Odin (Grimnir) and Geirred

On another occasion, too, Odin in person gave a great deal of
information about the gods, their manner of life, and their dwellings. King
Raudung had two sons, Agnar and Geirrœd. Once upon a time, when
Agnar was ten years of age and Geirrœd was eight, they rowed off in a
boat to catch fish. The wind drove them out to sea. In the darkness of the
night their boat was splintered on the shore, and so they made their way to
land. There they came across a peasant, with whom they remained
throughout the winter. The wife adopted Agnar as a foster son and the
husband adopted Geirrœd. The peasant couple were in fact none other
than Odin and Frigg. When spring was come, the husband made the boys
a present of a boat; and as he and his wife walked with them down to the
shore, the man talked with Geirrœd in private. The boys found favoring
winds and finally touched at their own father’s boat landing. Geirrœd, who
had taken his station at the prow, leaped on land; as he did so he pushed the boat
back into the sea, calling out to his brother: “Go where the Trolls may get
you!” The boat drifted out into the ocean, while Geirrœd walked home and
received a joyous welcome. Geirrœd’s father had died in the meantime.
Geirrœd was made king in his stead, and later became a famous man.
Odin and Frigg were sitting one day in Lidskjalf looking out into the
universe. “Do you see your foster son Agnar,” asked Odin, “living yonder in
a cavern with a Giantess and begetting children with her? My own foster
son Geirrœd, meanwhile, rules over his lands as a king.” “Yet he is so
sparing of his food,” answered Frigg, “that he stints his guests when he
thinks that too many have come to him at one time.” Odin declared that
there could be no greater falsehood, and so they made a wager to decide
the matter. Frigg sent her handmaiden Fulla to king Geirrœd with a
message warning him to beware of a certain sorcerer who had found his
way into the land, doubtless with the purpose of casting evil spells upon the
king; the sorcerer might be easily identified because no dog, however
savage, would attack him. It was indeed only idle talk that king Geirrœd
was lacking in hospitality; nevertheless he gave commands to seize a man
whom, as it proved, no dog would bite. The man, who was wrapped in a
blue cloak, gave his name as Grimnir — in reality it was Odin himself
disguised. When they laid hands on him, he had little to say for himself,
and therefore the king caused him to be
tortured in order to loosen his tongue, by placing him between two fires and
forcing him to remain there eight nights. King Geirrœd at the time had a
son, ten years of age, who bore the name Agnar after his father’s brother.
Agnar, stepping up before Grimnir, gave him a drink from a well-filled horn,
saying that his father did ill in torturing a man charged with no misdeed.
Grimnir drained the horn to the lees, by which time the fire had come near
enough to singe his cloak. Then he chanted a long lay, in the course of
which he sang the praises of Agnar and reckoned up all of the thirteen
dwellings of the gods: Thrudheim, Ydalir, Alfheim, Valaskjalf, Sœkkvabek,
Gladsheim, Thrymheim, Breidablik, the Mounts of Heaven, Folkvang,
Glitnir, Noatun, and Vidi, the home of Vidar. Furthermore he sang of the
meat and drink of Valhalla, of the dimensions of Valhalla and Bilskirnir, of
Heidrun, of Eikthyrnir, of the rivers in the realms of gods and men, of the
horses of the gods, of Yggdrasil, of the Valkyries, of the horses of the sun
and of the wolves that pursue them, and of the creation of the world. At last
he recounted all of his own names and gave Geirrœd to understand that he
had played the fool and that he had forfeited the favor of Odin. When
Geirrœd heard that the man was Odin, he sprang up to help him away from
the fire. The sword which had lain across his knees slipped from his hand
with the point upward, and the king stumbled and fell forward upon the
sword in such a way that it pierced him through the body; Odin at once
disappeared from sight. Agnar, however, ruled many years as king over the


Peter Andreas Munch: Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods and Heroes. The American-Scandinavian Foundation, New York. 1926, pp. 102-104.
The Younger Eddas: Skaldskaparmal, pp. 121-129.
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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