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Thor and the Jotun Geirrod
Thor and the Jotun Geirrod

Thor and the Jotun Geirrod

Bedtime and campfire stories from way, way back in the day

Check out our buddy Snorri Sturluson's version of the myth of Thor and the Jotun Geirrod (translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur). We're in Stanza 18 of the Skáldskaparmal (The Poesy of Skalds):

It is worthy to be told at length, how Thor went to Geirrödr's dwelling. At that time he had not the hammer Mjöllnir with him, nor his Girdle of Might, nor the iron gauntlets: and that was the fault of Loki, who went with him. For once, flying in his sport with Frigg's hawk-plumage, it had happened to Loki to fly for curiosity's sake into Geirrödr's court. There he saw a great hall, and alighted and looked in through the window; and Geirrödr looked up and saw him, and commanded that the bird be taken and brought to him, But he who was sent could scarce get to the top of the wall, so high was it; and it seemed pleasant to Loki to see the man striving with toil and pains to reach him, and he thought it was not yet time to fly away until the other had accomplished the perilous climb. When the man pressed hard after him, then he stretched his wings for flight, and thrust out vehemently, but now his feet were stuck fast. So Loki was taken and brought before Geirrödr the giant; but when Geirrödr saw his eyes, he suspected that this might be a man, and bade him answer; but Loki was silent. Then Geirrödr shut Loki into a chest and starved him there three months. And now when Geirrödr took him out and commanded him to speak, Loki told who he was; and by way of ransom for his life he swore to Geirrödr with oaths that he would get Thor to come into Geirrödr's dwelling in such a fashion that he should have neither hammer nor Girdle of Might with him.

Thor came to spend the night with that giantess who was called Grídr, mother of Vídarr the Silent. She told Thor the truth concerning Geirrödr, that he was a crafty giant and ill to deal with; and she lent him the Girdle of Might and iron gloves which she possessed, and her staff also, which was called Grídr's Rod. Then Thor proceeded to the river named Vimur, greatest of all rivers. There he girded himself with the Girdle of Might and braced firmly downstream with Grídr's Rod, and Loki held on behind by the Girdle of Might. When Thor came to mid-current, the river waxed so greatly that it broke high upon his shoulders. Then Thor sang this:

Wax thou not now, Vimur,
For I fain would wade thee
Into the Giants' garth:
Know thou, if thou waxest,
Then waxeth God-strength in me
As high up as the heaven.

Then Thor saw Gjálp, daughter of Geirrödr, standing in certain ravines, one leg in each, spanning the river, and she was causing the spate. Then Thor snatched up a great stone out of the river and cast it at her, saying these words: "At its source should a river be stemmed." Nor did he miss that at which he threw. In that moment he came to the shore and took hold of a rowan-clump, and so climbed out of the river; whence comes the saying that rowan is Thor's deliverance.

Now when Thor came before Geirrödr, the companions were shown first into the goat-fold for their entertainment, and there was one chair there for a seat, and Thor sat there. Then he became aware that the chair moved under him up toward the roof: he thrust Grídr's Rod up against the rafters and pushed back hard against the chair. Then there was a great crash, and screaming followed. Under the chair had been Geirrödr's daughters, Gjálp and Greip; and he had broken both their backs. Then Geirrödr had Thor called into the hall to play games. There were great fires the whole length of the hall. When Thor came up over against Geirrödr, then Geirrödr took up a glowing bar of iron with the tongs and cast it at Thor. Thor caught it with his iron gloves and raised the bar in the air, but Geirrödr leapt behind an iron pillar to save himself. Thor lifted up the bar and threw it, and it passed through the pillar and through Geirrödr and through the wall, and so on out, even into the earth.

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