In the morning of time, when Asgard and Valhalla were newly built,
the gods lived in innocence, happiness and peace. “Glad in their
they played at chess, nor of gold lacked aught”; so runs the
the Voluspá of this golden age of the Æsir. Then came three mighty
Thursar maidens out of Jotunheim, and enmity arose between Æsir
Vanir. One link in the chain of strife was the burning in Valhalla
of a woman
named Gullveig; “three times they burned the thrice born, again
yet still she lives.” The Æsir take counsel together to learn
may still be preserved. Nothing can be done. Odin hurls his spear
ranks of the enemy, and the first battle of the hosts begins. The
walls of the
Æsir stronghold are penetrated and the Vanir pour through the
Asgard. Yet eventually peace is declared between Æsir and Vanir,
the story of which has already been told above. Now the golden age
innocence is at an end; the gods are compelled to defend
against their foes, sometimes by the use of guile, as on the
they tricked the Giant mason. Other Giant women — Skadi and Gerd,
example — gain entrance to the dwellings of the Æsir, and Asgard’s
sanctity is no more. The season of tranquility gives way to a
turbulent warfare, in which the gods more than ever before have
magical weapons, of the aid of Heroes. The gods no longer rule the
as princes of peace; the most eminent of them become gods of war.
period are to be referred the numerous myths having to do with
deeds and guileful practices; and the gods fall far short of
victory and glory. Corruption extends from gods to men; the
battle, the Valkyries, ride forth into the world of mortals and
here too peace
is as a tale that is told.
Andreas Munch: Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods
and Heroes. The American-Scandinavian Foundation, New
York. 1926, pp. 49-50.
Rasmus B. Anderson (Ed.): The Elder Eddas of Saemund
Sigfusson and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson.
Norræna Society, London-New York. 1906.
Back to the main page