THOR AND LOKI IN THE GIANTS' CITY
LL but a few of the Dwellers of Asgard had come to the
feast offered by Ægir the Old, the Giant King of
the Sea. Frigga, the queenly wife of Odin, was there,
and Frey and Freya; Iduna, who guarded the Apples of
Youth, and Bragi, her husband; Tyr, the great
swordsman, and Niörd, the God of the Sea, Skadi,
who wedded Niörd and whose hatred for Loki was
fierce, and Sif, whose golden hair was once shorn off
by Loki the mischievous. Thor and Loki were there. The
 Dwellers of Asgard, gathered together in the hall of
Ægir, waited for Odin.
Before Odin came Loki made the company merry by the
tales that he told in mockery of Thor. Loki long since
had his lips unloosed from the thong that the Dwarf
Brock had sewn them with. And Thor had forgotten the
wrong that he had done to Sif. Loki had been with Thor
in his wanderings through Jötunheim, and about
these wanderings he now told mocking tales.
He told how he had seen Thor in his chariot of brass
drawn by two goats go across Bifröst, the Rainbow
Bridge. None of the Æsir or the Vanir know on what
adventure Thor was bent. But Loki followed him and Thor
kept him in his company.
As they traveled on in the brass chariot drawn by the
two goats, Thor told Loki of the adventure on which he
was bent. He would go into Jötunheim, even unto
Utgard, the Giants' City, and he would try his strength
against the Giants. He was not afraid of aught that
might happen, for he carried Miölnir, his hammer,
Their way was through Midgard, the World of Men. Once,
as they were traveling on, night came upon them as they
were hungry and in need of shelter. They saw a
peasant's hut and they drove the chariot towards it.
Unyoking the goats and leaving them standing in a
hollow beside the chariot, the two, looking not like
Dwellers in Asgard, but like men traveling through the
country, knocked at the door of the hut and asked for
food and shelter.
 They could have shelter, the peasant and his wife told
them, but they could not have food. There was little in
that place, and what little there had been they had
eaten for supper. The peasant showed them the inside of
the hut: it was poor and bare, and there was nothing
there to give anyone. In the morning, the peasant said,
he would go down to the river and catch some fish for a
"We can't wait until morning, we must eat now," said
Thor, "and I think I can provide a good meal for us
all." He went over to where his goats stood in the
hollow beside the chariot of brass, and, striking them
with his hammer, he left them lifeless on the ground.
He skinned the goats then, and taking up the bones very
carefully, he left them down on the skins. Skins and
bones he lifted up and bringing them into the house he
left them in a hole above the peasant's fireplace. "No
one," said he in a commanding voice, "must touch the
bones that I leave here."
Then he brought the meat into the house. Soon it was
cooked and laid smoking on the table. The peasant and
his wife and his son sat round the board with Thor and
Loki. They had not eaten plentifully for many days, and
now the man and the woman fed themselves well.
Thialfi was the name of the peasant's son. He was a
growing lad and had an appetite that had not been
satisfied for long. While the meat was on the table his
father and mother had kept him going here and there,
carrying water, putting fagots
 on the fire, and holding
a blazing stick so that those at the table might see to
eat. There was not much left for him when he was able
to sit down, for Thor and Loki had great appetites, and
the lad's father and mother had eaten to make up for
days of want. So Thialfi got little out of that
When the meal was finished they lay down on the
benches. Thor, because he had made a long journey that
day, slept very soundly. Thialfi lay down on a bench,
too, but his thoughts were still upon the food. When
all were asleep, he thought, he would take one of the
bones that were in the skins above him, and break and
So in the dead of the night the lad stood up on the
bench and took down the goatskins that Thor had left so
carefully there. He took out a bone, broke it, and
gnawed it for the marrow. Loki was awake and saw him do
this, but he, relishing mischief as much as ever, did
nothing to stay the lad.
He put the bone he had broken back in the skins and he
left the skins back in the hole above the fireplace.
Then he went to sleep on the bench.
In the morning, as soon as they were up, the first
thing Thor did was to take the skins out of the hole.
He carried them carefully out to the hollow where he
had left the goats standing. He put each goatskin down
with the bones in it. He struck each with his hammer,
and the goats sprang up alive, horns and hoofs and all.
But one was not as he had been before. He limped badly.
 Thor examined the leg and found out that one bone was
broken. In terrible anger he turned on the peasant, his
wife, and his son. "A bone of this goat has been broken
under your roof," he shouted. "For that I shall destroy
your house and leave you all dead under it." Thialfi
wept. Then he came forward and touched the knees of
Thor. "I did not know what harm I did," he said. "I
broke the bone."
Thor had his hammer lifted up to crush him into the
earth. But he could not bring it down on the weeping
boy. He let his hammer rest on the ground again. "You
will have to do much service for me for having lamed my
goat," he said. "Come with me."
And so the lad Thialfi went off with Thor and Loki.
Thor took in his powerful hands the shafts of the
chariot of brass and he dragged it to a lonely mountain
hollow where neither men nor Giants came. And they left
the goats in a great, empty forest to stay resting
there until Thor called to them again.
HOR and Loki and the lad Thialfi went across from
Midgard into Jötunheim. Because of Miölnir,
the great hammer that he carried, Thor felt safe in the
Realm of the Giants. And Loki, who trusted in his own
cunning, felt safe, too. The lad Thialfi trusted in
Thor so much that he had no fear. They were long in
making the journey, and while they were traveling Thor
and Loki trained Thialfi to be a quick and a strong
 One day they came out on a moor. All day they crossed
it, and at night it still stretched before them. A
great wind was blowing, night was falling, and they saw
no shelter near In the dusk they saw a shape that
looked to be a mountain and they went toward it, hoping
to find some shelter in a cave.
Then Loki saw a lower shape that looked as if it might
be a shelter. They walked around it, Loki and Thor and
the lad Thialfi. It was a house, but a house most oddly
shaped. The entrance was a long, wide hall that had no
doorway. When they entered this hall they found five
long and narrow chambers running off it. "It is an odd
place, but it is the best shelter we can get," Loki
said. "You and I, Thor, will take the two longest
rooms, and the lad Thialfi can take one of the little
They entered their chambers and they lay down to sleep.
But from the mountain outside there came a noise that
was like moaning forests and falling cataracts. The
chamber where each one slept was shaken by the noise.
Neither Thor nor Loki nor the lad Thialfi slept that
In the morning they left the five-chambered house and
turned their faces toward the mountain. It was not a
mountain at all, but a Giant. He was lying on the
ground when they saw him, but just then he rolled over
and sat up. "Little men, little men," he shouted to
them, "have you passed by a glove of mine on your way?"
He stood up and looked all around him. "Ho, I see my
glove now," he said. Thor and Loki and
 the lad Thialfi
stood still as the Giant came toward them. He leaned
over and picked up the five-roomed shelter they had
slept in. He put it on his hand. It was really his
Thor gripped his hammer, and Loki and the lad Thialfi
stood behind him. But the Giant seemed good-humored
enough. "Where might ye be bound for, little men?" said
"To Utgard in Jötunheim," Thor replied boldly.
"Oh, to that place," said the Giant. "Come, then, I
shall be with ye so far. You can call me Skyrmir."
"Can you give us breakfast?" said Thor. He spoke
crossly, for he did not want it to appear that there
was any reason to be afraid of the Giant.
"I can give you breakfast," said Skyrmir," but I don't
want to stop to eat now. We'll sit down as soon as I
have an appetite. Come along now. Here is my wallet to
carry. It has my provisions in it."
He gave Thor his wallet. Thor put it on his back and
put Thialfi sitting upon it. On and on the Giant strode
and Thor and Loki were barely able to keep up with him.
It was midday before he showed any signs of halting to
They came to an enormous tree. Under it Skyrmir sat
down. "I'll sleep before I eat," he said, "but you can
open my wallet, my little men, and make your meal out
of it." Saying this, he stretched himself out, and in a
few minutes Thor and Loki and the lad Thialfi heard the
same sounds as kept them awake the
 night before, sounds
that were like forests moaning and cataracts falling.
It was Skyrmir's snoring.
Thor and Loki and the lad Thialfi were too hungry now
to be disturbed by these tremendous noises. Thor tried
to open the wallet, but he found it was not easy to
undo the knots. Then Loki tried to open it. In spite of
all Loki's cunning he could not undo the knots. Then
Thor took the wallet from him and tried to break the
knots by main strength. Not even Thor's strength could
break them. He threw the wallet down in his rage.
The snoring of Skyrmir became louder and louder. Thor
stood up in his rage. He grasped MiĀlnir and flung
it at the head of the sleeping Giant.
The hammer struck him on the head. But Skyrmir only
stirred in his sleep. "Did a leaf fall on my head?" he
He turned round on the other side and went to sleep
again. The hammer came back to Thor's hand. As soon as
Skyrmir snored he flung it again, aiming at the Giant's
forehead. It struck there. The Giant opened his eyes.
"Has an acorn fallen on my forehead?" he said.
Again he went to sleep. But now Thor, terribly roused,
stood over his head with the hammer held in his hands.
He struck him on the forehead. It was the greatest blow
Thor had ever dealt.
"A bird is pecking at my forehead—there is no
chance to sleep here," said Skyrmir, sitting up. "And
you, little men, did you have breakfast yet? Toss over
my wallet to me and I
 shall give you some provision."
The lad Thialfi brought him the wallet. Skyrmir opened
it, took out his provisions, and gave a share to Thor
and Loki and the lad Thialfi. Thor would not take
provision from him, but Loki and the lad Thialfi took
it and ate. When the meal was finished Skyrmir rose up
and said, "Time for us to be going toward Utgard."
As they went on their way Skyrmir talked to Loki. "I
always feel very small when I go into Utgard," he said.
"You see, I'm such a small and weak fellow and the folk
who live there are so big and powerful. But you and
your friends will be welcomed in Utgard. They will be
sure to make little pets of you."
And then he left them and they went into Utgard, the
City of the Giants. Giants were going up and down in
the streets. They were not so huge as Skyrmir would
have them believe, Loki noticed.
TGARD was the Asgard of the Giants. But in it's
buildings there was not a line of the beauty that there
was in the palaces of the Gods, Gladsheim and
Breidablik or Fensalir. Huge but shapeless the
buildings arose, like mountains or icebergs. O
beautiful Asgard with the dome above it of the deepest
blue! Asgard with the clouds around it heaped up like
mountains of diamonds! Asgard with its Rainbow Bridge
and its glittering gates! O beautiful Asgard, could it
be indeed that these Giants would one day overthrow
Thor and Loki with the lad Thialfi went to the palace
 King. The hammer that Thor gripped would, they
knew, make them safe even there. They passed between
rows of Giant guards and came to the King's seat. "We
know you, Thor and Loki," said the Giant King, "and we
know that Thor has come to Utgard to try his strength
against the Giants. We shall have a contest tomorrow.
Today there are sports for our boys. If your young
servant should like to try his swiftness against our
youths, let him enter the race today.
Now Thialfi was the best runner in Midgard and all the
time he had been with them Loki and Thor had trained
him in quickness. And so Thialfi was not fearful of
racing against the Giants' youths.
The King called on one name Hugi and placed him against
Thialfi. The pair started together. Thialfi sped off.
Loki and Thor watched the race anxiously, for they
thought it would be well for them if they had a triumph
over the dwellers in Utgard in the first contest. But
they saw Hugi leave Thialfi behind. They saw the Giant
youth reach the winning post, circle round it, and come
back to the starting place before Thialfi had reached
the end of the course.
Thialfi, who did not know how it was that he had been
beaten, asked that he be let run the race with Hugi
again. The pair started off once more, and this time it
did not seem to Thor and Loki that Hugi had left the
starting place at all—he was back there almost as
soon as the race had started.
They came back from the racing ground to the palace.
 Giant King and his friends with Thor and Loki sat
down to the supper table. "Tomorrow," said the King,
"we shall have our great contest when Asa Thor will
show us his power. Have you of Asgard ever heard of one
who would enter a contest in eating? We might have a
contest in eating at this supper board if we could get
one who would match himself with Logi here. He can eat
more than anyone in Jötunheim."
"And I," said Loki, "can eat more than any two in
Jötunheim. I will match myself against your Logi."
"Good!" said the Giant King. And all the Giants present
said, "Good! This will be a sight worth seeing."
Then they put scores of plates along one side of the
table, each plate filled with meat. Loki began at one
end and Logi began at the other. They started to eat,
moving toward each other as each cleared a plate. Plate
after plate was emptied, and Thor standing by with the
Giants was amazed to see how much Loki ate. But Logi on
the other side was leaving plate after plate emptied.
At last the two stood together with scores of plates on
each side of them. "He has not defeated me," cried
Loki. "I have cleared as many plates as your champion,
O King of the Giants."
"But you have not cleared them so well," said the King.
"Loki has eaten all the meat that was upon them," said
"But Logi has eaten the bones with the meat," said the
Giant King. "Look and see if it be not so."
Thor went to the plates. Where Loki had eaten, the
 were left on the plates. Where Logi had eaten,
nothing was left: bones as well as meat were consumed,
and all the plates were left bare.
"We are beaten," said Thor to Loki.
"Tomorrow, Thor," said Loki, "you mush show all your
strength or the Giants will cease to dread the might of
the Dwellers in Asgard."
"Be not afraid," said Thor. "No one in Jötunheim
will triumph over me."
HE next day Thor and Loki came into the great hall of
Utgard. The Giant King was there with a throng of his
friends. Thor marched into the hall with Miölnir,
his great hammer, in his hands. "Our young men have
been drinking out of this horn," said the King, "and
they want to know if you, Asa Thor, would drink out of
it a morning draught. But I must tell you that they
think that no one of the Æsir could empty the horn
at one draught."
"Give it to me," said Thor. "There is no horn you can
hand me that I cannot empty at a draught."
A great horn, brimmed and flowing, was brought over to
him. Handing Miölnir to Loki and bidding him stand
so that he might keep the hammer in sight, Thor raised
the horn to his mouth. He drank and drank. He felt sure
there was not a drop left in the horn as he laid it on
the ground. "There," he gasped, "your Giant horn is
 The Giants looked within the horn and laughed.
"Drained, Asa Thor!" said the Giant King. "Look into
the horn again. You have hardly drunk below the brim."
And Thor looked into it and saw that the horn was not
half emptied. In a mighty rage he lifted it to his lips
again. He drank and drank and drank. Then, satisfied
that he had emptied it to the bottom, he left the horn
on the ground and walked over to the other side of the
"Thor thinks he as drained the horn," said one of the
Giants, lifting it up. "But see, friends, what remains
Thor strode back and looked again into the horn. It was
still half filled. He turned round to see that all the
Giants were laughing at him.
"Asa Thor, Asa Thor," said the Giant King, "we know not
how you are going to deal with us in the next feat, but
you certainly are not able to drink against the
Said Thor: "I can lift up and set down any being in
As he said this a great iron-colored cat bounded into
the hall and stood before Thor, her back arched and her
"Then lift the cat off the ground," said the Giant
Thor strode to the cat, determined to lift her up and
fling her amongst the mocking Giants. He put his hands
to the cat, but he could not raise her. Up, up went
Thor's arms, up, up, as high as they could go. The
cat's arched back went up to the roof, but her feet
were never taken off the ground. And as
 he heaved and
heaved with all his might he heard the laughter of the
Giants all round him.
He turned away, his eyes flaming with anger. "I am not
wont to try to lift cats," he said. "Bring me one to
wrestle with, and I swear you shall see me overthrow
"Here is one for you to wrestle, Asa Thor," said the
King. Thor looked round and saw an old woman hobbling
toward him. She was blear-eyed and toothless. "This is
Ellie, my ancient nurse," said the Giant King. "She is
the one we would have you wrestle with."
"Thor does not wrestle with old women. I will lay my
hands on your tallest Giants instead."
"Ellie has come where you are," said the Giant King.
"Now it is she who will lay hands upon you."
The old woman hobbled toward Thor, her eyes gleaming
under her falling fringes of gray hair. Thor stood,
unable to move as the hag came toward him. She laid her
hands upon his arms. Her feet began to trip at his. He
tried to cast her away from him. Then he found that her
feet and her hands were as strong against his as bands
and stakes of iron.
Then began a wrestling match in earnest between Thor
and the ancient crone Ellie. Round and round the hall
they wrestled, and Thor was not able to bend the old
woman backward nor sideways. Instead he became less and
less able under her terrible grasp. She forced him
down, down, and at last he could only save himself from
being left prone on the ground by throwing
 himself down
on one knee and holding the hag by the shoulders. She
tried to force him down onto the ground, but she could
not do that. Then she broke from him, hobbled to the
door and went out of the hall.
Thor rose up and took the hammer from Loki's hands.
Without a word he went out of the hall and along the
ways toward the gate of the Giants' City. He spoke no
word to Loki nor to the lad Thialfi who went with him
for the seven weeks that they journeyed through
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics