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Hrungnir , also Hrugner ( Old Norse for the noise ) is a giant in Germanic mythology who challenges Odin in a competition and is killed by Thor . Of particular importance for research is the duel with Thor, the confrontation of the stone weapon (whetstone) of the giant with the iron hammer of the god, as well as his heart made of stone.

Summary of the Nordic mythological texts

Hrungnir meets Odin and gets into an argument with him as to which of the two has the faster horse. Odin wins the competition on Sleipnir , but Hrungnir's horse Gullfaxi is so fast that it storms to Asgard, where Hrungnir, invited by the gods, takes part in a feast. The giant, who gets drunk, starts to boast in the intoxication that he wants to kidnap Freyja and Sif , carry Valhalla to Jötunheim , sink Asgard and kill all the Aesir . They, tired of the insults from Hrungnir, call Thor for help. Thor threatens Hrungnir immediately, but since he is unarmed, they agree on a duel.

Thor, accompanied by his servant Thialfi , meet Hrungnir with his three-pronged stone heart at the battle site, supported by the artificial clay giant Mökkurkalfi with the heart of a mare. Thialfi warns Hrungnir from cunning that Thor will attack him from below, the giant stands on his shield for protection. Thor hurls his hammer at it, the giant hurls a whetstone that serves as a weapon, which splinters on the hammer. The hammer smashes the head of Hrungnir, it falls to the ground. Thialfi kills the clay giant. Thor however was badly wounded by one of the splinters of the whetstone, the splinter penetrated into his skull. Hrungnir finds death. Thor is hindered by the falling man's leg, he lies under it and cannot free himself. His son Magni , three years old, remedies his father and receives Hrungir's horse as a thank you.

The seer Gróa tries to release Thor from the splinter in his head with magic spells. During this act, she forgets the spells necessary for the treatment , out of joy at the story of her husband Aurvandill . Thor then keeps the splinter in his head until it ends in Ragnarök .

Sources and Interpretations

Snorri Sturluson reports in the prose-eddic Skáldskaparmál in the form of a myth novella about Hrungnir, whereas skalds previously presented the myth in a concise form, namely Þjóðólf's poem Haustlǫng . The violent confrontation with Thor in particular is a topic that was known and loved throughout the Scandinavian region, as evidenced by the Skaldic poetry and the Kenningar used in addition to the Edda . In the Song Edda reference is made to Hrungnir in Hárbarðslióð, Hymiskviða and Lokasenna .

The depiction of the three-pronged Hrungnir heart , especially on picture stones , shows how deeply this myth was rooted in the population.

Due to the unmistakable older elements contained in the myth, which come from before the time of consistent oral transmission and final writing, research at the beginning of the 20th century undertook different interpretive approaches. Wolfgang Golther , in particular, interpreted it as a battle between the thunderstorm god Thor and the mountain giant Hrungnir in natural mythology. According to Rudolf Simek , this interpretation does not fully do justice to the archaic pre-literary elements. After Simek, the French mythologist Georges Dumézil took a different approach. He interpreted those old written elements from the text handed down by Snorri as the remains of an initiation rite. However, this interpretation is problematic with regard to the figure of the initiator Thjalfi. The fight between Thor and Hrungnir has a clear parallel with the fight that the Indian god Indra fought with a three-headed monster.


Individual evidence

  1. Simek: p. 205 f.
  2. ^ Simek: p. 206, col. 1

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