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Thor debates with Alwis while protecting his daughter. Illustration by WG Collingwood .

The Alvíssmál ( Song of Alwis ) is a song of the gods of the Edda song . It consists of 36 stanzas .

Acting characters


The focus of the Alwis song is a rhetorical contest between Thor and Alwis, which ends with the death of the dwarf.

At the beginning, Alwis comes to Thor. Both are outwardly unknown to each other. On demand Alwis told the surprised Thor that he secretly with his daughter during the absence of Asen engaged has and its envisaged bride would like to accompany them in their future home. Thor's will to prevent the wedding. He declares the engagement void as he believes that the father's (i.e. his own) consent is necessary. Alwis makes it clear that he is not satisfied with this and confirms his will to marry the Aesir's daughter. As a compromise, Thor proposes a poetic competition: Alwis must explain to the god his knowledge of poetic vocabulary, their synonyms and areas of application among the various peoples of Nordic mythology. For example, in the ninth stanza Thor asks what word the other peoples use for "earth", and Alwis gives the corresponding synonyms in response:

10 So tell me, Alwis, when
you know all beings, wise dwarf,
What is the name of the earth, the all-nourishing one,
In all worlds?

11 Earth men, the Assir field, the Vanes
call it the way, the
allgreen the Joten, the alps growth,
clay they are called higher powers.

After a total of twelve further questions, the first rays of the sun appear and Alwis solidifies to stone. (see dwarf (mythology) )

Thor pays Alwis his respect for his extensive knowledge, but admits at the same time that he acted with cunning and knowingly caused the dwarf to petrify by deliberately delaying the outcome of the competition.


The song of the gods comprises 36 stanzas. The first nine stanzas deal with the presentation of the initial situation as well as the declaration of intent to hold a poetic contest. The same competition encompasses stanzas 10 to 35. The last stanza is Thor's parting word. Both characters speak exactly the same number of stanzas, i.e. 18.

It is worth mentioning that there are major differences between the various translations. The transfer Felix Genzmer is a verse shorter than the version Karl Joseph Simrock .


  1. The Edda. Poetry of gods, proverbs and heroic songs of the Germanic peoples, translated into German by Felix Genzmer, Munich, 1996 page: 95


  • The Edda. Poetry of gods, proverbs and heroic songs of the Teutons, translated into German by Felix Genzmer, Munich, 1996

Web links

Wikisource: Alwislied  - Sources and full texts