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Norse Mythology

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Background Information
A short summary of the information on pages 9 through 95 of d’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths
According to d’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, at first only Niflheim (the realm of frozen fog) and Muspelheim (the realm of flames) existed with Ginungagap (a gaping pit) in between. Fog and flame whirled around, and from Ginungagap arose Ymir (the first jotun) and a cow. As Ymir slept, a male and female jotun appeared from his armpit. Then a six-headed Troll grew from his feet. These creatures produced offspring. The Ice Cow licked the ice until a new creature arose. He was the grandfather of the first Aesir gods: Odin, Hoenir, and Lodur. They slew Ymir, and his briny blood caused a flood. All the jotuns drowned except for two who went to Jotunheim. Midgard was created from Ymir’s body. The moon and sun traveled across the sky in carts pulled by horses who were pursued by wolves. Other gods in the universe were the Vanir gods who took care of weather. They lived in Vanaheim. The Aesir gods created elves who lived in Alfheim; from worms, they created gnomes who lived underground. Finally, to inhabit Midgard, they created a man and a woman from an ash tree and an alder tree. Each successive generation of people had better qualities than the last. Odin came to earth to instruct these people about the best way to live their lives. Presiding over all of the Norse worlds were the Fays of Destiny (Norns) who decided the fate of both mankind and the gods. The Norns lived at the foot of Yggdrasil, the world tree whose demise signaled the end of the Aesir gods. The Norns cared for Yggdrasil by healing its wounds with water from a sacred pool. An eagle lived at the top of Yggdrasil, and Nidhogg, the dragon, lived at the roots. Ratatosk, the squirrel, ran between them. The Aesir gods lived in Asgard where Odin became the supreme ruler after he had hung for nine days from the branches of Yggdrasil. Odin sat at the top of a silver tower on the Lidskjalf, his throne, with his dearest wife, Frigg. Odin became the wisest of the wise after he gave his left eye to the jotun, Mimir, in exchange for a drink from his well of wisdom. Odin’s son, Thor, wielded Mjolnir (his hammer) and rode in a cart pulled by billy goats. He was invaluable to the other Aesir gods because he arrived immediately when summoned. Thor was married to Sif whose hair was shorn and replaced by the unpredictable trickster Loki, a jotun who became Odin’s blood brother. Loki was married to Sigunn, an Aesir goddess, and also to Angerboda, an ogress.

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Background Information

(continued)

At the same time that Loki convinced the gnomes to make new hair for Sif, he flattered them into forging weapons and treasures for the Aesir. They created Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer; Skidbladnir, a collapsible ship; Draupnir, an arm ring; Gungnir, a spear that always hit its mark; and a golden flying boar. During his dealings with the gnomes, Loki lost a bet and nearly lost his head, but the gnome, Brokk, punished him by sewing his mouth shut instead. Loki and Angerboda had three children: Midgard’s Serpent, Hel (ruler of the dead), and Fenris the wolf. Tyr, one of Odin’s son, lost his hand during the chaining of Fenris. Balder, another of Odin’s sons, was the god of light. He was married to Nanna, and their son was Forsete, the chief judge of the Aesir. Heimdall, yet another of Odin’s sons, guarded the entrance to Asgard. Only Gullveig, a witch from Vanaheim, was able to trick Heimdall into letting her enter. When the Aesir discovered that she wanted their gold, they tried to burn her at the stake, but she survived. The Vanir wanted revenge, however, and fought with the Aesir on the field of Ida. Since neither side was victorious, they exchanged hostages. The Aesir sent Hoenir and Mimir to Vanaheim; the Vanir sent Njord, Frey, and Freya to Asgard. Njord was a wind god, Frey brought fruitful harvests, and Freya was the goddess of love. Kvasir, the spirit of knowledge, was created in a vat of chewed berries. From these berries, the gnomes made a special mead which fell into the hands of Suttung, a jotun. Odin tricked Suttung’s daughter, Gunnlod, into letting him drink the mead, and he took it back to Asgard. Anyone who drank the mead became a poet, and Bragi, an adopted son of Odin, became the god of bards. Bragi’s wife was Idunn, the goddess who guarded the apples of youth. The Aesir decided that they should build a stone wall around Asgard since the Vanir had attacked them. Loki masterminded a tricky plan in which a jotun mason was required to build the wall by himself in a short period of time. He thought that these stipulations would eliminate having to give the mason the payment that he demanded: Freya, the sun, and the moon. The mason nearly did the impossible task, but Loki transformed himself into a mare and lured the mason’s stallion away so he could not finish the job. The offspring of the mare and stallion was Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged steed.

During battles, Odin threw his spear over the side destined to lose. He was accompanied by the Valkyries, warrior maidens who selected men to die in battle and brought them to Valhalla, Odin’s guesthouse in Asgard. These heroes led a life of feasting and fighting, and after their daily battles, the injured would put themselves back together so they would be ready to fight again on the next day. Freya served as hostess for the dead heroes, both in her own hall and in Valhalla.

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Background Information

(continued)

Frigg, Odin’s favorite wife, spent her time spinning yarn and keping a watchful eye on domestic issues in Midgard. Her attendants and companions were Fulla, Gna, Lin, Eir, and Var. Once, during a war, Frigg answered women’s prayers by giving them advice about gaining a victory. Since she knew Odin’s plan, she was able to guide them successfully. The goddesses Saga and Gefjon were frequently mistaken for Frigg. Gefjon created and won for herself the island of Sjaelland by harnessing her sons in the form of bulls and plowing so deep that a piece of land separated from the mainland. The gnomes made Freya a lovely necklace, and Loki wanted it. In the form of a fly, Loki visited Freya and removed the necklace as she slept. He then transformed himself into a seal, and as he was escaping, Heimdall became suspicious, turned himself into a seal, too, and pursued Loki. The two seals fought, and since Heimdall was the stronger, he won the fight and returned the necklace to Freya. Tjasse, a storm jotun in the form of an eagle, stole meat from the Aesir. Loki tried to get the meat back, but when he hit the eagle, he stuck to him. Tjasse said the only way for Loki to get free was to promise that he would bring Idunn and her apples to him. Loki tricked Idunn into entering the woods with her apples, and Tjasse flew away with her. The Aesir began to age, and they discovered that Loki was responsible for Idunn’s disappearance. In the form of a falcon, Loki went to retrieve her, and he put Idunn and her apples into a nutshell and headed to Asgard. Tjasse flew after him, but the Aesir built a fire that leapt high into the air, and Tjasse was incinerated. Idunn was safe, and the Aesir all took bites of the apples to restore their youth. Tjasse’s daughter, Skade, wanted recompense for his death. Instead of giving her gold, the Aesir told Shade that they would make her a goddess, but there were two conditions to this arrangement. First, Skade said that the Aesir must make her laugh, and second, the Aesir said that Skade must choose her husband by looking only at his legs. Loki succeeded in making Skade laugh, and although Skade wanted Balder for her husband, unfortunately she chose Njord. Skade lived in the mountains and became the goddess of skiers, but Njord preferred living near the seashore so they seldom saw one another.

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QUOTATIONS CROSSWORD
Complete this crossword puzzle using the clues on the next page. Although these words never actually came out of their mouths, each quotation can be attributed to one of the characters in the stories you have read in this section.

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QUOTATIONS CROSSWORD (continued) CLUES
Across
2. "No one will notice if I suck the marrow from this bone." 3. "I ran faster than Tjalfi." 4. "I'd love to wrestle with Thor." 6. "Freya's eyes are red because she hasn't slept for eight nights." 7. "I'll release you from the chest if you'll bring me Thor without his weapons." 10. "You may borrow my mitt, belt, and staff." 12. "You and your companions did better in the contests than you thought." 15. "Of course I'll loan you my falcon wings." 16. "I hid the hammer eight miles underground."

Down
1. "I'm not really a gray cat." 2. "I am so ashamed that Utgardsloki fooled me." 3. "You must play the part of the blushing bride, Thor." 5. "I ate faster than Loki." 8. "I will cast a spell on you if you don't give your love to Frey." 9. "If I can't marry Gerd, I'll simply die." 11. "First I thought a leaf fell on my head, then an acorn, then a branch." 13. "Undo your spell! I will meet Frey at Barre." 14. "I'm the only god who should sit on Lidskjalf."

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TEACHER’S KEY QUOTATIONS CROSSWORD

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SIMILAR BUT NOT THE SAME
Many names in this section are very similar. Differentiate between these names by writing descriptions in the blanks.

Frey Freya

________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Gerd Grid

________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Skirnir Skrymir

________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Logi Loki

________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Thor Thrym

________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

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TEACHER’S KEY SIMILAR BUT NOT THE SAME
Frey son of Njord god of growing and harvesting husband of Gerd daughter of Njord goddess of beauty hostess in Valhalla mother of Noss daughter of Gymir wife of Frey mother of Vidar protector of Thor Frey’s faithful servant Utgardsloki in the form of a giant Wild-fire contestant in an eating contest in Utgard Odin’s jotun half-brother husband of Angerboda and Sigunn father of Hel, Fenris and Midgard’s Serpent mother of Sleipnir thunder god strongest of the Aesir son of Odin husband of Sif the jotun who stole Thor’s hammer

Freya

Gerd

Grid

Skirnir Skrymir Logi

Loki

Thor

Thrym

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THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM
In Norse myths, the characters cannot always be sure that what they see is true. Sometimes they are fooled into thinking that they are failures when they have truly gained success; sometimes the creatures they encounter are representations of something else. In each of the following scenarios, provide the reality for the “tricks” that the senses perceived. 1. The strange cabin in which Loki and Tjalfi took shelter during their night in Jotunheim was really _____________________________________________________________________________. 2. The side room in the cabin was actually _____________________________________________________________________________. 3. Skrymir the giant was really _____________________________________________________________________________. 4. Skrymir’s generosity in offering food to Loki and Tjalfi from a food bag tied with a troll knot was really _____________________________________________________________________________. 5. Although Thor thought that he was pounding on Skrymir’s head, he was really _____________________________________________________________________________. 6. When Loki and Logi competed in an eating contest, Loki did not realize that Logi was really _____________________________________________________________________________. 7. When Tjalfi and Hugi raced, Tjalfi did not realize that Hugi was really _____________________________________________________________________________. 8. When Thor bragged that he could empty Utgardsloki’s drinking horn, he did not realize that _____________________________________________________________________________. 9. The gray cat that Thor tried to lift from the floor was, in reality, _____________________________________________________________________________. 10. When Thor tried to wrestle Granny Elle, he was actually wrestling with _____________________________________________________________________________.

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TEACHER’S KEY THINGS ARE NOT ALWAYS AS THEY SEEM
1. a mitten that belonged to a giant. 2. the thumb of the mitten. 3. Utgardsloki in disguise. 4. a way to make fun of Thor’s famous strength. 5. striking a mountain. 6. Wildfire in person. 7. the personification of a thought. 8. he was trying to drink the ocean. 9. Midgard’s serpent. 10. Old Age.

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CHARACTERS AND LOCATIONS
CHARACTERS
Match each character with the correct description. You may use the letters more than once. _____ 1. Frey’s father _____ 2. Gymir’s daughter _____ 3. Frey’s servant _____ 4. owner of the falcon wings _____ 5. owner of the hammer _____ 6. thief of the hammer _____ 7. god who goes in search of the hammer _____ 8. goddess who is supposed to be exchanged for the hammer _____ 9. god who suggests that Thor should dress as a bride _____ 10. god who becomes Thor’s maid _____ 11. Jotun who captures Loki, the falcon _____ 12. mother of Vidar _____ 13. strongest and slyest of the Jotuns A. Freya B. Geirrod C. Gerd D. Grid E. Heimdall F. Loki G. Njord H. Skirmir I. Thor J. Thrym K. Utgardsloki

LOCATIONS
Match each location with the correct description.

_____ 1. home of Gymir _____ 2. home of Utgardsloki _____ 3. Frey’s home _____ 4. the sacred barley patch _____ 5. place where the hammer was hidden _____ 6. the High Seat

A. Alfheim B. Barre C. 8 miles underground D. Jotunheim E. Lidskjalf F. Utgard

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THAT’S SUSPICIOUS!
When Thor posed as a bride in order to get his hammer back, Thrym was fooled. He expressed astonishment at how his bride looked and at the things that she did, but Loki was able to give him explanations that quelled his suspicion. Fill in the blanks below to describe the suspicious situations. Then provide the lie that Loki told to Thrym. Suspicious Situation #1 At the wedding feast, the bride ate (a) ____________________________________________________ (b) ____________________________________________________ (c) ____________________________________________________ Loki’s lie: _______________________________________________________________________

Suspicious Situation #2 When Thrym lifted the bride’s veil, __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________ Loki’s lie: _______________________________________________________________________

Connections to Another Story
The lies that Loki told to explain the suspicious situations might remind you of lies told in a traditional fairy tale. What were two things that made the little girl suspicious and what lies were told to explain them? Title of the Fairy Tale: _____________________________________________________ 1. _______________________________________________________________ Lie #1: _____________________________________________________ 2. _______________________________________________________________ Lie #2: _____________________________________________________

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TEACHER’S KEY CHARACTERS AND LOCATIONS
Characters 1. G 2. C 3. H 4. A 5. I 6. J 7. F 8. A 9. E 10. F 11. B 12. D 13. K Locations 1. D 2. F 3. A 4. B 5. C 6. E

TEACHER’S KEY THAT’S SUSPICIOUS!
1. (a) all the sweets (b) eight salmon (c) a whole roasted steer Loki’s lie: The bride had eaten nothing for eight days pining for Thrym. 2. her eyes glowed red Loki’s lie: The bride had not slept for eight nights.

Fairy Tale: Little Red Riding Hood 1. Grandma had big ears. Lie: The better to hear 2. Grandma had big eyes. Lie: The better to see
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BRIBES, THREATS, AND CONDITIONS
To be successful, sometimes the characters in Norse myths bribe, threaten, and lay down conditions for their adversaries. Provide the information required, and then identify each of the following scenarios as either a BRIBE, a THREAT, or a CONDITION by circling the correct word. A BRIBE is something given to a person in order to persuade him to do what you want him to do. A THREAT is a declaration of the intention to harm someone in retaliation for an undesired action. A CONDITION is something demanded as an essential part of an agreement. 1. Skirnir said he would woo Gerd for Frey only if Frey would give him two things: (a) ___________________________________________________ (b) ___________________________________________________ BRIBE THREAT CONDITION

2. Skirnir promised Gerd eleven gleaming, golden __________________________ if she would promise to be Frey’s bride. BRIBE THREAT CONDITION

3. Geirrod told Loki that he would release him only if he brought Thor to him without his ___________________________. BRIBE THREAT CONDITION

4. Skirnir told Gerd that he would transform her into a gray, old ________________________ if she did not give her love to Frey. BRIBE THREAT CONDITION

5. Thrym said that he would return Thor’s hammer only if ________________________ became his bride. BRIBE THREAT CONDITION

6. Skirnir told Gerd that he would cut off her _____________________ if she did not give her love to Frey. BRIBE THREAT CONDITION

7. Skirnir promised Gerd a magic, golden ________________________________ if she would promise to be Frey’s bride. BRIBE THREAT CONDITION
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MEETING DANGER

Across 1. What Geirrod's giant daughter tried to do to Loki and Thor when they were crossing the river 4. The item that smashed Thrym and his kin 6. Creatures who tried to stop Skirnir as he rode toward Jotunheim (three words) 10. The weapon that Frey gave to Skirnir 12. Snarling animals who met Skirnir at the door of Gerd's chamber 13. The item that Geirrod threw at Thor when he arrived for dinner (four words) 14. Place where Geirrod imprisoned Loki 15. The item that Freya loaned to Loki so he could look for the thief who stole Thor's hammer (two words) Down 2. Other creatures who tried to stop Skirnir as he rode toward Jotenheim 3. The element that made the wall surrounding Gymir's realm 5. One gift that Grid gave to Thor to use against Geirrod (two words) 7. The item on which Thor was sitting when Geirrod's daughters lifted it toward the roof beams 8. Another gift that Grid gave to Thor to use against Geirrod (two words) 9. The animal that Frey gave to Skirnir 11. Still another gift that Grid gave to Thor to use against Geirrod (two words)

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TEACHER’S KEY BRIBES, THREATS, AND CONDITIONS
1. (a) his sword and (b) his horse 2. apples 3. weapons 4. hag 5. Freya 6. head 7. ring CONDITION BRIBE CONDITION THREAT CONDITION THREAT BRIBE

TEACHER’S KEY MEETING DANGER

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