Teutonic Mythology, Vol. 2 (of 3) Gods and Goddesses of the Northland
Gods and Goddessesof the Northland
By VIKTOR RYDBERG, Ph.D.,
MEMBER OF THE SWEDISH ACADEMY; AUTHOR OF "THE LAST ATHENIAN"AND OTHER WORKS.
AUTHORISED TRANSLATION FROM THE SWEDISH
RASMUS B. ANDERSON, LL.D.,
EX-UNITED STATES MINISTER TO DENMARK; AUTHOR OF "NORSE
MYTHOLOGY," "VIKING TALES," ETC.
HON. RASMUS B. ANDERSON, LL.D., Ph.D.,
EDITOR IN CHIEF.
J. W. BUEL, Ph.D.,
PUBLISHED BY THE
LONDON COPENHAGEN STOCKHOLM BERLIN NEW YORK
There are but six hundred and fifty sets made for the world,of which this is
T. H. SMART,
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
|Myth in Regard to the Lower World||353|
|Myth Concerning Mimer's Grove||379|
|Mimer's Grove and Regeneration of the World||389|
|The Word Hel in Linguistic Usage||406|
|Border Mountain Between Hel and Nifelhel||414|
|Description of Nifelhel||426|
|Who the Inhabitants of Hel are||440|
|The Classes of Beings in Hel||445|
|The Kingdom of Death||447|
|Valkyries, Psycho-messengers of Diseases||457|
|The Way of Those who Fall by the Sword||462|
|Risting with the Spear-point||472|
|Loke's Daughter, Hel||476|
|Way to Hades Common to the Dead||482|
|The Doom of the Dead||485|
|The Looks of the Thingstead||505|
|The Hades Drink||514|
|The Hades Horn Embellished with Serpents||521|
|The Lot of the Blessed||528|
|Arrival at the Na-gates||531|
|The Places of Punishment||534|
|The Hall in Nastrands||540|
|Loke's Cave of Punishment||552|
|The Great World-Mill||565|
|The World-Mill makes the Constellations Revolve||579|
|Origin of the Sacred Fire||586|
|Mundilfore's Identity with Lodur||601|
|Nat, Mother of the Gods||608|
|Narfi, Nat's Father||611|
|Giant Clans Descended from Ymer||624|
|Identity of Mimer and Nidhad||630|
|Review of Mimer's Names and Epithets||641|
|The Mead Myth||644|
|The Moon and the Mead||669|
|Myths of the Moon-God||680|
LIST OF PHOTOGRAVURES.
|Valkyries Bringing the Body of a Slain Warrior to Valhalla||Frontispiece|
|Thor Destroys the Giant Thrym||456|
|The Punishment of Loke||552|
|Gefion and King Gylphi||616|
THE MYTH IN REGARD TO THE LOWER WORLD.
(Part IV. Continued from Volume I.)
AT WHAT TIME DID LIF AND LEIFTHRASER GET THEIRPLACE OF REFUGE IN MIMER'S GROVE? THE ASMEGIR.MIMER'S POSITION IN MYTHOLOGY. THE NUMINA OFTHE LOWER WORLD.
It is necessary to begin this investigation by pointingout the fact that there are two versions of the last line ofstrophe 45 in Vafthrudnersmal. The version of this linequoted above was—enn thadan af aldir alaz: "Thence(from Lif and Leifthraser in Mimer's grove) races areborn." Codex Upsalensis has instead—ok thar um alldralaz: "And they (Lif and Leifthraser) have there (inMimer's grove) their abiding place through ages." Ofcourse only the one of these versions can, from a text-historicalstandpoint, be the original one. But this doesnot hinder both from being equally legitimate from amythological standpoint, providing both date from a timewhen the main features of the myth about Lif and Leifthraserwere still remembered. Examples of versionsequally justifiable from a mythological standpoint can becited from other literatures than the Norse. If we inthe choice between the two versions pay regard only to[Pg 354]the age of the manuscripts, then the one in Codex Upsalensis,which is copied about the year 1300, has thepreference. It would, however, hardly be prudent toput the chief emphasis on this fact. Without drawingany conclusions, I simply point out the fact that the oldestversion we possess of the passage says that Lif and Leifthraserlive through ages in Mimer's grove. Nor is theother version much younger, so far as the manuscript inwhich it is found is concerned, and from a mythologicalstandpoint that, too, is beyond doubt correct.
In two places in the poetic Edda (Vegtamskv, 7, andFjolsvinnsm., 33) occurs the word ásmegir. Both timesit is used in such a manner that we perceive that it is amythological terminus technicus having a definite, limitedapplication. What this application was is not known.It is necessary to make a most thorough analysis of thepassages in order to find the signification of this wordagain, since it is of importance to the subject which weare discussing. I shall begin with the passage in Fjolsvinnsmal.
The young Svipdag, the hero in Grogalder and inFjolsvinnsmal, is in the latter poem represented as standingbefore the gate of a citadel which he never saw before,but within the walls of which the maid whom fatehas destined to be his wife resides. Outside of the gateis a person who is or pretends to be the gate-keeper, andcalls himself Fjolsvinn. He and Svipdag enter into conversation.The conversation turns chiefly upon the remarkableobjects which Svipdag has before his eyes.[Pg 355]Svipdag asks questions about them, and Fjolsvinn giveshim information. But before Svipdag came to the castle,within which his chosen one awaits him, he has madea remarkable journey (alluded to in Grogalder), and hehas seen strange things (thus in str. 9, 11, 33) which hecompares with those which he now sees, and in regard towhich he also desires information from Fjolsvinn. Whenthe questions concern objects which are before him at thetime of speaking, he employs, as the logic of language requires,the present tense of the verb (as in strophe 35—segdumèr hvat that bjarg heitir, er ek sè brudi á).When he speaks of what he has seen before and elsewhere,he employs the past tense of the verb. In strophe33 he says:
Segdu mér that, Fjölsvidr,
er ek thik fregna mun
ok ek vilja vita;
hverr that gördi,
er ek fyr gard sák
"Tell me that which I ask you, and which I wish toknow, Fjolsvinn: Who made that which I saw withinthe castle wall of the ásmegir?"
Fjolsvinn answers (str. 34):
Uni ok Iri,
Bari ok Ori,
Varr ok Vegdrasil,
Dori ok Uri;
Dellingr ok vardar
lithsci alfr, loki.
"Une and Ire, Bare and Ore, Var and Vegdrasil, Doreand Ure, Delling, the cunning elf, is watchman at thegate."
Thus Svipdag has seen a place where beings calledásmegir dwell. It is well enclosed and guarded by theelf Delling. The myth must have laid great stress onthe fact that the citadel was well guarded, since Delling,whose cunning is especially emphasised, has been entrustedwith this task. The citadel must also have beendistinguished for its magnificence and for other qualities,since what Svipdag has seen within its gates has awakenedhis astonishment and admiration, and caused him toask Fjolsvinn about the name of its builder. Fjolsvinnenumerates not less than eight architects. At least threeof these are known by name in other sources—namely,the "dwarfs" Var (Sn. Edda, ii. 470, 553), Dore, andOre. Both the last-named are also found in the list ofdwarfs incorporated in Völuspa. Both are said to bedwarfs in Dvalin's group of attendants or servants (iDvalins lidi—Völuspa, 14).
The problem to the solution of which I am strugglingon—namely, to find the explanation of what beings thoseare which are called ásmegir—demands first of all thatwe should find out where the myth located their dwellingseen by Svipdag, a fact which is of mythological importancein other respects. This result can be gained, providingDvalin's and Delling's real home and the sceneof their activity can be determined. This is particularlyimportant in respect to Delling, since his office as gate-keeperat the castle of the ásmegir demands that he musthave his home where his duties are required. To someextent this is also true of Dvalin, since the field of hisoperations cannot have been utterly foreign to the citadelon whose wonders his sub-artists laboured.
The author of the dwarf-list in Völuspa makes all holypowers