The Creation of the
World - The Giants, Æsir, Men and Women, Dwarfs, Vanir and Elves
Our forefathers imagined the infinities of space to be a profound
abyss, to which they gave the name Ginnunga-gap; on one of its
there were icy frosts and mists; on the other, flame and heat. The
reaches were known as the Home of Fogs, or Niflheim; the torrid
Muspellsheim, which may perhaps be rendered, the Home of
As the ice of Niflheim gradually melted away before the heat of
Muspellsheim, there flowed forth from Niflheim into Ginnunga-gap
streams of venom (the Élivágar), and yet the animating beams from
Muspellsheim called the first living beings into life: a
(jotunn), called Ymir or Aurgelmir, and the cow Audhumla, from
he drew sustenance. From Ymir in turn sprang other Giants, and
became the progenitor of all that evil race. The cow Audhumla
brought about life anew by licking the icebound boulders of salt.
manner Buri came into being; his son Borr, with Bestla, daughter
Giant Bolthorn, had three sons, named Odin, Vili, and Ve. These
Borr were good and fair to see; they became the forebears of the
When the descendants of Ymir had multiplied beyond number, the
sons of Borr put Ymir to death; in his blood all of the Giants
except Bergelmir, who with his wife saved himself by means of a
The Æsir thus failed in their attempt to exterminate the race of
Bergelmir’s kindred grew to a mighty host. The Giants, or Jotuns,
known by the names Thursar (pursar), Rime-Thursar (hrímpursar),
Cliff-Ettins (bergrisar), and Trolls (troll); they persisted in
the most evil
courses. From the body of Ymir the sons of Borr made earth, sky,
The body itself became the earth, the bones became mountains and
the hair became trees and grass, the skull became the vault of
brain became clouds, and the maggots in Ymir’s body became small
who dwelt beneath the earth’s surface and in rocks, and who lived
on a better
footing with the Giants than with the Æsir.
Odin, Vili, and Ve, the sons of Borr, were at first the only Æsir.
content with shaping inanimate nature, they brought to life
as well, both men and animals. The first human pair, Ask and
created from two trees. Odin gave them breath, Vili gave them soul
understanding, and Ve (Lodur) gave them bodily warmth and color.
these two sprang the entire race of men.
The sons of Borr likewise created the celestial bodies. To this
they employed the sparks that flew into space out of Muspellsheim.
sun and the moon were placed each on its wain, and each wain was
by two horses; the horses of the sun were named Arvak
and Alsvin.1 Before the sun stands the shield Svalin. As drivers
wains were appointed the two beautiful children of Mundilfari,
and Moon. Mundilfari was so proud of the two that he had named his
daughter after the sun and his son after the moon; as a punishment
Æsir gave the children the task of guiding the wains of the sun
moon. Moon once carried away from the earth two small children
they left the well Byrgir carrying the cruse Sœg slung from their
on a pole called Simul. The two children were named Bil and Hjuki,
their father’s name was Vidfinn. Since that time they have
moon in his course.
The Giants or the Rime-Thursar continued without ceasing to
the Æsir and disturb their labors. A hideous Giantess, mother of a
brood of Giant werewolves, bore among the others two called Skoll
Hati, who took up the pursuit of Sun and Moon, to devour them. Sun
Moon therefore must needs make haste in their journey across the
heavens; yet in the end their pursuers will overtake them. Hati
more forbidding of the two; he was known also as Manigarm, or the
Hound. Toward the race of men the Giants were so ill-disposed that
Æsir found themselves compelled to build from the eyebrows of Ymir
great defensive fortress encompassing the midmost region of the
The fortress and all that it contained bore the name Midgard;
confines lay Jotunheim. In the centre of the universe the Æsir
their own dwelling, Asgard; there Odin had his own seat,
which he might survey the whole universe, both the heavens and the
and see all that happened there. The race of the Æsir here grew to
goodly number; Odin particularly had many children.
Aside from the Æsir, the Dwarfs, and the Giants, our forefathers
peopled the universe with other supernatural beings, such as the
the Elves. To the Vanir, dwelling in Vanaheim, the direction of
the forces of
nature seems particularly to have been attributed. Once upon a
time, so the
story runs, hostilities arose between the Æsir and the Vanir; the
ended with a treaty of peace, the terms of which prescribed an
hostages. The Æsir delegated Hœnir; the Vanir delegated Njord, who
this way came to be numbered among the Æsir. The other deities who
came from the Vanir were Frey and Freyja. Of the Elves, beings who
associated preferably with men, some were good and some were evil.
good Elves, called Bright-Elves (ljós-alfar), who were brighter
than the sun,
had their abode in Alfheim; the evil Elves, called Dark-Elves
døkk-alfar), were blacker than pitch, had their homes beneath the
of the earth, and so are often confused with the Dwarfs.
Andreas Munch: Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods
and Heroes. The American-Scandinavian Foundation, New
York. 1926, pp. 1-4.
Rasmus B. Anderson (Ed.): The Elder Eddas of Saemund
Sigfusson and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson.
Norræna Society, London-New York. 1906.
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