ŢÓRSDRÁPA 17:5-8

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17 : 5-8 VariantsVariants 
ítr gvlli lavst vllar  ítr gulli laust Ullar
iotrs vegta/gar ţrioti iotrjótrs vegtaugar ţrjóti
meina niđr ímiđian  meina niđr í miđjan
mez bigyrţil nezv.  mest bígyrđil nestu.

Apart from one intriguing possibility, the meaning seems transparent here:

ítr gulli Ullar laust meina nestu mest niđr í miđjan bígyrđil ţrjóti jótrs vegtaugar, i.e. "the splendid step-father of Ullr [Ţórr] struck the harmful brooch [the iron-bolt] with great force down through the middle of the girdle of the villain of the tooth of the way of the fishing-line [giant]".

ítr gulli Ullar ] "the splendid stepfather of Ullr". Ullr was Sif's son from a former union. Thus he is Thor's stepson. Cp. mágr Ullar in Haustlöng 15:1-2. According to Snorri's Skáldskaparmál, Ţórr and Ullr could be referred to via their stepfather/stepson relationship.

meina nesta ] "the injurious brooch (pin)" is a new kenning for the glowing piece of iron. It should be noticed that is has now, in Thor's hands, changed from a "morsel of meat" and a "piece of sea-weed" into a "brooch" or a decorative "pin", i.e. an "adornment" of some kind. See below.

mest ] "with great(est) force".

niđr í miđjan bígyrđil ] "down into the middle of the girdle". Thor's missile penetrates the middle of the giant's belt, i.e. his abdomen. In the former half-stanza, we saw Geirröđr cowering on the floor of the cave, trying to hide behind ("underneath") the pillar, which is the reason for Thor hurling the iron "down" (niđr).

ţrjóti jótrs vegtaugar ] must be a kenning for "giant", the "villain of the tooth of the way of the fishing-line". Even if far-fetched, it is typical of Eilífr, cp. völur háfmarkar in 6:1-4. Ţrjóti is a dative of respect.

The intriguing possibility, mentioned above, is related to the usage of the verb ljósta "strike, thrust". In 15:5, where Geirröđr laust "thrust" the glowing iron at Thor's mouth, this was apparently another way of saying that he "threw" his missile at the god. Here, the same missile is thrown by Thor at the giant, and the identical verb is used. However, there is a slight difference. In the current stanza, Thor laust NIĐR "struck down". In Icelandic, eldingu laust niđur means "the lightning struck (down)". Thor is the god of thunder and lightning. Is it possible that the myth which Eilífr is working from here, 300 years before Snorri wrote, is an ancient myth explaining how Thor acquired the use of the thunderbolt, or lightning? All editors are extremely puzzled by the fact that in the next stanza Thor is suddenly wielding his hammer. Can we come to the conclusion that Thor's hammer is identical with the glowing iron-bolt thrown by Geirröđr at Thor? We have seen it metamorphose from a piece of red meat (or seaweed) into a brooch (a work of art). We have seen the young god (son-figure) approaching the old giant (father-figure), who attempts to slay the upstart youngster, but is, instead, slain by his own, phallic, weapon. Is this possible?

I think it is extremely likely. The well-known structures of comparative mythology support such a conclusion. The giant hides behind an "ancient" (fornan) pillar. The giantesses' backbones are even more ancient (hundfornan). Thor is ítr "splendid", fríđr "handsome", as befits a young god. We have seen how the young god ventures forth, with a single companion, apparently without magical protection (which is only found in Snorri's interpretation). I think it extremely likely that Ţórsdrápa has preserved an ancient myth, where a young scion of the Ćsir goes through a three-stage initiation, where he must prove his worth, and his masculinity. The giants, representatives of the wild powers of nature, i.e. the icy storms and oceans, and the fiery forces of lightning and lava, must be subdued by the forces of law and order and culture, i.e. the Ćsir. Otherwise Midgard will not be safe. Thor is a young god, who first braves the terrible force of the Arctic Ocean (Water-Ice), which is equivalent to the Midgard-Serpent, the Worm or Dragon, which surrounds the Earth. He succeeds by pure strength, and bravery. His next test is an encounter with the Female Force, the two daughters of Geirröđr. He is made to sit down in a Chair of Rock (Earth), upon which the Giant Females attempt to crush him to death against the ceiling (Sky). [Cp. the stanza quoted in the U-recension of Snorri's prose account:

Einu <sinni>
neytta ek alls megins
jötna görđum í,
ţá er Gjálp ok Gneip,
dćtr Geirrađar,
vildu hefja mik til himins.

i.e. "once I used my utmost power in the giants' abodes, when Gjálp and Gneip (sic), daughters of Geirröđr, attempted to lift me unto the heavens."]

Since Thor is a Sky-God, he succeeds in crushing the Females against the Earth. This may, perhaps, be seen as the young god's rebellion agains his mother, who was Earth herself. Finally, Thor must face the king of Giants, the Father-figure. Geirröđr may originally have been a giant of Thunder or Lightning. Here, he casts the thunderbolt at Thor, but Thor casts is back and penetrates the giant's mid-section. The son has emasculated the father, and is now a "father" in his own right, possessing the phallic Hammer, which may be seen as having formed out of the glowing iron-bolt, originally thrown by Geirröđr, now appropriated by his "heir".

Relevant or not, it should be noted that the last two kennings for Thor, both occurring during the fight with Geirröđr, are "he who misses his daughter" and "the stepfather of Ullr". Taken together with the sexual puns in the previous stanzas, the above suggestions, i.e. that Thor's initiative adventures are symbolic of the gaining of sexual maturity, the metamorphosis of a son into a father in his own right, can hardly be ignored.

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