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ÆGIR'S FEAST: HOW THOR TRIUMPHED
HE time between mid-day and evening wore on
while the Æsir and the Vanir gathered for the
feast in old Æsir's ball listened to the stories that
Loki told in mockery of Thor. The night came,
but no banquet was made ready for the Dwellers
in Asgard. They called to Æsir's two
under-servants, Fimaffenger and Elder, and they bade them bring them
a supper. Slight was what they got, but they went to bed
say-  ing, "Great must be the preparations that old Æsir is making
to feast us to-morrow."
The morrow came and the mid-day of the morrow, and still
the Dwellers in Asgard saw no preparations being made for the
banquet. Then Frey rose up and went to seek old Æsir, the
Giant King of the Sea. He found him sitting with bowed head
in his inner hall. "Ho, Æsir," he said, "what of the banquet
that you have offered to the Dwellers in Asgard?"
Old Æsir mumbled and pulled at his beard. At last he looked
his guest in the face and told why the banquet was not being
made ready. The mead for the feast was not yet brewed. And
there was little chance of being able to brew mead that would
do for all, for Æsir's hall was lacking a mead kettle that would
When the Æsir and the Vanir heard this they were sorely
disappointed. Who now, outside of Asgard, would give them a
feast? Æsir was the only one of the Giants who was friendly
to them, and Æsir could not give them full entertainment.
Then a Giant youth who was there spoke up and said, "My
kinsman, the Giant Hrymer, has a mead kettle that is a mile
wide. If we could bring Hrymer's kettle here, what a feast we
"One of us can go for that kettle," Frey said.
"Ah, but Hrymer's dwelling is beyond the deepest forest and
behind the highest mountain," the Giant youth said, "and
Hrymer himself is a rough and a churlish one to call on."
 "Still, one of us should go," Frey said.
"I will go to Hrymer's dwelling," said Thor, standing up. "I
will go to Hrymer's dwelling and get the mile-wide kettle from
him by force or cunning." He had been sitting subdued under
the mocking tales that Loki told of him and he was pleased
with this chance to make his prowess plain to the Æsir and the
Vanir. He buckled on the belt that doubled his strength.
He drew on the iron gloves that enabled him to grasp Miölnir.
He took his hammer in his hands, and he signed to the Giant
youth to come with him and be his guide.
The Æsir and the Vanir applauded Thor as he stepped out of
old Æsir's hall. But Loki, mischievous Loki, threw a gibe
after him. "Do not let the hammer out of your hands this time,
bride of Thrym," he shouted.
Thor, with the Giant youth to guide him, went through the
deepest forest and over the highest mountain. He came at last
to the Giant's dwelling. On a hillock before Hrymer's house was
a dreadful warden; a Giant crone she was, with heads a-many
growing out of her shoulders. She was squatting down on her
ankles, and her heads, growing in bunches, were looking in
different directions. As Thor and the Giant youth came near
screams and yelps came from all her heads. Thor grasped his
hammer and would have flung it at her if a Giant woman,
making a sign of peace, had not come to the door of the
dwelling. The youthful Giant who was with Thor greeted her
as his mother.
 "Son, come within," said she, "and you may bring your fellow
farer with you."
The Giant crone—she was Hrymer's grandmother—kept
up her screaming and yelping. But Thor went past her and into
the Giant's dwelling.
When she saw that it was one of the Dwellers in Asgard who
had come with her son the Giant woman grew fearful for them
both. "Hrymer," she said, "will be in a rage to find one of the
Æsir under his roof. He will strive to slay you."
"It is not likely he will succeed," Thor said, grasping Miölnir,
the hammer that all the Giant race knew of and dreaded.
"Hide from him," said the Giant woman. "He may injure
my son in his rage to find you here."
"I am not wont to hide from the Giants," Thor said.
"Hide only for a little while! Hide until Hrymer has eaten,"
the Giant woman pleaded. "He comes back from the chase in a
stormy temper. After he has eaten he is easier to deal with.
Hide until he has finished supper."
Thor at last agreed to do this. He and the Giant youth hid
behind a pillar in the hall. They were barely hidden when they
heard the clatter of the Giant's steps as he came through the
court-yard. He came to the door. His beard was like a frozen
forest around his mouth. And he dragged along with him a wild
bull that he had captured in the chase. So proud was he of his
capture that he dragged it into the hall.
"I have taken alive," he shouted, "the bull with the mightiest
 head and horns. 'Heaven-breaking' this bull is called. No
Giant but me could capture it." He tied the bull to the post
of the door and then his eyes went towards the pillar behind which
Thor and the Giant youth were hiding. The pillar split up its
whole length at that look from Hrymer's eyes. He came nearer.
The pillar of stone broke across. It fell with the cross-beam it
supported and all the kettles and cauldrons that were hanging
on the beam came down with a terrible rattle.
Then Thor stepped out and faced the wrathful Giant. "It
is I who am here, friend Hrymer," he said, his hands resting on
Then Hrymer, who knew Thor and knew the force of Thor's
hammer, drew back. "Now that you are in my house, Asa Thor,"
he said, "I will not quarrel with you. Make supper ready for Asa
Thor and your son and myself," said he to the Giant woman.
A plentiful supper was spread and Hrymer and Thor and the
Giant youth sat down to three whole roast oxen. Thor ate the
whole of one ox. Hrymer, who had eaten nearly two himself,
leaving only small cuts for his wife and his youthful kinsman,
grumbled at Thor's appetite. "You'll clear my fields, Asa Thor,"
he said, "if you stay long with me."
"Do not grumble, Hrymer," Thor said. "To-morrow I'll go
fishing and I'll bring you back the weight of what I ate."
"Then instead of hunting I'll go fishing with you to-morrow,
Asa Thor," said Hrymer. "And don't be frightened if I take you
out on a rough sea."
 Hrymer was first out of bed the next morning. He came with
the pole and the ropes in his hand to where Thor was sleeping.
"Time to start earning your meal, Asa Thor," said he.
Thor got out of bed, and when they were both in the court-yard
the Giant said, "You'll have to provide a bait for yourself.
Mind that you take a bait large enough. It is not where the
little fishes are, the place where I'm going to take you. If you
never saw monsters before you'll see them now. I'm glad,
Asa Thor, that you spoke of going fishing."
"Will this bait be big enough?" said Thor, laying his hands
on the horns of the bull that Hrymer had captured and brought
home, the bull with the mighty head of horns that was called
"Heaven-breaking." "Will this bait be big enough, do you think?"
"Yes, if you're big enough to handle it," said the Giant.
Thor said nothing, but he struck the bull full in the middle
of the forehead with his fist. The great creature fell down dead.
Thor then twisted the bull's head off. "I have my bait and I'm
ready to go with you, Hrymer," he said.
Hrymer had turned away to hide the rage he was in at seeing
Thor do such a feat. He walked down to the boat without
speaking. "You may row for the first few strokes," said Hrymer,
when they were in the boat, "but when we come to where the
ocean is rough, why I'll take the oars from you."
Without saying a word Thor made a few strokes that took
the boat out into the middle of the ocean. Hrymer was in a rage
 to think that he could not show himself greater than Thor. He
let out his line and began to fish. Soon he felt something huge on
his hook. The boat rocked and rocked till Thor steadied it.
Then Hrymer drew into the boat the largest whale that was in
"Good fishing," said Thor, as he put his own bait on the line.
"It's something for you to tell the Æsir," said Hrymer. "I
thought as you were here I'd show you something bigger than
"I'll try my luck now," said Thor.
He threw out a line that had at the end of it the
mighty-horned head of the great bull. Down, down the head went.
It passed where the whales swim, and the whales were afraid
to gulp at the mighty horns. Down, down it went till it came
near where the monster serpent that coils itself round the
world abides. It reared its head up from its serpent coils as
Thor's bait came down through the depths of the ocean. It
gulped at the head and drew it into its gullet. There the great
hook stuck. Terribly surprised was the serpent monster. It
lashed the ocean into a fury. But still the hook stayed. Then it
strove to draw down to the depths of the ocean the boat of those
who had hooked it. Thor put his legs across the boat and
stretched them till they touched the bottom bed of the ocean.
On the bottom bed of the ocean Thor stood and he pulled and he
pulled on his line. The serpent monster lashed the ocean into
fiercer and fiercer storms and all the world's ships were hurled
 against each other and wrecked and tossed. But it had to loosen
coil after coil of the coils it makes around the world. Thor pulled
and pulled. Then the terrible head of the serpent monster
appeared above the waters. It reared over the boat that Hrymer
sat in and that Thor straddled across. Thor dropped the line
and took up Miölnir, his mighty hammer. He raised it to strike
the head of the serpent monster whose coils go round the world.
But Hrymer would not have that happen. Rather than have
Thor pass him by such a feat he cut the line, and the head of the
serpent monster sank back into the sea. Thor's hammer was
raised. He hurled it, hurled that hammer that always came back
to his hand. It followed the sinking head through fathom after
fathom of the ocean depth. It struck the serpent monster a
blow, but not such a deadly blow as would have been struck if
the water had not come between. A bellow of pain came up
from the depths of the ocean, such a bellow of pain that all in
Jötunheim were affrighted.
"This surely is something to tell the Æsir of," said Thor,
"something to make them forget Loki's mockeries."
Without speaking Hrymer turned the boat and rowed towards
the shore, dragging the whale in the wake. He was in such a rage
to think that one of the Æsir had done a feat surpassing his
that he would not speak. At supper, too, be remained silent, but
Thor talked for two, boasting loudly of his triumph over the
"No doubt you think yourself very powerful, Asa Thor,"
 Hrymer said at last. "Well, do you think you are powerful
enough to break the cup that is before you?"
Thor took up the cup and with a laugh he hurled it against the
stone pillar of the house. The cup fell down on the floor without
a crack or a dint in it. But the pillar was shattered with the
The Giant laughed. "So feeble are the folk of Asgard!" he
Thor took up the cup again and flung it with greater force
against the stone pillar. And again the cup fell to the ground
without a crack or a dint.
Then he heard the woman who was the mother of the Giant
youth sing softly, as she plied her wheel behind him:
Not at the pillar of the stead,
But at Hrymer's massy head
When you next the goblet throw,
Let his head receive the blow.
Thor took the cup up again. He flung it, not at the pillar this
time, but at Hrymer's head. It struck the Giant full on the
forehead and fell down on the floor in pieces. And Hrymer's head
was left without a dint or a crack.
"Ha, so you can break a cup, but can you lift up my mile-wide
kettle?" cried the Giant.
"Show me where your mile-wide kettle is and I shall try to
lift it," cried Thor.
 The Giant took up the flooring and showed him the mile-
wide kettle down in the cellar. Thor stooped down and took the
kettle by the brim. He lifted it slowly as if with a mighty effort.
"You can lift, but can you carry it?" said the Giant.
"I will try to do that," said Thor. He lifted the kettle up and
placed it on his head. He strode to the door and out of the house
before the Giant could lay hands on him. Then when he was
outside he started to run. He was across the mountain before
he looked behind him. He heard a yelping and a screaming
and he saw the Giant crone with the bunch of heads running,
running after him. Up hill and down dale Thor raced, the mile-wide
kettle on his head and the Giant crone in chase of him.
Through the deep forest he ran and over the high mountain,
but still Bunch-of-Heads kept him in chase. But at last, jumping
over a lake, she fell in and Thor was free of his pursuer.
And so back to the Æsir and the Vanir Thor came in triumph,
carrying on his head the mile-wide kettle. And those of the Æsir
and the Vanir who had laughed most at Loki's mockeries rose
up and cheered for him as he came in. The mead was brewed,
the feast was spread, and the greatest banquet that ever the
Kings of the Giants gave to the Dwellers in Asgard was eaten in
A strange and silent figure sat at the banquet. It was the
figure of a Giant and no one knew who he was nor where he had
come from. But when the banquet was ended Odin, the Eldest
of the Gods, turned towards this figure and said, "O Skyrmir,
 Giant King of Utgard, rise up now and tell Thor of all you
practised upon him when he and Loki came to your City."
Then the stranger at the banquet stood up, and Thor and Loki
saw he was the Giant King in whose halls they had had the
contests. Skyrmir turned towards them and said:
"O Thor and O Loki, I will reveal to you now the deceits I
practised on you both. It was I whom ye met on the moorland
on the day before ye came into Utgard. I gave you my name as
Skyrmir and I did all I might do to prevent your entering our
City, for the Giants dreaded a contest of strength with Asa
Thor. Now hear me, O Thor. The wallet I gave for you to take
provisions out of was tied with magic knots. No one could undo
them by strength or cleverness. And while you were striving
to undo them I placed a mountain of rock between myself and
you. The hammer blows, which as you thought struck me,
struck the mountain and made great clefts and gals in it. When
I knew the strength of your tremendous blows I was more and
more in dread of your coming into our City.
"I saw you would have to be deceived by magic. Your lad
Thialfi was the one whom I first deceived. For it was not a
Giant youth who raced against him, but Thought itself. And
even you, O Loki, I deceived. For when you tried to make
yourself out the greatest of eaters I pitted against you, not a Giant,
but Fire that devours everything.
"You, Thor, were deceived in all the contests. After you had
taken the drinking horn in your hands we were all affrighted
 to see how much you were able to gulp down. For the end of
that horn was in the sea, and Æsir, who is here, can tell you that
after you had drunk from it, the level of the sea went down.
"The cat whom you strove to lift was Nidhögg, the dragon
that gnaws at the roots of Ygdrassil, the Tree of Trees. Truly
we were terrified when we saw that you made Nidhögg budge.
When you made the back of the cat reach the roof of our palace
we said to ourselves, 'Thor is the mightiest of all the beings we
"Lastly you strove with the hag Ellie. Her strength seemed
marvellous to you, and you thought yourself disgraced because
you could not throw her. But know, Thor, that Ellie whom you
wrestled with was Old Age herself. We were terrified again to
see that she who can werthrow all was not able to force you
prone upon the ground."
So Skyrmir spoke and then left the hall. And once more the
Æsir and the Vanir stood up and cheered for Thor, the strongest
of all who guarded Asgard.