1. The Grimnismol follows the Vafthruthnismol in the Codex Regius and is also found complete in the Arnamagnæan Codex,
where also it follows the Vafthruthnismol. Snorri quotes over twenty of its stanzas. Like the preceding poem,
the Grimnismol is largely encyclopedic in nature,
and consists chiefly of proper names,
the last forty-seven stanzas containing no less than two hundred and twenty-five of these. It is not,
in dialogue form. As Müllenhoff pointed out,
there is underneath the catalogue of mythological names a consecutive and thoroughly dramatic story. Othin,
concealed under the name of Grimnir,
is through an error tortured by King Geirröth. Bound between two blazing fires,
he begins to display his wisdom for the benefit of the king's little son,
who has been kind to him. Gradually he works up to the great final moment,
when he declares his true name,
or rather names,
to the terrified Geirröth,
and the latter falls on his sward and is killed. For much of this story we do not have to depend on guesswork,
for in both manuscripts the poem itself is preceded by a prose narrative of considerable length,
and concluded by a brief prose statement of the manner of Geirröth's death. These prose notes,
of which there are many in the Eddic manuscripts,
are of considerable interest to the student of early literary forms. Presumably they were written by the compiler to whom we owe the Eddic collection,
who felt that the poems needed such annotation in order to be clear. Linguistic evidence shows that they were written in the twelfth or thirteenth century,
for they preserve none of the older word-forms which help us to date many of the poems two or three hundred years earlier. Without discussing in detail the problems suggested by these prose passages,
it is worth noting,
that the Eddic poems contain relatively few stanzas of truly narrative verse;
and second,
that all of them are based on narratives which must have been more or less familiar to the hearers of the poems. In other words,
the poems seldom aimed to tell stories,
although most of them followed a narrative sequence of ideas. The stories themselves appear to have lived in oral prose tradition,
just as in the case of the sagas;
and the prose notes of the manuscripts,
in so far as they contain material not simply drawn from the poems themselves,
are relics of this tradition. The early Norse poets rarely conceived verse as a suitable means for direct story telling,
and in some of the poems even the simplest action is told in prose "links" between dialogue stanzas. The applications of this fact,
which has been too often over looked,
are almost limitless,
for it suggests a still unwritten chapter in the history of ballad poetry and the so-called "popular" epic. It implies that narrative among early peoples may frequently have had a period of prose existence before it was made into verse,
and thus puts,
for example,
a long series of transitional stages before such a poem as the Iliad. In any case,
the prose notes accompanying the Eddic poems prove that in addition to the poems themselves there existed in the twelfth century a considerable amount of narrative tradition,
presumably in prose form,
on which these notes were based by the compiler. Interpolations in such a poem as the Grimnismol could have been made easily enough,
and many stanzas have undoubtedly crept in from other poems,
but the beginning and end of the poem are clearly marked,
and presumably it has come down to us with the same essential outline it had when it was composed,
probably in the first half of the tenth century. Prose. The texts of the two manuscripts differ in many minor details. Hrauthung:
this mythical king is not mentioned elsewhere. Geirröth:
the manuscripts spell his name in various ways {footnote p. 86} Frigg:
Othin's wife. She and Othin nearly always disagreed in some such way as the one outlined in this story. Hlithskjolf ("Gate-Shelf"):
Othin's watch-tower in heaven,
whence he can overlook all the nine worlds;
cf. Skirnismol,
introductory prose. Grimnir:
"the Hooded One."

2. In the original lines 2 and 4 are both too long for the meter,
and thus the true form of the stanza is doubtful. For line 4 both manuscripts have "the land of the Goths" instead of simply "the Goths." The word "Goths" apparently was applied indiscriminately to any South-Germanic people,
including the Burgundians as well as the actual Goths,
and thus here has no specific application;
cf. Gripisspo,
35 and note.

3. Veratyr ("Lord of Men"):
Othin. The "gift" which Agnar receives is Othin's mythological lore.

4. Thruthheim ("the Place of Might"):
the place where Thor,
the strongest of the gods,
has his hall,
described in stanza 24

5. Ydalir ("Yew-Dales"):
the home of Ulf,
the archer among the gods,
a son of Thor's wife,
by another marriage. The wood of the yew-tree was used for bows in the North just as it was long afterwards in England. Alfheim:
the home of the elves. Freyr:
cf. Skirnismol,
introductory prose and note. Tooth-gift:
the custom of making a present to a child when it cuts its first tooth is,
according to Vigfusson,
still in vogue in Iceland.

6. Valaskjolf ("the Shelf of the Slain"):
Othin's home,
in which is his watch-tower,
Hlithskjolf. Gering identifies this with Valhall,
and as that is mentioned in stanza 8,
he believes stanza 6 to be an interpolation.

7. Sökkvabekk ("the Sinking Stream"):
of this spot and of Saga,
who is said to live there,
little is known. Saga may be an hypostasis of Frigg,
but Snorri calls her a distinct goddess,
and the name suggests some relation to history or story-telling.

8. Glathsheim ("the Place of Joy"):
Othin's home,
the greatest and most beautiful hall in the world. Valhall ("Hall of the Slain"):
cf. Voluspo,
V and note. Valhall is not only the hall whither the slain heroes are brought by the Valkyries,
but also a favorite home of Othin.

10. The opening formula is abbreviated in both manuscripts. A wolf:
probably the wolf and the eagle were carved figures above the door.

11. Thrymheim ("the Home of Clamor"):
on this mountain the giant Thjazi built his home. The god,
or rather Wane,
Njorth (cf. Voluspo,
note) married Thjazi's daughter,
Skathi. She wished to live in her father's hall among the mountains,
while Njorth loved his home,
by the sea. They agreed to compromise by spending nine nights at Thrymheim and then three at Noatun,
but neither could endure the surroundings of the other's home,
so Skathi returned to Thrymheim,
while Njorth stayed at Noatun. Snorri quotes stanzas 11-15

12. Breithablik ("Wide-Shining"):
the house in heaven,
free from everything unclean,
in which Baldr (cf. Voluspo,
the fairest and best of the gods,

13. Himinbjorg ("Heaven's Cliffs"):
the dwelling at the end of the bridge Bifrost (the rainbow),
where Heimdall (cf. Voluspo,
27) keeps watch against the coming of the giants. In this stanza the two functions of Heimdall--as father of mankind (cf. Voluspo,
1 and note,
and Rigsthula,
introductory prose and note) and as warder of the gods--seem both to be mentioned,
but the second line in the manuscripts is apparently in bad shape,
and in the editions is more or less conjectural.

14. Folkvang ("Field of the Folk):
here is situated Freyja's hall,
Sessrymnir ("Rich in Seats"). Freyja,
the sister of Freyr,
is the fairest of the goddesses,
and the most kindly disposed to mankind,
especially to lovers. Half of the dead:
Mogk has made it clear that Freyja represents a confusion between two originally distinct divinities:
the wife of Othin (Frigg) and the northern goddess of love. This passage appears to have in mind her attributes as Othin's wife. Snorri has this same confusion,
but there is no reason why the Freyja who was Freyr's sister should share the slain with Othin.

15. Glitnir ("the Shining"):
the home of Forseti,
a god of whom we know nothing beyond what Snorri tells us:
"Forseti is the son of Baldr and Nanna,
daughter of Nep. All those who come to him with hard cases to settle go away satisfied;
he is the best judge among gods and men."

15. Glitnir ("the Shining"):
the home of Forseti,
a god of whom we know nothing beyond what Snorri tells us:
"Forseti is the son of Baldr and Nanna,
daughter of Nep. All those who come to him with hard cases to settle go away satisfied;
he is the best judge among gods and men."

16. Noatun ("Ships'-Haven"):
the home of Njorth,
who calms the waves;
cf. stanza 11 and Voluspo,

17. Vithi:
this land is not mentioned elsewhere. Vithar avenged his father,
by slaying the wolf Fenrir.

18. Stanzas 18-20 appear also in Snorri's Edda. Very possibly they are an interpolation here. Eldhrimnir ("Sooty with Fire"):
the great kettle in Valhall,
wherein the gods' cook,
Andhrimnir ("The Sooty-Faced") daily cooks the flesh of the boar Sæhrimnir ("The Blackened"). His flesh suffices for all the heroes there gathered,
and each evening he becomes whole again,
to be cooked the next morning.

19. Freki ("The Greedy") and Geri ("The Ravenous"):
the two wolves who sit by Othin's side at the feast,
and to whom he gives all the food set before him,
since wine is food and drink alike for him. Heerfather:

20. Mithgarth ("The Middle Home"):
the earth. Hugin ("Thought") and Munin ("Memory"):
the two ravens who sit on Othin's shoulders,
and fly forth daily to bring him news of the world.

21. Thund ("The Swollen" or "The Roaring"):
the river surrounding Valhall. Thjothvitnir's fish:
presumably the sun,
which was caught by the wolf Skoll (cf. Voluspo,
Thjothvitnir meaning "the mighty wolf." Such a phrase,
characteristic of all Skaldic poetry,
is rather rare in the Edda. The last two lines refer to the attack on Valhall by the people of Hel;
cf. Voluspo,

22. Valgrind ("The Death-Gate"):
the outer gate of Valhall;
cf. Sigurtharkvitha en skamma,
68 and note.

23. Its description of Thor's house,
Bilskirnir (cf. stanza 4 and {footnote p. 94} note) has nothing to do with that of Valhall. Snorri quotes the stanza in his account of Thor.

23. This and the following stanza stand in reversed order in Regius. Snorri quotes stanza 23 as a proof of the vast size of Valhall. The last two lines refer to the final battle with Fenrir and the other enemies.

24. This stanza is almost certainly an interpolation,
brought in through a confusion of the first two lines with those of stanza

25. The first line in the original is,
as indicated in the translation,
too long,
and various attempts to amend it have been made. Heithrun:
the she-goat who lives on the twigs of the tree Lærath (presumably the ash Yggdrasil),
and daily gives mead which,
like the boar's flesh,
suffices for all the heroes in Valhall. In Snorri's Edda Gangleri foolishly asks whether the heroes drink water,
whereto Har replies,
"Do you imagine that Othin invites kings and earls and other noble men,
and then gives them water to drink?"

26. Eikthyrnir ("The Oak-Thorned," i.e.,
with antlers,
"thorns," like an oak):
this animal presumably represents the clouds. The first line,
like that of stanza 25,
is too long in the original. Lærath:
cf. stanza 25,
note. Hvergelmir:
according to Snorri,
this spring,
"the Cauldron-Roaring," was in the midst of Niflheim,
the world of darkness and the dead,
beneath the third root of the ash Yggdrasil. Snorri gives a list of the rivers flowing thence nearly identical with the one in the poem.

27. The entire passage from stanza 27 through stanza 35 is confused. The whole thing may well be an interpolation. Bugge calls stanzas 27-30 an interpolation,
and editors who have accepted the passage as a whole have rejected various lines. The spelling of the names of the rivers varies greatly in the manuscripts and editions. It is needless here to point out the many attempted emendations of this list. For a passage presenting similar problems,
cf. Voluspo,
Snorri virtually quotes stanzas 27-29 in his prose,
though not consecutively. The name Rin,
in line 3,
is identical with that for the River Rhine which appears frequently in the hero poems,
but the similarity is doubt less purely accidental.

28. Slith may possibly be the same river as that mentioned in Voluspo,
as flowing through the giants' land. Leipt:
in Helgakvitha Hundingsbana II,
this river is mentioned as one by which a solemn oath is sworn,
and Gering points the parallel to the significance of the Styx among the Greeks. The other rivers here named are not mentioned elsewhere in the poems.

29. This stanza looks as though it originally had had nothing to do with the two preceding it. Snorri quotes it in his description of the three roots of Yggdrasil,
and the three springs be neath them. "The third root of the ash stands in heaven and beneath this root is a spring which is very holy,
and is called Urth's well." (Cf. Voluspo,
19) "There the gods have their judgment-seat,
and thither they ride each day over Bifrost,
which is also called the Gods' Bridge." Thor has to go on foot in the last days of the destruction,
when the bridge is burning. Another interpretation,
is that when Thor leaves the heavens (i.e.,
when a thunder-storm is over) the rainbow-bridge becomes hot in the sun. Nothing more is known of the rivers named in this stanza. Lines 3-4 are almost certainly interpolated from stanza 30

30. This stanza,
again possibly an interpolation,
is closely paraphrased by Snorri following the passage quoted in the previous note. Glath ("Joyous"):
identified in the Skaldskaparmal with Skinfaxi,
the horse of day;
cf. Vafthruthnismol,
"Golden." Gler:
"Shining." Skeithbrimir:
"Swift-Going." Silfrintopp:
"Silver-Topped." Sinir:
"Sinewy." Gisl:
the meaning is doubtful;
Gering suggests "Gleaming." Falhofnir:
"Hollow-Hoofed." Golltopp ("Gold-Topped"):
this horse be longed to Heimdall (cf. Voluspo,
i and 46) It is noteworthy that gold was one of the attributes of Heimdall's belongings,
because his teeth were of gold,
he was also called Gullintanni ("Gold-Toothed"). Lettfeti:
"Light-Feet." Othin's eight footed horse,
is not mentioned in this list.

31. The first of these roots is the one referred to in stanza 26;
the second in stanza 29 (cf. notes). Of the third root there is nothing noteworthy recorded. After this stanza it is more than possible that one has been lost,
paraphrased in the prose of Snorri's Edda thus:
"An eagle sits in the branches of the ash tree,
and he is very wise;
and between his eyes sits the hawk who is called Vethrfolnir."

32. Ratatosk ("The Swift-Tusked"):
concerning this squirrel,
the Prose Edda has to add only that he runs up and down the tree conveying the abusive language of the eagle (see note on stanza 31) and the dragon Nithhogg (cf. Voluspo,
39 and note) to each other. The hypothesis that Ratatosk "represents the undying hatred between the sustaining and the destroying elements-the gods and the giants," seems a trifle far-fetched.

33. Stanzas 33-34 may well be interpolated,
and are certainly in bad shape in the Mss. Bugge points out that they are probably of later origin than those surrounding them. Snorri closely paraphrases stanza 33,
but without elaboration,
and nothing further is known of the four harts. It may be guessed,
that they are a late multiplication of the single hart mentioned in stanza 26,
just as the list of dragons in stanza 34 seems to have been expanded out of Nithhogg,
the only authentic dragon under the root of the ash. Highest twigs:
a guess;
the Mss. words are baffling. Something has apparently been lost from lines 3-4,
but there is no clue as to its nature.

34. Cf. note on previous stanza. Nothing further is known of any of the serpents here listed,
and the meanings of many of the names are conjectural. Snorri quotes this stanza. Editors have altered it in various ways in an attempt to regularize the meter. Goin and Moin:
meaning obscure. Grafvitnir:
"The Gnawing Wolf." Grabak:
"Gray-Back." Grafvolluth:
"The Field Gnawer." Ofnir and Svafnir ("The Bewilderer" and "The Sleep-Bringer"):
it is noteworthy that in stanza 54 Othin gives himself these two names.

35. Snorri quotes this stanza,
which concludes the passage,
beginning with stanza 25,
describing Yggdrasil. If we assume that stanzas 27-34 are later interpolations--possibly excepting 32--this section of the poem reads clearly enough.

36. Snorri quotes this list of the Valkyries,
concerning whom cf. Voluspo,
31 and note,
where a different list of names is given. Hrist:
"Shaker." Mist:
"Mist." Skeggjold:
"Ax-Time." Skogul:
"Raging" (?). Hild:
"Warrior." Thruth:
"Might." Hlok:
"Shrieking." Herfjotur:
"Host-Fetter." Gol:
"Screaming." Geironul:
"Spear-Bearer." Randgrith:
"Shield-Bearer." Rathgrith:
Gering guesses "Plan-Destroyer." Reginleif:
"Gods'-Kin." Manuscripts and editions vary greatly in the spelling of these names,
and hence in their significance.

37. Müllenhoff suspects stanzas 37-41 to have been interpolated,
and Edzardi thinks they may have come from the Vafthruthnismol. Snorri closely paraphrases stanzas 37-39,
and quotes 40-41,
Arvak ("Early Waker") and Alsvith ("All Swift"):
the horses of the sun,
named also in Sigrdrifumol,
According to Snorri:
"There was a man called Mundilfari,
who had two children;
they were so fair and lovely that he called his son Mani and his daughter Sol. The gods were angry at this presumption,
and took the children and set them up in heaven;
and they bade Sol drive the horses that drew the car of the sun {footnote p. 100} which the gods had made to light the world from the sparks which flew out of Muspellsheim. The horses were called Alsvith and Arvak,
and under their yokes the gods set two bellows to cool them,
and in some songs these are called 'the cold iron.'"

38. Svalin ("The Cooling"):
the only other reference to this shield is in Sigrdrifumol,

39. Skoll and Hati:
the wolves that devour respectively the sun and moon. The latter is the son of Hrothvitnir ("The Mighty Wolf," i. e. Fenrir);
cf. Voluspo,
and Vafthruthnismol,
in which Fenrir appears as the thief. Ironwood:
a conjectural emendation of an obscure phrase;
cf. Voluspo,

40. This and the following stanza are quoted by Snorri. They seem to have come from a different source from the others of this poem;
Edzardi suggests an older version of the Vafthruthnismol. This stanza is closely parallel to Vafthruthnismol,
which see,
as also Voluspo,
following this account,
has a few details to add. The stones were made out of Ymir's teeth and such of his bones as were broken. Mithgarth was a mountain-wall made out of Ymir's eyebrows,
and set around the earth because of the enmity of the giants.

42. With this stanza Othin gets back to his immediate situation,
bound as he is between two fires. He calls down a blessing on the man who will reach into the fire and pull aside the great kettle which,
in Icelandic houses,
hung directly under the smoke vent in the roof,
and thus kept any one above from looking down into the interior. On Ull,
the archer-god,
cf. stanza 5 and note. He is specified here apparently for no better reason than that his name fits the initial-rhyme.

43. This and the following stanza are certainly interpolated,
for they have nothing to do with the context,
and stanza 45 continues the dramatic conclusion of the poem begun in stanza 42,
This stanza is quoted by Snorri. Ivaldi ("The Mighty"):
he is known only as the father of the craftsmen-dwarfs who made not only the ship Skithblathnir,
but also Othin's spear Gungnir,
and the golden hair for Thor's wife,
after Loki had maliciously cut her own hair off. Skithblathnir:
this ship ("Wooden-Bladed") always had a fair wind,
whenever the sail was set;
it could be folded up at will and put in the pocket. Freyr:
concerning him and his father,
see Voluspo,
and Skirnismol,
introductory prose and note.

44. Snorri quotes this stanza. Like stanza 43 an almost certain interpolation,
it was probably drawn in by the reference to Skithblathnir in the stanza interpolated earlier. It is presumably in faulty condition. One Ms. has after the fifth line half of a sixth,--"Brimir of swords." Yggdrasil:
cf. stanzas 25-35,
cf. stanza 43,
note. Sleipnir:
Othin's eight-legged horse,
one of Loki's numerous progeny,
borne by him to the stallion Svathilfari. This stallion belonged to the giant who built a fortress for the gods,
and came so near to finishing it,
with Svathilfari's aid,
as to make the gods fear he would win his promised reward--Freyja and the sun and moon. To delay the work,
Loki turned himself into a mare,
whereupon the stallion ran away,
and the giant failed to complete his task within the stipulated time. Bilrost:
probably another form of Bifrost (which Snorri has in his version of the stanza),
on which cf. stanza 29,
the god of poetry. He is one of the later figures among the gods,
and is mentioned only three times in the poems of the Edda. In Snorri's Edda,
he is of great importance. His wife is Ithun,
goddess of youth. Perhaps the Norwegian skald Bragi Boddason,
the oldest recorded skaldic poet,
had been traditionally apotheosized as early as the tenth century. Hobrok:
nothing further is known of him. Garm:
cf. Voluspo,

45. With this stanza the narrative current of the poem is resumed. Ægir:
the sea-god;
cf. Lokasenna,
introductory prose.

46. Concerning the condition of stanzas 46-50,
quoted by Snorri,
nothing definite can be said. Lines and entire stanzas of this "catalogue" sort undoubtedly came and went with great freedom all through the period of oral transmission. Many of the names are not mentioned elsewhere,
and often their significance is sheer guesswork. As in nearly every episode Othin appeared in disguise,
the number of his names was necessarily almost limitless. Grim:
"The Hooded." Gangleri:
"The Wanderer." Herjan:
"The Ruler." Hjalmberi:
"The Helmet-Bearer." Thekk:
"The Much-Loved." Thrithi:
"The Third" (in Snorri's Edda the stories are all told in the form of answers to questions,
the speakers being Har,
Jafnhar and Thrithi. Just what this tripartite form of Othin signifies has been the source of endless debate. Probably this line is late enough to betray the somewhat muddled influence of early Christianity.) Thuth and Uth:
both names defy guesswork. Helblindi:
"Hel-Blinder" (two manuscripts have Herblindi--"Host-Blinder"). Hor:
"The High One."

47. Sath:
"The Truthful." Svipal:
"The Changing." Sanngetal:
"The Truth-Teller." Herteit:
"Glad of the Host." Hnikar:
"The Overthrower." Bileyg:
"The Shifty-Eyed." Baleyg:
"The Flaming-Eyed." Bolverk:
"Doer of Ill" (cf. Hovamol,
104 and note). Fjolnir:
"The Many-Shaped." Grimnir:
"The Hooded." Glapswith:
"Swift in Deceit." Fjolsvith:
"Wide of Wisdom."

48. Sithhott:
"With Broad Hat." Sithskegg:
"Long-Bearded." {footnote p. 104} Sigfather:
'Father of Victory." Hnikuth:
"Overthrower." Valfather:
'Father of the Slain." Atrith:
"The Rider." Farmatyr:
"Helper of Cargoes" (i. e.,
god of sailors).

49. Nothing is known of Asmund,
of Othin's appearance as Jalk,
or of the occasion when he "went in a sledge" as Kjalar ("Ruler of Keels"?). Thror and Vithur are also of uncertain meaning. Oski:
"God of Wishes." Biflindi:
the manuscripts vary widely in the form of this name. Jafnhor:
"Equally High" (cf. note on stanza 46) Omi:
"The Shouter." Gondlir:
"Wand Bearer." Harbarth:
"Graybeard" (cf. Harbarthsljoth,

50. Nothing further is known of the episode here mentioned Sokkmimir is presumably Mithvitnir's son. Snorri quotes the names Svithur and Svithrir,
but omits all the remainder of the stanza.

51. Again the poem returns to the direct action,
Othin addressing the terrified Geirröth. The manuscripts show no lacuna. Some editors supply a second line from paper manuscripts:
"Greatly by me art beguiled." 53,

Ygg:Othin ("The Terrible")
The maids:the three Norns. 54,
Possibly out of place,
and probably more or less corrupt.
Thund:"The Thunderer."
Vak:"The Wakeful."
Skilfing:"The Shaker."
Vofuth:"The Wanderer."
Hroptatyr:"Crier of the Gods."
Ofnir and Svafnir:cf. stanza 34

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