No offense to him, but Snorri Sturleson’s parents must have known they were pigeonholing him into a life of the arts and assholery when they named him. I think that’s just a given.
But before I tell you more about Snorri and his tales, check out the new digs! We have a new website now and are in the process of sprucing it up. Make sure you sign up on our mailing list! As I get comfier here, I’ll be adding additional short stories and offers to the site for subscribers. Don’t miss anything. It could be fatal. (But probably not. Almost certainly, definitely not fatal.)
And now, back to Snorri.
He’s the author of The Prose Edda, among other things, which tells the stories of the Norse gods for the first time ever on paper. Snorri was a bit of a jerk (read: a monumental jerk) but this story is great. Today I am going to share with you an abridged and modernized version of the Doubting of Thor, which is a name I just gave this portion of the Gylfaginning, which you should absolutely read.
Italics are the original text, the rest is me.
Öku-Thor drove forth with his he-goats and chariot, and with him that Ás called Loki; they came at evening to a husbandman’s, and there received a night’s lodging. About evening, Thor took his he-goats and slaughtered them both and added them to a cauldron. When the cooking was done, then Thor and his companion sat down to supper. Thor invited to eat with him the husbandman and his wife, and their children. Then Thor laid the goat-hides farther away from the fire, and said that the husbandman and his servants should cast the bones on the goat-hides. Thjálfi, the husbandman’s son, was holding a thigh-bone of the goat, and split it with his knife and broke it for the marrow.
Thor tarried there overnight; and in the interval before day he rose up and clothed himself, took the hammer Mjöllnir, swung it up, and hallowed the goat-hides; straightway the he-goats rose up, and then one of them was lame in a hind leg. Thor discovered this, and he knew that the thighbone was broken.
“What the actual, fuck, guy?” Thor demanded, gesturing with his hammer at the goat. “Do you know how hard it is to find self-assembling goats?”
“I’m sorry! Usually when someone gives out magical food, they tend to warn people first!”
“Oh, sure, this is my fault. Fucking classy,” Thor fumed, Mjöllnir crackling unpleasantly.
There is no need to make a long story of it;
(But what the Hel, eh? Long story incoming. YOLO!)
all may know how frightened the husbandman must have been when he saw how Thor let his brows sink down before his eyes; but when he looked at the eyes, then it seemed to him that he must fall down before their glances alone. Thor clenched his hands on the hammer-shaft so that the knuckles whitened; and the husbandman and all his household did what was to be expected: they cried out lustily, offered in recompense all that they had. But when he saw their terror, then the fury departed from him, and he became appeased, and took of them in atonement their children, Thjálfi and Röskva, who then became his bond-servants; and they follow him ever since.
“Nah, just joshing with you guys. The universe just, like, gave me these goats. Just like it just gave me your kids! The universe is bountiful, I tell you what.”
“Here you go, you can keep one self-assembling goat and one goat that you’ll never be able to lose because you fucking ate its leg, you monsters. And now I get your kids!”
“Can we maybe discuss this a little?”
“Yeah, sure. Hang on, I’ll call my negotiator. His name is hammer that calls lightning and levels mountains. Heads up, he’s a close-talker.”
“Err…thanks for the goats! Have fun, kids.”
Thereupon he left his goats behind, and began his journey eastward toward Jötunheim and clear to the sea. Then, when they had walked a little while, there stood before them a great forest, but there was nothing good for food. As soon as it had become dark, they sought themselves shelter for the night, and found before them a certain hall. But about midnight there came a great earthquake: the earth rocked under them exceedingly, and the house trembled. Then they heard a great humming sound, and a crashing.
But when it drew near dawn, then Thor went out and saw a man lying a little way from him in the wood; and that man was not small;
Child, he was freakin’ ENORMOUS.
he slept and snored mightily. Then Thor thought he could perceive what kind of noise it was which they had heard during the night.
“Do they even make CPAP’s this big? I think we just call the oxygen tank he’d need the sky.”
He girded himself with his belt of strength, and his divine power waxed; and on the instant the man awoke and rose up swiftly; and then, it is said, the first time Thor’s heart failed him.
“Loki, fuck, man, this is a giant’s giant, man.”
He asked him his name, and the man called himself Skrýmir,–‘but I have no need,’ he said, ‘to ask thee for thy name; I know that thou art Ása-Thor. But what? Hast thou dragged away my glove?’ Then Skrýmir stretched out his hand and took up the glove; and at once Thor saw that it was that which he had taken for a hall during the night.
Skrýmir asked whether Thor would have his company, and Thor assented to this.
“You tell him he can’t stay with us, then,” Thor grumbled as his comrades groaned.
Then Skrýmir said to Thor that he would lay him down to sleep,–‘and do ye take the provision-bag and make ready for your supper.’
Thereupon Skrýmir slept and snored hard, and Thor took the provision-bag and set about to unloose it; but he got no knot loosened and no thong-end stirred. When he saw that this work might not avail, then he became angered,
“Thor, just chill, man,” one of the kidnapped kids implored.
“Bet you wish you had a self-assembling goat now,” Loki said.
“You don’t talk to me!” Thor whisper-shouted.
gripped the hammer Mjöllnir in both hands, and strode with great strides to that place where Skrýmir lay, and smote him in the head. Skrýmir awoke, and asked
“Did a leaf fall on me? I hate camping. Oh, hey Thor! How was dinner?”
“Oh, uh…yeah man. It was great. Just wanted to uh…make sure you were cool before we turned in for the night.”
“Yeah, thanks! As long as these leaves stay away. I hate nature.”
Then they went under another oak. It must be told thee, that there was then no fearless sleeping.
“I am hangry and awake. I am going to murder something.”
“Not it!” cried a brother.
“Not i– dammit,” the other brother cursed.
At midnight Thor heard how Skrýmir snored and slept fast, so that it thundered in the woods; then he stood up and went to him, shook his hammer eagerly and hard, and smote down upon the middle of his crown: he saw that the face of the hammer sank deep into his head. And at that moment Skrýmir awoke and said: ‘What is it now? Did some acorn fall on my head? Or what is the news with thee, Thor?’ But Thor went back speedily, and replied that he was then but new-wakened; said that it was then midnight, and there was yet time to sleep.
“Fuck me running, I just put a crater in his head and he wants to know what’s new. What’s new?? Your new crater face, Crater Face,” Thor whispered to the oak as the giant fell back asleep.
The next morning, the colossal killer of sleepovers decided to go his own way, much like Fleetwood Mac.
‘I have heard how ye have whispered among yourselves that I am no little man in stature; but ye shall see taller men, if ye come into Útgardr. Now I will give you wholesome advice: do not conduct yourselves boastfully, for the henchmen of Útgarda-Loki will not well endure big words from such swaddling-babes.’
“Like, seriously, Thor. Button it up, man.”
‘But if not so, then turn back, and I think it were better for you to do that; but if ye will go forward, then turn to the east.’ Skrýmir took the provision-bag and cast it on his back, and turned from them across the forest; and it is not recorded that the Æsir bade him god-speed.
“Don’t let the door hit ya!” Thor cried out after him, but not loud enough the giant could actually hear.
“This. This right here, Thor. This is what he said not to do,” Thjálfi said.
Thor turned forward on his way, and his fellows, and went onward till mid-day. Then they saw a castle standing in a certain plain, and set their necks down on their backs before they could see up over it. Thereupon they came before the king Útgarda-Loki and saluted him; but he looked at them in his own good time, and smiled scornfully over his teeth, and said: ‘It is late to ask tidings of a long journey; or is it otherwise than I think: that this toddler is Öku-Thor? Yet thou mayest be greater than thou appearest to me. What manner of accomplishments are those, which thou and thy fellows think to be ready for? No one shall be here with us who knows not some kind of craft or cunning surpassing most men.’
Útgarda-Loki asked Thor what feats there were which he might desire to show before them: such great tales as men have made of his mighty works. Then Thor answered that he would most willingly undertake to contend with any in drinking.
“Like seriously. Of all the things I can do, this one is most impressive.”
Útgarda-Loki said that might well be; he went into the hall and called his serving-boy, and bade him bring the sconce-horn which the henchmen were wont to drink off. Straightway the serving-lad came forward with the horn and put it into Thor’s hand. Then said Útgarda-Loki: ‘It is held that this horn is well drained if it is drunk off in one drink, but some drink it off in two; but no one is so poor a man at drinking that it fails to drain off in three.’ Thor looked upon the horn, and it did not seem big to him; and yet it was somewhat long. Still he was very thirsty; he took and drank, and swallowed enormously, and thought that he should not need to bend oftener to the horn. But when his breath failed, and he raised his head from the horn and looked to see how it had gone with the drinking, it seemed to him that there was very little space by which the drink was lower now in the horn than before. Then said Útgarda-Loki: ‘It is well drunk, and not too much; I should not have believed, if it had been told me, that Ása-Thor could not drink a greater draught. But I know that thou wilt wish to drink it off in another draught.’ Thor answered nothing.
“I’ll show you a great drink,” he thought.
He set the horn to his mouth, thinking now that he should drink a greater drink, and struggled with the draught until his breath gave out; and yet he saw that the tip of the horn would not come up so much as he liked. When he took the horn from his mouth and looked into it, it seemed to him then as if it had decreased less than the former time; but now there was a clearly apparent lowering in the horn. Then said Útgarda-Loki: ‘How now, Thor? Thou wilt not shrink from one more drink than may be well for thee? If thou now drink the third draught from the horn, it seems to me as if this must be esteemed the greatest; but thou canst not be called so great a man here among us as the Æsir call thee, if thou give not a better account of thyself in the other games than it seems to me may come of this.’ Then Thor became angry, set- the horn to his mouth, and drank with all his might, and struggled with the drink as much as he could; and when he looked into the horn, at least some space had been made. Then he gave up the horn and would drink no more.
“This game is stupid. I’m not gonna play a stupid game.”
“Then said Útgarda-Loki: Now it is evident that thy prowess is not so great as we thought it to be; but wilt thou try thy hand at more games? It may readily be seen that thou gettest no advantage hereof.’
Oo! Thor! Ya burnt!
Thor answered: “I will make trial of yet other games; but it would have seemed wonderful to me, when I was at home with the Æsir, if such drinks had been called so little. But what game will ye now offer me?’ Then said Útgarda-Loki: ‘Young lads here are wont to do this (which is thought of small consequence): lift my cat up from the earth; but I should not have been able to speak of such a thing to Ása-Thor if I had not seen that thou hast far less in thee than I had thought.’
“DAMN. You need some ointment for that burn?” Loki asked.
“I don’t know why we’re friends,” Thor said. “But at least I know I can drink better than you can.”
Thereupon there leaped forth on the hall-floor a gray cat, and a very big one; and Thor went to it and took it with his hand down under the middle of the belly and lifted up. But the cat bent into an arch just as Thor stretched up his hands; and when Thor reached up as high as he could at the very utmost, then the cat lifted up one foot, and Thor got this game no further advanced. Then said Útgarda-Loki: ‘This game went even as I had foreseen; the cat is very great, whereas Thor is low and little beside the huge men who are here with us.’
“Oh, you motherf–”
“Thor! Remember Snore-y Stilts-on back there!” the brothers interrupted.
“Then said Thor: ‘Little as ye call me, let any one come up now and wrestle with me; now I am angry.’ Then Útgarda-Loki answered, looking about him on the benches, and spake: ‘I see no such man here within, who would not hold it a disgrace to wrestle with thee;’ and yet he said: ‘Let us see first; let the old woman my nurse be called hither, Elli, and let Thor wrestle with her if he will.’
Straightway there came into the hall an old woman, stricken in years. Then Útgarda-Loki said that she should grapple with Ása-Thor. There is no need to make a long matter of it: that struggle went in such wise that the harder Thor strove in gripping, the faster she stood; then the old woman essayed a hold, and then Thor became totty on his feet. Yet it was not long before Thor fell to his knee and Útgarda-Loki went up and bade them cease the wrestling.
“Quit embarrassing yourself,” Utgarda-Loki suggested.
“How ’bout go fuck yourself?” Thor opined.
“How ’bout we just get drunk?” Loki added, bored and worried that once Utgarda-Loki was done making Thor-sized pancakes, Loki-shaped ones would be next.
But at morning, as soon as it dawned, Thor and his companions arose, clothed themselves, and were ready to go away. Then came there Útgarda-Loki and caused a table to be set for them; there was no lack of good cheer, meat and drink. So soon as they had eaten, he went out from the castle with them; and at parting Útgarda-Loki spoke to Thor and asked how he thought his journey had ended, or whether he had met any man mightier than himself. Thor answered that he could not say that he had not got much shame in their dealings together. ‘But yet I know that ye will call me a man of little might, and I am ill-content with that.’
“That really sucks.”
Then said Útgardi-Loki: ‘Now I will tell thee the truth, now that thou art come out of the castle; and if I live and am able to prevail, then thou shalt never again come into it.
“Get lost, is what I’m sayin’.”
And this I know, by my troth! that thou shouldst never have come into it, If I had known before that thou haddest so much strength in thee, and that thou shouldst so nearly have had us in great peril. But I made ready against thee eye-illusions; and I came upon you the first time in the wood, and when thou wouldst have unloosed the provision-bag, I had bound it with iron, and thou didst not find where to undo it. But next thou didst smite me three blows with the hammer; and the first was least, and was yet so great that it would have sufficed to slay me, if it had come upon me. Where thou sawest near my hall a saddle-backed mountain, cut at the top into threesquare dales, and one the deepest, those were the marks of thy hammer.
“HA! I knew it! Mountain-leveler, right here!”
‘I brought the saddle-back before the blow, but thou didst not see that. So it was also with the games, in which ye did contend against my henchmen: when thou didst drink from the horn, and it seemed to thee to go slowly, then, by my faith, that was a wonder which I should not have believed possible: the other end of the horn was out in the sea, but thou didst not perceive it. But now, when thou comest to the sea, thou shalt be able to mark what a diminishing thou hast drunk in the sea: this is henceforth called “ebb-tides.” ‘
And again he said: ‘It seemed to me not less noteworthy when thou didst lift up the cat; and to tell thee truly, then all were afraid who saw how thou didst lift one foot clear of the earth. That cat was not as it appeared to thee: it was the Midgard Serpent, which lies about all the land, and scarcely does its length suffice to encompass the earth with head and tail. So high didst thou stretch up thine arms that it was then but a little way more to heaven. It was also a great marvel concerning the wrestling-match, when thou didst withstand so long, and didst not fall more than on one knee, wrestling with Elli; since none such has ever been and none shall be, if he become so old as to abide “Old Age,” that she shall not cause him to fall.
“So…I wrestled with Death.”
“If you want to ruin the poetry of it, yes.”
“Tell me again how I won.”
‘And now it is truth to tell that we must part; and it will be better on both sides that ye never come again to seek me. Another time I will defend my castle with similar wiles or with others, so that ye shall get no power over me.’
When Thor had heard these sayings, he clutched his hammer and brandished it aloft; but when he was about to launch it forward, then he saw Útgarda-Loki nowhere. Then he turned back to the castle, purposing to crush it to pieces; and he saw there a wide and fair plain, but no castle. So he turned back and went his way, till he was come back again to Thrúdvangar. But it is a true tale that then he resolved to seek if he might bring about a meeting between himself and the Midgard Serpent, which after ward came to pass. Now I think no one knows how to tell thee more truly concerning this journey of Thor’s.”
Pretty great, am I right? Thor’s a badass. And a bit reckless. But in his defense, he was probably very drunk.