The Lay of Regin: Reginsmál

There is some doubt as to whether this was the original “shape” of the lay, but there has at least been speculation that the original version was made some time before the year 1000. Anyway, credit goes to whom credit is due, and if the second statement above is true then that person may well have been dead for approximately 1000 years because that person is not me. On a related subject, the wording you are soon to see (not including the notes in italics I added) is one of the reasons why I usually summarize these things for people instead of transcribing them.

Before we begin, allow me to explain about the “^^^” symbols. The original spacing does not show up when I put spaces at the beginning of the line, so I have added these symbols to force certain lines further to the right for accuracy. Is that bull-headed of me? Perhaps. But having more accurate spacing makes it worth it.


 

Sigurth went to Hjálprek’s stud and chose for himself a horse, which later bore the name of Grani. At that time had come to Hjálprek’s court Regin, the son of Hreithmar. He was more skilled in crafts than any other man. He was a dwarf in size, wise and cruel, and a wizard. Regin fostered up Sigurth, taught him, and loved him greatly. He told Sigurth about his own forbears and of how, once upon a time, Óthin and Hœnir and Loki had come to the waterfall of Andvari. In that waterfall there were many fish. A dwarf named Andvari dwelled in it in the shape of a pike and got food for himself there. “Otr was the name of our brother,” said Regin, “and he often came to the waterfall in the shape of an otter. He had caught a salmon and was eating it with half-closed eyes. Then Loki threw a stone at him and killed him. The gods thought they had made a lucky catch and flayed the otter. That same evening they came to Hreithmar for night quarters and showed him their bag. Then we bound them and laid on them as a ransom to stuff the otterskin, and also to cover it on the outside, with red gold. Then they sent Loki to fetch the gold. He went to Rán and borrowed her net. Then he fared to the waterfall of Andvari and cast the net for the pike, and it leapt into the net.”

 

Then said Loki:

“What fish is this     in the flood that swims

^^^and cannot keep him from harm?

To Hel’s dark hall     art headed now,

^^^but thou fetch me the fire-of-the-flood.”

 

Andvari said:

“I am Andvari hight,     is Óin my father,

^^^in many a flood have I fared;

in days of yore     was I doomed by norns

^^^in swirling waters to swim.”

 

Loki said:

“Tell me, Andvari,     if on earth thou wilt,

^^^dwarf, live a longer life:

what is the doom     which is dealt to men

^^^who wound each other with words?”

 

Andvari said:

“A heavy doom     is dealt to men

^^^who in Vathgelmir’s waters wade;

he who untruth utters     and on others lies,

^^^long will he linger there.”

 

Loki saw all the gold which Andvari owned. Now when he had given up all the gold but one ring which he kept for himself, Loki took that from him too.

 

The dwarf went into his cave and said:

“The glittering gold     which Gust had owned

the bane shall be     of brothers twain,

and to eight athelings     bring untimely death:

he who holds my hoard     shall e’er hapless be.”

 

The Æsir gave Hreithmar the gold. They stuffed the otterskin with it and raised it on its feet. Then were the gods to heap the gold round about it until it was covered altogether. When that had been done, Hreithmar stepped near and saw one beard hair of the otter, and bade them cover that too. Then Óthin took forth the ring which Andvari had owned and covered up the hair.

 

Loki said:

“The gold thou hast gotten,     but great has been

^^^the worth thou laid’st on my life;

’twill sorrow bring     to thy son and thee,

^^^it will work the bane of you both,”

 

Hreithmar said:

“Gifts thou gavest,     but grudgingly,

^^^nor gavest with whole heart;

but little life     were left to thee,

^^^if aware I had been of this woe.”

 

Loki said:

“Still worse by far-     I ween to know-

^^^is kinsmen’s clash for the gold:

unborn the lords,     I believe, as yet,

^^^on whose life this curse will alight.”

 

Hreithmar said:

“My hoard of gold     to hold I mean

^^^the while my life does last;

not a whit dread I     thy deadly threat:

^^^now hie you home hence!”

 

Fáfnir and Regin asked Hreithmar for their share of the weregild for their brother Otr. But he would not yield it up. Then Fáfnir thrust his sword into his father Hreithmar while he slept.

 

Hreithmar called out to his daughters:

“Lyngheith and Lofnheith!     Know that my life is ended:

^^^much I crave of my kin!”

 

Lyngheith answered:

“Though their father be felled,     few sisters would

^^^seek their brother’s blood.”

 

(The following stanza is said to obviously not fit in properly and seems to be taken from another lay. I will include it to maintain some shred of fluidity, but know that the gist of what it is supposed to mean is that since she does not want to kill her brother to avenge her father, the duty of vengeance falls either to the son Lyngheith bears or, if she would bear a daughter in wedlock rather than a son, to the son that daughter would bear. So basically what we’re seeing here is the beginning of a blood feud.)

Hreithmar said:

[“Wolf-hearted woman,     if in wedlock a son

be not born to thee,     then bear thou a daughter;

give the maid to a man     in thy might need:

will their son then     to thy need see.”]

 

Then Hreithmar died; but Fáfnir took all the gold. Regin asked for his share of the inheritance after his father; but Fáfnir said no to that. Then Regin sought counsel of his sister Lyngheith, how he should win his share.

 

She said:

“Thy kinsman shalt     in kindness ask

^^^thy fee and a fairer mind;

not seeming is it     with the sword thou should’st

^^^ask of Fáfnir thy own.”

 

All this told Regin Sigurth. One day when he came to Regin’s abode, he was greatly welcomed.

 

Regin said:

“Hither has come     the kinsman of Sigmund,

the keen atheling,     to our hall;

hardier he is     than hero tried:

from warlike wolf     I wait me strife.

 

“Foster shall I     the fearless lordling,

now Yngvi’s kinsman     has come to us;

under high heaven     among heroes first,

his fate-thread is spun     to overspread all lands.”

 

Sigurth stayed with Regin. He told Sigurth how Fáfnir lay on the Gnita Heath in the shape of a dragon and had the Helm of Terror, of which all living things are adread.  Regin made Sigurth a sword called Gram, which was so sharp that when he dipped it into the Rhine, and let a flock of wool float down with the stream against it, the flock was cut in two as though it had been water. With this sword did Sigurth cleave asunder Regin’s anvil. Thereafter Regin egged on Sigurth to slay Fáfnir.

 

But Sigurth said:

“Soon would sneer then     the sons of Hunding,

they who ended     Eylimi’s life,

if more keen the king     to crave red gold

than blood for blood     of his father’s banesmen.”

 

King Hjálprek gave Sigurth a fleet and men so that he might avenge his father. A great storm arose when they were weathering a promontory.

 

A man stood on the cliff and said:

“What men ride there     on Rævil’s steeds

the weltering waves,     the wild-tossing sea?

Doth salty sweat     the sea-nags fleck,

will the wave-horses     not weather the storm.”

 

Regin made answer:

“On the sea-trees sit     young Sigurth’s men,

toward Hel bears us     a heavy wind;

over stem and stern     the storm-waves fall,

plunge the roller-horses:     who is it asks?”

 

The man said:

“I was Hnikar hight     when hawks were gladdened,

son of Sigmund,     and slain were many.

Man of the mountain     may’st now call me,

Feng or Fjolnir:     let me fare with you!”

 

They sailed near to the land, and the man came on board. Then the storm abated.

 

Sigurth said:

“Tell me, Hnikar,     for the twain thou know’st:

^^^what be good signs for gods and men;

what bodeth best     on battleground,

^^^the time that swords are swung?”

 

Hnikar said:

“Signs there are many,     if men but knew,

^^^which are good at the swinging of swords:

to doughty hero     the dusky raven’s

^^^flight is a following fair.

 

“Another this:     when outbound art,

^^^and ready art forth to fare,

and beholdest     good heroes twain,

^^^and stouthearted, stand on the path.

 

“A third is this:     if thereafter

^^^a wolf howl in the woods;

good hap thou’lt have     among helmet-bearers,

^^^if first thou see’st them fare.

 

“His foe let no one     fight withershins;

into setting sun     see thou never;

for victory is theirs     whose view is best,

of the war-workers     who in wedges array them.

 

(Regarding the following stanza: the third line is sometimes given as “guileful dísir [female spirits] on either side of thee.”)

 

“Then art thou fey     if thy foot stumbles,

^^^when bound for the swinging of swords.

Will guileful ghosts     glower at thee-

^^^would fain see thee fall.

 

“Combed and clean washed     should keen man be,

^^^and have early eaten his fill;

for unsure is it     where at eve he be:

^^^’tis ill to forego one’s gain.”

 

Sigurth fought a great battle with Lyngvi, the son of Hunding, and his brothers.

 

After the battle Regin said:

“With the bitter brand now     the bloody eagle

was slashed in the back     of Sigmund’s banesman;

bolder in battle     no baron ever

dyed red the earth     and the ravens gladdened.”

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Ares, Aphrodite and Hephaestus

I found this one while looking through Homer’s “Odyssey”. It mainly concerns Ares, Aphrodite and Hephaestus (hence the title).

As it begins Aphrodite and Hephaestus are married, but Helios told Hephaestus that his wife had been playing at love with Ares (and in the married couple’s bed for that matter). Sometimes rumors aren’t true, but this one happened to be somewhat more trustworthy since Helios had seen the two embrace.

After hearing this news, Hephaestus went to his forge and hammered out a chain with links that could not be sprung or bent. He went to his and Aphrodite’s bed and strung the chain around the bed posts and from the ceiling rafters to trap the two. Because of his skillful craftsmanship, the chain was so light that even gods in bliss could not notice it.

Then he pretended he was going on a trip to “the trim stronghold of Lemnos, the dearest of earth’s towns to him.”

Ares watched Hephaestus leave for this trip and straightaway went to find Aphrodite (“or sweet Kythereia” as it says in this line). He found her in her chamber. Ares tenderly touched her hand and invited her to lie down with him.

Aphrodite welcomed the idea and the two lay down in bed, but as they did so the chains rained down upon them, pinning them both so they could neither rise nor move apart.

Helios had been spying on them for Hephaestus. Seeing the two caught, he told his friend to return immediately.

Hephaestus’ heart was filled with rage to see the two together. His voice boomed out to the other gods that these two would stay chained together in bed this way until Aphrodite’s father sent back his wedding gifts (“all that I poured out for his damned pigeon, so lovely, and so wanton”).

The gods crowded in to see the spectacle while the goddesses “stayed home for shame”. The gods laughed and jeered at Ares – being one who outran the wind and having been caught by someone with deformed legs.

However, Poseidon was not among those laughing. He stood there stone-faced until he finally began to urge Hephaestus to unpin Ares, and furthermore swore that Hephaestus would be paid if he did so.

Hephaestus did not trust Ares to pay, but Poseidon assured him that if Ares left without paying him, then he would pay on Ares’ behalf. Hephaestus agreed to these terms and released Ares and Aphrodite.

Ares lept into Thrace while Aphrodite fled to Kypros Isle and Paphos. In this place the Graces bathed her and anointed her with golden oil. The folds of her mantle fell in glory.

The Lay of Volund (Summary)

There was once a Swedish king named Níthoth (“Grim Warrior”) who had two sons and a daughter, Bothvild (“War-Maiden”). There were also three sons of a Finnish king. They were named Slagfith (“Finn-Smith”), Egil and Volund (this name has not yet been properly explained, but may be connected with the Old Norse word vél, meaning “craft”). They were running on snowshoes while hunting game and, coming eventually to the Wolfdales, made themselves a house by some water called Wolf Lake.

One morning these young men woke and found by the shore three young women who were spinning flax. These women were valkyries, and being so had swanskins which they had laid beside themselves at the time.

Two were daughters of a king named Hlothvér. These two were called Hlathguth the Swanwhite and Hervor the Allwise. The third valkyrie was Olrún. She was the daughter of King Kíar of Valland. (In order, their names mean “the Necklace-Adorned Warrior-Maiden”, “the Warder of the Host” and “the One Knowing Ale Runes”.)

The brothers, seeing the lovely valkyries on the shore’s edge, took their swanskins and the women as their wives in doing so. Egil took Olrún, Slagfith took Hlathguth, and Volund took Hervor. They all stayed coupled in this manner for seven years before the women were overcome by their inborn longing to be valkyries again. At this time the women left to be at battles and did not return (note: “to be at” does not necessarily mean they actually fought in the battles. It is also a possibility that they hung around the back lines and handed new shields and swords to disarmed men,tended the wounded, or did other things like this. A village cannot survive without an ample supply of women, so it wouldn’t be a good idea to send them to the front lines to be slaughtered).

Egil and Slagfith went forth on snowshoes to look for their wives while Volund stayed in the Wolfdales and waited for his wife to come home. The Njára King, Níthoth heard that Volund was alone in the Wolfdales and went at night with his men to wait for Volund. At his home in the Wolfdales they found seven hundred of the smith’s rings. They only took one so as not to arouse suspicion, though it probably had magic power (suspicion was best avoided since Volund was termed to be a lord of the alfs with supernatural strength).

Volund the Smith, weary from the hunt, soon came striding home.

He made a fire to cook the meat of a bear. He broiled the meat and laid himself down on bearskins to rest. (This is a bit similar to Heracles/Hercules being associated with a lion and wearing a lion skin. He was strong and brave like a lion while Volund is more like a bear. If you also imagine totem animals as magically absorbing damage a warrior receives in battle while giving him strength, that would mean Heracles drew power from the lion while Volund drew power from the bear, and each of their respective animal totems would have absorbed some of their pain.)

Volund rested on these bearskins still as he noticed that one of his rings was missing. His hope was that his wife had come home and taken it. He sat awake for a long time waiting for her before he fell asleep. This is what King Níthoth and his men were waiting for.

As Volund slept, they put heavy shackles on his hands and fastened his feet with strong fetters. When the smith woke he asked who had done this thing to him. Níthoth, rather than giving him a straight answer, accused Volund of stealing from him the gold rings which he and his men had found, and Volund was brought to the king’s hall. In this place King Níthoth gave his daughter Bothvild the gold ring he had stolen from Volund’s hall, and he himself kept the sword Volund had owned.

The Queen mentioned to her husband in a low voice that Volund clearly had hate in his flashing eyes, like the glittering orbs of an adder. She mentioned how he bared his teeth when looking upon his sword and ring, both stolen from him. Then she made the following suggestion, still speaking to her husband in a low voice: “Sever ye soon his sinews’ might, let him sit henceforth in Sævarstath.” (“Sævarstath” = “Stead by the Sea”)

So Volund was hamstrung and set down on an isle called Sævarstath, which wasn’t far from land. Volund then worked with metal to make the king all manner of precious things. During this time, only the king dared to go see him.

Seeing his sword at the king’s side and his bride’s armring being worn by the king’s daughter greatly disheartened him. Then King Níthoth‘s sons drifted to his door one day.

They called for the keys to the chest as they wished to see gold and gems and wealth so wondrous. Naturally, it was at this time that Volund conceived his plan of vengeance. He told them to come back the next day and said he would give them gold then. (There is another version in which he tells them to come after the first snowfall and walk backwards to the door. He later shows the king the tracks leading from the door to clear from himself the suspicion of being involved in their disappearance, which will be explained presently.)

They returned and Volund cut off their heads. He buried their bodies under the bellows’ pit.

He turned their skulls into drinking vessels, set them in silver, and sent them to the king. He made their eyeballs into shining beads and gave them to the cunning queen. Then he made their teeth into beauteous brooches which he sent to the king’s daughter.

(Unfortunately, there is a line missing here. I will summarize based on context as best I can.)

Bothvild, still bearing the ring of Volund’s wife, took it back to the smith in secret so as not to let anyone else know it was broken. Volund told her that he would heal the ring in such a way that would make it seem even fairer to her father, much better to her mother, and the same as before to herself. He then proceeded to get her so drunk that she fell fast asleep. Volund escaped laughing (he may have made himself a pair of wings during his captivity and used these to escape as in the Greek story of Daidalos). When Bothvild woke, she fled the island out of fear of Volund’s escape and her father’s wrath. She wept.

 

Volund rested now on a high house wall as he listened to the queen speak with King Níthoth. She asked him whether he was awake, to which he replied that he had barely slept since the death of his sons. He complained of despair and the cold (i.e. cruel) counsel of women (in accordance with the Old Norse proverb, “woman’s counsel is cold”), as his wife’s words only served to chill him even further rather than helping his grief.

In desperation for an explanation for the early deaths of the sons, he cried out, “Make answer, Volund, thou alfs’ leader! What hath become of my hapless boys?”

The unpleasant reply went as follows:

“Ere shalt thou swear     all oaths to me,

by ship’s bulwark     and shield’s border,

by swift steed’s shoulder     and sharpest sword:

that to Volund’s wife     thou work no harm,

nor brew for my bride     baleful counsel,

though wife I have     whom well ye know,

or child I have     thy hall within.

 

“To the smithy wend,     for Volund builded,

there the bellows shalt     all bloody find:

I hewed off the heads     of thy hapless boys,

and their bodies buried     ‘neath the bellows’ pit.

 

“With skill their skulls     ‘neath the scalp which lay

in silver I set     and sent them to thee;

of the bairns’ eyeballs     shining beads I wrought

and gave to the cunning queen of Níthoth.

 

“But out of the twain’s     teeth made Volund

beauteous brooches     and to Bothvild sent them;

and now Bothvild     is big with child,

your only daughter,     dear to you both.”

Níthoth was very saddened to hear these things and wished to get vengeance, but Volund was so far off the ground that it would’ve been impossible for him to be hauled down and the king didn’t have any men strong enough to shoot that high.

Volund laughed and lifted himself away.

The king told a thrall of his named Thrakkráth (“He Who Gives Pleasant Counsel”) to go bid Bothvild to come so she could speak with him. After she came to him, he asked her if what Volund said was true. She confessed that it was and said she was ashamed, but said that she hadn’t the strength to strive against him.

The Flyting of Loki: Lokasenna (Poem Version)

I wanted to post something different this week. I’ve noticed that some of you have what might be deemed an “unhealthy obsession with Loki”, so I took another look at Lokasenna and made it rhyme in American-English. Now you can read it again, but with more rhythm. Enjoy. (By the way, since I took the time and effort to jam it into rhyme form I am claiming copyright over this version of Lokasenna. Copyrights and credits of the other versions go to their respective creators.)


 

The ale was finally ready and with the kettle he now had,

Ægir the sea god hosted a feast – of which many and more were glad.

 

Óthin, Thór and Bragi came (all of them with their wives),

As did Týr, whose hand was lost to the wolf with teeth like sharpened knives.

 

The married pair Njorth and Skathi came, and so did Víthar, Freya and Frey.

And as we all know Loki came apart from many others that day.

 

It was in this place of peace that envy made our Loki kill.

The gods drove him to the forest in anger, but he returned after this deed most ill.

 

Eldir warned him just outside about the gods within.

Their talk had turned to weapons and war-deeds, but they said nothing good of him.

 

Loki, persistent, desired still to enter, drink the ale and eat the bread,

So Eldir sent him in with warning to watch the things he said.

 

With confidence he could win a war of words, Loki entered the hall and stopped.

The conversation quickly hushed – from many a mouth was an ale cup dropped.

 

Loki, standing alone now, observed the silence throughout.

He requested some mead and a seat on a bench, or else for them to kick him out.

 

The murderer’s presence was improper and so

It was, at length, Bragi who refused him a seat and wished him go.

 

But some time ago Loki had blended blood with Óthin,

So the latter brother had prepared some ale and a seat for him within.

 

Thinking still of verbal warfare, Loki took the ale and started to talk.

He caused a stir with each god in turn.

He would sling insults and mock.

 

Even the women were not safe –

He denied their fidelity and hushed them.

Loki wouldn’t stop until Thór threatened to take his hammer and crush him.

 

Loki escaped to the Fránangr waterfall and disguised himself as a salmon.

There the gods found him and with his son’s guts they bound him in return for his reckless abandon.

 

It was Skathi who took the venomous serpent and hung it above Loki’s face.

Loki’s wife Sigyn came and sate by him then as she held a bowl under that place.

 

The poison would drip until the bowl filled, and then she would carry it out,

But when she was gone the poison would drip on poor Loki who would writhe and shout.

 

So fretfully he’d squirm and so fearfully he’d shake

That the whole earth shook with him (and we call these “earthquakes”).

 

So with his wife ever busy he stayed bound to water and land

As no one else willing was ’round to give poor Loki a hand.

Summary: Baldr’s Dreams/Baldrs draumar

(It’s about time for another summary of this sort, no?)

As it begins, all the gods and goddesses are gathered together because Baldr has been having menacing dreams. Odin lays a saddle on Sleipnir ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleipnir ) and rides to Neflhel where he meets the hound Garm ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garmr ). Odin rides on amidst much barking and the quaking of the earth until he comes to Hel. He rides to the eastern gate (where he knows the grave of a seeress is) and chants spells to wake her from the dead.

She rises from the dead and says,

“What man is this,     to me unknown,

who maketh me fare     such fear-fraught ways?

Was I buried in snow     and beaten by rain

and drenched with dew,     dead was I long.”

Odin introduces himself as Vegtam (“the Wayfarer”) and says he is the son of Valtam (“the Warrior”). The seeress is reluctant to answer Odin’s questions, but does so anyway. Odin asks who is going to slay Baldr and she says it will be Höðr ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%B6%C3%B0r ) (keep in mind that the letter before the “r” is pronounced as a “th”). Odin asks who will avenge Baldr after this happens and the seeress says that Rind ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rindr ) will give birth to Váli ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%A1li ), who will avenge Baldr’s death.

As after her other answers the seeress says,

“I was loath to speak,     now let me cease.”

This time Odin replies with a riddle (the answer to the riddle is immediately after the quoted text) and says,

“Cease not, seeress,     till said thou hast:

answer the asker     till all he knows:

who are the girls     that greet so sore,

and their kerchief corners     cast to the sky?”

(The answer to the riddle is the waves. The phrase “kerchief corners” could also mean “the corners of the sail”. These sails may also be the ones of the ship that would bear Baldr’s body after his death.)

At this point the seeress guesses that the man asking her questions is really Odin. In response to her having guessed his identity, Odin reveals something about her identity as well, saying that instead of being a seeress or sage woman, she is really the mother of three thurses ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thurs ).

The ending comes rather suddenly with her saying,

“Homeward hie thee,     happy in mind:

no chanted spells     will charm me up

until Loki     is loose from his bonds

and the day will come     of the doom of the gods.”

(The bonds she spoke of would be the ones mentioned near the end of the following summary: https://frozenotterblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/a-summary-of-the-flyting-of-loki-lokasenna/ . We can infer that she returned to her grave after this and that Odin returned to the other gods and goddesses with the information the seeress gave him. Unfortunately, it seems this was nothing more than a minor elaboration of a part of the Völuspáhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%B6lusp%C3%A1 ) as it contains no new information and ends rather abruptly.)

The Lay of Grotti: Grottasǫngr

In Denmark back in Augustus Cæsar’s time, there was a great king named Fróthi. He was the most powerful king in all the Northern lands – so much so that peace was named after him wherever people spoke in the Scandinavian tongue (the languages only had slight dialectal variations at the time). In the time it lasted, no man would harm another and there were no thieves or robbers. A gold ring even sat untouched for a full three years by the high road over the Jalangr-Heath (now called Jællinge, located in Jutland).

King Fróthi  bought two bondmaids whilst in Sweden where he was attending a feast given by King Fjolnir (King Fjolnir is another one of Óthin’s names, and this may have been the god himself). The bondmaids were named Fenja and Menja (which may mean “Water-Maiden” and “Jewel-Maiden”), and they were both tall and strong on account of the fact that these were no ordinary human women. They were of the giants, born to brothers of etins and having prophetic gifts. Fróthi had gotten these bondmaids in the hope that they would be able to turn a certain pair of millstones in Denmark which were so large that no man could turn them.

It is interesting that these particular maids should end up turning these stones since these two were the ones who rolled them out of etins’ realm and hurled the rocks from the heights so that men could seize them. That was back when they were younger, before they went to Sweden and fought among men as valkyries. They became quite famous doing this and earned their way up through the ranks of men. After some time passed they had become bondmaids, were bought by Fróthi, and were forced to grind gold from the stones they had given to mankind.

(It brings to mind an old Swedish fairy tale about a young tomte who was told by one of his elders never to steal gold from the trolls because the trolls’ gold, jewels, etc. made whoever possessed them lazy, greedy, mean, and acquire other such traits reminiscent of people who give too much of their hearts and minds to etins. Perhaps the stones, having belonged to the etins before and having been stolen, had a similar effect to the gold and jewels stolen from trolls and made whoever possessed them become greedy and mean.)

These stones were special, not just in their immense size, but in that they had the power to grind out whatever anyone turning them bade them to grind. The quern/hand mill was named Grotti (= “Grinder”), and the man who had given the king the mill was called Hengikjopt (= “Hang-Chaps”, another one of Óthin’s names – he had disguised himself, given Fróthi this mill, and prepared the latter’s ruin by doing so). Since the stones could grind out anything, Fróthi had the maids led to the mill and told them to grind gold for him.

The maids ground him gold, peace, and happiness. Then he only allowed them to rest for as long as the cuckoo was silent ( in a long summer day these sing almost constantly in the high north) or for as long as it took to sing a lay. It is said that before they could finish chanting “The Lay of Grotti”, they had ground the fate for him that on that same night the sea king, Mýsing (= “Mouse-Gray”, in another tradition the sea king’s place is taken by a monster rising out of the sea), killed Fróthi and ended his peaceful reign, taking with him treasures, the mill, and Fenja and Menja.

Mýsing had the two bondmaids grind salt for him. At midnight they asked him if he had enough salt. He had them continue grinding and the ship sank shortly after. A whirlpool now exists in that spot. The waters still are turned through the eye of the millstone there and the sea remains salty to this day.

(There is another version (the lay, not the prose version) in which the mill falls to pieces when Fróthi’s good fortune comes to an end instead of having the more “fairy tale” sea salt ending. The lay is said to be the more authentic version, and the first stanza of it was used in Snorri’s Edda “after briefly explaining the skaldic kenning for gold, as “Fróthi’s Flour,” by a short summary of the legend”.)

Summary of the Lay of Grímnir: Grímnismál

King Hrauthung had two sons. The older one, Agnar, was ten years old. The younger, Geirrœth, was eight. The two brothers were rowing a boat one day trying to catch small fry when the wind blew them out to sea. During the night, they suddenly “dashed against” the land. They went ashore and found a cottage wherein they stayed during that winter. The goodwife fostered the elder brother and the goodman fostered the younger. Apart from this, the goodman also counseled Geirrœth in shrewdness. In spring he got a boat for them, led them down to the shore with his wife, and spoke secretly with Geirrœth. The wind was fair and Geirrœth was forward in the boat. When the two brothers arrived back at their father’s landing place, the younger brother jumped out, shoved the boat back to sea with Agnar still inside and said, “Now go where all trolls may take thee!” Agnar drifted out to sea. Geirrœth was warmly welcomed home. Since his father had died (and with his older brother now drifting out in the open sea…), Geirrœth was made king and he became a famous leader. One day, Óthin and Frigg were sitting in Hilthskjalf, looking out upon the world (Hilthskjalf: “Hall of Gates” or “Gate Tower” = Óthin’s seat in Valholl. Quote from “Gylfaginning” on chapter eight: “When he seats himself in the high-seat he can see all the world and the doings of every man”. In this instance, Óthin can be compared to the sun which, when high in the sky, “can see all the world and the doings of every man”.)  As they were looking at the worlds Óthin said to Frigg, “Dost thou see Agnar, thy foster son, how he begets children with an ogress in a cave? But Geirrœth, my foster son, is king in the land.” Frigg responded, “He is so grudging about his food that he lets his guests die of hunger when he thinks too many have come.” (According to Old Norse conceptions, this was a “cardinal sin” in a king.) Óthin said this was a gross lie, so they made a wager. Frigg sent her chambermaid Fulla to Geirrœth to beware lest he be bewitched by a warlock who was supposedly around the area at the time. She said the warlock could be recognized by the fact that dogs would not rush at him, so Geirrœth found the man his dogs wouldn’t set on and captured him. The “warlock” was wearing a blue cloak and said his name was Grímnir (Grímnir: “The Masked One” = Óthin. He is frequently pictured as concealing his face with a wide cowl/hood). He didn’t say anything else about himself even though he was asked. In an attempt to make Grímnir reveal more about himself, Geirrœth tortured him by setting him between two fires. Grímnir sat there for eight nights. Geirrœth’s son, a ten-year-old named Agnar after Geirrœth’s brother, went up to Grímnir, gave him a full horn to drink from and said that the king did ill to torture someone who had done no wrong. Grímnir emptied the horn, and by that time the fire had come so close to him that his cloak started to burn. Óthin thanked Agnar and said he would be king after his father. He then gave Agnar very much information about the gods, Yggdrasil, the universe et cetera. Óthin reveals his identity using many of the names people called him saying, “by one name was I not welcomed ever, since among folk I fared”. He goes on to further introduce himself and says some uncomplimentary things about his own foster son Geirrœth (Geirrœth is muddled, he’s drunk too much, his faithless friends betray him, he sent his own brother out to sea and took the crown in his place) and says the norns wish Geirrœth ill and he doesn’t have much longer left to live. Óthin then says, “come thou near if thou canst”, after which he probably vanishes. Then Geirrœth accidentally drops his sword, piercing his stomach and accidentally killing himself. His son Agnar became king and ruled in that land for a long time.