Voluspa Stanzas 9 – 18 of Dwarfs and Men

9) Then sought the gods their assembly-seats,

The holy ones, and council held,

To find who should raise the race of dwarfs

Out of Brimir’s blood and the legs of Blain.

10)There was Motsognir the mightiest made

Of all the dwarfs, and Durin next;

Many a likeness of men they made,

The dwarfs in the earth, as Durin said.

11) Nyi and Nithi, Northri and Suthri,

Austri and Vestri, Althjof, Dvalin,

Nar and Nain, Niping, Dain,

Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Nori,

An and Onar, Ai, Mjothvitnir.

12) Vigg and Gandaf, Vindalf, Thrain,

Thekk and Thorin, Thror, Vit and Lit,

Nyr and Nyrath, now have I told —

Regin and Rathsvith– the list aright.

13) Fili,Kili, Fundin, Nali,

Heptifili, Hannar, Svirur,

Frar, Hornbori, Fraeg and Loni,

Aurvang, Jari, Eikinsjaldi.

14)The race of the dwarfs in Dvalin’s throng.

Down to Lofar the list must I tell;

The rocks they left, and through wet lands

They sought a home in the fields of sand.

15) There were Draupnir and Dolgthrasir,

Hor, Haugspori, Hlevang, Gloin,

Dori, Ori, Duf, Andvari,

Skirfir, Virfir, Skafith, Ai.

16) Alf and Yngvi, Eikinskajaldi,

Fjalr and Frosti, Fith and Ginnar;

So for all time shall the tale be known,

The list of all the forbears of Lofar.

17) Then from the throng did three come forth,

From the home of the gods, the mighty and gracious;

Two without fate on the land they found

Ask and Embla, empty of might.

18) Soul they had not, sense they had not,

Heat nor motion, nor goodly hue;

Soul gave Othin, sense gave Honir,

Heat gave Lothur and goodly hue. 

Starting at stanza nine, we see the gods assembling to discuss the making of the race of dwarfs. In this translation by Bellows we’re told the dwarfs were made from “Brimir’s blood” and the “legs of Blain”. Thorpe’s translation doesn’t include names but says “from the sea-giant’s blood and livid bones”. So though these names aren’t used much, it is generally accepted that these are just various names for Ymir. With some translating a relation to the sea, and the Prose Edda containing stories of the dwarfs being made from Ymir’s blood or from the maggots that came out of him, that does seem to be very likely the case. But we also see here and into the next stanza that the Aesir were deciding who would be essentially the leader of the dwarfs. At the end of stanza nine it says they talked  “to find who should raise the race of dwarfs”. Thorpe’s translation says to see “who should of the dwarfs the race create”. Then we see in stanza 10 that Motsognir is made the mightiest of dwarfs and Durin second. Then “many a likeness of men they made, the dwarfs in the earth”(Bellows) or “There in man’s likeness they created many dwarfs from earth” and then Durin named them. So though the Prose Edda says simply the gods made the dwarfs, with them naming who would “raise”  or “create” the race of dwarfs, is that to say that they made the first dwarfs and then set into order the two that would make the rest like with the first humans? At this point in the poem it gives a long list of the many dwarfs and some of them notable names that come up in other myths such Andvari who had the cursed ring and Northri, Suthri, Austri, and Vestri who are often associated with the directions and holding up the sky. And this list goes down to Lofar and says that it was important to tell this for all “sons of men” to know the names of the dwarfs and the “forbears of Lofar”. Finally, we come to the creation of people. Here it says the three gods Odin, Honir, and Lodur come down and find Ask and Embla. We’re told these two had no soul or spirit because they lacked heat or blood, motion, and “goodly hue”. Then Odin gave them spirit or soul, Honir gave motion, and Lodur gave blood and color. Now, in the Prose Edda and elsewhere, we’re told that Odin breathed life into them or gave them breath. But all other accounts do agree that movement came from Honir and blood and color from Lodur. This could be the “breath of life” we see in other creation stories where the breath is life and therefore could be associated as “soul”. However, it also says they had no soul because they didn’t have motion, and blood. So in this case, we see that body and soul are separate but connected. For many people, this is also proof that life and soul begins at the point of breath. That is, of course, up to individual interpretation, but is worth noting. One final point of interest people bring up here is the brothers of Odin who help in this creation. In the Prose Edda it says that Vili and Ve were the brothers. However, this version and a few others list Hodnir and Lodur almost exclusively. And these three also appear together in other stories as well. It is also theorized that Lodur may be another name for Loki. Some people have associated the name Lodur with Loptr which is also a name known to be one of Loki’s. Not only this, but Loki is seen in a few stories in the company of Odin and Honir even with the name Loki, like in the journey that leads to Thiassi and the kidnapping of Idun. So what I personally find interesting is if Lodur actually is Loki, then that would mean Loki gave us blood which is essential to life. It is the blood that takes the oxygen (ie: breath) through the body. And this seems to be, in my opinion, a nice tie in with the blood-brother idea and the idea that “blood-brother” could have meant brother by relation. Again, this is theory and even upg for some. But, there is at least some small evidence for it in this case. What are your thoughts? What other things stand out to you in this section of the poem? Feel free to discuss in the comments. I will respond as soon as I can. That’s all for now. See you soon. 

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