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The Grímnismál (Grm), the song of Grímnir , is a song of the gods of the Edda song , which belongs to the mythological poetry of knowledge. It consists of 54 stanzas in Ljóðaháttr , the meter characteristic of knowledge, teaching and magic poetry.


The song is divided into three parts:

  • The prosaic introduction introduces the mythical episode of Odin's visit (Old Norse Óðinn) to Geirröd (Old Norse Geirröðr), whose loyalty he wants to test. Geirröd's delusion also outlines the ritual framework that Odin uses to recite cosmogonic and cosmological knowledge.
  • The song stanzas 1 to 42, as the actual teaching poem, form the main part of the song, which consists of memorial stanzas and Þulur series, which tells the individual stations of old Germanic cosmogony and cosmology . In the final stanzas 45 and 54 Odin reveals himself to Geirröd (Grm 54: Óðinn ec nú heiti , my name is Odin now).
  • The prosaic ending takes up the mythical narrative of the introduction, dissolves Geirröd's delusion and seals his fate in a characteristic Odin way.

Content of the song

The first part of the mythical framework tells in the form of a prologue of two brothers, the sons of an otherwise unknown King Hraudung: Geirröd, Odin's foster son, and Agnarr, whom Frigg raised. Geirröd usurped the dynastic succession and got rid of his brother. Odin uses the code name Grímnir , the masked man , to test the hospitality of King Geirröd . Geirröd suspects that Grímnir is a dark magician and subjects him to an examination: he puts him between two fires for eight days, without eating or drinking. Only Geirröd's ten-year-old son Agnarr, named after his uncle and thus reminiscent of the basic conflict of the hypothetical Amlethus saga ( Hamlet in Shakespeare ), offers Odin food and drink.

The monologue of Odin (the actual Grímnir song), which follows the prose introduction with Grm.4, forms the main part of the Grímnismál. Only in stanzas Grm.2 (Geirröd) and Grm.3 (Agnarr), and again towards the end of the poem in stanzas Grm.51-53 (Geirröd) does the Grímnismál text refer to the characters in the plot. Sitting between the two fires, Grímnir-Odin, wrapped in his cloak, speaks his verses of knowledge on the ninth day.

Odin's visionary show

Odin's visionary show begins with Grm.4, which the Grímnismál poet put in a formulaic speech addressed to Geirröd and his son Agnarr. The verses and Þulur series of the Grímnismál in stanzas hand down parts of the pre-Christian, Old Norse cosmogony and cosmology : enumerations of the gods and their residences (Grm.4-17), the names of mythical rivers (Grm.26-29) and horses, mounts of Asen (Grm.30), a brief description of the world tree , its people and their functions (Grm.31-36), features sun and moon are called (Grm.37-38), and the risk that the sky lights threatens, but also guarantees their movement (Grm.39), the creation of the world from the body of Ymir is the topic (Grm.40-41) as well as an extensive catalog of Odin's names (Old Norse nafnþula or heiti ; Grm.46-50, with an interruption in size 54). The Grímnismál conveys a religious transfer of knowledge that can only be compared with the Völuspá or the Vafþrúðnismál . Probably the abundance of names that Odin claims in Grm. 46-50 and which refer to his deeds is the actual part of the ritual speech between the fires, everything else is an introduction, warming up to the topic of the ritual incarnation of Odin.

Odin only reveals his true identity in the last stanza (Grm.54: an. Óðinn ec nú heiti , my name is Odin now), only after he has criticized Geirröd's behavior and prophesied his imminent death. There are some indications that Odin examines Geirröd, initiates him into his cult , accepts him into the community of knowing men, whose members know the true names of the objects, persons and emanations . Whether Geirröd's death has to be seen as the (symbolic) conclusion of the ritual instruction or as his punishment is left open in the poetry (cf.Grm 51: er þú ert míno gengi / öllum einherion / oc Óðins hylli ; you lost a lot / my love starving / all Einherier and Odin's favor; Grm.52: Fiolð ec þér sagða / enn þú fát um mant ; I tell you a lot / you put it to the wind). It can be taken for granted that the listener and cultural participant to whom the Grímnismál once addressed could correctly interpret this conclusion. In the epilogue-like, final part of the framework story, Geirröd then recognizes who his guest is (announcement in Grm.54) and, as if stumbling by accident, falls into his sword (prophesied in advance in Grm.52-53), which seems to have a strange self-will . Thereupon Odin disappears, and Agnarr, Geirröd's son, acquires royal dignity and title. The plot of the Grímnismál is very reminiscent of the puzzle contest in the Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks konungs , in which King Heidrek is killed by his servants immediately after his knowledge encounter with Gestumblindi-Odin; originally he will have suffered the same Odinian death as Geirröd.

Figures of poetry

  • Odin , main god of the Eddic myths and the sir (Old Norse Æsir): Odin is the most complex of the Edda gods. In his person the father of gods, god of poets, god of war and god of death, god of ecstasy , magic and runes are united . The diversity is expressed in the numerous Odin names; in Grímnismál he appears under the name and under the guise of Grimnir on
  • Frigg , chief goddess of the sir , is only inferior in importance to Freyja , the goddess of the vanes ; Mrs. Odins, mother of Balders and daughter of the otherwise unknown Fjörgynn
  • Geirröd is a literary and not a mythical figure; he is king and Odin's foster son
  • Agnarr, Geirröds brother and, in the Grímnismál, his son


  • Edda. The songs of the Codex Regius together with related monuments, Text I, edited by Gustav Neckel, 5th improved edition by Hans Kuhn, Heidelberg, 1983 (Grm. 56-68).
  • Edda. The songs of the Codex Regius and related monuments, II. Short Dictionary, edited by Hans Kuhn, Heidelberg, 1968.
  • The Edda. The older and younger Edda and the mythical tales of the skalds, translated and provided with explanations by Karl Simrock, Essen, undated (Grm. 16-24).
  • The Edda. Poetry of gods, proverbs and heroic songs of the Germanic peoples, translated into German by Felix Genzmer, Munich, 1996 (Grm.54-61).

Web links

Wikisource: Grímnismál  - sources and full texts