Ancient Mysteries Mythology Norse Mythology : Legends of Gods and Heroes

Norse Mythology : Legends of Gods and Heroes

Norse Mythology : Legends of Gods and Heroes
Catalog # SKU1831
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Munch


Norse Mythology

Legends of Gods and Heroes

Peter Andreas Munch

The mythology of our forefathers, as we know it from Norse mythical poems and from the records of ancient writers, has not come down to us in its genuine pagan form. It is extant only in a later form, dating from a period when its devotees had begun to lose their absolute faith in the older divinities, had begun to harbor doubts and to catch intimations of a consolation nobler and better than that which the ancient divinities had been able to give them.

From the Preface

The Norwegian original on which the present translation is based was written by Peter Andreas Munch, the founder of the Norwegian school of history. Munch's scholarly interests embraced also many related subjects, such as general history, archaeology, geography, ethnography, linguistics, and jurisprudence.

His varied labors have in large part stood the test of time. His most important work, the "History of the Norwegian People" (Det norske folks historie, 8 vols. 1851-63) covering the period of Norway's ancient independence ending with the Kalmar Union of 1397, still remains a source book and a point of departure for historians. The great significance of Munch's scholarship lies in its influence upon the modern renascence of Norwegian culture. In the middle of the nineteenth century he was the most conspicuous intellectual force in the country, as Wergeland had been before him and as Bjørnson came to be after him.

The national spirit in Norway, which has steadily gained strength, owes a heavy debt to the gifted leaders of an earlier generation, not least among whom was Munch. As an historian, as an editor of Old Norse poetry and saga, as a recorder of the venerable myths and legends of the race, he did yeoman service in establishing a sense of historical continuity between the Norway of the past and the Norway of the present. Since his day, Norwegians have labored in the fields of history, folklore, and related subjects, deepening and strengthening that fruitful sense of national consciousness which he did so much to awaken.



Concerning the mighty deeds and the destinies of the gods much has here been recounted; much less concerning their daily life in Asgard with those of mankind who came into their fellowship. Both Freyja and Odin made the Heroes welcome: Freyja in Folkvang, and Odin in Vingolf and Valhalla. We learn nothing, however, as to which of these domains was to be preferred; we have evidence only as to the manner in which Odin and the Heroes fleeted the time in Valhalla. It would seem that men generally thought of Valhalla as the resort of the fallen Heroes; there they passed their days in mirth and gladness.

Odin himself chose them through the Valkyries; and the foremost among them were welcomed by certain Æsir or by doughty elder Heroes who went forth to meet them. In Valhalla the Heroes amuse themselves day by day with battles and banquets. In the morning, donning their armor they sally upon the field to fight and kill one another; yet they rise again unharmed, sit down to eat and drink, and remain the best of comrades. The Heroes are a great company, constantly increasing; but their number is never so great that they do not have enough to eat from the flesh of the boar Sæhrimnir. The cook, named Andhrimnir, each day boils the boar in a kettle called Eldhrimnir; but at evening the beast is lust as much alive and unhurt as before.

The Heroes drink ale and mead poured out for them by the Valkyries; Odin alone and those whom he desires to honor drink wine. All the mead they drink runs from the udder of Heidrun, a goat that stands on the roof of Valhalla cropping the branches of a tree called Lærad. The mead fills a great drinking-crock in the hall, enough of it to make all the Heroes drunken. Lærad possesses not only the inherent virtue of producing all the mead; on the roof of Valhalla there stands also a hart named Eikthyrnir, who gnaws at the tree and from whose antlers drops fall down into Vergelmir; thence flow forth twelve rivers that water the domain of the Æsir, and in addition thirteen other rivers.


à In the morning of time, when Asgard and Valhalla were newly built, the gods lived in innocence, happiness and peace. "Glad in their courtyard they played at chess, nor of gold lacked aught"; so runs the description in the Voluspà of this golden age of the Æsir. Then came three mighty Thursar maidens out of Jotunheim, and enmity arose between Æsir and Vanir. One link in the chain of strife was the burning in Valhalla of a woman named Gullveig; "three times they burned the thrice born, again and again-yet still she lives." The Æsir take counsel together to learn whether peace may still be preserved. Nothing can be done. Odin hurls his spear over the ranks of the enemy, and the first battle of the hosts begins.

The walls of the Æsir stronghold are penetrated and the Vanir pour through the breach into Asgard. Yet eventually peace is declared between Æsir and Vanir, the story of which has already been told above. Now the golden age of innocence is at an end; the gods are compelled to defend themselves against their foes, sometimes by the use of guile, as on the occasion when they tricked the Giant mason. Other Giant women - Skadi and Gerd, for example - gain entrance to the dwellings of the Æsir, and Asgard's sanctity is no more. The season of tranquility gives way to a season of turbulent warfare, in which the gods more than ever before have need of magical weapons, of the aid of Heroes.

The gods no longer rule the world as princes of peace; the most eminent of them become gods of war. To this period are to be referred the numerous myths having to do with valorous deeds and guileful practices; and the gods fall far short of always winning victory and glory. Corruption extends from gods to men; the divinities of battle, the Valkyries, ride forth into the world of mortals and here too peace is as a tale that is told.


Loki's malice was in reality the occasion of the acquiring by the Æsir of all the precious weapons and treasures that served them in such good stead during their warfare with the Giants. Once upon a time Loki cut off all of Sif's hair. When Thor found out what had happened, he seized upon Loki and threatened to crush every bone in his body; he relented only on Loki's swearing that he would get the Dark-Elves to fashion for Sif hair from gold that would grow like other hair. Loki went with his task to certain Dwarfs known as the Sons of Ivaldi; and they, made not only the hair but also the ship Skidbladnir and the spear Gungnir.

Loki promptly laid a wager of his own head with another Dwarf, named Brokk, that the Dwarf's brother Sindri was not craftsman enough to make three other talismans as precious as these. Brokk and Sindri repaired to the smithy, where Sindri, laying a pig's hide in the forge, asked Brokk to blow the bellows without pause until he himself returned to take the hide out again. No sooner had Sindri gone than a fly alighted on Brokk's arm and stung him; he kept the bellows going nevertheless, and when Sindri lifted his workmanship from the forge, it turned out to be a boar with golden bristles.

Next he laid some gold in the forge, asked Brokk to blow as before, and went away; at once the fly came back, settled on Brokk's neck, and stung him twice as hard as the first time. Brokk notwithstanding held out until Sindri returned and lifted from the forge the gold ring Draupnir. Then he laid some iron in the fire and asked Brokk to blow, insisting that the work would be spoiled if the blowing stopped; but the fly came once more, settled between Brokk's eyes, and stung him on the eyelids so that the blood ran down and blinded him. He could not refrain from loosing his hold on the bellows with one hand to drive the fly away. Just at that moment the smith returned and declared that his handiwork had been on the very point of coming to naught; he lifted it from the forge, and it proved to be a hammer.

Giving all three pieces to Brokk, he told him to make his way to Asgard and demand payment of the wager. The Æsir took their places on the judgment seats and came to the decision that Odin, Thor, and Frey were to judge between Loki and Brokk. Loki gave to Odin the spear Gungnir, which never failed of its mark; to Thor he gave the golden hair, which took root as soon as it was fixed on Sif's head; and to Frey he gave the ship Skidbladnir, which always found favoring winds and which could be folded up and placed in a pocket as occasion might befall. Brokk gave to Odin the ring Draupnir, from which each ninth night there dropped eight other rings as heavy as itself.

To Frey he gave the boar Gullinbusti, who was able to run through the air and over the sea more swiftly than any horse; no night was so black, no murky region so dark as not to be illumined by his passage, so powerful was the light that shone from his bristles. To Thor he gave the hammer Mjollnir; with it he could strike as hard a blow as he pleased at anything that came in his way, and yet the hammer suffered not the least dent; he could throw it so as always to hit what he aimed at, and the hammer would return to his hand of its own power; when he so desired, he could make it small and put it in his pocket; he had but one fault to find: the shaft was rather short.

The Æsir promptly judged that Brokk had won the wager; in Mjollnir they had acquired the very best defence against the Rime-Thursar. Loki wanted to redeem his head, but the Dwarf would not consent. "Catch me if you can," said Loki; and no sooner had he spoken than he was far away, for he wore shoes that could carry him through the air and over the seas. The Dwarf asked Thor to seize him, and Thor did so. Brokk was about to cut off Loki's head, but Loki declared that the wager called for his head only, and not for his neck. Brokk then began sewing Loki's lips together. He was unable to make an incision with his own knife, but with his brother's awl he managed to make openings through which, he could sew the mouth up tight; that done, he tore out through the lips the thong he had used in sewing them together.

Softcover, 8½" x 7", 410+ pages
Large Print 14 Point Font

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