OF THE JOYS OF VALHALLA
YOUNGER EDDAS OF SNORRE STURLESON.
Translated from the Original Old Norse Text into English BY I.A. BLACKWELL.
OF THE JOYS OF VALHALLA.
39. "If it be as thou hast told me," said Gangler, "that all men who have fallen in fight since the beginning of the world are gone to Odin, in Valhalla, what has he to give them to eat, for methinks there must be a great crowd there?"
"What thou sayest is quite true," replied Har, "the crowd there is indeed great, but great though it be, it will still increase, and will be thought too little when the wolf cometh. But however great the band of men in Valhalla may be, the flesh of the boar Sæhrimnir will more than suffice for their sustenance. For although this boar is sodden every morning he becomes whole again every night. But there are few, methinks, who are wise enough to give thee, in this respect, a satisfactory answer to thy question. The cook is called Andhrimnir, and the kettle Eldhrimnir. As it is said,—'Andhrimnir cooks in Eldhrimnir, Sæhrimnir.' 'Tis the best of flesh, though few know how much is required for the Einherjar."
"But has Odin," said Gangler, "the same food as the heroes?"
"Odin,' replied Har, 'gives the meat that is set before him to two wolves, called Geri and Freki, for he himself stands in no need of food. Wine is for him both meat and drink.
"Two ravens sit on Odin's shoulders and whisper in his ear the tidings and events they have heard and witnessed. They are called Hugin and Munin. He sends them out at dawn of day to fly over the whole world, and they return at eve towards meal time. Hence it is that Odin knows so many things, and is called the Raven's God. As it is said,— 'Hugin and Munin Each dawn take their flight Earth's fields over. I fear me for Hugin, Lest he come not back, But much more for Munin.'"
40. "What have the heroes to drink," said Gangler, "in sufficient quantity to correspond to their plentiful supply of meat: do they only drink water?"
"A very silly question is that," replied Har; "dost thou imagine that All-Father would invite kings and jarls and other great men and give them nothing to drink but water! In that case, methinks, many of those who had endured the greatest hardships, and received deadly wounds in order to obtain access to Valhalla, would find [Pg 295]that they had paid too great a price for their water drink, and would indeed have reason to complain were they there to meet with no better entertainment. But thou wilt see that the case is quite otherwise. For the she-goat, named Heidrun, stands above Valhalla, and feeds on the leaves of a very famous tree called Lærath, and from her teats flows mead in such great abundance that every day a stoop, large enough to hold more than would suffice for all the heroes, is filled with it."
"Verily," said Gangler, "a mighty useful goat is this, and methinks the tree she feeds on must have very singular virtues."
"Still more wonderful," replied Har, "is what is told of the stag Eikthyrnir. This stag also stands over Valhalla and feeds upon the leaves of the same tree, and whilst he is feeding so many drops fall from his antlers down into Hvergelmir that they furnish sufficient water for the rivers that issuing thence flow through the celestial abodes."
41. "Wondrous things are these which thou tellest me of," said Gangler, "and Valhalla must needs be an immense building, but methinks there must often be a great press at the door among such a number of people constantly thronging in and out?"
"Why dost thou not ask," replied Har, "how many doors there are, and what are their dimensions; then wouldst thou be able to judge whether there is any difficulty in going in and out. Know, then, that there is no lack of either seats or doors. As it is said in Grimnismal:—
"'Five hundred doors
And forty more Methinks are in Valhalla. Eight hundred heroes through each door Shall issue forth Against the wolf to combat.'"
42. "A mighty band of men must be in Valhalla," said Gangler, "and methinks Odin must be a great chieftain to command such a numerous host. But how do the heroes pass their time when they are not drinking?"
"Every day," replied Har, "as soon as they have dressed themselves they ride out into the court (or field), and there fight until they cut each other to pieces. This is their pastime, but when meal-time approaches they remount their steeds and return to drink in Valhalla. As it is said:— "'The Einherjar all On Odin's plain Hew daily each other, While chosen the slain are. From the fray they then ride, And drink ale with the Æsir.'
"Thou hast thus reason to say that Odin is great and mighty, for there are many proofs of this. As it is said in the very words of the Æsir:— "'The ash Yggdrasill Is the first of trees, As Skidbladnir of ships, Odin of Æsir, Sleipnir of steeds, Bifrost of bridges, Bragi of bards, Habrok of hawks, And Garm of hounds is.'