Mikillar frásagnar er þat vert er Þórr fór til Geirröðargarða. Þá hafði hann eigi hamarinn Mjöllni eða megingjarðar eða járngreipr, ok olli því Loki. Hann fór með honum, þvíat Loka hafði þat hent þá er hann flaug einu sinni at skemta sér með valsham Friggjar at hann flaug fyrir forvitni sakir í Geirröðargarða ok sá þar höll mikla, settiz ok sá inn of glugg. En Geirröðr leit í móti honum ok mælir at taka skyldi fuglinn ok færa honum. En sendimaðr komz nauðuliga á hallarvegginn, svá var hann hár. Þat þótti Loka gott er hann sótti erfiðliga til hans ok ætlaði sér stund at fljúga eigi upp fyrr en hann hafði farit allt torleiðit. En er maðrinn sótti at honum, þá beinir hann fluginn ok spyrnir við fast, ok eru þá fætrnir fastir. Var Loki tekinn þar höndum ok færðr Geirröði jötni. En er hann sá augu hans, þá grunaði hann at maðr myndi vera ok bað hann svara, en Loki þagði. Þá læsti Geirröðr Loka í kistu ok svelti hann þar þrjá mánaði. En þá er Geirröðr tók hann upp ok beiddi hann orða, ok sagði Loki hverr han var, ok til fjörlausnar vann hann Geirröði þess eiða at hann skyldi koma Þór í Geirröðargarða svá at hann hefði hvárki hamarinn né megingjarðar.
Þórr kom til gistingar til gýgjar þeirrar er Gríðr er köllut; hon var móðir Víðars hins þögla. Hon sagði Þór satt frá Geirröði at hann var jötunn hundvíss ok illr viðreignar. Hon léði honum megingjarða ok járngreipa er hon átti ok staf sinn er heitir Gríðarvölr.
Þá fór Þórr til ár þeirrar er Vimur heitir, allra á mest. Þá spenti hann sik megingjörðum ok studdi forstreymis Gríðarvöl, en Loki helt undir megingjarðar. Ok þá er Þórr kom á miðja ána, þá óx svá mjök áin at uppi braut á öxl honum. Þá kvað Þórr þetta:
"Vaxattu nú, Vimur [Vimra, W]
Þá sér Þórr uppi í gljúfrum nokkvorum at Gjálp, dóttir Geirröðar, stóð þar tveim megin árinnar, ok gerði hon árvöxtinn. Þá tók Þórr upp ór ánni stein mikinn ok kastaði at henni ok mælti svá: "At ósi skal á stemma!" Eigi misti hann þar er hann kastaði til. Ok í því bili bar hann at landi ok fekk tekit reynirunn nokkvorn ok steig svá ór ánni. Því er þat orðtak haft at reynir er björg Þórs.
En er Þórr kom til Geirröðar, þá var þeim félögum vísat fyrst í geitahús til herbergis, ok var þar einn stóll til sætis, ok sat þar Þórr. Þá varð hann þess varr at stóllinn fór undir honum upp at ræfri. Hann stakk Gríðarveli upp í raptana ok lét sígaz fast á stólinn; varð þá brestr mikill ok fylgdi skrækr mikill. Þar höfðu verit undir stólinum dætr Geirröðar, Gjálp ok Greip, ok hafði hann brotit hrygginn í báðum.
(Þá kvað Þórr: [only in U]
Þá lét Geirröðr kalla Þór í höllina til leika. Þar vóro eldar stórir eptir endilangri höllinni. En er Þórr kom í höllina gagnvart Geirröði, þá tók Geirröðr með töng járnsíu glóandi ok kastar at Þór. En Þórr tók á móti með járngreipum ok færir á lopt síuna, en Geirröðr hljóp undir járnsúlu at forða sér. Þórr kastaði síunni ok laust gögnum súluna ok gögnum Geirröð ok gögnum vegginn ok svá firir útan jörðina.
Eptir þessi sögu hefir ort Eilífr Guðrúnarson í Þórsdrápu.
A great tale is told of Thor's visit to Geirrod's courts. Then he did not have the hammer Mjolnir or the girdle of might or the iron gauntlets, and that was Loki's doing. Loki went with Thor, because it had befallen Loki, when for amusement he had gone flying in Frigg's falcon shape, that out of curiosity he flew into Geirrod's courts, saw a great hall, alighted, and looked in through a window. But Geirrod saw him and wished the bird brought to him. The hall's wall was so high, that the person had great difficulty climbing it; Loki was pleased to have caused him trouble, and planned not to fly away until the man had completed the arduous climb. But when the man reached him, he beat his wings and jumped hard, but his feet were stuck. Loki was captured and brought to giant Geirrod. When Geirrod saw his eyes, he suspected this was a person and demanded an answer, but Loki was silent. Then Geirrod locked Loki in a chest and starved him for three months. When Geirrod released him and asked him to speak, Loki said who he was, and to save his life he swore to Geirrod that he would get Thor to come to Geirrod's courts without either his hammer or girdle of might.
Thor lodged with a giantess called Grid. She was Vidar the silent's mother. She told Thor the truth about Geirrod, that he was a cunning giant and dangerous to deal with. She lent him a girdle of might and a pair of iron gauntlets, and her staff, called Grid's pole.
Thor reached the river Vimur, greatest of all rivers. He put on the girdle of might and thrust Grid's pole down against the current, while Loki hung on to the girdle of might. And when Thor reached the middle of the river, it rose all the way up to his shoulders. Then Thor spoke:
"Don't rise now, Vimur,
Then Thor saw that in an upstream gorge Geirrod's daughter Gjalp was straddling the river, causing it to rise. Then Thor took from the river a great rock, threw it at her and said: "A river be stemmed at its source." He did not miss his mark. Soon after, he reached the bank, managed to grab hold of a rowan-bush, and climbed out of the river. This is the origin of the saying that the rowan is Thor's salvation.
When Thor came to Geirrod's, the companions were given lodging in a goat-shed, where there was only one chair, which Thor sat upon. He then realized that the chair was rising under him up towards the roof. He thrust Grid's pole against the rafters, pushing the chair down. A great crack sounded, and a terrible shriek. Geirrod's daughters, Gjalp and Greip, had been hiding under the chair, and he had broken their backs.
(Then spoke Þórr:
"On one occasion
Geirrod summoned Thor into the hall for games. Great fires burned along the length of the hall. When Thor came in and faced Geirrod, the giant grabbed with tongs a glowing lump of molten iron and threw it at Thor, who caught it with the iron gauntlets, and raised it, while Geirrod hid behind an iron pillar in an attempt to escape. Thor flung the molten lump, which penetrated the pillar, Geirrod himself, the wall, and the ground outside.
Eilif Gudrunarson composed Thorsdrapa on the basis of this tale.
As mentioned elsewhere, there is some evidence to suggest that the text of Þórsdrápa, as we have it, did not form a part of the original Skáldskaparmál, as Snorri wrote it. This possibility, however, should not be taken as a suggestion that Snorri was unfamiliar with the poem. Far from it. He obviously knew some version of it, perhaps even a fuller version than we know. After all, he does quote two half-stanzas from it, which are not part of the basic text, as contained in Chapter 26 of Skáldskaparmál. He may also have known a (now lost) Eddaic poem treating the same myth, if the two ljóðaháttr stanzas (see above) are anything to go by.
Ultimately, such speculations are irrelevant, because nothing can be proved one way or the other. However, a comparison of Snorri's prose tale and the tale told in Þórsdrápa is of some interest.
SNORRI: Þórr visits Geirröðr, leaving his hammer, iron gauntlets, and belt of strength behind, as a result of Loki's plot. Þórr borrows a staff, gauntlets, and a belt from Gríðr.
ÞÓRSDRÁPA: The reason for Þórr's visit is not mentioned, although Loki is apparently the instigator. In stanza 18, we find Þórr killing giants with his hammer, so he cannot possibly be without it. In stanza 6, we find Þórr and his companion carrying spears (skotnaðrar), which they thrust into the bottom of the ocean (or river) in order not to be overwhelmed by the currents. In Snorri's account, Gríðr's staff serves the same purpose. It may be doubted that such a staff ever existed (see commentary to 9:8). Snorri also states that Þórr used Gríðr's staff during the chair-lifting episode. The poem does not support this, and neither does the second of the ljóðaháttr stanzas quoted above. Finally, during Eilífr's eloquent description of the lump-throwing episode, there is not a single suggestion that Þórr was wearing gauntlets.
SNORRI: Loki accompanies Þórr.
ÞÓRSDRÁPA: Only Þjálfi accompanies Þórr. This is peculiar indeed. Snorri was obviously aware of the existence of Þjálfi as a servant-companion of Þórr's, and nowhere suggests that Þjálfi and Loki are identical. This is a crux: Why did Snorri replace Þjálfi with Loki?
SNORRI: Þórr kills Geirröðr, and there the tale ends.
ÞÓRSDRÁPA: After Geirröðr has been killed, Þórr slaughters the rest of the giants, assisted by Þjálfi. Snorri, surprisingly, leaves this part out, perhaps for the reason that in his version Loki was Þórr's companion.
SNORRI: Þórr wades a river (Vimur, Vimra), which grows as a result of Gjálp's urine or menstrual blood.
ÞÓRSDRÁPA: As noted in my commentaries, there is no river in the poem. Þórr is crossing the Arctic Ocean, which was thought to separate Miðgarðr and Jötunheimr. This is obvious from the poem's imagery, not only during the crossing, but also after Þórr has reached the giants' land (stanza 11 ff.), and the giant's are referred to in sea-shore terms (see commentaries). Gjálp is not mentioned in the poem. The giant's daughters are only mentioned once, in an extremely oblique manner (chair-lifting episode). As far as can be seen, the poem contains no trace of the giantess' blood or urine. That episode is unique to Snorri.
NOTE: The river/ocean confusion is not unique to Snorri - as a matter of fact it is quite common and natural. In the original cosmogony Miðgarðr ("Middle-Earth") was surrounded by a great ocean, which, in the north and east, separated it from the world of Giants (Jötunheimr, Útgarðar, útvé). In human terms, this great body of water was an almost impassable ocean (see Saxo analogue), but in divine terms it was simply a "river", which could be crossed on foot by a great god like Þórr. This confusion also derives from the fact that the original cosmogonic Underworld seems to mostly have been forgotten by Snorri's time. In the Underworld, there were two distinct realms, Hel and Niflhel, which were separated, not only by mountains, but also by a river. Since Niflhel was the home of Rime-Giants, the Underworld river was confused with the Middle-Earth ocean. A crossing from the world of Men to the world of Giants, via the Ocean in the Upper World, was equated with a crossing from Hel (realm of Mímir and Urðr) to Niflhel (abode of Rime-Giants), via the River in the Lower World. [See Saxo analogue, and Þorsteins þáttur Bæjarmagns.]
We may wonder, considering the above evidence: Did Snorri know Þórsdrápa in the form we know it? Did he only know parts of it? Did he know a longer version? Was he unfamiliar with the stanzas, which make it clear that Þjálfi, not Loki, was Þórr's companion? How would he have interpreted the presence of Þórr's hammer in stanza 18? Are the two quoted Eddaic stanzas sufficient evidence that he knew a ljóðaháttr poem, which contained a different version of the myth? Did he create Gríðarvölr out of his own imagination? The list of questions seems endless. However, there is some internal evidence, mostly linguistic, that Snorri knew at least some parts of the Þórsdrápa text as we know it. Some of this evidence may be purely coincidental.
In Skáldskaparmál, Þórr uses Gríðr's staff in order to avoid being swept away by the violent river. In Þórsdrápa, Þórr and Þjálfi use their spears in a similar way.
Snorri makes the river rise, until it reaches Þórr's shoulder (öxl). It seems possible that this is due to an (erroneous) interpretation of herðir (7:1) as "shoulders".
During the lump-throwing episode, Snorri's language (seemingly) echoes Eilífr's. Snorri's þá tók Geirröðr með töng járnsíu glóandi ("Geirröðr took, with tongs, a glowing iron-lump") recalls Þórsdrápa's laust töngu (thrust with tongs). Snorri's færir á lopt síuna ("raised the lump in the air") recalls Þórsdrápa's lyptisylg á lopti ("raised drink in the air"). Snorri's hljóp undir járnsúlu ("ran underneath an iron pillar") recalls Þórsdrápa's und fletbjarnar fornan fótlegg ("underneath the ancient pillar"), although Snorri's "IRON pillar" is rather puzzling.
The above agreements/disagreements are the most obvious examples. Additional examples may surely be found - the webmaster welcomes suggestions.