Myth Monday: Idunn’s Kidnapping (from Skaldskaparmal)

* We are now starting the next part of the Prose Edda, “Skaldskaparmal” and I gotta be honest, I will be covering only the actual myths in this section and skipping the part where Snorri tries to explain the whole “don’t believe in pagan gods, because these are all real people who called themselves gods in order to be powerful” stuff. So, this starts with Idunn’s apples. I know we’ve covered this one before, but I’m just going through the book in order. The bright side,, its the goat. Lol  😉

In the opening here, we’re told here that “a person” named Aegir who was “very skilled in magic” set out to visit Asgard. When the Aesir found out about this, the gave him a great welcome but “many things had deceptive appearances”. When evening came, they were about to start the drinking. “Odin had swords brought into the hall and they were so bright that light shone from them, and no other light was used while they sat drinking”. Then they began a banquet. The hall was “magnificent to look at”. The wall-panels were all hung with shields. There was strong mead, much drinking, and Aegir was sitting next to Bragi. As they talked, Bragi told Aegir about events that the Aesir had been involved in. The first he told was the story of Idunn and her apples and the giant that took her. He said that Odin, Loki, and Haenir had set out on a journey together and crossed mountains and wildernesses and food was difficult to come by. They came to a valley and found a herd of oxen. So they killed one and made an earth oven to cook it in. When they thought it should be cooked, they opened it and found it was not cooked yet. So they closed it back for a time more, and when they opened it the second time, it was still not cooked. They started talking trying to figure out why it wasn’t cooking properly. But then they heard a voice from above them saying that HE (the voice above) was the one keeping it from cooking. They looked up toward the voice and saw a large eagle sitting there. The eagle told them if they would grant him his fill of the ox, then the oven would cook. They three agreed to this, and the eagle dropped down and sat on the oven and began eating as much as he could of the ox. When the eagle had eaten the ox’s two hams and both shoulders, Loki got angry at him for how much he was taking. So Loki snatched up a pole and swung at the eagle with all his strength. The eagle jerked away and flew up. But the pole was stuck to the eagle’s chest with Loki hanging on to the other end. The eagle flew him in such a way that Loki’s feet banged against stones, gravel, and trees. And he thought his arms were going to be wrenched from his shoulders. So he begged the eagle to let him down. But the eagle said he would not let him down unless he solemnly vowed to bring Idunn to come outside of Asgard with her apples, and Loki accepted and got free. After Loki, Odin, & Haenir had been back at Asgard, Loki went to Idunn and told her there was a forest with some apples that he thought she would like and told her to bring her apples with her to make a comparison. Then the giant Thiassi arrived in eagle shape and snatched Idunn up and flew her to his home in Thrymheim. But without Idunn and her apples, the Aesir became grey and old. So they gathered a parliament to figure out what happened. They remembered that the last they had seen her was with Loki going outside Asgard. So they arrested Loki and threatened him with death or torture. Then, “being filled with terror”, Loki said he would go in search of Idunn in Giantland if Freyja would lend him a falcon shape of hers. He got the falcon shape and flew to Giantland and arrived when Thiassi was out at sea but Idunn was left alone at his home. So he turned Idunn into a nut and held her in his claws and flew as fast as he could. When Thiassi got home and found Idunn gone, he “got his eagle shape” and flew after Loki so hard on fast that it created a storm-wind. And when Aesir saw them flying in, they went under Asgard and gathered loads of wood-shavings. When the falcon flew in over the fortification, it let itself drop down by the wall. Then the Aesir set the wood on fire and the eagle was unable to stop and was burned and fell to the ground. The Aesir were waiting close by and killed him within the As-gates. “And this killing was greatly renowned”. But Thiassi’s daughter Skadi “took helmet and mail-coat and all weapons of war and went to Asgard to avenge her father”. But Aesir offered compensation. The first arrangement was that she would choose for herself a husband out of the Aesir, but she would choose them by seeing only their feet. She saw one person’s feet that were “exceptionally beautiful” and assuming this was Baldr said “I choose that one; there can be little that is ugly about Baldr” But it was Niord of Noatun instead. It was also in her settlement terms “that the Aesire were to do something that she thought they would not be able to”. And that term was that they had to make her laugh. So Loki tied one end of a cord around the beard of a goat and the other end of the cord around his testicles, and they pulled each other back and forth in a tug-of-war. Both of them “squealed loudly”. Then Loki let himself drop into Skadi’s lap, and she laughed. “Then the atonement with her on the part of the Aesir was complete”. 

My thoughts: We’ve talked plenty about Loki luring Idunn because he wouldn’t break an oath even if it was an oath made just to spare his life. But what stands out to me here is Skadi and what came from this with her. Even though her father Thiassi started the whole thing, and the Aesir are the ones who actually killed him, and they made this atonement; we still see later that she blames Loki and that is part of why she is the one who sets up the snake to drip venom on him in his binding. So is this because she actually blames him for Thassi’s death? Or is she mad because he is the one that caused her to laugh when she thought no one could, and thus making it where she could not get the vengeance that she really wanted?  Is it because he turned her down when she begged him to sleep with her? Or maybe a combination of all of it? What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment and discuss (politely).  

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: