The Stories of Iðunn and Skadi from the Prose Edda
from The Prose Edda
Iðunn and her Apples
Brage began his tale by telling how three Aesir, Odin, Loki and Honer, went on a journey over mountains and heaths, where they could get nothing to eat. But when they came down into a valley they saw a herd of cattle. From this herd they took an ox and went to work to boil it. When they deemed that it must be boiled enough they uncovered the broth, but it was not yet done. After a little while they lifted the cover off again, but it was not yet boiled. They talked among themselves about how this could happen. Then they heard a voice in the oak above them, and he who sat there said that he was the cause that the broth did not get boiled. They looked up and saw an eagle, and it was not a small one. Then said the eagle: If you will give me my fill of the ox, then the broth will be boiled. They agreed to this. So he flew down from the tree, seated himself beside the boiling broth, and immediately snatched up first the two thighs of the ox and then both the shoulders. This made Loki wroth: he grasped a large pole, raised it with all his might and dashed it at the body of the eagle. The eagle shook himself after the blow and flew up. One end of the pole fastened itself to the body of the eagle, and the other end stuck to Loki’s hands. The eagle flew just high enough so that Loki’s feet were dragged over stones and rocks and trees, and it seemed to him that his arms would be torn from his shoulder-blades. He calls and prays the eagle most earnestly for peace, but the latter declares that Loki shall never get free unless he will pledge himself to bring Iðunn and her apples out of Asgard. When Loki had promised this, he was set free and went to his companions again; and no more is related of this journey, except that they returned home. But at the time agreed upon, Loki coaxed Iðunn out of Asgard into a forest, saying that he had found apples that she would think very nice, and he requested her to take with her her own apples in order to compare them. Then came the giant Thjasse in the guise of an eagle, seized Iðunn and flew away with her to his home in Thrymheim. The Aesir were ill at ease on account of the disappearance of Iðunn,—they became gray-haired and old. They met in council and asked each other who last had seen Iðunn. The last that had been seen of her was that she had gone out of Asgard in company with Loki. Then Loki was seized and brought into the council, and he was threatened with death or torture. But he became frightened, and promised to bring Iðunn back from Jotunheim if Freyja would lend him the falcon-guise that she had. He got the falcon-guise, flew north into Jotunheim, and came one day to the giant Thjasse. The giant had rowed out to sea, and Iðunn was at home alone. Loki turned her into the likeness of a nut, held her in his claws and flew with all his might. But when Thjasse returned home and missed Iðunn, he took on his eagle-guise, flew after Loki, gaining on the latter with his eagle wings. When the Aesir saw the falcon coming flying with the nut, and how the eagle flew, they went to the walls of Asgard and brought with them bundles of plane-shavings. When the falcon flew within the burg, he let himself drop down beside the burg-wall. Then the Aesir kindled a fire in the shavings; and the eagle, being unable to stop himself when he missed the falcon, caught fire in his feathers, so that he could not fly any farther. The Aesir were on hand and slew the giant Thjasse within the gates of Asgard, and that slaughter is most famous.
How Njord got Skadi to Wife
Skadi, the daughter of the giant Thjasse, donned her helmet, and byrnie, and all her war-gear, and betook herself to Asgard to avenge her father’s death. The Aesir offered her ransom and atonement; and it was agreed to, in the first place, that she should choose herself a husband among the Aesir, but she was to make her choice by the feet, which was all she was to see of their persons. She saw one man’s feet that were wonderfully beautiful, and exclaimed: This one I choose! On Balder there are few blemishes. But it was Njord, from Noatun. In the second place, it was stipulated that the Aesir were to do what she did not deem them capable of, and that was to make her laugh. Then Loki tied one end of a string fast to the beard of a goat and the other around his own body, and one pulled this way and the other that, and both of them shrieked out loud. Then Loki let himself fall on Skadi’s knees, and this made her laugh. It is said that Odin did even more than was asked, in that he took Thjasse’s eyes and cast them up into heaven, and made two stars of them. Then said Æger: This Thjasse seems to me to have been considerable of a man; of what kin was he? Brage answered: His father’s name was Olvalde, and if I told you of him, you would deem it very remarkable. He was very rich in gold, and when he died and his sons were to divide their heritage, they had this way of measuring the gold, that each should take his mouthful of gold, and they should all take the same number of mouthfuls. One of them was Thjasse, another Ide, and the third Gang. But we now have it as a saw among us, that we call gold the mouth-number of these giants. In runes and songs we wrap the gold up by calling it the measure, or word, or tale, of these giants. Then said Æger: It seems to me that it will be well hidden in the runes.