The 2nd Epic

An adventure out of the
German people’s mythological epic.

Translated by William P. Reaves © 2013

 [1] [2] [3] [4]
"Viktor Rydberg ...has written no poems of late, nor has he given us any more of his charming novels. He is at present engaged upon an elaborate study of the antiquities of the Teutons, and we may soon expect from him an entirely new and original work on the ancient Teutonic religion. Indeed he has already published a small introductory volume called "Segersvardet" (The Sword of Victory). He is sifting thoroughly all ancient Gothic or Teutonic documents, and it is expected that he will revolutionize all the old theories in regard to our views of the middle ages. All the old myths and traditions will receive special attention, and our Scandinavian mythologies will have to be revised."

—The Literary World, no. 16, 1885


Translator's Introduction

Segersvårdet or "The Sword of Victory" represents the second version of Viktor Rydberg's mythological epic. There were three in all. The first, an untitled manuscript written in 1882, was titled Sagan om Svärdet ("The Saga of the Sword") upon its publication in 1993.  The second version translated here, appeared in a series of four serials in Ny Svensk Tidskrift, a scientific journal, in 1884. Although composed as Rydberg's second attempt at solidifying his findings on mythology in writing, it was the first printed version of his epic. The third and final version, Fädernas Gudasaga ("Our Fathers' Godsaga"), was published in bookform in 1887 and represents the culmination of his mythic investigations.  Segersvårdet, told in a much more fluid and poetic style than the later work, differs significantly from Fädernas Gudasaga and shows clear signs that its author's conclusions were not yet fully formulated. The work was initially published without any scientific explanation. In an opening footnote (see below), Rydberg promises to deliver justifications for his conclusions in a separate work. The separate work mentioned here is Undersökningar i Germanisk Mytologi or "Investigations into Germanic Mythology",  Vols. I & II, published in 1886 and 1889 respectively (hereafter UGM I and II). These two thick volumes lay out the evidence and argument for most all of Rydberg's mythological investigations and, in the second volume, provides a description of his methodology as well as an overview of the entire epic which differs somewhat from the three earlier narrative versions.  Prior to this, Rydberg had penned a 110 page essay in the winter of 1884-85, touching on his methodology, and outlining two of his major discoveries. This short piece accompanied a Danish translation of the 2nd epic, published in 1885 under the title Sejsrsværdet, by Oscar Borchsenius.
In UGM I, translated into English as "Teutonic Mythology" by Rasmus Anderson in 1889, Rydberg draws two primary conclusions. The first is that the Old Norse cosmology, represented by the structure of the world-tree Yggdrasill, varies from that presented in Snorri Sturlusson's Edda in that the three roots of the tree and the corresponding wells which feed them are all located in the underworld, like the roots of all natural trees found in northern Europe. In contrast, Snorri describes them as lying on separate vertical planes: one each in heaven, earth, and Hel. Rydberg  bases this conclusion on information drawn directly from the ancient Eddic poems, explaining how Snorri's Christian worldview skewed his understanding of the older system. [See Old Norse Cosmology for details].   His second conclusion, also based on Eddic poetry, is that all of the known myths can be loosely arranged in chronological order forming an oral epic, widely known to the audience it was originally intended for, the ancient Germanic tribes. To achieve this understanding, Rydberg purposes that the ancient poems of the Poetic Edda be afforded more weight as evidence than the prose retellings of the myths found in Snorri's Edda, a work based in part on the older poems. In addition, one must understand that the Old Norse people enjoyed riddles, and hid the identity of mythic characters under a number of different names and epithets, as a key part of their poetic art. To properly understand the epic mythology, Rydberg theorizes, one must properly identify the multitude of named characters and objects found throughout the Eddic poems. The bulk of Rydberg's investigations seek to demonstrate the identity of characters named only once or twice, by showing how details of their stories run parallel to those of better known characters. His method, while controversial, has gained some support in the years since it was published (See Over a Century of Scholarship).
"The Sword of Victory", the second version of his epic, shows that Rydberg was actively working on the investigations, sometimes changing his mind in regard to the identification of important characters as his work progressed. Several of mythemes in this earlier work vary remarkably from those in "Our Fathers' Godsaga," sometimes being expanded, sometimes scaled back, and on occassion dropped altogether. Most notably, in this second epic, Rydberg identifies the artist Sindri as Odin's brother. Elsewhere, Rydberg concludes that Sindri is a byname of Dvalinn, and that Odin's brothers assisted him in the creation of man. Thus, the identification of Sindri as Odin's brother here is probably based on Hávamál 143 which states that Dain and Dvalin spread runes among the elves and dwarves, along with Odin who spread them among the Aesir. In UGM 1 no. 53, Rydberg will convincingly demonstrate that Dainn and Dvalinn are identical to the dwarf-smiths Brokk and Sindri, while in no. 93, he will argue that Odin's brothers Vili and Ve (known from Gylfaginning 6 and Lokasenna 26) are identical to his companions Lodur and (Hoenir known from Völuspá 17-18)  —this because Lodur and Hoenir in Völuspá 17-18 play the same role as Odin's brothers Vili and Ve in Gylfaginning 6, assisting Odin in the creation of man. In Lokasenna 24, the probable source of Snorri's information, the three brothers are named Vidrir, Vili and Ve. In UGM I and Our Father's Godsaga, there is no more mention of Sindri as a brother of Odin. Instead, Rydberg concludes that the three divine tribes: Aesir, Vanir, and elves (Alfar), were founded by Odin and his brothers, Lodur and Hoenir,  collectively called the Sons of Bur. According to Gylfaginning, Odin founded the Aesir, and from clues within UGM I, Rydberg probably came to the conclusion that Lodur had founded the elves, and Hoenir had founded the Vanir, although he never explicitly states this. The text of Segersvårdet, when compared to UGM I, clearly demonstrates that he had changed his mind in the intervening years. The uncertainty regarding Odin's brothers and their association with the divine tribes, also indicates that this matter may not have been settled to his satisfaction by the time he penned UGM I.  On his behalf, the mythological evidence about these relationships is sparse, (see Musings on the Origin of the Vanir and the Alfar),  too sparse to draw any definitive conclusions, something Rydberg probably realized when he set about justifying his conclusions for others, considering the more conservative conclusions of his later works.
Nor is that the only change of this type. In "The Sword of Victory", Rydberg identifies Scef, the boy-king who arrives from across the waves (known from Anglo-Saxon sources) with Heimdall, the son of the 9 waves, and makes Heimdall the sire of the elf Ivaldi, the father of the famous smiths known as the Sons of Ivaldi (Grímnismál 43 and Skáldskaparmál 42). In UGM I no. 21, Rydberg justifies his identification of Scef and Heimdall, but no longer identifies Ivaldi as a son of Heimdall. Nor will he equate the Vanir and elves,  as he does here. They are clearly distinquished as separate tribes in the later works. However, the original idea is not unfounded: the Aesir and Vanir are frequently associated in the mythic sources, as are the Aesir and the elves. Grímnismál 4 informs us that the Vana-god Frey was given Alfheim as a tooth-gift, a statement Rydberg interprets to mean that Frey ruled the elves. He even provides a parallel in Saxo's boy-king Frodi (Book 5).   Thus Rydberg initially felt justified in equating the Vanir and elves, something he would no longer do after 1885. This demonstrates that he was actively investigating the relationship of the elves and the gods in the years between the two publications.  
In these examples (and many others) we see that this  version of the epic, presented below, taking much more poetic license than the later "Our Fathers' Godsaga"; in addition it is more clearly written and less archiac than the earlier "Saga of the Sword."  In "The Sword of Victory," Rydberg methodically and creatively synthesizes the sources of Norse mythology. He ably incorporates numerous pieces of information from a variety of sources including the oldest Eddic and skaldic poetry, the prose of Snorri's Edda, and the histories of Saxo, along with other folk material. Moreso than  "Our Fathers' Godsaga",  which is better grounded in the sources, the second epic illustrates Rydberg's full power of imagination, and offers a window into the writer's mind as he planned and wrote his masterwork on mythology.
Thus, without further ado, I present:


The 2nd Epic


The Sword of Victory



 NY SVENSK TIDSKRIFT, 1884, pp. 3-29



*Evidence for the correctness of this presentation would require too much space to be conveyed in Ny Svensk Tidskrift. They shall be published in a separate work on the German-people’s mythology. ~ The Author.


 Page numbers of the original text appear in [brackets]. Words not found in the text, but helpful to aid understanding appear in (parentheses). Footnotes not contained in the original text appear in red. These are inserted to aid understanding, and not meant to be comprehensive. I have indicated the origin of some of the more unique theories and ideas. Rydberg adorns his prose with quotations and paraphrases from the Eddic poems throughout, making them too numerous to note.  The illustrations have been added for effect, and have been collected from a number of popular retellings of the mythology. The original text contained no illustrations. ~ The Translator.

Of the First Human Beings     

Three powerful and loveable Aesir walked one day in Midgard, which they created. They went along the shore and found two trees, perhaps sprigs of the world-ash, which the breakers had cast in their path. The trees may have resembled them in appearance, because the travelers stopped, discussed them and were in agreement about giving them spirit, intellect, senses and beauty. So it happened and the first human pair, Ask and Embla, stood before them naked and bashful. Odin, the foremost of the three, gave beautiful clothing to the man and woman, from his own attire.
Based on Völuspá 17-18, and Hävamál 49.

Ask and Embla lived in Midgard under the gods’ protection and raised sons and daughters. Their descendents multiplied and settled wide tracts. It was not easy to break new ground, because Midgard was overgrown with forests, haunted by giants, monsters and wild animals. But wise and beneficent Vana-powers deigned to descend and live as humans among human beings. From them the (fore)fathers received instruction to establish communal bonds and practice useful arts for protection and progress. [4]




Toward the great island in the North Sea drifted a boat which no one rowed or steered. In the boat, surrounded by jewels and weapons, lay a little boy who slept with his head on a sheaf of grain. The people who adopted him considered him a godling and made him their chieftain. From the sheaf came the first seed-corn that men laid in the earth. The boat, the weapons and the jewelry were the models that the people imitated in their own handiworks. When this Vana-prince had fulfilled his mission on earth, he submitted to death.They laid his body, surrounded by weapons and ornaments, in a vessel and allowed the waves to carry it away on the sea, over which he had come as a child.*  After him a second Vana-chieftain ruled. Then great territories were cleared with fire and axe, and many settlements built. The hand-mill came into use. With a giantess, this chieftain fathered a son, who had much of his mother’s temperament. He became the foremost of all spear-throwers and taught mankind how to brew mead. He also won a giant-maid’s heart and with her fathered sons, two of which were unsurpassed archers and the third the most famous of all sword-smiths.**

*This is based on the Anglo-Saxon legend of Scef, most notably recounted in Beowulf. In UGM 1 no. 21, Rydberg identifies the boy-king Scef with Heimdall, the son of the 9 waves, who later becomes Rig of Rigsþula and sanctifies the three castes of men, and mentors the first king.

** By the second Vana-chieftain, Rydberg means the elf Ivaldi, This is a connection Rydberg doesn't make or justify in UGM  I. There Heimdall's son is Borgar, whom he equates to Jarl of Rigsþula. Ivaldi is the father of the famous Sons of Ivaldi: Völund, Egil, and Slagfinn, whom he begat with the giantess Greip [See UGM I, nos. 22 & 113].

While the Vanir instructed the children of men in useful trades, Odin gave them the precepts the norns’ had spun for life’s course. Live so that you win an honored name and a favorable judgment on you, when you have died! Be chaste, honest, and generous! Holy is the bond between husband and wife, parent and child, siblings and siblings’ children: relatives will help in need and avenge in death. Keep your oaths and promises! Lying is shameful; although you may repay lie with lie and blow with blow.  Maintain a trusted friendship, but be wary with one unproven! Revere the gods and sacrifice with a willing heart! Never be afraid! Keep your wits keen! Guard yourself against arrogance, but go happily and cheerfully to meet your death! In order that these teachings should be heard with joy and held in memory, Odin, once he had learned from Mimir, connected the words artfully in meter and alliterative strophes. Thus came the first poetic art to man.*

*In the form of the poem Hávamál, judging by the advice given above.

Thor too, Odin’s strong son, was keen on the welfare of that age’s children. The giants that lived in Midgard, [5] did not wish to abandon their farms and flee before the settlers of Embla’s tribe. The forests, which could easily be turned into meadows and fields, were made more somber by bewitching sights and sounds conjured up by giant-arts.  Land which seems to be flat and indivisible in the evening, in the morning was found to lie in swamp-water and quagmires. Islands that invited settlers with green shores, sunk into the sea at sunrise, and rose again at sundown.* (Derived from the first chapter of Gutasaga). Wind storms dashed down their roofs and suddenly swollen streams swept away their shelter and drowned their dwelling. Wild animals and giants in the shape of wild-animals stalked flocks, lusting after blood. Without Thor’s help, it would have been difficult to expand the boundaries of human settlements. But Thor made daily excursions into border-districts and was seldom away long when he was invoked. He did not yet own the lightning hammer, but his older hammer was also a heavy weapon, and the giants knew his strength.

The being of giant-blood who caused more harm among humans than any other is Hrimnir’s daughter Heid. She went out from Jötunheim and came to Midgard in order to wake what evil slept in human hearts. Until then our (fore)fathers had sought knowledge in the runes that Odin had given them; but they demanded special revelation when they beheld a sign whose foreboding power was revealed to them by the gods or when they listened to words of inspiration from wise men or noble women’s lips. But Heid went between farms with misleading gander. She enticed humans to want evil things and to turn toward unnamed powers for fulfillment of their desire. From her seid-stool she sang incantations with which, ever since, malicious joy (Schadenfreude) has understood how to destroy others by striking with confusion, disability, sickness, and death. Against the norns’ holy statutes and the Aesir’s decrees she spread the malignant teachings and magic arts of outermost Jötunheim. The paths she went down in Midgard were furrows in which she sowed seeds of mistrust, fear, infidelity, discord, theft and plunder. She was captured by the gods and burnt. But she was born anew in a giant home and in a shifted shape continued her work among our fathers. (See Völuspá 21-26, see UGM I, no. 34-36 on Gullveig-Heid).

The times worsened. Reports of criminals were now heard. Weapons, which were used to conquer wild animals and fell game [6] were now misused for murder. As an omen of worsening times, the sword appeared (for the first time). Human beings were now divided into different types of people with different languages. However, a great war [folkkrig] had not yet broken out, and no valkyrie chose the dead on the battlefield.

Then, at the end of the primeval peace, lived Borgar, loved by the gods, the wise and just judge of the people who spoke every language— the man which we honor as progenitor.* Thor traveled green paths and came to him when, with his people, he cleared land in the Bras-forest (Brálundr). Borgar received the god with unlimited hospitality. About nine months thereafter a powerful storm broke out over Borgar’s farm. Eagles in the forest screamed, the holy waters beat down from heavens’ mountains, lightning flashed. During the storm Borgar’s wife, Drott, bore a son, considered to be the offspring of Borgar and so too the son of Thor, as the god’s presence when the child was begotten had given him the rights and duties of a co-father. The Norns came that night to Borgar’s house, the fastened the threads of the newborn’s fate under the moon’s hall and bid him to become the most famous of our chieftains, the first of our kings. The swain was sprinkled with water, and more than one name attached itself to him. Mann is one of the names, Halfdan another. Father and Mother rejoiced over him, but it was with regret when they, able to understand the speech of birds, listened to the ravens, who looked down from the treetops through the chimney-hole into the hall. The ravens said: “The time when we and the wolves must go hungry is ended: the swain has a warrior’s eye; the swadling around the dayling, of course, is a coat of mail."**

* In UGM  I, nos. 20-22, Heimdall's son is Jarl of Rigsþula, whom Rydberg equates to Borgar in Saxo's Book 7. Jarl is succeded by his son Kon ungur, the first king. Rydberg identifies him as the hero Halfdan, also called Mann, mentioned as the father of three races in Tacitus' Germania.

** The details of Halfdan's birth are derived from Helgakviða Hundingsbana I, verses 1-6.  See UGM I, no. 30.

The prophecy was correct, since the age of strife came with this child into the world. When Borgar took up weapons, he did so in the name of the law to punish ill-doers. But his son had an appetite for war. Barely fifteen years old, he was already famous as a warrior.   When, as a youth, he sought his mother’s homeland, Alfheim, he saw the fair elf Groa, as she rode with other maidens to a forest-pool to bathe. She was an elf-prince’s daughter, related to Drott and married to Egil, Ivaldi's son. Mann carried her away by force. Pursued when he fled with his quarry, he killed her father. That deed, along with others, caused much harm among the gods and men.*

*This occurs in Saxo, Book 1.


The Great Smiths


           The sons that a previously mentioned Vana-god begot with a giantess received land and power on the great island of All-green,* also called Alfheim, as its rulers and their descendents are called elves. Alfheim constituted the most southern part of Jötunheim, but is separated from the actual giant district by Vimur, the widest and most violent of all rivers. The island shares no similarities with the rime-thurses’ land: it has the richest vegetation and is one of the outposts protected by the elves against the powers of frost.

            * The island of All-green is named in Hárbardsljóð 16. See UGM II, the chapter on Harbardsljóð.

            One of this Vana-god’s sons was Ivaldi, the great spear-thrower who married the light-dis Hildigun, daughter of the ruler of the atmosphere and the moon, the Van Nep, and with her fathered the lovely daughters Idunn, Bil, Oda, Svanhvit, and Alveig.*

           *The basis for this conclusion is the argument found in UGM I, no. 123, although Rydberg no longer suggests that the elf Ivaldi is Heimdall's son. Idunn is mentioned as a daughter of Ivaldi in Hrafnagaldur Óðins 6. Rydberg concludes that Bil, Hjuki's sister, is an alternate name of Idunn in UGM I, no. 121, and likewise that Hjuki is a byname of Ivaldi's son, Slagfinn. Svanhvit and Oda are alternate names of Slagfinn's wife. Alveig is a wife of Ivaldi's son Egil and later of Halfdan. This again demonstrates that Rydberg did much research into the genus of elves between 1884 and 1886, which changed his conclusions.

Prior to this a giantess presented Ivaldi three sons. But he cared very little for these gifts, because they had more giant blood in them than he did himself. Their mother raised them as best as she could be bothered, and they lived their first years in the mountainous country Thrymheim on the other side of Vimur among giant-relations, and regarded as their equals. They called the three brothers Idi, Gang and Thjazi. Among the gods they had other names. Among human beings, they are best known by the names Slagfinn, Egil and Völund.*

             *A conclusion amply proven in UGM I, no. 115. Ivaldi's sons are born to the giant Greip, while his daughters are born to Sunna, the daughter of the Sol.

The boys, neglected by their father, thrived and drew the attention of powerful beings for their beauty, strength, and unusual talents. The Aesir’s friend, the wise Mimir, ruler of the subterranean meadows of Jötunheim, became the boys’ guardian and taught them runes.* The world-artist Sindri took them to his workplace and instructed them in the arts of the smithy. It was worth seeing Sindri and his brother Brokk’s smithy. The roof and walls glittered with golden works of splendor. If a tool needed for the hearth or anvil was not close at hand, so Sindri called on it, and it came.*

*Rydberg demonstrates that Mimir is a subterreanean ruler and model for the later Gudmund of Glæssisvellir known from several Fornaldarsögur in UGM I, nos. 50-52. His sons are the dwarves Brokk and Sindri, also known as Dainn and Dvalinn (See UGM I no. 54). In UGM I, no. 115, (20), Rydberg demonstrates that Velent the son of Vadi in Thidrek's Saga af Bern, who is identical to Völund, is taken by his father to be raised by dwarves. He learns the art of the blacksmith from them. Rydberg identifies these dwarves as members of Surt's race. Thus, Völund was an apprentice of the fire-giants. Carla O'Harris has made a convincing argument that Surt is identical to Odin's brother Lodur and himself a fallen apprentice of Mimir. Along with Rydberg, she theorizes that Lodur is the progenitor of the Alfar (elf) tribe. Since it is Völund's flaming sword in the hands of Surt which will destroy the world Odin created, this explanation seems most fitting.  The evidence is too scant to be conclusive.

**This quality is ascribed to Sindri's awl in Skáldskaparmál 43.

Wonderful were the works that Sindri shaped. In time’s morning Mimir gave him a drink from his well, and then the drápa leapt like a ringing ornament from between his beautiful  fingers. [8] Sindri and his brother were those, that with Odin raised hörg and hof on Ida’s plains and smithied there. The tafl-game with which they played, is Sindri’s work: surely the least of its qualities is that when a single player sits down to play, the pieces on the opposing side move by themselves.

But moreover: Sindri and his brother took part with Odin in the creation of the world and, so to speak, were the hands that built the world’s house. They were with him on the seashore when he molded the first human pair.* As a child, Sol has played on Sindri’s knee, and the wagon with which she makes her way through space is his design and creation. 

*Here, Rydberg means that Sindri, as a brother of Odin, was present in the creation of man. He thus equates Sindri with either Lodur or Hoenir in Völuspá 17-18. The same idea, however, can be derived from a variant reading of Völuspá 10, without Sindri being Odin's brother.

Where did these smiths come from, when,  in the beginning of time, no spiritually-gifted beings existed other than the descendants of Bur and Ymir? Sindri and Brokk were the oldest Vana-powers. Among elves, they are called Dvalin and Dainn, among the Aesir Vili and Ve,* in Mimir’s kingdom Naglfari and Annar. Njörd and Frigg call them father.  Like Odin, they are sons of Bur, but younger sons, who recognize the older’s priority. When Odin established the Aesir family, his brothers’ established the Vanir. Odin received Asgard and ruling duties; his brothers, more inclined to peacefully profit than to rule, got Vanaheim.**

           *This idea is probably derived from Hávamál 143 regarding the spreading of runes. In Segersvårdet, Rydberg identifies Sindri-Dvalinn and Brokk-Dainn as Odin's brothers and co-creators. In UGM I, no. 54, he justifies the identification of Sindri and Brokk with Dainn and Dvalinn, but no longer identifies them as Odin's brothers. In no. 93, he identifes Odin's brothers Vili and Ve (Gylfaginning 6 and Lokasenna 26) as Hoenir and Lodur (Völuspá 17-18). The Sons of Borr founded the three divine clans: the Aesir (Odin), the elves (Lodur), and the Vanir (Hoenir). Based on a passage in Book 1 of Saxo Grammaticus' Danish History, Rydberg concludes that Lodur usurped the spectre of the Vanir from his weaker brother, Hoenir. Carla O'Harris has extended Rydberg's argument, and plausibly identifed the three sons of Borr as apprentices of Mimir. Hoenir, in this case, is a  failed apprentice, while Lodur is a rebellious apprentice, who seeks power for its own sake. Defeated and exiled, Lodur ultimately becomes Surt, the ruler of the opposition, bent on Odin's destruction. Odin remains Mimir's only successful apprentice.
**In Gylfaginning 10, Naglfari and Annar are the fathers of Aud or Unnr ('rich' or 'wave') and Jörd (Earth). They are otherwise unknown, and logically may be bynames of Odin's brothers. Rydberg demonstrates that Aud (also Unnr) is a byname of Njörd, and that Jörd is an alternate name for Odin's wife Frigg (UGM I, no. 25). I have extended these arguments with additional evidence in Odin's Wife: Mother Earth in Germanic Mythology (See XI. Frigg of the Vanir)

The Vana dises were often seen in Sindri’s smithy, because he has many daughters: Bright (Björt), Blithe (Blid), Peace (Frid) and others. They protect the unborn souls of human children, who bide their time in a part of Mimir’s realm.  At the given time, they lead them to their mothers and, when so required, assist their entrance into Midgard.  They are good physicans, inclined to help mortals.*

            *This is a clever synthesis of the passage in Fafnismál 13 which identifies some norns of childbirth as "Dvalinn's daughters", with Fjölsvinnsmál 38, which names Menglad-Freyja's maidens. This only makes sense if Freyja's father Njörd is Sindri's son, which Rydberg claims here, but drops by UGM I. There Rydberg notes that voices of women are heard in Sindri's hall, visited by the hero Thorkill in Book 8 of Saxo's History; and that  Gudmund of Glæsisvellir, whom Rydberg identifes as Mimir (UGM I, no. 51), has 12 daughters. They remain unnamed for the most part in the sources. In Sólarljóð 79, Njörd is said to have 9 daughters. Menglad and her maidens are nine in number. Likewise, there are nine waves, represented as maidens. Freyja too is associated with the sea. Her name Mardöll, ("light glittering on water") is related to Heimdall's ("Light of the world'). In a skaldic verse by Úlfr Uggason, Heimdall retrieves her necklace (fagurt hafnýra, 'fair-kidney of the sea') from the ocean in the shape of a seal, before Loki can steal it. In Beowulf, the hero "Hama" is said to possess Brisingamene, 'the fairest ornament under heaven." In the late Fornaldarsaga Sörla þáttur, Loki, a liege of King Odin, steals a necklace that Freyja, Odin's mistress, got from four dwarves. There the gods are reduced to human royalty. 

Other maids come to Sindri’s smithy as well, the most beautiful to behold, all sisters or sister’s children: Groa, Sif, Idunn, Bil, Oda, Svanhvit, Alveig.* Sindri taught them to promote saps in plants, flowers on the meadows and crops for human children. Consequently, Slagfinn, Egil and Völund often got to see and talk to their half-sisters, Ivaldi’s daughters, and to dises among their relatives.

*These names will all be identified as epithets of three (or perhaps four) elf-maidens in UGM I, and related to Hindu swan-maidens in UGM II, nos. 15-16. They are near relations of the Sons of Ivaldi, being their half-sisters or cousins. In Ynglingasaga 4, the Vanir are allowed, by custom, to marry close akin. The same apparently holds true among the elves. 

Slagfinn, however, did not stay with Sindri long. Already as a boy, he had been adopted as foster son by Nep. It was an envied lot to get to grow up as a playmate of Nanna, Nep’s younger daughter, and with Odin’s noble sons, Baldur and Höd, [9] who were  also fostered by the moon-god.* (See UGM 1, no. 101 and UGM 2, Towards the Baldur Myth). With his adoption so it went. A well had been discovered in Alfheim, one of the most precious: its artery must have gone down to Mimir’s well, because it contained the juice of inspiration and solace. It was sought after by Odin,  of which he got to enjoy only barely and with compensation  through Mimir.  The discovery was kept secret, but Ivaldi’s relatives knew of it, and one moonlit evening, when Bil and Slagfinn came from the well, bearing the skaldic mead that they had scooped out of it in a pail, Nep, from whom little is hidden, saw them, and took them up with him.  In this manner, a store of the juice of inspiration came to be hidden in the moon. In Asgard, the joy over this was great; Odin and Bragi came often and refreshed themselves in Nep’s silver-ship. Baldur, Höd and Slagfinn were extraordinary harp-players and singers because of this drink. Bil was promoted to an Asynje and she was invoked happily by skalds, when they wished to sing in gentle tones. Odin’s sons associated with Slagfinn as they would a blood-relative, and he became a participant in their adventures and exploits. (See UGM I, no. 121)

On certain points, Völund was the most excellent of Ivaldi’s sons. In the smithy he worked tirelessly to learn his master’s method and listen to his lessons. He pondered the many clandestine qualities which things receive when they are mixed in fire, cooled in water and pressed under the hammer. In runic knowledge he acquired more than is useful to know; he learned not only good and beneficial songs, but secretly dedicated himself to the worst and most destructive galder. Into the darkness of it, no one has penetrated deeper. His father, the elf-prince’s, beauty was united in his limbs with the height and strength of his mother’s family. It is said that none were found among the giants, not even Hrungnir excepted, that could measure himself against this bastard in bodily strength.

Not many years passed before Sindri said that Völund had no more to learn from him. Völund and Egil moved away and took up land by the shores of Vimur, in Thrymheim and the most northern part of Alfheim. They were chieftains there and recognized as elf-princes. Like Sindri’s smithy, so too Völund’s was visited by elf-maidens, who rejoiced at the miracles the great artists shaped. One day, when they came [10] he met them with glistening swan-garments that he laid under an oak on the grounds of his estate. He had made the attire for them, and one can imagine the joy the their kinswomen felt as they dressed themselves in these costumes and tried their wings in ever more daring flight. For himself he made an eagle guise which was capable of bearing him among the clouds via powerful wing strokes. For Egil and Slagfinn, he crafted gold-feathered arrows that return from their targets to the bowstring, and skis which turned into ice-skates on frozen water,  to boats on open seas, and on land into splendid shields— hard against every weapon. Idunn stood out to Völund, above the other elves. From him, she received a gift, news of which went through the whole world: the apples, which preserve youth’s power and beauty.* At twelve years old, Idunn swore fidelity to Völund without asking their father’s advice. Groa became Egil’s beloved, and Oda became Slagfinn’s.

*In UGM I, no. 114, Rydberg remarks: "I presume that the means of rejuvenation, the divine remedy against age (ellilyf ása - Haustlöng), which Idun alone in Asgard knows and possesses, was a product of Thjazi-Völund's art. The Middle Ages also remembered Völund (Wieland) as a physician, and this trait seems to be from the oldest time, for in Rigveda, too, the counterparts of the Ivaldi sons, that is, the Ribhus, at the request of the gods, invent means of rejuvenation."

Völund and Egil had been entrusted with the farthest outpost by Vimur against the rime-thurses. On the river’s northern shore dwelt the Ivaldi sons’ closest relatives among the giants. With a giant, their mother had begotten sons, who in due time were fathers to Fenja and Menja.  These maidens, barely nine years old, amused themselves by slinging down blocks of stone from the mountain tops into Vimur’s eddies. Thrymheim is an extensive mountain country, partially unexplored and inaccessible, but under its glaciers and snow-slopes in several places lay thickly wooded dells with luxuriant grass, in which Völund’s herds grazed. Further north dwelt the disgusting giant-clan, to which Hástigi and Háfeti, Mo and Go belonged. Outside of their human-like shapes these giants appeared in there types of guises: wolf-dogs, horses, and serpents, or in composite forms of these. Their morals are the loosest and they live in strange connubial unions. In Jötunheim’s outer archipelago and on the islands, Hymir holds sway; here are ogresses [gygr] as belligerent as their men and wilder than them. The giant-clans are many and of different types: Kari’s, Aegir’s, Loki’s, and Gymir’s build and dwell in mountains and dales, in waterways, tarns and marshes, all the way up to the sky-high mountain in the north that the frost giants hold. The Myrkwood and the Ironwood, filled with terrors, draw a black belt north and eastward over all Jötunheim. Beyond [11] the Ironwood and the frost-mountains lay meadows that not one giant knew and to which the view from Hlidskjalf did not extend.

So long as Ivaldi’s sons, like the other elves, protected All-green against rime-thurses, Asgard and Midgard seemed more secure than ever. The quick Egil was particularly an effective foe of giants. Besides that, he also had personal motives, since the giants would willingly take his wife, the elf of vegetation, into their power. On propitious occasions, Egil went on his ski-boat over Vimur and sought thurses on their own territory. His arrows’ accuracy made him worthy of dread and his skis’ swiftness made him almost untouchable. Even in a swordfight he was proficient, as his celebrated victory over the giant Koll attested. It happened that on such outings he met Thor. The Asa-god and the elf-prince were thus fellow warriors and good friends. It was Thor’s habit on his excursions when he came to Vimur to stay with Egil and leave his goat-team at his farm. There too, occurred the accident which crippled one of the goats through Loki’s malicious ruse. (cp. Hymiskviða 7 and 37, 38) It is well-known how Thor demanded compensation for the injury. With Egil grew a lad called Thjalfi. Thor demanded that the boy, the innocent cause of the injury, should be given to him. The Asa-god made him a foster son and molded him into a lively defender of Midgard, who followed his master on many journeys into Jötunheim.  When Thjalfi grew up, it was his desire to detect islands, drive out their giant populations, and make them stable by means of carrying fire around them.* Then, he had many adventures, from which he barely escaped with his life, if Thor had not helped him in his hour of need.

*Derived from the first chapter of Gutasaga.

Before Egil went on campaigns into Jötunheim, he was accustomed to sending Groa and her sister Sif in safety to Bilskirnir, Thor’s stronghold with its many hundreds of rooms. The Asa-god gladly beheld both elves under his roof, and how he looked upon Sif came to light during an incident, when the mischievous Loki had cut off her wondrously beautiful curls. Thor was highly indignant and compelled the prankster to request of Völund new curls for the elf-maiden. Völund granted the prayer for Sif’s sake, not for Loki’s, and forged the golden flow of hair that transformed into the natural hair now adorning Sif’s head.




[12] The reputation of the Ivaldi’s sons covered the entire world. Their father ought to be proud of them, but the relationship between him and them was never good. Good at remembering injustices suffered and irreconcilably eager to avenge, Völund could not forget the disdain their father showed his sons in their childhood. Ivaldi made no attempt to appease them. They considered themselves as having an inheritance to request from their mother, but Ivaldi did not leave one. With embraces, Völund and Idunn had sealed their love, and the fruit thereof was a beautiful daughter, but Ivaldi did not recognize it. He sent the little one— she was called Skadi in Midgard, Regnhild among the elves— to her father, but retained her mother, who had secretly been appointed an Asynje and Bragi’s wife. He did all this on the advice of Loki who was a close relative on his mother’s side and at the time enjoyed good standing, since he was Odin’s favorite and was adopted into the Asa-circle.*

*Rydberg convincingly identifies the elf-smith Völund with Idunn's kidnapper, the giant Thjazi. There is ample evidence for this (See UGM I, no. 115). However, Idunn, a half-sister of Thjazi-Völund, need not become his wife until their time together in exile. The birth of their daughter Skadi can also be set later, and is better placed during the elf-princes' exile in the Wolfdales. After Thjazi-Völund's death, she arrives in Asgard outfitted for battle, seeking atonement for her father's death.

Then the relationship between the most holy in Asgard and Völund was better. He forged the most wonderful things for the gods. The strongholds in Asgard are many, and Sindri has adorned them with rival splendor, but the work of Völund’s hands increased their luster. For Odin he forged Gungnir, the finest of all spears.

By this time, Groa presented Egil with a son, so fair it seemed that fate wanted to disclose in advance, that he was a worthy husband of the goddess of love. The swain was sprinkled with water and called Od.  The names Svipdag and Skirnir also were attached to him.

At the same time, the Vana-god Njörd’s adorable children Frey and Freyja were born in Asgard. The gods presented Alfheim to Frey as a tooth-gift. The gift included power over all existing chieftains on All-green. When the gods wanted to appoint a foster father for Frey from among them, the gods’ choice fell on Völund, and they let Egil share his honor. The brothers received the Vana-lad, the lord of harvests, into their halls. There he grew up as a playmate of Od. The two boys were very fond of one another.

For Völund it was important now to craft a worthy gift for his foster son. He made a ship that upon wishing can become so large, that it holds all the gods with their weapons and war-gear, or so little that one can carry it with him without noticeable weight. The ship Skidbladnir is world-renowned.

Völund contemplated another absolutely invaluable gift for Frey: a sword that for all-time would secure the god’s power over the world. The golden grip bore Frey’s name in victory-runes and the blade was encarved with images of the great primeval event: the old giants’ drowning in the waves of Ymir’s wound.*

*This is a bit of unnecessary foreshadowing that Rydberg will not employ in later works. Here Völund dreams of making a sword for Frey. In "Our Fathers' Godsaga", ch. 25, Völund devises and creates the sword in exile, as a weapon to destroy the gods. His nephew Svipdag delivers it to Asgard as a bride-price for Freyja, where it is given to Frey. In turn, Frey exchanges it for the giant-bride Gerd (Lokasenna 42).

But the events occurred which loosened and eventually sundered the bonds of friendship between the gods and Völund.



Shortly Before the First Fimbul-Winter.


Once Midgard’s hero Mann, Borgar’s son, had abducted Groa and killed her father, he fled into the deep woodland beyond the outermost human settlements and successfully hid his booty there for many moons.

Nevertheless, Ivaldi’s sons eventually caught up with him, when Thor, driven by his fatherly duty placed himself between them and the wife-stealer.* The Asa-god settled the matter so: Mann shall return Groa; Egil shall be content with the redress he thereby receives. To Mann, Groa bore a son who was called Jormun and raised by his father. The friendly relations between Thor and Egil was not broken by this, but Egil nevertheless bore a heart-wound whose pain even his faithful brother Völund knew. Then came intelligence that Idunn had been sent to Valhall against her will and promoted to Asynje. Along with her, the youth-preserving apples, those that Völund shaped in his amorous dream, came into the Aesir’s estate. The bastard could never hope to marry an Asynje with the gods’ blessing. The great artist’s life’s luck was spilled, because his hate was like his love: undyingly deep. But he said nothing. He only worked more diligently in his smithy.

*Rydberg supplies Mann-Halfdan's motive for taking Groa. Here it is lust (see above), and the events surrounding it occur earlier than in later works. In UGM I, no. 31, he says that Halfdan stole Groa with Thor's consent, because Egil and the elf-princes had made a compact with the powers of frost. There is no reconciliation before Egil's death at Halfdan's hands there.

One winter, Loki notified the Aesir that a giant wanted to engage in building an impregnable and insurmountable wall around Asgard and to have the work finished by the first day of summer, if he got Freyja, sun and moon as wages for his work. In this effort, he shall have no other assistance than Svadilfari’s (who was a giant in horse-guise). Loki advised the Aesir to go in on the offer; since on one hand, such a wall would greatly increase the gods’ security, on the other hand, it was obvious that the offer was the giant's boast and that the work could not possibly be completed in so short a time. Thus, the gods consented.

A wall demanded a gate, and the gate ought to be worthy of Asgard, not only as impregnable as the wall, but also an ingenious and splendid work of art. It lay outside the giant-contractor’s ability as well as outside his obligation to make such a thing. Therefore, bids were sent to Sindri and his brother and to Völund and his brothers with the wish that they would undertake it. They came with some serving dwarves and set up the stateliest and most ingenious gate ever found, so long as it is not compared to that of Mimir’s subterranean pleasure-garden. Among other things, the qualities of the Asgard-gate are that it catches the uninvited guest and holds him. But during the work, Sindri had his thoughts and Völund had his. Sindri who expected only evil with Loki’s presence in Asgard, but nevertheless could not persuade Odin to divorce himself from this dangerous foster brother, suspected that his own tribe, the Vanir, would one day stand outside the gate with the desire to come in, nor would Völund with his own hands close the way through it forever. Sindri imagined a gate-opener in the likeness of a battle-axe, Völund in the likeness of the sword he intended for Frey but now wanted to finish for himself.*

*The gate is described in Fjölsvinnsmál 10, where it is compared to Mimir's according to UGM I, no. 97. It is made by 'Solblindi's sons', who are best identified as the Sons of Ivaldi. Rydberg is foreshadowing events here. Völund's nephew Svipdag will open Asgard's gate by bringing Völund's sword to the gods as a bride-price for Menglad-Freyja. The Vana-god Njörd (Fridlevus in Book 6 of Saxo's History) will open besieged Asgard's gate with a battle-axe during the Van-As war, according to UGM I, no. 31. However, Rydberg no longer argues that Sindri is a Vana-god or Njörd's father in UGM I. 

Because Loki went and saw that the work on Asgard’s ringwall had begun, he came up with a plan that would earn him the Aesir’s gratitude and increased influence over them, but still would cause them serious damage. He proceeded to Brokk, Sindri’s brother, highly extolling the artwork Völund had sent the gods and offering to bet his head that Sindri could not make something comparable. Brokk went in on the wager because Sindri and he would gladly have Loki’s head.  Now chances were that Asgard could finally be liberated from the ill-cunning prankster.

Völund received knowledge of the wager once it had been made. However it turned out, to his honor or to his shame, it was wrong, because he [15] had not sent the gods his artwork as an entry in a competition, but as testimony to his reverence and friendship. He set this offense beside the other.*

*This suggests that Rydberg had not yet made his discoveries concerning the paraphrases for gold, þingskil Þjaza and Iðja glysmál, in Bjarkamál. The phrase þingskil Þjaza refers to gold as "Thjazi's testimony before a Thing." See UGM I, no. 113 (5), where Rydberg concludes from this that Völund's works spoke on his behalf. In Our Fathers' Godsaga, ch. 23, he says that Völund was "not privy to the bet." While Sindri's brother Brokk spoke on his behalf, Völund's mute works alone testified to his skill. Here, Völund avoids the judgement, since he is offended by the wager itself. This is probably based on the source itself, which has Brokk face off with Loki, alone before the gods.

As the winter passed, the giant-contractor busied himself with the wall; Sindri and Völund with their forging. Odin was in the habit of a journey, annually in spring, to remote and little known parts of the world. It was said that in the approaching spring he would visit Thrymheim and Loki then would surely accompany him, since the Asa-father could seldom do without so cheerful a travel companion. When Völund heard this, he laid aside his sword work, and hammered another thing that looked simple: it resembled a stick, but anyone who grabbed ahold of one end of the stick could not let go, as long as Völund held onto the other end. It occurred to the cautious smith that he too could devise a ruse. Völund climbed into his eagle-guise, flew to Thrymheim and spread such poles in the grass of the dales by the springs and brooks.

It passed into spring and Loki observed with concealed ridicule that the Aesir grew more restless every day. They believed that the building-contractor would have the wall finished by the appointed time.  By night, he hauled stone with Svadilfari, by day he put up what he had hauled. Ever greater grew the gods’ alarm, and they did not look kindly upon Loki who negotiated the contract. But just when their faith in him had sunk its deepest, it climbed to even greater heights. Loki said to them that instead of the unnecessary dread of their settlement with the building contractor, they should rejoice at the glorious victory-securing gifts that he had so unselfishly acquired with great peril to his own head, as Brokk was soon expected with Sindri’s competitive forgings. Brokk came and conveyed these treasures: of gold, the ring Draupnir from which every eighth day a comparable number of rings drips. The bangle was a gift to Odin. Of iron, the hammer Mjöllnir which was presented to Thor. Of a wild boar skin, the glistening boar Slidrugtanni dedicated to Frey. It was important now to test and establish the qualities of these gifts, before the case regarding the bet could be heard and judgment passed. This demanded at least eight days for Draupnir. Therefore it was appropriate to hold off the case until Odin had made his journey to Thrymheim.

[16] Three days remained until the first day of summer and Asgard’s wall was so nearly complete, that there was only an opening left alongside the gate. The next night, when the building-contractor went after stone, a mare came running up. Svadilfari got loose and ran after her. The night passed, before the building-contractor got his horse back, and the next day there was no stone to build with. It went no better the second day. Then the giant said his wager was lost and his labor unpaid. Furious, he rushed to do battle with the gods, but Thor crushed his head with the newly acquired hammer. The mare that enticed Svadilfari into the forest was the mother of the eight-footed steed Sleipnir. Whom Sleipnir’s mother is Loki knew best. Within Mo’s and Go’s giant-clan, mothers of this kind are not uncommon. Vile was this matter in any case, but as nasty as he was, the gods had to admit that on this occasion, Loki had saved them and the whole world. And at the same time, he had acquired an incomparable steed for the Asa-father.

Sleipnir was immediately full-grown and Odin saddled him up to test his speed. It is well-known, how Odin then raced with the giant Hrungnir and how the latter, in his blind zeal, came through the opening beside the Asgard-gate into Valhalla’s courtyard. The Asynjes were curious about the unexpected and coarse guest. He was invited to the table, drank immoderately and boasted boundlessly, until Thor came into the hall and inquired how the giant happened to be there. Hrungnir, sobering up, said that Odin had granted him safe conduct, but moreover  that he was without weapon, and asked if Thor dared to meet him armed on his own ground, Grjöttungard in Jötunheim. Here then was an opportunity to properly test Mjöllnir, as Hrungnir was the giants’ best warrior and had a flashing flint-weapon. Thus Mjöllnir was proven. The hammer and the flint crashed together, midway in flight. The flint exploded. Both warriors fell to the earth: Thor wounded in his forehead by a flint-shard, and Hrungnir with his head crushed. Mjöllnir flew back into Thor’s hand and he stood up, pleased with his victory.*

*The story is truncated here, probably in the interest of brevity. In Skáldskaparmál, Hrungnir and Thor face off in a duel. Each brings a companion. Thor brings Thjalfi. Hrungnir brings an animated clay-giant. When Hrungnir falls, one of his massive legs pins Thor to the ground, until his son Magni, three days old, comes and lifts the giant's limb off his father.

Along with Thor, Egil made a campaign into Jötunheim, the last that he and Thor would conduct together as friends. As Egil returned on his skis, the giants sent a terrible snowstorm after him. On the way home from Grjöttungard, [17] Thor found him helpless, stiff from the cold. The Asa-god warmed him up and fed him and carried him in his basket over the Elivagor to his hall by Vimur’s shore. Egil had frozen one toe; Thor broke it off and cast it up into the heavens, where, to honor Egil, it became one of the most beautiful stars. It bears his byname Örvandil to this day. At that time, Groa was at Thor’s stronghold Bilskirnir. When her host came home and she saw that he was wounded, she sang holy healing galder to dislodge the firmly set flint-shard. When Thor felt the shard begin to loosen, he could not hold the news he had any longer: Egil was on his way home from his journey and that a star proclaimed the nature of his exploit. Groa grew so happy at this that she forgot to continue the galder-song. Therefore, the shard remains in Thor’s forehead, although not for his adornment.

Odin made his excursion to Thrymheim, followed by Hönir and Loki. They came to a dale and were tempted to rest. Shadowy oaks stood round a spring. On the field, a herd of oxen grazed. As they were hungry after their walk, Loki slew an ox, built a fire and sat down to cook. But the cooking would not commence, and while the wanderers wondered why, they heard a voice from out of the oak overhead  and saw a great eagle. Travelers are probably accustomed to experiencing many things without being astonished, and so the travelers guessed correctly that a giant concealed himself within the eagle-guise. The eagle said that the cooking would come to nothing as long as he did not receive his share of the holy meal. The Aesir did not grasp the deeper meaning of his words, because who would have believed then that the one in the eagle-guise had resolved to himself become the highest god and give the dishonorably-dismissed Aesir not so much as a scrap from the sacrificial altars in Midgard? The oxen were taken from Völund’s herd and his share of the meal was therefore all of it. So now, as the Aesir understood the eagle’s words, they agreed to them. When the dish was ready, the eagle took all the best cuts for himself and shoved the worst of the leftovers toward Loki. Thinking this insolent, Loki took a stick that lay in the grass and attempted to strike the rude one. The eagle grabbed the other end of the stick and flew up. The gods were probably surprised that Loki didn’t let go, as it dragged him over log and stone, dragged him over treetops and [18] up into the mountains, until he was out of sight. When he finally returned, badly beaten, he probably told amusing and haughty lies about his fight with the eagle, but the truth of the matter was that when they had flown far enough away, Völund— terrifying to behold— had risen out of the eagle-guise and threatened Loki, lying at his feet, with death if he did not solemnly swear to lead Idunn out of Asgard and to him within a prescribed time. Loki swore to it, and the oath that the galder-savvy one administered was such that if he broke it, the perjurer would die.*

*The primary source of this is the skaldic poem Haustlöng. There, the giant Thjazi is the antagonist.

The day for the case concerning the wager came. The works of art that would be compared were Gungnir, Sif’s golden hair and Skidbladnir, on one side, and on the other, Mjöllnir, Draupnir and Slidrugtanni. Brokk appeared in order to speak on his and Sindri’s behalf. Völund did not come and did not care if he had an advocate. Loki took it upon himself to be his advocate and seemed qualified to do so, as of course, his own head was  bound up with Völund’s suit. Loki managed the defense so that he surely scoffed at Sindri’s competitive entries, especially the hammer whose shaft undeniably was a bit short (which Loki himself caused, in that, in the guise of a wasp,he had stung Brokk between the eyes as he operated the bellows when hammer's handle was cast on the hearth).*  But his defense of Völund’s artwork was badly put, because every praise on Loki’s lips sounded like scorn, and of course the more he praised something, the more he seemed to profit from it. And just when the gods had become certain of the hammer’s invaluable qualities and because they did not want to rank Sindri, the  ancient high-born world-artist, beneath his student, the giant bastard, they thus ruled that Brokk had won the bet and that Loki’s head was forfeited.

*In Skáldskaparmál 43, the source of this story, Loki turns himself into a fly (fluga). Apparently Rydberg felt that a fly's sting wasn't aggrevating enough, and thus changed Loki's form to a wasp. In Our Fathers' Godsaga, ch. 20, Rydberg again employs the wasp, but in ch. 31, allows Völund's sword, wielded by Svipdag, to lop off the handle of Thor's hammer, based on an episode in Book 3 of Saxo's History, where the hero Hotherus (Oðr) hews the haft from Thor's club, (See UGM I, no. 101). In the Overview of the mythological epic which appears in UGM II, Rydberg makes no mention of the wasp in no. 28 concerning the "World-Endangering Wager", and again tells how Svipdag severs the handle of Thor's hammer in no. 100 "Svipdag Victorious". These are the only two sources that refer to damage occuring to the handle of Thor's weapon.

For Loki this decision was less unwelcome than one might believe. He had something on his conscience, that was that the land in Asgard would burn under his feet, should he not take precautious measures. The evening before, he had fulfilled his oath to Völund and he knew that the day would barely pass before someone noticed that Idunn was missing. Then suspicion would surely fall on him, for he was not safe if the vigilant Heimdall had seen him when he snuck through the Asgard-gate with the guardian of the apples of youth. In any case, he had resolved to run, as soon as the farce [19] of the lawsuit concerning the wager had passed. For this purpose, he wore shoes that he presumably obtained from Völund, with which he could run through the air and over water. However, he wanted to play out his prank to the end. He demanded silence, not to challenge the verdict, but to point out that the wager did not pertain to his neck. Thus, while Brokk had a right to take his head, he must do so without harming the well-being of his neck. The gods sustained this objection. Thus, in defiance of the verdict, Brokk and Sindri lost their prize. Still, they would have some compensation, and when Brokk decided to sew up Loki’s lying lips shut, the Aesir could not deny his right to do so. Now was the time for Loki to flee and he hurried on his way. Perhaps Odin preferred to see him come away whole, but Thor had his team yoked, and stormed after the fugitive, and lead him back before the circle of judges. Brokk punched his lips with an awl that he called from Sindri’s smithy, and sewed them up with a seam that none but Sindri or Völund could rip out. Thereafter, they let Loki run loose, but quickly thereafter discovered the irreparable damage he had caused Asgard. Idunn and her apples were lost.




All parties came out suffering from this insidious affair with the wager, however the seats of the high judges would suffer the most.

In Asgard, Loki left behind a lady friend, with whom he arranged a reunion.*

*This must refer to Gullveig-Heid who has become Freyja's servant.

He set his course to the districts by Vimur. Horribly disfigured and without the ability to utter a word he appeared before Völund where  he worked in his smithy on the the sword of victory. Völund understood that he had an important errand to perform and he suspected what had happened, when he examined Loki’s lips and found that none other than Sindri or Brokk could have made the muzzle. The great smith took a knife, cut the seam and healed the wound with a holy herb that still bears his name. He probably could  have removed the nasty scars left by the awl too, but he didn’t want to do that, because to him they seemed well-deserved. The beauty that made Loki so enticing was forever spoiled. Scarcely was his mouth opened before [20] he expressed frank and furious words of hate toward the Aesir and feigned indignation over the unjust verdict, so disrespectful to Völund. Völund told him to spare his words. Now was the time to take action, not to defame. If he wanted revenge, he should place himself in Völund’s service.  Loki willingly said yes to this, and swore his unwavering allegiance.*

*Here, Rydberg takes much more creative license than he does in later works. The source of the tale, Skáldskaparmál 42, doesn't say how Loki removed the seam after Brokk has sewn his lips shut. Snorri simply says "He stitched the lips together, and it tore the edges off." According to Rydberg's findings in UGM I no. 28A, the first contact Loki has with the artist Thjazi-Völund after the verdict is the episode described in Haustlöng, when Thjazi in eagle-guise refuses to let the meat cook that Loki broils while in his territory as the companion of Odin and Hoenir. When Loki strikes the eagle with a stick laying nearby, he is unable to release his grip, and Thjazi flies off with Loki in tow. This to punish him for instigating the contest. Elsewhere in UGM I, Rydberg says that Völund was known as a physician in the Middle Ages. The herb mentioned here is 'Velunds urt'  ('Wayland's wort') or Valarian root, (J. Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, ch. 37, p. 1208, Stalleybrass translation). In Our Father's Godsaga, ch. 23, Rydberg simply states that "Loki's lips were soon free again" without saying how. In UGM II, the Overview of the mythological epic, no. 37, he only states that "Brokk pierced Loki's lips with Sindri's awl." In no. 38, Loki meets Thjazi in the circumstances described in Haustlöng.

But to initiate his treacherous servant into his secrets more deeply, he now revealed his plans, and they were such that Loki himself was amazed.

The first thing he planned to do was to proceed to Jötunheim and to call the giant-clans’ foremost chieftains to a secret meeting. While he was away, Völund and Egil moved their charges and their treasures to an unknown and difficult to access tract in the Thrymheim-mountains. There, secure from all seekers, they hid Idunn and Skadi, Sif and Od, and their foster son Frey, the young Vanir god, who happily was unaware of the fate that awaited him. But Groa was consumed with suspicions of serious ruin. She faded and knew death approached.  When Egil, Od, and Sif stood beside her deathbed, she said to her son: “A remarkable fate awaits you; when you feel its burden too heavy for your young shoulders, go to my grave and call on me, for my love for you shall live beyond the gravemound.” She bade Sif to look after the boy as a mother, and laid hers and Egil’s hands together.

The giant chieftains met together on the appointed day. They agreed on secrecy, and Völund, who knew that he could rely on those that he summoned to the meeting, outlined his proposal to them  for an eternally binding contract with Ivaldi’s sons. The contract was this:

Völund and Egil would surrender Frey, the lord of the harvests, to the giant-tribe, who inherited the claim of the failed giant-contractor of Asgard's wall to Freyja, the sun and moon. Frey would remain imprisoned in Jötunheim, but be treated well by his captors, and protected like a prince. Völund perhaps had Freyja in his power. He successfully pledged to surrender her to the same giant-clan. The giants were bound to treat her well, protect her like a princess and to not allow her to become engaged until Völund himself gave consent. Völund and Egil owned a supply of mead, taken out of the well of inspiration and solace, collected [21] in Alfheim and made more delightful by their own art.  This they surrendered to be kept by the giant-chieftain Fjalar in the deep-dales, so that they may enjoy it for themselves and invite relatives to partake as well, but not to give one drop to any of the Aesir-tribe. The mead was delivered up in a vessel that Völund made which has the quality that the juice in it will never run dry. Völund delivered weapons of attack and defense of his own making to the present giant-chieftains. The giants pledged to make nothing of the enmity between them and Ivaldi’s sons, and thus to not ever demand blood-revenge or any compensation other than that already given for kinsmen that the Ivaldi sons had killed. The giants pledged to provide Ivaldi’s sons an unhindered journey over Vimur, the Elivagor, and other waterways; free passage through all of Jötunheim, and to give to them as constant servants, the horse-giant of their choice, and, if summoned, to rush into battle against any enemy that blocks the path of Ivaldi’s sons or follows them. The giants pledged to place all their fire-power in Völund’s service, when he at will calls upon it in the future. Völund and Egil relinquished claims that pass from their ancestry on their father’s side and henceforth wanted to be regarded only as their mother’s sons and descendents of Ymir. The contract was approved and executed immediately in the points that could be carried out at once. To Slagfinn came the query, whether he would abandon the fortunate life he enjoyed to follow his brothers for an uncertain fate.  He said yes and promised to come straightaway.

The weapons that were turned over to the giants constituted a small part of the works that Völund and Egil possessed. They had many store rooms full of jewelry and weapons, swords, spears, bows, axes, helmets, shields, coats of mail, radiant with gold. Rings, perhaps as good as Draupnir, they also owned. Of them, Völund and Egil wore theirs around their arms. A third such ring they resolved to bury with the remaining treasures.* These they hid in different places. Much of these they sank down near a cliff in Vimur, and entrusted to Völund’s faithful dwarf Andvari. The horse-giant that Völund had chosen himself, was Grani,  kin to Svadilfari, Mo and Go, one of the strongest and also the most moral [22] of all the wild clan-brothers, who was also strong in his devotion. During the impending migration, he would carry Völund’s forging-tools and other necessities.  On his belt, Völund himself wore the sword of victory— if it could be called so yet, since although it was already the best sword that was ever forged, he considered it hardly worthy to be stuck in a sheath.** It would require years, many years, before it could be all that Völund intended to make it. But once it was finished, then what would the world not experience!

*This will become Andvari's ring, stolen by Loki, in the Prose Edda. In UGM, no. 118, Rydberg demonstrates that Gjuki is an alternate name of Slagfinn and that the heroic poems of the Poetic Edda concern his descendants.  Rydberg got the idea for these rings from Völundarkviða. There, Nidad is surprised to find gold in Völund's hideout in the Wolfdales. He remarks that there was no gold to be found on "Grani's way" (v. 14). Grani is Völund's horse, and will later be used by Sigurd. When Nidhad and his men first enter Völund's lair, they find hundreds of gold rings on a rope. They examine them all, but only take one. Rydberg concludes that this is a self-replicating ring akin to Draupnir. In Saxo, Book 3, Hotherus (a composite of Baldur's brother Höðr and Freyja's husband Oðr) obtains an invincible sword and a wealth-producing arm-ring from the satyr Mimingus (Mimir).

**In later works, Rydberg has Völund make the sword in the Wolfdales. In Thidrek's Saga of Bern, Velent (Völund) forges the sword and reforges the sword again and again in order to perfect it. In Our Fathers Godsaga, Rydberg uses the hundreds of rings as a symbol of the time necessary to conduct this work, since in the case of Draupnir, 8 rings drip from it every ninth night.  

While these preparations secretly took place, an envoy to Völund and Egil arrived from the Aesir.   His name was Kvasir and he was world-renowned for his wisdom and eloquence. He is said to be a being of a quite strange type, because the Aesir and the Vanir are said to have created them from their own combined juices, as a living monument to their unity and friendship.* He came to inform Völund that the gods had decided to promote his daughter Skadi to Asynje and give her, when she was grown, as a wife to Njörd.** Such a promotion is the greatest honor that can befall one,  and it was clear that the Aesir had made up their minds to appease the artist that undeniably had reason to feel wronged by them. In Asgard, one hoped for the best result from this diplomacy.  It is probable enough that Kvasir was also assigned to find out if Völund knew Idunn’s whereabouts. But days passed, indeed a month passed, without Kvasir returning, and Njörd became more anxious for his son who, of course, was in the power of two of Ivaldi’s sons. Odd rumors spread concerning the envoy’s fate. They must put an end to the uncertainty, but the question was how, with severe means or with an offer of reconciliation.

*Kvasir only appears in the works of Snorri Sturlusson. Rydberg clearly refers to the myth of Kvasir as told in the Skáldskaparmál 5, which states that Kvasir was created during a truce established after hostilities between the Aesir and Vanir. In the same work, Kvasir appears after the events described in Lokasenna, recognizing the net in the ashes of Loki's fire. In Ynglingasaga 4, Kvasir is one of the hostages sent to the Aesir by the Vanir. He isn't mentioned in the Poetic Edda at all. In UGM I, no. 89, after studying the mead myth, Rydberg concludes that Kvasir was the product of a late satire meant to explain the origins of good and bad poetry. In the glossary accompanying Our Fathers Godsaga, Rydberg suggests that Kvasir is a name of Mimir's well based on the kenning "Kvasir's blood" for the mead of poetry in a verse by Einar Skalaglamm, quoted by Snorri in Skaldskaparmál 10.

**As explained in UGM I, no. 112 (based on findings in no. 108) Saxo's King Fridlevius (Njörd) desires to marry the daughter of Anund (Völund), who kills the king's envoys when the proposal is made. This event foreshadows Skadi's marriage to Njörd.

 The peaceful Njörd’s advice won the debate, and he arranged to honor Völund with a new and more excellent envoy. Njörd would go, in order to see his son and himself request Skadi’s hand, and he should be accompanied by Odin’s beloved son, Baldur, and by his brother Höd. Splendidly armed, they mounted their horses and rode the air’s pathless tracts to the halls of Ivaldi’s sons. But they stood empty and abandoned. Among the elves in that area, a rumor went around regarding what had happened:*  

*This effort at reconciliation is based on two episodes as told in Saxo's History (Book 6) and Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards (chs. 12 and 13), which Rydberg illuminates in UGM I, no. 112.

Völund and Egil had abandoned [23] their outpost, and ventured into Jötunheim with Frey.  Nevertheless, they had just been seen and could not yet be far away.  Few among the elves had equipped themselves to accompany them, when Njörd, Baldur and Höd came over Vimur into the giant land. Odin’s birds passed them, came back and showed them the paths through the uninhabited regions over which the fugitives had fled. From mountain slopes and giant-gards, lookout mounds sounded lurs and smoke from ignited heaps whirled upwards to call the giant’s together in defense of Ivaldi’s sons. The giantesses sang galder in order to cast clouds and fog between them and the gods. Nevertheless, they took aim on the fugitives and the fugitives on them. Völund had devised a means of transportation as good as the gods’ horses. Still, he and his brother’s journey was delayed. Until one party had advanced within speaking distance. Then Njörd shouted that they had not come to do battle, but in order to clasp hands together faithfully, in order to rebind their old union with bonds of love. He beseeched Ivaldi’s sons to come as friends to him, the anxious father, who given them his son (Frey) as a testimony of his trust in their honor. Völund replied, that the time for revenge, not reconciliation, was here.  Baldur the silent, who never speaks an unnecessary word, but when he speaks wins even hardened hearts, joined his prayer with Njörd’s and stretched his open arms toward his foster brother Slagfinn. He turned away so as not to see him and become weak. Then Höd shouted to fight. Egil stepped forward and accepted the challenge. “You thurs, you low-born thrall,” exclaimed Höd, “shall you, the young, invite an older and more noble warrior alone?” He was Asgard’s best archer, Höd; he grasped the bow, laid an arrow on the string and aimed at Egil. But this happened to him: a gold-feathered arrow swished against the god’s bowstring and cut through its upper fastening. Then, while Höd retied the string, an arrow came and went between his crooked fingers and wrist without harm. Then came a third that shot away the point he had laid on the string. It was clear that Egil did not want to inflict evil on Baldur’s brother. Baldur shouted: “The shot was a nobleman’s.” It is known that Egil’s arrows returned by themselves to their owner. Ivaldi’s sons laid their hands on one of them, and Völund swore with raised voice: “It is my oath that when I destroy the Aesir’s world [24] and create a better one, then no one shall be called Thrall and no one insulted as low-born.”

The fugitives continued on their way, which was hidden from the gods by mist. From the mists were perceived whines and shrieks and glimpsed coagulating shapes of wolfhound-giants that gathered behind them as they retreated. The gods realized that persecution was in vain; they turned to their horses and sorrowfully returned to Asgard.


During the Fimbul Winter.


With the Ivaldi sons’ departure from Alfheim, the first Fimbul Winter began. The second shall come when Ragnarök approaches.

Far beyond the furthest settlements in Jötunheim, far beyond the frost-giants’ mountain-world lies a tract of dales, overgrown with winter-defying pines, called the Wolfdales and therein a sea called the Wolfsea.

Three men came to the Wolfdales, felled trees and constructed a hall and a smithy on the Wolfsea’s shore. The woods, which had previously been without sound once the storm rested or the wolves kept silent, now often reverberated with hammer-strikes and by a song— odd, deadened and dreary— that filled the hearts of the wild animals with dread and worse than that, on frosty nights they quaked with cold beneath their pelts.

Day after day, through months and years,  at one time or another during the day, the sound of this dreadful galder song was heard over the frost-giants’ mountains, the Myrkwood’s forest-girdle, the giant-settlement’s rocky-dales, the Elivagor, Alfheim and Midgard. It advanced toward Asgard, barely weakened by the expanse which could only be crossed with heavy wing-strokes, and filled the atmosphere around Hlidskjalf with woe. Where the dull tones trembled, the air thickened with whirling snowflakes or fast-falling hail. The rays of the sun-car and the time-measuring moon strained to be seen through its hazy depths. Odin listened from Hlidskjalf and discerned that the song came out of the northernmost tracts, where the rim of heaven and earth meet. He sent his wise ravens to spy. [25] They were so far away that he feared their fate. Arrows from Jötunheim’s bows and the giants’ raptor-guises did not frighten them. They knew of old to avoid them. But it was as if the air thickened and barred the way to them, as if their wing muscles had weakened, their blood stiffened, as if membranes drew over their eyes, when they came over the frost-mountains. They had to return and, when they landed, exhausted on the Asa-father’s shoulders, they had nothing to say that would increase his knowledge of what was happening. He sent envoys to Urd: she cried and refused to answer.*

*As explained in the poem Hrafnagaldur Óðins.

The galder song also penetrated the earth and consumed her saps and power of growth. Year after year, the furrow of the fields in Midgard produced shorter stalks and smaller ears, and what remained for the farmer was devastated even more by iron-cold nights. Human beings prayed and sacrificed for harvests; the gods received their prayers and gifts with shame because they could barely help them. Byrgir, the well of solace in Alfheim, ran dry and the day came when Nep passed Odin the last goblet of mead from out of the moon’s ship. The waters in Urd’s and Mimir’s holy wells diminished over the course of these years and the guardians were wracked with anxiety, whether the world-tree’s roots should thirst.  The strong felt their muscles slacken, the wise their thoughts weaken.

Völund was able to sing such galder.

He wanted to remain in the Wolfdales, until he could say of the sword: “Now it is as good as I can make it.” This sword shall open Asgard, whose inhabitants' bloody corpses he wanted to throw down as food for wolves on the devastated, cold-numbed earth. Thereafter a new creation, whose gold-topped heaven shall arch itself over beautiful beings, would worship a better god — Völund himself.

More than once the blade appeared to be finished. It amused the brothers to lay it as a belt around the waist, to cleave a flint block with it — it split them like air — and to let lightning bounce off it without leaving a mark on its bright surface. But nevertheless Völund filed it asunder into motes, smelted them and forged them anew and again anew under mighty incantations.* To pass time, he once followed the brothers on a hunting-trip, that they undertook on skis over [26] crusty snow, then on horse. Grani was in the Wolfdales, when he did not seek prey or pasture further south. The hunt’s quarry, bears and reindeer, roasted on a spit over the hall’s hearth.

*These are details mainly derived from Thidrek's Saga of Bern, ch. 67 (Haymes translation, 1988). The reference to lightning bouncing off its blade foreshadows the sword's encounter with Thor's hammer, once Svipdag has retrieved it from the underworld.

The brothers believed themselves to be unobserved. But in the mountain over the dale-tract a tunnel opened in the cliff-face, that led deep down into the earth to Mimir’s well and the kingdom of death. They knew nothing of it. Only Mimir himself, his sons and Nep, the moon-god, knew the way.

One year passed. Slagfinn and Egil longed for their lovers. Egil knew that Sif would have borne him a child during this time. The great smith, as deep as he was in the work of revenge and thoughts of grandeur, had room in his heart not only for hate and desire for honor alone, but also for regret over the loss of Idunn and Skadi.

One morning, when the brothers emerged from the hall, they saw three women by the shore who spun golden linen. Swan-guises laid beside them. The eagerly-awaited had come. One of them laid her arms around Völund’s white neck; a second was embraced by Slagfinn; the third laid her head on Egil’s chest.

The dises of vegetation had strangely shifted temperament: without sorrow, they heard Völund’s somber galder song that laid waste to the foliage in Midgard's groves, the earth's flowers, the field’s crops, because they felt their lovers’ feelings and thought their thoughts. The country where they were also altered their dress; their golden breast-ornaments, armbands, clasps and rings they now wore on clothes sewn from the shaggy pelts of wild animals.*

*Hrafnagaldur Óðins 8 informs us that Idunn, "the youngest of Ivaldi's older children", when she fell from Yggdrasill and resided "in dales" had "changed her disposition" and was "given a wolf-skin that she wrapped herself within." It seems the swan-maidens empathize with their half-brothers' and lovers' plight in their winter-cold exile, at least for a time. The warm waters of Urd's well are their natural home.

When the flames on the smithy’s hearth did not shine in winter evenings, and when the blaze on the hall’s hearth burned down, and the wives slept, beings crept, out of the opening of a tunnel, down to the Wolfsea and around the log-home. One could not catch sight of them, but if the moon shone, one saw their shadows. Silently they searched the hall and hearth, and surveyed the sword most of all, but they never took anything when they left. Thus, Mimir came to know how the sword-work proceeded day by day.*

*The silent beings are Mimir's sons. In Völundarkviða, they are called Niar, the sons of King Nidhad, whom Rydberg demonstrates is a byname of Mimir, ruler of the underworld, in UGM I, no. 87. In Völundarkviða, moonlight glints off their shields. In Book 3 of Saxo's History, Gevarus (the moon-god) informs Hotherus (Oðr) how to defeat an invisible satyr, Mimingus, who makes himself invisible by means of a magic helmet. Hotherus must wait until he sees the satyr's shadow, and steal the helmet, if he wishes to enter the underworld and obtain the invincible sword hidden there.

However, Völund did not only work  on the sword. From his and Egil’s arm-rings just as from Sindri’s (Draupnir), dripped more rings at certain intervals. With hammer-blows, they grew increasingly harder. Was it his intent to forge a fetter-chain for Odin?*

*This is another of Rydberg's intuitive insights. In Völundarkviða 13, Völund awakes to discover himself in fetters, and asks who has bound him. The meaning of line 13/3 which reads "besti byr síma" is notoriously difficult to translate (See Ursula Dronke, Poetic Edda II, pp. 247, 312) In UGM I, no. 98, Rydberg suggests that this passage means ""Who are the mighty, who with bonds (besti, dative of böstr) bound the wind (lögðu síma á Byr) and fettered me?". Since Völund could control the weather, as well as fly, he likens himself to the wind.  In Völund's smithy, Nidhad and his sons find a bast rope laden with hundreds of gold rings. Odin, who also wears an eagle-guise, is a wind-god himself and leader of the Wild Hunt. The implication is that Völund had created the rope as a fetter to bind Odin.

Mimir has entrusted himself with the world-tree’s care. If he could ward off the imminent danger for creation, why didn’t he do it? The Aesir admittedly took up the question. But the wise bided their time.

So seven winters passed. In the eighth the dises were homesick and the ninth they flew away. Then Egil and Slagfinn left the Wolfdales in order to find them. But Völund remained. He was certain that his lover would come back, after she had seen their home and their child.*

*In Völundarkviða, the swan-maidens spend 8 winters with Völund and his brothers in the Wolf-dales and depart in the ninth. In Lokasenna 24, Odin accuses Loki of spending 8 winters beneath the earth as a milk-maid, giving birth to children there. Might the two events be related? Rydberg convincingly identifies Völund with the giant Thjazi (UGMI, no 113). In Harbardsljóð 20, Harbard says that he enticed "myrk-riders" away from their husbands in response to Thor's claim that he killed the giant Thjazi, son of Allvaldi (cp, Ivaldi). The word 'myrk-rider' is only used here, but implies 'witch' based on comparisons with similar words. Their identity remains unknown. In UGM I, no. 116 (and expanded in UGM II, Harbarðsljóð) Rydberg identifies Harbard as Loki rather than Odin. If this is the case, myrk-riders might refer to the swan-maidens, who fly over the Myrkwood to meet their lovers in Völundarkviða 1. Harbardsljóð 20 goes on to say that the giant Hlebard (wolf) gave Harbard (Loki) 'gambanteinn' there. In Skírnismál 38 (the only other place the word is used), 'gambanteinn' designates the Völund sword, given to Gerd by Skirnir on Frey's behalf (Lokasenna 42). This might imply that Loki concealed himself as a servant in the Wolf-dales. If, as Rydberg suggests in Our Father's Godsaga, Loki gave birth to his three monster-brood on three separate occassions, then Fenrir's birth best took place there.

Briefly, it may now be told what great events occurred during this winter. Not much time passed since Ivaldi’s sons departed before Freyja went missing in Asgard. The gods they did not allow themselves to show shock and sorrow. They assembled to solemnly deliberate the matter at the holy thing-place. Misfortunes struck them one upon another! Idun, Frey, Freyja gone, Groa dead, Sif and Oda vanished, the bonds of friendship with Ivaldi’s excellent sons broken! Creation’s prescribed order, the proper changing of the seasons with which life’s conditions are bound, kept on unraveling. Who was it that filled the atmosphere with woe and ruin and came to dry up the world’s saps? The gods saw that it must be Völund’s work, and the Asa-father blamed himself, since his weakness for Loki was the root of the evil. How had Freyja been carried away from the well-protected stronghold within the Asgard-wall? The Aesir told one another their thoughts and listened to witnesses. Freyja’s courtiers and closest attendants were Sindri’s daughters and other noble dises. But she also had a handmaiden of giant-blood, a pretty maid named Aurboda. Nothing but good had previously been said of her. She had performed her errands well, and she seemed to compete with Sindri’s daughters in compassionate acts toward the sick and needy children of Midgard.* But it came to light that she secretly practiced seid in Freyja’s stronghold and initiated the Vana-dis in forbidden arts. Shortly before Freyja’s disappearance she had also without been away from Asgard without leave, and one was reminded that Loki and she were extremely familiar. Suddenly it occurred to the gods, that this Aurboda must be the doomed and burnt seid-kona Heid, whose shade was never seen [28] in Niflhel, even though she died. Aurboda was summoned to appear before the ring of judges and confessed without reservation whom she was and what she did, as she nestled behind the ‘safe conduct’ that the gods had given her when she came to Asgard. Thor, otherwise good-tempered, rushed up when he heard her vileness. He struck her and Aurboda fell dead at his feet. They burnt the giantess’ corpse and cast her ashes outside the sacred area. But now they had violated ‘safe-conduct’ and they knew nothing of Freyja’s whereabouts.

*This idea is derived from the function of Menglad's maidens in Fjölsvinnsmál.




All that was left was to bear weapons, because Jötunheim would never voluntarily surrender its plunder. Already now, Heimdall’s horn should have sounded over the world as it shall sound before Ragnarök, but Mimir had wisely taken it in pledge and placed it in the looming twilight by the world-tree’s root.* Völuspá 28. Frey and Freyja must be liberated, and with all the power that the gods had to summon, must clear the way through Jötunheim and over the frost-mountains to Völund’s hideout. Thus, war broke out which preceded the first great folk-feud.

It was time to take up arms, because the giants, livened by the dominating frost, were ready to attack and gathered their clans along Vimur, Elivagor and the land-border in the east. Such unity was previously not seen in the giant world and will not be seen again until the destruction of the world is at hand. Nevertheless, exceptions existed. The giant-chieftain Aegir, although he harbored hate in his heart towards the gods, kept himself calm, and the excellent sword he got from Völund would not have been tested that time, if Loki had not cheated him of it.*

*The inference here is unclear to me. In Skáldskaparmál 32, we learn that Aegir and Hler are alternate names of Gerd's father Gymir (cp. Hyndluljóð 30). Frey will ultimately trade the Völund sword for Gymir's daughter according to Lokasenna 42.  Fjölsvinnsmál 26 says that Loftur (Loptur, traditionally a byname of Loki), made a weapon which could kill the golden cock atop the world-tree, and that it was robbed from him in the underworld. In UGM I, no. 98, Rydberg identifes the weapon-maker Loftur as Völund. That Loki robbed a sword, made by  Völund, from Gymir might be an early attempt at understanding these passages by Rydberg. However, Rydberg presents Gymir and Aegir as founders of seperate clans in ch. II above.

On the island of All-green which was originally a giant-land, dwelt many giants, but they placed themselves under the banners of the elves, their lords, and strengthened the forces with which the Aesir, Vanir and elves drew into battle. The war was prolonged and had many phases. At times, it looked as if Midgard would fall into the giant’s power and the gods of necessity would draw up behind Asgard’s wall in self-defense. The giants crossed over Vimur and carried the battle over to the island All-green which for five years was like a battlefield.* Harbardsljóð 16. There fought Loki, not without courage, spearheading his clan-folk. At the same time, the giant-troop broke in from the east opposite Midgard. Wherever the thurses’ fylkings marched forth, they were followed by storms and darkness; only blindly and at random could Thor throw his lightning-hammer, Odin and Ivaldi their spears in the lead. Odin and Nep bid the winds which obeyed them to cleanse the air: then storm fought against storm, as army against army, and ravaging whirlwinds flew all over the world. The sun’s and the moon’s ways were no longer secure. Monsters belonging to the same clan that held Frey and Freyja in their power, Hati and his kinsman Háfeti, wanted to seize what he regarded as his right: the sun and the moon. Hildigun and Nanna with a bodyguard of valkyries had to conduct the heavenly lights and protect them with their spears. Far away in the northern outer archipelago Njörd and his Vanir fought on skerries and coastal cliffs, in hope that they could enter Jötunheim from this side; but Hymir’s wild daughters and their giant-troops thwarted his attempt: every mountain was beset by giant warriors, every dale between the rocks cut out by gushing rivers. Sindri and Brokk fell in this war and went down to Mimir’s subterranean kingdom.* With their deaths the era when the Aesir could have what they wished of their golden artwork was ended. No master has since forged them any as profitable to possess comparable to that of these brothers’ or of Völund’s work.

*In this version of the epic, Brokk and Sindri are Odin's brothers; their deaths explain how they become smiths under Mimir. Mimir is the king of the underworld, and Brokk and Sindri are the primary smiths in his retinue. Rydberg no longer expresses this view in later works; King Fridelvus (Njörd) searches the eastern archipelegos for his lost son and daughter in Saxo Book 5 (See UGM I, no. 102). Hymir's daughters are known from Lokasenna 34, where they oppose Njörd;  Hildigun and Nanna are the divinities of the sun and moon (identical to Sunna and Sinhtgunt in the 2nd Merseburg charm). Baldur's wife appears as the valkyrie Svava in the Eddic poem Helgakviða Hjörvardsson—both according to investigations conducted in UGM II, Towards the Baldur Myth. Hati, the wolf who chases the moon (Grímnismál 39), is said to be a giant, father of Hrimgerd and opponent of Helgi Hjörvardsson in Helgakviða Hjörvardsson 17. He has a claim on the moon, according to Rydberg's imagination here, because of his relationship to the giant-contractor who built Asgard's wall. Háfeti is a horse named in Kalfvisa. The wolf who chases the sun is traditionally named Sköll (Grímnismál 39).

Still, the exploits that the Aesir performed were wonderful and such that they all deserved the name victory-gods. (sigtivar) The attack on Asgard’s bridgehead was beaten back with frightful casualties for those storming it, and Midgard, although often threatened and trembling, was defended well by those to whom they prayed and offered. Baldur killed the appalling Hati; Höd caught and bridled Háfeti.  Hati, however revived again and lived in the Ironwood, fostered there by the thrice born Heid. The eastern giant-hoards were expelled by Baldur and his warriors and pursued through arid deserts near the Ironwood. Wells were stamped out by Baldur’s steed where Völund’s galder had caused the depth’s veins to dry out. To the Ironwood, the young son of Odin also exiled the host of evil völvas that continued Heid’s work in Midgard and urged frightened and desperate mortals to pray to other powers than Asgard’s for protection.

But Frey and Freyja were not liberated and Völund’s hideout was not attained.


Continued in Serial 2


Viktor Rydberg's Mythological Works

Segerssvårdet Serial
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