Ęgir's Banquet - The Chastising of Loki

When Ęgir had got possession of the huge kettle borrowed by Thor
from Hymir, he prepared a great banquet for the Ęsir. Odin was one of the
guests; others were Frigg, Sif, Bragi, Idun, Tyr, Njord, Skadi, Frey, Freyja,
Vidar, Frey’s serving men, Byggvir and Beyla, with a host
of other Ęsir and Elves besides. Loki also
made one of the number, but Thor was absent on an expedition to the east.
Radiant gold lit the room instead of tapers, and the ale poured forth of itself
without the aid of any cupbearer. Ęgir’s servants, Eldir and Fimafeng, were
praised highly on every hand for the skilful performance of their duty.
Hereat Loki grew angry and killed Fimafeng, although the spot was holy
ground. The Ęsir brandished their shields, raised an outcry against Loki,
and drove him out into the forest; then they sat down to their drinking. Loki
nevertheless shortly returned and, meeting Eldir outside the hall, asked him
what the Ęsir were discoursing about over their cups. “They are speaking
of their weapons and their valorous deeds,” answered Eldir; “and none
among them has a good word to say for you.” Loki said that he purposed to
go inside and look on at the banquet and that he intended to bring evil and
dissension with him and to mingle misfortune with the mead they were
drinking. Refusing to listen to Eldir’s warnings, he forced his way with
threats. All ceased speaking when they saw Loki enter. He asked
permission to still his thirst and, no one answering a word, he demanded
that they should either show him to a seat or drive him out once more.
Bragi declared that the Ęsir never would give him a place among them
again; whereupon Loki reminded Odin that once in the morning of time they
two had blended blood with each other and thus had become sworn
brothers, on which occasion Odin had given his promise that no drink
should cross his lips that was not offered to both of them
alike. Odin accordingly asked Vidar
to make room for Loki at his side, and Vidar promptly arose and poured
drink into Loki’s cup. Loki offered obeisance to all the gods and goddesses
and drank to them all — Bragi alone excepted. Bragi now proposed to
present him with horse and sword and rings in recompense if he would
keep the peace. Loki replied with taunts, maintaining that Bragi had none of
the possessions of which he spoke: “Of all the Ęsir sitting here, you are
most afraid of battle and most wary of flying bolts.” “If I were outside the
hall, as certainly as I now sit within the hall, I should carry away your head
in my hand,” retorted Bragi. “You are brave enough while you are sitting in
your seat, Bragi Grace-the-Benches,” answered Loki; “if you are angry,
come and fight it out with me.” “I beg of you,” said Bragi’s wife, Idun, “do
not taunt Loki herein Ęgir’s hall.” “Hold your tongue, Idun,” rejoined Loki;
“of all wanton women I call you the most wanton; with your white arms you
have embraced the slayer of your own brother.” Idun declared that she only
wished to pacify Bragi so that the two would not come to blows. Now
Gefjon spoke: “Why do you two Ęsir continue to bandy words in this
presence? Loki appears not to know that he is on the wrong road, that all
the gods are angry at him.” Loki at once stopped her lips by reminding her
of an amorous adventure in which she had played a part. Hereupon Odin
warned Loki to beware of Gefjon’s wrath: “For she knows the destinies of
men as well as I.” Loki immediately turned upon Odin
and said: “You have often granted victory to dastards.” “You, for your part,”
replied Odin, “lived eight winters under ground as a woman, milking cows.”
No insult much worse could possibly be thrown in a man’s teeth, and so
Loki was not slow in making a rejoinder no less coarse, to the effect,
namely, that Odin had once sojourned on the island of Samsey engaged in
the practice of witchcraft and sorcery after the manner of witches. Frigg
now took a part in the discussion, declaring that Odin and Loki had better
not reveal what they had been occupied with in the morning of time, and
Loki immediately countered with the old story that on a certain occasion
when Odin was absent from home, she had had his brothers Vili and Ve for
husbands. “Had I here in Ęgir’s hall a son like Balder, you would not easily
escape,” answered Frigg. “You plainly wish me to recount still more of my
evil deeds,” said Loki; “know then, it is my doing that you shall no more see
Balder come riding into the hall.” “You are beside yourself,” said Freyja, “to
dare relate all the evil and heinous acts of your life; Frigg knows the course
of destiny, though she tells no man thereof.” “Silence,” answered Loki; “I
know you only too well. There is scarcely any one in this company, whether
of Ęsir or Elves, whom you have not had for a lover; you are a Troll,
wicked through and through; once the gods surprised you with your own
brother.” “It is of little consequence,” said Njord, “that women have lovers; it
is far worse that you, womanish god, venture into our presence.” Loki
reminded him that he had once been sent east
ward as a hostage and that the women of Hymir had covered him with
insults. “Even if I was once a hostage, nevertheless I have begotten a son
(Frey) who is the friend of all and the bulwark of the Ęsir.” “His mother was
your own sister,” replied Loki. Tyr now spoke: “Frey is foremost of the brave
men of Asgard, he violates neither maid nor wife, and he looses from
bonds all those that are bound.” “Hold your tongue, Tyr; never have you
been able to bring about peace; do not forget how the Fenris Wolf tore off
your right hand.” “Nevertheless,” answered Frey, “the Wolf lies in bondage
until the Twilight of the Gods; and just as he lies chained outside the river’s
mouth, so may you come to lie fettered if you do not keep silence.” “For
gold you bought the daughter of Gymir and sold your sword besides, so
that when the sons of Muspell come riding across the Dark Woods you will
find no weapon ready to your hand.” Then spoke Byggvir, Frey’s serving
man: “If I had offspring like that of Ingunar-Frey and if I lived happily as he
does, I would crush this crow of evil omen finer than marrow and break all
his limbs asunder.” “What is that little thing wagging his tail and whimpering
there under the mill? You hid yourself in the straw on the floor when men
went forth to battle.” On Heimdal’s declaring Loki to be drunk, Loki replied:
“Hold your tongue, Heimdal. In the morning of time a life most base was
dealt out to be your portion, to stand forever with a stiff back, waking and
watching on behalf of the gods.” Skadi now forecast a threatening future for
Loki: “Hitherto your lot has been good, Loki, but you shall
not much longer play fast and loose; to the sharp stone the gods shall bind
you with your own son’s entrails.” “None the less was I chief among those
that put your father Thjazi to death,” answered Loki. Skadi retorted,
“Therefore cold counsels will always go out to you from my house and
home.” Now Sif stepped forward and poured mead into a horn for Loki; she
drank to him and asked him to molest Skadi no more, but his only response
was to boast that he, if none else, had enjoyed the favors of Sif. “The
mountains are trembling,” said Beyla; “I think Thor must be coming; he will
find a way of stopping the mouth of him who heaps blame on the Ęsir.” As
Loki was berating Beyla, Thor appeared and, fuming with rage, threatened
Loki with his hammer. Still Loki had the boldness to say to him: “You will
not be so brave when you go out against the Wolf, and the Wolf devours
Odin.” “I will hurl you into the regions of the east so that no man shall lay
eyes on you again,” answered Thor. “You had better keep quiet about your
journeys to the east,” said Loki, adding a further reminder of the cowardly
way in which Thor had borne himself in Skrymir’s glove and how fast he
had found the thongs bound about the wallet; “hale and hearty, you nearly
perished with hunger.” “If you do not hold your tongue at once, Mjollnir shall
strike you, without further ado, down to Hell, even lower than the Gate of
Corpses.” “I have spoken what I had to speak,” said Loki; “I will now depart,
on your account alone, for I know that you strike when you are moved to
strike.” To Ęgir he declared that this banquet was
his last, that flames were to consume all that he owned.
Loki now took his leave and hid himself in the mountains, where he
built a house with four doors so placed that from within he was able to spy
in all directions. Often he assumed the shape of a salmon and lurked
among the waterfalls of Franang. He pondered much upon what devices
the Ęsir might employ in order to catch him in the falls; and as he sat in the
house brooding on these things, he took flax yarn and wove it into meshes
in the manner commonly used in making a net. Before long he saw the
Ęsir drawing near; for Odin, looking out from Lidskjalf, had discovered his
hiding. Losing no time, Loki threw the net on the fire burning before him,
and sprang into the waterfall. When the Ęsir reached the house, the wise
Kvasir was the first to enter; as soon as he saw the ashes of the burned
net, he understood that it was a means of catching fish, and he told the
Ęsir as much. They all set about the task of making a net according to the
model in the ashes; when it was finished they went down to the stream and
threw the net into the water. Thor had hold of one end, and all the other
Ęsir held fast to the other end. As they drew the net, Loki swam before it
and lay quiet between two stones until the net had passed over him;
nevertheless they noticed that the net had touched some living thing. They
went up stream and cast in the net a second time, but now they had
weighted it so that nothing could pass beneath it. Loki swam ahead of the
net until he came within a short distance
of the sea; then he leaped over the rope and swam up to the waterfall
again. Now the Ęsir had caught sight of him; they went up stream a third
time and separated into two parties so that each group held one end of the
net while Thor waded down the middle of the river. In such a manner they
drew the net down toward the sea. In this predicament Loki was compelled
either to run out to sea, which would put him in grave danger of his life, or
to leap over the, net once more. He ventured the leap anew, but Thor
seized him and held him fast by the tail, although the salmon slipped a
short way through his hands; this is the reason why the salmon tapers
toward the tail. Now Loki was taken captive outside the bounds of any
hallowed place, and therefore he could expect no mercy. The Ęsir carried
him off to a cavern in the mountains. There they took three flagstones,
placed them on end, and bored a hole in each one. Next they seized hold
of Loki’s sons, Vali and Nari; Vali, transforming himself into a wolf, at once
tore his brother limb from limb. Thereupon the Ęsir took Nari’s entrails and
with them bound Loki in such a position across the three stones that one of
the stones stood under his shoulders, the second under his loins, and the
third under the tendons of his knees. The bands turned into iron. Skadi
caught a venomous serpent and fixed it above him in such a way that the
venom would be sure to drip into his face. Sigyn, Loki’s wife, stood beside
him holding a basin to catch the dripping poison; but when the basin was
filled, she had to go away to empty it; and while she was gone the
poison fell on his face and threw him into such violent contortions that the
whole earth trembled. This is the phenomenon now known as an
earthquake. Thus Loki shall lie bound until the coming of the Twilight of the
Gods.


Sources:

Peter Andreas Munch: Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods and Heroes. The American-Scandinavian Foundation, New York. 1926, pp. 86-94.
Henry Adam Bellows: The Poetic Edda. The American-Scandinavian Foundation, New York, 1923, pp. 151 ff.
The Younger Eddas: Gylvaginning, pp. 75-77.


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