En sång om strålende Valhalla,
Om Gudar och Gudinnar alla.
A song of Vallhall's bright abodes,
Of all the goddesses and gods.
THE ancient religion of Scandinavia, and probably of the
whole Gotho-German race, consisted, like all other systems devised by man, in personifications
of the various powers of nature and faculties of mind. Of this system in its fulness and
perfection we possess no record. It is only from the poems of the elder or poetic Edda,1
from the narratives of the later or prose Edda and the various Sagas or histories written in the
Icelandic language2, that we can obtain any knowledge of it.
The poetic or Sæmund's Edda was, as is generally believed, collected about the end
of the eleventh or beginning of the twelfth century by an Icelander named
Sæmund, and styled
Hinns Fròda, or The Wise. It consists of a number of mythological and historical songs, the
production of the ancient Scalds or poets, all, or the greater part, composed before the
introduction of Christianity into the north. The measure of these venerable songs is alliterative
rime, and they present not unfrequently poetic beauties of a high and striking
The prose Edda is supposed to have been compiled in the thirteenth century by
Snorro Sturleson, the celebrated historian of Norway. It is a history of the gods and their
actions formed from the songs of the poetic Edda, and from other ancient poems, several stanzas
of which are incorporated in it. Beside the preface and conclusion, it consists of two principal
parts, the first consisting of the Gylfa-ginning (Gylfa's Deception), or Hárs Lygi (Hár's
i.e. Odin's Fiction), and the Braga-rædur (Braga's Narrative), each of which is
divided into several Dæmi-sagas or Illustrative Stories; and the second named the Kenningar or
list of poetic names and periphrases.4
The Gylfa-ginning narrates that Gylfa king of Sweden, struck with the wisdom and
power of the Æser5, as Odin and his followers were called, journeyed in the likeness
of an old man, and under the assumed name of Ganglar, to Asgard their chief residence, to inquire
into and fathom their wisdom. Aware of his design, the Æser by their magic art caused to arise
before him a lofty and splendid palace, roofed with golden shields. At the gate he found a man
who was throwing up and catching swords, seven of which were in the air at one time. This man
inquires the name of the stranger, whom he leads into the palace, where Ganglar sees a number
of persons drinking and playing, and three thrones, each set higher than the other. On the
thrones sat Har (High), Jafnhar (Equal-high), and Thridi (Third). Ganglar
asks if there is any one there wise and learned. Har replies that he will not depart in safety
if he knows more than they.6 Ganglar then commences his interrogations, which embrace
a variety of recondite subjects, and extend from the creation to the end of all things. To each
he receives a satisfactory reply. At the last reply Ganglar hears a loud rush and noise: the magic
illusion suddenly vanishes, and he finds himself alone on an extensive plain.
The Braga-rædur is the discourse of Braga to Ægir, the god of the sea, at the banquet
of the Immortals. This part contains many tales of gods and heroes old, whose adventures had been
sung by Skalds, of high renown and lofty genius.
Though both the Eddas were compiled by Christians, there appears to be very little
reason for suspecting the compilers of having falsified or interpolated the mythology of their
forefathers. Sæmund's Edda may be regarded as an Anthology of ancient Scandinavian poetry; and
the author of the prose Edda (who it is plain did not always understand the true meaning of the
tales he related) wrote it as a northern Pantheon and Gradus ad Parnassum, to supply poets with
incidents, ornaments, and epithets. Fortunately they did so, or impenetrable darkness had
involved the ancient religion of the Gothic stock!
Beside the Eddas, much information is to be derived from the various Sagas or
northern histories. These Sagas, at times transmitting true historical events, at other times
containing the wildest fictions of romance, preserve much valuable mythic lore, and the
Ynglinga, Volsunga, Hervarar, and other Sagas, will furnish many important traits of northern mythology.
It is not intended here to attempt sounding the depths of Eddaic mythology, a subject
so obscure, and concerning which so many and various opinions occur in the works of those who have
occupied themselves with it. Suffice it to observe that it goes back to the most remote ages, and
that two essential parts of it are the Alfar (Alfs or Elves) and the Duergar
(Dwarfs), two classes of beings whose names continue to the present day in all the
languages of the nations descended from the Gotho-German race.
"Our heathen forefathers," says Thorlacius7, "believed, like the
Pythagoreans, and the farther back in antiquity the more firmly, that the whole world was filled
with spirits of various kinds, to whom they ascribed in general the same nature and properties as
the Greeks did to their Dæmons. These were divided into the Celestial and the Terrestrial, from
their places of abode. The former were, according to the ideas of those times, of a good and
elevated nature, and of a friendly disposition toward men, whence they also received the name of
White or Light Alfs or Spirits. The latter, on the contrary, who were 'classified after their
abodes in air, sea, and earth, were not regarded in so favourable a light. It was believed that
they, particularly the land ones, the ðaiµoνes
επίχθόνίοί of the Greeks, constantly and on all
occasions sought to torment or injure mankind, and that they had their dwelling partly on the
earth in great thick woods, whence came the name Skovtrolde8 (Wood Trolls), or
in other desert and lonely places, partly in and under the ground, or in rocks and hills; these
last were called Bjerg-Trolde (Hill Trolls): to the first, on account of their different nature,
was given the name of Dverge (Dwarfs), and Alve, whence the word Ellefolk, which is still
in the Danish language. These Dæmons, particularly the underground ones, were called
that is Black Spirits, and inasmuch as they did mischief, Trolls."
This very nearly coincides with what is to be found in the Edda, except that there
would appear to be some foundation for a distinction between the Dwarfs and the Dark
Ther ro meth Alfum.
Those are with the Alfs.
In the prose Edda, Ganglar inquires what other
cities beside that in which the Nornir dwelt were by the Urdar fount, under the Ash
Yggdrasil.10 Hár replies,
"There are many fair cities there. There is the city which is called Alf-heim,
where dwelleth the people that is called Liosálfar (Light Alfs). But the Döckálfar (Dark Alfs)
dwell below under ground, and are unlike them in appearance, and still more unlike in actions. The
Liosálfar are whiter than the sun in appearance, but the Döckálfar are blacker than pitch
The Nornir, the Parcae, or Destinies of Scandinavian mythology, are closely
connected with the Alfar.
"Many fair cities are there in Heaven," says Hár, "and the divine protection is
over all. There standeth a city under the ash near the spring, and out of its halls came three
maids, who are thus named, Udr, Verthandi, Skulld (Past, Present, Future). These maids shape
the life of man. We call them Nornir. But there are many Nornir; those who come to each child
that is born, to shape its life, are of the race of the gods; but others are of the race of
the Alfs; and the third of the race of dwarfs. As is here expressed,
Sundry children deem I
The Nornir to be-the same
Race they have not.
Some are of AEser-kin,
Some are of Alf-kin,
Some are the daughters of Dualin." (ie. of the Dwarfs.)
"Then," said Ganglar, "if the Nornir direct the future destiny of men, they shape
it very unequally. Some have a good life and rich, but some have little wealth and praise, some
long life, some short." "The good Nornir, and well descended," says Har, "shape a good life;
but as to those who meet with misfortune, it is caused by the malignant Nornir."
These Nornir bear a remarkable resemblance to the classical Parcæ and to the fairies of
romance. They are all alike represented as assisting at the birth of eminent personages, as bestowing
gifts either good or evil, and as foretelling the future fortune of the being that has just entered on
existence.12 This attribute of the fairies may have been derived from either the north or the
south, but certainly these did not borrow from each other.
Of the origin of the word Alf nothing satisfactory is to be found. Some think it is akin to
the Latin albus, white; others, to alpes, Alps, mountains. There is also supposed to be some
mysterious connexion between it and the word Elf, or Elv, signifying water in the northern languages; an
analogy which has been thought to correspond with that between the Latin Nympha and Lympha. Both relations,
however, are perhaps rather fanciful than just. Of the derivation of Alf, as just observed, we know
nothing certain,13 and the original meaning of Nympha would appear to be a new-married
woman,14 and thence a marriageable young woman; and it was applied to the supposed inhabitants
of the mountains, seas, and streams, on the same principle that the northern nations gave them the
appellation of men and women, that is, from their imagined resemblance to the human form.
Whatever its origin, the word Alf has continued till the present day in all the Teutonic
languages. The Danes have Elv, pl. Elve; the Swedes, Elf pl. Elfvar m.
Elfvor f.; and the words Elf-dans and Elf-blaest, together with Olof and other
proper names, are derived from them. The Germans call the nightmare Alp; and in their old poems
we meet with Elbe and Elbinne, and Elbisch occurs in them in the bad sense of
elvish of Chaucer and our old romancers; and a number of proper names, such as Alprecht, Alphart,
Alpine, Alpwin,15 were formed from it, undoubtedly before it got its present ill sense.16
In the Anglo-Saxon, Ælf or Ælfen, with its feminine and plural, frequently occurs. The
Oreas, Naias, and Hamodryas of the Greeks and Romans are rendered in an Anglo-Saxon glossary by munt-
aelfen, rae-aelfen, and Feld-aelfen.17Ælf is a component part of the
proper names Ælfred and Ælfric; and the author of the poem of Judith says that his heroine was
Ælf-reine (Elf-sheen), bright or fair as an elf. But of the character and acts of the elfs no
traditions have been preserved in Anglo-Saxon literature. In the English language, Elf, Elves, and
their derivatives are to be found in every period, from its first formation down to this present
By ek fur jörth nethan,
A ek, under stein, stath.
I dwell the earth beneath,
I possess, under the stone, my seat.
These diminutive beings, dwelling in rocks and hills, and distinguished for their skill in
metallurgy, seem to be peculiar to the Gotho-German mythology.18 Perhaps the most probable
account of them is, that they are personifications of the subterraneous powers of nature; for it may be
again observed, that all the parts of every ancient mythology are but personified powers, attributes,
and moral qualities. The Edda thus describes their origin:
"Then the gods sat on their seats, and held a council, and called to mind how the Duergar
had become animated in the clay below in the earth, like maggots in flesh. The Duergar had been first
created, and had taken life in Ymir's19 flesh, and were maggots in it, and by the will of the
gods they became partakers of human knowledge, and had the likeness of men, and yet they abode in the
ground and in stones. Modsogner was the first of them, and then Dyrin."
The Duergar are described as being of low stature, with short legs and long arms, reaching
almost down to the ground when they stand erect.20 They are skilful and expert work men in
gold, silver, iron, and the other metals. They form many wonderful and extraordinary things for the
Æser, and for mortal heroes, and the arms and armour that come from their forges are not to be paralleled.
Yet the gift must be spontaneously bestowed, for misfortune attends those extorted from them by
In illustration of their character we bring forward the following narratives, from the Edda
and Sagas. The homely garb in which they are habited, will not, it is hoped, be displeasing to readers of
taste. We give as exact a copy as we are able of the originals in all their rudeness. The tales are
old, their date unknown, and they therefore demand respect. Yet it is difficult to suppress a smile at
finding such familiar, nay almost vulgar terms22 applied to the great supernal powers of
nature, as occur in the following tale from the Edda.
Loki and the Dwarf
Loki, the son of Laufeiar, had out of mischief cut off all the hair
of Sif. When Thor found this out he seized Loki, and would have broken every bone in his body, only that
he swore to get the Suartalfar to make for Sif hair of gold, which would grow like any other hair.
Loki then went to the Dwarfs that are called the sons of Ivallda. They first made the hair,
which as soon as it was put on the head grew like natural hair; then the ship Skidbladni,23
which always had the wind with it, wherever it would sail; and, thirdly, the spear Gugner, which always
hit in battle.
Then Loki laid his head against the dwarf Brock, that his brother Eitri could not forge three
such valuable things as these were. They went to the forge; Eitri set the swineskin (bellows) to the fire,
and bid his brother Brock to blow, and not to quit the fire till he should have taken out the things he
had put into it.
And when he was gone out of the forge, and that Brock was blowing, there came a fly and
settled upon his hand, and bit him; but he blew without stopping till the smith took the work out of
the fire; and it was a boar, and its bristles were of gold.
He then put gold into the fire, and bid him not to stop blowing till he came back. He went
away, and then the fly came and settled on his neck, and bit him more severely than before; but he blew
on till the smith came back and took out of the fire the gold ring which is called
Then he put iron into the fire, and bid him blow, and said that if he stopped blowing all
the work would be lost. The fly now settled between his eyes, and bit so hard that the blood ran into his
eyes, so that he could not see; so when the bellows were down he caught at the fly in all haste, and tore
off its wings; but then came the smith, and said that all that was in the fire had nearly been spoiled.
He then took out of the fire the hammer Miölner,25 gave all the things to his brother Brock,
and bade him go with them to Asgard and settle the wager.
Loki also produced his jewels, and they took Odin, Thor, and Frey, for judges. Then Loki
gave to Odin the spear Gugner, and to Thor the hair that Sif was to have, and to Frey Skidbladni, and
told their virtues as they have been already related. Brock took out his jewels, and gave to Odin the
ring, and said that every ninth night there would drop from it eight other rings as valuable as itself.
To Frey he gave the boar, and said that he would run through air and water, by night and by day, better
than any horse, and that never was there night so dark that the way by which he went would not be light
from his hide. He gave the hammer to Thor, and said that it would never fail to hit a Troll, and that
at whatever he threw it it would never miss it; and that he could never fling it so far that it would not
of itself return to his hand; and when he chose, it would become so small that he might put it into his
pocket. But the fault of the hammer was that its handle was too short.
Their judgment was, that the hammer was the best, and that the Dwarf had won the wager. Then
Loki prayed hard not to lose his head, but the Dwarf said that could not be. "Catch me then," said Loki;
and when he went to catch him he was far away, for Loki had shoes with which he could run through air and
water. Then the Dwarf prayed Thor to catch him, and Thor did so. The Dwarf now went to cut off his
head, but Loki said he was to have the head only, and not the neck. Then the Dwarf took a knife and a
thong, and went to sew up his mouth; but the knife was bad, so the Dwarf wished that his brother's awl
were there; and as soon as he wished it it was there, and he sewed his lips together.26
Northern mythologists thus explain this very ancient fable. Sif is the earth, and the wife
of Thor, the heaven or atmosphere; her hair is the trees, bushes, and plants, that adorn the surface of
the earth. Loki is the Fire-God, that delights in mischief, bene servit, male imperat. When by
immoderate heat he has burned off the hair of Sif, her husband compels him so by temperate heat to warm
the moisture of the earth, that its former products may spring up more beautiful than ever. The boar is
given to Freyr, to whom and his sister Freya, as the gods of animal and vegetable fecundity, the northern
people offered that animal, as the Italian people did, to the earth. Loki's bringing the gifts from
the under-ground people seems to indicate a belief that metals were prepared by subterranean fire, and
perhaps the forging of Thor's hammer, the mythic emblem of thunder, by a terrestrial demon, on a
subterranean anvil, may suggest that the natural cause of thunder is to be sought in the earth.
Thorston and the Dwarf
When spring came, Thorston made ready his ship, and put twenty-four
men on board of her. When they came to Vinland, they ran her into a harbour, and every day he went on
shore to amuse himself.
He came one day to an open part of the wood, where be saw a great rock, and out a little way
from it a Dwarf, who was horridly ugly, and was looking up over his head with his mouth wide open; and it
appeared to Thorston that it ran from ear to ear, and that the lower jaw came down to his knees. Thorston
asked him, why he was acting so foolishly. "Do not be surprised, my good lad," replied the Dwarf; "do you
not see that great dragon that is flying up there? He has taken off my son, and I believe that it is Odin
himself that has sent the monster to do it. But I shall burst and die if I lose my son." Then Thorston
shot at the dragon, and hit him under one of the wings, so that he fell dead to the earth; but Thorston
caught the Dwarf's child in the air, and brought him to his father. The Dwarf was exceeding glad, and was
more rejoiced than any one could tell; and he said, "A great benefit have I to reward you for, who are the
deliverer of my son; and now choose your recompense in gold and silver." "Cure your son;" said Thorston,
"but I am not used to take rewards for my services." "It were not becoming," said the Dwarf, "if
I did not reward you; and let not my shirt of sheeps' wool, which I will give you, appear a contemptible
gift, for you will never be tired when swimming, or get a wound, if you wear it next your skin."
Thorston took the shirt and put it on, and it fitted him well, though it had appeared too
short for the Dwarf. The Dwarf now took a gold ring out of his purse and gave it to Thorston, and bid him
to take good care of it, telling him that he never should want for money while he kept that ring. He next
took a black stone and gave it to Thorston, and said, "If you hide this stone in the palm of your hand no
one will see you. I have not many more things to offer you, or that would be of any value to you; I
will, however, give you a fire-stone for your amusement."
He then took the stone out of his purse, and with a steel point. The stone was triangular,
white on one side and red on the other, and a yellow border ran round it. The Dwarf then said, "If you
prick the stone with the point in the white side, there will come on such a hail-storm that no one will
be able to look at it; but if you want to stop this shower, you have only to prick on the yellow part,
and there will come so much sunshine that the whole will melt away. But if you should like to prick the
red side, then there will come out of it such fire, with sparks and crackling, that no one will be able
to look at it. You may also get whatever you will by means of this point and stone, and they will come
of themselves back to your hand when you call them. I can now give you no more such gifts."
Thorston then thanked the Dwarf for his presents, and returned to his men, and it was better
for him to have made this voyage than to have stayed at home.27
The Dwarf-Sword Tirfing
Suaforlami the second in descent from Odin, was king over Gardarike
(Russia). One day he rode a-hunting, and sought long after a hart, but could not find one the whole day.
When the sun was setting he found himself immersed so deep in the forest that he knew not where he was.
There lay a hill on his right hand, and before it he saw two Dwarfs; he drew his sword against them, and
cut off their retreat by getting between them and the rock. They proffered him ransom for their lives,
and he asked them then their names, and one of them was called Dyren, and the other Dualin. He knew then
that they were the most ingenious and expert of all the Dwarfs, and he therefore imposed on them that
they should forge him a sword, the best that they could form; its hilt should be of gold, and its belt of
the same metal. He moreover enjoined, that the sword should never miss a blow, and should never rust; and
should cut through iron and stone, as through a garment; and should be always victorious in war and in
single combat for him who bare it. These were the conditions on which he gave them their lives.
On the appointed day he returned, and the Dwarfs came forth and delivered him the sword; and
when Dualin stood in the door he said, "This sword shall be the bane of a man every time it is drawn; and
with it shall be done three of the greatest atrocities. It shall also be thy bane." Then Suaforlami struck
at the Dwarf so, that the blade of the sword penetrated into the solid rock. Thus Suaforlami became
possessed of this sword, and he called it Tirfing, and he bare it in war and in single combat, and he slew
with it the Giant Thiasse, and took his daughter Fridur.
Suaforlami was shortly after slain by the Berserker28 Andgrim, who then became
master of the sword. When the twelve sons of Andgrim were to fight with Hialmar and Oddur for Ingaborg,
the beautiful daughter of King Inges, Angantyr bore the dangerous Tirfing; but all the brethren were
slain in the combat, and were buried with their arms.
Angantyr left an only daughter, Hervor, who, when she grew up, dressed herself in man's
attire, and took the name of Hervardar, and joined a party of Vikinger, or Pirates. Knowing that Tirfing
lay buried with her father, she determined to awaken the dead, and obtain the charmed blade; and perhaps
nothing in northern poetry, equals in interest and sublimity the description of her landing alone in the
evening on the island of Sams, where her father and uncles lay in their sepulchral mounds, and at night
ascending to the tombs, that were enveloped in flame,29 and by force of entreaty obtaining
from the reluctant Angantyr the formidable Tirfing.
Hervor proceeded to the court of King Gudmund, and there one day, as she was playing at
tables with the king, one of the servants chanced to take up and draw Tirfing, which shone like a sunbeam.
But Tirfing was never to see the light but for the bane of man, and Hervor, by a sudden impulse, sprang
from her seat, snatched the sword and struck off the head of the unfortunate man. Hervor, after this,
returned to the house of her grandfather, Jarl Biartmar, where she resumed her female attire, and was
married to Haufud, the son of King Gudmund. She bare him two sons, Angantyr and Heidreker; the former of
a mild and gentle disposition, the latter violent and fierce. Haufud would not permit Heidreker to
remain at his court; and as he was departing, his mother, with other gifts, presented him Tirfing. His
brother accompanied him out of the castle. Before they parted, Heidreker drew out his sword to look at
and admire it; but scarcely did the rays of light fall on the magic blade, when the Berserker rage came
on its owner, and he slew his gentle brother.
After this he joined a body of Vikinger, and became so distinguished, that King Harold, for
the aid he lent him, gave him his daughter Helga in marriage. But it was the destiny of Tirfing to commit
crime, and Harold fell by the hand of his son-in-law. Heidreker was afterwards in Russia, and the son of
the king was his foster-son. One day, as they were out hunting, Heidreker and his foster-son happened to
be separated from the rest of the party, when a wild boar appeared before them; Heidreker ran at him with
his spear, but the beast caught it in his mouth and broke it across. He then alighted and drew Tirfing,
and killed the boar; but on looking around, he could see no one but his foster-son, and Tirfing could only
be appeased with warm human blood, and he slew the unfortunate youth. Finally, King Heidreker was murdered
in his bed by his Scottish slaves, who carried off Tirfing; but his son Angantyr, who succeeded him,
discovered and put them to death, and recovered the magic blade. In battle against the Huns he afterwards
made great slaughter; but among the slain was found his own brother Laudur. And so ends the history of
the Dwarf-sword Tirfing.30
Like Alf, the word Duergr has retained its place in the Teutonic languages. Dverg31
is the term still used in the north; the Germans have Zwerg, and we Dwarf,32 which, however,
is never synonymous with Fairy, as Elf is. Ihre rejects all the etymons proposed for it, such, for
example, as that of Gudmund Andreae, θέοι έργου
and with abundant reason.
Some have thought that by the Dwarfs were to be understood the Finns, the original
inhabitants of the country, who were driven to the mountains by the Scandinavians, and who probably
excelled the new-comers in the art of working their mines and manufacturing their produce. Thorlacius,
on the contrary, thinks that it was Odin and his followers, who came from the country of the Chalybes,
that brought the metallurgic arts into Scandinavia.
Perhaps the simplest account of the origin of the Dwarfs is, that when, in the spirit of all
ancient religions, the subterranean powers of nature were to be personified, the authors of the system,
from observing that people of small stature usually excel in craft and ingenuity, took occasion to
represent the beings who formed crystals and purified metals within the bowels of the earth as of
diminutive size, which also corresponded better with the power assigned them of slipping through the
fissures and interstices of rocks and stones. Similar observations led to the representation of the wild
and awful powers of brute nature under the form of huge giants.
1. Edda signifies grandmother. Some regard it as the feminine of otter, or
2. This language is so called because still spoken in Iceland. Its proper name is the Norraena
Tunga (northern tongue). It was the common language of the whole North.
3. See Tales and Popular Fictions, chap. ix.
4. It was first published by Resenius in 1665.
5. By the Æser are understood the Asiatics, who with Odin brought their arts and religion into
Scandinavia. This derivation of the word, however, is rather dubious. Though possibly the
population and religion of Scandinavia came originally from Asia there seems to be no reason
whatever for putting any faith in the legend of Odin. It is not unlikely that the name of
their gods, Æser, gave birth to the whole theory. It is remarkable that the ancient Etrurians
also should have called the gods Æsar.
6. So the lötunn or Giant Vafthrudnir to Odin in the Vafthrudnismal. Strophe vii.
7. Thorlacius, Noget om Thor og hans Hammer, in the Skandinavisk Museum for 1803.
8. Thorlacius, ut supra, says the thundering Thor was regarded as particularly inimical
to the Skovtrolds, against whom he continually employed his mighty weapon. He thinks that the
Bidental of the Romans, and the rites connected with it, seem to suppose a similar
superstition, and that in the well-known passage of Horace,
Tu parum castis inimica mittes
the words parum castis lucis may mean groves or parts of woods, the haunt of unclean
spirits or Skovtrolds, satyri lascivi et salaces. The word Trold will be explained
9. The Dark Alfs were probably different from the Duergar, yet the language of the prose Edda is
in some places such as to lead to a confusion of them. The following passage, however, seems to
Hrafna-Galdr Othins, xxiv. 7.
And Dark Alfs.
Yet the Scandinavian literati appear unanimous in regarding them as the same. Grimm, however,
agrees with us in viewing the Döck-Álfar as distinct from the Duergar. As the abode of these last
is named Svartálfaheimr, he thinks that the Svartálfar and the Duergar were the same. - Deutsche
Mythologie, p. 413, seq. See below, Isle of Rügen.
10. The ash-tree, Yggdrasil, is the symbol of the universe, the Urdar-fount is the fount of light and
heat, which invigorates and sustains it. A good representation of this myth is given in Mr. Bohn's
edition of Mallet's "Northern Antiquities," which the reader is recommended to consult.
11. This Grimm (ut sup.) regards as an error of the writer, who confounded the Döck and the
12. See Tales and Popular Fictions, p. 274.
13. The analogy of Deev, and other words of like import, might lead to the supposition of Spirit being
the primary meaning of Alf.
14. See Mythology of Greece and Italy, p. 248, second edition.
15. After the introduction of Christianity, Engel, angel, was employed for Alp in most proper
names, as Engelrich, Eugelhart, etc.
16. See MM. Grimm's learned introduction to their translation of the Irish Fairy Legends, and the Deutsche
Mythologie of J. Grimm.
17. MM. Grimm suppose with a good deal of probability, that these are compounds formed to render the Greek
ones, and are not expressive of a belief in analogous classes of spirits
18. Some think, but with little reason, they were originally a part of the Finnish mythology, and were
adopted into the Gothic system
19. The giant Ymir is a personification of Chaos, the undigested primal matter. The sons of Börr (other
personifications) slew him. Out of him they formed the world; his blood made the sea, his flesh the
land, his bones the mountains; rocks and cliffs were his teeth, jaws, and broken pieces of bones; his
skull formed the heavens.
20. Gudmund Andreas in notis ad Völuspá.
21. That they are not insensible to kindness one of the succeeding tales will show.
22. The habitual reader of the northern and German writers, or even our old English ones, will observe
with surprise his gradually diminished contempt for many expressions now become vulgar. He will find
himself imperceptibly falling into the habit of regarding them in the light of their pristine dignity.
23. Skidbladni, like Pari Banou's tent, could expand and contract as required. It would carry all the
Æser and their arms, and when not in use it could be taken asunder and put in a purse. "A good ship,"
says Ganglar, "is Skidbladni, but great art must have been employed in making it." Mythologists
say it is the clouds.
24. i.e. The Dripper.
25. i.e. The Bruiser or Crusher, from Myla, to bruise or crush. Little the Fancy know of the high
connexions of their phrase Mill.
26. Edda Resenii, Daemisaga 59.
27. Thorston's Saga, e. 3, in the Kampa Dater.
28. The Berserkers were warriors who used to be inflamed with such rage and fury at the thoughts of
combats as to bite their shields, run through fire, swallow burning coals, and perform such like mad
feats. "Whether the avidity for fighting or the ferocity of their nature," says Saxo, "brought this
madness on them, is uncertain."
29. The northern nations believed that the tombs of their heroes emitted a kind of lambent flame, which
was always visible in the night, and served to guard the ashes of the dead; they called it Hauga
Elldr, or The Sepulchral Fire. It was supposed more particularly to surround such tombs as contained
hidden treasures.-Bartholin, de Contempt. a Dan. Morte, p. 275.
30. Hervarar Saga passim. The Tirfing Saga would be its more proper appellation. In poetic and romantic
interest it exceeds all the northern Sagas.
31. In Swedish Dverg also signifies a spider.
32. In the old Swedish metrical history of Alexander, the word Duerf occurs. The progress in the
English word is as follows: Anglo-Saxon ðþeonz; thence dwerke;
A maid that is a messingere
And a dwerke me brought here,
Her to do socour.