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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thor in Utgard

Sunday, June 28, 2009
I had planned on doing this story tomorrow but with all the comments I figured I would replace it with some more Greek myths. But I had also promised a story on Thor this week as well. So here it is. Hope you enjoy!

When Loki and Thor set out to visit Utgard, city of the giants of Jotunheim, they came across a peasant's cottage, and going in were made welcome by the peasant, who unfortunately had not enough food to satisfy the voracious appetite of the thunder god. Thor, however, seeing the problem, killed his goats, and they ate the meat, Thor's strict instructions being that no-one should break any of the bones.

The peasant's son, however, a lad called Thialfi, unable to resist, broke a tiny bone and sucked the marrow. When morning came, Thor gathered the bones of his goats together, waved his hammer over them, and they sprang back to life. Thor noticed, however, that one of them limped slightly, and he perceived that his orders had been disobeyed. Furious, he demanded to know who had defied him, and Thialfi admitted that it had been he. Because the lad confessed of his own free will, Thor relented, and took Thialfi with him to Utgard.

On the way there, the trio encountered a huge mansion with five rooms, and they slept in one. During the night they were disturbed by terrible noises, and on awakening the next morning found that the mansion they had slept in was in fact the glove of a huge giant, who introduced himself as Skrymir. The giant's ribbing annoyed Thor, and he cast his hammer three times at Skrymir's head, but the giant just shrugged the blows off contemptuously. Finally he left, advising the three to stay away from Utgard. They went anyway.Mjollnir Image

Greeted by the king of the city, Utgard-Loki, the three were asked to prove themselves worthy to sit at table with giants, and Thialfi offered to race their fastest youth, but though he ran his fastest, his opponent always outstripped him, sometimes arriving back at the finish line before Thialfi had left. Disheartened, the boy admitted he was defeated, and Loki challenged their best eater. Although he ate like a horse, Loki could not beat his opponent either, who not only ate the meat and bones, but the dishes and table as well.

Finally, it was Thor's turn. Given a huge horn to drink from, he was told that their weakest man could empty it in three draughts, but though he drank long and deep, by the time he had taken his third attempt at emptying it, the horn was still almost full. Next, he was asked to try to pick up Utgard-Loki's cat, but could only move one paw off the ground. Finally, much embarrassed, he challenged the giant's best wrestler, but Utgard-Loki scoffed that his giants would not lower themselves, in the light of how the thunder god had acquitted himself so far. But if he liked, said the king slyly, Thor could wrestle his old grandmother. Dismayed, Thor found himself struggling against the old crone, who in fact forced him down to one knee.

Much ashamed, the trio partook of Utgard-Loki's hospitality, and the next day made to leave. But the king met them at the gate, and explained to them that they should not feel so disheartened: for the youth Thialfi had raced was none other than thought, which no man can beat in speed, Loki's opponent had been fire, which devours everything, and as for Thor, the first of his feats, the lowering of the level in the drinking-horn, Utgard-Loki explained that the horn had one of its ends in the sea, and the level of the sea in that area had gone down a considerable distance due to the thunder god's massive draught. The cat Thor had tried to lift had been Jormungand, the world serpent, and the giants had been much afraid to see that the thunder god could actually lift one of its feet up! And the old woman had been old age, against which no man has defense. The king of the giant city also admitted that he had been Skrymir, and that he had only avoided serious injury from Thor's hammer by moving a mountain between his head and Mjollnir.

Hearing of the deception, Thor hurled his hammer at Utgard-Loki, but the giant had disappeared, as had the city.

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