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Thor and Hrungner

Thor and Hrungner

From The Younger Edda by Snorri Sturlsson

Translated in 1890 by Rasmus B. Anderson

   
  Brage told AEger that Thor had gone eastward to crush trolls. Odin rode on his horse Sleipner to Jotunheim, and came to the giant whose name is Hrungner.

Then asked Hrungner what man that was who with a golden helmet rode both through the air and over the sea, and added that he had a remarkably good horse. Odin said that he would wager his head that so good a horse could not be found in Jotunheim. Hrungner admitted that it was indeed an excellent horse, but he had one, called Goldfax, that could take much longer paces; and in his wrath he immediately sprang upon his horse and galloped after Odin, intending to pay him for his insolence. Odin rode so fast that he was a good distance ahead, but Hrungner had worked himself into such a giant rage that, before he was aware of it, he had come within the gates of Asgard.

When he came to the hall door, the asas invited him to drink with them. He entered the hall and requested a drink. They then took the bowls that Thor was accustomed to drink from, and Hrungner emptied them all. When he became drunk, he gave the freest vent to his loud boastings.

He said he was going to take Valhal and move it to Jotunheim, demolish Asgard and kill all the gods except Freyja and Sif, whom he was going to take home with him. When Freyja went forward to refill the bowls for him, he boasted that he was going to drink up all the ale of the asas. But when the asas grew weary of his arrogance, they named Thor's name.

At once Thor was in the hall, swung his hammer in the air, and, being exceedingly wroth, asked who was to blame that dog-wise giants were permitted to drink there, who had given Hrungner permission to be in Valhal, and why Freyja should pour ale for him as she did in the feasts of the asas. Then answered Hrungner, looking with anything but friendly eyes at Thor, and said that Odin had invited him to drink, and that he was there under his protection. Thor replied that he should come to rue that invitation before he came out. Hrungner again answered that it would be but little credit to Asa-Thor to kill him, unarmed as he was. It would be a greater proof of his valor if he dared fight a duel with him at the boundaries of his territory, at Grjottungard.

It was very foolish of me, he said, that I left my shield and my flint-stone at home; had I my weapons here, you and I would try a holmgang (duel on a rocky island); but as this is not the case, I declare you a coward if you kill me unarmed. Thor was by no means the man to refuse to fight a duel when he was challenged, an honor which never had been shown him before.

Then Hrungner went his way, and hastened with all his might back to Jotunheim. His journey became famous among the giants, and the proposed meeting with Thor was much talked of. They regarded it very important who should gain the victory, and they feared the worst from Thor if Hrungner should be defeated, for he was the strongest among them.

Thereupon the giants made at Grjottungard, a man of clay, who was nine rasts tall and three rasts broad under the arms, but being unable to find a heart large enough to be suitable for him, they took the heart from a mare, but even this fluttered and trembled when Thor came. Hrungner had, as is well known, a heart of stone, sharp and three-sided; just as the rune has since been risted that is called Hrunsmer's heart. Even his head was of stone. His shield was of stone, and was broad and thick, and he was holding this shield before him as he stood at Grjottungard waiting for Thor. His weapon was a flint-stone, which he swung over his shoulders, and altogether he presented a most formidable aspect. On one side of him stood the giant of clay, who was named Mokkerkalfe. He was so exceedingly terrified, that it is said that he wet himself when he saw Thor.

Thor proceeded to the duel, and Thjalfe was with him. Thjalfe ran forward to where Hrungner was standing, and said to him: You stand illy guarded, giant; you hold the shield before you, but Thor has seen you; he goes down into the earth and will attack you from below. Then Hrungner thrust the shield under his feet and stood on it, but the flint-stone he seized with both his hands. The next that he saw were flashes of lightning, and he heard loud crashings; and then he saw Thor in his asamight advancing with impetuous speed, swinging his hammer and hurling it from afar at Hrungner.

Hrungner seized the flint-stone with both his hands and threw it against the hammer. They met in the air, and the flint-stone broke. One part fell to the earth, and from it have come the flint-mountains; the other part hit Thor's head with such force that he fell forward to the ground. But the hammer Mjolner hit Hrungner right in the head, and crushed his skull in small pieces. He himself fell forward over Thor, so that his foot lay upon Thor's neck.

Meanwhile Thjalfe attacked Mokkerkalfe, who fell with but little honor. Then Thjalfe went to Thor and was to take Hrungner's foot off from him, but he had not the strength to do it. When the asas learned that Thor had fallen, they all came to take the giant's foot off, but none of them was able to move it. Then came Magne, the son of Thor and Jarnsaxa. He was only three nights of age. He threw Hrungner's foot off Thor, and said' It was a great mishap, father, that I came so late. I think I could have slain this giant with my fist, had I met him.

Then Thor arose, greeted his son lovingly, saying that he would become great and powerful; and, added he, I will give you the horse Goldfax, that belonged to Hrungner. Odin said that Thor did wrong in giving so fine a horse to the son of a giantess, instead of to his father. Thor went home to Thrudvang, but the flint-stone still stuck fast in his head.

Then came the vala whose name is Groa, the wife of Orvandel the Bold. She sang her magic songs over Thor until the flint-stone became loose. But when Thor perceived this, and was just expecting that the flint-stone would disappear, he desired to reward Groa for her healing, and make her heart glad. So he related to her how he had waded from the north over the Elivogs rivers, and had borne in a basket on his back Orvandel from Jotunheim; and in evidence of this he told her how that one toe of his had protruded from the basket and had frozen, wherefore Thor had broken it off and had cast it up into the sky, and made of it the star which is called Orvandel's toe. Finally he added that it would not be long before Orvandel would come home. But Groa became so glad that she forgot her magic songs, and so the flint-stone became no looser than it was, and it sticks fast in Thor's head yet.

For this reason it is forbidden to throw a flintstone across the floor, for then the stone in Thor's head is moved.