the same fables found in Greece so favourable a soil, that in a
short time they multiplied a hundred fold.
10. Tilkváma Dags ok Nætr.
11. Frá Sól ok Mána.
12. Frá úlfakreppu Sólar.
THE SIXTH FABLE
Of the Giant Nor
Nörfi eða Narfi hét jötunn, er byggði í Jötunheimum. Hann átti dóttur, er Nótt hét. Hon var svört ok dökk, sem hon átti ætt til. Hon var gift þeim manni, er Naglfari hét. Þeira sonr hét Auðr. Því næst var hon gift þeim, er Ánarr hét. Jörð hét þeira dóttir. Síðast átti hana Dellingr, ok var hann ása ættar. Var þeira sonr Dagr. Var hann ljóss ok fagr eftir faðerni sínu. Þá tók Alföðr Nótt ok Dag, son hennar, ok gaf þeim tvá hesta ok tvær kerrur ok sendi þau upp á himin, at þau skulu ríða á hverjum tveim dægrum umhverfis jörðina. Ríðr Nótt fyrri þeim hesti, er kallaðr er Hrímfaxi, ok at morgni hverjum döggvir hann jörðina af méldropum sínum. Sá hestr, er Dagr á, heitir Skinfaxi, ok lýsir allt loft ok jörðina af faxi hans."
11. Þá mælti Gangleri:
"Hversu stýrir hann gang sólar eða tungls?"
12. Þá mælti Gangleri: "Skjótt ferr sólin ok
nær svá sem hon sé hrædd, ok eigi myndi hon þá meir hvata göngunni, at
hon hræddist bana sinn."
|THE Giant Nor was the first who inhabited the country of Jotunheim (a), or Giants-land. He had a daughter, named Night; who is of a dark complexion, as are all her family. She was at first married to a man called Naglefara, and had by him a son, named Auder. Then she espoused Onar; and the daughter of this marriage was the Earth. At last she was wedded to Daglingar, who is of the family of the Gods. Between them, they produced Day, a child beautiful and shining, as are all his father's family (b). Then the Universal Father took Night and Day, and placed them in heaven; and gave them two horses and two cars, that they might travel successively, one after the other, round the world. Night goes first, upon her horse, named Rimfaxe (or Frosty-mane) who, every morning when he begins his course, bedews the earth with the foam that drops from his bit; this is the Dew. The horse made use of by Day, is named Skinfaxa (or Shining-mane), and by his radiant mane, he illuminates the air and the earth (c). Then Gangler asked, How the Day regulates the course of the Sun and the Moon. Har answers, There was formerly a man, named Mundilfara, who had two children so beautiful and wellshaped, that he called the male Mane, or the Moon; and the female Sunna, or the Sun (d). She married a man called Glener. But the Gods, angry at their presumption in taking upon them such sublime names, carried them up to heaven, and obliged the daughter to guide the car of the Sun, which the Gods, to illuminate the earth, had composed of the fires that issued from Muspelsheim, or the flaming world. At the same time, the Gods placed under each horse two skins filled with air, to cool and refresh them and hence, according to the most ancient accounts, comes the Freshness of the morning. As for Mane, he was set to regulate the course of the Moon, and its different quarters. One day he carried off two children, named Bil and Hiuke, as they were returning from a fountain, carrying between them a pitcher suspended on a stick. These two children always accompany the Moon, as one may observe easily even from the earth. But, interrupted Gangler, The Sun runs very swiftly, as if she were afraid some one should overtake her. So she well may, replied Har; for there, are very near her two Wolves, ready to devour her. One of them closely persues the Sun, who is afraid of him, because he shall one day swallow her up. The other as eagerly follows the Moon, and will make him one day or Other Undergo the same fate. Gangler said, Whence come these Wolves? Har replied, There was at the east of Midgard a Giantess, who dwelt in the forest of Jarnvid (Or Iron-wood) all the trees of which are of iron. The Giantesses of that place derive their names from her. This old sorceress is the mother of many Giants, who are all of them shaped like savage beasts. From her also sprung these two Wolves. One in particular of that race is said to be the most formidable of all; He is called Managarmer; a monster that fattens himself with the substances of men who draw near to their end. Sometimes he swallows up the Moon, and stains the heaven and the air with blood (e). There the Sun is also darkened, as it is said in these verses of Voluspa: "Near the rising of the Sun, dwelleth the old witch of the forest of Jarnvid. There she brings forth the sons she hath by Fenris. One of these is become the most powerful of all. He feeds himself with the lives of those who approach to their end. Cloathed with the spoils of the other Giants, he will one day stain with blood the army of the Gods: the following Summer the sight of the Sun shall be extinguished. Noxious winds shall blow from all quarters. Do not you comprehend this saying?"|
|REMARKS on the SIXTH FABLE|
(a) "They made a
man, &c."] We are come at last to the creation of our species. The
circumstances of this fable shew that it was invented among a people
addicted to navigation, and settled in a country surrounded with seas
and lakes. Bartholin conjectures, that the philosophers of the north, in
making men spring from the sea, intended to fortify the Scandinavians
against the fear, that annihilation was the consequence of being
drowned; and to make them regard the sea, as their proper and natural
element. We shall see by the sequel, that the great aim of these warlike
Theologians was to inspire courage, and to remove all pretences and
grounds for fear. Aske in the Gothic language, signifies an Ash-tree,
and Emla, an ELM. I shall leave to others to find out the reason why the
preference hath been given to these two trees; and what relation there
could be between the two sexes, and these two different sorts of wood.
(b) “Where dwell the Gods and their families."] Asgard is literally the Court of the Gods. Some manuscripts add, that Asgard is Troy; but this can be no other than the marginal note of some copyist, crept by mistake into the text. The Gods, being continually threatned with attacks by the Giants, built in the middle a large inclosure, named MidGard, or the MiddleAbode, one of the strongest of citadels. This is the Olympus of Homer; as the Giants are his Titans. I shall once for all observe, that the ‘Gothic and' Celtic nations, as well as the Greeks derived all these fables from the inexhaustible source of eastern traditions. But the people of the north preserved them nearly the same as they received them, for above two thousand years; whereas the same fables found in Greece so favourable a soil, that in a short time they multiplied a hundred fold.
(c) "The Earth is his daughter and wife, &c."] This fable proves that the ancient Scalds understood by the name Frigga, the spouse of the Supreme God; and that, at the same time, this Frigga was the Earth. This doctrine is of very great antiquity, and hath been in general received by all the ‘Gothic and' Celtic nations. Their philosophers taught, that the Supreme God, Teut, or Wodan was the active principle, the soul of the world, which uniting itself with matter, had thereby put it into a condition to produce the Intelligences, or Inferior Gods, and Men, and all other creatures. This is what the poets express figuratively, when they say that Odin espoused Frigga, or Freas that is, the LaDy, by way of eminence. One cannot doubt, after having read this passage of the Edda, but it was this same Goddess, to whom the Germans, according to Tacitus, consecrated one of the Danish islands, worshipping her under the name of Herthus, or the Earth: (the English word Earth, as well as the German Erde, being evidently the same with that, to which Tacitus has only given a Latin termination.) As to the worship that was paid her, see it described by Pelloutier, in his Hist. des Celtes, Vol. II. c. 8.
Though it was by the concurrence of the Supreme God and Matter, that this Universe was produced; yet the ancient philosophers of the 'north’* allowed a great difference between these two principles: the Supreme God was eternal, whereas Matter was his work, and of course had a beginning: all this, in the language of the ancients, was expressed by this phrase; "Earth is the daughter and wife of the Universal Father."
Lastly, from this mystical marriage, was born the God Thor. AsaThor means The Lord Thor. He was the firstborn of the Supreme God, and the greatest and most powerful of all the inferior divinities, or intelligences that were born from the union of the two principles. One cannot doubt but it was he, who had the charge of launching the thunder. In the languages of the north, the name given to this God is still that of the Thunder. When they adopted the Roman Calendar, that day which was consecrated to Jupiter, or the Master of the Thunder, was assigned to Thor; and is called at this day Thorsdag Thursday, or the day of Thor. (See Vol. I. pag. 96.) To conclude, Adam of Bremen, an author of the eleventh century, and a missionary in those countries, insinuates that this was the idea which the Scandinavians had formed of him. “Thor cum sceptro Jovem exprimere videtur, &c.'* Hist. Eccles. c. 223. There is not the least doubt, but it was the Jupiter of the Gauls who had, according to Cæsar, "the empire of things celestial” also the Taran, whom Lucan represents as having been adored by the same people, Pharsal. 1.1, v. 444. Taran, signifies "Thunder," in the Welsh language at this day.
13. Um Bifröst.
14. Um bústaði goða ok upphaf dverga.
THE SEVENTH FABLE
Of the Way that leads to Heaven
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hver er leið til
himins af jörðu?"
Þá svarar Hárr ok hló við: "Eigi er nú fróðliga spurt. Er þér eigi sagt þat, er goðin gerðu brú af jörðu til himins, er heitir Bifröst? Hana muntu sét hafa. Kann vera, at þat kallir þú regnboga. Hon er með þrimr litum ok mjök sterk ok ger með list ok kunnáttu meiri en aðrar smíðir. En svá sterk sem hon er, þá mun hon brotna, þá er Múspellsmegir fara ok ríða hana, ok svima hestar þeira yfir stórar ár. Svá koma þeir fram."
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Eigi þótti mér goðin gera af trúnaði brúna, ef hon skal brotna mega, er þau megu þó gera sem þau vilja."
Þá mælti Hárr: "Eigi eru goðin hallmælis verð af þessi smíð. Góð brú er Bifröst, en enginn hlutr er sá í þessum heimi er sér megi treystast, þá er Múspellssynir herja."
14. Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvat hafðist Alföðr þá at, er gerr var Ásgarðr?"
Hárr mælti: "Í upphafi setti hann stjórnarmenn í sæti ok beiddi þá at dæma með sér örlög manna ok ráða um skipun borgarinnar. Þat var þar, sem heitir Iðavöllur í miðri borginni. Var þat hið fyrsta þeira verk at gera hof þat, er sæti þeira tólf standa í önnur en hásætit, þat er Alföðr á. Þat hús er bezt gert á jörðu ok mest. Allt er þat útan ok innan svá sem gull eitt. Í þeim stað kalla menn Glaðsheim. Annan sal gerðu þeir. Þat var hörgr, er gyðjurnar áttu, ok var hann allfagr. Þat hús kalla menn Vingólf. Þar næst gerðu þeir hús, er þeir lögðu afla í, ok þar til gerðu þeir hamar ok töng ok steðja ok þaðan af öll tól önnur. Ok því næst smíðuðu þeir málm ok stein ok tré ok svá gnógliga þann málm, er gull heitir, at öll búsgögn ok öll reiðigögn höfðu þeir af gulli, ok er sú öld kölluð gullaldr, áðr en spilltist af tilkvámu kvinnanna. Þær kómu ór Jötunheimum. Þar næst settust goðin upp í sæti sín ok réttu dóma sína ok minntust, hvaðan dvergar höfðu kviknat í moldinni ok niðri í jörðunni, svá sem maðkar í holdi. Dvergarnir höfðu skipazt fyrst ok tekit kviknun í holdi Ymis ok váru þá maðkar, en af atkvæðum goðanna urðu þeir vitandi mannvits ok höfðu manns líki ok búa þó í jörðu ok í steinum.
Móðsognir var æðstr ok annarr Durinn. Svá segir í Völuspá:
15. Þá gengu regin öll
Ok þessi segir hon nöfn þeira dverganna:
17. Nýi, Niði,
En þessir eru ok dvergar ok búa í steinum, en inir fyrri í moldu:
19. Draupnir, Dolgþvari,
En þessir kómu frá Svarinshaugi til Aurvanga á Jöruvöllu, ok er kominn þaðan Lofarr. Þessi eru nöfn þeira:
20. Skirfir, Virfir,
GANGLER asks, Which way do they go from earth to heaven?
Har answered, with a smile of derision, That is a senseless question; have you never been told, that the Gods have erected a Bridge, which extends from earth to heaven, and that the name of it is Bifrost? You have surely seen it; but, perhaps, you call it the Rainbow. It is of three colours, is extremely solid, and constructed with more art than any work in the world. But altho' it be so very strong, it will nevertheless be broke in pieces, when the sons of Muspell, those mischievous Genii, after having traversed the great Rivers of Hell, mall pass over this Bridge on horseback. Then, says Gangler, It appears to me that the Gods have not executed their work truly and faithfully, in erecting a Bridge so liable to be broken down, since it is in their power to perform whatever they please.
The Gods, replied Har, are not to be blamed on that account. Bifrost is of itself a good bridge; but there is nothing in nature that can hope to make resistance, when those Genii of Fire sally forth to war (a).
But, says Gangler, What did the Universal Father do, after he had built Asgard? Har answered, He in the beginning established Governors (b); and ordered them to decide whatever differences should arise among men, and to regulate the government of the celestial city. The assembly of these judges was held in the plain called Ida, which is in the middle of the divine abode. Their first work was to build a Hall, wherein are Twelve Seats for themselves (c), besides the throne which is occupied by the Universal Father. This Hall is the largest and most magnificent in the world. One sees nothing there but gold, either within or without. Its name is Gladheim*, or the Mansion of Joy. They also erected another Hall, for the use of the Goddesses. It is a most delightful and delicate structure: they call it Vinglod, or the Mansion of Love and Friendship; Lastly, they built a house, wherein they placed furnaces, hammers, an anvil, and all the other instruments of a forge; then they worked in metal, stone, and wood; and composed so large a quantity of the metal called Gold, that they made all their moveables, and even the very harness of their horses of pure Gold: hence that age was named the Golden Age (d). This was that age which lasted till the arrival of those women, who came from the country of the Giants, and corrupted it. Then the Gods seating themselves upon their thrones, distributed justice, and took under consideration the affairs of the Dwarfs; a species of beings bred in the dust of the earth; just as worms are in a dead carcase. It was indeed in the body of the Giant Ymir, that they were engendered, and first began to move and live. At first they were only worms; but by order of the Gods, they at length partook of both human shape and reason; nevertheless, they always dwell in subterraneous caverns, and among the rocks (E).
*Glad-heim, is literally in English GLAD-HOME, T.
Here follow some verses of the Voluspa, accompanied with a long list of the principal Dwarfs. Some of which are said to dwell in the rocks, and others in the dust, &c.
|REMARKS on the SEVENTH FABLE|
(a) "When those to war."] It is very Genii
of Fire sally forth remarkable that this menace should so often occur.
But the 'Gothic and' Celtic nations were in general persuaded, that
nature was in continual danger; and that its secret and public enemies,
after having for a long time undermined and. shaken it, would at last
bring on the great day of its general ruin. This melancholy idea must, I
think, have had its rise from some of those disorders, to which our
world is often exposed; at which times one would almost, believe that
the powers who govern it, were engaged in war with each Other. And
although this idea must have prevailed more extensively, and been more
easily impressed in those climates where the seasons, subject to sudden
and violent revolutions, often present nature under a languishing, or
convulsed appearance: yet it is well known that there is scarcely any
people, but what have had expectations of the end of the world; and have
accordingly represented it some way or Other; either as effected by a
deluge, or a conflagration or, lastly, under the veil of some allegory;
as by a battle between good and evil Genii. The Edda employs all these
three means at the same time: such deep root had this doctrine taken in
the minds of the poets, the theologians of the north.
(B) “He established governors.”], The legislators of the Scythians represented God himself, as author of the Laws which they gave to their fellow citizens. Neither ought we to esteem this pretence of theirs as altogether a political imposture. When men had brought themselves to look upon their Gods as the protectors of Justice and integrity; the Laws, which gave a public sanction to those virtues, being regarded as the expression of the divine will, might naturally enough be called the Work of the Gods. This manner of speaking, though misunderstood afterwards, would be sufficiently authorized by that respect and gratitude, which so great a benefit would inspire. It is well known that among all nations, the administration of justice was at first an office of the priest-hood. The ‘Teutonic and' Celtic tribes retained this custom longer than most other people. All the ancients assure us, that the priests among the Gauls were arbiters, not only of private differences, but even of national disputes: that they disposed of controverted goods, excommunicated the contumacious, and inflicted death upon the guilty. Who could help trembling before governors, who, to speak in the language of the Edda, distributed justice in the name of the Supreme God? In effect, both Cæsar and Tacitus inform us, that among the Germans, none but the Priests had a right to inflict penalties; and this, not in the name of the Prince or People, but in the name of the God of Armies, in the name of that God, who. had appointed them Governors. (V. Tacit. Germ. c. 7; Cæsar. 1, 6.) Hence it was that these nations* when they embraced Christianity, were beforehand so disposed to attribute to the Christian Priests and Bishops that unlimited and supernatural power; and to have for their decisions that implicit submission, as well as that blind reverence for their persons, which have been so long the misfortune and disgrace of humanity.
* Le Celta, Orig.
(c) " Wherein are "Twelve Seats for themselves."] These Judges were Twelve in number. Was this owing to there being Twelve primary Deities among the Gothic nations as there were among the Greeks and Romans? This I shall not take upon me to decide: but I think one may plainly observe here the first traces of a custom, which hath extended itself to a great many other things. Odin, the conqueror of the north, established a supreme court in Sweden, composed of Twelve Members, to assist him in the functions of the priesthood and civil government. This doubtless gave rise to what was afterwards called the Senate. And the same establishment in like manner took place in Denmark, Norway, and other northern states. These Senators decided in the last appeal all differences of importance; they were, if I may say so, the Assessors of the Prince; and were in number Twelve, as we are expressly informed by Saxo, in his life of king Regner Lodbrog. Nor are other monuments wanting, which abundantly confirm this truth. We find in Zealand, in Sweden near Upsal, and, if I am not mistaken, in the county of Cornwal also, large stones, to the amount of Twelve, ranged in the form of a circle, and, in the midst of them, one of superior height. Such, in those rude ages, was the Hall of Audience; the stones that formed the circumference, were the seats of the senators, that in the middle the throne of the king. The like monuments are found also in Persia, near Tauris. Travellers frequently meet there with large circles of hewen stones; and the tradition of the country reports, that these are the places where the Caous, or Giants, formerly held their councils. (Vid. Chardin's Travels into Persia, Vol. IIL p. .) I think one may discover vestiges of this ancient custom, in the fable of the Twelve Peers of France, and in the establishment of Twelve Jurymen in England, who are the proper Judges, according to the ancient laws of that country. T.
(d) “Named the Golden Age."] This Golden Age of the Edda is not worthy to be compared with that of the Greek poets; but in return, it may perhaps have this advantage over the other, that it is not altogether without real existence. There is no doubt but this Mythology, like all others, perpetually confounds the natural Deities, with those persons who were only deified by men, and to whom were ascribed the names of the former. Men, who rendered themselves illustrious by some noble invention, or by their attachment to the worship of the Gods, received the names of those Gods after their decease; and it was a long time before the following ages thought of distinguishing the one from the other. Among our Scythian ancestors, the first men who found out a mine of gold, or any other metal; and knew how to work that metal, and make something ornamental out of it, were doubtless regarded as divine persons. A mine discovered by chance, would easily afford and furnish out that slight magnificence; of which the Edda has here preserved a faint remembrance.
(e) "Dwell . . . among the rocks."] This passage deserves attention. We may discover here one of the effects of that ignorant prejudice, which hath made us for so many years regard all arts and handicrafts, as the occupation of mean people and slaves. Our Celtic ‘and Gothic' ancestors, whether Germans, Scandinavians or Gauls imagining there was something magical, and beyond the reach of man in ‘mechanic’ skill and industry, could scarcely believe that an able artist was one of their own species, or descended front the same common origin; This, it must be granted was a very foolish conceit; but let us consider what might possibly facilitate the entrance of it into their minds. There was perhaps some neighbouring people, which bordered upon one of the Celtic ‘or Gothic’' tribes; and which, although less warlike than themselves and much inferior in strength and stature might yet excel them in dexterity; and addicting themselves to manual arts might carry on a commerce with them sufficiently extensive, to have the fame of it spread pretty far. All these circumstances will agree well enough with the Laplanders: who are still as famous for their magic, as remarkable for the lowness of their stature; pacific, even to a degree of cowardice; but of a mechanic industry, which formerly must have appeared very considerable. The stories that were invented concerning this people, passing thro' the mouths of so many ignorant relaters, would soon acquire all the degrees of the marvellous, of which they were susceptible. Thus the Dwarfs soon became, (as all know, who have dipt but a little into the ancient romances) the forgers of enchanted armour, upon which neither swords, nor conjurations, could make any impression. They were possessed of caverns, full of treasure, intirely at their own disposal. This, to observe by the bye, hath given birth to one of the Cabalistic doctrines, which is perhaps only one of the branches of the ancient northern, theology*. As the Dwarfs were feeble, and but of small courage; they were supposed to be crafty, full of artifice and deceit. This, which in the old romances is called Disloyalty, is the character always given them in those fabulous narratives. All these fancies having received the seal of time and universal consent, could be no longer contested; and it was the business of the poets to assign a fit origin for such ungracious beings. This was done, in their pretended rife from the deal carcase of a great Giant, The Dwarfs at first were only the maggots, engendered there by its putrifaction: afterwards the Gods bestowed upon them understanding and cunning. By this fiction the northern warriors justified their contempt of them; and at the same time accounted for their small stature, their industry, and their supposed propensity for inhabiting caves and clefts of the rocks. After all, the notion is not every where exploded that there are in the bowels of the earth ‘Fairies §', or a kind of dwarfish and tiny beings, of human shape, remarkable for their riches, their activity and malevolence. In many countries of the north, the people are still firmly persuaded of their existence. In Iceland, at this day, the good folks shew the very rocks and hills, in which they maintain that there are swarms of these small subterraneous men, of the most tiny size, but most delicate figures.
* La Theolgie Celtique. Fr. Orig.
§ I have, in this one place of the translation, applied the word Fairies, in our common English notion of it:—But our author has generally. throughout this work, used the French word Fees, (i. e. Fairies) to signify, not the little imaginary dwarfish beings, to which we appropriate the word; but to express the Fates or Destinies; or those inferior female Divinities that are assigned to watch over the lives and fortunes of individuals.—In this he seems rather to have had an eye to the Oriental fables, than to those of genuine Gothic origin: however, the duty of a translator requiring me to follow him, I beg leave here to apprise the reader of this our author's application of the word, T.
15. Frá askinum, Urðarbrunni ok nornum.
16. Enn frá askinum
THE EIGHTH FABLE
Of the Holy City, or Residence of the Gods
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvar er höfuðstaðrinn
eða helgistaðrinn goðanna?"
Hárr svarar: "Þat er at aski Yggdrasils. Þar skulu goðin eiga dóma sína hvern dag."
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvat er at segja frá þeim stað?"
Þá segir Jafnhárr: "Askrinn er allra trjá mestr ok beztr. Limar hans dreifast um heim allan ok standa yfir himni. Þrjár rætr trésins halda því upp ok standa afarbreitt. Ein er með ásum, en önnur með hrímþursum, þar sem forðum var Ginnungagap. In þriðja stendr yfir Niflheimi, ok undir þeiri rót er Hvergelmir, en Níðhöggr gnagar neðan rótina. En undir þeiri rót, er til hrímþursa horfir, þar er Mímisbrunnr, er spekð ok mannvit er í fólgit, ok heitir sá Mímir, er á brunninn. Hann er fullr af vísendum, fyrir því at hann drekkr ór brunninum af horninu Gjallarhorni. Þar kom Alföðr ok beiddist eins drykkjar af brunninum, en hann fekk eigi, fyrr en hann lagði auga sitt at veði. Svá segir í Völuspá:
21. Allt veit ek, Óðinn,
Þriðja rót asksins stendr á himni, ok undir þeiri rót er brunnr sá, er mjök er heilagr, er heitir Urðarbrunnr. Þar eiga goðin dómstað sinn. Hvern dag ríða æsir þangat upp um Bifröst. Hon heitir ok ásbrú. Hestar ásanna heita svá: Sleipnir er baztr, hann á Óðinn. Hann hefir átta fætr. Annar er Glaðr, þriði Gyllir, fjórði Glenr, fimmti Skeiðbrimir, sétti Silfrintoppr, sjaundi Sinir, átti Gísl, níundi Falhófnir, tíundi Gulltoppr, ellifti Léttfeti. Baldrs hestr var brenndr með honum, en Þórr gengr til dómsins ok veðr ár þær, er svá heita:
22. Körmt ok Örmt
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Brenn eldr yfir Bifröst?"
23. Sundrbornar mjök
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Ef nornir ráða örlögum manna, þá skipta
þær geysi ójafnt, er sumir hafa gott líf ok ríkuligt, en sumir hafa
lítit lén eða lof, sumir langt líf, sumir skammt."
24. Askr Yggdrasils
Svá er enn sagt:
25. Ormar fleiri liggja
Enn er þat sagt, at nornir þær, er byggja við Urðarbrunn, taka hvern dag vatn í brunninum ok með aurinn þann, er liggr um brunninn, ok ausa upp yfir askinn, til þess at eigi skuli limar hans tréna eða fúna. En þat vatn er svá heilagt, at allir hlutir, þeir er þar koma í brunninn, verða svá hvítir sem hinna sú, er skjall heitir, er innan liggr við eggskurn, svá sem hér segir:
26. Ask veit ek ausinn,
Sú dögg, er þaðan af fellr á jörðina, þat kalla menn hunangfall, ok þar af fæðast býflugur. Fuglar tveir fæðast í Urðarbrunni. Þeir heita svanir, ok af þeim fuglum hefir komit þat fuglakyn, er svá heitir."
GANGLER demanded: Which is the capital of the Gods, or the sacred city? Har answers, It is under the Ash Ydrasil where the Gods assemble every day, and administer justice (a). But, says Gangler, What is there remarkable with regard to that place? That Ash, says Jafnhar, is the greatest and best of all trees. Its branches extend themselves over the whole world, and reach above the heavens. It hath three roots, extremely distant from each other: the one of them is among the Gods; the other among the Giants, in that very place where the abyss was formerly; the third covers Niflheim, or Hell; and under this root is the fountain Vergelmer, whence flow the infernal rivers: this root is gnawed upon below by the monstrous serpent Nidhoger. Under that root, which stretches out towards the land of the Giants, is also a celebrated spring, in which are concealed Wisdom and Prudence. He who has possession of it is named Mimis he is full of wisdom, because he drinks thereof every morning. One day the Universal Father came and begged to drink a cup of this water; but he was obliged to leave in pledge for it one of his eyes, according as it is said in the Voluspa: " Where hast thou concealed thine eye, Odin? I know where; even in the limpid fountain of Mimis. Every morning does Mimis pour Hydromel (or Mead) upon the pledge he received from the Universal Father. Do you, or do you not, understand this? (b)." The third root of the Ash is in heaven, and under it lies the holy fountain of Time-past. ‘Tis here that the Gods sit in judgment. Every day they ride hither on horseback, passing over the Rainbow, which is the bridge of the Gods. These are the names of the horses of the Gods: Sleipner is the best of them; he hath eight feet, and he belongs to Odin. The others are Glader, Gyller, &c. The horse of the God Balder, was burnt along with his master. As for Thor, he goes on foot to the tribunal of the Gods, and fords the rivers Kormt, Gormt, &c. All these is he obliged to cross every day onfoot, in his way to the Ash Ydrasil; for the Bridge of the Gods is all on fire. How comes it to pass, interrupted Gangler, that the Bridge Bifrost is on fire? That, says Har, which you see red in the Rainbow, is the fire which burns in heaven: for the Giants of the mountains would climb up to heaven by that Bridge, if it were easy for every one to walk over it.
There are in heaven a great many pleasant cities, and none without a divine garrison, Near the fountain, which is under the Ash, stands a very beautiful city, wherein dwell three virgins, named Urda, or the Past;. Verdandis or the Present; and Sskulda, or the Future. These are they who dispense the ages of men; they are called Nornies, that is, Fairies*, or Destinies. But there are indeed a great many others, besides these, who assist at the birth of every child, to determine his fate. Some are of celestial origin; others descend from the Genii; and others from the Dwarfs: as it is said in these verses, "There are Nornies of different originals: some proceed from the Gods, some from the Genii, and others from the Dwarfs."
Then, says Gangler, if these Nornies dispense the destinies of men, they are very unequal in their distribution; for some are fortunate and wealthy, others acquire neither riches nor honours; some come to a good old age, while others die in their prime of life. Har answers, The Nornies, who are sprung of a good origin, are good themselves, and dispense good destinies: but those men to whom misfortunes happen, ought to ascribe them to the evil Nornies or Fairies (c). Gangler proceeds, and desires to know something more concerning the Ash. Har replied, What I have farther to add concerning it is, that there is an eagle perched upon its branches, who, knows a multitude of things: but he hath between his eyes a sparrow-hawk. A squirrel runs up and down the Ash sowing misunderstanding between the eagle and the serpent, which lies concealed at its root. Four stags run across the branches of the tree, and devour its rind. There are so many serpents in the fountain whence spring the rivers of hell, that no tongue can recount them, as it is said in these verses. "The large Ash suffers more than man would believe. A stag eats and spoils it above; it rots on the sides; while a serpent gnaws and corrodes it below." And also in these, "Under the great Ash are many serpents, &c." They relate besides, that the Fairies or Destinies who reside near the fountain of the Past, draw up water thence, with which they bedew the Ash, to prevent its branches from growing withered and decayed; Of so purifying a nature is that water, that whatever it touches becomes as white as the film withinside an egg. There are upon this subject very ancient verses, to this effect, "The great and sacred Ash is besprinkled with a white water, whence comes the dew which falls into the valleys, and which springs from the fountain of Past-Time.” Men call this the Honey-dew, and it is the food of bees. There are also in this fountain two swans, which have produced all the birds of that species.
*Nornies Isl. is rather Fates, or Destinies, Parcæ. I have therefore chose to retain the original word in some of the following passages rather than render it Fairies, after M. Mallet. T.
|REMARKS on the EIGHTH FABLE|
(a) "Administer justice."] We see in the preceeding fable, that
the Gods assemble together in the open air, in a valley: Here is their
principal residence, under an AshTree. In this, as in other things, the
Gods are made to conform themselves to the manners of men. The ancient
‘Gothic and' Celtic nations for, a long time had no other place of
rendezvous, than some tree remarkable for its size and age. The states
of East Friezeland, even so late as the thirteenth century, assembled
under three large oaks which grew near Aurich; and it is not more than
three centuries ago, that most of the German princes held their
conferences under trees.* The aversion these people had for inclosed
places; the fear of putting themselves into the power of a perfidious
chieftain, who, fortified in his castle, was stronger than the laws and
magistrates: and lastly, that ancient impression, not even yet worn
entirely out, with which their religion had inspired them in favour of
trees; these are probably the causes of the singular custom here alluded
to in the Edda?
*Vid. Keysl. Anti. Sept. p. 78,79,80. T
(b) “Do you, or do you not, understand this?"] To this can only answer in the negative. This whole description is most certainly allegorical. We meet in it indeed with some glimmering rays of light, but they are so transient and so broken, that one may fairly own, the whole is unintelligible. One of the translators of the EDDA will have Mimis to be Minos; I am no more warranted by reason to pupose him in this, than he was to entertain such a conceit.
(c) "The evil Fairies."] Here we have a compleat theory of Fairyism. In this passage of the Edda we have the bud and germ (as it were) of what the ancient romances* and popular superstitions have so widely branched, and applied to such a variety of things. All the Celtic ‘and Gothic' tribes have had a great veneration for the Fairies, or Destinies; and not without reason, since every man's fate or fortune was in their hands. The romances inform us, that there were two kinds of them, the Good and Bad; but they distinguish them no farther. The three principal, according to the Edda, are the Present, the Past, and the Future; a circumstance which is wanting in the Greek fable of the Parcæ, and which is in itself not badly imagined. The Romans, who enlarged their heaven, and increased the number of their Gods, in proportion as. they extended their empire; having adopted these northern† divinities, consecrated to them divers monuments, some of which have been recovered. These monuments agree very well with the Edda.‡ They almost always present to view three females: the oracles these pronounced had rendered them famous. They were especially resorted to at the birth of a child. In many places there were caverns, where the people fancied they might enjoy the pleasure of their presence, and hear them speak. Some places in France retain still the name of the Fairies Oven, the Fairies Weh, &c. Saxo, the Grammarian, speaks of a chapel, where king Fridleif went to consult them about the fate of his son Olaus, and he adds, that he saw three young women fitting there. Sax. L. 6. This superstition, so general throughout Europe, hath prevailed almost as long as that relating to witches and sorcerers. We see, in the process or trial of the famous Maid Of Orleans, that me was accused of going often to a certain oak in a solitary place, to consult the Fairies (Fr. Fees.) These Fairies were, I believe, as to their origin, deified prophetesses. The Celtic ‘and Teutonic' women had a peculiar talent for improving all sorts of superstition; and turning every thing into omens. Those who had most distinguished themselves in this art, were deified, and became Goddesses after their decease; and as they had predicted the fate of men on earth, were believed still to do it in heaven.
*The romances in which the Fairies and Destinies are used as synonymous, are not those of Gothic origin, but rather the Oriental tales and fables. The Fairies of our own northern ancestors, are properly what are called throughout this work the Dwarfs: whereas our author applies the word Fees (fairies) in nearly the same sense as the Latin Nymphæ and Parcæ; and perhaps this may be the sense in which it is generally used by his countrymen. The Norna, however, of the Edda, seem to be evidently the same with the Weird Sisters, so famous in, Gothic History and Romance. See Bartholin. Caus* Contempt. Mort. p. 610. Junii Etymol. Ang. (Verb. Werde). T.
‡Vid. Keysl. Ant. p. 33, 270, 396, 446.
This error is very ancient. In the time of Vespasian, there was, according to Tacitus, a female named Velleda, half a Prophetess, and half a Fairy, who, from the top of a tower where she lived recluse, exercised far and near, a power equal to that of kings. Latè imperitabat are the words of the historian. The most illustrious warriors undertook nothing without her advice, and always consecrated to her a part of the booty. V. Tacit. Hist. 1. 4 & 5. In general, one may observe, that the worship paid to women, hath always had here in Europe great advantage over that which was directed to men. The religious, respect which was here paid to the Fairies or Destinies, is of all the doctrines of the ancient religion*, that which hath longest prevailed. These fabulous divinities have survived all the Gods and Genii, both of the Celts and Romans, and though at last banished every where else, have found a kind of asylum in our romances.
*Fr. La Religion Celtique.
To the instances given by our Author (in Note A) of the
Gothic nations assembling under Trees, may be added the following in our
own country, viz.
|17. Höfuðstaðir goðanna||
THE NINTH FABLE
Of the Cities which are in Heaven
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Mikil tíðendi kannt þú
at segja af himninum. Hvat er þar fleira höfuðstaða en at Urðarbrunni?"
Hárr segir: "Margir staðir eru þar göfugligir. Sá er einn staðr þar, er kallaðr er Álfheimr. Þar byggvir fólk þat, er Ljósálfar heita, en Dökkálfar búa niðri í jörðu, ok eru þeir ólíkir þeim sýnum ok miklu ólíkari reyndum. Ljósálfar eru fegri en sól sýnum, en Dökkálfar eru svartari en bik. Þar er einn sá staðr, er Breiðablik er kallaðr, ok engi er þar fegri staðr. Þar er ok sá, er Glitnir heitir, ok eru veggir hans ok steðr allar ok stólpar af rauðu gulli, en þak hans af silfri. Þar er enn sá staðr, er Himinbjörg heita. Sá stendr á himins enda við brúarsporð, þar er Bifröst kemr til himins. Þar er enn mikill staðr, er Valaskjálf heitir. Þann stað á Óðinn. Þann gerðu goðin ok þökðu skíru silfri, ok þar er Hliðskjálfin í þessum sal, þat hásæti, er svá heitir, ok þá er Alföðr sitr í því sæti, þá sér hann of alla heima. Á sunnanverðum himins enda er sá salr, er allra er fegrstr ok bjartari en sólin, er Gimlé heitir. Hann skal standa, þá er bæði himinn ok jörð hefir farizt, ok byggja þann stað góðir menn ok réttlátir of allar aldir. Svá segir í Völuspá:
27. Sal veit ek standa
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvat gætir þess staðar, þá er Surtalogi
brennir himin ok jörð?"
GANGLER says to Har, You tell me very wonderful things;
but what are the other holy cities to be seen in heaven? Har
replies, There are many other very fine cities to be seen there.
In one of them, called Alfheim (a), dwell the luminous Genii,
but the black Genii live under the earth, and differ from the
others still more in their actions than in their appearance. The
luminous Genii are more splendid than the Sun; but the black
Genii are darker than pitch. In these parts there is also a city
called Breidablik, which is not inferior to any other in beauty;
and another named Glitner, the walls, columns and inside of
which are gold, and the roof of silver*. There also is to be
seen the city Himinborg, or the Celestial Mount, situated upon
the frontiers, at the place where the bridge of the Gods touches
heaven. The great city of Valascialf, which belongs to Odin, is
all built of pure silver, There is the royal Throne, called
Lidscialf, or the Terror of the Nations. When the Universal
Father is seated upon it, he can view the whole earth. On the
utmost limit of heaven, towards the south, is the most beautiful
city of all: it is called Gimle. It is more brilliant and
shining than the Sun itself, and will subsist even after the
destruction of heaven and earth. Men of real goodness and
integrity shall abide there for everlasting ages. The poem
Voluspa speaks thus of it; “I know that there is a place
brighter than the Sun, and intirely covered with gold, in the
city of Gimle: there the virtuous are to reside; there they
shall live happy throughout all ages (b)." Then Gangler demands,
What will preserve that city when the black flame comes to
consume heaven and earth? Har replied, We have been told, that
there is towards the south, another heaven, more elevated than
this, called the Clear Blue; and above that, a third heaven,
still more elevated, called the Boundless. In this last we think
the city of Gimle must be seated, but it is at present inhabited
only by the luminous Genii.
* The Edda of Goranson says af gulli, of gold. T.
|REMARKS on the NINTH FABLE|
(a) "In a city named Alfheim."] Alfheim signifies, in Gothic, the Abode
of the Genii, that is, of the Fairies of the male sex. We may observe,
that they are of different characters, Good and Bad; for there is no
probability, that any one good quality could be ascribed to creatures
blacker than pitch, it is needless to observe, that all the 'Gothic and'
Celtic nations have had these Genii. The romances of Chivalry are full
of allusions to this imaginary system. The same opinions prevailed among
the Persians. In many places of High Germany, the people have still a
notion, that these Genii come by night, and lay themselves on those they
find sleeping on their backs; and thus produce that kind of suffocation
which we call the Night Mare. (See Keysler. Antiq. Sept. p. 500.) In the
same manner they accounted for those luxurious and immodest illusoins,
so common in dreams; hence are derived the fables of Incubuses and
Sucubuses; and that general opinion that there were Genii or Sylphs of
both sexes, who did not disdain the; embraces of mortals. With one
single fiction, so fruitful as this, they might have run through the
whole world of nature, and not have left a single phænomenon unaccounted
for. To do this there was only occasion for Good and Bad Genii, as we
have seen above. With regard to the Bad, they were particularly dreaded
at the hour of noon; and in some places they still make it a point of
duty to keep company at that hour with women in childbed, for fear the
Demon of Noon should attack them, if left alone. This superstition hath
prevailed no less in France, than elsewhere; though it came from the
east. St. Basil recommends us to pray to God some time before noon, to
avert this danger. The Celtes with the same view, offered sacrifices.
One says pleasantly, the true Demon of noon is hunger, when one has
nothing to satisfy it.* If one looks back upon so many chimerical
terrors, and so many painful and absurd observances, from which we are
at this day delivered; who but must applaud the progress of literature
and the sciences? See, upon this subject, a dissertation of the learned
Mr. Schutze, in his Exerc. ad German, Gentil. sac. Exercit. V. p. 221.
*Vid. Keysler. Antiq. Sept. p. 500.—The same author gives a very
curious passage from an ancient Scald, concerning the ELFS. See p. 501,
|18. Um uppruna vindsins.|
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvaðan kemr vindr? Hann er sterkr, svá at hann
hrærir stór höf, ok hann æsir eld. En svá sterkr sem hann er, þá má eigi
sjá hann, því er hann undarliga skapaðr."
Þá mælti Hárr: "Þat kann ek vel segja þér. Á norðanverðum himins enda sitr jötunn sá, er Hræsvelgr heitir. Hann hefir arnarham, en er hann beinir flug, þá standa vindar undan vængjum hans. Hér segir svá:
28. Hræsvelgr heitir,
|20. Frá Óðni ok nöfnum hans.||
THE TENTH FABLE
Of the Gods to be believed in.
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hverjir eru æsir, þeir er mönnum er skylt at trúa
Hárr segir: "Tólf eru æsir goðkunnigir."
Þá mælti Jafnhárr: "Eigi eru ásynjurnar óhelgari, ok eigi megu þær minna."
Þá mælti Þriði: "Óðinn er æðstr ok elztr ásanna. Hann ræðr öllum hlutum, ok svá sem önnur goðin eru máttug, þá þjóna honum öll svá sem börn föður, en Frigg er kona hans, ok veit hon örlög manna, þótt hon segi eigi spár, svá sem hér er sagt, at Óðinn mælti sjálfr við þann ás, er Loki heitir:
29. Ærr ertu, Loki,
Óðinn heitir Alföðr, því at hann er faðir allra goða. Hann heitir ok Valföðr, því at hans óskasynir eru allir þeir, er í val falla. Þeim skipar hann Valhöll ok Vingólf, ok heita þeir þá Einherjar. Hann heitir ok Hangaguð ok Haftaguð, Farmaguð, ok enn hefir hann nefnzt á fleiri vega, þá er hann var kominn til Geirröðar konungs:
30. Hétumk Grímr
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Geysimörg heiti hafit þér gefit honum, ok þat
veit trúa mín, at þat mun vera mikill fróðleikr, sá er hér kann skyn ok
dæmi, hverir atburðir hafa orðit sér til hvers þessa nafns."
GANGLER goes on, and asks, who are the Gods whom men
ought to acknowledge? Har answers, There are twelve Gods, whom
you ought to serve. Jafnhar adds, Nor are the Goddesses less
sacred. Thridi proceeds, The first and most ancient of the Gods
is Odin. He governs all things. And although the Gods are
powerful, yet they all serve him, as children do their father
(a). His spouse Frigga foresees the destinies of men, but she
never reveals what is to come, as appears from that conversation
in verse which Odin one day held with Loke. "Senseless Loke, why
wilt thou pry into the fates? Frigga alone knoweth what is to
come, but she never discloseth it to any person." Odin is called
the Universal Father, because he is the Father of all the Gods.
He is also called the Father of Battles, because he adopts for
his children all those who are slain with their swords in their
hands. He assigns them for their place of residence, the palaces
of Valhall and Vingolf, and bestows upon them the title of
Heroes (b). He has a great many other names, as Hanga-Gud, &c.
[Here forty-six names are enumerated]
A great many names indeed says Gangler: surely that man must be very learned who knows them all distinctly, and can tell upon what occasions they were given. Har replies, It requires, no doubt, a tolerable memory, to recollect readily all these names. But I will intimate to you however, in a few words, what principally contributed to confer them upon him: it was the great variety of languages (?): for each people being desirous to adore him, and address their vows to him, they have been obliged to translate his name each into his own language. Some of his other names have been owing to adventures, which have happened to him in his travels, and which are related in the ancient histories. Nor can you ever pass for a man of learning, if you are not able to give an account of all these wonderful adventures.
|REMARKS on the TENTH FABLE|
(a) "As children do their father."] I am obliged to return again to
Odin. There is nothing in all Pagan antiquity more express than this passage,
with regard to the supremacy of One God. The name of As, or Lord, is again
ascribed to him in this place. The Gauls, in like manner, called him also Æs, or
with a Latin termination Esus: for several manuscript copies of Lucan, who speak
of this God, give the word Esus, without the aspirate.* I have said elsewhere,
that Suetonius positively asserts the same thing of the Etruscans. The Roman
authors have often called him the Mars of the Celtic people because, as the EDDA
clearly shows here, he was the same with the God of War. Wherefore, (although
the learned Abbe Banier has maintained the contrary) this Esus, whose name
occurs in the monuments of the cathedral of Paris, at one and the same time, the
Supreme God, and, to speak with the Edda, the Father of Battles; as P. Pezron
had advanced. (See LaMythol. & les Fables expliq. T. II. p. 650, &c. Ed.
Quarto.) Mons, Pelloutier, in my opinion, hath proved, beyond all doubt, that
the Supreme God of the Celtes, Esus, Teut or Odin, was the God of War. (See
Hist, des Celtes, T. II. c. 7.) It is to no purpose to object, that the Father
of Gods and Men could not at the same time be called the Father of Combats,
without manifest contradiction; for the Edda establishes this to be the fact too
strongly to be disputed. Besides, contradictions do not always hinder an opinion
from being received. Various modifications and distinctions are found out to
clear up the difficulty. But there was no great need of any here; for the ‘Goths
and' Celts regarded war as a very sacred occupation. It furnished, according to
them, opportunities for displaying courage; and of fulfilling the views of
providence; which was to place us here as in a field of battle; and only to
grant its favours as the peculiar rewards of fortitude and valour.
*Vid. Keysl. Antiq. p. 139, &c. 187—The passage referred to in Lucan, is this,
Et quibus immitis placatur sanguine cæso [diro]
(b) "It was the great variety of languages."] This reasoning upon the names of Odin, may contain something of truth in it. The text recounts a great number of these names, which I have suppressed, out of regard to those ears which are not accustomed to Gothic sounds. Tis certain that almost all the names ascribed to the Supreme Deity, are either epithets taken from the qualities attributed to him, or the places where he was worshiped, or from the actions he had performed, &c. This diversity of names hath often misled those of the learned, who have applied themselves to the study of the Celtic religion, just in the same manner as hath happened to those, who applied themselves to the Greek or Roman mythology. In the ancient Icelandic poetry, we find the Supreme God denominated in more than a hundred and twenty-six different phrases. They are all enumerated in the Scalda, or Poetic Dictionary. It would therefore (as Gangler observes) require some application, to give the reasons of all these different denominations, many of which allude to particular events.
|21. Frá Ása-Þór.||
THE ELEVENTH FABLE
Of the God Thor, the son of Odin.
|Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hver eru nöfn annarra ásanna, eða hvat hafast þeir at, eða hvat hafa þeir gert til frama?" Hárr segir: "Þórr er þeira framast, sá er kallaðr er Ása-Þórr eða Öku-Þórr. Hann er sterkastr allra goðanna ok manna. Hann á þar ríki, er Þrúðvangar heita, en höll hans heitir Bilskirrnir. Í þeim sal eru fimm hundruð gólfa ok fjórir tigir. Þat er hús mest, svá at menn viti. Svá segir í Grímnismálum: 33. Fimm hundruð golfa ok umb fjórum tögum, svá hygg ek Bilskirrni með bugum; ranna þeira, er ek reft vita, míns veit ek mest magar. Þórr á hafra tvá, er svá heita: Tanngnjóstr ok Tanngrisnir, ok reið þá, er hann ekr, en hafrarnir draga reiðna. Því er hann kallaðr Öku-Þórr. Hann á ok þrjá kostgripi. Einn þeira er hamarrinn Mjöllnir, er hrímþursar ok bergrisar kenna, þá er hann kemr á loft, ok er þat eigi undarligt. Hann hefir lamit margan haus á feðrum eða frændum þeira. Annan grip á hann beztan, megingjarðar, ok er hann spennir þeim um sik, þá vex honum ásmegin hálfu. Inn þriðja hlut á hann, þann er mikill gripr er í. Þat eru járnglófar. Þeira má hann eigi missa við hamarskaftit. En engi er svá fróðr, at telja kunni öll stórvirki hans, en segja kann ek þér svá mörg tíðendi frá honum, at dveljast munu stundirnar, áðr en sagt er allt, þat er ek veit."||HEREUPON Gangler demanded, what are the names of the other Gods? What are their functions, and what have they done for the advancement of their glory? Har says to him, The most illustrious among them is Thor. He is called Asa-Thor, or the Lord Thor; and Ake-Thor, or the Active Thor. He is the strongest and bravest of Gods and Men (a). His kingdom is named Thrudwanger. He possesses there a palace, in which are five hundred and forty Halls. It is the largest house that is known; according as we find mentioned in the poem of Grimnis. “There "are five hundred and forty Halls in the Winding Palace of the God Thor; and I believe there is no where a greater fabric, than this of the eldest of sons." The Chariot of Thor is drawn by two He-Goats. It is in that Chariot that he goes into the country of the Giants; and thence they call him the rapid Thor. He likewise possesses three very precious things. The first is a Mace, or Club, called Miolner, which the Giants of the Frost, and those of the Mountains, know to their cost, when they see it hurled against them in the air: and no wonder; for with that Mace has this God often bruised the heads of their fathers and kindred. The second jewel he possesses, is called the Belt of Prowess; when he puts it on, he becomes as strong again as he was before. The third, which is also very precious, are his Gauntlets, or Gloves of Iron, which he always wears when he would lay hold of the handle of his Mace. There is no person of so much learning, as to be able to relate all his marvellous exploits I myself could tell you so many, that day would end much sooner, than the recital of what immediately occur to me. Then says Gangler to him, I would rather hear something about the other Sons of Odin. To this Har answered in these words:|
|REMARKS on the ELEVENTH FABLE|
(a) "Thor is the strongest of Gods and Men. The reader will
recollect here, what I have said a little higher concerning this
divinity of the northern nations.* The function ascribed to him of
launching the thunder, made him pass for the most warlike and formidable
of all the Gods. It was also Thor who reigned in the air, distributed
the seasons, and raised or allayed tempests. Thor, says Adam of Bremen,
is the God who, according to these people, governs the thunder, the
winds, the rains, the fair weather, and harvest." (See Hist. Eccles.)
This Mace or Club, which he hurled against the Giants, and with which he
crushed their heads, is doubtless the Thunder, which most frequently
falls upon elevated places. He was in general regarded as a divinity
favourable to mankind; as he who guarded them from the attacks of Giants
and wicked Genii ; whom he never ceased to encounter and persue. The
name of his palace signifies, in Gothic, “The place of refuge from
Terrour." As he was the first-born of the Supreme God; or to speak in
the language of the Edda, "The Eldest of Sons;" the first and principal
intelligence proceeding from the union of the Deity with Matter; they
have made him a middle divinity, a mediator between God and Men. It is
probable that a great many people venerated him also, as the
intelligence who animated the Sun and Fire. The worship of the Persians
had in this respect, as in a great many others, the most exact
resemblance to that of this people. The Persians held, that the most
illustrious of all created intelligences was what they paid homage to
under the symbol of Fire or the Sun, wherein the intelligence resided.
They called it Mithr-as, or the Mediator Lord. (The word
still signifies Lord, in Persian.) They, as well as the Scandinavians,
kept a perpetual and sacred fire, in consequence of this persuasion. The
Scythians, according to Herodotus and Hesychius, adored this divinity
under the title of Goeto-Syrus, which signifies The Good Star.
This word Syr, or
Seir, which the Persians employed to
denominate the Sun, seems to be the same with Thor, only in a different
dialect. The ancient people of the north pronounced, the th in the same
manner as the English do at present; not very different from ss. They
had a particular character for that letter, which was afterwards lost in
the other dialects of the Saxon language. All the Celtic nations have in
like manner, been accustomed to the worship of the Sun; either as
distinguished from Thor, or considered as his symbol. It was a custom
that every where prevailed in ancient times, to celebrate a feast at the
winter solstice, by which men testified their joy at seeing this great
luminary return again to this part of the heavens. They sacrificed
horses to him, as an emblem says Herodotus, of the rapidity of this
planet. This was the greatest solemnity in the year. They called it in
many places, Yole, or Juul from the word Hiaul, or Houl, which even at
this day signifies the Sun, in the languages of Bass Britagne, and
Cornwall*. When the ancient Pagan religion gave place to the Christian,
the rejoicings, feasts and nocturnal assemblies which that festival
authorised, indecent as they were, were not suppressed, lest, by
endeavouring to gain all, all should be lost. The church was content to
sanctify the end of this feasting, by applying it to the nativity of our
Lord; the anniversary of which happened to be much about the same time.
In the languages of the north, Juul, or Yule still signifies Christmas;
and the manner in which this festival is celebrated in many places, as
well as the old name itself, reminds us of many circumstances of its
first original. (See Schefter. Upsal. Antiq. c. 7. Pellout. Hist, des
Celt. T.II. c. 12).‡ I have already observed, that in all the languages
of the north, the day consecrated to the Jupiter tonans of the Romans,
was transferred to *the God Thor, and was named Thorsdag, &c. that is,
Thursday. See Vol. I. pag. 96.
*Fr. Des Celtes.†This is giving a Celtic derivation of a Gothic word, (two languages extremely different.)—The learned Dr. Hickes thus derives the term in question. "Juol, Cimbricum, Anglo-Saxonice Scriptum, Jeol; et Dan. Sax. Iul, o in u facile mutato, ope intensivi præfixi l et ge-, faciunt al, ol, Commessatio, compotatio, convivuium, symposium" — Isl. Ol. cerevifiam denotat, & metonymici Convivium.)" Junii Etym. Ang. V. Yeol.
Our ingenious author, however, is certainly right as to the origin. and design of the Yule-fEast: the Greenlanders at this day keep a Sun-feast at the winter solstice, about Dec. 22 to rejoice at the return of the Sun, and the expected renewal of the Hunting season, &c. Which custom they may possibly have learnt of the Norvegian Colony formerly settled in Greenland. See an account of this festival in Dav. Cranta's Hist, of Greenland, 2 Vols. 8vo. 1767; Vol. I. p. 176. T.
‡See also Keysl. Antiq. p. 159 &c. 349, 367.
22. Frá Baldri
23. Frá Nirði ok Skaða.
THE TWELFTH FABLE
Of the God Balder.
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Spyrja vil ek tíðenda af fleirum ásunum."
Hárr segir: "Annarr sonr Óðins er Baldr, ok er frá honum gott at segja. Hann er beztr, ok hann lofa allir. Hann er svá fagr álitum ok bjartr, svá at lýsir af honum, ok eitt gras er svá hvítt, at jafnat er til Baldrs brár. Þat er allra grasa hvítast, ok þar eftir máttu marka fegurð hans bæði á hár ok á líki. Hann er vitrastr ásanna ok fegrst talaðr ok líknsamastr, en sú náttúra fylgir honum, at engi má haldast dómr hans. Hann býr þar, sem heitir Breiðablik. Þat er á himni. Í þeim stað má ekki vera óhreint, svá sem hér segir:
34. Breiðablik heita,23. Inn þriði áss er sá, er kallaðr er Njörðr. Hann býr á himni, þar sem heitir Nóatún. Hann ræðr fyrir göngu vinds ok stillir sjá ok eld. Á hann skal heita til sæfara ok til veiða. Hann er svá auðigr ok fésæll, at hann má gefa þeim auð landa eða lausafjár. Á hann skal til þess heita. Eigi er Njörðr ása ættar. Hann var upp fæddr í Vanaheimi, en Vanir gísluðu hann goðunum ok tóku í mót at gíslingu þann, er Hænir heitir. Hann varð at sætt með goðum ok Vönum. Njörðr á þá konu, er Skaði heitir, dóttir Þjaza jötuns. Skaði vill hafa bústað þann, er átt hafði faðir hennar, þat er á fjöllum nökkurum, þar sem heitir Þrymheimr, en Njörðr vill vera nær sæ. Þau sættust á þat, at þau skyldu vera níu nætr í Þrymheimi, en þá aðrar níu at Nóatúnum. En er Njörðr kom aftr til Nóatúna af fjallinu, þá kvað hann þetta:
35. Leið erumk fjöll,
Þá kvað Skaði þetta:
36. Sofa ek né máttak
Þá fór Skaði upp á fjall ok byggði í Þrymheimi, ok ferr hon mjök á skíðum ok með boga ok skýtr dýr. Hon heitir öndurgoð eða öndurdís. Svá er sagt:
37. Þrymheimr heitir,
THE second son of Odin is named Balder. He is of an
excellent natural temper; and hath the universal praise of
mankind: so handsome in his person, and of so dazling a look,
that he seems to dart forth rays of light (a). To make you
comprehend the beauty of his hair, you should be informed that
the whitest of all vegetables is called, the "Eye-brow of
Balder." This God, so radiant and graceful, is also the most
eloquent and benign; yet such is his nature, that the judgments
he has pronounced can never be altered. He dwells in the city of
Breidablik, before-mentioned. This place is in heaven, and
nothing impure can have admittance there: this is confirmed by
the following verses: "Balder hath his palaces in Briedablik,
and there I know are columns, upon which are engraven verses,
capable of recalling the dead to life."
The third God is he, whom we call Kiord [sic]. He dwelleth in a place named Noatun. He is ruler of the winds: he checks the fury of the sea, storms and fire (b). Whoever would succeed in navigation, hunting or fishing, ought to pray to this God. He is so rich, that he can give to his votaries kingdoms and treasures: and upon this account also he deserves to be invoked. Yet Niord is not of the lineage of the Gods. He was reared at Vanheim, that is, in the country of the Vanes; but the Vanes delivered him up an hostage to the Gods, and received in his place Haner. By this means a peace was re-established between the Gods and the Vanes. Niord took to wife Skada, the daughter of the Giant Thiasse. She prefers dwelling on the spot where her father inhabits, that is, in the land of the mountains; but Niord loves to reside near the sea: yet they came at length to this agreement between themselves, that they should pass together nine nights among the mountains, and three on the shore of the sea. One day Niord, returning from the mountains, composed this song "How do I hate the abode of the mountains? I have only passed nine nights there; but how long and tedious did they seem! There one hears nothing but the howling of wolves, instead of the sweet singing of the swans,* who dwell on the sea-shores.” In answer to this, Skada composed the following verses: “How is it possible for me to enjoy my rest on the couch of the God of the Ocean; whilst birds in flocks returning each morning from the forest, awake me with their screamings?" Then Skada returned to the mountains, where her father dwells; there snatching up her bow, and fastening on her snow-skates, she often employed herself in the chace of savage beasts.†
*It is very remarkable, that the ancient Icelandic bards should have got hold of that fabulous opinion of the Swan’s being a singing bird; which so generally prevailed among the Greek and Roman poets. It would be a curious subject of disquisition, to inquire what could have given rise to so arbitrary and groundless a notion. There can be no mistake about the bird here; for the Icelandic words are the same with our English: Saungui Suana, "The song, or singing of Swans." Cantus Cygnorum. T.
†The reader will find an additional passage here in the Latin version of Goranson; as also some parts of the preceding paragraph, differently rendered.
|REMARKS on the TWELFTH FABLE|
(a) "He seems to dart forth rays of light.”] Of all the nations
who have formerly adhered to the ‘Gothic' religion,* none have given us
such a particular description of it as the Icelanders. If we are not
therefore always able to prove, that some of the points contained in the
doctrine of the Edda have been universally received by other ancient
nations of Europe; must it be thence concluded, that these doctrines
were unknown to them? Analogy authorises us to judge the contrary. The
conformities, we discover in that part which we know, may serve to
answer for what remains unknown. But this reasoning, which I think well
sounded, shall not hinder me from seeking more positive proofs of that
resemblance and conformity, as far as one can discover any traces of it
amid the ruins of antiquity. There is in this place matter for the
exercise of investigation. Who is this God Balder? Was he known to the
other nations of Europe? It seems to me probable, that Balder is the
same God, whom the Noricians and Gauls worshiped under the name of
Belenus. This was a celebrated God among the Celtes. Many inscriptions
make mention of him. We even find monuments, where he is exhibited
according to his attributes. That which hath been long preserved at the
castle of Polignac, represents him with a radiated head, and a large
open mouth; which exactly agrees with the picture here given of him in
the Edda; as a God resplendent and eloquent. We easily see, that Belen
and Balder came from the same origin, that is, from the Phrygian word
Bal, or Balen, which signifies King, and which they formerly applied to
the Sun. Selden (de Diis Syris. Synt. II. c. I.) thinks that the ancient
Britons called him Belertucades. This was the Apollo of the Greeks and
Romans, the Sun considered as a benign and salutary constellation, who
chaced away maladies, animated the spirits, and warmed the imagination,
that fruitful mother of poetry and all the other arts.
*Fr. La Religione Celtique.
(b) "He checks the fury of the sea, storms and fire."] This God, or at least a God with these attributes, hath been adored by all the ancient ‘nations of Europe, as well Goths as' Celtes: as also by the Persians, and the people who dwell around the Euxine and Caspian seas. They all of them assigned a Genius or God to the waters, whether of the sea, or of rivers, or fountains. This God would not fail to be adored, and loaded with presents. In many places among the Gauls, they every year consecrated to him animals, precious stuffs, fruits, and gold and silver. Such was that small piece of water near Toulouse, into which great riches were thrown in honour of this Deity. They looked upon him as easily provoked, and upon his goodness as not a little precarious; but such as was not ill adapted to the temper of him who was the master and director of so deceitful an element. Thus the Edda scruples to admit him into the family of the Gods. The common people, in divers places of Germany and the north, are still persuaded that men owe him a yearly tribute; and that when any body is drowned, this God hath carried him away. They call him, in Germany, Der Nix; and formerly in the north, Nocken. They had no other phrase to express a person's dying in the water, but "Nocken hath taken him;" and hence without doubt is derived the French word Noyer, to drown. The Gauls called this divinity Neitb. They believed that he resided in the sea, and in pools. There was near Geneva, in the lake which goes by the name of that town, a rock consecrated to him, which still retains the name of Nelton; a word approaching very near to that of Noatun, which, according to the Edda, is the residence of the God of Waters. The Romans retained both the worship and name of this God, who was adored by the ancient Celtic nations of Italy. In general, all the several people of Europe have had a great veneration for this Divinity, and nothing was more difficult than to bring them off from the worship they paid him; this furnished subject for the prohibitions of many a council. Even within the bosom of the Christian Church, the people long continued to repair in crouds to certain fountains, in order to adore the beneficent Genius, who, by an incomprehensible power, made the waters flow in equal and uninterrupted abundance; they covered them with flowers and presents; and poured out libations.
O fons Bandusiæ, splendidtior vitro;
|24. Frá Frey ok Freyju.||
THE THIRTEENTH FABLE
Of the God Frey, and the Goddess Freya.
Njörðr í Nóatúnum gat síðan tvau börn. Hét
annat Freyr, en dóttir Freyja. Þau váru fögr álitum ok máttug. Freyr er inn
ágætasti af ásum. Hann ræðr fyrir regni ok skini sólar ok þar með ávexti jarðar,
ok á hann er gott at heita til árs ok friðar. Hann ræðr ok fésælu manna. En
Freyja er ágætust af ásynjum. Hon á þann bæ á himni, er Fólkvangr heitir. Ok
hvar sem hon ríðr til vígs, þá á hon hálfan val, en hálfan Óðinn, svá sem hér
38. Folkvangr heitir,
Salr hennar Sessrúmnir, hann er mikill ok fagr. En er hon ferr, þá ekr hon
köttum tveim ok sitr í reið. Hon er nákvæmust mönnum til á at heita, ok af
hennar nafni er þat tignarnafn, er ríkiskonur eru kallaðar fróvur. Henni líkaði
vel mansöngr. Á hana er gott at heita til ásta."
|NIORD had afterwards, at his residence of Noatun, two children, named Frey, and Freya both of them beautiful and vigorous. Frey is the mildest of all the Gods. He presides over the rain, and the fun, and all the productions of the earth. He is to be invoked in order to obtain either fine seasons, or plenty, or peace; for it is he who dispenses peace and riches, Freya is the most propitious of the Goddesses. The place which she inhabits in heaven, is called "The Union of the People." She goes on horseback to every place where battles are fought, and asserts her right to one half of the slain; the other half belongs to Odin. Her palace is large and magnificent; thence she sallies forth in a chariot, drawn by two cats. She lends a very favourable ear to the vows of those who sue for her assistance. It is from her that the Ladies have received the name, which we give them in our language. She is very much delighted with the songs of lovers; and such as would be happy in their amours ought to worship this Goddess. Then says Gangler, All these Gods appear to me to have great power: and I am not at all surprized (a) that you are able to perform so many great achievements, fine you are so well acquainted with the attributes and functions of each God, and know what it is proper to ask of each in order to, succeed. But are there still any more of them, besides those you have already named?|
|REMARKS on the THIRTEENTH FABLE|
Frey is some inferior intelligence or divinity, who resided in
the air. Freya, who has often been taken for Frigga, is the Goddess of
Love, the Venus of the Scandinavians. The ladies are called, in Danish,
Fruer; and, in ancient Gothic, the word Freya appears to have signified
the same thing. This name has a remarkable analogy to the following
words in the French language, viz. Frayeri to engender or spawn as
fishes do; and Friand, which anciently signified "full of desire"; as
also to Frija, which in Swedish signifies to be amorous, and to seek in
marriage; and Friar, a gallant. The name Aphroditis, which was given to
Venus by the people of Greece, seems also to bear some affinity to this.
Gallantry being one of the principal virtues of every brave warrior, it
was but right that the Goddess of Love should have the charge of
rewarding one half, at least, of those who had died with their swords in
(a) "I am not at all surprized, &c."] The people settled in Scandinavia, before the arrival of Odin, were a very simple race, and easily astonished. This conqueror subdued them as much by imposing on their minds, as by vanquishing their arms. Amazed at those successes, which their own ignorance had occasioned, and was not able to account for; they very wisely sent to Odin himself, to inquire the cause. We have seen that this was the end, which Gangler, or the king who assumed that name, proposed to himself. Here he learned so many new circumstances concerning the functions of the several Gods, and the worship to be paid them in order to secure their favour, that he thought he had discovered the mystery, and was now in a condition to cope with his rival.
25. Frá Tý.
26. Frá Braga ok Iðunni.
THE FOURTEENTH FABLE
0f the God Tyr.
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Miklir þykkja mér þessir fyrir sér æsirnir, ok eigi er
undarligt, at mikill kraftr fylgi yðr, er þér skuluð kunna skyn goðanna ok vita,
hvert biðja skal hverrar bænarinnar. Eða eru fleiri enn goðin?"
Hárr segir: "Sá er enn áss, er Týr heitir. Hann er djarfastr ok bezt hugaðr, ok hann ræðr mjök sigri í orrostum. Á hann er gott at heita hreystimönnum. Þat er orðtak, at sá er týhraustr, er um fram er aðra menn ok ekki sést fyrir. Hann var ok vitr, svá at þat er ok mælt, at sá er týspakr, er vitrastr er. Þat er eitt mark um djarfleik hans, þá er æsir lokkuðu Fenrisúlf til þess at leggja fjöturinn á hann, Gleipni, þá trúði hann þeim eigi, at þeir mundu leysa hann, fyrr en þeir lögðu honum at veði hönd Týs í munn hans, en þá er æsir vildu eigi leysa hann, þá beit hann höndina af, þar er nú heitir úlfliðr, ok er hann einhendr ok ekki kallaðr sættir manna.
26. Bragi heitir einn. Hann er ágætr at speki ok mest at málsnilld ok orðfimi. Hann kann mest af skáldskap, ok af honum er bragr kallaðr skáldskapr, ok af hans nafni er sá kallaðr bragr karla eða bragr kvinna, er orðsnilld hefir framar en aðrir, kona eða karlmaðr. Kona hans er Iðunn. Hon varðveitir í eski sínu epli þau, er goðin skulu á bíta, þá er þau eldast, ok verða þá allir ungir, ok svá mun vera allt til ragnarökrs."
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Allmikit þykkir mér goðin eiga undir gæzlu eða trúnaði Iðunnar."
Þá mælti Hárr ok hló við: "Nær lagði þat ófæru einu sinni. Kunna mun ek þar af at segja, en þú skalt nú fyrst heyra fleiri nöfn ásanna.
HAR answered, There is the God Tyr, who is the most bold
and intrepid of all the Gods. 'Tis he who dispenses victories
in, war; and therefore warriors do well to pay their addresses
to him. It hath become proverbial to say, of a man who surpasses
others in valour, that he is as Brave As Tyr. Let me give you a
proof of his intrepidity. The Gods one day would fain have
persuaded the wolf FenRis, their enemy, to permit himself to be
chained up; but he, fearing lest they should never afterwards
unloose him, persisted in his refusal, till Tyr put his hand, by
way of pledge, into the mouth of this monster. The Gods not
judging it proper to redeem the pledge by unchaining the wolf,
he bit off the God's hand, severing it at that part, which has
been ever since called ‘Uflither or' The Wolf's Joint. From
that time this God hath had, but one hand. His remarkable
prudence has given occasion to this, form of expression, such a
one is "sagacious as Tyr:" but it is believed, that he does not
love to see men live in peace.
There is another God, named Brage who is celebrated for his wisdom, eloquence and majestic air. He is not only eminently skilled in poetry, but the art itself is called from his name Brager, and the most distinguished poets receive their names from him. His wife is called lduna. She keeps in a box certain apples, which the Gods taste of, whenever they feel old age approaching; for these apples have the virtue of restoring youth to all who eat them: it is by this means that the Gods will subsist till the darkness of the last times. Hereupon Gangler cried out, Certainly the Gods have committed a great treasure to the guardianship and good faith of lduna. Har smiling, says to him, And hence it happened, that they once ran the greatest risk in the world; as I may have occasion to tell you, when you have learnt the names of the other Gods.
|REMARKS on the FOURTEENTH FABLE|
Tyr was some inferior divinity, who presided particularly over
battles. I do not believe that mention is made of him anywhere else,
except in the EDDA and other Icelandic monuments. And yet it is certain
that this God hath been adored by all the northern nations; since in all
the different dialects of this people, the name of the third day of the
week, which the Romans consecrated to Mars (Dies Mortis) hath been
formed from the name of Tyr. This day is called Tyrsdag in Danish and
Swedish and in the other dialects by a somewhat softer modulation,
Thisdag, Disdag, Tusdag, Tuesday. (See Vol. I. pag. 99.) Tacitus, here,
as almost everywhere else, perfectly agrees with our monuments. He
renders the name Tyr, by that of Mars, and makes him a subaltern, and
inferior divinity to the God Odin, whom he describes under the name of
As to the God Brage, we know nothing more of him than what we learn from the EDDA; and yet the Gauls had likewise a God of eloquence, named by the Romans Herculus Ogmius; but whether he was the same with Brage does not appear. The apples of Iduna are a very agreeable fiction. In this part of the story we again discover the favourite system of the Celtes, respecting the insensible and continual decay of nature, and of the Gods, who were united to it, and depended upon it.
THE FIFTEENTH FABLE
Of Heimdall, and some other Gods.
Heimdallr heitir einn. Hann er kallaðr hvíti áss. Hann er mikill ok heilagr.
Hann báru at syni meyjar níu ok allar systr. Hann heitir ok Hallinskíði ok
Gullintanni. Tennr hans váru af gulli. Hestr hans heitir Gulltoppr. Hann býr
þar, er heita Himinbjörg við Bifröst. Hann er vörðr goða ok sitr þar við himins
enda at gæta brúarinnar fyrir bergrisum. Hann þarf minna svefn en fugl. Hann sér
jafnt nótt sem dag hundrað rasta frá sér. Hann heyrir ok þat, er gras vex á
jörðu eða ull á sauðum, ok allt þat er hæra lætr. Hann hefir lúðr þann, er
Gjallarhorn heitir, ok heyrir blástr hans í alla heima. Heimdallar sverð er
kallat höfuð manns. Hér er svá sagt:
39. Himinbjörg heita,
Ok enn segir hann sjálfr í Heimdallargaldri:
40. Níu em ek mæðra mögr,28. Höðr heitir einn ásinn. Hann er blindr. Ærit er hann sterkr, en vilja mundu goðin, at þenna ás þyrfti eigi at nefna, því at hans handaverk munu lengi vera höfð at minnum með goðum ok mönnum.
29. Víðarr heitir einn, inn þögli áss. Hann hefir skó þjokkvan. Hann er sterkr, næst því sem Þórr. Af honum hafa goðin mikit traust í allar þrautir.
30. Áli eða Váli heitir einn, sonr Óðins ok Rindar. Hann er djarfr í orrostum ok mjök happskeytr.
31. Ullr heitir einn, sonr Sifjar, stúpsonr Þórs. Hann er bogmaðr svá góðr ok skíðfærr svá, at engi má við hann keppast. Hann er ok fagr álitum ok hefir hermanns atgervi. Á hann er ok gott at heita í einvígi.
32. Forseti heitir sonr Baldrs ok Nönnu Nepsdóttur. Hann á þann sal á himni, er Glitnir heitir. En allir, er til hans koma með sakarvandræði, þá fara allir sáttir á braut. Sá er dómstaðr beztr með goðum ok mönnum. Svá segir hér:
THERE is another very sacred and powerful Deity, who is called HEIMDALL. He is the son of nine Virgins, who are sisters. He is likewise called the “God with the Golden Teeth," because his teeth are of that metal. He dwells at the end of the bridge Bifrost, or the RainBow, in a castle called "the Celestial Fort." He is the sentinel or watchman of the Gods. The post assigned him is to abide at the entry into heaven, to prevent the Giants from forcing their way over the bridge. He steeps less than a bird; and sees by night, as well as by day, more than a hundred leagues around him. So acute is his ear, that he hears the grass growing on the earth, and the wool on the sheep's back nor doth the smallest sound escape him. Besides all this, he hath a trumpet, which is heard through all the Worlds. This God is celebrated in the following verses: "The Celestial Fort" is the castle where Heimdall resideth, that sacred guardian of heaven, who drinketh divine hydromel in the secure and tranquil palaces of the Gods."
Among the Gods we reckon also HODER, who is blind, but extremely strong. Both Gods and Men would be very glad if they never had occasion to pronounce his name:* yet Gods and Men will long preserve the remembrance of the deeds performed by his hands. The ninth God is the silent Vidar, who wears very thick shoes, but of so wonderful a contexture, that by means of them he can walk in air, and tread upon water. He is almost as strong as the God Thor himself; and in all Critical conjunctures, affords the Gods great consolation. The tenth God, Vile, or Vali, is one of the sons of Odin and Rinda. He is bold in war, and an excellent archer. The eleventh is Uller, the offspring of Sifia, and son-in-law of Thor. He is so quick in shooting his arrows, and so nimble in the use of his skates, that nobody can stand before him. He is also very handsome in his person, and possesses every quality of a hero; wherefore it is very proper to invoke him in duels, or single combats. Forsete is the name of the twelfth God: he is the son of Balder. He hath a palace in heaven, named Glitner. All who refer to him the decision of their controversies, return from his tribunal mutually satisfied. It is the most, excellent tribunal that is found among Gods or Men, according to these verses. "Glitner is the name of a palace, which is upheld by pillars of gold, and covered with a roof of silver. There it is that Forsete resides the greatest part of his time, who reconciles and appeases all sorts of quarrels.”
*This, I presume, alludes to Fable XXVIII.
|REMARKS on the FIFTEENTH FABLE|
|I have no remark to offer upon this fable, what every reader may make as well as myself. Most of the divinities, mentioned here, are only known to us by of them were unknown but to the other ‘Gothic and' Celtic nations, and are the Edda. Perhaps some only to be considered as companions of the great northern conqueror, who were deified in subsequent ages.|
33. Frá Loka Laufeyjarsyni.
34. Frá börnum Loka ok bundinn Fenrisúlfr.
THE SIXTEENTH FABLE
Sá er enn talðr með ásum, er sumir kalla rógbera ásanna ok frumkveða flærðanna
ok vömm allra goða ok manna. Sá er nefndr Loki eða Loftr, sonr Fárbauta jötuns.
Móðir hans heitir Laufey eða Nál. Bræðr hans eru þeir Býleistr ok Helblindi.
Loki er fríðr ok fagr sýnum, illr í skaplyndi, mjök fjölbreytinn at háttum. Hann
hafði þá speki um fram aðra menn, er slægð heitir, ok vélar til allra hluta.
Hann kom ásum jafnan í fullt vandræði, ok oft leysti hann þá með vélræðum. Kona
hans heitir Sigyn, sonr þeira Nari eða Narfi.
34. Enn átti Loki fleiri börn. Angrboða hét gýgr í Jötunheimum. Við henni gat Loki þrjú börn. Eitt var Fenrisúlfr, annat Jörmungandr, þat er Miðgarðsormr, þriðja er Hel. En er goðin vissu til, at þessi þrjú systkin fæddust upp í Jötunheimum, ok goðin rökðu til spádóma, at af systkinum þessum myndi þeim mikit mein ok óhapp standa, ok þótti öllum mikils ills af væni, fyrst af móðerni ok enn verra af faðerni, þá sendi Alföðr til goðin at taka börnin ok færa sér. Ok er þau kómu til hans, þá kastaði hann orminum í inn djúpa sæ, er liggr um öll lönd, ok óx sá ormr svá, at hann liggr í miðju hafinu of öll lönd ok bítr í sporð sér.
Hel kastaði hann í Niflheim ok gaf henni vald yfir níu heimum, at hon skyldi skipta öllum vistum með þeim, er til hennar váru sendir, en þat eru sóttdauðir menn ok ellidauðir. Hon á þar mikla bólstaði, ok eru garðar hennar forkunnarhávir ok grindr stórar. Éljúðnir heitir salr hennar, Hungr diskr hennar, Sultr knífr hennar, Ganglati þrællinn, Ganglöt ambátt, Fallandaforað þresköldr hennar, er inn gengr, Kör sæing, Blíkjandaböl ársali hennar. Hon er blá hálf, en hálf með hörundarlit. Því er hon auðkennd ok heldr gnúpleit ok grimmlig.
SOME reckon Loke in the number of the Gods; others call him, "The calumniator of the Gods," "The artificer of fraud," "The disgrace of Gods and Men." His name is Loke. He is the son of the Giant Farbautes and of Laufeya. His two brothers are Bileipter and Helblinde, or Blind Death. As to his body, Loke is handsome and very well made; but his foul is evil, light, and inconstant. He surpasses all beings in that science which is called Cunning and Perfidy. Many a time hath he exposed the Gods to very great perils (a), and hath often extricated them again by his artifices. His wife is called Siguna. He hath had by her Nare, and some other children. By the Giantess Angerbode, or Messenger of ill, he hath likewise had three children. One is the wolf Fenris, the second is the great Serpent of Midgard, and the third is Hela, or Death.
The Gods were not ignorant, that those children were breeding up in the country of the Giants; they were apprized by many oracles, of all the evils they must suffer from them; their being sprung from such a mother was but a bad presage; and from such a Sire was still worse. Wherefore the Universal Father dispatched certain of the Gods to bring those children to him. When they were come, he threw the Serpent down into the bottom of the ocean. But there the monster waxed so large, that he wound himself around the whole globe of the earth; and that so intirely, that at pleasure he can with his mouth lay hold of the end of his tail. Hela was precipitated into Niflheim, or hell; there me had the government of nine worlds given her, into which she distributes those who are sent her; that is, all who die through sickness? or old age (b). Here she possesses vast apartments, strongly built, and fenced with large grates. Her hall is Grief; Famine is her table; Hunger, her knife; Delay, her valet; Slackness, her maid; Precipice, her gate; Faintness, her porch; Sickness and Pain, her bed; and her tent,* Cursing and Howling. The one half of her body is blue; the other half covered with skin, and of the colour of human flesh. She hath a dreadful terrifying look, and by this alone it were easy to know her.
*Or perhaps, her curtains, &c.
|REMARKS on the SIXTEENTH FABLE|
(a) "He hath exposed the Gods to very great perils."] I should
be inclined to call Loke, the Momus of the northern Deities; did not the
tricks he plays them often exceed the bounds of raillery. Besides, the
monsters he hath engendered, and who are along with their father, in the
latter ages, to make rude assaults upon the Gods, plainly indicates a
system little different from that of the Evil Principle. Notwithstanding
what hath been advanced by some learned men, this opinion was not
unknown either to the Persians, ‘Goths,' or Celtes: perhaps indeed we
ought thus far only to agree with them, that it did not belong to the
ancient religion of either of these people. But the hazardous and
labouring condition in which they believed all nature to be, and the
assaults which it was to sustain at the last day, led them insensibly to
imagine that there was a power who was at enmity with Gods and Men, and
who wrought all the evils which desolate the universe. This was the
occupation of Arimanes among the Persians, and of Loke among the
Scandinavians. Loke produces the great serpent, which intirely encircles
the world. This serpent, by some of the characteristics of it in this
same Mythology, seems to have been intended as an emblem of corruption
or sin. He also gives birth to Hela or Death, that queen of the infernal
regions, of whom the Edda gives us here so remarkable a portrait: And
lastly, to the wolf Fenris, that monster who is to encounter the Gods,
and destroy the world. How could the Evil Principle have been, more
(b) “All who die through sickness or old age."] Cimbri & Celtiberi in acie exultabant, tanquam gloriosè & feliciter vita excessuri. Lamentabantur in morbo, quasi turpiter & miserabiliter perituri. Val. Max. c. 6. The Cimbri and Celtiberi leaped with joy in marching to battle, as being to quit this life in a manner equally happy and glorious; but bewailed themselves when confined by distempers, alarmed at the thought of dying a shameful and miserable death." Here we have a proof, that this doctrine of the Edda was that also of all the Celtic nations; and here we see what an impression it made upon their minds. I could accumulate ancient authorities still further in confirmation of it, but refer the reader to the preceding volume. (See Vol. I. p. 206, &c.) Let us observe, however, that the infernal region here described, where a punishment, rather disagreeable than cruel, is reserved for those who have died without their arms in their hands, Is not an eternal Hell, but only an intermediate abode, or, if you will, a Prison, whence those who are confined, will come forth at the last day, to be judged upon other principles; and to be condemned or absolved for more real virtues and vices. To this intermediate Hell was opposed an Elysium of the same duration; viz. Valhalla, or Valhall, of which we shall presently have ample mention. One sees with surprize, in attentively reading this Mythology, that the whole is better connected and the parts more dependant on one another, than in any other work of the same kind, that hath come to our knowledge. The inferior Gods, created along with this world, and united to it by their nature, and the conformity of their destiny, had every thing to fear at the last day from the enemies of nature, In order therefore to be the better able to resist them, they called home to them all the warriors, who had given proof of their valour by shedding their blood in battle. These, thus received into the residence of the Gods, were still exercised in all the operations of war, in order to keep them in breath, ready against the last great conflict. This was the great end to which all their pleasures and employments were directed. As to cowardly or inactive persons, what could the Gods have done with them, when they were thus threatened with an attack as sudden, as dangerous? They gave them up to the custody of Death, who was to punish their weakness with languor and pain. All this hath nothing to do with that Eternal Hell and Elysium, which we shall see sketched out in the Edda with much more force and dignity; and where nothing will be regarded but fidelity, chastity, integrity and justice.
|34. Frá börnum Loka ok bundinn Fenrisúlfr.||
THE SEVENTEENTH FABLE
Of the Wolf Fenris.
Úlfinn fæddu æsir heima, ok hafði Týr einn djarfleik at ganga til at ok gefa
honum mat. En er goðin sá, hversu mikit hann óx hvern dag, ok allar spár sögðu,
at hann myndi vera lagðr til skaða þeim, þá fengu æsirnir þat ráð, at þeir gerðu
fjötur allsterkan, er þeir kölluðu Læðing, ok báru hann til úlfsins ok báðu hann
reyna afl sitt við fjöturinn, en úlfinum þótti sér þat ekki ofrefli ok lét þá
fara með sem þeir vildu. En it fyrsta sinn, er úlfrinn spyrnði við, brotnaði sá
fjöturr. Svá leystist hann ór Læðingi. Því næst gerðu æsirnar annan fjötr hálfu
sterkara, er þeir kölluðu Dróma, ok báðu enn úlfinn reyna þann fjötur ok tölðu
hann verða mundu ágætan mjök at afli, ef slík stórsmíði mætti eigi halda honum.
En úlfrinn hugsaði, at þessi fjöturr var sterkr mjök, ok þat með, at honum hafði
afl vaxit, síðan er hann braut Læðing - kom þat í hug, at hann myndi verða at
leggja sik í hættu, ef hann skyldi frægr verða, ok lét leggja á sik fjöturinn.
Ok er æsir tölðust búnir, þá hristi úlfrinn sik ok laust fjötrinum á jörðina ok
knúðist fast at, spyrnði við, braut fjöturinn, svá at fjarri flugu brotin. Svá
drap hann sik ór Dróma. Þat er síðan haft fyrir orðtak, at leysi ór Læðingi eða
drepi ór Dróma, þá er einhver hlutr er ákafliga sóttr.
Eftir þat óttuðust æsirnar, at þeir myndi eigi fá bundit úlfinn. Þá sendi Alföðr þann, er Skírnir er nefndr, sendimaðr Freys, ofan í Svartálfaheim til dverga nökkurra ok lét gera fjötur þann, er Gleipnir heitir. Hann var gerr af sex hlutum: af dyn kattarins ok af skeggi konunnar ok af rótum bjargsins ok af sinum bjarnarins ok af anda fisksins ok af fugls hráka.
Ok þóttú vitir eigi áðr þessi tíðendi, þá máttu nú finna skjótt hér sönn dæmi, at eigi er logit at þér. Sét munt þú hafa, at konan hefir ekki skegg ok engi dynr verðr af hlaupi kattarins ok eigi eru rætr undir bjarginu. Ok þat veit trúa mín, at jafnsatt er þat allt, er ek hef sagt þér, þótt þeir sé sumir hlutir, er þú mátt eigi reyna."
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Þetta má ek at vísu skilja, at satt er. Þessa hluti má ek sjá, er þú hefir nú til dæma tekit. En hvernig varð fjöturrinn smíðaðr?"
Hárr segir: "Þat kann ek þér vel segja. Fjöturrinn varð sléttr ok blautr sem silkiræma, en svá traustr ok sterkr sem nú skaltu heyra. Þá er fjöturrinn var færðr ásunum, þökkuðu þeir vel sendimanni sitt erindi. Þá fóru æsirnir út í vatn þat, er Ámsvartnir heitir, í hólm þann, er Lyngvi er kallaðr, ok kölluðu með sér úlfinn, sýndu honum silkibandit ok báðu hann slíta ok kváðu vera nökkuru traustara en líkendi þætti á fyrir digrleiks sakir, ok seldi hverr öðrum ok treysti með handafli, ok slitnaði eigi, en þó kváðu þeir úlfinn slíta mundu.
Þá svarar úlfrinn: "Svá lízt mér á þenna dregil sem enga frægð munak af hljóta, þótt ek slíta í sundr svá mjótt band. En ef þat er gert með list ok vél, þótt þat sýnist lítit, þá kemr þat band eigi á mína fætr."
Þá sögðu æsirnir, at hann myndi skjótt sundr slíta mjótt silkiband, er hann hafði fyrr brotit stóra járnfjötra, - "en ef þú fær eigi þetta band slitit, þá muntu ekki hræða mega goðin. Skulum vér þá leysa þik."
Úlfrinn segir: "Ef þér bindið mik, svá at ek fæk eigi leyst mik, þá skollið þér svá, at mér mun seint verða at taka af yðr hjálp. Ófúss em ek at láta þetta band á mik leggja, en heldr en þér frýið mér hugar, þá leggi einn hverr yðarr hönd sína í munn mér at veði, at þetta sé falslaust gert."
En hverr ásanna sá til annars ok þótti nú vera tvau vandræði, ok vildi engi sína hönd fram selja, fyrr en Týr lét fram hönd sína hægri ok leggr í munn úlfinum. En er úlfrinn spyrnir, þá harðnaði bandit, ok því harðara er hann brauzt um, því skarpara var bandit. Þá hlógu allir nema Týr. Hann lét hönd sína. Þá er æsirnir sá, at úlfrinn var bundinn at fullu, þá tóku þeir festina, er ór var fjötrinum, er Gelgja heitir, ok drógu hana gegnum hellu mikla, - sú heitir Gjöll, - ok festu helluna langt í jörð niðr. Þá tóku þeir mikinn stein ok skutu enn lengra í jörðina, - sá heitir Þviti, - ok höfðu þann stein fyrir festarhælinn. Úlfrinn gapði ákafliga ok fekksk um mjök ok vildi bíta þá. Þeir skutu í munn honum sverði nökkuru. Nema hjöltin við neðra gómi, en efra gómi blóðrefillinn. Þat er gómsparri hans. Hann grenjar illiliga, ok slefa renn ór munni hans. Þat er á sú, er Ván heitir. Þar liggr hann til ragnarökrs."
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Furðu illa barna eign gat Loki, en öll þessi systkin eru mikil fyrir sér. En fyrir hví drápu æsir eigi úlfinn, er þeim er ills ván af honum?"
Hárr svarar: "Svá mikils virðu goðin vé sín ok griðastaði, at eigi vildu þau saurga þá með blóði úlfsins, þótt svá segi spárnar, at hann myni verða at bana Óðni."
AS to the Wolf Fenris, the Gods bred him up among themselves; Tyr being the only one among them who durst give him his food. Nevertheless, when they perceived that he every day increased prodigiously in size, and that the oracles warned them that he would one day become fatal to them; they determined to make very strong iron fetters for him, and presenting them to the Wolf, desired him to put them on to shew his strength, in endeavouring to break them. The Monster perceiving that this enterprize would not be very difficult to him, permitted the Gods to do what they pleased; and then violently stretching his nerves, burst the chains, and set himself at liberty. The Gods having seen this, made a new set of iron chains, half as strong again as the former, and prevailed on the Wolf to put them on, assuring him that in breaking these he would give an undeniable proof of his vigour. The Wolf saw well enough that these second chains would not be very easy to break; but finding himself increase in strength, and that he could never become famous without running some risk, he voluntarily submitted to be chained. As soon as this was done, he shakes himself, rolls upon the ground, dashes his chains against the earth, violently stretches his limbs, and at last bursts his fetters, which he made to fly in pieces all about him. By these means he freed himself from his chains; and gave rise to the proverb which we still apply, when any one makes strong efforts*. After this, the Gods despaired of ever being able to bind the wolf: wherefore the Universal Father sent Skyrner, the messenger of the God Frey, into the country of the black Genii, to a dwarfs to engage him to make a new bandage to confine Fenris.† That bandage was perfectly smooth, and as limber as a common string, and yet very strong, as you will presently see. When it was brought to the Gods, they were full of thanks and acknowledgments to the bringers; and taking the Wolf with them into the isle of, a certain lake, they mewed him the string, entreating that he would try to break it, and assuring him that it was somewhat stronger than one would think, on seeing it so slender. They took it themselves, one after another into their hands, attempting in vain to break it; and then told him, that there was none besides himself, who could accomplish such an enterprize. The Wolf replied, That string which you present to me is so slight, that there will be no glory in breaking it; or if there be any artifice in the manner of its formation, although it appear never so brittle, assure yourselves it shall never touch a foot of mine. The Gods assured him that he would easily break so slight a bandage, since he had already burst asunder shackles of iron of the most solid make; adding, that if he should not succeed, he would then have shown the Gods that he was too feeble to excite their terror, and therefore they should make no difficulty of setting him at liberty without delay. I am very much afraid, replied the monger, that if you once tye me so fast that I cannot work my deliverance myself, you will be in no haste to unloose me. I would not therefore voluntarily permit myself to be tied, but only to show you, that I am no coward: yet I insist upon it, that one of you put his hand in my mouth, as a pledge that you intend me no deceit. Then the Gods, wistfully looking on one another, found themselves in a very embarrassing dilemma; till Tyr presented himself, intrepidly offering his right hand to the monster. Hereupon the Gods having tied up the Wolf; he forcibly stretched himself, as he had formerly done, and exerted all his powers to disengage himself: but the more efforts he made, the closer and straiter he drew the knot; and all the Gods (except Tyr, who lost his hand) burst out into loud peals of laughter at the sight. Observing him then so fast tied, as to be unable ever to get loose again, they took one end of the string, and having drilled a hole for it, drew it through the middle of a large broad rock, which they sunk very deep into the earth; afterwards, to make it still more secure, they tied the end of the cord which came through the rock, to a great stone which they sunk still deeper. The Wolf, opening wide his tremendous, jaws, endeavoured to devour them, and rushed upon them with violence. Which the Gods seeing, thrust a sword into his mouth, which pierced his under jaw up to the hilt, so that the point touched his palate. The howlings which he then made were horrible; and since that time, the foam flows continually from his mouth, in such abundance that it forms a river, called Vam, or The Vices. But that monster shall break his chain at the Twilight of the Gods, that is, at the end of the world (a).
Such is the wicked race engendered by Loke. Hereupon Gangler says to Har, But since the Gods have so much to fear from the Wolf, and from all the other monsters whom Loke hath produced; why have they not put them to death? Har replied, The Gods have so much respect for the sanctity of their tribunals, and cities of peace (b), that they will not have them stained with the blood of the Wolf; although the oracles have intimated to them, that he will one day be destructive to Odin.
*In the Icelandic, Leysa or Læthingi edr drepi or Droma, i. e. according to Goranson's Latin version, Solvi ex Lædingo, et excutti ex Droma. Droma is the name given in the Edda, to this chain of the Gods. T.
†Goranson's Edition adds, "This nerve or string was made of six things, viz. of the noise made by of cats feet; of a woman's beard; of the roots of mountains; of the nerves of bears; of the breath of fishes; and the spittle of birds, &c." (with much more.) T.
|REMARKS on the SEVENTEENTH FABLE|
(a) "At the end of the world."] It cannot be doubted that the
Wolf is the emblem of the Evil Principle, or of some power at enmity
with nature. The river of Vices, said to now from the foam of his mouth,
is one of those strokes which manifestly indicate an allegory. I shall
show in another place, that the passage we have now read, as well as all
of the same kind occurring in the EDDA, are no other than figurative,
and poetic ways of propounding that philosophic doctrine of the Celtes,
Stoicks, and some eastern sages, which affirms that the world and the
inferior Gods must one day yield to their enemies, and be again
reproduced, in order to fulfil a new series of destinies.
(b) "The sanctity of … their cities of peace."] There were cities, where the holiness of the place forbad all quarrels and bloodshed.
35. Frá ásynjum.
36. Frá valkyrjum.
THE EIGHTEENTH FABLE
Of the Goddesses.
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hverjar eru ásynjurnar?"
Hárr segir: "Frigg er æðst. Hon á þann bæ, er Fensalir heita, ok er hann allvegligr.
Önnur er Sága. Hon býr á Sökkvabekk, ok er þat mikill staðr.
Þriðja er Eir. Hon er læknir beztr.
Fjórða er Gefjun. Hon er mær, ok henni þjóna þær, er meyjar andast.
Fimmta er Fulla. Hon er enn mær ok ferr laushár ok gullband um höfuð. Hon berr eski Friggjar ok gætir skóklæða hennar ok veit launráð með henni.
Freyja er tignust með Frigg. Hon giftist þeim manni, er Óðr heitir. Dóttir þeira er Hnoss. Hon er svá fögr, at af hennar nafni eru hnossir kallaðar, þat er fagrt er ok gersimligt. Óðr fór í braut langar leiðir, en Freyja grætr eftir, en tár hennar er gull rautt. Freyja á mörg nöfn, en sú er sök til þess, at hon gaf sér ýmis heiti, er hon fór með ókunnum þjóðum at leita Óðs. Hon heitir Mardöll ok Hörn, Gefn, Sýr. Freyja átti Brísingamen. Hon er ok kölluð Vanadís.
Sjaunda Sjöfn, hon gætir mjök til at snúa hugum manna til ásta, kvinna ok karla, ok af hennar nafni er elskhuginn kallaðr sjafni.
Átta Lofn, hon er svá mild ok góð til áheita, at hon fær leyfi af Alföðr eða Frigg til manna samgangs, kvinna ok karla, þótt áðr sé bannat eða þvertekit þykki. Þat er af hennar nafni lof kallat ok svá þat, at hon er lofuð mjök af mönnum.
Níunda Vár, hon hlýðir á eiða manna ok einkamál, er veita sín á milli konur ok karlar. Því heita þau mál várar. Hon hefnir ok þeim, er brigða.
Tíunda Vör, hon er vitr ok spurul, svá at engi hlut má hana leyna. Þat er orðtak, at kona verði vör þess, er hon verðr vís.
Ellifta Syn, hon gætir dura í höllinni ok lýkr fyrir þeim, er eigi skulu inn ganga, ok hon er sett til varnar á þingum fyrir þau mál, er hon vill ósanna. Því er þat orðtak, at syn sé fyrir sett, þá er maðr neitar.
Tólfta Hlín, hon er sett til gæzlu yfir þeim mönnum, er Frigg vill forða við háska nökkurum. Þaðan af er þat orðtak, at sá, er forðast, hleinir.
Þrettánda Snotra, hon er vitr ok látprúð. Af hennar heiti er kallat snotr kona eða karlmaðr, sá er hóflátr er.
Fjórtánda Gná, hana sendir Frigg í ýmsa heima at erendum sínum. Hon á þann hest, er renn loft ok lög ok heitir Hófvarpnir. Þat var eitt sinn, er hon reið, at vanir nökkurir sá reið hennar í loftinu. Þá mælti einn:
42. "Hvat þar flýgr,
Af Gnár nafni er svá kallat, at þat gnæfar, er hátt ferr.
Sól ok Bil eru talðar með ásynjum, en sagt er fyrr frá eðli þeira.
36. Enn eru þær aðrar, er þjóna skulu í Valhöll, bera drykkju ok gæta borðbúnaðar ok ölgagna. Svá eru þær nefndar í Grímnismálum:
44. Hrist ok Mist,Þessar heita valkyrjur. Þær sendir Óðinn til hverrar orrustu. Þær kjósa feigð á menn ok ráða sigri. Guðr ok Róta ok norn in yngsta, er Skuld heitir, ríða jafnan at kjósa val ok ráða vígum. Jörð, móðir Þórs, ok Rindr, móðir Vála, eru talðar með ásynjum.
GANGLER asks, Who are the Goddesses? The principal,
replies Har, is Frigga (a), who hath a magnificent palace, named
Fensaler, or the Divine Abode. The second is called Saga. Eira
performs the function of physician to the Gods (b). Gefione is a
virgin, and takes into her service all chaste maids after their
death. Fylla, who is also a virgin, wears her beautiful locks
flowing over her shoulders. Her head is adorned 'with a golden
ribband. She is entrusted with the toilette, and flippers of
Frigga;* and admitted into the most important secrets of that
Goddess. Freya is the most illustrious of the Goddesses, next to
Frigga. She married a person harried Oder, and brought him a
daughter named Nossa, so very handsome, that whatever is
beautiful and precious is called by her name. But Oder left her,
in order to travel into very remote countries. Since that time
Freya continually weeps, and her tears are drops of pure gold.
She has a great variety of names; for having gone over many
countries in search of her husband, each people gave her a
different name; some calling her Vanadis, or the Goddess of
Hope, &c. She wears a very rich chain of gold. The seventh
Goddess is Siona. She employs herself in turning mens hearts and
thoughts to love, and in making young men and maidens well with
each other. Hence lovers bear her name. Lovna is so good and
gracious, and accords so heartily to the tender vows of men,
that by a peculiar power which Odin and Frigga have given her,
she can reconcile lovers the most at variance. Vara, the ninth
Goddess, presides over the oaths that men make, and particularly
over the promises' of lovers. She is attentive to all concealed
engagements of that kind, and punishes those who keep not their
plighted troth† Vora is prudent,
and wise, and so penetrating and curious, that nothing can
remain hid from her. Synia is the portress of the palace, and
shuts the gates against, all those who ought not to enter: she
also presides in trials, where any thing is about to be denied
upon oath; whence the proverb, "Signia is not far from him who
goes about to deny." The twelfth is called Lyna. She has the
care of those whom Frigga intends to deliver from peril. Snotra
is a wife and intelligent Goddess; men and women who are prudent
and virtuous bear her name. Gna is the messenger whom Frigga
dispatches into the various worlds, to perform her commands. She
has a horse which runs over the air (c), and across the waters.†They
reckon also Sol and Bil in the number of the 'Ases, or'
Divinities; but their nature hath been already explained to you.‡
There are, besides, a great many virgins who officiate in
Valhall, pouring out Beer and Ale for the Heroes, and taking
care of the cups, and whatever belongs to the table. To this
refers what is said in the poem of Grimnis, "I wish Rista and
Mista would supply me with the drinking horns; for they are the
nymphs who should give cups to the Heroes." These Goddesses are
called Valkyries; Odin sends them into the fields of battle, to
make choice of those who are to be slain, and to bestow the
victory. Gudur, Rosta, and the youngest of the Destinies or'
Fairies† who preside over Time,
viz. Skulda (or the Future) go forth every day on horseback to
chuse the dead, and Regulate what carnage shall ensue. Iord, or
the Earth, the mother of Thor; and Rinda, the mother of Vale,
ought also to be ranked among the Goddesses.
*The Icelandic is, Ok ber eski Friggiar: Ok gietr skoklætha hennar &c. i.e. according to Goranson's Latin version, "Eiqut Pyxis Frigga concredita est, ut et ejusdem Calcei." T.
† The curious reader will find an additional passage here in Goranson's Latin translation. T.
‡This, I suppose, refers to Fable vi, &c. T.
† Islandic, Norn en yngsta, i.e Nornarum natu Minima. Goranson. T.
|REMARKS on the EIGHTEENTH FABLE|
(a) “The principal …is Frigga."] I have already remarked that
Frigga was the Earth, the spouse of Odin, and mother of the inferiour
Divinities; and that Thor was her first-born. She, with these two other
Gods, made that sacred Triad, who were served and attended with so much
respect in the famous Temple of Upsal. Frigga, or Frea, was there
represented as reposing upon cushions between Odin and Thor; and by
various emblems, was denoted to be the Goddess of Plenty, Fruitfulness
and Pleasure. The sixth day of the week is Frea's day in all the
northern languages, (scr. Friday*) She being the mother of the whole
human race, the people regarded one another as brethren, and lived in
strict unity and Concord, during the short time that her festivals
lasted. Non bella ineunt, said Tacitus, respecting those seasons, non
arma sumunt, clausum emne ferrum; pax & quies tum tantum amata. But as
soon as these were over, they made themselves amends for this forced
state of quiet, and the God of war was only served with the more
activity during the rest of the year. I have nothing to remark
concerning the other Goddesses, who are only known to us by the Edda,
and who, for the most part, seem to have sprung from the brains of the
*See Vol. I. p. 95.
(b) "Eyra performs the function of Physician to the Gods."] Tacitus informs us that the Germans had no other physicians but their women. They followed the armies to stanch and suck the wounds of their husbands. In like manner, all the histories and romances of the north always represent the females, and often princesses, charged with this care. The same thing may be observed of almost all nations in their infancy. But no people had ever a stronger confidence in the women's skill in medicine, than our Celtic and Gothic ancestors. "Persuaded, says Tacitus, “that there was something divine in that sex,” they submitted, when sick, to their opinion and decision with that implicit confidence, which is due to supernatural knowledge. Indeed all the science of medicine that was employed in those times, was little else but magic applied to the cure of diseases. The evils and the remedies were most commonly nothing else but lots, possessions, conjurations and enchantments. And the mountaineers in many parts of Europe, know of no other at this, day. The superstition of shepherds and such like people, in this respect, is well known. The prejudices of these poor people, are only reliques of what all heads were once full of. After this, regret who will, the loss of ancient times.
[C] “She hath a horse which runs over the air”] The travels of Goddesses and Fairies through the air, are very common in all the poems and fables of the ancient inhabitants of the north, and most of the nations in Europe have thought in this respect along with them. When in process of time Christianity became prevalent, what had been formerly looked upon as a precious gift and signal mark of divine favour, was now regarded as the effect only of diabolic arts. The assemblies of ecclesiastics made very severe prohibitions, and denounced their anathemas against all those who should travel through the air in the night-time. In the ancient law of Norway, called "Gulathings Lagen" c. I. we find this regulation. “Let the king and the bishop, with all possible care, make inquiry after those who exercise Pagan superstitions; who make use of magic arts; who adore the Genii of particular places, or of tombs, or rivers; and who by a diabolic manner of travelling, are transported from place to place through the air, &c." A council held at Rouen, and cited in Burchard, contains a prohibition of the same nature. (Conc. Rotom. L. I. c. 94. sect. 44.) In some places the people are still of opinion, even in our own days, that witches are carried to their infernal Sabbaths through the midst of the air, on horseback, or at least riding astride certain animals.' (Vid. Keysler. Antiq. Sept. p. 88,89.) There are few of our popular superstitions, but what may be traced up to some opinion, which was consecrated by the ancient religion of the ‘Goths and' Celts. Nor need we always except those, which seem in some respects to hold a conformity to doctrines or practices, which the Christian religion alone could have taught us. One name substituted for another, and an outside varnish of devotion cannot so disguise their original, but that it is easily discovered by a skilful eye.
|37. Freyr fekk Gerðar Gymisdóttir.||
THE NINETEENTH FABLE
Of Frey and Gerde.
Gymir hét maðr, en kona hans Aurboða. Hon var bergrisa ættar. Dóttir þeira er Gerðr, er allra kvinna var fegrst. Þat var einn dag, at Freyr hafði gengit í Hliðskjálf ok sá of heima alla. En er hann leit í norðrætt, þá sá hann á einum bæ mikit hús ok fagrt, ok til þess húss gekk kona, ok er hon tók upp höndum ok lauk hurð fyrir sér, þá lýsti af höndum hennar bæði í loft ok á lög, ok allir heimar birtust af henni. Ok svá hefnði honum þat mikla mikillæti, er hann hafði setzt í þat it helga sæti, at hann gekk í braut fullr af harmi. Ok er hann kom heim, mælti hann ekki. Ekki svaf hann, ekki drakk hann. Engi þorði ok at krefja hann orða.
Þá lét Njörðr kalla til sín Skírni, skósvein Freys, ok bað hann ganga til Freys ok beiða hann orða ok spyrja, hverjum hann væri svá reiðr, at hann mælti ekki við menn. En Skírnir lézt ganga mundu ok eigi fúss ok kvað illra svara vera ván af honum. En er hann kom til Freys, þá spurði hann, hví Freyr var svá hnipinn ok mælti ekki við menn.
Þá svarar Freyr ok sagði, at hann hefði sét konu fagra ok fyrir hennar sakir var hann svá harmfullr, at eigi myndi hann lengi lifa, ef hann skyldi eigi ná henni - "ok nú skaltu fara ok biðja hennar mér til handa ok hafa hana heim hingat, hvárt er faðir hennar vill eða eigi, ok skal ek þat vel launa þér."
Þá svarar Skírnir, sagði svá, at hann skal fara sendiferð, en Freyr skal fá honum sverð sitt. Þat var svá gott sverð, at sjálft vást. En Freyr lét eigi þat til skorta ok gaf honum sverðit. Þá fór Skírnir ok bað honum konunnar ok fekk heit hennar, ok níu nóttum síðar skyldi hon þar koma, er Barrey heitir, ok ganga þá at brullaupinu með Frey. En er Skírnir sagði Frey sitt erindi, þá kvað hann þetta:
Þessi sök er til þess, er Freyr var svá
vápnlauss, er hann barðist við Belja ok drap hann með hjartarhorni."
|THERE was a man named Gymer, one of the race of the Giants of the mountains; who had had by his wife Orboda, a daughter named Gerde, the most beautiful of her sex. One day Frey having ascended the throne of the Universal Father, in order to take a view of the whole world from thence; perceived towards the north a magnificent palace in the middle of a city, and a woman come out of it, whose hair was so bright, that it gave lustre to the air and the waters. At that sight Frey, in just punishment of his audacity in mounting that sacred throne, was struck with sudden sadness, insomuch that upon his return home, he could neither speak, nor sleep, nor drink; nor did any body dare so much as to inquire into the cause. However, Niord ordered Skirner, the confident of Frey, to come to him, and charged him to demand of his master what sworn enemy he had, that thus he renounced all converse with mankind. Skirner promised to do this, and going to Frey, asked him boldly why he was so sad and silent. Frey answered, that he had seen a young woman so beautiful and finely shaped, that if he could not possess her, he should not long survive it; and that this was what rendered him so thoughtful. "Go therefore, adds he, obtain her for me in marriage, if you bring her to me, you shall have in recompence whatever you desire." Skirner undertook to do this if Frey would make him a present of his Sword, which was so good, that it would of itself strew a field with carnage, whenever the owner ordered it. Frey, impatient of delay, immediately made him a present of the sword; and Skirner setting out, obtained the young woman of her relations, who promised that she should follow him within nine nights after his departure, and that the nuptials should be solemnized in a place called Barey. Skirner having reported to Frey the success of his embassy; that God, full of impatience, pronounced these verses. "One night is very long; two nights are still longer; How then shall I pass the third? Many a time hath a whole month appeared to me shorter than the half of such a night." Frey having thus given away his sword, found himself without arms when he fought against Bela; and hence it was, that he flew him With the horn of a stag. Then, said Gangler, It seems to me very astonishing, that so brave a hero as Frey should give his sword away to another, without keeping one equally good for himself. He must have been in very bad plight, when he encountered with Bela; and I'll be sworn, he repented him heartily. That conflict was trifling, replied Har: Frey could have slain Bela with a blow of his fist, had he had a mind to it. But when the sons of Muspell, those wicked Genii, shall come to fight with the Gods, then he will have reason to be sorry indeed that he parted with his sword.|
THE TWENTIETH FABLE
Of the Food of the Gods.
38. Þá mælti Gangleri: "Þat segir þú, at allir þeir menn, er í orrustu hafa fallit frá upphafi heims eru nú komnir til Óðins í Valhöll. Hvat hefir hann at fá þeim at vistum? Ek hugða, at þar skyldi vera allmikit fjölmenni."
Þá svarar Hárr: "Satt er þat, er þú segir, allmikit fjölmenni er þar. En miklu fleira skal enn verða, ok mun þó oflítit þykkja, þá er úlfrinn kemr. En aldri er svá mikill mannfjölði í Valhöll, at eigi má þeim endast flesk galtar þess, er Sæhrímnir heitir. Hann er soðinn hvern dag, ok heill at aftni. En þessi spurning, er nú spyrr þú, þykkir mér líkara, at fáir myni svá vísir vera, at hér kunni satt af at segja. Andhrímnir heitir steikarinn, en Eldhrímnir ketillinn. Svá er hér sagt:
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvárt hefir Óðinn þat sama
borðhald sem einherjar?"
Hrafnar tveir sitja á öxlum honum ok segja í eyru honum öll tíðendi, þau er þeir sjá eða heyra. Þeir heita svá, Huginn ok Muninn. Þá sendir hann í dagan at fljúga um heim allan, ok koma þeir aftr at dögurðarmáli. Þar af verðr hann margra tíðenda víss. Því kalla menn hann Hrafnaguð, svá sem sagt er:
40. Þá mælti Gangleri: "Þetta eru undarlig
tíðendi, er nú sagðir þú. Geysimikit hús mun Valhöll vera. Allþröngt mun
þar oft vera fyrir durum."
41. Þá mælti Gangleri: "Allmikill mannfjölði er í
Valhöll. Svá njóta trú minnar, at allmikill höfðingi er Óðinn, er hann
stýrir svá miklum her. Eða hvat er skemmtun Einherja, þá er þeir drekka
En satt er þat, er þú sagðir. Mikill er Óðinn fyrir sér. Mörg dæmi finnast til þess. Svá er hér sagt í orðum sjálfra ásanna:
BUT, says Gangler, if every man who has been slain in battle since the beginning of the world, repairs to the palace of Odin, what food does that God assign to so vast a multitude? Har answered him, You have reason to say it is a vast multitude; yet will it still increase ad infinitum; nay, the Gods themselves shall desire, that it were still much more considerable, when the wolf Fenris arrives at the last day (a). The number, however, never can be so great, but the flesh of the wild boar Serimner will suffice to sustain them; which, though dressed every morning, becomes intire again every night. I believe there are but few who are able to explain this matter to you, as it is described in those verses; the sense of which is to this effect;* The cook, Andrimner, dresses the wild boar incessantly in his pot: the heroes are fed with the lard or fat of this animal, which exceeds every thing in the world (b)." But, says Gangler, Does Odin eat at the same table with the heroes? Har answered, The meat that is set before him, Odin distributes to two wolves, known by the names of Geri and Freki: for as to himself, he stands in no need of food: wine is to him instead of every other aliment; according to what is said in these verses; " The illustrious father of armies, with his own hands fattens his two wolves; the victorious Odin takes no other nourishment to himself, than what arises from the unintermitted quaffing of wine." Two ravens constantly sit upon his shoulders, and whisper in his ear whatever news they have seen or heard. The one of them is named Hugin, or Spirit; the other Munnin, or Memory. Odin lets them loose every day; and they, after having made their excursions over the whole world, return again at night about the hour of repast. Hence it is, that this God knows so many things, and is called the God of the Ravens.* Gangler proceeds, and demands, And what is the beverage of the heroes, which they have in as great abundance as their food? Do they only drink water? Har says to him, You put a very foolish question. Can you imagine that the Universal Father would invite kings, and chiefs,† and great lords; and give them nothing to drink but water? In that case, certainly very many of those, who arrive at the palace of Odin, and who had endured cruel torments and received mortal wounds in order to obtain access thither, would have reason to complain: this honour would indeed cost them dear were they there to meet with no better entertainment. But you shall see, that the case is quite otherwise. For in Valhall, there is a she goat, which feeds on the leaves of the tree Lerada. From her paps flows hydromel, or mead, in such great abundance, that it every day compleatly fills a pitcher, large enough to inebriate all the heroes (c). Truly, says Gangler, this is a very useful, and very surprizing she goat: I fancy the tree she feeds upon, must have many singular virtues. Har answered him, What is related of a particular stag is much more marvellous. This stag also is in Valhall, and feeds upon the leaves of that same tree there issues from his horns such an abundance of vapour, that it forms the fountain of Vergelmer, out of which arise the rivers that water the residence of the Gods. Gangler goes on, and says, Valhall must needs be an immense palace; yet I imagine there must often arise struggles and contests at the gate, among such a croud of people as are continually thronging in and out. Har replied, Why do not you inquire, how many gates there are; and what are their dimensions? Then you would be able to judge, whether there be any difficulty in going in and out, or not. Know then, that there is plenty of seats and doors, as it is said in the poem of Grimmis "I know that there are five hundred and forty gates in Valhall. Out of each, eight heroes may march abreast when going to battle, followed by crouds of spectators." A world of people; says Gangler; and Odin must needs be a great chieftain, to command so numerous an army. But tell me, How do the heroes divert themselves when they are not drinking? Every day, replies Har, as soon as they have dressed themselves, they take their arms; and entering the Lists, fight, till they cut one another in pieces (d): this is their Diversion: but no sooner does the hour of repast approach, than they remount their steeds all safe and sound, and return to drink in the palace of Odin.‡ Thus have you good reason to say, that Odin is the greatest and most mighty of Lords; which is also confirmed to us by these verses, composed in honour of the Gods. "The Ash Udrasil is the greatest of Trees; Skidbladner, of Vessels; Odin, of Gods; Sleipner, of Horses; Bifrost, of Bridges; Brage, of Scalds, or Poets; Habroc, of Hawks; and Garmer, of Hounds."
* The reader will find an additional passage here in the Latin Version of Goranson. T.
† The original Icelandic word is Jarls, (Lat. Duces) whence is derived our title, Earls; the word Iarls however had not acquired so precise a meaning. T
‡ The reader will find a considerable addition here in Goranson's Latin Version. T.
|REMARKS on the TWENTIETH FABLE|
(a) “When the wolf Fenris arrives at the
last day."] I have already remarked, that the Edda never loses sight of
that grand event, the Destruction of the World. The inferior Gods were,
at that time, to undergo rude assaults. This was pointed at in the
preceding fable; where a reason is assigned why Frey will not be able to
resist the attacks of the evil Genii. It was owing to this expectation
that the inferior Gods received with pleasure warriors of approved
valour, and such as they could depend on at the last times.
(b) "The heroes are fed with the fat of this animal."] This description of the palace of Odin is a natural picture of the manners of the ancient Scandinavians and Germans. Prompted by the wants of their climate, and the impulse of their own temperament, they form to themselves a delicious paradise in their own way; where they were to eat and drink, and fight. The women to whom they assign a place there, are introduced for no other purpose, but to fill their cups. One wild boar furnishes out the whole of this celestial banquet: for, not very nice, they were only solicitous about the quantity of their food. The flesh of this animal, as well as that of the Hog, was formerly the favourite meat of all these nations. The ancient Franks were no less fond of it; a herd of swine was, in their eyes, an affair of such importance, that the second chapter of the Salic Law, consisting of twenty articles, is wholly taken up in inflicting penalties on those who stole them. In Gregory of Tours, queen Fredegond, in order to alienate the mind of the king from one Nectarius, blackens him with the crime of having stolen a great many Gammons or Hams, from the place where K. Chilperic laid up his provisions. The king did not consider this at all as a laughing matter, but took it in a very grave, and serious light.
(c) "To inebriate all the Heroes."] Wine was
very scarce in those times, and almost unknown Beer was, perhaps, a
liquor too vulgar for the Heroes;* the EdDa therefore makes them drink
Hydromel, or Mead, a beverage in great esteem among all the German
nations. The ancient Franks made great use of it. Gregory of Tours,
speaking of a certain lord who generally drank it, adds, Ut mos
barbarorum habet. Greg, Turon. L. 8. c. 3.
(d) "They cut one another in pieces."] From
this passage of the Edda, we may form to ourselves an idea of the
amusements of the ancient ‘Goths and' Celtes. When they were not engaged
in any real war, they endeavoured by the representation of battles, to
gratify that fierce disposition which made them fond of the profession
of arms. "The Goths are extremely fond of throwing their darts, and
handling their arms; and it is their daily practice, to divert
themselves with mock fights:" says Isidore in his Chronic. The same
prevailed among the Gauls and Germans, as is plain from a passage in the
fragments of Varro. To this custom we may ascribe the rise and
establishment of Justings and Turnaments. There are many institutions of
this kind, whose origin is no less ancient, lost in the clouds of a very
remote antiquity, whatever some learned men may assert, who assign them
much later eras; not considering that customs are commonly more ancient
than the first historian who speaks of them; and that a new name, or
more regular form, which may have been given them, imply not necessarily
their first beginning. In fact, we have never seen, nor ever shall see,
any important custom spring up all at once, and establish itself with
success, without there having existed something analogous to it
beforehand, to prepare and lead men's minds to adopt it.
"That animal which gives such a brilliancy to his, golden crest, hath already pierced with his cries the abode of the Gods: he hath awakened the Heroes; they run to their arms; they run to the Father, of Armies. To his screams answer, underground, the dismal cries of the Black Cock, which dwells in the palace of Death." See Barthol. Antiq. Dan. p. 563
|42. Æsir rufu eiða sína á borgarsmiðnum.||
THE TWENTY-FIRST FABLE
Of the Horse Sleipner, and his origin.
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hverr á þann hest, Sleipni, eða hvat er frá
honum at segja?"
Hárr segir: "Eigi kanntu deili á Sleipni, ok eigi veiztu atburði, af hverju hann kom, en þat mun þér þykkja frásagnar vert. Þat var snimma í öndverða byggð goðanna, þá er goðin höfðu sett Miðgarð ok gert Valhöll, þá kom þar smiðr nökkurr ok bauð at gera þeim borg á þrim misserum svá góða, at trú ok örugg væri fyrir bergrisum ok hrímþursum, þótt þeir kæmi inn um Miðgarð, en hann mælti sér þat til kaups, at hann skyldi eignast Freyju, ok hafa vildi hann sól ok mána. Þá gengu æsirnir á tal ok réðu ráðum sínum, ok var þat kaup gert við smiðinn, at hann skyldi eignast þat, er hann mælti til, ef hann fengi gert borgina á einum vetri, en inn fyrsta sumarsdag, ef nökkurr hlutr væri ógerr at borginni, þá skyldi hann af kaupinu. Skyldi hann af engum manni lið þiggja til verksins. Ok er þeir sögðu honum þessa kosti, þá beiddist hann, at þeir skyldu lofa, at hann hefði lið af hesti sínum, er Svaðilfari hét, en því réð Loki, er þat var til lagt við hann. Hann tók til inn fyrsta vetrardag at gera borgina, en of nætr dró hann til grjót á hestinum. En þat þótti ásunum mikit undr, hversu stór björg sá hestr dró, ok hálfu meira þrekvirki gerði hestrinn en smiðrinn. En at kaupi þeira váru sterk vitni ok mörg særi, fyrir því at jötnum þótti ekki tryggt at vera með ásum griðalaust, ef Þórr kæmi heim, en þá var hann farinn í austrveg at berja tröll. En er á leið vetrinn, þá sóttist mjök borgargerðin, ok var hon svá há ok sterk, at eigi mátti á þat leita.
En þá er þrír dagar váru til sumars, þá var komit mjök at borghliði. Þá settust goðin á dómstóla sína ok leituðu ráða ok spurði hverr annan, hverr því hefði ráðit at gifta Freyju í Jötunheima eða spilla loftinu ok himninum svá, at taka þaðan sól ok tungl ok gefa jötnum. En þat kom ásamt með öllum, at þessu myndi ráðit hafa sá, er flestu illu ræðr, Loki Laufeyjarson, ok kváðu hann verðan ills dauða, ef eigi hitti hann ráð til, at smiðrinn væri af kaupinu, ok veittu Loka atgöngu. En er hann varð hræddr, þá svarði hann eiða, at hann skyldi svá til haga, at smiðrinn væri af kaupinu, hvat sem hann kostaði til.
Ok it sama kveld, er smiðrinn ók út eftir grjótinu með hestinn Svaðilfara, þá hljóp ór skógi nökkurum merr ok at hestinum ok hrein við. En er hestrinn kenndi, hvat hrossi þetta var, þá æddist hann ok sleit sundr reipin ok hljóp til merarinnar, en hon undan til skógar ok smiðrinn eftir ok vill taka hestinn, en þessi hross hlaupa alla nótt, ok dvelst smíðin þá nótt, ok eftir um daginn varð ekki svá smíðat sem fyrr hafði orðit. Ok þá er smiðrinn sér, at eigi mun lokit verða verkinu, þá færist smiðrinn í jötunmóð. En er æsirnir sá þat til víss, at þar var bergrisi kominn, þá varð eigi þyrmt eiðunum, ok kölluðu þeir á Þór, ok jafnskjótt kom hann, ok því næst fór á loft hamarinn Mjöllnir. Galt hann þá smíðarkaupit ok eigi sól eða tungl, heldr synjaði hann honum at byggva í Jötunheimum ok laust þat it fyrsta högg, er haussinn brotnaði í smán mola, ok sendi hann niðr undir Niflheim.
En Loki hafði þá ferð haft til Svaðilfara, at nökkuru síðar bar hann fyl. Þat var grátt ok hafði átta fætr, ok er sá hestr beztr með goðum ok mönnum. Svá segir í Völuspá:
GANGLER asked; Whence comes the horse Sleipner, which
you mentioned; and to whom does he belong? Har replied, His
origin is very wonderful. One day a certain architect came, and
offered his service to the Gods, to build them, in the space of
two years, a city so well fortified that they should be
perfectly safe from the incursions of the Giants, even although
they should have already penetrated within the inclosure of
Midgard but he demanded for his reward the Goddess Freya,
together with the Sun and Moon. After long deliberation, the
Gods agreed to his terms, provided he would finish the whole
himself without any one's assistance; and all within the space
of one single winter. But if any thing should remain to be
finished on the first day of summer, he should intirely forfeit
the recompense agreed on. On being acquainted with this, the
architect stipulated that he should be allowed the use of his
horse. And to this the Gods, by the advice of Loke, assented.
This agreement Was confirmed by many oaths, and concluded in the
presence of many witnesses; for without this precaution, a Giant
would not have thought himself safe among the Gods, especially
if Thor had been returned from the expedition he had then taken
into the east, to conquer the Giants. From the very first night
then this workman caused his horse to draw stones of an immense
bulk; and the Gods saw with surprize, that this creature did
much more work, than his master himself. The winter however was
far advanced, and. towards the latter end of it, this
impregnable city had almost attained the summit of perfection.
In short, when the full time was now expired all but three days,
nothing was wanting to compleat the work, except the gates,
which were not yet put up. Then the Gods entered into
consultation, and inquired of one another who among them it was
that could have advised to marry Freya into the country of the
Giants; and to plunge the sky and heavens into darkness, by
permitting the Sun and Moon to be carried away. They all agreed
that Loke was the author of that bad counsel, and that he should
be put to a most cruel death, if he did not contrive some way or
other to prevent the workman from accomplishing his undertaking,
and obtaining the promised reward. Immediately they laid hands
on Loke; who in his fright, promised upon oath to do whatever
they desired, let it cost him what it would. That very night,
while the architect was employing his horse, as usual, to convey
stones to the place, there suddenly leaped forth a mare from the
neighbouring forest, which allured the horse with her neighings.
That animal no sooner saw her, but giving way to his ardour, he
broke his bridle, and began to run after the mare. This obliged
the workman also to run after his horse, and thus, between one
and the other, the whole night was lost, so that the progress of
the work must have been delayed till next morning. Then the
architect perceiving that he had no other means to finish his
undertaking, resumed his own proper shape and dimensions; and
the Gods now clearly perceiving that it was really a Giant with
whom they had made their contract, paid no longer any regard to
their oath,* but calling the God Thor, he immediately ran to
them, and paid the workman his salary by a blow of his mace,
which shattered his head to pieces, and sent him headlong into
hell. Shortly after Loke came and reported, that the architect's
horse had begot a foal with eight feet. This is the horse named
Sleipner, which excels all the horses that ever were possessed
by Gods or men.†
*The Gothic Deities seem to be guided by no very nice principles of Morality, any more than those of the Greeks and Romans. It is needless to observe what a dreadful effect, such an example as the above, must have on the conduct of their blind votaries. T.
†In Goranson's Latin Version, the reader will find some lines that are here omitted. T.
|43. Frá Skíðblaðni.||
THE TWENTY-SECOND FABLE
Of the Ship of the Gods.
|Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvat er at segja frá Skíðblaðni, er hann er beztr skipa, hvárt er ekki skip jafnmikit sem hann?" Hárr segir: "Skíðblaðnir er beztr skipanna ok með mestum hagleik gerr, en Naglfar er mest skip. Þat á Múspell. Dvergar nökkurir, synir Ívalda, gerðu Skíðblaðni ok gáfu Frey skipit. Hann er svá mikill, at allir æsir megu skipa hann með vápnum ok herbúnaði, ok hefir hann byr, þegar er segl er dregit, hvert er fara skal, en þá er eigi skal fara með hann á sæ, þá er hann gerr af svá mörgum hlutum ok með svá mikilli list, at hann má vefja saman sem dúk ok hafa í pungi sínum.||GANGLER says to Har You have told me of a vessel called Skidbladner, that was the best of all ships. Without doubt, replies Har, it is the best, and most artfully constructed of any; but the ship Nagelfara is of larger size. They were Dwarfs who built Skidbladner, and made a present of it to Frey. It is so large, that all the Gods compleatly armed may fit in it at their ease. As soon as ever its fails are unfurled, a favourable gale arises, and carries it of itself to whatever place it is destined. And when the Gods have no mind to fail, they can take it into pieces so small, that being folded upon one another, the whole will go into a pocket. This is indeed a very well-contrived vessel, replied Gangler, and there must doubtless have been a great deal of art and magic employed in bringing it to perfection.|
44. Þórr hóf för sína til Útgarða-Loka.
45. Frá skiptum Þórs ok Skrýmis.
46. Frá íþróttum Þórs ok félaga hans.
THE TWENTY-THIRD FABLE
Of the God Thor.
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Gott skip er Skíðblaðnir, en allmikil
fjölkynngi mun vera við höfð, áðr svá fái gert. Hvárt hefir Þórr hvergi
svá farit, at hann hafi hitt fyrir sér svá ríkt eða rammt, at honum hafi
ofrefli verit fyrir afls sakar eða fjölkynngi?"
Þá mælti Hárr: "Fár maðr, vættir mik, at frá því kunni at segja, en margt hefir honum harðfært þótt. En þótt svá hafi verit, at nökkurr hlutr hafi svá verit rammr eða sterkr, at Þórr hafi eigi sigr fengit á unnit, þá er eigi skylt at segja frá, fyrir því at mörg dæmi eru til þess ok því eru allir skyldir at trúa, at Þórr er máttkastr."
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Svá lízt mér sem þess hlutar mynda ek yðr spurt hafa, er engi er til færr at segja."
Þá mælti Jafnhárr: "Heyrt höfum vér sagt frá þeim atburðum, er oss þykkja ótrúligir, at sannir myni vera. En hér mun sá sitja nær, er vita mun sönn tíðendi af at segja, ok muntu því trúa, at hann mun eigi ljúga nú it fyrsta sinn, er aldri laug fyrr."
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hér mun ek standa ok hlýða, ef nökkur órlausn fæst þessa máls, en at öðrum kosti kalla ek yðr vera yfir komna, ef þér kunnuð eigi at segja, þat er ek spyr."
Þá mælti Þriði: "Auðsýnt er nú, at hann vill þessi tíðendi vita, þótt oss þykki eigi fagrt at segja.
Þat er upphaf þessa máls, at Öku-Þórr fór með hafra sína ok reið ok með honum sá áss, er Loki er heitir. Koma þeir at kveldi til eins búanda ok fá þar náttstað. En um kveldit tók Þórr hafra sína ok skar báða. Eftir þat váru þeir flegnir ok bornir til ketils. En er soðit var, þá settist Þórr til náttverðar ok þeir lagsmenn. Þórr bauð til matar með sér búandanum ok konu hans ok börnum þeira. Sonr búanda hét Þjálfi, en Röskva dóttir. Þá lagði Þórr hafrstökurnar útar frá eldinum ok mælti, at búandi ok heimamenn hans skyldu kasta á hafrstökurnar beinunum. Þjálfi, sonr búanda, hélt á lærlegg hafrsins ok spretti á knífi sínum ok braut til mergjar. Þórr dvalðist þar of nóttina. En í óttu fyrir dag stóð hann upp ok klæddi sik, tók hamarinn Mjöllni ok brá upp ok vígði hafrstökurnar. Stóðu þá upp hafrarnir, ok var þá annarr haltr eftra fæti. Þat fann Þórr ok talði, at búandinn eða hans hjón myndu eigi skynsamliga hafa farit með beinum hafrsins. Kennir hann, at brotinn var lærleggrinn. Eigi þarf langt frá því at segja. Vita mega þat allir, hversu hræddr búandinn mundi vera, er hann sá, at Þórr lét síga brýnnar ofan fyrir augun, en þat er hann sá augnanna, þá hugðist hann falla mundu fyrir sjónum hans einum saman. Hann herði hendrnar at hamarskaftinu, svá at hvítnuðu knúarnir. En búandinn gerði sem ván var ok öll hjúnin, kölluðu ákafliga, báðu sér friðar, buðu at yfirbótum allt þat, er þau áttu. En er hann sá hræðslu þeira, þá gekk af honum móðrinn, ok sefaðist hann ok tók af þeim í sætt börn þeira, Þjálfa ok Röskvu, ok gerðust þau þá skyldir þjónustumenn hans, ok fylgja þau honum jafnan síðan.
Lét hann þar eftir hafra ok byrjaði ferðina austr í Jötunheima ok allt til hafsins, ok þá fór hann út yfir hafit þat it djúpa. En er hann kom til lands, þá gekk hann upp ok með honum Loki ok Þjálfi ok Röskva. Þá er þau höfðu litla hríð gengit, varð fyrir þeim mörk stór. Gengu þau þann dag allan til myrkurs. Þjálfi var allra manna fóthvatastr. Hann bar kýl Þórs, en til vista var eigi gott.
Þá er myrkt var orðit, leituðu þeir sér náttstaðar ok fundu fyrir sér skála nokkurn mjök mikinn. Váru dyrr á enda ok jafnbreiðar skálanum. Þar leituðu þeir sér náttbóls. En of miðja nótt varð landskjálfti mikill. Gekk jörðin undir þeim skykkjum, ok skalf húsit. Þá stóð Þórr upp ok hét á lagsmenn sína, ok leituðust fyrir ok fundu afhús til hægri handar í miðjum skálanum ok gengu þannig. Settist Þórr í dyrrnar, en önnur þau váru innar frá honum, ok váru þau hrædd, en Þórr helt hamarskaftinu ok hugði at verja sik. Þá heyrðu þau ym mikinn ok gný.
En er kom at dagan, þá gekk Þórr út ok sér mann, hvar lá skammt frá honum í skóginum, ok var sá eigi lítill. Hann svaf ok hraut sterkliga. Þá þóttist Þórr skilja, hvat látum verit hafði of nóttina. Hann spennir sik megingjörðum, ok óx honum ásmegin. Ok í því bili vaknar sá maðr ok stóð skjótt upp, en þá er sagt, at Þór varð bilt einu sinni at slá hann með hamrinum ok spurði hann at nafni.
En sá nefndist Skrýmir, - "en eigi þarf ek", sagði hann, "at spyrja þik at nafni. Kenni ek, at þú ert Ása-þórr. En hvárt hefir þú dregit á braut hanzka minn?"
Seildist þá Skrýmir til ok tók upp hanzkann. Sér Þórr þá, at þat hafði hann haft of nóttina fyrir skála, en afhúsit, þat var þumlungrinn hanzkans.
Skrýmir spurði, ef Þórr vildi hafa föruneyti hans, en Þórr játti því. Þá tók Skrýmir ok leysti nestbagga sinn ok bjóst til at eta dögurð, en Þórr í öðrum stað ok hans félagar. Skrýmir bauð þá, at þeir legðu mötuneyti sitt, en Þórr játti því. Þá batt Skrýmir nest þeira allt í einn bagga ok lagði á bak sér. Hann gekk fyrir of daginn ok steig heldr stórum, en síð at kveldi leitaði Skrýmir þeim náttstaðar undir eik nökkurri mikilli.
Þá mælti Skrýmir til Þórs, at hann vill leggjast niðr at sofa, - "en þér takið nestbaggan ok búið til nótturðar yðr."
Því næst sofnar Skrýmir ok hraut fast, en Þórr tók nestbaggann ok skal leysa, en svá er at segja, sem ótrúligt mun þykkja, at engi knút fekk hann leyst ok engi álarendann hreyft, svá at þá væri lausari en áðr. Ok er hann sér, at þetta verk má eigi nýtast, þá varð hann reiðr, greip þá hamarinn Mjöllni tveim höndum ok steig fram öðrum fæti at þar, er Skrýmir lá, ok lýstr í höfuð honum, en Skrýmir vaknar ok spyrr, hvárt laufsblað nakkvat felli í höfuð honum eða hvárt þeir hafi þá matazt ok sé búnir til rekkna.
Þórr segir, at þeir munu þá sofa ganga. Ganga þau þá undir aðra eik. Er þat þér satt at segja, at ekki var þá óttalaust at sofa.
En at miðri nótt, þá heyrir Þórr, at Skrýmir hrýtr ok sefr fast, svá at dunar í skóginum. Þá stendr hann upp ok gengr til hans, reiðir hamarinn títt ok hart ok lýstr ofan í miðjan hvirfil honum. Hann kennir, at hamarsmuðrinn sökkr djúpt í höfuðit.
En í því bili vaknar Skrýmir ok mælti: "Hvat er nú? Fell akarn nökkut í höfuð mér, eða hvat er títt um þik, Þórr?"
En Þórr gekk aftr skyndiliga ok svarar, at hann var þá nývaknaðr, sagði, at þá var mið nótt ok enn væri mál at sofa. Þá hugsaði Þórr þat, ef hann kæmi svá í færi at slá hann it þriðja högg, at aldri skyldi hann sjá sik síðan, liggr nú ok gætir, ef Skrýmir sofnaði enn fast. En litlu fyrir dagan þá heyrir hann, at Skrýmir mun sofnat hafa, stendr þá upp ok hleypr at honum, reiðir þá hamarinn af öllu afli ok lýstr á þunnvangann, þann er upp vissi. Sökkr þá hamarrinn upp at skaftinu.
En Skrýmir settist upp ok strauk of vangann ok mælti: "Hvárt munu fuglar nökkurir sitja í trénu yfir mér? Mik grunaði, er ek vaknaða, at tros nökkut af kvistunum felli í höfuð mér. Hvárt vakir þú, Þórr? Mál mun vera upp at standa ok klæðast, en ekki eiguð þér nú langa leið fram til borgarinnar, er kölluð er Útgarðr. Heyrt hefi ek, at þér hafit kvisat í milli yðvar, at ek væra ekki lítill maðr vexti, en sjá skuluð þér þar stærri menn, ef þér komit í Útgarð. Nú mun ek ráða yðr heilræði. Látið þér eigi stórliga yfir yðr. Ekki munu hirðmenn Útgarða-Loka vel þola þvílíkum kögursveinum köpuryrði. En at öðrum kosti hverfið aftr, ok þann ætla ek yðr betra af at taka. En ef þér vilið fram fara, þá stefnið þér í austr, en ek á nú norðr leið til fjalla þessa, er þér meguð nú sjá."
Tekr Skrýmir nestbaggann ok kastar á bak sér ok snýr þvers á braut í skóginn frá þeim, ok er þess eigi getit, at æsirnir bæði þá heila hittast.
Þórr snýr fram á leið ok þeir félagar ok gengr framan til
miðs dags. Þá sá þeir borg standa á völlum nökkurum ok settu hnakkann á
bak sér aftr, áðr þeir fengu séð yfir upp, ganga til borgarinnar, ok var
grind fyrir borghliðinu ok lokin aftr. Þórr gekk á grindina ok fekk eigi
upp lokit, en er þeir þreyttu at komast í borgina, þá smugu þeir milli
spalanna ok kómu svá inn, sá þá höll mikla ok gengu þannig. Var hurðin
opin. Þá gengu þeir inn ok sá þar marga menn á tvá bekki ok flesta ærit
GANGLER proceeds, and says, Did it never happen to Thor
in his expeditions to be overcome, either by enchantment or
downright force? Har replied to him, Few can take upon them to
affirm that ever any such accident befel this God; nay, had he
in reality been worsted in any rencounter, it would not be
allowable to make mention of it, since all the world ought to
believe, that nothing can resist his power. I have put a
question then, says Gangler, to which none of you can give any
answer.* Then Jafnhar took up the discourse, and said; True
indeed, there are some such rumours current among us; but they
are hardly credible: yet there is one present who can impart
them to you; and you ought the rather to believe him, in that
having never yet told you a lie, he will not now begin to
deceive you with false stories. Come then, says Gangler
interrupting him, I await your explication; but if you do not
give satisfactory answers to the questions I have proposed, be
assured I mail look upon you as vanquished. Here then, says Har,
begins the history you desire me to relate:
*The reader will remember that Gangler would have considered himself as victor in this contest, if he had proposed any question they could not have answered. Vide page 3, 4, &c. , T.
One day the God Thor set out with Loke, in his own chariot, drawn by two He-Goats; but night coming on, they were obliged to put up at a peasant's cottage. The God Thor immediately slew his two He-Goats, and having skinned them, ordered them to be dressed for supper. When this was done, he sat down to table, and invited the peasant and his children to partake with him. The son of his host was named Thialfe, the daughter Rajka. Thor bade them throw all the bones into the skins of the goats, which he held extended near the table; but young Thialfe, to come at the marrow, broke with his knife one of the shank bones of the goats. Having passed the night in this place, Thor arose early in the morning, and dressing himself, reared the handle of his mace; which he had no sooner done, than the two goats reassumed their wonted form, only that one of them now halted upon one of his hind legs. The God seeing this, immediately judged that the peasant, or one of his family, had handled the bones of this goat too roughly. Enraged at their folly, he knit his eye-brows, rolled his eyes, and seizing his mace, grasped it with such force, that the very joints of his fingers were white again. The peasant trembling, was afraid of being struck down by one of his looks; he therefore, with his children, made joint suit for pardon, offering whatever they possessed in recompence of any damage that had been done. Thor at last suffered himself to be appeased, and was content to carry away with him Thialfe and Raska. Leaving then his He-Goats in that place, he set out on his road for the country of the Giants; and coming to the margin of the sea, swam across it, accompanied by Thialfe, Raska, and Loke. The first of these was an excellent runner, and carried Thor's wallet or bag. When they had made some advance, they found themselves in a vast plain, through which they marched all day, till they were reduced to great want of provisions. When night approached, they searched on all sides for a place to sleep in, and at last, in the dark, found the house of a certain Giant; the gate of which was' so large, that it took up one whole side of the mansion. Here they passed the night; but about the middle of it were alarmed by an earthquake, which violently shook the whole fabrick. Thor, rising up called upon his companions to seek, along with him some place of safety. On the right they met with an adjoining chamber, into which they entered; but Thor remained at the entry, and whilst the others, terrified with fear, crept to the farthest corner of their retreat, he armed himself with his mace, to be in readiness, to defend himself at all events. Meanwhile they heard a terrible noise: and when the morning was come, Thor went out, and observed near him a man of enormous bulk, who snored pretty loud. Thor found that this was the noise which had so disturbed him. He immediately girded on, his Belt of Prowess, which hath the virtue of increasing strength: but the Giant awaking; Thor affrighted, durst not lanch his mace, but contented himself with asking his name. My name is Skrymner, replied the other; as for you, I need not inquire whether you are the God Thor: pray, tell me, have not you picked up my Glove? Then presently stretching forth his hand to take it up, Thor perceived that the house wherein they had passed the night, was that very Glove; and the chamber, was only one of its fingers. Here upon Skrymner asked, whether they might not join companies; and Thor consenting, the Giant opened his cloak-bag, and took out something to eat. Thor and his companions having done the same, Skrymner would put both their wallets together, and laying them on his shoulder, began to march at a great rate. At night, when the others were come up, the Giant went to repose himself under an oak, shewing Thor where he intended to lie, and bidding him help himself to victuals out of the wallet. Meanwhile he fell to snore strongly. But what is very incredible, when Thor came to open the wallet, he could not untie one single knot. Vexed at this, he seized his mace, and lanched it at the Giant's head. He awaking, asks, what leaf had fallen upon his head, or what other trifle it could be. Thor pretended to go to sleep under another oak; but observing about midnight that Skrymner snored again, he took his mace and drove it into the hinder part of his head. The Giant awaking, demands of Thor, whether some small grain of dust had not fallen upon his head, and why he did not go to sleep. Thor answered, he was going; but presently after, resolving to have a third blow at his enemy, he collects all his force, and lanches his mace with so much violence against the Giant's cheek, that it forced its way into it up to the handle. Skrymner awaking, slightly raises his hand to his cheek, saying, Are there any birds perched upon this tree? I thought one of their feathers had fallen upon me. Then he added, What keeps you awake, Thor? I fancy it is now time for us to get up, and dress ourselves. You are now not very far from the city of Utgard. I have heard you whisper to one another, that was of a very tall stature; but you will see many there much larger than myself. Wherefore I advise you, when you come thither, not to take upon you too much; for in that place they will not bear with it from such little men as you.* Nay, I even believe, that your best way is to turn back again; but if you still persist in your resolution, take the road that leads eastward; for as for me, mine lies to the north. Hereupon he threw his wallet over his shoulder, and entered a forest. I never could hear that the God Thor wished him a good journey; but proceeding on his way along with his companions, he perceived, about noon, a city situated in the middle of a vast plain. This city was so lofty, that one could not look up to the top of it, without throwing one's head quite back upon the shoulders. The gate-way was closed with a grate, which Thor never could have opened; but he and his companions crept through the bars. Entering in, they saw a large palace, and men of a prodigious stature. Then addressing themselves to the king, who was named Utgarda-Loke, they saluted him with great respect. The king having at last discerned them, broke out into such a burst of laughter, as discomposed every feature of his face. It would take up too much time, says he, to ask you concerning the long journey you have performed; yet if I do not mistake, that little man whom I see there, should be Thor: perhaps indeed he is larger than he appears to me to be; but in, order to judge of this, added he, addressing his discourse to Thor, let me see a specimen of those arts by which you are distinguished, you and your companions; for no body is permitted to remain here, unless he understand some art, and excel in it all other men. Loke then said, that his art consisted in eating more than any other man in the world, and that he would challenge any one at that kind of combat. It must indeed be owned, replied the king, that you are not wanting in dexterity, if you are able to perform what you promise. Come then, let us put it to the proof. At the same time he ordered one of his courtiers who was sitting on a side-bench, and whose name was Loge (i. e. Flame) to come forward, and try his skill with Loke in the art they were speaking of. Then he caused a great tub or trough full of provisions to be placed upon the bar, and the two champions at each end of it: who immediately fell to devour the victuals with so much eagerness, that they presently met in the middle of the trough, and were obliged to desist. But Loke had only eat the flesh of his portion; whereas the other had devoured both flesh and bones. All the company therefore adjudged that Loke was vanquished.
*To conceive the force of this raillery, the Reader must remember that Thor is represented of gigantic size, and as the stoutest and strongest of the Gods. The Hercules of the northern nations. T.
|46. Frá íþróttum Þórs ok félaga hans (con't).||
THE TWENTY-FOURTH FABLE
Of Thialfe's art.
Þá spyrr Útgarða-Loki, hvat sá inn ungi maðr kunni leika, en Þjálfi
segir, at hann mun freista at renna skeið nökkur við einhvern þann, er
Útgarða-Loki fær til. Þá segir Útgarða-Loki, at þetta er góð íþrótt, ok
kallar þess meiri ván, at hann sé vel at sér búinn of skjótleikinn, ef
hann skal þessa íþrótt inna, en þó lætr hann skjótt þessa skulu freista.
Stendr þá upp Útgarða-Loki ok gengr út, ok var þar gott skeið at renna
eftir sléttum velli. Þá kallar Útgarða-Loki til sín sveinstaula nökkurn,
er nefndr er Hugi, ok bað hann renna í köpp við Þjálfa. Þá taka þeir it
fyrsta skeið, ok er Hugi því framar, at hann snýst aftr í móti honum at
Þá mælti Útgarða-Loki: "Þurfa muntu, Þjálfi, at leggja þik meir fram, ef þú skalt vinna leikinn, en þó er þat satt, at ekki hafa hér komit þeir menn, er mér þykkja fóthvatari en svá."
Þá taka þeir aftr annat skeið, ok þá er Hugi er kemr til skeiðsenda ok hann snýst aftr, þá var langt kólfskot til Þjálfa.
Þá mælti Útgarða-Loki: "Vel þykkir mér Þjálfi renna skeiðit, en eigi trúi ek honum nú, at hann vinni leikinn, en nú mun reyna, er þeir renna it þriðja skeiðit."
Þá taka þeir enn skeið, en er Hugi er kominn til skeiðsenda ok snýst aftr, ok er Þjálfi eigi þá kominn á mitt skeið. Þá segja allir, at reynt er um þenna leik.
|THEN the king asked, what that young man could do, who accompanied Thor. THIALFE answered, That in running upon scales, he would dispute the prize with any of the courtiers. The king owned, that the talent he spoke of was a very fine one; but that he must exert himself, if he would come off conqueror. He then arose and conducted Thialfe to a snowy' plain, giving him a young man named Hugo (Spirit or Thought) to dispute the prize of swiftness with him. But this Hugo so much outstript Thialfe, that in returning to the barrier whence they set out, they met face to face. Then says the king; Another trial, and you may perhaps exert yourself better. They therefore ran a second course, and Thialfe was a full bow-shot from the boundary, when Hugo arrived at it. They ran a third time; but Hugo had already readied the goal, before Thialfe had got half way. Hereupon all who were present cried out, that there had been a sufficient trial of skill in this kind of exercise.|
|46. Frá íþróttum Þórs ok félaga hans. (Con't)||
THE TWENTY-FIFTH FABLE
0f the Trials Thor underwent.
Þá spyrr Útgarða-Loki Þór, hvat þeira íþrótta mun vera, er hann myni
vilja birta fyrir þeim, svá miklar sögur sem menn hafa gert um stórvirki
hans. Þá mælti Þórr, at helzt vill hann þat taka til at þreyta drykkju
við einhvern mann. Útgarða-Loki segir, at þat má vel vera, ok gengr inn
í höllina ok kallar skutilsvein sinn, biðr, at hann taki vítishorn þat,
er hirðmenn eru vanir at drekka af. Því næst kemr fram skutilsveinn með
horninu ok fær Þór í hönd.
Þá mælti Útgarða-Loki: "Af horni þessu þykkir þá vel drukkit, ef í einum drykk gengr af, en sumir menn drekka af í tveim drykkjum, en engi er svá lítill drykkjumaðr, at eigi gangi af í þrimr."
Þórr lítr á hornit ok sýnist ekki mikit ok er þó heldr langt, en hann er mjök þyrstr, tekr at drekka ok svelgr allstórum ok hyggr, at eigi skal hann þurfa at lúta oftar í hornit. En er hann þraut örendit ok hann laut ór horninu ok sér, hvat leið drykkinum, ok lízt honum svá sem alllítill munr mun vera, at nú sé lægra í horninu en áðr.
Þá mælti Útgarða-Loki: "Vel er drukkit ok eigi til mikit. Eigi myndak trúa, ef mér væri sagt frá, at Ása-Þórr mundi eigi meira drykk drekka, en þó veit ek, at þú munt vilja drekka af í öðrum drykk."
Þórr svarar engu, setr hornit á munn sér ok hyggr nú, at hann skal drekka meira drykk, ok þreytir á drykkjuna, sem honum vannst til örendi, ok enn sér hann, at stikillinn hornsins vill ekki upp svá mjök sem honum líkar. Ok er hann tók hornið af munni sér ok sér í, lízt honum nú svá sem minna hafi þorrit men í inu fyrra sinni. Er nú gott beranda borð á horninu.
Þá mælti Útgarða-Loki: "Hvat er nú, Þórr, muntu nú eigi sparast til eins drykkjar meira en þér mun hagr á vera? Svá lízt mér, ef þú skalt nú drekka af horninu inn þriðja drykkinn, sem þessi mun mestr ætlaðr. En ekki muntu mega hér með oss heita svá mikill maðr sem æsir kalla þik, ef þú gerir eigi meira af þér um aðra leika en mér lízt, at um þenna mun vera."
Þá varð Þórr reiðr, setr hornit á munn sér ok drekkr sem ákafligast má hann ok þreytur sem mest á drykkinn. En er hann sá í hornit, þá hafði helst nú nökkut munr á fengizt, ok þá býðr hann upp hornit ok vill eigi drekka meira.
Þá mælti Útgarða-Loki: "Auðsætt er nú, at máttr þinn er ekki svá mikill sem vér hugðum, en viltu freista um fleiri leika? Sjá má nú, at ekki nýtir þú hér af."
Þórr svarar: "Freista má ek enn of nökkura leika, en undarliga myndi mér þykkja, þá er ek var heima með ásum, ef þvílíkir drykkir væri svá litlir kallaðir. En hvat leik vilið þér nú bjóða mér?"
Þá mælti Útgarða-Loki: "Þat gera hér ungir sveinar, er lítit mark mun at þykkja, at hefja upp af jörðu kött minn, en eigi myndak kunna at mæla þvílíkt við Ása-Þór, ef ek hefða eigi sét fyrr, at þú er miklu minni fyrir þér en ek hugða."
Því næst hljóp fram köttr einn grár á hallargólfit ok heldr mikill, en Þórr gekk til ok tók hendi sinni niðr undir miðjan kviðinn ok lyfti upp, en kötttrinn beygði kenginn, svá sem Þórr rétti upp höndina. En er Þórr seildist svá langt upp sem hann mátti lengst, þá létti kötturinn einum fæti, ok fekk Þórr eigi framit þenna leik meir.
Þá mælti Útgarða-Loki: "Svá fór þessi leikr sem mik varði. Köttrinn er heldr mikill, en Þórr er lágr ok lítill hjá stórmenni því, sem hér er með oss."
Þá mælti Þórr: "Svá lítinn sem þér kallið mik, þá gangi nú til einn hverr ok fáist við mik! Nú em ek reiðr."
Þá svarar Útgarða-Loki ok litast um á bekkina ok mælti: "Eigi sé ek þann mann hér inni, er eigi mun lítilræði í þykkja at fást við þik."
Ok enn mælti hann: "Sjám fyrst, kalli mér hingat kerlinguna fóstru mína, Elli, ok fáist Þórr við hana, ef hann vill. Fellt hefir hon þá menn, er mér hafa litizt eigi ósterkligri en Þórr er."
Því næst gekk í höllina kerling ein gömul. Þá mælti Útgarða-Loki, at hon skal taka fang við Ása-þór. Ekki er langt um að gera. Svá fór fang þat, at því harðara er Þórr knúðist at fanginu, því fastara stóð hon. Þá tók kerling at leita til bragða, ok varð Þórr þá lauss á fótum, ok váru þær sviptingar allharðar ok eigi lengi, áðr en Þórr féll á kné öðrum fæti. Þá gekk til Útgarða-Loki ok bað þau hætta fanginu ok sagði svá, at Þórr myndi eigi þurfa at bjóða fleirum mönnum fang í hans hirð. Var þá ok liðit at nótt. Vísaði Útgarða-Loki Þór ok þeim félögum til sætis, ok dveljast þar náttlangt í góðum fagnaði.
THEN the king asked Thor, in what art He would chuse to
give proof of that dexterity for which he was so famous, Thor
replied, That he would contest the prize of Drinking with any
person belonging to his court. The king-consented, and
immediately went into his palace to look for a large Horn, out
of which his courtiers were obliged to drink when they had
committed any trespass against the customs of the court.* This
the cupbearer filled to the brim, and presented to Thor, whilst
the king spake thus: Whoever is a good drinker, will empty that
horn at a single draught; some persons make two of it; but the
most puny drinker of all can do it at three. Thor looked at the
horn, and was astonished at its length;** however, as he was
very thirsty, he set it to his mouth, and without drawing
breath, only pulled as long and as deeply as he could, that he
might not be obliged to make a second draught of it: but when he
withdrew the cup from his mouth, in order to look in, he could
scarcely perceive any of the liquor gone. To it he went again
with all his might, but succeeded no better than before. At
last, full of indignation, he again set the horn to his lips,
and exerted himself to the utmost to empty it entirely: then
looking in, he found that the liquor was a little lowered: upon
this, he resolved to attempt it no more, but gave back the horn.
I now see plainly, says the king, that thou art not quite so
stout as we thought thee; but art thou willing to make any more
trials? I am sure, says Thor, such draughts as I have been
drinking, would not have been reckoned small among the Gods: but
what new trial have you to propose? We have a very trifling
game, here, replied the king, in which we exercise none but
children: it consists in only listing my Cat from the ground;
nor should I have mentioned it, if I had not already observed,
that you are by no means what we took you for. Immediately a
large iron-coloured Cat leapt into the middle of the hall.
*Our modern Bachanals will here observe, that punishing by a Bumper is not an invention of these degenerate days. The ancient Danes were great Topers. T.
**The Drinking Vessels of the northern Nations were the Horns of animals, of their natural length, only tipt with silver, &c. In York-Minster is preserved one of these ancient Drinking Vessels, composed of a large Elephant's Tooth, of its natural dimensions, ornamented with sculpture, &c. Seq Drake's Hist.
Thor advancing, put his hand under the Cat's belly, and did his utmost to raise him from the ground; but the Cat bending his back, had only one of his feet lifted up. The event, says the king, is just what I foresaw; the Cat is large, but Thor is little in comparison of the men here. Little as I am, says Thor, let me see who will wrestle With me. The king looking round him, says, I see no body here who would not think it beneath him to enter the lists with you; let somebody, however, call hither my nurse Hela (i. e. Death) to wrestle with this God Thor: me hath thrown to the ground many a better man than he. Immediately a toothless old woman entered the hall. This is she, says the king, with whom you must wrestle.* I cannot, says Jafnhar, give you all the particulars of this contest, only in general, that the more vigorously Thor assailed her, the more immoveable she stood. At length the old woman had recourse to stratagems, and Thor could not keep his feet so steadily, but that she, by a violent struggle, brought him upon one knee. Then the king came to them and ordered them to desist: adding, there now remained no body in his court, whom he could ask with honour to condescend to fight with Thor.
*I here follow the Latin Version of Goranson, rather than the French of M. Mallet. T.
|47. Skilnaðr Þórs ok Útgarða-Loka.||
THE TWENTY-SIXTH FABLE
The Illusions accounted for.
En at morgni, þegar dagaði, stendr Þórr upp ok þeir félagar,
klæða sik ok eru búnir braut at ganga. Þá kom þar Útgarða-Loki ok lét setja þeim
borð. Skorti þá eigi góðan fagnað, mat ok drykk. En er þeir hafa matazt, þá
snúast þeir til ferðar.
|THOR passed the night in that place with his companions, and was preparing to depart thence early the next morning; when the king ordered him to be sent for, and gave him a magnificent entertainment. After this he accompanied him out of the city. When they were just going to bid adieu to each other, the king asked Thor what he thought of the success of his expedition. Thor told him, he could not but own that he went away very much ashamed and disappointed. It behoves me then, says the king, to discover now the truth to you, since you are out of my city; which you shall never re-enter whilst I live and reign. And I assure you, that had I known before-hand, you had been so strong and mighty, I would not have suffered you to enter now. But I enchanted you by my illusions; first of all in the forest, where I arrived before you. And there you were not able to untie' your wallet, because I had fastened it with a magic chain. You afterwards aimed three blows at me with your mace: the first stroke, though flight, would have brought me to the ground, had I received it: but when you are gone hence, you will meet with an immense rock, in which are three narrow valleys of a square form, one of them in particular remarkably deep: these are the breaches made by your mace; for I at that time lay concealed behind the rock, which you did not perceive. I have used the same illusions in the contests you have had with the people of my court. In the first, Loke, like Hunger itself, devoured all that was set before him: but his opponent, Loge, was nothing else but a wandering Fire, which instantly consumed not only the meat, but the bones, and very trough itself. Hugo, with whom THIALFE disputed the prize of swiftness, was no other than Thought or Spirit; and it was impossible for Thialfe to keep pace with that. When you attempted to empty the Horn, you performed, upon my word, a deed so marvellous, that I should never have believed it, if I had not seen it myself; for one end of the Horn reached to the sea, a circumstance you did not observe: but the first time you go to the seaside, you will see how much it is dimiinished. You performed no less a miracle in lifting the Cat, and to tell you the truth, when we saw that one of her paws had quitted the earth, we were all extremely surprized and terrified; for what you took for a cat, was in reality the great Serpent of Midgard, which encompasses the earth; and he was then scarce long enough to touch the earth with his head and tail; so high had your hand raised him up towards heaven. As to your wrestling with an old woman, it is very astonishing that she could only bring you down upon one of your knees; for it was Death you wrestled with, who first or last will bring every one low. But now, as we are going to part, let me tell you, that it will be equally for your advantage and mine, that you never come near me again; for should you do so, I shall again defend myself by other illusions and enchantments, so that you will never prevail against me.—As he uttered these words, Thor in a rage laid hold of his mace, and would have lanched it at the king, but he suddenly disappeared; and when the God would have returned to the city to destroy it, he found nothing all around him but vast plains covered with verdure. Continuing therefore his course, he returned without ever stopping, to his palace.|
REMARKS on the TWENTY-THIRD
and FOLLOWING FABLES
I was unwilling to suppress the fables we have been reading, however trifling they may appear at first sight; partly that I might give the original compleat, and partly because I thought them not altogether useless, as they would contribute still farther to lay open the turn of mind and genius of the ancient inhabitants of Europe. We have seen above, that Thor was regarded as a Divinity favourable to mankind, being their protector against the attacks of Giants and evil Genii. It is pretty remarkable, that this same God should here be liable to illusions, snares and trials; and that it should be the Evil Principle, that persecutes him. Ut-garda Loke, signifies "the Loke, or Demon from without." But may not all this fable have been invented in imitation of the labours of Hercules? The analogy is so small in general between the mythology os the Greeks, and that of the northern nations, that I cannot think the imperfect resemblance which is found between these two stories deserves much attention. I am of opinion that we shall be more likely to succeed, if we look for the origin of this fable in the religion formerly spread throughout Persia and the neighbouring countries; whence, as the ancient Chronicles inform us Odin and his companions originally came. There first arose the doctrine of a Good and Evil Principle, whose conflicts we here see described after an allegorical manner.
It appears probable to me that this doctrine, which was carried into the north by the Asiatics who established themselves there, hath had many puerile circumstances added to it, in successively passing through the mouthsof the Poets, the sole depositaries of the opinions of those times. In reality, we find in every one of those additions, somewhat that strongly marks the soil from whence they sprung. Such, for example, are the contests about eating and drinking most; who should scate best on the snow; and the horns out of which the courtiers were obliged to drink, when they committed a fault. These, and some other strokes of this kind, strongly savour of the north. But what most of all shows somewhat of mystery after the Oriental manner, is Thor's wrestling with Death, or Old Age; to whom he seems to pay a slight tribute, in falling down upon One of his knees, and immediately again raising up himself. In the next fable he preserves and continues, as indeed throughout all this Mythology, the character and functions which were at first ascribed to him. He enters into conflict with the great Serpent, a monster descended from that Evil Principle, who is at enmity with Gods and men: but he will not be able perfectly to triumph over him, till the last day; when recoiling back nine paces, he strikes him dead with his thunder, and destroys him for ever.
There are few methods of interpretation more equivocal, more subject to abuse, and more discredited, than that which hath recourse to allegory. But the turn of genius which seems to have dictated all this Mythology, and the significant words it affects to employ, seem to prescribe this method to us on this occasion. Besides, we are to remember that the whole of it hath been transmitted to us by Poets, and that those Poets, in their manner, have been partly Oriental and partly Celtic. We have therefore abundant reason to be convinced, that we ought not to interpret any thing here in a simple or literal sense.
|48. Þórr reri á sæ með Hymi.||
THE TWENTY-SEVENTH FABLE
Of the voyage undertaken by Thor,
to go to fish for the Great Serpent.
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Allmikill er fyrir sér Útgarða-Loki, en með
vélum ok fjölkynngi ferr hann mjök, en þat má sjá, at hann er mikill
fyrir sér, at hann átti hirðmenn þá, er mikinn mátt hafa, eða hvárt
hefir Þórr ekki þessa hefnt?"
Hárr svarar: "Eigi er þat ókunnigt, þótt eigi sé fræðimenn, at Þórr leiðrétti þessa ferðina, er nú var frá sagt, ok dvalðist ekki lengi heima, áðr hann bjóst svá skyndiliga til ferðarinnar, at hann hafði eigi reið ok eigi hafrana ok ekki föruneyti. Gekk hann út of Miðgarð svá sem ungr drengr ok kom einn aftan at kveldi til jötuns nökkurs. Sá er Hymir nefndr. Þórr dvalðist þar at gistingu of nóttina.
En í dagan stóð Hymir upp ok klæddist ok bjóst at róa á sæ til fiskjar, en Þórr spratt upp ok varð skjótt búinn ok bað, at Hymir skyldi hann láta róa á sæ með sér, en Hymir segir, at lítil liðsemð myndi at honum vera, er hann var lítill ok ungmenni eitt - "ok mun þik kala, ef ek sit svá lengi ok útarliga sem ek em vanr."
En Þórr sagði, at hann myndi róa mega fyrir því langt frá landi, at eigi var víst, hvárt hann myndi fyrr beiðast at róa útan, ok reiddist Þórr jötninum svá, at þá var búit, at hann myndi þegar láta hamarinn skjalla honum, en hann lét þat við berast, því at hann hugðist þá at reyna afl sitt í öðrum stað. Hann spurði Hymi hvat, þeir skyldu hafa at beitum, en Hymir bað hann fá sér sjálfan beitur.
Þá snerist Þórr á braut þangat, er hann sá öxnaflokk nökkurn, er Hymir átti. Hann tók inn mesta uxann, er Himinhrjóðr hét, ok sleit af höfuðit ok fór með til sjávar. Hafði þá Hymir út skotit nökkvanum. Þórr gekk á skipit ok settist í austrrúm, tók tvær árar ok reri, ok þótti Hymi skriðr verða af róðri hans. Hymir reri í hálsinum fram, ok sóttist skjótt róðrinn. Sagði þá Hymir, at þeir váru komnir á þær vastir, er hann var vanr at sitja ok draga flata fiska, en Þórr kveðst vilja róa miklu lengra, ok tóku þeir enn snertiróðr. Sagði Hymir þá, at þeir váru komnir svá langt út, at hætt var at sitja útar fyrir Miðgarðsormi, en Þórr kveðst myndu róa enn um hríð, ok svá gerði hann, en Hymir var þá allókátr.
En þá er Þórr lagði upp árarnar, greiddi hann til vað heldr sterkjan, ok eigi var öngullinn minni eða óramligri. Þar lét Þórr koma á öngulinn uxahöfuðit ok kastaði fyrir borð, ok fór öngullinn til grunns, ok er þér þat satt at segja, at engu ginnti þá Þórr miðr Miðgarðsorm en Útgarða-Loki hafði spottat Þór, þá er hann hóf orminn upp á hendi sér. Miðgarðsormr gein yfir uxahöfuðit, en öngullinn vá í góminn orminum. En er ormrinn kenndi þess, brá hann við svá hart, at báðir hnefar Þórs skullu út at borðinu. Þá varð Þórr reiðr ok færðist í ásmegin, spyrnði við fast, svá at hann hljóp báðum fótum gegnum skipit ok spyrnði við grunni, dró þá orminn upp at borði. En þat má segja, at engi hefir sá sét allógurligar sjónir, er eigi mátti þat sjá, er Þórr hvessti augun á orminn, en ormrinn starði neðan í mót ok blés eitrinu. Þá er sagt, at jötunninn Hymir gerðist litverpr, fölnaði ok hræddist, er hann sá orminn ok þat er særinn féll út ok inn of nökkvann. Ok í því bili, er Þórr greip hamarinn ok færði á loft, þá fálmaði jötunninn til agnsaxinu ok hjó vað Þórs á borði, en ormrinn sökkðist í sæinn. En Þórr kastaði hamrinum eftir honum, ok segja menn, at hann lysti af honum höfuðit við hrönnunum, en ek hygg hitt vera þér satt at segja, at Miðgarðsormr lifir enn ok liggr í umsjá. En Þór reiddi til hnefann ok setr við eyra Hymi, svá at hann steypðist fyrir borð, ok sér í iljar honum, en Þórr óð til lands."
I find by your account, says Gangler, that the power of
this King, you have been mentioning, must be very great, and
there cannot be a stronger proof it, than his having courtiers
so skilful and dexterous in all respects. But, tell me, did Thor
never revenge this affront? 'Tis well known, says Har, (though
no body has talked of it) that Thor had resolved to attack the
great Serpent, if an opportunity offered: with this view he set
out from Asgard a second time, under the form of a young boy, in
order to go to the Giant Eymer.* When he was got there, he
besought the Giant, to permit him to go aboard his bark along
with him, when he went a fishing. The Giant answered, that a.
little puny stripling like him, could be of no use to him; but
would be ready to die of cold, when they should reach the high
seas, whither he usually went. Thor assured him that he feared
nothing: and asked him what bait he intended to fish with. Eymer
bade him to look out for something. Thor went up to a herd of
cattle which belonged to the Giant, and seizing one of the oxen,
tore off his head with his own hands; then returning to the bark
where Eymer was, they sate down together. Thor placed himself in
the middle of the bark, and plied both his oars at once: Eymer,
who rowed also at the prow, saw with surprize how swiftly Thor
drove the boat forward, and told him, that by the land-marks on
the coasts, he discovered that they were come to the most proper
place to angle for flat fish. But Thor assured him that they had
better go a good way further: accordingly they continued to row
on, till at length Eymer told him if they did not stop, they
would be in danger from the great Serpent of Midgard.
Notwithstanding this, Thor persisted in rowing further, and
spite of the Giant, was a great while before he would lay down
his oars. Then taking out a, fishing line extremely strong, he
fixed to it the ox's head, unwound it, and cast it into the
sea., The bait reached the bottom, the Serpent greedily devoured
the head, and the hook stuck fast in his palate. Immediately the
pain made him move with such violence, that Thor was obliged to
hold fast with both his hands by the pegs which bear against the
oars: but the, strong effort he was obliged to make with his
whole body, caused his feet to force their way through the boat,
and they went down to the bottom of the sea; whilst with his
hands, he violently drew up the Serpent to the lide of the
vessel. It is impossible to express the dreadful looks that the
God darted at the Serpent, whilst the monster, raising his head,
spouted out venom upon him: in the meantime the Giant Eymer
seeing, with affright, the water enter his, bark on all sides,
cut with his knife the string of the fishing-line, just as Thor
was going to strike the Serpent with his mace. Upon this the
monster fell down again to the bottom of the sea: nevertheless,
some add that Thor darted his mace after him, and bruised his
head in the midst of the waves. But one may assert with more
certainty, that he lives still in the waters.† Then Thor struck
the Giant a blow with his fist, nigh the ear, and throwing his
head into the sea, waded afterwards on foot to land.
*I here give this name as it is in the Icelandic: M. Mallet writes it Hymer. The Reader must not confound this name with that of the Giant Ymi, or Ymir, mentioned in the second fable, &c. T.
†We see plainly in the above fable the origin of those Vulgar opinions entertained in the north, and which, Pontoppidan has recorded, concerning the Craken, and that monstrous Serpent, described in hts History of Norway. T.
|49. Dauði Baldrs ins góða.||
THE TWENTY-EIGHTH FABLE
Of Balder the Good.
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hafa nökkur meiri tíðendi orðit með
ásunum? Allmikit þrekvirki vann Þórr í þessi ferð."
CERTAINLY, says Gangler, this was a very great victory of Thor's. The dream which Balder had one night, replies Har, was something still more remarkable. This God thought that his life was in extreme danger: wherefore, telling his dream to the other Gods, they agreed to conjure away all the danger's with which Balder was threatened. Then Frigga exacted an oath of Fire, Water, Iron and other Metals, as also of Stones, Earth, Trees, Animals, Birds, Diseases, Poison and Worms, that none of them would do any hurt to Balder (a). This done, the Gods, together with Balder himself, fell to diverting themselves in their grand assembly, and; Balder stood as a mark at which they threw* some of them darts, and some stones, while others struck at him with a sword. But whatever they could do, none of them could hurt him; which was considered as a. great honour to Balder. In the meantime, Loke, moved with envy, changed his shape into that of a strange old woman, and went to the palace of Frigga. That Goddess seeing her, asked if she knew what the Gods were at present employed about in their assembly. The pretended old woman answered, That the Gods were throwing darts and stones at Balder, without being able to hurt him. Yes, said Frigga, and no sort of arms, whether made of metal or wood, can prove mortal to him: for I have exacted an oath from them all. What, said the woman, have all substances then sworn to do the same honours to Balder? There is only one little shrub, replied Frigga, which grows on the western fide of Valhall, and its name is Mistiltein, (the Misseltoe;) of this I took no oath, because it appeared to me too young and feeble. As soon as Loke heard this, he vanished, and resuming his natural shape, went to pluck up the shrub by the roots, and then repaired to the assembly of the Gods. Theire he found HodEr standing apart by himself, without partaking of the sport, because he was blind. Loke came to him, and asked him, Why he did not also throw something at Balder, as well as the rest? Because I am blind, replied the other, and have nothing to throw with. Come then, says Loke, do like the rest, shew honour to Balder by tossing this little trifle at him; and I will direct your arm towards the place where he stands. Then Hoder took the Misseltoe (b), and Loke guiding his hand, he darted it at Balder; who, pierced through and through, fell down devoid of life: and surely never was seen, either among Gods or men, a crime more shocking and attrocious than this. Balder being dead, the Gods were all silent and spiritless: not daring to avenge his death, out of respect to the sacred place in which it happened. They were all therefore plunged in the deepest mourning, and especially Odin, who was more sensible than all the rest of the loss they had suffered.* After their sorrow was a little appeased, they carried the body of Balder down towards the sea, where stood the vessel of that God, which passed for the largest in the world. But when the Gods wanted to lanch it into the water, in order to make a funeral pile for Balder; they could never make it stir:† wherefore they caused to come from the country of the Giants, a certain Sorceress, who was mounted on a wolf, having twisted serpents by way of a bridle. As soon as me alighted, Odin caused four Giants to come, purely to hold her steed fast, and secure it: which appeared to him so dreadful, that he would first see whether they were able to overthrow it to the ground: for, says he, if you are not able to overthrow it to the earth, I shall never be secure that you have strength to hold it fast. Then the Sorceress bending herself over the prow of the vessel, set it afloat with one single effort; which was so violent, that the fire sparkled from the keel as it was dragging to the water, and the earth trembled. Thor, enraged at the fight of this woman, took his mace and was going to dash her head to pieces, had not the Gods appeased him by their intercessions. The body of Balder being then put on board the vessel, they set fire to his funeral pile; and Nanna, his wife, who had died of grief, was burnt along with him. There were also at this ceremony, besides all the Gods and Goddesses, a great number of Giants. Odin laid upon the pile, a ring of gold, to which he afterwards gave the property of producing every ninth night, eight rings of equal weight. Balder's horse was also consumed in the same flames with the body of his master.‡
*What follows is different in the Latin Version of Goranson. T.
†The sense of Goranson's Version is, "In order to carry the body of Balder, together with his funeral pile." T.
‡For an Account of the Funerals of the ancient Scandinavians, and of the Piles in which the wife, slave arid horse were buried along with the Owner, see Vol. I. p. 341, &c; -—In the first part of this work, the Author promised to give proofs of whatever he had advanced concerning the manners and customs of the ancient Danes; and whoever examines with attention, the original pieces contained in this second Volume cannot but acknowlege he has kept his word.
|REMARKS on the TWENTY-EIGHTH FABLE|
(a) "That none of them would do any hurt to Balder."] It is well
known to such as have dipt into the ancient romances, that there were
formerly Necromancers and Sorceresses, who could so throughly enchant
lances and swords, that they could do no hurt. This ridiculous opinion
is not entirely eradicated out of the minds of the common people every
where, to this day. Our ancient northern historians are full of
allusions to feats of this kind. Saxo, lib. 6, assures us, that a
certain champion, named Wisin, was able to charm his enemies swords with
a single look. There were certain Runic characters which produced this
effect; but in general they were the Fairies and Goddesses who excelled
in this fine art. Frigga herself was particularly distinguished for it.
We see in the text, that she could charm and inchant whatever she
pleased. Tacitus, who describes her under the title of the "Mother of
the Gods," (a name which is also given her in the Edda in more places
than one) speaks in like manner of the power she had to protect her
votaries in the midst of darts thrown by their enemies. Matrem deum
venerantur. (Æstyi): Insigne superstitionis, formas aprorum gestant. Id
pro armis omniumque tutela securum deae cultorem etiam inter hostis
praestat, c. 45.
(b) “Then Hoder took the
Misseltoe."] If the Scandinavians had been a different nation from the
Germans, the Germans from the Gauls, and the Gauls from the Britons;
whence could arise this striking conformity which is found between them,
even in those arbitrary opinions, to which caprice alone could have
given rife? I lay particular stress upon this remark, as what justifies
me in calling the Edoa a System of Celtic MyThology; and I recall it on
occasion of this passage. We see here, that the Scandinavians, as well
as the Gauls and Britons, attributed to the MisselToe a certain divine
power. This plant, particularly such of it as grew upon the oak, hath
been the object of veneration, not among the Gauls only, (as hath been
often advanced without just grounds) but also among all the Celtic
nations of Europe. The people of Holstein, and the neighbouring
countries, call it at this day Marentaken, or the "Branch of Spectres"
doubtless on account of its magical virtues. In some places of Upper
Germany, the people observe the same custom, which is practised in many
provinces of France. Young persons go at the beginning of the year, and
strike the doors and windows of houses, crying Gutbyl, which signifies
Misseltoe. (See Keysler. Antiq. Sept. and Celt, p. 304, Se seq.) Ideas
of the same kind prevailed among the ancient inhabitants of Italy.
Apuleiiis hath preserved some verses of the ancient poet Lælius,
in'which Misseltoe is mentioned as one of the ingredients which will
convert a man into a Magician. (Apul. Apolog. Prior.)
Pliny is the writer of Antiquity, from whom we learn the particular account of the veneration paid to this Plant by the Druids of Gaul. Nat. Hist. lib. 16. c. 44. Non est omittenda in ea re & GALLIARUM admiratio. Nihil habent DRUIDÆ (ita suos appellant magos) visco, & arbore, in qua gignantur (si modo sit robur) sacratius. Jam per se roborum eligunt lucos, nec ulla sacra sine ea fronde conficiunt, ut inde appellati quoque interpretatione Graeca possint DRUIDÆ videri. Enimvero quicquid adnascatur illis, e caelo missum putant, signumque esse electae ab ipso Deo arboris. Est autem id rarum admodum inventu, & repertum magna religione petitur: & ante omnia sexta luna, quae principia mensium annorumque his facit, & seculi post tricesimum annum, quia jam virium abunde habeat, nec sit sui dimidia. OMNIA SANANTEM appellantes suo vocabulo, sacrifices epulisque rite sub arbore praeparatis duos admovent candidi colons tauros, quorum coniua tunc primum vinciantur. Sacerdos Candida veste coitus arborem scandit. Falce aurea demetit. Candido id excipitur sago. Tum deinde victimas immolant, precantes ut suum donum Deus prosperum faciat his quibus dederit. Foecunditatem eo poto dari cuicunque animali sterili arbitrantur, contraque venena omnia esse remedio. Tanta gentium in rebus frivolis plerunque religio est.” So again in lib. 24. c. 4. "VISCUM e robore præcipuum diximus haberi, & quo conficeretur modo, &c. Quidam id religione efficacius sieri putant, prima Luna collectum e robore sine serro. Si terram non attigit, comitialibus MEDERI. Conceptum sæminarum ADJUVARE, si omnino secum habeant. Ulcera commanducato impositoque efficacissime SANRI."
Here we see the Misseltoe is revered among the Gauls as a
Divine Plant, producing most salutary effects; “curing barrenness,
repelling poison, assisting women in labour, and curing ulcers;" and for
its great beneficial qualities in general, called All-heal, and honoured
with peculiar marks of reverence.—
"There we celebrated a Mass [Missu. Isl.] of weapons!*"
*Five Pieces of Runic Poetry, p. 31.
Some of the Celtic nations (the Britons for instance) have a traditionary opinion that the dominions of their ancestors were once extended, much farther north, than they were in the time of the Romans; and that they were gradually dispossessed by the Gothic or Teutonic nations, of many of those countries which the latter afterwards inhabited. Whether this tradition be admitted or not, it is certain that the Gothic and Celtic tribes bordered on each other; and this, no less than through the whole boundary of Gaul and Germany. Now the frequent wars, renewals of peace, and other occasions of intercourse in consequence of this vicinage, will account to us for all that the Gothic nations knew or practised of the Celtic customs and opinions. Perhaps it would be refining too much upon the passage in the Edda, to explain it as an allegory; or to suppose that the disturbance wrought among the Gods by the Misseltoe, was meant to express the opposition which Odin's religion found from the Druids of the Celtic nations. Such an Interpretation of this ancient piece of Mythology would be neither forced nor unnatural: but it is not worth insisting upon.
To return to Keysler, he says (p. 305.) that there are "plain vestiges of this ancient Druidical reverence for the Misseltoe still remaining in some places in Germany; but principally in Gaul and Aquitain : in which latter countries, it is customary for the boys and young men on the last day of December, to go about through the towns and villages, singing and begging money, as a kind of New year's gift, and crying out, "AU GUY! L'AN NEUF! To the Misseltoe! The New Year is at hand!"— This is a curious and striking instance; and to it may be added that rural custom still observed in many parts of England, of hanging up a Misseltoe-bush on Christmas Eve, and trying lots by the crackling of the leaves and berries in the fire on Twelfth Night.
All these will easily be admitted to be reliques of Druidical superstition, because all practised in those very countries, in which the Druids were formerly established.—Keysler then proceeds to attribute to the same Druidic origin, a custom practised in Upper Germany by the vulgar at Christmas, of running through the streets, &c. and striking the doors and windows (not with Misseltoe, for that plant does not appear to be at all used or attended to upon the occasion, but with Hammers (Mallets, Lat.) crying Guthyl, Now Guthyl or Gut Heyl!* he owns is literally Bona Salus; and therefore might most naturally be applied to the birth of Christ then celebrated: but, because the words have a distant resemblance in meaning to the Omnia-Sanans, by which the Gauls expressed the Misseltoe, according to Pliny; therefore he (without the least shadow of authority) will have this German term Guthyl, to be the very Gallic name meant by that author: And his reasons are as good as his authority: viz. “Because, (1st) he says, The language of the Gauls, Germans, Britons, and northern nations, were only different dialects of One Common tongue; (2ndly) Because the German name for this plant Mistel, as well as our English Misseltoe, are foreign words, and Both Derived from the Latin Viscum."—. That the ancient language of the Gauls, still preserved in the Welsh, Armoric, &c. is or ever was the same with those dialects of the Gothic, the Saxon, German and Danish, &c. believe who will. But that our English name Misseltoe, as well as the German Mistel are words of genuine Gothic original, underived from any foreign language, is evident from their being found in every the most ancient dialect of the Gothic tongue: viz. Ang-Sax. Mistelean. Island. [in Edda] Mistilteinn. Dan. & Belg. Mistel, &c. &c.
*AngSax Good Heal; or Good Health,
|49. Dauði Baldrs ins góða. (Con't)||
THE TWENTY-NINTH FABLE
Hermode's journey to Hell
En þat er at segja frá Hermóði, at hann reið níu nætr dökkva
dala ok djúpa, svá at hann sá ekki, fyrr en hann kom til árinnar Gjallar
ok reið á Gjallarbrúna. Hon var þökð lýsigulli.
Móðguðr er nefnd mær sú, er gætir brúarinnar. Hon spurði hann at nafni eða at ætt ok sagði, at inn fyrra dag riðu um brúna fimm fylki dauðra manna - "en eigi dynr brúin minnr undir einum þér, ok eigi hefir þú lit dauðra manna. Hví ríðr þú hér á helveg?"
Hann svarar, at -"ek skal ríða til Heljar at leita Baldrs, eða hvárt hefir þú nakkvat sét Baldr á helvegi?"
En hon sagði, at Baldr hafði þar riðit um Gjallarbrú, "en niðr ok norðr liggr helvegr."
Þá reið Hermóðr, þar til er hann kom at helgrindum. Þá sté hann af hestinum ok gyrði hann fast, steig upp ok keyrði hann sporum, en hestrinn hljóp svá hart ok yfir grindina, at hann kom hvergi nær. Þá reið Hermóðr heim til hallarinnar ok steig af hesti, gekk inn í höllina, sá þar sitja í öndugi, Baldr bróður sinn, ok dvalðist Hermóðr þar um nóttina. En at morgni þá beiddist Hermóðr af Helju, at Baldr skyldi ríða heim með honum, ok sagði, hversu mikill grátr var með ásum.
En Hel sagði, at þat skyldi svá reyna, hvárt Baldr var svá ástsæll - "sem sagt er. Ok ef allir hlutir í heiminum, kykvir ok dauðir, gráta hann, þá skal hann fara til ása aftr, en haldast með Helju, ef nakkvarr mælir við eða vill eigi gráta."
Þá stóð Hermóðr upp, en Baldr leiddi hann út ór höllinni ok tók hringinn Draupni ok sendi Óðni til minja, en Nanna sendi Frigg rifti ok enn fleiri gjafar. Fullu fingrgull. Þá reið Hermóðr aftr leið sína ok kom í Ásgarð ok sagði öll tíðendi, þau er hann hafði séð ok heyrt. Því næst sendu æsir um allan heim erendreka at biðja, at Baldr væri grátinn ór helju, en allir gerðu þat, mennirnir ok kykvendin ok jörðin ok steinarnir ok tré ok allr málmr, svá sem þú munt sét hafa, at þessir hlutir gráta þá, er þeir koma ór frosti ok í hita.
Þá er sendimenn fóru heim ok höfðu vel rekit sín erendi, finna þeir í helli nökkurum, hvar gýgr sat. Hon nefndist Þökk. Þeir biðja hana gráta Baldr ór Helju. Hon segir:
54. "Þökk mun gráta
En þess geta menn, at þar hafi verit Loki Laufeyjarson, er
flest hefir illt gert með ásum."
*Balder having thus perished, FRIGGA, his mother, caused
it to be published every where, that whosoever of the Gods would
go to Hell in search of Balder, and offer Death such a ransom as
she would require for restoring him to life, would merit all her
love. HERMODE, surnamed the Nimble or Active, the son of Odin
offered to take this commission upon, him. With this view he
took Odin's horse, and mounting him departed. For the space of
nine days and as many nights, he travelled through deep vallies,
so dark, that he did not begin to see whither he was going, till
he arrived at the river of Giall, that he passed over a bridge,
which was all covered with shining gold. The keeping of this
bridge was committed to a damsel named Modguder, or Audacious
War. When lhe saw Hermode, she demanded his name and family,
telling him that the preceding day she had seen pass over the
bridge five squadrons of dead persons, who all together did not
make the bridge shake so much as he alone; and besides', added
she, you have not the colour of a dead corpse: what brings you
then to the infernal regions? Hermode answered, I go to seek
Balder: Have not you seen him pass this way? Balder, said she,
hath passed over this bridge; but the road of the dead is there
below, towards the north. Hermode then persued his journey, till
he came near to the entrance of Hell, which was defended by a
large grate. Hermode now alighted, and girthed his saddle
tighter; then mounting again, clapped both spurs to his horse;
who immediately leaped over the grate, without touching it the
least iu the world with his feet. Entering in, he saw his
brother Balder seated in the most distinguished place in the
palace; and there he passed the night. The next morning fee
besought Hela (or Death) to suffer Balder to return back with
him, assuring her that the Gods had been all most severely
afflicted for his death. But Hela told him, she would know
whether it was true that Balder was so much beloved by all
things in the world, as he had represented: she required
therefore that all beings, both animate and inanimate, should
weep for his death; and in that case she would send, him back to
the Gods: but on the other hand, she would keep him back, if one
single thing should be found which refused to shed tears. Upon
this Hermode got up, and Balder re-conducting him out of the
palace, took off his ring of gold, and gave it to convey to Odin
as a token of remembrance. Nanna also sent Frigga a golden Die,
and many other presents. Hermode then set out back again for
Asgard; and as soon as he got thither, faithfully reported to
the Gods all he had seen and heard.
*In this, as well as the preceding
chapter the Latin Version of Goranson differs exceedingly from
the French of M. Mallet (which is here followed) owing, I
suppose, to the great variations in the different copies, which
they respectively adopted. T.
|REMARKS on the TWENTY-NINTH FABLE|
Balder, not having the good fortune to be slain in battle, was
obliged to go, like all those that died of diseases, to the abode of
Death. Saxo Grammaticus relates the same adventure, with some different
circumstances, (L. III. p. 43.) Which seems to prove that there, had
passed among the deified Asiatics, some event, out of which the Poets
had composed the Fable we have been reading.
Loke and Hela play their part here very well. It is a custom, not yet laid aside among the people of the Dutchy of Sleswick, if we will believe Arnkiel, to personify Death, and to give her the name of Hell or Hela* Thus, when they would say that a contagion rages in any place, they say that Hela walks there, or Hela is come there; and that a man hath made up the matter with Hela when he is relieved from a distemper which was judged to be mortal from the same word is derived the present name for the Infernal Region in all the languages of Germany and the north.* Vide Arnkiel in Cimbria, c. 9. § 2. p. 55. Keysl. Antiq. p. 180.
*In all the other Teutonic dialects, as well as in our English, the name for it is HELL, or some word derived from the same root. And indeed Goranson has generally rendered the name Hela, throughout the EDDA, not as our French author does by the word Mort, or Death, by Infernum, HELL.
|50. Loki bundin||
THE THIRTIETH FABLE
The flight of Loke
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Allmiklu kom Loki á leið, er hann olli fyrst
því, er Baldr var veginn, ok svá því, er hann varð eigi leystr frá
helju. Eða hvárt varð honum þessa nakkvat hefnt?"
Hárr segir: "Goldit var honum þetta, svá at hann mun lengi kennast. Þá er goðin váru orðin honum svá reið sem ván var, hljóp hann á braut ok fal sik á fjalli nökkuru, gerði þar hús ok fjórar dyrr, at hann mátti sjá ór húsinu í allar ættir, en oft um daga, brá hann sér í laxlíki ok falst þá þar, sem heitir Fránangrsfoss. Þá hugsaði hann fyrir sér, hverja vél æsir mundu til finna at taka hann í forsinum. En er hann sat í húsinu, tók hann língarn ok reið á ræksna, svá sem net er síðan gert, en eldr brann fyrir honum.
Þá sá hann, at æsir áttu skammt til hans, ok hafði Óðinn sét ór Hliðskjálfinni, hvar hann var. Hann hljóp þegar upp ok út í ána, en kastaði netinu fram á eldinn. En er æsir koma til hússins, þá gekk sá fyrst inn, er allra var vitrastr, er Kvasir heitir, ok er hann sá á eldinum fölskvann, er netit hafði brunnit, þá skilði hann, at þat myndi vél vera til at taka fiska, ok sagði ásunum. Því næst tóku þeir ok gerðu sér net eftir því, sem þeir sá á fölskvanum, at Loki hafði gert. Ok er búit var netit, þá fara æsir til árinnar ok kasta neti í forsinn. Hélt Þórr öðrum netshálsi, en öðrum héldu allir æsir ok drógu netit, en Loki fór fyrir ok leggst niðr í milli steina tveggja. Drógu þeir netið yfir hann ok kenndu, at kykt var fyrir, ok fara í annat sinn upp til forsins ok kasta út netinu ok binda við svá þungt, at eigi skyli undir mega fara. Ferr þá Loki fyrir netinu. En er hann sér, at skammt var til sævar þá hleypr hann upp yfir þinulinn ok rennir upp í forsinn. Nú sá æsirnir, hvar hann fór, fara enn upp til forsins ok skipta liðinu í tvá staði, en Þórr veðr eftir miðri ánni, ok fara svá út til sævar. En er Loki sér tvá kosti, var þat lífsháski at hlaupa á sæinn, en hinn var annarr at hlaupa enn yfir netit, ok þat gerði hann, hljóp sem snarast yfir netþinulinn. Þórr greip eftir honum ok tók um hann, ok renndi hann í hendi honum, svá at staðar nam höndin við sporðinn, ok er fyrir þá sök laxinn aftrmjór.
AT length the Gods being exasperated against Loke, he
was obliged to fly and hide himself in the mountains: there he
built him a house open on four sides, whence he could see every
thing that passed throughout the world. Often in the day time,
he concealed himself in the shape of a Salmon within the waters
of a river, where he employed himself in foreseeing and
preventing whatever stratagems the Gods might employ to catch
him there. One day, as he was in his house, he took thread or
twine, and made nets of it, like, those which fishermen have
since invented. In the mean time, ODIN having discovered, from
the height of his all-commanding throne, the place whither Loke
had retired, repaired thither with the other Gods. But Loke
being aware of their approach, threw his net with all speed into
the fire, and ran to conceal himself in the river. As soon fes
the Gods got there, Kuaser, who was the most distinguished among
them all for his quickness and penetration, traced out in the
hot embers, the vestiges and remains of the net which had been
burnt, and by that means found out Loke's invention. Having made
all the other Gods remark: the same, thing, they, set themselves
to weave a net after the model which they saw imprinted in the
ashes. This net, when finished, they threw into the water of the
river in which Loke had hid himself. Thor held one end of the
net, and all the Gods together laid hold of the other, thus
jointly drawing it along the stream. Nevertheless, Loke
concealing himself between two stones, the net passed over him
without taking him; and the Gods only perceived that some living
thing had touched the meshes. They cast it in a second time,
after having tied so great a weight to it, that it every where
raked the bottom of the stream. But Loke saved himself by
suddenly mounting up to the top of the water, and then, plunging
in again, in a place where the river formed a cataract. The Gods
betook themselves afresh towards that place, and divided into
two bands: Thor walking in the water followed the net, which
they dragged thus to the very margin of the sea.
Then Loke perceived the danger that threatned him, whether he saved himself in the sea; or whether he got back over the net. However, he chose the latter, and leaped with all his might over the net: but Thor running after him, caught him in his hand: but for all this, being extremely slippery; he had doubtless escaped, had not Thor held him fast by the tail; and this is the reason why Salmons have had their tails ever since so fine and thin.
|50. Loki bundin (Con't)||
THE THIRTY-FIRST FABLE
The punishment of Loke
|Nú var Loki tekinn griðalauss ok farit með hann í helli nökkurn. Þá tóku þeir þrjár hellur ok settu á egg ok lustu rauf á hellunni hverri. Þá váru teknir synir Loka, Váli ok Nari eða Narfi. Brugðu æsir Vála í vargslíki ok reif hann í sundr Narfa, bróður sinn. Þá tóku æsir þarma hans ok bundu Loka með yfir þá þrjá eggsteina. Stendr einn undir herðum, annarr undir lendum, þriði undir knésbótum, ok urðu þau bönd at járni. Þá tók Skaði eitrorm ok festi upp yfir hann, svá at eitrit skyldi drjúpa ór orminum í andlit honum, en Sigyn, kona hans, stendr hjá honum ok heldr mundlaug undir eitrdropa. En þá er full er mundlaugin, þá gengr hon ok slær út eitrinu, en meðan drýpr eitrit í andlit honum. Þá kippist hann svá hart við, at jörð öll skelfr. Þat kallið þér landskjálfta. Þar liggr hann í böndum til ragnarökrs.||LOKE being thus taken, they dragged him without mercy into a cavern. The Gods also seized his children, Vali and Nari: the first being changed by the Gods into a savage beast, tore his brother in pieces and devoured him. The Gods made of his intestines cords for Loke, tying him down to three sharp stones; one of which pressed his shoulders the other his loyns; and the third his hams. These, cords were afterwards changed into chains of iron. Besides this Skada suspended over his head a serpent, whose venom falls upon his face, drop by drop. At the same time his wife, Siguna, sits by his side, and receives the drops as they fall, into a bason, which she empties as often as it is filled. But while this is doing, the venom falls upon Loke, which makes him howl with horror, and twist: his body about with such violence, that all she earth is shaken with it; and this produces what men call Earth-quakes. There will Loke remain in irons till the- last day of the darkness of the Gods.|
|REMARKS on the THIRTY-FIRST FABLE|
|Loke having at length tired out the patience of the Gods, they seize and punish him. This, idea, at the bottom, hath prevailed among almost all the ancient nations; but they have each of them imbellished it after their own manner. One cannot doubt but our Scandinavians brought with them from Asia this belief, which appears to have been very widely established there from the earliest antiquity. In the Book of the pretended prophecy of Enoch, we find many particulars very much resembling these of the Edda. The rebel angels causing incessantly a thousand disorders, God commanded the Arch-Angel, Raphael, to bind hand and foot one of the principal among them, named Azael, and cast him into an obscure place in a desert, there to keep him bound upon sharp pointed stones to the last day. One may also safely conjecture that the fables of Prometheus, Typhon and Enceladus, are derived from the same original: whether one is to look for this in the History of Holy Writ, misunderstood and disfigured, or in other forgotten events, or only in the ancient custom of concealing all instructions under the veil of allegory; a custom common in all nations, while their reason is in its infancy, hut peculiarly proper to those of the east. As all the diligence of the learned cannot supply the want of necessary monuments, I shall not venture to do more than just barely to point out the principal grounds of their conjectures: to enumerate them all, to weigh their respective merits, and to apply each of them to this fable of the Edda, would be a task as laborious, as disagreeable and useless: and for which very few of my readers would think themselves obliged to me.|
|51. Frá ragnarökum.||
THE THIRTY-SECOND FABLE
Of the Twilight of the Gods.
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hver tíðendi eru at segja frá um ragnarökr?
Þess hef ek eigi fyrr heyrt getit."
Hárr segir: "Mikil tíðendi eru þaðan at segja ok mörg, þau in fyrstu, at vetr sá kemr, er kallaðr er fimbulvetr. Þá drífr snær ór öllum áttum. Frost eru þá mikil ok vindar hvassir. Ekki nýtr sólar. Þeir vetr fara þrír saman ok ekki sumar milli, en áðr ganga svá aðrir þrír vetr, at þá er um alla veröld orrostur miklar. Þá drepast bræðr fyrir ágirni sakar, ok engi þyrmir föður eða syni í manndrápum eða sifjasliti. Svá segir í Völuspá:
55. Bræðr munu berjask
Þá verðr þat, er mikil tíðendi þykkja, at úlfrinn gleypir
sólna, ok þykkir mönnum þat mikit mein. Þá tekr annarr úlfrinn tunglit,
ok gerir sá ok mikit ógagn. Stjörnurnar hverfa af himninum. Þá er ok þat
til tíðenda, at svá skelfr jörð öll ok björg, at viðir losna ór jörðu
upp, en björgin hrynja, en fjötrar allir ok bönd brotna ok slitna. Þá
verðr Fenrisúlfr lauss. Þá geysist hafit á löndin, fyrir því at þá snýst
Miðgarðsormr í jötunmóð ok sækir upp á landit. Þá verðr ok þat, at
Naglfar losnar, skip þat, er svá heitir. Þat er gert af nöglum dauðra
manna, ok er þat fyrir því varnanar vert, ef maðr deyr með óskornum
nöglum, at sá maðr eykr mikit efni til skipsins Naglfars, er goðin ok
menn vildi seint, at gert yrði. En í þessum sævargang flýtr Naglfar.
Hrymr heitir jötunn, er stýrir Naglfari, en Fenrisúlfr ferr með gapandi
munn, ok er inn neðri kjöftr við jörðu, en in efri við himin. Gapa myndi
hann meira, ef rúm væri til. Eldar brenna ór augum hans ok nösum.
Miðgarðsormr blæss svá eitrinu, at hann dreifir loft öll ok lög, ok er
hann allógurligr, ok er hann á aðra hlið úlfinum. Í þessum gný klofnar
himinninn, ok ríða þaðan Múspellssynir. Surtr ríðr fyrst ok fyrir honum
ok eftir eldr brennandi. Sverð hans er gott mjök. Af því skínn bjartara
en af sólu. En er þeir ríða Bifröst, þá brotnar hon, sem fyrr er sagt.
Múspellsmegir sækja fram á þann völl, er Vígríðr heitir. Þar kemr ok þá
Fenrisúlfr ok Miðgarðsormr. Þar er ok þá Loki kominn ok Hrymr ok með
honum allir hrímþursar, en Loka fylgja allir Heljarsinnar. En
Múspellssynir hafa einir sér fylking, ok er sú björt mjök. Völlrinn
Vígríðr er hundrað rasta víðr á hvern veg.
56. Hátt blæss Heimdallr,
62. Gengr Óðins sonr
65. Vígríðr heitir völlr,
GANGLER then inquired; What can you tell me concerning
that day. Har replied, There are very many and very notable
circumstances which I can impart to you. In the first place,
will come, the grand, ‘the desolating’ Winter; during which the
snow will fall from the four corners of the world: the frost
will be very severe; the tempest violent and dangerous; and the
Sun will withdraw his beams. Three such winters shall pass away,
without being softened by one summer. Three others shall follow,
during which War and Discord will spread through the whole
globe. Brothers, out of hatred, shall kill each other; no one
shall spare either his parent, or his child, or his relations.
See how it is described in the Voluspa; "Brothers becoming
murderers, shall stain themselves with brothers blood; kindred
shall forget the ties of consanguinity; life shall become a
burthen; adultery shall reign throughout the world. & barbarous
age! an age of swords! an age of tempests! an age of wolves! The
bucklers shall be broken in pieces; and these calamities shall
succeed each other till the world shall fall to ruin." Then will
happen such things as may well be called Prodigies. The Wolf
Fenris will devour the Sun; a severe loss will it be found by
mankind. Another monster will carry off the Moon, and render her
totally useless: the Stars shall fly away and vanish from the
heavens*: the earth and the mountains shall be seen violently
agitated; the trees torn up from the earth by the roots; the
tottering hills to tumble headlong from their foundations; all
the chains and irons of the prisoners to be broken and dashed in
pieces. Then is the Wolf: Fenris let loose; the sea rushes
impetuously, over the earths because the great Serpent, changed
into a Spectre, gains the more, The ship Naglfara is set afloat:
this vessel is constructed of the nails of dead men; for which
reason great care should be taken not to die with unpared nails;
for he who dies so, supplies materials towards the building of
that vessel, which Gods and men will wish were finished as late
as possible. The Giant Rymer is the pilot of this vessel, which
the sea breaking over its banks, wafts along with it. The Wolf
Fenris advancing, opens his enormous mouth; his lower jaw
reaches to the earth, and his Upper jaw to the heavens, and
would reach still farther, were space itself found to admit of
it. The burning fire flashes out from his eyes and nostrils. The
Great Serpent vomits forth floods of poison; which overwhelm the
air and the waters. This terrible monster places himself by the
side of the Wolf. In this confusion the heaven shall cleave
asunder; and by this breach the Genii of Fire enter on
horseback. Surtur is at their head: before and behind him
sparkles a bright glowing fire. His sword outshines the Sun
itself. The army of these Genii passing on horseback over the
bridge of heaven, break it in pieces: Thence they direct their
course to a plain; where they are joined by the Wolf Fenris, and
the Great Serpent. Thither also repair Loke, and the Giant
Rymer, and with them all the Giants of the Frost, who follow
Loke even to Death. The Genii of Fire march first in battle
array, forming a most brilliant squadron on this plain; which is
an hundred degrees square on every side. During these prodigies,
Heimdal, the door-keeper of the Gods, rises up; he violently
sounds his clanging trumpet to awaken the Gods: who instantly
assemble. Then Odin repairs to the fountain of Mimis, to consult
what he ought to do, he and his army. The great Ash Tree of
Udrasil is shaken; nor is any thing in heaven or earth exempt
from fear and danger. The Gods are clad in armour; Odin puts on
his golden helmet, and his resplendent cuirass; he grasps his
sword, and marches directly against the Wolf Fenris. He hath
Thor at his side: but this God cannot assist him; for he himself
fights with the Great Serpent. Frey encounters Surtur, and
terrible blows are exchanged on both sides; till Frey is beat
down and he owes his defeat to his having formerly given his
sword to his attendant Skyrner. That day also is let loose the
dog named Garmer, who had hitherto been chained at the entrance
of a cavern. He is a monster dreadful even to the Gods; he
attacks Tyr, and they kill each other. Thor beats down the Great
Serpent to the earth, but at the same time recoiling back nine
steps, he falls dead upon the spot,* suffocated with floods of
venom, which the Serpent vomits forth upon him. Odin is devoured
by the Wolf Fenris. At the lame instant Vidar advances, and
pressing down the monster's lower jaw with his loot, seizes the
other with his hand, and thus tears and rends him till he dies.
LOKE and HEIMDALL fight, and mutually kill each other. After
that, Surtur darts fire and flame over all the earth; the whole
world is presently consumed. See how this is related in the
“Heimdal lifts up his crooked trumpet, and sounds it aloud. Odin
consults the head of Mimis; the great Ash, that Ash sublime and
fruitful, is violently shaken, and sends forth a groan. The
Giant bursts his irons. What is doing among the Gods? What is
doing among the Genii? The land of the Giants is filled with
uproar: the Deities collect and assemble together. The Dwarfs
sigh and groan before the doors of their caverns. Oh! ye
inhabitants of the mountains; can you say whether any thing will
yet remain in existence? [The Sun is darkened; the earth is
overwhelmed in the sea the shining stars fall from heaven a
vapour, mixed with fire, arises: a vehement heat prevails, even
in heaven itself.‡]
*Goranson has it, Stella de cælo cadunt. See other variations in his Latin Version; which seems, in some respects, more spirited than that of M. Mallet, here followed, T.
†The Reader will observe that our ingenious Author has represented this somewhat differently above, in p. 133. , T.
‡The passage in Brackets is given from the Latin of Goranson, being omitted by M. Mallet. T
|52. Vistarverur eftir ragnarökr.||
THE THIRTY-THIRD FABLE
The sequel of the Conflagration of the world.
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvat verðr þá eftir, er brenndr er heimr
allr ok dauð goðin öll ok allir Einherjar ok allt mannfólk? Ok hafið þér
áðr sagt, at hverr maðr skal lifa í nökkurum heimi um allar aldir."
Þá svarar Þriði: "Margar eru þá vistir góðar ok margar illar. Bazt er þá at vera á Gimlé á himni, ok allgott er til góðs drykkjar þeim, er þat þykkir gaman, í þeim sal, er Brimir heitir. Hann stendr á Ókólni. Sá er ok góðr salr, er stendr á Niðafjöllum, gerr af rauðu gulli. Sá heitir Sindri. Í þessum sölum skulu byggja góðir menn ok siðlátir. Á Náströndum er mikill salr ok illr, ok horfa norðr dyrr. Hann er ofinn allr ormahryggjum sem vandahús, en ormahöfuð öll vitu inn í húsit ok blása eitri, svá at eftir salnum renna eitrár, ok vaða þær ár eiðrofar ok morðvargar, svá sem hér segir:
66. Sal veit ek standa
Þá mælti Gangleri: "Hvárt lifa nökkur goðin þá, eða er þá
nökkur jörð eða himinn?"
68. Víðarr ok Váli
En þar, sem heitir Hoddmímisholt, leynast menn tveir í
surtaloga, er svá heita, Líf ok Leifþrasir, ok hafa morgindöggvar fyrir
mat, en af þessum mönnum kemr svá mikil kynslóð, at byggvist heimr allr,
svá sem hér segir:
69. Líf ok Leifþrasir,
70. Eina dóttur
En ef þú kannt lengra fram at spyrja, þá veit ek eigi, hvaðan
þér kemr þat, fyrir því at engan mann heyrða ek lengra segja fram
aldarfarit, ok njóttu nú sem þú namt."
ON hearing the preceding relation, Gangler asks, What
will remain after the world shall be consumed; and after Gods,
and Heroes, and Men shall perish? For I understood by you, adds
he, that mankind were to exist for ever in another world. Thridi
replies, After all these prodigies, there will succeed many new
abodes, some of which will be agreeable and others wretched: but
the best mansion of all, will be Gimle (or Heaven) where all
kinds of liquors shall be quaffed in the Hall called Brymer (a),
situated in the country of Okolm. That is also a most delightful
palace which is upon the mountains of Inda*, and which is built
of shining gold. In this palace good and just men shall abide.
In Nastrande (i. e. the shore of the dead) there is a vast and
direful structure, the portal of which faces the north. It is
compiled of nothing but the carcases of Serpents, all whose
heads are turned towards the inside of the building: there they
vomit forth so much venom, that it forms a long river of poison:
and in this float the perjured and the murderers; as is said in
those verses of the Voluspa: “I know that there is in Nastrande,
an abode remote from the Sun, the gates of which look towards
the north there drops of poison rain through the win dows. It is
all built of the carcases of serpents. There, in rapid rivers,
swim the perjured, the assassins, and those who seek to seduce
the wives of others. In another place, their condition is still
worse; for a wolf, an all-devouring monster, perpetually
torments the bodies who are sent in thither (b)." Gangler
resumes the discourse, and says, Which then are the Gods that
shall survive? Shall they all perish, and will there no longer
be a heaven nor an earth? Har replies, There will arise out of
the sea, another earth most: lovely and delightful: covered it
will be with verdure and pleasant fields: there the grain shall
spring forth and grow of itself, without cultivation. Vidar and
Vale shall also survive, because neither the flood, nor the
black conflagration shall do them any harm. They shall dwell in
the plains of Ida; where was formerly the residence of the Gods.
The sons of Thor, Mode and Magne repair thither: thither come
Balder and Hoder, from the mansions of the dead. They sit down
and converse together; they recal to mind the adversities they
have formerly undergone. They afterwards find among the grass,
the golden Dice,†
which the Gods heretofore made use of. And here be it observed,
that while the fire devoured all things, two persons of the
human rate, one male and the other female, named Lif and
Lifthraser, lay concealed under an hill. They feed on the dew,
and propagate so abundantly, that the earth is soon peopled with
a new race of mortals. What you will think still more wonderful
is, that Sunna (the Sun) before it is devour'd by the Wolf
FENRIS, shall have brought forth a daughter as lovely and as
resplendant as herself; and who shall go in the same track
formerly trode by her mother: according as it is described in
these verses: "The brilliant monarch of Fire‡
shall beget an only daughter, before the Wolf commits his
devastation. "This young Virgin, after the death of the "Gods,
will pursue the same track as her "parent (c)."
*This and the preceding names are very different in the Edition of Goranson. T.
†Goranson renders it Crepidas, "Sandals." But_ M. Mallet's version is countenanced by Bartholin. Deaurati orbes akatorij, p. 597. T.
‡ There seems to be a defect or ambiguity in the Original here, which has occasioned a strange confusion of genders, both in the French of M. Mallet, and the Latin Version of Goranson. The former has "Le Roi brillant du seu engendrera une file unique avant que d'etre englouti par le loup; cette fille suivra le traces de Sa MERE, apres la mart des dieux." The latter, Unicam filtiam genuit rubicundissimus Ille Rex antiquam EUM, Fenris devoraverit; qua cursura est, mortuis Diis, viam Maternam. I have endeavoured to avoid this, by expressing the passage in more general terms. T.
Now, continues Har, If you have any new questions to ask me, I know not who can resolve you because I have never heard of any one who can relate what will happen in the other ages of the world: I advise you therefore to remain satisfied with my relation, and to preserve it in your memory.
Upon this, Gangler heard a terrible noise all around him; he looked every way, but could discern nothing, except a vast extended plain. He set out therefore on his return back to his own kingdom; where he related all that he had seen and heard: and ever since that time, this relation hath been handed down among the people by Oral Tradition (d).
|En æsir setjast þá á tal ok ráða ráðum sínum ok minnast á þessar frásagnir allar, er honum váru sagðar, ok gefa nöfn þessi in sömu, er áðr váru nefnd, mönnum ok stöðum þeim, er þar váru, til þess, at þá er langar stundir liði, at menn skyldu ekki ifast í, at allir væru einir þeir æsir, er nú var frá sagt, ok þessir, er þá váru þau sömu nöfn gefin. Þar var þá Þórr kallaðr, ok er sá Ása-Þórr inn gamli.||OMITTED|
|REMARKS on the LAST TWO FABLES|
Had the Edda had no other claim to our regard, than as having
preserved to us the opinions and doctrines of the ‘ancient northern
nations’* on that important subject, an existence after this life, it
would have merited, even on that account, to have been preserved from
oblivion. And really on this head it throws great light on History:
whether we consider that branch of it which principally regards the
ascertainment of facts; or that which devotes itself rather to trace the
different revolutions of manners and opinions. Such as are only fond of
the former species of History, will find in these concluding Fables, the
principles of that wild enthusiastic courage which animated the ravagers
of the Roman Empire, and conquerors of the greatest part of Europe. Such
as interest themselves more in the latter, will see (not without
pleasure and astonishment) a people whom, they were wont to consider as
barbarous and uncultivated, employed in deep and sublime speculations;
proceeding in, them more conclusively, and coming, possibly, much nearer
to the end, than those celebrated nations who have arrogated to
themselves an exclusive privilege to reason and knowledge.
I have before observed, that the philosophers of the north† considered nature as in a state of perpetual labour and warfare. Her strength was thus continually wasting away by little and little; and her approaching dissolution could not but become every day more and more perceptible. At last, a confusion of the seasons, with a long and preternatural winter, were to be the final marks of her decay. The moral world is to be no less disturbed and troubled than the natural. The voice of dying Nature will be no longer heard by man. Her sensations being weakened, and as it were, totally extinct, shall leave the heart a prey to cruel and inhuman passions. Then will all the malevolent and hostile powers, whom the Gods have heretofore with much difficulty confined, burst their chains, and fill the universe with disorder and confusion. The host of Heroes from Valhall shall in vain attempt to assist and support the Gods; for though the latter will destroy their enemies, they will nevertheless fall along with them: that is, in other words, In that great day all the inferior Divinities, whether good or bad, shall fall in one great conflict back again into the bosom of the Grand Divinity; from whom all things have proceeded, as it were emanations of his essence, and who will survive all things. After this, the world becomes a prey to flames: which are, however, destined rather to purify than destroy it; since it afterwards makes its appearance again more lovely, more pleasant, and more fruitful than before. Such, in a few words, is the doctrine of the Edda, when divested of all those poetical and allegorical ornaments, which are only accidental to it. One sees plainly enough, that the poem called Voluspa hath been the text, of which this Fable is the comment: since in reality the same ideas, but expressed with a superior pomp and strength, are found in that old poem. It may perhaps afford some pleasure to peruse the following extracts, given literally from the translation of Bartholin.‡
* les Celtes, Fr. Orig.
†La Celtiq. Fr.
‡ Vid. Causæ Contempt at a Danis Mortis, 4to. 1689. Lib. IX.
cap. 14. p. 590, & seq. I have rather followed the Latin of Bartholin,
than the French version of our author. T,
"THE Giant Rymer arrives from the east, carried in a chariot: the ocean swells: the Great Serpent rolls himself furiously in the waters, and lifteth up the sea. The eagle screams, and tears the dead bodies with his horrid beak. The vessel of the Gods is set afloat.”
"The vessel comes from the east: the host of Evil Genii** arrives by sea: Loke is their pilot and director. Their furious squadron advances, escorted by the Wolf Fenris: Loke appears with them.†
*Muspelli Incolæ. Bartholin.
†A stanza is here omitted, being part of what is quoted above
in the 32nd fable, p. 163: as also one or two stanzas below. T,
*Surtur. Island, orig.—The reader will observe some variations between the version here, and that given of this same stanza in p. 13. they are owing to the different readings of the original, T.
"New grief for the Goddess who defends Odin For Odin advances
to encounter Fenris; the snow white slayer of Bela,* against the ‘black’
prince of the Genii of Fire.† Soon is the spouse of Frigga beaten down.
"Then runs Vidar, the illustrious son of Odin, to
avenge the death of his father. He attacks the murderous monster, that
monster born of a Giant; and with his sword he pierces him to the
Many other pieces of poetry might be quoted to shew, that the Scandinavians had their minds full of all these prophesies, and that they laid great stress upon them. But the generality of readers may possibly rather take my word for it, than be troubled with longer extracts. It will be of more importance to remark, that what we have been reading is, for the most part, nothing else, but the doctrine of Zeno and the Stoics. This remarkable resemblance hath never been properly considered, and highly deserves a discussion.The ancients universally assure us, that the Stoic philosophy established the existence of an eternal divinity, diffused through and pervading all nature; and being, as it were, the foul and primum mobile of matter. From this divinity, proceeded as emanations from his essence, together with the world, certain intelligences ordained to govern under his directions, and who were to undergo the same revolutions as the world itself until the day appointed for the renovation of this universe. The fires concealed in the veins of the earth, never cease to dry up the moisture contained therein, and will, in the end, set it all on flames. "A time will come, says Seneca, when the world, ripe for a renovation, shall be wrapt in flames; when the opposite powers shall in conflict mutually destroy each other; when the constellations shall dash together: "and when the whole universe, plunged in the same common fire, shall be consumed to ashes." (Senec. Consol, ad Marciam. cap. ult.) This general destruction was to be preceded by an inundation: And in this respect, the Edda perfectly agrees with Zeno. Seneca treats this subject of a future deluge at large, in his Quæst. Natural. Lib. 3. c. 29. which he asserts must contribute to purify and prepare the earth for a new race of inhabitants, more innocent and virtuous than the present.
But the consummation of the world by fire, was the point most strongly insisted on by the Stocis. These verses of Seneca's kinsman Lucan are well known, insisted on by the Stoics.
—Hos populos si nunc non ufferit Ignis,
That is, "If these people are not as yet to perish by fire; the time will nevertheless come when they shall be consumed along with the Earth and the Sea: the whole world will become one common funeral pile."
But the strongest proof of the agreement between these two systems is this, that the destruction of the will involve in it that of the Gods; that is to say, all those created inferior Divinities. This is expressed by SENECA the Tragedian, is most clear and precise terms, in those remarkable verses, which I have world already quoted in the first Volume, p. 115. and which I shall again repeat or here.
Jam jam legibus abrutis
i. e. "When the laws of nature shall be buried in ruin, and the last day of the world shall come, the southern pole shall crush, as it falls, all the regions of Africa. The north pole shall overwhelm all the countries beneath it's axis. The affrighted Sun shall be deprived of its light; the palace of heaven falling to decay, shall produce at once both life and death, and some Kind Of Dissolution Shall In LIKE MANNER SEIZE ALL THE DEITIES, and they shall return into their original chaos, &c."
In another place, SENECA explains what he means by this Death of the Gods. They were not to be absolutely annihilated; but to be once more re-united, by dissolution, to the soul of the world; being resolved and melted into that intelligence of fire, into that eternal and universal principle, from which they had originally been emanations. It was, without doubt, in this fense also that our northern philosophers understood the matter. We may, from analogy, supply this circumstance with the greater confidence, as the poets have been ever more attentive to adorn and embellish the received doctrines, than to deliver them with precision. But lastly, what must render this parallel more compleat and striking, is, that according to the school of Zeno, no less than in the Icelandic prophecies, this tremendous scene is succeeded by a new creation, evidently drawn in the same colours by both.
The world, says SENECA, being melted and re-entered into the bosom of Jupiter, this God continues for some time totally concentered in himself, and remains concealed, as it were, wholly immersed in the contemplation of his own ideas: Afterwards we see a new world spring from him, perfect in all its parts; animals are produced anew; an innocent race of men are formed under more favourable auspices, in order to people this earth, the worthy abode of virtue. In short, the whole face of Nature becomes more pleasing and lovely. (Senec. Epist. 9. & Quæst. Nat. L. 3. c. ult.)
The Edda gives us the same descriptions in other words. They likewise occur in the poem of the VOLUSPA, above quoted; and the same doctrine is very conspicuous in the follows stanzas from the same piece.*
*Vid. Bartholin, ubi supra, p. 598, where the original and a Latin Version may be seen: our French author has only selected some of the stanzas, which he has taken the liberty to transpose. T.
"THEN (i. e. after the death of the Gods, and the conflagration of the world) we see emerge from the bosom of the waves, an earth cloathed with a most lovely verdure. The floods retire: the eagle soars wheresoever he lifts, and seizes his fishy prey on the tops of the mountains.
“The fields produce their fruits without culture; misfortunes are banished from the world. Balder and his brother,* those warrior Gods, return to inhabit the ruined palaces of Odin. Do ye consceive what will then come to pass?
“The Gods assemble in the fields of Ida; they discourse together concerning the heavenly palaces, whose ruins are before them: they recollect their former conversations, and the ancient discourses of Odin.
“A palace more resplendant than the Sun rises to view; it is adorned with a roof of gold: there the assemblies of good men shall inhabit; and give themselves up to joy and pleasure, throughout all ages."
The distance between Scandinavia and those countries where the Stoic philosophy prevailed, is certainly great, and must have been greater still in former ages than the present, when commerce and books lend wings to opinions, and diffuse them in a short time thro' the world. On the other hand, the system now under confederation is not such as all men would arrive at by meer dint of reflection. It appears then probable, that all those who adopted it, must have had it from the same hands; namely, from the eastern philosophers, and more particularly from the Persians. And history affords a sanction to this conjecture. We know that the Scandinavians came from some country of Asia. Zeno, who was born in Cyprus, of Phœnician parents, borrowed in all probability the principal tenets of his doctrine from the philosophers of the east. This doctrine was in many respects the same with that of the Magi. ZOROASTRE had taught that the conflict between Oromasdes and Arimanes; (i. e. Light and Darkness, the Good and Evil Principle) should continue till the last day; and that then the Good Principle should be re-united to the supreme God, from whom it had first issued: the Evil should be overcome and subdued; darkness should be destroyed, and the world, purified by an universal conflagration, should become a luminous and shining abode, into which Evil should never more be permitted to enter. (Vid. Brucker Hist. Crit. Philos. Vol. t. Lib. 2. c. 3.)
Arts, Sciences and Philosophy have heretofore taken their flight from east to west. The doctrine of the renovation of the world was current among some of the Celtic nations long ere Odin; migrated from Asiatic Scythia into the north. Orpheus had taught it among the Thracians, according to Plutarch and Clemens Alexandrinus; and we find traces of it in verses attributed to that ancient bard. The Greeks and Romans had also some idea of it; but the greatest part of them did not adopt the whole compleat system, but were content to detach from it, what regarded the conflagration of the world, in order to augment the confused and incoherent mass of their own religious opinions.
I must not finish this note, without justifying the length of it: one word will be sufficient. Some of the points of doctrine which I have been displaying after the Edda, have been consecrated by Revelation; Here follow some of the principal passages:
“BUT the heavens and the earth which are now are reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." (2 Pet. ch. iii ver. 7.)
"The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up." (Ver. 10.) "Nevertheless we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (Ver. 13.)
“THEN (i. e. in the last day) shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and stall hate one another." (Mat. ch. xxiv. ver. 10.) "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." (Ver. 12.)
"But in those days, after that tribulation, the Sun shall be darkened, and the Moon shall not give her light: and the Stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken." (Mark, ch. xiii. ver. 24, 25.)
"And there shall be signs in the Sun and in the Moon and in the Stars; and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and waves roaring; mens hearts failing them for fear." (Luke, ch. xxi. ver. 25, 26.)
The Apocalypse adds other circumstances to the above description.
“AND lo! (i. e. in the terrible day of the anger of the Lord) there was a great earthquake: and the Sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the Moon became as blood; and. the Stars of heaven fell unto the earth. And the heaven departed as a scrowl when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." (Rev. ch. vi. ver. ii, 13, 14.)
"And there was war in heaven; Michael and his Angels fought against the Dragon: and the Dragon fought and his Angels; and prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great Dragon was cast out, that old Serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his Angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night!" (Rev: ch. xii. Ver. 7, 8, 9, 10.)
"And I saw an Angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand: and he laid hold on the Dragon, that old Serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." (Ibid. ch. xx; ver. 1, 2, 4.)
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea. ... And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there whall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain. . .. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the city had no need of the Sun, neither of the Moon to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it. . . . And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth." (Ibid. ch. xxi. ver. 1, 4, 18, 23, 27.)
After these general observations, nothing more remains but to clear up some particular passages of the last fable of the EDDA.
(a) "In the Hall called Brymer."] Brymer, according to the strict etymology of the word, means a Hall very hot; as Okolm does a place inaccessible to cold. The miseries of the last day are to commence by a very long and severe winter. The windows and doors of hell stood open towards the north. We see plainly that all this must have been imagined and invented in a cold climate. The ancient Scandinavians were more frank and honest than some of their descendants; than the famous RUDBECK, for example; who seems to have been tempted to put off his own country for the seat of the Terrestrial Paradise.*
*Vid. Keysl p. 123
(b) "Torments the bodies who are sent in thither."] Before this stanza of the Voluspa, Bartholin has given another,* which deserves to be produced.
**Bartholin, p. 599.
"THEN the Master, he who governs all things, issues forth with great power from his habitations on high, to render his divine judgments, and to pronounce his sentences. He terminates all differences, and establishes the sacred destinies, which will remain to eternity.”
The description which the Edda gives of the place of torment, bears a striking resemblance to what we meet with in the religious books of the ancient Persians.
"HELL (say they) is on the more of a foetid stinking river, whose waters are black as pitch, and cold as ice; in these float the souls of the damned. The smoak ascends in vast rolls from this dark gulf: and the inside of it is full of Scorpions and Serpents." Vid. Hyde Relig. vet. Pers. p. 399, & 404.
(c) “After the death of the Gods."] In the new earth, which was to succeed that which we inhabit, there were to be again subaltern divinities to govern it; and men to people it. This, in general, is what the Edda means to tell us: although the circumstances of the relation are darkly and allegorically delivered: yet not so obscurely, but that one easily sees it was the idea of the northern philosophers, as well as of the stoics, that the world was to be renovated, and spring forth again more perfect and more beautiful. This is what is expressed here with regard to the Sun and Moon. Lif signifies life; which is a farther proof, that by the fable of these two human beings who are to survive the destruction of the world, these northern philosophers meant to say that there still existed in the earth a vivifying principle and feed, proper to repair the loss of the former inhabitants. It is certain that all these different forms of expression were understood by these ancient people ill their true sense; viz. only as figurative modes of speech, and ornaments of discourse; and therefore, we, who in reading their works, continually lose sight of this circumstance, are in reality authors of many of those absurdities, which we fancy we discover in them.
(d) "Among the people by oral tradition."] This passage may possibly start a question, Whether the doctrines here displayed were peculiar to the northern nations, or embraced by the other 'Gothic and' Celtic tribes? My opinion is, that the latter had adopted at least most of the principal points: and that they all derived, their religious tenets from the same source. It is very probable, as the Abbe Banier sensibly observes, That the northern Celtes, the ancestors of Gauls borrowed their doctrines either from the Persians or their neighbours, and that the Druids were formed upon the model of the Magi." (Mythol. expl. Tom. II. 4to. p. 628.) We are, it is true, acquainted with, what the Gauls, the Britons or the Germans thought on this head; but as the little know of their opinions coincides very exactly with the Edda, we may safely suppose the same conformity in the other particulars of which we are ignorant. Let those who doubt this, cast their eyes over the following passages.
“Zamolxis" (a celebrated Druid of the Getæ and Scythians) taught his contemporaries that neither he nor they, nor the men who should be born hereafter, were to perish; but were on the contrary to repair, after quitting this life, to a place where they should enjoy full abundance and the "plenty of every thing that was good." Herod. L. 4. § 95. "If we may believe you," (says Lucan to the Druids) "the souls of men do not descend into the abode of darkness and silence, nor but very moderately yet into the gloomy empire of Pluto: you say that the same spirit animates the body in another world, and, that death is the passage to a long life." Luc. Lib. I. v. 454.
"The Gauls" (says Cæsar) are particularly assiduous to prove that souls perish not." Cæser Lib. 6. C. 14.
Valerius Maximus, in a passage quoted above in my REMARKS on the 16th FABLE comes still nearer, to the doctrine of the EDDA; for he tells us that the Celtes looked upon a quiet peaceable death as most wretched and dishonourable, and that they leaped for joy at the approach of a battle, which would afford them opportunities of dying with their swords in their hands.
"Among the ancient Irish," says Solinus, “when a woman is brought to bed of a son, she prays to the Gods to give him the grace to die in battle." This was to wish salvation to the child. (See Solin. c. 25. p. 252.)
These authorities may suffice*: they do not indeed say all that the EDDA does; but that makes this work so much the more valuable.
*I cannot help adding to the authorities of our Author, what Quintus Curtius relates of the Sogdians: a nation, who inhabited to the eastward of the Caspian Sea; not far from the country of Odin and his companions. When some of that people were condemned to death by Alexander, on account of their revolt, “Carmen, Lætantium more, canere, trtpudiisque & lasciviori corporis motu, gaudium quoddam animi ostentare cæperunt”— , When the king enquired the reason of their thus rejoicing, they answered—"A tanto Rege victore omnium gentium majoribus suis redditos', honestam mortem, quam fortes viri voto quoque expeterent, carminibus sui moris laetitiaque celebrare. " Curt. Lib. 7. cap. 8. Edit. Varior. T.
|AN IDEA of the SECOND PART of the EDDA|
ALL the most important points of the northern* Mythology have
been laid open in the preceding Dialogue, which forms the First Part of
the Edda. In the Second Part, the Author changing his stile, confines
himself to the relation of several adventures which had happened to
these Deities whom he hath been describing to us. The ancient Scalds or
Poets, are the guides he follows; and his chief aim is to explain the
epithets and synonymous expressions, which have been in a manner
consecrated in their language. The same taste and mode of composition
prevails every where through this Second Part as in the former: We have
constantly Allegories, and Combats; Giants contending with the Gods;
Loke perpetually deceiving them; Thor interposing in their defence, &c.
This is nearly the whole of the Second Part. It would tire our Reader's
patience to insert it here intire, although it is threefourths less than
the former. I shall perhaps stand in need of his indulgence, while I
barely aim at giving him a succinct idea of it.
* Celtique, Fr.
"Æger, a Danish nobleman, was desirous, in imitation of Gylfe, of going to Asgard, to visit the Gods. The Deities expecting his coming, immediately mounted on their lofty seats, that they might receive him with the greater dignity: and the Goddesses, who yielded to them in nothing, took their places along with them. Æger was splendidly entertained. Odin had ranged all along the hall where they feasted, swords of such an amazing brilliancy and polish, that no other illuminations were wanted. All the walls were covered with glittering shields. They continued drinking for a long time large draughts of the most excellent mead. Brage, the God of Eloquence, sat next to Æger, and the Gods had committed their guest to his care. The conversation that passed between Æger and this Deity, is the subject of this Second Part of the Edda. Brage begins with relating an evil turn which Loke had played the Gods. The Reader will remember that they prevented the effects of old age and decay by eating certain apples, entrusted to the care of IDUNA. Loke had, by a wile, conveyed away this Iduna, and concealed her in a wood, under the custody of a Giant. The Gods beginning to wax old and grey, detected the author of this theft, and with terrible threats, obliged him to make use of his utmost cunning to regain Iduna and her salutary apples back again for the Gods."
"This is one of the Fables." I shall present the Reader with another, concerning a Duel between the Giant Rugner and the God Thor. The Giant carried a lance made all of whetstone. Thor broke it in pieces by a blow with his club, and made the splinters fly so far, that all the subsequent whetstones found in the world are parts of it; as indeed they appear evidently broken off from something by violence."
I must detain the Reader somewhat longer, with the account of the origin of Poetry. It is an allegory not altogether void of invention.
"The Gods of the north had formed a man much in the same manner as the Grecian Deities are said to have formed Orion.
This man was called Kuaser. (Ears accustomed to the musical
Greek names must pardon our Gothic appellations.) He was so clever, that
no question could be proposed which he was not able to resolve: he
traversed the whole world teaching mankind wisdom. But his merits
exciting envy, two Dwarfs treacherously slew him; and receiving his
blood into a vessel, mixed it up with honey, and thence composed a
liquor, which renders all those that drink of it, Poets.* The Gods
missing their son, enquired of the Dwarfs what was become of him. The
Dwarfs, to extricate themselves out of the difficulty, replied, That
Kuaser had died, suffocated with his knowlege, because he could not meet
with persons to ease and disembogue his mind to, by proposing to him so
many learned questions as was necessary to his relief. But their perfidy
was afterward discovered by an unexpected accident. These Dwarfs having
drawn upon themselves the resentment of a certain Giant, he seized and
exposed them upon a rock surrounded on all sides by the sea. In this
frightful situation, their only recourse was to purchase their
deliverance at the price of that divine beverage. The Giant being
satisfied with this ransom, carried it home, and delivered it to the
custody of his daughter Gunloda: hence, adds my author, Poetry is
indifferently, in allusion to the same Fable, called "The blood of
Kuafer” The Beverage," or " The ransom of the Dwarfs," &c.
AFTER this remarkable fiction, there are many Fables in the Edda which have little or no relation to Mythology. These are historical strokes, blended with fictions, which are neither important for their instruction, nor agreeable for their invention. I shall therefore proceed, without farther delay, to say something of the SCALDA, or "Poetical Dictionary," which I have before mentioned in the Introduction to this Volume.
We have already seen that it was compiled by Snorro, for the use of such Icelanders as applied themselves to the profession of Scald or Poet. As this Author wrote in the thirteenth century, he hath not only given the Epithets belonging to the ancient poetry, but also such as were become necessary, in consequence of the new religion, and new sources of knowlege that had been introduced into the north. The work begins with the Names of the Twelve Gods, which Snorro produces afresh, in order to range under each their several epithets and synonymous appellations. Odin alone has one hundred and twenty-six; whence we may judge of the number of ancient Poems which had been written to celebrate this Deity. I shall present the Reader with a few of those Epithets; selecting such as have not already occurred in the Edda.
"Odin, the Father of the Ages —the Supercilious; the Eagle; the Father of Verses; the Whirlwind; the Incendiary; he who causes the arrows to shower down, &c.
Thor is designed by twelve Epithets; the most common is that of "The son of Odin and the earth."
Loke is stiled, "The Father of the Great Serpent; the Father of Death; the Adversary, the Accuser, the Deceiver of the God's," &c.
Frigga is "The Queen of the Gods."
Freya, The Goddess of Love; the Norne or Fairy who weeps Golden Tears; the Kind and Liberal Goddess," &c.
After these Epithets of the Gods, follows an alphabetical list of the Words most commonly used in Poetry. Some of them are now unintelligible, some appear insipid, and others are like those idle Epithets of the ancient Classics, which follow a word as constantly as the shade does the body, and are introduced rather to fill up the measure of the verse, than to add to the sense. Some are nevertheless worth knowing, were it only for their singularity. For instance, Rivers are called by the Scalds "the sweat of the earth;" and "the blood of the vallies." Arrows are "the daughters of Misfortune;" lt the “hailstones of helmets." The Battle-ax is "the hand of the Homicide, or Slaughterer”; The Eye, "the torch or flambeau of the countenance;" "the diamond of the head." The Grass and Herbage, "the hair, and the fleece of the earth." Hair, "the forest of the head" and if it be white, "the snow of the brain." The Earth is, “the vessel that floats on the ages”; "the basis, or foundation of the air;" “the daughter of the night." Night, "the veil of discourse and cares." A Combat, “the crash of arms; the shower of darts; the clangor of swords; the bath of blood." The Sea is "the field of pirates:" A Ship, "their skate;" and "the horse of the waves." Rocks are the bones of the earth." The Wind is "the tiger, the lyon, who darts himself upon the houses and vessels," &c. &c.
Snorro's work, as published by Resenius, concludes with this
Collection of Epithets; but in the old MS. preserved at Upsal, and in
some others, we find at the end of this Dictionary a small Treatise, by
the same Author, on the Construction and Mechanism of the Gothic or
Icelandic Metre. If we had a greater number of the ancient Celtic verses
remaining,* this work would be extremely valuable, since it would then
facilitate the knowlege of a species of Poetry, which might serve to
many useful purposes: but it has the misfortune to have become
exceedingly obscure. However, as some persons of distinguished learning
have undertaken to explain it, there is room to hope, that such curious
Readers as are fond of researches of this kind, will shortly have
nothing wanting to gratify their desires on this subject.
|REMARKS ON THE FOREGOING PASSAGE.|
[Our ingenious Author appears to me to have here thrown together
several things, in their nature very different, without sufficient
In the first place it may be remarked, that
even if we should admit that the LOGoGRYPHS of the Icelandic Scalds*,
are composed in a taste not very different from that of the Hebrew
Acrostics; yet these Acrostics ought by no means to be confounded with
the Alliterations of the Runic or Scaldic Metre: for these are as
natural to the Icelandic verse, as Dactyl and Spondee feet are to the
Greek and Latin numbers.†
So that I must beg leave to differ from my Author, in thinking the
Alliterative Metre of the Scalds similar either to the Taste for
Acrostics, or our modern Rhyme. Not but the Scalds often used Rhyme in
the same manner as the moderns, and that with very nice exactness.‡
†See also some account of the Welsh Poetry in Selden's Remarks on Drayton's Poliolbion. —And a remarkable passage in GirAldus Cambrensis (Cambriæ Descriptio, p. 260, 261.) beginning thus, Præ cunctis autem, &c.
|AN IDEA OF THE MORE ANCIENT EDDA|
IT is now time to describe what remains of the former EDDA,
compiled by SOEMUND, surnamed the Learned, more than an hundred years
before that of Snorro. It was a collection of very ancient poems, which
had for their subject some article of the Religion and Morality of Odin.
The share that Sæmund had in them, was probably no more than that of
first collecting; and committing them to writing. This collection is at
present considered as lost, excepting only three pieces, which: I shall
describe below: But some people have, lot without good reason, imagined
that this ancient Edda, or at least the greatest part of it, is still
preserved. It were to be wished, that the possessors of such a treasure
could be induced to esteem the communication of it to the world, the
greatest advantage they can reap from it; and they are now urged, in the
name of the public, to this generous action. Be that as it may, the
admirers of the antiquities of the north have, in the fragments of this
work, which may be seen and consulted, sufficient to reward their
researches. The remainder is probably less interesting; and this may
perhaps have been the cause of its being assigned to oblivion.
THE first of these pieces is that which I have so often quoted
under the title of VOLUSPA; a word which signifies the Oracle, or the
Prophesy of Vola. It is well known, that there were among the Celtic
nations, women who foretold future events, uttered oracles, and
maintained a strict commerce with the Divinity. Tacitus makes frequent
mention: of one of them, named Velleda, who was in high repute among the
Bructeri, a people of Germany, and who was afterwards carried to Rome.
There was one in Italy, whose name had a still nearer affinity to this
of Vola, viz. that Sibyl, whom Horace (Epod. V.) calls Ariminensis
Folia. Vola or Folia might perhaps be a general name for all the women
of this kind. As these names are evidently connected with the idea of
Folly or Madness, they would at least be due to those enthusiastick
ravings and mad contortions with which such women delivered their
pretended oracles. The word Fol bore the same meaning in. The ancient
Gothic, as it does in French, English, and in almost all the languages
of the north; in all which it signifies either a Fool or a Madman.*
This Poem attributed to the Sibyl of the north, contains within the compass of two or three hundred lines, that whole system of Mythology, which we have seen disclosed in the Edda; but this laconic brevity, and the obsoleteness of the language in which it is written, make it very difficult to be understood. This, however, does not prevent us from observing frequent instances of grandeur and sublimity, and many images extremely fine: then the general tenor of the work, the want of connection, and the confusion of the style, excite the idea of a very remote antiquity, no less than the matter and subject itself. Such were doubtless, the real Sibylline verses so long preserved at Rome, and so ill counterfeited afterwards. The Poem of the Voluspa is perhaps the only monument now remaining, capable of giving us a true idea of them.
I need not here quote any passages from this Poem: the text of the EDDA, is (as we have seen) quite full of them: and I haye given pretty long, extracts from it in my Remarks. lt is sufficient briefly to observe, that the Prophetess having imposed silence on all intellectual beings, declares, that she is going to reveal the decrees of the Father of Nature, the actions and operations of the Gods, which, no person ever knew before herself. She then begins with a description of the chaos; and proceeds to the formation of the world, and of that of its various species of inhabitants, Giants, Men and Dwarfs. She then explains the employments of the Fairies or Destinies; the functions of the Gods, their most remarkable adventures, their quarrels with Loke, and the vengeance that ensued. At the final state of the Universe, its dissolution and conflagration: the battle of the inferior Deities and the Evil Beings: the renovation of the world; the happy lot of the good, and the punishment of the wicked.
THAT Poem is followed by another no less deserving of regard. It made part of the Edda of Sæmund; and, in point of antiquity, does not yield to the Voluspa: this is called Havamaal, or “The Sublime Discourse of Odin," and is attributed to that God himself, who is supposed to have given these precepts of wisdom to mankind. This piece is the only one of the kind now in the world. We have, directly from the ancient Scythians* themselves, no other monument on the subject of their morality whatever we know from any other quarter on this article, being imperfect, corrupted and uncertain. Thus this moral system of Odin's may, in some measure, supply the loss of the maxims which Zamolxis, Dicenæus, and Anacharsis gave to their Scythian countrymen: maxims which those sages pretended to have derived from heaven, and which were frequently the envy of the Greek Philosophers.
*des Celtes & des Scythes, Fr.
The Havamaal, or Sublime Discourse, is
comprised in about one hundred and twenty stanzas. There are very few
which are not good and sensible; but as some of them contain only common
truths, and others, allusions which it would be tedious and difficult to
explain, I shall give only the following extracts, assuring the Reader
anew, that he will find them translated with the most scrupulous
 “CONSIDER* and
examine well all your doors, before you venture to stir abroad: for he
is exposed to continual danger, whose enemies lie in ambush concealed in
"He thinks he is profoundly knowing; being indeed most superficial and
shallow, But he knows not how to sing an answer, when men pose him with
a difficult question.*
"It is better to have a son late than never. One seldom sees sepulchral
stones raised over the graves of the dead, by any other hands but those
of their own off spring.
"He who hath a good supper in his travelling wallet, rejoices himself at
the approach of night.
|THE END OF THE EDDA|