ŢÓRSDRÁPA 3:5-8

Codex RegiusCodex TrajectinusCodex WormianusEmended & Modernized
3 : 5-8 VariantsVariants 
ţyl ec grvNstra/ma grimnisgram-gran-Ţyl ek granstrauma Grímnis:
gallmaNtel' halla-telir-tćler; hallargall- mantćlir halla
opniz ilia ga/pnvmopinsapnis; gopnum-ópnis ilja gaupnum
endils amo spendv.  Endils á mó spendi.

Apart from the poet's interpolation in line 5, there is only one simple sentence here:

Ek ţyl granstrauma Grímnis; mantćlir gallópnis halla spendi gaupnum ilja á Endils mó, i.e. "I recite Grímnir's lip-streams [poetry]. The maiden-betrayer of the halls of the shrill-crier [Ţórr] stretched the palms of his soles onto Endill's moor [ocean]."

For my suggestion that this half-stanza and half-stanza 4:5-8 should be transposed, see commentary to 4:1-4.

granstrauma Grímnis ] is a kenning for "poetry". Grímnir is one of Odin's numerous names, and his granstraumar "lip-streams" are the poetry, which was attributed to him. Grön "lip" carries a secondary meaning of "beard", which adds a vivid aspect to the image - Odin was generally pictured as wearing a long beard (cp. his name Síđskeggur "Long-Beard" in Grímnismál 48). Considering that the next stanzas describe Thor's difficult crossing of the ocean (or a river), the poet's use of the word straumar is hardly coincidental. The text of the Codex Regius reads grunnstrauma "shallow streams". Is the poet, possibly (and perhaps jokingly), referrring to his poem as a shallow stream, as opposed to the deep ocean Thor is about to cross?

mantćlir gallópnis halla ] Mantćlir means "seducer, enticer, betrayer of a woman". The woman is, of course, a giantess, as shown by the modifying gallópnis halla, "halls of the loud-screamer (= eagle)", i.e. mountains, cliffs. The man (woman) of the mountains is a giant maiden. The seduction of giant maidens was a favourite pastime of the gods. Thor had a son, Magni, with one Járnsaxa (see Skáldskaparmál 24).

The spendu of the mss. is plural, whereas tćlir is singular. Finnur Jónsson emended mantćlir to mantćlendr, but I prefer the simpler emendation of spendu to spendi.

spendi gaupnum ilja á] Literally "stretched the palms of the soles of the feet upon", i.e. walked, went forth, or perhaps "waded into" (see below).

Endils mó] Mór "moor, heath" is generally used to indicated a barren land, where only heather grows. Here, it simply means "earth". Endill is the name of a giant, or a "sea-king". His name occurs in various ocean-related kennings, e.g. Endils öndur "Endils ski" (ship, cp. the similar Ćgis öndur); Endils eykur "Endil's horse" (ship); Endils fold "Endil's earth" (ocean). Endils mór is exactly equivalent to Endils fold, i.e. "ocean".

RIVER versus OCEAN.

The next few stanzas obviously describe Thor's journey across an extremely violent body of water, cold as ice, beaten by snow-storms. Most commentators, following Snorri's statement that this is a river called Vimur (allra áa mest "the greatest of all rivers"), imagine that Thor has entered Jötunheim, a mountainous world of giants, where he must cross a violent river, flowing from the mountains of this region.

It has already been mentioned (see commentary on 2:5-8) that Thor's expedition led him to the great ocean in the North (Élivágar, Gandvík), beyond which Jötunheim was situated. This geographical aspect of the mythology is apparent from various sources. In Saxo's tale of King Gorm, and his wide-travelled companion Thorkell, a similar journey is described. The travellers must cross a wide ocean in order to reach Geirröd's residence. Ţorsteins ţáttur Bćjarmagns also describes a journey across an ocean, on the other side of which Geirröd lives. In Gylfaginning 44-47, Snorri tells the tale of Thor's (and Loki's) expedition to Útgarđa-Loki. They spend the night at a "way-station" south of the great ocean. When Thor leaves in the morning, heading towards Jötunheim, he "went out across the great deep sea" (ţá fór hann út yfir hafiđ ţađ hiđ djúpa).

Rydberg suggested that the "way-station" south of the great Northern Ocean refers to a fortress of the Elves (the sons of Ívaldi), and is thus identical to Iđja setr in stanza 2 (see). Such an interpretation may, of course, be debated, but nevertheless Rydberg clearly showed that the world of Men (Midgard) was separated from the world of Giants (Jötunheim) by a wide expanse of water, sometimes referred to as an ocean, sometimes as a river. This ocean/river was known by many names, e.g. Élivágar ("icy waves") and Gandvík ("magic bay", referring to the Arctic Ocean, see stanza 2). Hrönn, Vimur, Slíđur are probable synonyms for this body of water. The Giants were seen as living in the North, across the Arctic Ocean. In order to reach Jötunheim, this ocean had to be crossed. For men, this was an almost impassable ocean (Saxo), but for the great god Thor, it was a mere "river", even though it was "the greatest of all rivers" (allra áa mest).

In the Old Norse cosmology, Midgard was surrounded by an Ocean, which was inhabited by the great World-Serpent (Jörmungandr), who surrounded Midgard as a belt or a thread (biting his tail). In the system of kennings, he is often synonymous with the ocean itself. For the present purpose, it is important to realize that the serpent's head may have been thought to reside in the Northern (Arctic) Ocean, close to Jötunheim (cp. Hymiskviđa). Serpents spewed eitr (poison), and eitr carries a secondary meaning of "extreme cold". In Gylfaginning 5, Snorri uses the term eitrkvika ("poisonous flow, icy flow") to describe the streams, which originated in Élivágar and solidified into ice.

In this half-stanza (3:5-8), Thor stretches the soles of his feet onto Endils mór, "Endil's land", which is obviously a kenning for the ocean (allra áa mest). Endils mór cannot possibly be a kenning for "river", even though words meaning water, lake, river, ocean, were interchangeable in kennings.

In following stanzas, the expanse of water waded by Thor will be frequently mentioned, interpreted, and explained. In this half-stanza, it is Endils mór = ocean. Also, it should be noted that the ocean-serpent has been referred to twice already in the poem:

fađir lögseims (1:4) = Loki (father of the ocean-band)
gjarđvenjuđr Gandvíkr (2:5) = Thor (tamer of the north-ocean girdle)

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