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$ 179. The Other Gods. — Thor, the thunderer, Odin's eldest son, is the strongest of gods and men, and possesses three precious things. The first is a hammer, which both the Frost and the Mountain giants (Hrim-thursar and Berg-risar) know to their cost, when they see it hurled against them in the air, for it has split many a skull of their fathers and kindred. When thrown, it returns to his hand of its own accord. The second rare thing he possesses is the belt of strength. When he girds it about him his divine might is doubled. The third is his iron gloves, which he puts on whenever he would use his mallet efficiently. From Thor's name is derived our word Thursday. Vithar comes next in strength to Thor.
Freyr presides over rain and sunshine and all the fruits of the earth. His sister Freya is the most propitious of the goddesses. She loves music, spring, and flowers, and the fairies of Elfheim. She is the goddess of love. Her day is Friday.
Bragi is the god of poetry, and his song records the deeds of warriors. His wife, Iduna, keeps in a box the apples which the gods, when they feel old age approaching, have only to taste of to become young again.
Tyr, or Ziu, from whose name is derived our Tuesday, is the wrestler among the gods; and preëminently the “god of battles.”
Balder, dearest of the Anses, is the god of sunlight, spring, and gladness. Höder, his opposite, is the blind god of winter.
Heimdall is the watchman of the gods, and is therefore placed on the borders of heaven to prevent the giants from forcing their way over the bridge Bifrost. He requires less sleep than a bird, and sees by night as well as by day a hundred miles around him. So acute is his ear that no sound escapes him, for he can even hear the grass grow, — and the wool on a sheep's back.
Loki and his Progeny. – Loki is described as the calumniator of the gods and the contriver of all fraud and mischief. He is the son of Farbanti, the Charon of Norse mythology. He is handsome and well made, but of fickle mood and evil disposition. Although of the giant race, he forced himself into the company of the gods; and seemed to take pleasure in bringing them into difficulties, and in extricating them out of the danger by his cunning, wit, and skill. Loki has three children. The first is the wolf Fenris, the second the Midgard Serpent, the third Hela (Death). The gods were not ignorant that these monsters were maturing, and that they would one day bring much evil upon gods and men. So Odin deemed it advisable to send one to bring them to him. When they came he threw the serpent in that deep ocean by which the earth is surrounded. But the monster has grown to such an enormous size that holding his tail in his mouth he encircles the whole earth. Hela he cast into Niflheim, and gave her power over nine worlds or regions, in which she distributes those who are sent to her; that is, all who die of sickness or old age. Her hall is called Elvidnir. Hunger is her table, Starvation her knife, Delay her man, Slowness her maid, Precipice her threshold, Care her bed, and Burninganguish forms the hangings of her apartments. She may easily be recognized, for her body is half flesh color and half blue, and she presents a stern and forbidding countenance.
The wolf Fenris gave the gods a great deal of trouble before they succeeded in chaining him. He broke the strongest fetters as if they were made of cobwebs. Finally the gods sent a messenger to the mountain spirits, who made for them the chain called Gleipnir. It is fashioned of six things: the noise made by the footfall of a cat, the beards of women, the roots of stones, the breath of fishes, the nerves (sensibilities) of bears, and the spittle of birds. When finished it was as smooth and soft as a silken string. But when the gods asked the wolf to suffer himself to be bound with this apparently slight ribbon, he suspected their design, fearing that it was made by enchantment. He therefore only consented to be bound with it upon condition that one of the gods put his hand in his (Fenris') mouth as a pledge that the band was to be removed again. Tyr alone had courage enough to do this. But when the wolf found that he could not break his fetters, and that the gods would not release him, he bit off Tyr's hand. Tyr, consequently, has ever since remained onehanded,
$ 180. The Deeds of Thor. — When the gods were constructing their abodes, and had already finished Midgard and Valhalla, a certain artificer came and offered to build them a residence so well fortified that they should be perfectly safe from the incursions of the Frost giants and the giants of the mountains. But he demanded for his reward the goddess Freya, together with the sun and moon. The gods yielded to the terms, provided that the artificer would finish the whole work without any one's assistance, and all within the space of one winter. But if anything remained unfinished on the first day of summer, he should forfeit the recompense agreed on. On being told these terms, the artificer stipulated that he be allowed the use of his horse Svadilfari, and this request by the advice of Loki was conceded. He accordingly set to work on the first day of winter, and during the night let his horse draw stone for the building. The enormous size of the stones struck the gods with astonishment, and they saw clearly that the horse did one half more of the toilsome work than his master. Their bargain, however, had been concluded and confirmed by solemn oaths, for without these precautions a giant would not have thought himself safe among the gods, - still less, indeed, if Thor should return from the expedition he had then undertaken against the evil demons.
As the winter drew to a close, the building was far advanced ; and the bulwarks were sufficiently high and massive to render the place impregnable. In short, when it wanted but three days to summer, the only part that remained to be finished was the gateway. Then sat the gods on their seats of justice, and entered into consultation, inquiring of one another who among them could have advised the rest to surrender Freya, or to plunge the heavens in darkness by permitting the giant to carry away the sun and the moon.
They all agreed that no one but Loki, the author of so many evil deeds, could have given such counsel, and that he should
be put to a cruel death unless he contrived some way to prevent
the artificer from completing his task and obtaining the stipulated · recompense. They proceeded to lay hands on Loki, who in his
fright promised upon oath that, let it cost him what it might, he would so manage matters that the man should lose his reward. That night when the man went with Svadilfari for buildingstone, a mare suddenly ran out of a forest and began to neigh. The horse thereat broke loose and ran after the mare into the forest, obliging the man also to run after his horse, thus, therefore, between one and another the whole night was lost, so that at dawn the work had not made the usual progress. The man, see. ing that he must fail of completing his task, resumed his own gigantic stature ; and the gods now clearly perceived that it was in reality a mountain giant who had come amongst them. Feeling no longer bound by their oaths, they called on Thor, who immediately ran to their assistance, and lifting up his mallet, paid the workman his wages, not with the sun and moon, and not even by sending him back to Jötunheim, for with the first blow he shattered the giant's skull to pieces, and hurled him headlong into Niflheim.
The Recovery of the Hammer. — Once upon a time it happened that Thor's hammer fell into the possession of the giant Thrym, who buried it eight fathoms deep under the rocks of Jötunheim. Thor sent Loki to negotiate with Thrym, but he could only prevail so far as to get the giant's promise to restore the weapon if Freya would consent to be his bride. Loki returned and reported the result of his mission, but the goddess of love was horrified at the idea of bestowing her charms on the king of the Frost giants. In this emergency Loki persuaded Thor to dress himself in Freya's clothes and accompany him to Jötunheim. Thrym received his veiled bride with due courtesy, but was greatly surprised at seeing her eat for her supper eight salmons and a fullgrown ox besides other delicacies, washing the whole down with three tuns of mead. Loki, however, assured him that she had not tasted anything for eight long nights, so great was her desire
to see her lover, the renowned ruler of Jötunheim. Thrym had at last the curiosity to peep under his bride's veil, but started back in affright, and demanded why Freya's eyeballs glistened with fire. Loki repeated the same excuse, and the giant was satisfied. He ordered the hammer to be brought in and laid on the maiden's lap. Thereupon Thor threw off his disguise, grasped his redoubted weapon, and slaughtered Thrym and all his followers.
Thor's visit to Jötunheim. — One day Thor, with his servant Thialfi, and accompanied by Loki, set out for the giants' country. Thialfi was of all men the swiftest of foot. He bore Thor's wallet, containing their provisions. When night came on they found themselves in an immense forest, and searched on all sides for a place where they might pass the night. At last they came to a large hall, with an entrance that took the whole breadth of one end of the building. Here they lay down to sleep, but towards midnight were alarmed by an earthquake which shook the whole edifice. Thor rising up called on his companions to seek with him a place of safety. On the right they found an adjoining chamber, into which the others entered, but Thor remained at the doorway with his mallet in his hand, prepared to defend himself, whatever might happen. A terrible groaning was heard during the night, and at dawn of day Thor went out and found lying near him a huge giant, still snoring in the way that had alarmed them. For once Thor was afraid to use his mallet, and as the giant soon waked up, Thor contented himself with simply asking his name.
“My name is Skrymir," said the giant, “ but I need not ask thy name, for I know that thou art the god Thor. But what has become of my glove?" Thor then perceived that what they had iaken overnight for a hall was the giant's glove, and the chamber where his two companions had sought refuge was the thumb. Skrymir then proposed that they should travel in company, and Thor consenting, they sat down to eat their breakfast. When they had done, Skrymir packed all the provisions into one wallet, threw it over his shoulder, and strode on before them, taking such tremendous strides that they were hard put to it to keep up with